World weather news, April 2016

Mexico City officials ordered all cars to off the road one day per week, following a smog alert and dangerous air quality during the middle of March. From April 5 until June 30, all vehicles will participate in the program "One day without car." Previously, a hologram permit would allow exemptions from travel restrictions. Likewise, authorities have decided to eliminate the pre contingency, which previously only required restrictions to go into effect at air quality indices over 200, which are considered a "purple alert" or very unhealthy. Now, Phase 1 will be enabled when the air quality index reaches 150, which is considered a "red alert" or unhealthy. Phase 2 will begin when levels reach 200, according to the statement from CAMe. An estimated 20 million people, owning roughly 10 million vehicles, live in Mexico City's metropolitan area.
Rescuers are attempting to reach thousands of people stranded by floods and landslides in Pakistan's north-west and parts of Kashmir after the death toll rose to 55. Disaster management officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where 47 people have died since the downpour began on Saturday night, said they were consulting the military about a rescue operation there amid fears the death toll could still climb. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Neelum Valley, officials said thousands were stranded by landslides. At least eight people including five children died there when two houses were buried in a landslide caused by the rains.
Fiji suffered severe flooding Monday and Tuesday, following several days of torrential rain due to a slow-moving tropical disturbance nearby. Many homes flooded, especially in the north-west of Viti Levu, where schools were shut, and the town of Nadi closed off after the river burst its banks. The effects of the flooding strike especially hard as many areas are still recovering from the extensive damage wrought by from Cyclone Winston in February.
Parts of Sydney (Australia) have experienced the hottest April day on record, with the weather bureau saying the temperature reached 34.2C at Observatory Hill about 1:30pm. The previous April record of 33.9C was set in 1986. It was a hot day in the west, with Richmond hitting 36.6C, but that was shy of the April record there of 38.2C in 1986. Meanwhile at Bourke in the state's central-west, the mercury hit 38.6C, recording the hottest April day anywhere in New South Wales for 30 years.
At least one person is dead and another is missing in Fiji in the wake of flooding brought on by Tropical Cyclone Zena. The cyclone was the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins at peak strength. Zena is impacting much of the same area that was inundated by Tropical Cyclone Winston in late February, the strongest ever to hit the island nation. A fatality and a missing person were reported in the western division of the island chain, the Fiji Times said. Thousands of other people were evacuated as a result of the cyclone. A separate disturbance brought around 300 mm of rain to Nadi on Sunday and Monday causing flooding ahead of Tropical Cyclone Zena. Another 150 mm have fallen from Tuesday night into Wednesday from Zena. Satellite imagery confirmed that Zena had strengthened markedly on Tuesday before weakening as it passed south of Fiji's main island.
Severe thunderstorms erupted in parts of the southern and central United States this week, bringing damaging hail the size of baseballs in spots. The hailstorm wrecked hundreds of vehicles at a BMW dealership in San Antonio on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. In Cole Camp, Missouri, hail about 2 inches in diameter was reported along with dented cars, broken windshields and siding damage to buildings. As part of the same outbreak that brought large hail and damaging winds, torrential rains inundated the Deep South. In Jackson, Mississippi, the rains caused a school roof to collapse, sending people running to safety. A 24-hour rainfall total of 6.07 inches was reported northeast of Jackson on Tuesday morning.
A series of storms brought heavy rain to central Chile, including Santiago, where widespread flooding was reported from Sunday into Monday. The flooding forced many businesses and schools to be closed. The early season rain brought more than a month's worth of rain in a single day to much of central Chile, while rain was reported as far north as La Serena. Heavy rain has also fallen across parts of northeastern Argentina and Uruguay; more than 200 mm of rain has fallen in Treinta y Tres, Florida and Paso de los Toros, Uruguay and the potential exists for 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) of additional rain by the end of the day on Tuesday.
A powerful April snowstorm buried parts of Colorado under feet of snow, forcing road closures and flight delays over the weekend. The storm's slow movement allowed heavy, wet snow to persist for more than 24 hours in some locations. The heaviest snow fell across the Colorado Rockies. Over 46 inches accumulated near Conifer, Colorado, just west of Denver. Amounts between 20 and 30 inches were widespread. Portions of I-70 and I-80 were closed for a time due to white-out conditions. The weather also snarled air travel for thousands, as snow forced the cancellation of nearly 70 percent of inbound and outbound flights at Denver International Airport on Saturday.
Tropical cyclone Fantala's estimated maximum sustained winds reached 150 knots making it the most powerful South Indian Ocean tropical Cyclone of 2016. This increase in intensity made Fantala a category five tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale. Fantala became this powerful while moving over the open waters of the South Indian Ocean to a position north of Madagascar. On April 18, satellite radar found rain falling at over 186 mm per hour in an intense feeder band on the eastern side of the tropical cyclone.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, was forced to declare a state of emergency in Houston on Monday as torrential rain during the day and on the previous night caused severe flooding and damage, leaving at least seven people dead, hundreds displaced and thousands without power. Monday was the wettest April day on record at Bush intercontinental airport, with 252 mm falling, leading to nearly 2,000 flights being cancelled or delayed. Not only did this surpass the previous record of 207 mm in 1976, but it was almost three times the average for all of April. The highest rainfall total recorded was in Harris county where 447 mm fell at Little Mound Creek.
