Unusual European weather of 2006 - a powerpoint presentation given at the 87th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, 16 January 2007, at San Antonio, Texas.
Unusual European weather of 2006 - PDF version of the above presentation.
World weather news
World weather news, December 2006
- The Midwestern United States saw its first big storm of the winter on Friday, the effects of which were felt from all the way from Texas to Michigan.
The storm system brought everything from heavy rain, high winds and thunderstorms to snow and freezing rain as it swept through, disrupting power supplies and transportation. Over half a million customers in Illinois and Michigan alone were without electricity after power lines were brought down by ice and snow. Emergencies were declared in Missouri and Kansas, and parts of New York State were battered by high winds and severe thunderstorms.
Heavy snow brought by thunderstorms brought major disruption to Chicago's O'Hare airport on Friday, resulting in around 600 cancelled flights. The airport was closed during the morning as between six and twelve inches of snow fell across the Chicago area, and regional airports elsewhere in the country also struggled with the weather conditions. The bad weather was also felt in Canada, with freezing rain falling in southern Ontario.
- The latest WMO El Nino/La Nina update says a "moderate" El Nino event is now established across the tropical Pacific basin and is expected to continue until at least the first quarter of 2007.
Sea-surface temperatures in the region were between 1C and 1.5C warmer than usual for October, measurements typical of many El Nino events in the past. These conditions are expected to slightly intensify over the next three months, but experts agree that the event is unlikely to exceed the "moderate" category in this period.
Impacts have already been, and continue to be, severe in the western equatorial Pacific, the islands therein and surrounding continental regions, including Australia and Indonesia which are suffering severe drought conditions.
- Rainfall deficiencies have been gradually spreading over eastern and southern Australia during 2006, but the situation has taken a distinct turn for the worse from August, with a near total failure of the late-winter and spring rains. In the historical record dating from 1900, it was the driest August to November period averaged across South Australia, the second driest averaged over the Murray Darling Basin, the third driest across Australia and the fourth driest for Victoria. Rainfall deficits have also developed over parts of the tropics as evidence of a poor start to the northern wet season.
- After devastating parts of the Philippines, Typhoon Durian has turned its attention to Vietnam. At least 47 people have reportedly been killed and more than 300 were injured when Durian slammed into the coast south of Ho Chi Minh City. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed by the storm, which had steady winds of about 118km/h at landfall on Tuesday morning.
- A tornado ripped off a section of a wall of a northwest London house, damaged several nearby homes and injured at least six people.
A man was taken to a hospital with a head injury, and five other adults were treated at the scene for minor injuries and shock, London Ambulance Service said.
London Fire Brigade reported that about 100 properties were affected in a quarter-square-mile area.
The storm hit just after 11 a.m. on a day of unsettled weather, as high winds, bursts of rain and occasional hail and thunder swept across southern England.
The tornado ripped whole sections of roof off some homes, tore tiles from other roofs, uprooted trees and left the street strewn with debris.
An average of 33 tornadoes are reported annually in Britain, according to the Tornado and Storm Research Organization.
One of the worst tornadoes to hit Britain destroyed the church of St. Mary le Bow and 600 homes in central London in 1091.
- Southampton (UK) was also hit by stormy conditions, where very strong winds tore the roof off a block of flats in the St. Mary's area. No-one was injured in this incident, however nearby cars were said to have been damaged by flying debris.
Winds also battered much of the south coast with Portland, only several miles from Weymouth, reporting wind gusts up to 77mph. At the Solent station, close to Southampton winds gusted up to 68mph.
Strong winds also battered much of Wales, especially along the southern and western coastal areas, where the strongest gust of the day was reported, at Mumbles, near Swansea. A gust of 88mph was reported at the site. Just around the bay at Aberavon, near Port Talbot roofing sheets were torn off the Aquadrome sports centre.
Strong winds and heavy rain closed numerous roads and schools across Wales, while some Irish Sea ferry crossings were also cancelled.
- London, Middlesex and Oxford (in Ontario, Canada) have been hit by a snow squall (a band of heavy snow showers accompanied by strong gusty winds) that developed over the south of Georgio Bay and Lake Huron then moved over southern parts of Ontario bringing many hours of blizzard conditions.
Toronto was also gripped by the icy weather, but it was London, Ontario that was worst hit with around 40cm being dumped during the course of Thursday night.
The snow caused many of the schools and colleges to close on Friday, while on one of the highways there was a 20 car pile-up caused by the icy conditions.
- Typhoon Utor thundered out of the Philippines leaving six feared dead and thousands stranded after high winds and waves tore up power lines and communication links in the archipelago.
90,000 people were displaced by the tropical cyclone which made landfall on Saturday in eastern Samar province. Wind speeds of 126 km/h were measured.
Utor is the second major typhoon to have struck the Philippines in 10 days.
- Only about 30 per cent of the seasonal average of snow has fallen so far this winter in the Alps as the unusually warm temperatures continue.
MeteoSwiss say that readings in November and early December were some 10?C above the norm. Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics announced last week that Alpine temperatures were their highest in 1 300 years. Central England has recorded its warmest autumn on record and the Met Office, UK, has predicted higher-than-average temperatures for the rest of the winter.
Many ski resorts throughout Europe have postponed opening their slopes due to the lack of snow while an early blossoming of fruit tress in some regions has farmers worried that their potential produce will be affected by frost.
- Record-breaking temperatures are fuelling severe bush fires in south-eastern parts of Australia, destroying hundreds of thousands of hectares of alpine forest and farmland. Victoria and southern parts of New South Wales are the worst hit areas and authorities have warned that the fires will hit major settlements.
The fires, thought to have been sparked by lightening strikes, have been fanned by strong northerly winds bringing hot air from the desert. Serious drought has also contributed.
The city of Mount Gambier in South Australia recorded its hottest December day on record at 42.4C.
- Mild weather was expected to linger in most of the United States until at least early January, continuing a prolonged spell of balmy conditions that has cut deeply into heating demand.
"We see no end at this point to the moderate weather pattern that virtually all of North America is experiencing," said Mike Palmerino of DTN Meteorlogix. "It is very unlikely anyone in the Northeast is going to get a white Christmas."
- A large area of high pressure has settled over the United Kingdom, creating very calm meteorological conditions and dense fog. On the evening of the 19th, a thick freezing fog descended on much of the country causing travel chaos, including hundreds of flight cancellations at Heathrow, Cardiff and Birmingham airports. The fog cleared from much of Scotland, Wales and the south-west of England on the 20th, but continued to linger on across central and south-eastern parts of England.
- In the United States, a major winter storm affected Colorado on the 20th, dumping several feet of snow on areas of the Rocky Mountains. The snowstorm temporarily closed the Denver International Airport.
- Floods in Malaysia have killed at least five people, according to officials, as continuing heavy rains spread to six states and forced nearly 80,000 people to abandon their homes.
Two women and three men had been found dead in the worst-hit state of Johor in the south.
Flooding was also reported in the neighboring states of Malacca and Negeri Sembilan, but the situation there was not as serious.
- Seven people have died and more than 90,000 have been displaced during the last week as the country recorded heavy rainfall. The most rain to fall during a 24-hour period in the last week was 16 inches on Monday in Segamat town in central Johor.
- Powerful storms damaged at least three dozen homes and injured some of their residents as heavy rain, strong wind and possible tornadoes swept across the Southeast USA.
In Columbia County, about 60 miles west of Jacksonville, at least two homes were destroyed and 10 others damaged.
World weather news, November 2006
- In Sweden heavy snow disrupted life in parts of the country on Wednesday, including in the capital Stockholm where public transport was partly shut down during the evening. Buses were suspended due to the icy road surfaces, and cars with summer tyres were unable to move. Road traffic accidents brought roads to a standstill, and railway services were disrupted in central parts of the country and in neighbouring Finland.
Strong winds were thought to be responsible for the sinking of a freighter in the Baltic Sea, between the Swedish islands of Oland and Gotland. Swedish emergency services managed to rescue 13 of the 14 crewmembers, but called off the search for the final crewman on Thursday.
High winds also disrupted public transport in the Danish city of Copenhagen. A ferry from Oslo in Norway had to abort its attempt to dock after brushing too close to a pier, but no-one was injured and the ferry was able to successfully dock nine hours later.
The weather caused problems in other countries around the Baltic Sea, including Germany and Poland. Along Germany's northern coast trees were uprooted and roofs damaged by strong winds, and in Poland seawater washed onto low-lying streets in the coastal city of Gdansk. The cold, strong northerly wind following behind the low pressure system meant many parts of Poland and neighbouring countries also saw snow falling on Thursday.
- Snow cover at the end of October penetrated unusually far to the south over southern provinces of Canada and into the U.S. northern Plains.
- Flooding triggered by torrential rains in south-east Turkey has taken the lives of at least 32 people over the past two days according to authorities. Seven of the victims were children under the age of five while dozens of other people have been reported missing.
Flooding has also occurred in other parts of the country: roads in coastal areas have been closed and homes evacuated in Istanbul.
- Rainfall deficiencies have been gradually spreading over southern and eastern Australia during 2006, but the situation has taken a distinct turn for the worse from August, with a near total failure of the late-winter to mid-spring rains. In the historical record dating from 1900, it was the driest August to October period averaged across SA, the second driest averaged over Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin, and the third driest for NSW whose state-average was boosted by above-normal falls along the north coast.
It has also been remarkably warm during the past three months, with mean maximum temperatures being easily the highest on record (for the post-1950 era) averaged over Australia, NSW, Victoria, SA, WA and the Murray Darling Basin. Furthermore, as an indicator of how dry the air and ground have been, the daily temperature range (difference between maximum and minimum temperatures) was the highest on record for August-October averaged over NSW and Victoria, and the second highest for SA. A lack of both atmospheric humidity and soil moisture increases the capacity of the air to gain heat in the day, and to lose heat at night.
- Heavy rainfall over the weekend flooded several villages in central and southern Portugal, forcing nearly 200 people to evacuate their homes.
The Nabao River burst its banks flooding the village of Tomar, 93 miles north of the capital city, Lisbon. The river was said to have reached its highest level since the severe flood the country experienced in 1989.
From 0600GMT on Sunday to 0600GMT on Monday 129mm of rain fell in Castelo Branco. The average rainfall for November is 102mm.
