World weather news

World weather news, February 2018

9th-13th
Powerful Cyclone Gita caused widespread damage to parts of Samoa and American Samoa last week before targeting Tonga Monday night into Tuesday. An emergency declaration was made by the governor of American Samoa which was approved by President Donald Trump allowing aid to be distributed to the island territory. Flooding and power cuts were widespread across Tutuila, including the capital of Pago Pago where rainfall in excess of 150 mm was reported. In Samoa, there were no immediate reports of injury or death from the cyclone, according to Radio New Zealand. More than 350 mm of rain fell in the capital city of Apia from Friday into Saturday. Widespread flooding was reported along with damage to buildings from strong winds. Niue was next in the path of Gita; however, the island was largely spared as Gita passed east and south of the island nation Sunday into Monday. Gita continued to strengthen as it turned westward and approached Tonga Monday night into Tuesday. The centre of the storm passed just south of Tonga unleashing damaging winds, flooding rain and inundating storm surge on Tongatapu and Eua. At its closest approach to Tonga, Gita was equal to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic and east Pacific oceans with sustained winds of 232 km/h. Tonga's Parliament House was completely destroyed in the storm's fury, according to the Associated Press. The Tonga Met office was also damaged, forcing forecasters to take shelter and shift warning responsibilities to the Fiji Met Service.
11th
South-east Queenslanders experienced severe storms in the evening, which dumped huge hail and wreaked havoc on the power network. By Monday morning repair crews were scrambling to restore power to about 57,000 properties that remained without power after destructive winds, gusting beyond 100 km/h in some places, downed hundreds of power lines across the region. The severe weather also caused delays to train services on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh lines. The wild weather, after a day of baking heat across much of Queensland, generated more than 265,000 lightning strikes.
18th
Tropical Cyclone Kelvin crossed the Western Australian coast on Sunday morning near Anna Plains station, about 250km south of Broome, as a category 2 storm. Cattle producer David Stoate said the property, which includes 20,000 cattle, copped a "belting" with roaring wind, roofs knocked off, windows smashed and trees uprooted. He estimated the damage to be about $150,000. Elsewhere in the region, lives and homes remained in danger on Sunday afternoon, with a red alert in place for people between the Bidyadanga Aboriginal community and Sandfire in the Kimberley region. People were warned to remain inside and shelter in the strongest part of their homes or at the evacuation centre, away from doors and windows, and to keep emergency kits with them.
19th
At least 17 people were killed after being buried by debris when heavy rain caused a large mound of garbage to collapse in Mozambique's capital. The disaster took place at the Hulene garbage dump, the largest such facility in Mozambique's capital of Maputo. The garbage dump rose up to the height of a three-story building and collapsed onto homes as heavy rain poured down, the AP reported. A weather station in Maputo recorded nearly 90 mm of rain in 24 hours, ending on Monday morning, local time.
20th
After leaving destruction from Samoa to Tonga, Cyclone Gita brought more damage as it hit New Zealand, unleashing powerful winds and heavy rainfall. Despite losing its tropical characteristics, the powerful storm still caused travel disruptions, power outages and significant flooding. A state of emergency has been declared in Taranaki, Selywn, Buller, Grey, Westland, Nelson/Tasman and Christchurch regions, according to the New Zealand MetService. A peak wind gust of 130 km/h was reported in Hawera. Up to 14,000 homes were left without power during the peak of the storm in Taranaki region as a result of the high winds. The heaviest rain has fallen over northern South Island and southern North Island where 25-75 mm has been common. The February rainfall in Wellington has surpassed 75 mm as of Tuesday night. Normal rainfall for the entire month of February is around 89 mm. Similarly, rainfall has surpassed 50 mm in Christchurch which averages only 45 mm for the entire month. The storm has also disrupted travel with numerous road closures and cancelled flights.
20th
An Australian town has been hit by a dust storm that covered the outback community in orange dust. The storm swept through Charleville in south-west Queensland on Tuesday, knocking down trees and causing minor damage. Authorities said recent weather conditions had allowed strong winds to pick and spread dirt from the region. "We do see a fair few dust events through the western parts of Queensland because it is such a dry and hot place, but it's definitely one of the more impressive events of the last few years," said Harry Clark, from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. He estimated the dust storm was about 200 km wide. It gave winds of up to 60 mph, while visibility at the local airport was reduced to about 200 m.

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Last updated 21 February 2018.

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