Blistering heat is common across India ahead of the yearly monsoon rains; however, temperatures are soaring earlier than normal this year. Intense heat has affected the country, with impacts being felt from Hyderabad to Kolkata and New Delhi. The heat has already claimed the lives of more than 160 people and has also forced the closure of schools in Orissa until at least April 26.
In recent weeks all-time national heat records have been observed in Cambodia, Laos, and (almost) in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Meanwhile extreme heat has resulted in all- time record high temperatures in the Maldives, India, China, and portions of Africa as well. Here are some details:
All-time national temperature records have also been set for the Maldives Islands, India, China and in Africa. China's southernmost province of Hainan (Island) saw several sites breaking all-time heat records with the warmest being Danxian with a 40.5C reading on April 16th. In India on April 24th the city of Titlagarh measured 48.5C. This is the highest reliably measured temperature in India for the month of April. In addition, Bangalore recorded its all-time highest temperature on record with a 39.2C reading beating out its previous record of 38.9C observed on May 22, 1931. In the Maldives a national record high of 34.9C was observed at Hanimadhoo on April 16th edging out the previous record of 34.8C set at Kadhdhoo on March 27, 1999. In Africa Burkina Faso set its all- time national record high with 47.5C on April 13th; the previous record was 47.2C at the same site on May 13, 1984.
With the official end of the Australian tropical season only days away, the calmest season in decades will come to an end. The season, which officially runs from 1 November through 30 April, has seen only three named cyclones originating within the Australian Tropical Basin. Having only three named storms of Category 1 strength or higher in the basin would be the fewest dating back to 1970, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). According to Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls, "El Niņo played an important role in the low activity of the tropical season as tropical development flourished closer to Fiji and Vanuatu and away from Australia." El Niņo occurs when ocean water temperatures rise above normal across the central and eastern Pacific, near the equator which influences global weather patterns. Nicholls added, "A positive Indian Ocean Dipole during the early season limited development near Western Australia." The Indian Ocean Dipole is a measure of heat across the Indian Ocean from west to east. A positive event occurs with cooler-than-normal waters near and northwest of Australia. As a result, the first landfall did not occur in Australia until late January. Tropical Cyclones Stan, Uriah and Tatiana each strengthened to Category 2 tropical cyclone strength on the BOM scale, which means peak winds ranged between 88 and 142 km/h.
Thailand is currently experiencing its longest heatwave in at least 65 years and authorities have advised people to stay indoors. The average temperature has risen above 40C in many regions in April, with the mercury spiking one day to a near record breaking 44.3C. The hottest day ever recorded in Thailand was 44.4C on April 27, 1960, in the northern province of Uttaradit. According to the Thai Meteorological Department, the average temperature nationwide has surpassed alert levels and the heatwave is expected to continue,

World weather news, March 2016

Heavy snow and icy, freezing conditions wreaked havoc across the north of the UK on Thursday night and Friday morning as the storm swept in from the Atlantic. Snowfalls of up to 10 cm on higher ground forced schools to shut in parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire on Friday, and in Northern Ireland public transport foundered when Ulsterbus was forced to cancel services. Leeds Bradford airport closed briefly on Friday morning when 5 cm of snow had to be cleared from the runway. Northern Ireland and Wales have also been affected and there are warnings of snowfalls in Scotland.
Melbourne sweltered through its hottest March night on record on Tuesday, hovering around 30C after reaching a peak of 38.6C in the city at 5pm. The temperature dropped to an overnight minimum of 27.7C at 8.45am Wednesday, just before the 6am cut-off for overnight temperatures. It broke a previous record for the warmest overnight minimum of 26.5C, which was set on 13 March 2013. However the daytime maximum of 38.9C fell short of the March record of 41.5C, set in 1940. Sydney has also been unseasonably warm, with a record-breaking 31 days in a row above 26C. Canberra has had a daily maximum temperature of more than 30C for every day of March so far. Alain Baillie, forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne, said the uncomfortable night was the result of a low-intensity heatwave, which has hovered over south-eastern Australia for the past week. Mildura has not had a daily maximum temperature below 36.7C since March began.
A storm system brought significant impacts to the southeastern Arabian Peninsula. Thunderstorms erupted Wednesday causing travel chaos in U.A.E. and northern Oman. The Gulf News reported that flights out of Abu Dhabi International Airport were suspended for a time during the worst of the storms. The Abu Dhabi Air Expo was also disrupted for the second day of the event. Heavy rain and thunderstorms also lashed Oman on Wednesday causing flooding and closing schools. The Royal Oman Police have reported at least 40 distress calls from flooding along with numerous flooded roadways. At least one person was killed by lightning from the storms on Wednesday. According to the Times of Oman, the Ministry of Education has decided to close all schools in Oman on Thursday, except in Al Wusta and Dhofar regions.