Weather Services forecast heavy rain and poor conditions until Tuesday, as nine of Portugal's eighteen districts were placed on yellow alert and five on orange, the third and second most serious weather warning level, in a scale from lowest green to highest red.
- A cold spell has been blamed for a sudden surge in electricity demand which bought extensive power blackouts in the evening across parts of Western Europe. It is thought that the problems began across Germany with the energy company RWE unable to cope as freezing temperatures bought an increasing demand for energy.
The failure of two high voltage lines is then said to have triggered a 'domino' affect, as one by one, parts of eastern France, Belgium, Italy and Spain were plunged into darkness.
The power cuts are said to have got as far as Madrid and Valencia.
- Flash floods caused by heavy rain killed 18 people and injured 20 in northern Iraq. The heavy rains began late on Sunday, mainly in five villages in the Khalifan district in the Irbil province.
The floods destroyed nine bridge and several houses. Nine of the dead were members of one family.
- Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles reached 97F at about noon, making it the warmest 7 November since such record-keeping began in 1877. The old record, 91F, was set 50 years ago. Tuesday's temperature exceeded Monday's peak of 95F, which also was an all-time high for the date.
The NWS said the unusual temperatures were caused by activity from the Santa Ana winds.
- The body of a 78-year-old woman who disappeared on a storm-battered beach was found Wednesday, the third confirmed death from storms in the Pacific Northwest that smashed rainfall records and damaged hundreds of homes.
The Pineapple Express storm, named for its origin over the warm Pacific Ocean, abated Wednesday after sending rivers over their banks Monday and Tuesday, causing millions of dollars in damage.
Rainfall records were set Monday across western Washington, including 8.22 inches at Stampede Pass, which broke an all-time record for a 24-hour period there of 7.29 inches, set on 19 November 1962. Olympia had a record for the date at 4.31 inches. The storm dumped up to 15 inches on Oregon by Tuesday, mostly along the coast.
- Japan's deadliest tornado on record tore through a remote northern town killing nine people and injuring 25.
The twister knocked out electricity to hundreds of homes and flipped over cars in the town of Saroma, on the northern island of Hokkaido.
According to the Central Meteorological Agency, the worst tornado previously recorded in Japan was two months ago, when three people were killed on the southern island of Kyushu.
Tornadoes are relatively rare in Japan, and the agency only has records of tornado-related deaths going back to 1961.
- The drought gripping Australia could be the worst in 1,000 years, government officials said, as Australia started to draw up emergency plans to secure long-term water supplies to towns and cities.
The drought affecting more than half of Australia's farmlands, already lasting more than five years, had previously been regarded as the worst in a century.
But officials from the Murray-Darling river basin commission told a water summit of national and state political leaders on Tuesday that analyses of the current prolonged drought now pointed to the driest period in 1,000 years.
The average inflow of water into the Murray River, which flows through three states, is 11,000 gigaliters a year. In the past five months it has received less than 600 gigaliters.
Green groups have warned that towns and cities along the river system could run out of water if the drought goes into another year.
Flash floods triggered by heavy rain have killed at least 21 people in eastern Kenya and some 60,000 have been made homeless. Bridges have been washed away, cutting the main roads linking the port of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, and to the United Republic of Tanzania.
The Kenyan Meteorological Department says the rains are expected to continue and the country's health ministry warned of possible outbreaks of waterborne disease, especially cholera.
- The icebergs drifting off the Otago coast have covered 13,500km from the Antarctic's Ronne Ice Shelf. Their journey started six years ago, when an iceberg known as A-43, 167km long and 32km wide, broke off. It has since broken into more pieces and the largest, called A-43A, was created in May 2001. It is considered to be the parent of the icebergs off Otago.
The icebergs - two large ones and several smaller chunks - have sparked overseas interest as people clamour to view a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
One of the large icebergs is about 500m long, 50m wide and 60m high while the other large iceberg peaks at more than 100m high and is three times as long. They are about 100km southeast of Dunedin and are believed to be moving north at about 2km/h.
The last mainland sightings off Dunedin occured in 1931.
- A tornado ripped through a North Carolina trailer park on Thursday, killing at least eight people as it tore mobile homes off their foundations and flipped cars into the air.
The tornado was created by a storm system that caused havoc across large parts of the South (USA) on Wednesday and early on Thursday. Media reports said one person died on Wednesday in Louisiana.
- The raw Antarctic chill that gripped Tasmania on Tuesday lept over the Bass Strait to the state of Victoria, Australia, overnight and today. Snow fell all along the east-west highland axis north of Melbourne, even in the bigger towns such as Ballarat. In the foredawn of Thursday, it is snowing a little along the Australian Alps of eastern Victoria. Atop Mount Hotham, the wind and the -6C cold make it feel like -20C. In Melbourne, it was a day of biting winds, on-and-off rain, even the peltings of small hail. The high of 12C undercut the normal high of 21C to work and school is going to be bracing for alot of folk in the cities of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart - and the towns and countryside in between.
- Rain and wind again battered the Puget Sound region, leaving tens of thousands of people without power and setting a rainfall record in Seattle (USA) as authorities began assessing the damage from floods last week.
The latest rains raised the total for the month to 11.63 inches at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as of 8 p.m. PT Wednesday, breaking the old record of 11.62 inches set in November 1998.
Halfway into November, it's the sixth wettest month in the city's recorded history. No. 1 was December 1933 with 15.33 inches.
- Fog has been plaguing parts of western Turkey over the last couple of days, causing road accidents and closing the waterways that link the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
On Friday at least 33 people were reportedly injured in a multi-vehicle accident on a busy highway near the Turkish capital Istanbul. Around 100 vehicles were involved, including cars, lorries, buses and a Bulgarian tourist coach. The crashes occurred along a 10km stretch of the road, where thick fog had reduced visibility to just a few metres.
Fog remained a problem on Saturday morning, but this time for maritime traffic in the Turkish straits. The Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, and the Dardanelles Strait between the Marmara Sea and the Mediterranean were both closed when visibility dropped under 200m. The two waterways, among the most crowded in the world, were expected to reopen later on Saturday when visibility improved.
Three US marines were injured in Japan after a tornado struck their base.
They were taken to hospital for their cuts as cars were toppled and power lines cut in northern Okinawa.
The US marines said that an electrical transformer, a post office and other buildings were damaged.
Although tornados are said to be rare in Japan, the twister comes less than a fortnight since one killed nine people in the country.
- About 32,000 British Columbia. homes and businesses from Vancouver Island to Chilliwack were still without power Friday in the aftermath of the huge storm that hammered the South Coast on Wednesday. B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Elisha Moreno said late Friday of that figure, 20,000 were located in the Fraser Valley.
Crews have reconnected more than 110,000 customers in the past day
- The Sri Lankan Department of Meteorological has warned of more heavy rain over the next few days. According to the National Disaster Management Centre, at least 45 people have died and 91,000 families displaced in floods and mudslides which also cut roads in many areas. The capital city Colombo received 149.3mm of rainfall in 24 hours ending at 8.30 a.m. local time today.
United Nations and aid groups have launched a massive humanitarian operation in Kenya to assist more than 150,000 people hit by killer floods caused by unusually heavy seasonal rains.
Neighboring Somalia, appealed for emergency international aid to help 1.5 million people affected by flooding; at least 80 have already died here.
The onset of rains has compounded problems across the Horn of Africa already brought by the drought as parched soil in the worst-affected areas is unable to absorb the water.
The floods began in late October, have destroyed major stretches of road, cut off villages and refugee camps, disrupted food supplies, and raised the threat of waterborne disease in the three countries.
The United Nations says the flooding could be the worst in 50 years to hit Somalia.
- Heavy rain hit remote villages in western Afghanistan already devastated by flooding, as the death toll rose to 120.
- Snowflakes, mixed with rain, fell at about 9 p.m. in central Florida, according to the National Weather Service.
The last time the region saw snow was in 2003, when flakes fell over Brevard and Volusia counties.
It was Florida's first November snowfall since 1912 when Tallahassee received flurries on Nov. 27-28.
- Meteorologists in China said that a severe drought has been affecting the northwest of China and warned that it could continue on into the spring, while temperatures stay above average and rainfall below normal.
The drought will probably make its biggest impact on agricultural production, in particular in the region of Ningxia Hui, which is in the far north of China and borders on the Gobi region. In this region the average temperatures have been at least two degrees above average over the last few months. Over the last 10 months rainfall has been 25% less than normal.
The average temperature in Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi, also in the north, was 3.6C higher than usual in the past eight months and in Hetian a record 5.1C higher than normal.
The arid climate is also affecting the snow-capped mountains in northern and eastern Xinjiang, where in the worst affected areas there is up to 90% less snow than usual.
- 30 November officially marks the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, and as it draws to a close, the US will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Not only has it been a less active season than was originally forecast, but the season looks like ending without any hurricane actually making landfall on the US coastline.
Although Hurricanes have been known to form beyond November, forecasters are not expecting any more to develop this year.
Forecasters originally expected 17 named storms and 9 hurricanes to form this season, but up to date there have been only 9 named storms, 5 of which have become hurricanes. Despite this, only 3 of these actually went on to make any landfall on the US, though by then they were weakened tropical storms.
This is thought to be the first year since 2001 that there have been no land-falling hurricanes. In comparison there were 8 hurricanes which touched land during the 2005 season.
- Super typhoon Durian slammed into the eastern Philippines, spawning torrential rains and powerful winds that blew away tin roofs and uprooted trees as it swept closer to Manila.
Packing winds of 190km/h Durian tore through the eastern island of Catanduanes, about 400km east of Manila, before dawn destroying property and tearing down powerlines.
A mudslide triggered by Typhoon Durian has killed at least 146 people. Most of the victims were buried in two villages in the foothills of the Mayon volcano, south-east of Manila after heavy rainfall. Five other villages were also affected and rescue staff fear that the death toll may rise.
- The Swiss National Weather Service, MeteoSwiss, says that autumn 2006 was the warmest on record, beating the previous high in 1987 by 1C and between 2C and 3C above average seasonal temperatures. Systematic annual meteorological measurements in Switzerland were first carried out in 1864.
