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Wild weather walloped the region

The year 2011 will go down in the record books for its weather highs and lows. From deadly tornadoes, droughts, wildfires, flooding and high winds in different parts of the country – to a hurricane and an earthquake in the same week in our area!

In fact, the year was so unique, only halfway through, a federal government analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) labeled 2011 as one of the most extreme weather years on record. In fact, by June, NOAA reported eight weather-related disasters in the U.S. had caused more than $1 billion in damage with total damages by that point already soaring past $32 billion.

The rough ride began in late January, with heavy snow shutting down the Northeast for a few days. Our region reported up to nearly a foot of snow and power outages for up to 650,000 people. Some commuters sat in traffic jams for up to 14 hours.

Jason Maneno, a science teacher at Gainesville Middle School, recalled snowy challenges in 2011 for his family of four in Manassas – wife, Adrienne, who teaches at Osbourne Park High School, and their children: Meredith, 9, and Sam, 7. “On snow days we usually ride the sleds down our hill. This is about the only nice thing about having a hill,” he said. “The big struggle for us is living on a hill in Lake Jackson without a four-wheel drive – we can get literally snowed in!”

Maneno said weather headlines are mentioned in his class when he teaches students about world biomes. No doubt, the youngsters learned lessons this year about weather – first-hand and in the news.

In April, tornadoes devastated the Southeast and Midwest; Joplin, Mo. suffered the loss of 151 people.

By summer’s end, Virginia made global news, when it became the epicenter of a 5.8 earthquake. On Aug. 23, 2011, at 1:51 p.m., tremors rose just outside the town of Mineral in Louisa County. Aftershocks registered up to 4.5 magnitude.

Read the full story in the print edition of the Observer.

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