Severe flooding has caused widespread disruption across parts of central England, with rail passengers stranded and many schools shut. British Transport Police formed human barriers in front of the main concourse at London Euston after trains between Rugby and Milton Keynes were cancelled. Passengers were warned people could be killed as some had fallen from earlier trains on Wednesday. A total of 46 flood warnings are in place across England and Wales. Train operator London Midland said the severe flooding in several areas had caused problems with signalling and electrical equipment, leaving it unable to run trains between Rugby and Milton Keynes. A London Midland spokesman said: "Once the floodwater subsides we are still faced with trains and train crew out of place across the network." Network Rail said flooding on train lines around Daventry, Rugby and Wolverton had delayed services between Birmingham New Street and London Euston. Trains on the West Coast Mainline were also running at reduced speeds due to heavy flooding. Fourteen schools were closed in Warwickshire and and a number of people were rescued from trapped cars by firefighters due to rising floodwater. Firefighters rescued drivers from stranded vehicles in Great Alne, Wolston, Baginton and Princethorpe. There were also reports of cars stuck in Kenilworth Ford.
Residents in Louisiana and Mississippi were taking stock of damage on Saturday after a massive deluge of rain submerged roads and cars, washed out bridges and forced residents to flee homes. The rain and flooding is part of a weather system that has affected Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama. At least three people have died in Louisiana alone. In Mississippi, officials said as many as 1,000 residents could see their homes flooded by the rising Leaf River in Hattiesburg, Petal and surrounding areas. Nearly 61 cm of rain falling in some spots. At least four deaths have been attributed to the flooding, with nearly 5,000 homes damaged in Louisiana alone. The Sabine River, which runs along part of the Texas-Louisiana border, reached a record flood level of 10.7 m. This smashed the previous record by more than a metre. Over 275 mm of rainfall was reported in Shreveport, Louisiana, between Tuesday and Thursday. A normal rainfall total for the entire month of March for the city is 105 mm.
The National Disaster Management Authority said the preliminary death toll due to flooding throughout Pakistan is 49 with at least 80 other people needing medical attention. Nine people were killed and over 100 houses were damaged in Baluchistan province. The flooding also caused a coal mine collapse in northwestern Pakistan over the weekend. As of Monday, the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan confirmed that 10 workers had been killed. Islamabad received around 135 mm of rain from Friday to Tuesday. Normal rainfall for the entire month of March is less than 75 mm. Murree, a mountainous area just north of Islamabad, has recorded about 200 mm. Banhial, in the Indian state of Kashmir and Jammu, reported around 300 mm of rain through to Tuesday.
An avalanche struck high in the Italian Alps on Saturday, killing six skiers and injuring another as a swath of snow hundreds of metres wide cascaded down. Helicopters ferried survivors and the bodies back to the valley floor from the avalanche site, located not far below Monte Nevoso's peak. The mountain is close to the Austrian border in Italy's Alto Adige region. According to Bolzano province's avalanche report, the avalanche risk forecast for Saturday was moderate, a two on a 1-to-5 scale. Monte Nevoso, in the Aurina valley in the south Tyrol region in Italy's north-east, reaches a height of 3,358 metres. Conditions were sunny and windy after heavy snowfall in recent weeks, a local police official said. It is unknown what caused the avalanche.
The severe storm season in the US has started to build up with some southern states being hit by strong winds, hail and tornadoes on Sunday. Arkansas was one of the worst-affected states, with hailstones the size of baseballs being reported in Montgomery County in the south-west. The hail caused damage to two prisons in the state, with more than 100 windows and skylights broken. Numerous funnel clouds and tornadoes were reported, with three confirmed by the National Weather Service, all bringing winds of up to 110 mph.
A major winter storm tracking from the Intermountain West to the Great Lakes caused widespread travel concerns from Tuesday into Thursday. Blizzard conditions shut down travel around the Denver metro area on Wednesday and left over 100,000 people without power. Denver International Airport was shut down for several hours, and over 1,300 flights were cancelled. It was the first time in 10 years that the airport was forced to close. A storm total of just over 13 inches of snow was measured at the airport. Much of eastern Colorado received 12-18 inches of snow although there were some locally higher reports. One location near Boulder measured over 25 inches, while over 31 inches fell near Pinecliffe.
Palau (located east of the Philippines) has joined the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia by declaring a state of emergency amid one of the worst droughts in recorded history. President Tommy Remengesau stated that rainfall recorded in the capital of Koror over the past four months was the lowest in 65 years. He added that the dam supplying water to the city has dried up, and the Ngerikiil River was now at only 19 percent of its capacity. Water rationing has begun on Koror and Airai with access to water for 10 hours of each day. This extreme drought is being fueled by the strongest El Nino conditions on record which have prevailed since last year. Unfortunately, even though the current El Nino is now weakening, below-normal rainfall is expected over the next several months across the islands of the Western Pacific.