World weather news, October 2006
- Tropical Storm Xangsane pushed across central Vietnam, leaving at least six people dead, hundreds injured and tens of thousands of homes damaged.
The storm, which killed at least 76 people and left about 69 missing in the Philippines last week, hit Vietnam's coastal city of Danang and caused widespread blackouts.
Xangsane, downgraded from a typhoon just before it hit Vietnam, killed at least four people in Danang.
In Danang, many houses had their tin roofs blown off, and tin sheets could be seen hanging over trees and electricity cables.
- Serious damage was caused by a tornado in the village of Quirla in the
state of Thüringen in eastern Germany at 0152h local time on Sunday night. Three people were injured. At least 20 houses had their roofs partly ripped off and a number were rendered uninhabitable.
- One person has been killed and five others injured following a lightning strike in Ontario, Canada. The group-of-six was struck as they worked in a pepper field. In addition to the deaths, the storm also caused around 4,500 residents to lose their power supply.
- This year's hole in the Antarctic ozone layer was the most serious on record exceeding that of 2000. Not only was it the largest in surface area (matching 2000) but also suffered the most mass deficit, meaning that there was less ozone over the Antarctic than ever previously measured.
NASA instruments showed that, on 25 September 2006, the area of the hole reached 29.5 million sq km, compared to 29.4 million sq km reached in September 2000.
According to ESA, the ozone hole area reached 28.0 million sq km on 25 September 2006, very close to the maximum in 2000, which peaked at 28.4 million sq km.
The ozone mass deficit in 2006 was measured at 39.8 megatonnes on 1 October, higher than in 2000, which peaked at 39.6 megatonnes on 29 September. Mass deficit is the amount of ozone missing from a vertical column of air compared to a baseline measured many decades earlier before severe ozone depletion appeared.
- According to figures from the Met Office last month was the warmest September on record in the United Kingdom. The daily mean of 15.4C was 3.1C above the long-term average and smashed the previous record of 14.7C set in 1949.
Night-time minimum temperatures proved to be significant with the average minimum across the country calculated at 11.5C, almost a degree above the previous record of 10.6C (1949).
In July, the United Kingdom recorded its warmest ever month on record. The average daily temperature (day and night) was 17.8C with the average maximum temperature at 23.1C.
- A massive storm with winds as strong as 75mph paralysed transport in New Zealand's capital of Wellington. Train, plane and ferry services were all been disrupted by the storm, stranding at least 4,000 passengers at airports as winds were said to be too strong for aeroplanes to land in. An additional 700 ferry passengers looking to cross the Cook Strait were also stranded as winds and six metre high swells cancelled all crossings.
- Spain has announced that it has suffered from two years of drought, saying that it has been the worst period of dryness in over a century.
Officials stated that the country had only received 595mm of rain in the year to the end of September, 11 per cent less than the historical average.
"This is the second consecutive dry year and follows 2004-05 in which we accumulated a national shortfall of 250 millimetres" Spanish weather officials said.
Such is the extent of the problem that many areas have had water rationing, with hosepipe bans and irrigation restricted.
Power was also hit as the lack of rain affected hydroelectric power, making output fall from 12 per cent of the nation's electricity generation to eight per cent.
- A storm that dropped as much as 9 inches of rain forced the evacuation Saturday of about 100 people in a six-block section of Richmond, Va, (USA), caused scattered flooding in the southeastern part of the state and likely contributed to the death of two fishermen.
- Many villages in northern Greece have been severely affected by flooding. Torrential rain over the weekend have left a trail of devastation as floods swept through Athens, Thessaloniki, Olympiada and surrounding areas.
Emergency services have declared the area a disaster zone, as rescue workers spent Sunday searching for inhabitants feared to have been swept away.
In Olympiada alone, more than 200 homes have been flooded and families have been evacuated, some by helicopter. 200 fireman and 20 soldiers have also been drafted in to assist with the rescue mission.
A further 80 homes were flooded in Thessaloniki and 15 people here had to be evacuated by boat, such was the extent of the flooding. Water levels in Melisourgo, 56 miles east of Thessaloniki, have risen to as high as 2m in places.
- Heavy rainfall in parts of southern Alaska totalled 75-125 mm during the 8th-12th. Subsequent flooding and mudslides washed out sections of the Richardson Highway, closing a 105-km stretch of highway north of Valdez.
- Crops are suffering in Australia as both high and low temperatures hit the country.
Parts of New South Wales have been suffering from "severe overnight frosts", while parts of the state of South Australia have also been hit by frost.
Here in one of Australia's main grape-growing regions, nearly half of the wine-making crop is feared lost, at the cost of millions of dollars.
However, the state of Western Australia has been hit by temperatures as high as 40C.
South Australia could also be affected by this high temperature, this time hitting barley crops, which would be the "final nail in the coffin" for farmers.
- Monsoon flooding - the worst in a decade - has taken the lives of 13 people in Myanmar over the past few days and 39 in Thailand since the end of August.
In Thailand, an estimated 230,000 people have fallen ill from water-borne diseases and 262,000 hectares of agricultural land ruined.
Experts say water levels in the Chao Phraya River are at their highest in 60 years and could threaten Bangkok which has already experienced local flooding and heavy rainfall. Officials have been building sandbag and concrete defences along city centre river banks while diverting the flow into rice fields upstream near the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
Researchers in the United States have discovered that thick clouds of dust that periodically rise up from the Sahara desert affect hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
Fewer Atlantic hurricanes spawned in years featuring strong dust storms in the Sahara which raises the possibility that they could help reduce tropical cyclone activity.
More work needs to be carried out but the researchers say that, if they could proved that dust storms helped suppress the development of hurricanes, weather forecasters could eventually track atmospheric dust and factor it into their forecasts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the research, which has been published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
- Tasmania, especially the southeast, has seen two days of high temperatures, separated by a very warm night, plus strong winds and very low humidities. It reached 33.1C in Hobart on the 12th, the third-warmest October day Hobart has ever had, and the warmest since the record high of 34.6C on the 31st in 1987.
On Wednesday) Hobart's temperature reached 28.1C. Hobart normally sees two consecutive days over 28C once or twice each year, but only sees them in October about once every 20 years. The last time it happened in October was in 1977.
The highest temperature on the 12th was 34C at Campania, the second-highest October temperature in Tasmania.
- In the United States, the season's first blast of cold air affected areas of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. In addition to subfreezing temperatures across a large area, snowfall was also common throughout the region.
- An early snow storm caused havoc in western New York state, with record flurries leaving roads blocked, power lines down and hundreds of thousands without electricity.
Parts of the region had seen up to 60cm of snow by early Friday, with up to 12cm more expected. Six people were reported killed by the storm.
The snow was the result of unseasonably cold air traversing the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, generated significant lake effect snowfall. In western New York, record October snowfall occurred in Buffalo, with 57.4cm recorded at the airport. This broke the monthly record (since 1870) for a single snowfall event, and also was the 6th heaviest snowfall on record. Nearly one million people lost power during the event.
- Strong dust storms and thunderstorms have hit the Pakistani city of Lahore.
Seven people were injured as the powerful storms with speeds of up to 60 miles per hour uprooted trees and damaged property.
Local weather experts said that the conditions which caused this were "unusual" for this time of year.
Around 30mm of rain was dumped and although the storm disrupted and scattered rice being harvested, the storms have ended the long period of dry heat.
- A slow-moving area of low pressure was responsible for stormy weather, that brought exceptional rain to northern parts of Louisiana (USA).
One of the hardest hit areas was Grayson, a town in north-central Louisiana's Caldwell Parish, where 17 inches of rainfall occurred in a period from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning. Authorities here, believe it to be the highest rainfall achieved from a single storm since Tropical Storm Allison in 1989.
Residents described the rain as monsoon-like and said that the flood waters had risen to waist height, flooding many homes and businesses. It is thought that recent dry weather and extensive road construction in the area had contributed to the flooding.
- Two Greek Aegean islands and an entire prefecture in northwestern Crete were in a state of emergency after overnight storms flooded homes, businesses and hotels across the region.
The Greek fire department was called out Wednesday to drain water from dozens of buildings and rescue people trapped inside their cars in Hania prefecture on Crete.
Flood-related damage was also reported across the northern coast of Crete in the cities of Heraklion and Rethymnon, and on the islands of Astypalaia and Leros.
The southern Aegean was struck by a storm front on Tuesday with gale-force winds that reached Beaufort force 10.
- In China, there was an extreme drought, concentrated in Shandong and Hebei provinces, during mid-October.
- The EUMETSAT METOP-A spacecraft was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at 1628GMT and handed over to EUMETSAT operations team on 22 October. METOP-A is the first of a series of three polar-orbiting meteorological satellites to be operated by EUMETSAT over the next 15 years on a mid-morning orbit, crossing the equator southwards at 09h30 (Local Solar Time), as part of the NOAA-EUMETSAT Initial Joint Polar System. Its payload includes eight different instruments for atmospheric sounding and various meteorological and environmental applications, namely the prototype Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI).
- Severe storms caused major disruption to many southern parts of Greece on Saturday afternoon, just days after a separate line of storms forced authorities to declare a state of emergency elsewhere in the region.
Around 30 homes were flooded in the southern Peloponnese and several occupants had to be rescued by firemen. Three cars were swept away by torrents, while landslides halted road traffic in parts of the region.
- Across southeastern Texas, heavy rainfall produced flooding that destroyed about 40 homes. The flooding was concentrated along the swollen Neches River. Texas Governor Rick Perry decalared nine southeastern Texas counties disaster areas.
- Crocodiles have taken advantage of Thailand's flooding to escape pens in which they were being raised.
Flood victims are being told to keep a look out for the man-eating reptiles, particularly as being raised in captivity they may be uncertain what to eat, Thailand's fisheries department said.
Department director general Charanthada Kannasut told the Nation newspaper that crocodiles may approach people because they are used to being fed by humans.
Residents of flooded areas have been warned not to approach floodwater at night as this makes it harder to spot the reptiles.
Although Thailand's registered crocodile keepers are said to have successfully evacuated their creatures, the dangers are said to come from unlicensed farms.
- A German couple died in the Madeira Islands when their car was swept from a cliff and into the sea by a mudslide that occurred after days of heavy rain.
- Bad weather has forced half the yachts in a solo round-the-world contest to return to port in Spain.
