If you were interested in freaky weather, 2014 had it all, including some new words for the popular lexicon: Polar vortex, lake effect snow, bomb cyclone, Snovember and, of course, the worst drought in California in 1,200 years.
1. In this shot, a bolt of lightning hits the antenna on top of the Empire State Building on July 15 in New York City.
2. An image from a NOAA satellite shows the polar vortex, the weird atmospheric twitch that flooded into the United States in early 2014, over North America.
3. Steam rises from Lake Michigan toward the Chicago skyline on a day when the temperature was -18 and -43 with the wind chill. The polar vortex took the fall for this one.
4. Snowfall was dramatic in 2014, but the hurricane season was notable for being unusually light.
Hurricane Arthur (above in a NASA satellite photo) was the only storm to make landfall in the United States this season. The storm in July clobbered coastal North Carolina on July 4 with Category 2 winds of about 100 miles per hour, causing $21 million in damage.
5. A buoy sits on dry cracked earth on a dry inlet of Shasta Lake on Aug. 30 in Lakehead, Calif.
The state suffered a fourth year of one if its worst droughts on record. The drought was fueled by a spate of disappointing winter rainy seasons that have left meager snowpacks and diminished reservoir levels, combined with record-warm temperatures that have driven demand for increasingly precious water, spurring a series of conservation measures around the state.
6. In this image, captured in infrared light by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s GOES-East satellite on Nov. 18, the cold air over the central and eastern United States looks like a gray-white blanket.
7. More than 7 feet of snow fell on parts of Buffalo, N.Y., in part due to a weather event called lake effect snow. It’s a highly localized snowfall, which appears when cold air masses move over warmer lake waters.
Longtime residents described the blast of winter weather as the worst in memory.
8. Australians were treated to a bizarre sight in the sky this year: a fallstreak hole, which forms from droplets in the cloud that are below freezing, but haven’t yet frozen.
9. In November, Super Typhoon Nuri, a massive, exceptionally violent tropical cyclone, started out near the Philippines and then barreled across the Pacific to slam into Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. One of the biggest typhoons ever to blow outside the tropics, Nuri measured about 2,000 miles across, and it whipped the U.S. Air Force installation on the island of Shemya with hurricane-force winds of up to 98 miles per hour, according to the Alaska Daily Dispatch.