Powerful Storm Katie unleashed wind, rain and snow across the United Kingdom from Sunday night into Monday. Just west of London in Woodley, Berkshire, the strong winds caused scaffolding to collapse from a market rooftop. The Needles, along the extreme western edge of the Isle of Wright reported the strongest gusts from Katie with a peak gust of 105 mph. Gusts in excess of 60 mph were also reported in Bournemouth, Odiham, Southend and Lydd The strong winds across Southern England affected more than 100 flights from London-Gatwick and London-Heathrow airports on Monday. Katie also caused more than 80,000 power cuts throughout England with numerous reports of tree damage as thousands remain without power. Highways England reported the strong winds resulted in closure of the M48 Severn Bridge and the Dartford River Crossing. Heavy rain also caused flooding which resulted in several road closures, including the M6 northbound between junctions 13 and 14. While Southern England endured downpours and damaging winds, the higher terrain of the Midlands woke up to wintry weather. Rain mixed with snow fell from Stoke-on-Trent to Leeds with accumulating snow reported across the Peak District.
Fueled by dry brush and fanned by high winds, a large grassland fire erupted Tuesday night and continued to burn near Medicine Lodge, Kansas (USA), into the Easter weekend. The Anderson Creek fire has burned close to 400,000 acres in Oklahoma and Kansas as of Friday afternoon, March 25, 2016, according to the Oklahoma Forestry Services. The fire forced officials to close a portion of routes 160 and 281 in the vicinity. The wildfire prompted Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to declare a State of Disaster Emergency, in order to channel state assistance to the local communities.
A blinding duststorm triggered a large traffic pileup in Southern California in the evening. At least 30 people were injured as a result of the incident, which occurred on Highway 247 in Lucerne Valley. One person was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for major injuries, according to the San Bernardino County Fire District. The dust storm brought visibility in the area down to zero, the fire district said, and at least 15 vehicles were involved in the crash.
A multi-day severe weather outbreak targeted portions of the central and southern United States this week. On Wednesday, two EF2 tornadoes struck northeastern Oklahoma. One of the tornadoes touched down near Tulsa, causing at least seven injuries and damaging multiple homes, according to the Tulsa World. Dangerous flash flooding was reported around parts of central Arkansas on Wednesday night. In the town of Jonesboro, a flash flood emergency was declared after over 75 mm of rain fell in the city. Local police warned people to avoid travel following reports of washed-out roads and stalled vehicles in floodwaters. In Dermott, Arkansas, local emergency management stated that one person was injured after a reported tornado occurred near the town. Several homes were damaged as well as a nursing home. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center listed four tornado reports on Wednesday. In addition to Oklahoma and Arkansas, two weak tornadoes caused minor damage in Louisiana. The severe thunderstorms shifted farther east on Thursday, with additional damaging tornadoes touching down. A tornado tore the roof off of a house and snapped trees near Columbus, Mississippi, while other tornadoes downed power lines and threw debris around in Morgan County, Alabama, and Grady County, Georgia.

World weather news, February 2016

Heavy snow has disrupted public transport in southern China, stranding tens of thousands of people outside a rail station, police say. The crowd outside Guangzhou station swelled to nearly 100,000 at its peak on Monday night, police said. Central China has experienced some of its coldest weather in years. The rare snow has coincided with the run-up to Chinese New Year - where hundreds of millions of Chinese travel home to see their families. Many trains from north and central China were delayed by the snow - leaving passengers in the south stranded with no transport. Officials estimate nearly three billion trips will take place over the holiday season, in what is considered the world's biggest annual human migration.
Storm Henry has lashed Scotland with winds of over 100 mph, forcing the closure of roads, rail services and leaving 2,000 homes without power. Scottish and Southern Energy said it had restored power to 9,000 homes, but 2,000 remained cut off after gale force winds brought down and damaged power lines. Gusts reached 148mph on the summit of Cairngorm and a speed of 100mph was recorded at the Tay Road bridge, Dundee. Winds of 90mph were recorded in South Uist on Monday night, with gusts of 60mph in Glasgow and 63mph in Loftus, North Yorkshire. The Tay Road bridge was briefly closed overnight and, together with the Forth bridge, remains closed to high-sided vehicles. Police and Traffic Scotland urged drivers to take care as scores of minor roads were blocked by fallen trees and structural damage to bridges. Duke's Pass in the Trossachs remained blocked by snow. Most of the main roads remained open but travel on the A82 between Glencoe and Rannoch Moor was restricted after a van and a lorry were blown off the road. In England, the Humber Bridge near Hull was also closed to high-sided vehicles and caravans and a speed limit was imposed after a lorry blew over in 49mph winds.