The Velux 5 Oceans contest has suffered from "boat-breaking" gales in the Bay of Biscay.
Skipper Mike Golding said in the article that "the main thing is just to get through this and not break anything".
Eight competitors are racing around the world by themselves and plan to make stops in Australia and the US, weather permitting.
- Bangkok is being threatened by flooding as the Chao Phraya river reaches its highest ever level.
Compensation for those affected by the country's flooding is being investigated and authorities are said to be preparing to pump out flooded farmland.
However, other parts of Thailand are also at risk of being flooded and it will be another month before the situation returns to normal.
- Half of Australia's farmland is suffering from drought, acting prime minister Mark Vaile said.
It is severely affecting the country and Australia's treasurer said that the drought was worse than expected.
Such is the effect of the drought that it may soon have a major effect on Australia's economy.
- Scientists at the Met Office have warned of the effects of climate change to Scotland's wildlife and tourism, predicting that snowfall will drastically fall over the next 70 years. The researchshows that the amount of snow settling has decreased by around a third over the past 45 years. The winter season of 2005/2006 saw Cairngorm have one of the most successful seasons in its history. From January to late March there was above average snowfall with nearly two metres on the upper slopes. At one point the Cairngorms had more snow than some resorts in the Alps. Despite this in some areas, such as Inverness-shire a 66% reduction in snow is expected by the 2080s. Since the mid 1990s usage of the Cairngorms Ski Resort has fallen significantly, threatening the financial viability of the resort. The Met Office said though that in 10 to 20 years the Cairngorms were likely to lose their summer snow caps, spelling doom for a variety of species, such as the snow bunting bird. All resorts across Europe are set to suffer at the hands of global warming as the snow lines ascend up the mountains in the years to come.
- A bus taking 52 children aged between seven and 14 to a school in central Portugal was knocked into a ditch by the current from a river that flooded surrounding countryside.
Nobody was hurt in the accident in Soure, a farming town 90 miles north of Lisbon.
In nearby Pombal an elderly woman died when her home flooded.
Three towns in central Portugal were on flood alert as river levels rose and dams approached their limits.
Trains stopped running on part of the country's main north-south rail line between Lisbon and Porto because of flooding.
- Heavy snow and strong winds created blizzard conditions in parts of Colorado. Parts of the Rockies received as much as 46cm of snow.
- Kenya's seasonal rains have brought flooding to parts of the northern and coastal areas of the country, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. The 'short rains' occur around this time of year as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) migrates southwards. Kenya sees another period of rains between April and June known as 'long rains' when the ITCZ moves northwards again. The flooding brought by the torrential rains has reportedly killed ten people. The 'short rains' normally run between mid-October and mid-December.
- Six Syrians and two Lebanese died after torrential downpours hit both countries.
- Four days of devastating floods along Ethiopia's eastern border killed dozens of people and prowling crocodiles hampered rescue efforts as rain continued to fall.
The deadly floods began when the Shebelle River overflowed its banks in the Ogaden region, more than 600 miles from the capital, Addis Ababa. 67 people have died.
- Snow fell in Bicheno, Tasmania, for the first time in over 30 years, with overnight temperatures dropping to 2C (normal average 8-10°C).
The Australian states of New South Wales, Victoria and capital city Canberra also witnessed snow flurries which came in wake of a particularly warm October for the region and the hottest on record for Canberra.
- Typhoon Cimaron churned toward central Vietnam on Tuesday after killing at least 10 people and displacing thousands in the northern Philippines with fierce winds and raging waters.
Cimaron slammed into Luzon, the Philippines' most populated island and its rice bowl, on Sunday night as a maximum category five storm or "super typhoon," tearing up trees, power lines and roofs and destroying houses and roads.
- England and Wales: The provisional mean temperature for the month is 12.6C, which is 2.4C above the 1961-1990 average. Joint 3rd warmest in series with 1921 and 1995. Warmest in series was 2001 when 13.0C was recorded.
- Scotland: The provisional mean temperature for the month is 9.9C, which is 1.9C above the 1961-1990 average. Joint 4th warmest in series with 1921. Warmest in series was 2001 when 10.7C was recorded.
- Northern Ireland: The provisional mean temperature for the month is 11.4C, which is 1.9C above the 1961-1990 average. Joint 3rd warmest in series with 1995, 1968 and 1959. Warmest in series was 1969 when 11.9C was recorded.
- Eire: Warmest since 1969 at in parts of the west.
World weather news, September 2006
- Heavy rain flooded roads in the Southwest USA as the rapidly weakening remnants of Hurricane John spread across the border from Mexico, where up to 20 inches had fallen on parts of the Baja Peninsula.
Normally dry southern New Mexico got enough rain to cause isolated road flooding.
In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, rain flooded at least 20 neighbourhoods, knocked down electricity poles and caused several traffic accidents. Hundreds of people were evacuated from one neighborhood because of concerns about a nearby dam that exceeded its capacity.
In Mexico, three people were killed across the Baja California peninsula, including a British man who died when his camper van was swept away by floodwaters and two Mexicans who drowned in strong river currents.
- Torrential rain in Sydney (Australia) has re-written the record books, with the city experiencing its wettest September day in 123 years.
Overnight there was 107mm at Observatory Hill and about the same at Toongabbie, near Parramatta.
Heavy rain disrupted train services along the Eastern suburbs and Illawarra lines. Services also bypassed Eastwood on the northern line due to flooding, with commuters being bussed to Epping station.
Services south of Waterfall have also been cancelled due to the rain. Overnight, snow reportedly fell around Oberon and ice surrounded roads around Lithgow west of Sydney. Gusts of wind up to 70mph forced Sydney airport to close, causing long delays for travellers.
- Around 3,000 Americans were left without power after a brief but powerful storm hit. Troy, in New York state, was hit by large hail for only ten minutes but it cut the power for around three hours. The largest hailstorms, that were measured to be the size of golf balls, were found in Watervliet.
- Landslides, floods and lightning brought on by a severe storm have left seven people dead in Nepal. while "hundreds of houses" are submerged.
Dozens of people are said to have been swept away by torrential rains and there are fears that the death toll could rise as bodies are recovered.
- Heavy rain has lashed across Spain and its islands, leading to flooding which has blocked roads and washed away a pensioner after rains caused part of her house to collapse. In other regions, police had to rescue a man whose vehicle was swept away by the rains as well as assist six passengers who were injured when their bus overturned on a slippery road.
- Thousands of Bermudians were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which knocked down utility poles and damaged roofs but caused far less damage than feared.
The storm, which caused no major injuries, damaged about 10 homes and garages in the wealthy British island territory.
Bermuda has an average of only one storm per year passing within 180 nautical miles of the island. In the past century there have been 10 direct hits. The strongest storm to hit Bermuda in the last 50 years was Hurricane Fabian, on 5 September 2003. Fabian made landfall as a category 3 storm and caused a lot of destruction - tearing roofs from homes and leaving many of the famous golf courses in ruins.
- The Central Pacific's biggest storm in a decade damaged 70 percent of the buildings on Wake Island when it slammed ashore last month, the U.S. Air Force said.Typhoon Ioke left the U.S. military research and refueling outpost without running water, and damaged power lines and a power grid.
The runway made it through intact, but it is missing its lights.
The Category 5 storm passed almost directly over the 2.5-square mile atoll on 31 August with sustained winds of up to 155mph and gusts of up to 190mph. All 188 residents, mostly military contractors and Air Force personnel, were evacuated.
Ioke was the first Category 5 storm to develop in the central Pacific since record keeping began in the early 1960s. It was also the most powerful storm to pass through the region since hurricanes Emilia and Gilma, which both hit in July 1994. Wake Island lies some 2,300 miles west of Honolulu and 1,500 miles east of Guam.
- Around 50 vehicles stalled in a flash flood in the USA and had to be rescued after nearly 180mm of rain fell and flooded the streets of Evansville, Indiana. Such was the force of the flash flood that ten manhole covers were lifted up due to the pressure while other areas reported flood water as deep as 1.2m.
- The first eight months of 2006 was the warmest in the continental United States since record-keeping began in 1895, NOAA officials said today. Above-average rainfall last month in the central and southwestern parts of the country alleviated drought conditions in some areas, but moderate-to-extreme drought continued to affect 40 percent of the country.
- A strong typhoon swept toward southwestern Japan with fierce winds and heavy rains Sunday, leaving at least five people dead or missing and injuring more than 100.
More than 300 flights were grounded, cars were blown over and strong winds were suspected in an express train derailment that injured five people.
Thousands of people, meanwhile, sought refuge in public shelters.
Although Typhoon Shanshan had weakened overnight, it was still lashing the region with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.
- Cyclone Gordon, downgraded to an extra-tropical storm, buffeted northwestern Spain morning but caused no major damage.
Gordon made landfall in the Spanish coastal region of Galicia at around 0400GMT, bringing heavy rain and local gusts of up to 85mph.
- In Ethiopia, extensive flooding in August 2006 continued in September. Flooding was blamed for at least nine fatalities in Dire Dawa on the 13th. Heavy rainfall that began last month continued in September in parts of Niger and Burkina Faso, rendering 22,000 people homeless. Nigeria, Mali and Mauritania also experienced flooding rains.
- At least 8 deaths were reported in Kentucky after flooding triggered by 5 to 10 inches of rain in 36 hours sent rivers and creeks over their banks. Eighteen counties and 12 cities declared states of emergency, and 12 people died. The storms that hit parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee and stranded people in cars, forced others from their homes and left thousands without power.
In Illinois, authorities said lightning was the apparent cause of a house fire that killed elderly two women.
- Floods have wrecked havoc across Thailand, leaving 12 people dead and 70 villages inundated.
According to the country's disaster department 477,391 people have been affected by the rains as rivers increase in height.
Bangkok is said to be at risk and the governor of the region has ordered diesel pumps in to help dissipate the excess water.
Rain derailed a train today while farmland has also been destroyed by the flooding.
- The death toll from a powerful typhoon that cut across the northern Philippines rose to at least 48, with dozens of people missing in floods and landslides. Residents mounted a massive cleanup and the financial markets, schools and government offices in the capital, Manila, remained closed for a second workday since Typhoon Xangsane slammed ashore late Wednesday.
