It has been a spring to remember, with America pummeled by tornadoes, floods, wildfire, snowmelt, thunderstorms and drought. Government weather researchers said Wednesday that while similar extremes have occurred throughout modern American history, never before have they occurred in a single month. April 2011 lived up to poet T. S. Eliot's description as the cruelest month. And spring 2011 is shaping up to be one of the most extreme climatological springs in history. So far this year the United States has suffered eight disasters costing $1 billion or more and the total damage to date is $32 billion and rising. The tally includes:
. Heavy snowmelt in the upper Midwest combined with record rains in the Ohio River Valley produced floods along the lower Mississippi River equaling or surpassing the historic floods of 1927 and 1937. On Wednesday, construction crews put the final touches on a makeshift levee to keep floodwaters from the rising Missouri River out of Hamburg, Iowa. Towns and cities farther south are bracing for the worst.
. Ideal wildfire conditions developed across the southern plains as rainfall encouraged rapid plant growth, followed by drought and hot weather to launch still-burning fires consuming millions of acres. In Arizona on Wednesday, the biggest wildfire in state history grew to 478,452 acres of forest, or nearly 750 square miles. The blaze has forced 10,000 people to evacuate. . Consecutive dry months caused drought that extends across much of the Southwest and South from Arizona and New Mexico across Texas to the Gulf Coast and south Georgia.
. It was the wettest April on record for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia.
. A recordbreaking pre- summer heat wave contributed to the deaths of four elderly residents in Maryland and Tennessee.