Several tornadoes ripped across parts of eastern Mississippi and western Alabama on the 2nd, while a brutal winter storm paralyzed parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow. The southern tornadoes left behind devastation but no deaths. The storms took down trees and power poles and damaged structures, the Weather Channel reported. More than 14,000 Alabama Power customers were without power, mostly in Birmingham, the utility reported. In Alabama, the National Weather Service in Birmingham reported a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" on the ground near the city of Aliceville, about 45 miles west of Tuscaloosa. In Mississippi, a tornado damaged homes and at least one church, and strong winds damaged student housing at a community college in eastern Mississippi. Overall, there were nine reports of tornadoes in the two states, according to the Storm Prediction Center. The Midwest was struggling with a snowstorm that left a swath of Interstate 80 shut down in Nebraska on Wednesday morning. Parts of the state were hit with more than 15 inches of snow, the National Weather Service reported. Much of Colorado was blasted with more than a foot of snow, 41 inches in Coal Bank Pass.
A crowd gathered at Gobbler's Knob early this morning, awaiting the emergence of the groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. After a tap of a cane on Phil's tree-trunk cage, his door was opened, and the animal emerged. He was held aloft to cheers and applause. Phil did not respond, other than to blink. Placed on top of the trunk, he attempted to flee before his actions were closely analyzed. Interpreting Phil's behavior, the Groundhog Club master of ceremonies proclaimed, "There is no shadow to be cast! An early spring is my forecast!" He added, "Take your jackets off, you're not going to need them!" Few in the crowd followed that advice; the temperature this morning in Punxsutawney, Pa., was reported at 22F.
The El Niņo-influenced weather pattern over the past several months has brought above-normal temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast (USA), causing the ice coverage on the Great Lakes to be significantly lower than it has been over the past two winters. As of today, the total ice coverage on the Great Lakes was less than 6 percent, just a fraction of what it was at the start of February in 2014 and 2015, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). During the past two winters, early intrusions of arctic air paired with the persistence of below-normal temperatures caused ice to develop and to expand across large areas of the lakes by the middle of the winter. However, the weather pattern during the first half of this winter has been significantly different, favoring temperatures near to above normal across the region. As a result, only a small amount of ice has been able to form on the Great Lakes.
Storm Imogen battered England and Wales with powerful winds and downpours from Sunday night into Monday evening. The storm caused more than 19,000 power cuts. The brunt of the outages occurred across the South West of England where some homes remained without power on Tuesday. Disruption to travel was widespread across the southern U.K. including rail delays, flight delays and road closures due to flooding and high winds. Several Cornwall schools were closed or evacuated due to power cuts and storm damage. Two children were injured when a wall collapsed onto them amid the dangerous weather. The strongest winds topped 80 mph across the Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly and Wales. The highest wind gust recorded is 96 mph at Needles Old Battery on Isle of Wight. Cornwall reported a peak wind gust of 79 mph during Imogen. Greater London experienced frequent wind gusts of 40-50 mph with a peak gust of 59 mph at London City Airport. Seas of 8-10 metres were observed in these areas, and the Met Office reported a maximum wave height of 19.1 metres off the coast of St. Ives, Cornwall.
Snow pounded New England on Monday as a coastal storm impacted the region. Travel became difficult across much of the area, including Boston. Blizzard conditions were reported in at least six locations in southeast New England including Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Boston Logan International Airport. In Connecticut, more than 30 people were injured in a bus crash on Interstate 95 in the town of Madison.
An increasingly cold weekend saw rain turning to snow across the Iberian Peninsula. The wintry weather set in as a cold northerly wind brought temperatures down across the region. According to the Spanish Traffic Service, 20 roads had to be closed due to snow, rain and high winds. The regions of Cantabria and Asturias along Spain's northern coast saw some of the heaviest snowfall. However, Galicia in the northwest was worst-affected with 30 to 40cm of snow in places. Hundreds of drivers were also trapped in their cars for hours near Ourense as the weather closed in. Mountain roads soon became passable only with the use of snow chains. Meanwhile, the same disturbance also brought continuous rain and widespread flooding to parts of northern and central Portugal. The Coimbra region has been particularly affected. A few days ago Mallorca was recording temperatures of around 20C. As the cold air set in, temperatures plunged, turning the rain to snow over the higher ground, bringing around 20cm of snow to the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range.
Snow and rain created hazardous travel across the northeastern U.S., causing hundreds of accidents and shutting down major roadways. The worst of the wintry weather impacted western New York through Tuesday afternoon as snow and rain tapered off across other portions of the mid-Atlantic. However, some roads were still difficult to navigate across western Pennsylvania as crews continued to clear roads of snow and ice. Meanwhile, heavy rain and gusty winds spread into southern New England and caused thousands of power outages in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Severe droughts and floods triggered by one of the strongest El Niņo weather events ever recorded have left nearly 100 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America facing food and water shortages and vulnerable to diseases including Zika, UN bodies, international aid agencies and governments have said. New figures from the UN's World Food Programme say 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centres who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year. In addition, 10 million people are said by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) to need food in Ethiopia, and 2.8 million need assistance in Guatemala and Honduras. Millions more people in Asia and the Pacific regions have already been affected by heatwaves, water shortages and forest fires since El Niņo conditions started in mid-2015, says Ocha in a new briefing paper, which forecasts that harvests will continue to be affected worldwide throughout 2016.