Most of the deaths occurred in Laguna province, south of Manila.
The entire northern island of Luzon, including Manila, was without power on Thursday but electricity was restored to 36 percent of consumers by Friday morning. The typhoon was briefly downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved toward the South China Sea heading to Vietnam, but gained strength again Friday, packing winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts of up to 93 mph.
- South African farmers have been given an extreme weather warning by authorities following heavier than expected snow and rainfall. Livestock has already been lost while crops are also liable to be lost.
Many farmers were completely unprepared for the snow fall recently occurring in Carletonville and Westonaria in Gauteng, the first in 25 years, as well as in Bloemfontein, the first in 12 years.
World weather news, August 2006
- Typhoon Prapiroon developed as a depression just east of the Philippines on 31 July, crossing the Philippines by the 1st and reaching typhoon strength by the next day. Prapiroon made landfall in the southern part of China's Guangdong province on the 3rd with maximum sustained winds near 70kn. The typhoon was blamed for at least 80 deaths in China after killing six in the Philippines.
- Typhoon Saomai developed in the western Pacific Ocean on the 4th, passing near Guam on the 5th as a tropical storm. Saomai reached typhoon status the next day, and reached the China coastline on the 10th just south of Wenzhou along the border of Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 130kn. The typhoon prompted the evacuation of 1.5 million people from flood-prone areas, and resulted in at least 441 fatalities. Saomai was characterized as the most powerful typhoon to strike China in 50 years.
- A heat wave across the northeastern quarter of the United States during the first week of August claimed 22 lives in New York. In New York City the heat index, which represents the combined effects of heat and humidity, climbed to 44C on the 3rd.
- Parts of New Zealand's capital city of Christchurch are under water after the main river running through it burst its banks. Dozens of homes were flooded after the Heathcote River breached defences prompting at least one home to be evacuated. According to the New Zealand Herald, 150mm of rain fell in one hour alone leading to what police described as "very bad" conditions for driving in.
- Monsoon-related flooding continued across India during August. In Gujarat state, the city of Surat was embattled by flooding. Surat is the capital of India's diamond-cutting industry, and the flooding was causing an estimated $29 million (USD) in daily ecomomic losses. Flooding also halted gas and petroleum production in India's largest gas fields in Gujarat state. Across the nation, 197 deaths were reported during August 1-9 with 574 deaths since the beginning of the monsoon season in mid-May 2006.
- Three people were trapped by snow on a South African mountain and have frozen to death; they were found on Mount Fletcher in the Eastern Cape. Heavy snow has been affecting the African nation badly, leading to the closure of several roads and emergency services are working through ice to rescue anyone trapped.
- Across the Philippines, landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy rainfall killed at least 6 people and destroyed eight villages in the southern part of the country. The hardest-hit area was the southern island of Mindanao where flash flooding and mudslides occurred on the 14th. In Vietnam, monsoon-related flooding in central and northern regions of the country was blamed for 42 deaths by the 20th.
- The rising level of the River Nile has caused 1,000 people in the Sudan to flee the area. With the Nile rising to 16.4m - the same height it was at in 1988 which resulted in scores of deaths - The situation remains serious.
- Nine luxury buildings, including three blocks of flats, worth £14 million had to be evacuated in New Zealand. A landslide in Wellington followed what has been described as the wettest winter the island has seen in over 30 years.
- Drought in China affected about 18 million people in August, or the worst drought to affect the country in 50 years, according to the state news agency Xinhua. The southwestern province of Sichuan province was the worst affected. In Chongqing, no rain had fallen for more than 70 days, and two-thirds of the rivers had dried up.
- A late-summer heatwave has been gripping many countries here this weekend, including Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and Greece. In Vienna, Austria, temperatures reached 32C on Saturday which is well above the average for this time of year. In Sandanski, Bulgaria, the temperature peaked at 39C and the average here is just 30C. Worst hit by the heat was Italy. In Trapani the mercury climbed to 40C which has set a new record high for the month of August. The previous record was 38C which had been held for 18 years. The average maximum temperature for August is just 29C here. Night time temperatures did not bring locals and visitors much relief either. In Kythira, Greece, the temperature did not fall lower than 27C during Saturday night, and in Finike, Turkey, the lowest temperature was 28C.
- In Pakistan, monsoon-related flooding was blamed for more than 185 deaths from late July through mid-August 2006. In neighboring eastern Afghanistan, heavy rainfall generated flooding that claimed at least 35 lives.
- Three people are dead and 250 injured after a heavy storm struck a festival in Budapest. Hundreds of thousands of people were caught when 60mph winds hit the centre of Budapest, where firework displays to mark the start of St Stephen's festival were taking place. People had to be pulled from the river while many more are missing from boats navigating the Danube after they reportedly fell overboard and officials fear the death toll could rise.
- Southern Spain's heatwave has brought a plague of stinging jellyfish to its Mediterranean shores. Officials said that areas of beaches are becoming colonised by the jellyfish as water temperatures are warmer than average by as much as 8C. With climate change being blamed for rising temperatures, there are concerns that the stinging jellyfish could become permanent residents and cause many injuries.
- Heavy snow has closed schools, disrupted transport and affected farms in New Zealand. Hilly suburbs were the worst affected, with officials using emergency powers to close schools. While farmers and parents had their lives disrupted by the snow, skiers were said to be appreciating the snowfall.
- All 170 people on board an aeroplane died after lightning hit it over the Ukraine. Terrorism was first suspected as causing the fatal downing of the Russian plane operated by Pulkovo Airlines, but heavy storms are now known to be responsible. "The only known fact is that the weather was bad, there was a strong thunderstorm and poor visibility," Ukrainian emergency official Leonid Kastorsky told Russia's NTV.
- Hail described as grapefruit sized along with a tornado hit North Dakota and Minnesota. "I've never seen hail that big," Stanton City auditor Rick Honeyman said in the Associated Press. "It didn't really hail all that much, but what it did hail was big." Homes were badly damaged by the weather as roofs were ripped off, although no serious injuries were reported.
- In Greece, fire-fighters are battling a fire for the third consecutive day as authorities assess the damage. The picturesque northern peninsula of Halkidiki has been engulfed by the fire forcing hundreds of tourists to evacuate. Holiday makers and residents forced to spend a night on local beaches as the fire raged out of control. Dozens of people have been treated for burns and respiratory problems. Greek officials have already been assessing the damage and fear that the dense forest that has been destroyed will take several decades to re-grow and could affect tourism in the area.
- Across northern provinces of Thailand, incessant rainfall during late-month produced flooding that was blamed for eight deaths. Flooding in Nan province was reportedly the worst in 40 years. In neighboring Cambodia, flooding along the Mekong River resulted in eight fatalities nationwide.
- In Vorden in the east of the Netherlands (NE of Arnhem), 2 people were killed on Friday afternoon when a tree they were sheltering under in a churchyard was struck by lightning. The victims were members of a band taking part in the funeral of a former member. The west of the Netherlands has also been affected by heavy rainfall. In some places in the SW more than 50 mm rain has fallen today. Some properties were flooded near Rotterdam and in Amsterdam. Large parts of Egmond aan Zee on the NW coast were under water after a cloudburst this morning. In the Netherlands this is already the wettest August since records began in 1906. Schoondijke in the SW has had 308 mm rain up to the 25th.
- A lightning strike in Germany has injured 25 football fans, several of them critically. At least ten of the spectators were seriously hurt when lightning struck near Bonn. Two of the victims were in a critical condition and the 10,000 spectators were sent home. In Gelsenkirchen, five more people were given life-threatening burns in another lightning strike at a local league football match and they had to be air-lifted to hospital.
- At least five people, including three children, drowned and thousands were forced to flee their homes after heavy rains flooded vast swathes of the Somali capital. The deaths were reported in neighborhoods in northern and southern Mogadishu inundated by the downpours that pounded the city beginning late Monday, destroying dozens of makeshift houses and market stalls. In Ethiopia, flooding across the country during August has claimed 626 lives. Some of the worst flooding has occurred along the swollen Omo River.
- The military evacuated 200 people from Wake Island before the arrival of Typhoon Ioke, the strongest Central Pacific hurricane in more than decade. Classified as a Category 5 "super typhoon," Ioke is expected to extensively damage the U.S. territory when it hits on Wednesday with 155-mph winds.
- Helicopters ferried people to higher ground in flood-devastated western Nepal after rains left at least 31 people dead, 63 missing and displaced tens of thousands. Rescuers were urgently trying to discover the fate of 63 people in a village in badly-hit Banke area in mid-western Nepal that has been cut off by floods. Monsoon rains that sweep Nepal and the rest of the subcontinent in the summer cause hundreds of deaths every year from flooding and landslides. The worst flooding this year has been in Banke district, 510 km west of Kathmandu, where 377mm of rain fell over the weekend.
- According to the Bureau of Meteorology, August 2006 was the driest August in the historical record from 1900, based on the average rainfall across Australia. The total area that was already deficient in autumn/winter rainfall at the beginning of the month has expanded substantially, especially over southern Australia. There have been record low winter falls recorded over a large part of southern Western Australia and parts of Australia. Deficits dating from the start of autumn also intensified across the south-east, including Tasmania.
World weather news, July 2006
- Nine people were killed and three others were missing after torrential rains hit Romania's northern regions. The deaths occurred in the county of Suceava, close to the border with Ukraine. Around 3,500 houses were affected and 6,385 hectares of farmland flooded in the areas hit by heavy rains since Saturday.
- Torrential rains killed at least eight people in Turkey over the weekend and caused serious damage. The worst hit areas were in the northeast on the Black Sea where the weather continued to be severe on Monday. The floods swept away many houses, farms and bridges in and near Samsun and Giresun where six people died. In the east, at Bitlis and Van, two other people died in the torrential rains.
- Monsoon rains flooded homes, submerged rail lines and forced hundreds of thousands of people to wade through muddy streets in India's financial capital of Mombai. The city's antiquated drainage system struggled to cope with the downpours, prompting civic workers to use spades and crowbars to open clogged manholes to flush out the rainwater.
- Torrential rains in China since late last week have triggered flooding and landslides that have left at least 45 people dead and up to nine missing. Altogether, at least 349 people died in weather-related disasters in June, while 99 others were still missing. The administration estimated economic losses at 2.5 billion US dollars from the disasters, the most serious of which were rainstorms which caused floods, landslides and mud-rock slides in a dozen provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in southern China.
- Thousands of people waded through knee-deep water in India's financial hub to reach work on Wednesday as monsoon rains continued to flood homes and disrupt transport in Mumbai. Schools and colleges were closed and waterlogging had affected life in crowded residential areas like Borivali, Santacruz, Andheri and Kurla. In the past 24 hours, Mumbai received 17.5cm of rainfall.
- (from USA Today): A family that started keeping weather records before the U.S. weather bureau was even established was on hand Monday in Sioux Falls for a national award. More than 25 members of the Judy family gathered for the ceremony. Morris Judy began keeping track of the weather on Jan. 1, 1890, at Forestburg. The high was 8F that day, he reported. His granddaughter-in-law, Marion Judy, 86, now keeps up the tradition. She received the National Weather Service's Heritage Award for her family's service. The Judy family is one of only 11 in the nation out of the NWS' 11,000 observers to record the weather for more than a century at the same location. Marion Judy's father, Sherman, set the family record with 62 years of observations, starting in 1909. The only break occurred for a few days during last November's ice storm, when Marion Judy's house lost power. She calls the NWS with highs, lows and precipitation every day. When it snows, Judy also has to melt the snow to measure its water content. Judy stood among NWS computers and radar screens and said she is glad her thermometers and measuring sticks remain part of the mix. "I realize that whether you're getting your children ready for school or launching the space shuttle, the weather plays a part in that," she said. Judy said she's not sure if anyone will carry on the tradition once she can't do it anymore. The weather service only allows a weather station to be moved five miles from its original spot and still be considered the same location. Local measurements are important for long-term climate prediction, said Lynn Maximuk, director of the NWS Central Region in Kansas City, Mo. "A lot of things that happen in the big picture of climate change start at a very small scale. So we need to capture that," Maximuk said, especially in rural areas with fewer observing stations.
- Torrential rains and a tornado killed at least 30 people as storms battered eastern China this week, with millions more affected by flooding and other storm damage. Twenty-seven people were reported dead in Jiangsu province west of Shanghai, and about 40,000 were evacuated; a tornado also smashed through the town of Dafeng in Jiangsu, killing three people.
- Tropical Storm Bilis developed as a depression in the western Pacific Ocean on the 8th and reached tropical storm strength the next day. As the storm passed to the north of the Philippines, heavy rainfall was blamed for dozens of deaths in the northern part of that country. Bilis tracked across the northern tip of Taiwan by the 13th before making landfall in southeastern China's Fujian province with maximum sustained winds near 55kn. There were 198 deaths attributed to Bilis in Fujian, Guangdong and Hunan provinces. Bilis prompted the evacuation of 2.5 million people, and resulted in direct economic losses near US$1.9 billion.
- Across the Korean Peninsula, heavy rainfall that initiated with the arrival of Ewiniar during the 10th-14th continued in the wake of the tropical weather system as the Northeast Monsoon promoted more excessive rainfall. Flooding was blamed for more than 100 deaths in North Korea and at least 25 deaths in South Korea.
- After a four-day heat wave that saw a sharp spike in energy consumption, New York authorities shut down several subway lines over fears of power interruptions. Monday saw 36.6C at LaGuardia Airport - the highest temperature registered since records started being kept in 1948 - and one of the airport's main terminals had to be shut down Tuesday after the power went out. Electricity utility Con Edison said the spike in commercial and domestic power demand had caused problems with the main feeder cables servicing the airport.
- Twelve people have been killed or missing feared dead after heavy summer rains triggered flash-floods and mudslides that destroyed 400 houses in mountainous northern Vietnam. Four people died in Bac Kan province and five are missing and were feared drowned.
- The "Nijmeegse Vierdaagse" - an annual 4-day long distance walk held around Nijmegen in the Netherlands - was called off this evening at the end of the first day after 2 participants died as a consequence of the extreme heat. 44,000 walkers started out this morning but more than 300 became ill and 30 had to be taken to hospital. 2 died and 1 person is still critically ill.
- Hot weather enveloped much of Europe during mid-July, with temperatures surpassing 32C. In Britain on the afternoon of the 19th, temperatures reached 36.5C at Wisley, or the hottest temperature ever recorded in Britain in July. Across Europe, at least 13 deaths were blamed on the heat in Spain, France and the Netherlands.
- Heavy rains flooded large parts of Kolkata, disrupting transport, forcing shops and schools to close and leaving some residents stranded. About 180mm of rain drenched Kolkata, capital of West Bengal state.
- The governor sent in the National Guard to evacuate people from their sweltering homes after storms knocked out power to more than half a million St. Louis-area (USA) households and businesses in the middle of a deadly heat wave. The storms tore through the city a day earlier, ripping off a section of airport roof and dumping it on a highway. Windows were blown out of a hotel restaurant and a press box at baseball's Busch Stadium. At least three buildings collapsed, and more than 30 people were injured. The death toll from the heat wave that has gripped much of the country for the past week rose to at least 20 people in seven states. Four more people died in the Chicago area, bringing the total number there to seven, officials said. Two have died in the Philadelphia area, two in Oklahoma City, two in Arkansas, two in Indiana and one each in South Dakota and Tennessee.
- Japan's death toll from floods and mudslides triggered by torrential rain have risen to 14, with at least eight people still missing. The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast another night of rain after as much as 500mm drenched parts of the country. Thirty-seven people have been injured, eight of them seriously, the disaster agency said. Sections of highways were closed by mudslides or cave-ins.
- Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall on Nantucket early Friday, bringing a steady, driving rain to coastal Massachusetts (USA). Forecasters cautioned it was a serious storm. A tropical storm warning included Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Forecasters said the storm may bring in tides of 1 to 3 feet above normal.
- In the United States, two episodes of severe thunderstorms caused massive power outages in the greater St. Louis, Missouri area. The culprit severe weather episodes occurred on the 19th and again on the 21st, causing the largest power outage in the city's history. At the height of the power failure, 570,000 customers lost power in St. Louis. Exacerbating the power disruptions was a heat wave which affected much of the region.
- A heat wave affected a large portion of the USA. California was particularly affected, with 81 deaths attributed to high temperatures soaring past 40C. The heat wave in California has killed 25,000 cattle and 700,000 fowl, prompting emergency measures.
- Europe baked again in the grip of a deadly heatwave that has led to forest fires, forced water restrictions and damaged farmland across the continent.
Now firmly in its second week, the heatwave brought temperatures of more than 30C to most of Europe with hotspots in France, Germany, Spain and northeast Italy. More than 50 people are estimated to have been killed by the heat. In France on Wednesday, 38C was recorded in the south of the country while Parisians faced a sticky 36C. On Wednesday, French Environment Minister Nelly Olin warned that groundwater levels in the Paris region were at their lowest level in 20 years and said that water restrictions were in place for nearly half of the country. The level of the river Elbe which crosses Germany's main port Hamburg has dropped below 90cm upstream at Dresden near the Czech border, making navigation almost impossible. Normally the level is some 2.2m. In Belgium temperatures reached between 26C on the coast and and 35C inland.
In Poland, firefighters were on maximum alert to tackle forest fires caused by the drought. Over 8,000 fires have broken out in recent days and access has been banned to most forests.
According to the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, Warsaw has seen the hottest month of July since temperatures began to be recorded 227 years ago. The average temperature in the Polish capital this month was 23.2C, 5C higher than the norm.
Farmers in France, the Netherlands and Poland have already warned of lower harvests this year and France on Wednesday lowered its forecast for its soft wheat harvest to below 35 million tonnes.
Latvia's potato growers' association said that this year's crop could shrink by 50 percent compared with last year.
In Denmark, undergoing one of the hottest summers on record, many local authorities have banned open air fires except at fixed barbecue sites. Electricity supplies in the Czech Republic were back to normal Wednesday after widespread blackouts caused by overload the day before.
- Floods, landslides and other disasters triggered by Typhoon Kaemi have killed at least 25 people and left more than 50 missing in southern China. Kaemi weakened into a tropical depression after sweeping across China's southeastern coast on Tuesday, but downpours it brought soaked at least four provinces, all still reeling from damage by tropical storm Bilis, which killed more than 600.
- July was the hottest and sunniest month ever recorded in Germany, the country's weather service said. The average temperature was 22.1C, according to provisional figures. The previous record was 21.3C, recorded in July 1994. The weather service, which has nationwide records dating back to 1901, said this month's average includes forecast temperatures for the remaining days. The service said the average number of hours of sunshine for July was about 336 hours. The previous record, also recorded in July 1994, was 289 hours.
World weather news, June 2006
- Hundreds of people were evacuated from areas of Poland and Slovakia as torrential rain caused flooding. Some 500 people were forced to leave their homes in the southeastern Polish town of Jaslo. Around 50 townships in eastern Slovakia were also affected.
- A river has burst its banks, flooding many homes and an airport in Khabarovsk, Russia. It comes after a period of heavy rain which has caused the water levels to rise sharply. Around 39 homes are said to have been flooded by the water, with many people being evacuated. The rising water also caused problems at the city's airport, where the runway has become inundated.
- Residents in southern New Brunswick, Canada, are being affected by floodwater after heavy rain caused flooding in the region.
- A young boy is missing and 21 people have been evacuated from their homes as floods once again hit Hungary. The flooding has occurred around the Danube and Tisza rivers after days of heavy rain, with over 11,000 hectares of land submerged. Hungary is still recovering from the devastation of the massive floods which hit the country last month.
- Landslides triggered by torrential rain in southern China killed at least 12 people and injured 24. The landslides occurred in Wuzhou, a city in the Guangxi region, during nine hours of heavy downpour. At least 55 people have been killed and 12 are missing in Fujian and two other provinces since late May from heavy rains that have caused floods and landslides and washed away part of a rail-link between Beijing and Hong Kong.
- Floods caused by summer monsoon rains have displaced about 66,000 people in India's northeast, while heavy rains disrupted traffic in eastern India. In northeastern Assam state, floodwaters from the Brahmaputra river have inundated about 13,000 hectares. No casualties were reported from Assam, but heavy rains and lightning storms have claimed at least 140 lives nationwide since the monsoon hit last month.