A couple from Wexford (Ireland) have been forced to leave their home after Storm Imogen. The house was left hanging from the edge of a 75ft cliff after it was damaged during the bad weather. It is the second storm to cause severe damage in recent weeks. Roddy Hickson and his wife Maureen had lived in the house for 20 years. Speaking to the Wexford People newspaper, Mr Hickson said: "It's hard to believe that it has come to this. Twenty-eight inches of rain fell in the 31 days of January. "The waves in the storm on January 25 and 26 threw stones up on our deck, but Imogen was the straw that broke the camel's back, and it took the whole bank away."
The death toll from a massive category five cyclone that swept through Fiji is now believed to have risen to at least 29. Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall over Fiji on record. The system was first noted as a tropical disturbance on 7 February, when it was located to the northwest of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Over the next few days, the system gradually developed as it moved southeast, acquiring gale-force winds by 11 February. The following day, it underwent rapid intensification and attained ten-minute maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h. Less favourable environmental conditions prompted weakening thereafter. After turning northeast on 14 February, Winston stalled to the north of Tonga on 17 February. Regaining strength and due to a change in higher level steering the storm drifted back to the west, achieving Category 5 status on both the Australian tropical cyclone scale and the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale on 19 February. It reached its peak intensity the next day with ten-minute sustained winds of 230 km/h and a pressure of 915 mb, shortly before making landfall on Viti Levu, Fiji.
A storm brought severe weather to parts of the Middle East Sunday night into Monday as heavy rain and thunderstorms produced flooding, strong winds, and hail. Rainfall averaged 25-50 mm across Israel, Jordan and Lebanon with local amounts up to 100 mm. The storms produced flooding in the Negev which resulted in 10 hikers being rescued. The strong storms caused a roof to collapse at a shopping mall in Beersheba. The heavy rain also caused several school cancellations across Israel. This potent storm system brought heavy snow to Mount Hermon closing a ski resort and causing travel problems in the highest elevations.
At least three people have been killed when seven tornadoes, possibly more, hit south-east Louisiana and south-west Mississippi, authorities and the National Weather Service said. Two people were killed when a tornado ripped through an RV park in Convent, Louisiana, said Sheriff Willy Martin of St James parish. He said authorities are using dogs to search piles of rubble left in the wake of the storm to find anyone else still missing under the debris. Ken Graham, the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service's southeast Louisiana office, said teams will be sent out in the morning to document the damage and rate the tornadoes. He said a lightning strike hit the building where the weather service is located in Slidell, knocking out their radar systems and forcing them to go to backup systems. Earlier on Tuesday, the governors of Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency.
Three houses have been lost to the bushfire near Ballarat (Victoria, Australia). Victoria's emergency management commissioner, Craig Lapsley, said one of the homes was on a farm near Mount Bolton. 'We now see over 143 homes have been lost in Victoria during this fire season,' he told the Nine Network on Wednesday. Read more The cause of the fires is still under investigation but Lapsley urged people to take care. 'It doesn't mean to say we've got malicious arsonists - but it is concerning that we still have total fire ban days, days of severe weather where we see fire starting. We had over 400 fires reported yesterday.' Parts of Victoria are subject to a total fire ban on Wednesday as the mercury looks likely to soar well into the 40s again. The Mallee, northern country, north central and north-eastern districts have been assigned severe fire danger warnings as strong winds and high temperatures create perfect conditions for fires.
A powerful storm system swept across the east coast of the USA, killing three people in Virginia and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the Carolinas. A day earlier, the system spawned at least 10 tornadoes along the Gulf coast, damaging hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Three people were killed and dozens were injured. Forecasters warned the threat wasn't over and that more than 88 million people were at risk on Wednesday of seeing some sort of severe weather.
Seattle set its wettest winter precipitation record by receiving 24.65 inches of rain. This broke the previous record of 22.77 inches set in the winter of 1998-1999. Records in Seattle date back to 1894.

World weather news, January 2016

The heavy snowfall that hit northern and central Turkey in the last days of 2015 has continued into the New Year, causing flight cancellations and road chaos. The bad weather prompted Istanbul authorities to warn residents against going outside unless necessary, while officials said they had more than 1,000 vehicles and heavy machinery ready to keep roads open. Turkish Airlines cancelled approximately 300 flights in and out of the main Ataturk airport and many at Sabiha Gokcen, Istanbul's second airport. Ferries across the Bosphorus Strait bisecting Istanbul were disrupted but the waterway remained open to shipping. The problem here was the strength of wind, roughing up the water and bringing blizzard visibility. At least one person was killed and 30 were injured in a mass pile-up on a major road into Istanbul involving 13 cars. Since the snow started on Wednesday evening, 18 cm has accumulated at Ataturk airport, far more in drifts. Northerly winds gusted to between 50 and 60 km per hour throughout Wednesday and Thursday. Every day in December has been unusually warm, registering above 10C, but as a cold front passed over Istanbul that all changed.