- Tropical Storm Alberto developed as a depression in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on the 10th. The cyclone reached tropical storm strength the next day as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Alberto made landfall in Apalachee Bay along the Florida panhandle around midday on the 15th with maximum sustained winds near 40 knots. The primary impacts from Alberto were heavy rainfall and flooding, with areas of western Cuba receiving as much as 300mm of rain during the 10th-11th. Alberto weakened into a depression as it trekked inland through coastal sections of Georgia and the Carolinas, depositing a swath of 75-130 mm of rainfall amounts along its course.
- A disturbance moved onto the Tasman Sea out of New South Wales on Saturday and between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday deepened by 20mb. It drew very warm moist air from the tropics down over New Zealand which interacted with cold Antarctic air over the South Island to give an amazing early snowfall over a large tract of South and Mid Canterbury as the depression passed across North Canterbury. The Northerly winds over the North Island reached 130km/hr and this rough weather was responsible for the power cuts in Auckland affecting close to a million people. On the West Coast of the South Island violent rains brought 180mm rain in 30 hours plus damage by a tornado. Of greatest interest was the snow fall over a wide area which brought level depths of 50-100cm to inland areas of South and Mid Canterbury and even 12-15cm to coastal areas in South Canterbury notably the port city of Timaru. It is generally regarded as one of the heaviest early snow falls on record with many areas isolated and power cut to something like 19000 households. So Christchurch went from a balmy day of 18-19C on Sunday with good sun and calm conditions to awake on Monday morning to deep smothering snow which brought much of South and Mid Canterbury to a standstill.
- Flash floods caused by heavy rains have left at least 19 people dead and 31 others missing in southwest China. Sudden downpours hit the province and continued for four hours causing several flash floods in the mountainous region of Guizhou province.
- A lightning strike ignited a 125,000-barrel gasoline tank at a tank farm south of Tulsa (Oklahoma, USA), tying up morning traffic and causing some evacuations under a roiling cloud of black smoke. There were no injuries reported in the fire. Traffic was rerouted north and south of the farm, about 12 miles south of Tulsa, and Highway 75 was restricted to one lane in each direction for part of the day.
- Very large hail measuring 25mm at Bablake (Coventry, England) 1618-1622h. Elsewhere in Coventry, the local newspaper has photographs of genuine golf ball sized hail stones, and even some more the size of cricket balls! Pupils at Bablake School had to run for cover while waiting for buses, such was the pain as the hail landed on their heads! Cars were damaged in the city with roofs & bonnets dented.
- A record temperature of 30.7C was recorded at London Heathrow airport, beating the previous June 12 high for the UK of 30.2C at Scarborough in 1897. Official records kept by the Met Office show that the highest ever June temperature is 35.6C on 28 June 1976, at Southampton; a record shared by London on 29 June 1957 when Camden Square also reached 35.6C. In London the most recent hottest June day was 19 June 2005 when temperatures reached 33.1C.
- Heavy rain and flash flooding has led to hundreds of thousands of people being marooned in Bangladesh. Authorities say 200,000 people have become stranded since rivers burst their banks today. Both the Surma and Kushiara rivers have flooded nearby areas as the north of the country suffers from the rains. Homes have become completely submerged and crops have been destroyed as the water continues to rise.
- Volunteers have been helping people in the Adelaide Hills area (Australia) after many homes became inundated after water pipes froze and burst on the 14th. Temperatures have plunged in parts of Australia in recent days leading to many people suffering from frozen pipes.
- Torrential rainfall flooded highways in the Houston area (USA) early in the day, forcing schools to close and threatening homes in some low-lying areas. As much as 10.5 inches of rain was reported by the height of the morning rush hour; almost 6 inches of rain fell in just 75 minutes near Hobby Airport, the National Weather Service reported. The Houston Fire Department said it had to rescue at least a dozen motorists from deep water.
- The death toll from days of heavy rain and floods rose to more than 200 with another 135 missing in Sulawesi. At least two roads were blocked by landslides, and water and mud reached almost 7 feet high in Sinjai, the hardest hit district of southern Sulawesi province. The flash floods and landslides were triggered by incessant rains since Monday, and the government has promised an investigation into claims that illegal logging may have been a contributory factor.
- A mudslide in northern Romania on Wednesday swamped several villages, and cut off electricity, transport and communications links to several more. At least 14 people were reported dead or missing by local authorities in the Bistrita Nasaud district. In the east of the country hundreds of people had to leave their homes after torrential rain on Tuesday. A number of houses in the Galati district were completely destroyed.
- The central North Island has become a no-go zone after snow blanketed the area, cutting off towns and forcing schools to close. Roads are treacherous due to ice, snow, wind and surface flooding. Thirty-three Intercity passengers had to be rescued with ladders after the bus, on its way from Wellington to Auckland, slid off icy State Highway 4 at Horopito, north of Ohakune. Nearly 100 people had to spend the night at the Napier police station after their cars became stranded in snow on the Napier-Taupo Highway last night. The Central Plateau became impassable with Ohakune and Waiouru cut off. MetService forecaster Ramon Oosterkamp said some winters "are a gentle easing into cold weather. This has not been one of them. This has been a viciously cold start to winter". In the South Island some families have been moved to motels after suffering 11 days without power after an earlier winter storm. Cold southerly winds from Antarctica brought in the system, which caused the temperatures to plummet to -12C across many parts of the South Island.
- Across the United States, exceptional drought classification persists across Deep South Texas as well as southern Arizona. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina across southern Louisiana, the eight months since 1 October 2005 have been the driest in 111 years of record-keeping.
- Across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast USA, exceptionally heavy rainfall gave falls of over 250mm in some areas, with numerous daily and monthly rainfall records set. Flooding was widespread throughout the greater Washington DC area, northward through parts of Pennsylvania and New York. As the Susquehanna River rose above flood stage, up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre, PA area were forced to evacuate. There were 10 deaths blamed on the flooding.
- Severe thunderstorms in Germany produced large hail the size of tennis balls in Villingen-Schwenningen. About 100 people were injured, mostly from cuts to the head. One man drowned due to flooding near Offenburg. In the Black Forest town of Villingen-Schwenningen, the hospital said it treated 120 people, mostly for bruises and cuts from lumps of ice.
- As the waters receded on Friday, authorities estimated damages could easily top $100 million after floods destroyed roads and bridges and drove hundreds of thousands from homes in the U.S. Northeast.
Tens of thousands more were evacuated in parts of New Jersey and New York.
The worst-hit area in New York was around the city of Binghamton.
In Pennsylvania, state emergency management director James Joseph said officials had started to assess the damage but conditions in some areas were still severe.
- For Western Australia as a whole, June 2006 was the driest June since at least 1900 and also the coldest June since at least 1950 in terms of minimum temperature and mean temperature.
World weather news, May 2006
- Around 1,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes as floods continue to affect Romania. 400 homes were flooded when a Danube dyke broke its banks; the Danube river has reportedly swollen to twice its usual volume for the time of year, due to melting snow and heavy rainfall.
- Several Russian towns and villages have been cut off by severe flooding over the past few days, after heavy spring storms swept across central and south-eastern parts of the country. The flooding has been exacerbated by the melting of ice and snow in mountainous regions. At least three rivers have risen to dangerous heights, ranging from 2m to almost 7m above the usual water levels. One of the hardest hit areas is Biisk in central Russia.
- A bolt of lightning has sparked a huge fire at an oil depot in Malaysia. Johor Port in Pasir Gudang was the site which was hit by the bolt, starting an inferno that could be seen from 10km away. The strike happened as a storm passed through the region, with the lightning hitting a tank that held almost 90,000 litres of petrol. The ensuing explosion then caused fires to start in two nearby tanks, with a combined capacity of around 700,000 litres. Over 100 hundred fire fighters battled the flames for up to eight hours, as fears grew that more tanks would be set alight.
- All 113 passengers and crew on board an Armenian airliner were killed when the plane crashed into the Black Sea off the Russian coast as it tried to land in torrential rain. The Airbus A-320 vanished from radar screens at 2:15 a.m. (2215 GMT Tuesday) after ground controllers, who initially sent it away because of poor visibility, called it back and told the crew to make a second attempt at landing at Sochi.
- Floods have left six people dead and devastated parts of Algeria. The waters swept through northern parts of the country during a period of torrential rain. In the regions of Tipaza and Naama a total of six people were drowned as the flood water took hold in the region.The rain, which fell for days, has caused bridges to collapse and blocked a number of roads in the north of the country.
- At least 26 homes were destroyed in the storms that hit late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Ten people were hospitalized and dozens of others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
- A heat-wave has gripped parts of central Pakistan claiming the lives of at least 30 people. Temperatures have soared to 46C. The hot weather comes amid warnings from some experts that the country is about to face a drought. 34 have also died in India.
- In the last couple of weeks, pollen-loaded air over large parts of Europe (in particular Central and Northern Europe) has been clearly visible in early morning Meteosat High Resolution Visible images as a yellowish haze, extending out over the North Sea and North Atlantic. The pollen season for birch started in Denmark with record-breaking counts on the 7th. In Copenhagen every cubic metre of air contained an average of 4,381 birch pollen, well over the 13 year old record of 3,899. In the past 29 years in Copenhagen such counts have increased dramatically. Perfect weather conditions this year - a wet April and a sunny, summery start to May - have led to an explosion of birch pollen with catkins releasing a massive load of pollen grains over a period of just a few days. Contributing to the trauma of Danish allergy sufferers, a consistent easterly wind is bringing birch pollen all the way from Russia, the Baltic States and Sweden - countries that have experienced intensive birch flowering in the last 3-4 weeks, with a high to very high pollen count at times. In Great Britain, a visibly increased amount of pollution - pollen blown by the winds over the sea - has been observed on the East coast, adding to the pollen already produced in abundance by local birch trees.
- Floods and landslides have killed 22 people and left five missing in Guizhou province in southwest China after three weeks of heavy rain. The province has suffered unprecedented strong winds, hail and rainstorms since April 21, with daily precipitation exceeding 100mm in some areas. As of Wednesday, 36,900 residents had been forced to evacuate their homes, while 98 people had been injured and "a large number" of animals were dead.