Temperatures fell below 0C for the first time this season in New York City on Monday morning, the latest date on record for such an occurrence. The city's previous record for the latest date for temperatures to drop below freezing was 22 December 1998.
Temperatures continued to plunge in Poland over the weekend, killing 21 people. This brings the number of weather-related deaths over the past two months to 40. Poland has been in the grip of a freezing cold spell since the beginning of the new year, with temperatures yet to climb above -7C. In the capital Warsaw, the temperature dropped to -18C in the first weekend of 2016. This is a complete contrast to the month of December, when the weather was far milder than usual - on December 26, the temperature in Warsaw reached a balmy 14C, 12 degC higher than the usual December maximum. The sudden change in the weather caught some people by surprise, and many of those who died were homeless people sleeping in makeshift shelters. Meanwhile, in the Polish Tatra Mountains, six tourists have slipped and fallen to their deaths since December 25 while trekking on frozen snow and ice. The cold spell over Poland is affecting much of central and eastern Europe. Freezing rain has caused travel disruption in Germany, and Balkan countries have seen the first major snowstorm this winter.
Tropical Storm Pali formed 1,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, making it the earliest on record that a tropical storm has formed in the central Pacific basin. The storm system is the first tropical cyclone to form in the Central Pacific this year and is also the earliest storm on record, beating Tropical Storm Wiona, which formed on Jan. 13, 1989. But it is actually the second tropical cyclone this year. Tropical Depression 9C formed on New Year's Eve in the Central Pacific near the equator and the International date line, but it weakened and dissipated on New Year's Day.
The US experienced its second-warmest year on record in 2015, which was also one of the costliest years for climate and weather-related disasters, federal scientists announced on Thursday. The average national temperature in 2015 was 12.4C, 1.3C above the 20th- century average - making it the second-warmest year since record-keeping began in 1895, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said. Last year was the 19th consecutive year where the annual average US temperature exceeded its 20th-century average - only 2012 was warmer, with an average temperature of 12.9C.
At least three people, including two students, were killed in an avalanche that struck the French Alps on Wednesday afternoon. French officials confirmed three fatalities in the ski resort of Les Deux Alpes. A group of 10 schoolchildren and one teacher were involved in the avalanche. Two students were killed. A Ukrainian man who was not a member of the group was also killed.
A man has died after a tree came crashing down on the car he was travelling in, as wild storms pummelled west Sydney's (Australia). Strong winds caused trees and power lines to fall across the city's western parts, and lightning strikes sparked fires in the Blue Mountains. By early evening the emergency services had received more than 800 calls for help, mostly coming from suburbs in the city's west and south.
At least two people are dead near Sarasota after tornadoes and severe thunderstorms crossed central and South Florida in the early morning hours of Sunday. Tornado damage was reported in Siesta Key and Duette early on Sunday morning between 3-4 a.m. EST. The tornadoes were spawned as a line of strong thunderstorms crossed central and South Florida during the early morning hours of Sunday. The thunderstorms were associated with the storm that brought soaking rain to the rest of the southeastern United States with snow on its northern fringe. This storm followed in the footsteps of a storm that moved across Florida on Friday, producing damaging winds and a tornado across South Florida. Winds from one thunderstorm produced a gust of 82 mph at the Naples Municipal Airport.
As snow ends across the Balkans, the most disruptive snowstorm so far this winter moved through Ukraine on Monday. Over the weekend, this snowstorm brought major snowfall across the Balkans, including Bulgaria and Romania, where some locations saw blizzard conditions. Sofia, Bulgaria received 40 cm of snow over the weekend. Heavy snow and wind also moved into southwestern Ukraine on Sunday, leaving Odessa with several inches of snow. The Odessa Regional State Administration closed 10 roads on Sunday, claiming they were unsafe for travel due to the snow.
2015 broke the record for the hottest year since reporting began in 1850, according to the first full-year figures from the world's three principal temperature estimates. Data released by the UK Met Office shows the average global temperature in 2015 was 0.75 degC higher than the long-term average between 1961 and 1990, much higher than the 0.57 degC in 2014, which itself was a record. The Met Office also expects 2016 to set a new record, meaning the global temperature records will have been broken for three years running. Temperature data released in the US on Wednesday by Nasa and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) also showed 2015 broke previous records.
The South Korean island of Jeju has seen its biggest snowfall in three decades, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled. Jeju is a popular holiday destination and thousands of visitors are reported to have been left stranded. All 517 flights scheduled for Sunday were cancelled, as well as about 60 on Monday, following 11cm (4.3in) of snow. In Hong Kong, residents shivered in three degrees Celsius, the lowest temperature there in nearly 60 years.
Snow, sleet and icy winds across east Asia have caused deaths, flight cancellations and chaos as the region struggles with record-low temperatures due to an Arctic cold snap that brought snow to several tropical areas for the first time in many people's lifetimes. In Taiwan, the capital Taipei recorded a low of 4C, the coldest in 44 years. Local media said 90 people had died due to the cold weather, mainly from hypothermia and cardiac arrest. Five more died in Japan. Hundreds of flights were cancelled across the region, tens of thousands of holidaymakers were stranded in South Korea, and freezing conditions in sub-tropical Hong Kong caused mayhem on its tallest peak. In northern Vietnam, snow blanketed mountain areas as the wave of cold air arrived on Sunday to Lāo Cai province. In the capital, Hanoi, it dropped to a milder 6C, although authorities said that was the coldest the city has been for two decades. The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, which is by the tropic of Cancer, saw sleet for the first time in 60 years, the local meteorological station said. Residents posted photos online of small snowmen they had made, quickly constructed from a thin layer of icy flakes that fell on cars and roads. In Hong Kong, primary schools and kindergartens were closed on Monday after temperatures fell to 3C, a 60-year low. A 100km ultra-marathon race was abandoned as competitors crossing the city's tallest peak, Tai Mo Shan, slipped on icy slopes buffeted by freezing winds. A race official described the scene as one of 'carnage', with dozens of people suffering from hypothermia; firefighters called in to rescue them were filmed slipping and sliding on the icy roads. In Bangkok, labelled the planet's hottest city by the World Meteorological Organisation for its mean air temperature of 28C, the mercury dropped to 16C on Monday. Scarves and padded jackets, normally bought only as winter holiday items by residents of Bangkok, appeared in the city as locals dealt with the unusually cool weather. In China, 24 weather stations recorded all-time low temperatures. Further north, in Inner Mongolia, the temperature dropped to a record low of -46.8C (-52F) and in China's eastern city of Qingdao, fishing boats were stuck fast in the frozen waters.
Millions of commuters across the eastern US battled disrupted transport systems struggling to recover from a huge blizzard. Slippery pavements, crippled train networks, treacherous roads and cancelled flights were among the problems workers faced on Monday. The US government in Washington, as well as many schools and businesses throughout the region, are shut. As the clean up begins, at least 36 people have been left dead. Many East Coast residents spent Sunday digging out their cars and clearing pathways of snow which reached about 90 cm in five states. Flights resumed in Washington and Baltimore but 1,510 flights are delayed or cancelled throughout the region. Amtrak has limited service throughout the US northeast. Sections of the Pennsylvania turnpike, where over 500 vehicles were stranded over the weekend, have now reopened. It affected some 85 million people, at one point cutting the power to 300,000 people. The heaviest fall was recorded in Glengary, West Virginia, which had 42 inches of snow. In New York City - which saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869 - a travel ban that effectively shut the city down has now been lifted. In New York, the storm was the second-biggest on record, while in Washington and Philadelphia, it was the fourth biggest. By the time the snow had stopped falling after two days, late on Saturday, New York's Central Park had received 26.8in, the second-biggest fall recorded since 1869. The total was just 0.1in shy of the all-time high, 26.9in, recorded in February 2006. However, the 26.6in that fell in the park on Saturday alone was a one-day record for the city. The 36 fatalities were as a result of car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks suffered while shovelling snow.
This year has been a deadly one for avalanches in the US. Ten people have died in the past 10 days, and a total of 14 have died this snow season in the US, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. With 11 deaths this month, it's the highest death rate for January since 2008 and the second worst January in 20 years.
A town on West Australia's Pilbara coast has been spared the worst of Cyclone Stan as it failed to reach the predicted category three strength overnight. The cyclone crossed at the Pardoo roadhouse, east Pilbara coast at 2am and was on Sunday morning moving inland in a south-easterly direction. It was still classified as a category two cyclone and was moving about 18km/h. Stan is the first cyclone of the Australian season, which begins officially on 1 November each year.
A man has been killed and many rescued after severe storms dumped heavy rain on parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. More than 125mm of rain was recorded in some areas between the Sunshine Coast and Gladstone. More than 1000 calls for help were received by the SES after Saturday's storms in Sydney, which hit large parts of the state with winds of more than 100km/h that brought down trees and powerlines. Penrith, Mount Druitt and surrounds were the worst hit parts of Sydney while at Forbes Creek, east of Canberra, seven of the 12 homes in the village were severely damaged by fallen trees and strong winds. At Strathfield 36mm of rain fell in just 15 minutes and 42mm was dumped at Goulburn during Saturday's storms. Power was cut to more than 50,000 homes and businesses across Sydney, with the Sutherland area the hardest hit.

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Last updated 28 April 2016.