- Floods caused by days of rain have killed three people and left up to 22,000 others homeless along riverbanks in Surinam's remote central lowlands. Authorities expect the flooding to worsen since heavy rains were forecast for the next few days. May is the beginning of the rainy season in Surinam, home to about 440,000 people.
- Severe flooding sparked by heavy rains in northern Tanzania last week has forced nearly 20,000 people from their homes, destroyed dwellings and crops and swept away hundreds of heads of livestock. Authorities have begun to distribute relief aid to the affected people in Moshi district near Mount Kilimanjaro, where almost 1,000 houses were submerged and 11 were destroyed by floodwaters from Friday's rain at the weekend. Northern Tanzania had been hit by a searing drought that swept across east Africa putting some eight million people at risk of starvation, but in recent weeks the onset of seasonal rains has caused major flooding in parts of the region. Neighbouring Kenya has also been struck by devastating floods that have caused parched rivers to burst their banks and overwhelmed the absorptive capacity of the dry soil.
- North-western parts of the US have been experiencing unusually high temperatures in recent days with some areas breaking records that have been kept for several decades. Sunny skies and warm southerly winds across Oregon have already helped the temperatures to rocket, smashing the record for the highest temperature in May. The Dalles, in central Oregon, reached 34C (93F) on Monday, breaking the record which has been held since 1970.
- The skies cleared over New England on Tuesday after five days of torrential rain and the worst floods in 70 years. An intense area of low pressure brought heavy rain and flooding to many eastern US states over the past few days, forcing thousands to flee from their homes. As muich as 17 inches of rain has fallen in some places over five days.
- A heavy rain storm, followed by large hailstones has caught the people of Nicosia, Cyprus, off guard and has caused widespread damage. The Bureau of Meteorology described the storm as a "phenomenon of May" and many people are now counting the cost. Rain water flooded roads and underground car parks causing damage to many people's vehicles.
- Temperatures in parts of central Spain set record highs for May. All-time records were logged in nine places, including Toledo 38.4C and Cordoba 39.5C. Madrid's Barajas airport had its highest May temperature since 1953 at 36.2C.
- A powerful typhoon pummelled southern China on Thursday, killing at least 21 people and leaving 27 Vietnamese fishermen missing after their boats sank in Chinese waters. Chanchu, which was downgraded to a tropical storm, has killed more than 60 people in Asia, including 37 last weekend in the Philippines, where it destroyed thousands of homes. The storm hit the coast of China early Thursday, flooding scores of homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 1 million people before weakening to a severe tropical storm. In southern Japan, high waves swept away three 17-year-old male students swimming off Hateruma island in the Okinawa chain, leaving one dead and another missing, coast guard spokesman Shoji Kawabata said. The third was rescued.
- Dozens of homes around Nelson, British Columbia (Canada) have been evacuated because of flooding from heavy rains and melting snow.
- In South Africa, snow fell in higher elevations of the country, with some mountain passes in the Karoo region closed to traffic. Snow also covered the Maluti mountains in neighboring Lesotho. Unseasonably cold weather was observed throughout the region. Snow blanketed the length of the Drakensberg Mountains, which run from south Swaziland, through Lesotho and on to the north of Port Elizabeth. The slopes of the Eastern Cape around South Africa's Tiffindell Ski Resort saw around 10cm - 15cm of snow over the past few days. This is the heaviest snow that has fallen this early in the season for at least 7 years. The resort is also experiencing its lowest April/May temperatures for a decade.
- Heavy rains sparked flood warnings across northeast England but did little to ease the drought in the southeast. The Environment Agency, has issued a total of six flood warnings on the Rivers Ouse, Derwent and Esk. The Ouse has already burst its banks in the centre of the northeastern city of York and flooded riverside pathways. Householders in the southeast, including in London, would have to endure many more days of torrential rain for the drought in that region to ease significantly, water companies warned. Groundwater supplies remained low despite some parts of England receiving around a third of their average May rainfall in the past few days.
- Flash floods triggered by days of heavy rain killed at least 50 people in mountainous northern Thailand and left thousands trapped on rooftops and in trees. Seven died in Uttaradit province, where waters rose as high as 4m in what the Interior Ministry said was the worst flooding in that region in 20 years.
- Torrential rains caused flash floods that wrecked dwellings and killed at least three people in Havana. Nearly 200mm of rain fell in just two hours on Tuesday night, flooding tunnels and paralysing traffic in the city of 2.5 million residents.
World weather news, April 2006
- Hawaii residents awoke to sun this weekend after more than 40 days of downpours that left a wake of havoc across the islands and broke records for rain at the wettest place on Earth.
About 94 inches of rain were recorded during March at Mount Waialeale, considered the rainiest spot on the planet. The previous monthly record was about 90 inches in April 1971, according to the National Weather Service.
Even the normally dry Honolulu Airport received more rain in the first three months of 2006 than in all of 2005.
The near biblical downfall left the islands disheveled with debris, flooded homes, and led to a sewage spill in the water off Waikiki.
The largest toll was taken on Kauai, where seven died when a century-old earthen dam strained by the heavy rains burst on 14 March sending a wall of water crashing through homes to the sea.
Last week, a sewer line broke when it was overwhelmed by heavy rain and sent some 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean.
- Tornadoes shredded homes to their foundations, hail tore holes in the rooftops and high winds toppled even freight cars as a line of violent storms cut zigzagging paths of destruction that killed at least 27 people across the USA's midsection.
The worst damage from Sunday night's storms occurred along a 25-mile swath of rural western Tennessee, where 23 of the deaths occurred.
Severe storms also struck parts of Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Strong winds were blamed for at least three deaths in Missouri.
The brunt of the storms, some packing softball-sized hail, blasted an area between the small town of Newbern, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, to Bradford.
The storms developed after a cold front approaching from the West slammed into a mass of warm, humid air.
The weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said it had preliminary reports of 63 tornadoes.
Hail 4 inches in diameter slammed right through the roof of one mobile home in Arkansas.
- Czech officials declared a state of emergency in seven flood-hit regions while rivers continued to rise in neighbouring European countries on Monday, forcing evacuations in some areas.
The state of emergency affects seven of the Czech Republic's 14 regions, including the hard-hit Usti region in the north and the South Moravian region. The situation in Prague, however, was stable, authorities said.
The flooding, which started last week, was caused by quickly melting snow in the Czech mountains and rain in most of the country.
Elsewhere, flooding was reported in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia.
The Elbe swelled toward a new peak in Germany on Monday, with officials in the eastern state of Saxony expecting it to reach the 30-foot mark along the Czech border by nightfall.
More than 1,000 people along the river have had to leave their homes, including several hundred in the historic city of Dresden, where the waters were rising more slowly than previously expected.
Later, floods reached the state of Saxony-Anhalt with the Elbe flooding the inner city of Rosslau, downriver from Saxony, authorities said.
In Austria, a river dam burst Monday, forcing the partial evacuation of a village northeast of Vienna.
The Hungarian government declared a flood defense emergency along stretches of the Danube and Ipoly rivers, allowing local authorities to make such decisions as ordering mandatory evacuations.
The affected areas includes Budapest, the capital, where water levels were expected to surpass records Tuesday. More than 450 people have been evacuated from 52 Hungarian localities.
In neighboring Slovakia, some 1,300 houses in 200 towns and villages across the country were flooded so far, and 474 people were forced to leave their homes, the TASR news agency reported.
- Thunderstorms in Yemen produced flash flooding. At least 25 people were killed from the storms and flooding, including a number lightning-related deaths.
- More than 50 school children were stranded on a mountain after heavy snow fell overnight in Victoria's Alpine National Park, in Australia. The majority of the students are said to be in good health, despite 15cm of snow falling.
- Millions of farmers are suffering the consequences of a hard hitting drought in China. Around seven million people are suffering from water shortages, particularly those in rural areas and more specifically in the north of the country. The drought has affected 13.8 million hectares of land and 5.4 million head of livestock. People in the region are hoping relief comes soon in the form of rain, while the Chinese government is said to have put aside 100 million yuan (£7 million) to help those who need it most. The areas most affected include the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Yunnan.
- Some of the worst floods to hit Kuala Lumpur in years caused chaos in the city.
Around 3,000 homes were swamped by the water as heavy rain took its toll.
Lamp posts were felled by strong winds and traffic lights reportedly stopped working as the city was plunged into disarray.
- Heavy rain is causing widespread chaos across Switzerland, with road and rail closures as well as flooding.
Two train lines have been paralysed by the weather, with the route between Lausanne and Payerne closing due to a mudslide and the Payerne to Fribourg route shut down when a tree fell onto the track as a result of high winds.
Elsewhere, freight operations have been put on hold on the River Rhine as water levels rise to dangerous levels.
- A 14-year-old girl has been killed and three young men injured after being struck by lightning in Nebraska, USA.
The four friends were playing football in the city of Beatrice when the bolt struck.
- California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has now declared nine counties in California disaster areas due to heavy rainfall and flooding since the beginning of the month. Precipitation surpluses since the 1st were more than 200mm in some areas of the state.
- Flooding in Colombia was prompted by heavy rainfall that began in early March 2006 and continued through much of April. At least 70 people were killed by flooding and mudslides since the rains began. The worst disaster occurred along the Pacific coastline near the city of Buenaventura, where a landslide killed 31 people on the 13th. More than 225 homes were destroyed and 2,000 damaged.
- Floods killed eight people and left 116,000 homeless after torrential rains in northern Brazil, officials said, declaring a state of emergency in some areas.
- A sandstorm originating along the China/Mongolia border affected Beijing (China). It was the eighth sandstorm of 2006 for the Chinese capital, and reportedly the worst so far this year. Reduced visibilities also spread eastward to the Korean Peninsula.
- A number of people have been evacuated from their homes after flooding in parts of New Zealand.
Residents in Papakura were forced to leave their homes as thousands of litres of water gushed down a nearby hillside and rushed into local homes.
The water and mud filled people's homes after bursting through a dam which had been put in place to catch silt runoff from nearby building works.
The water had built up after a bizarre spate of weather, which saw three very heavy showers fall in just one hour.
- In the United States, a late season winter storm dumped heavy snow on the Black Hills of South Dakota and adjacent states. While the heaviest snowfall was rather localized, a report of 151cm of storm total snowfall was received at Lead, South Dakota.
- Floods have caused devastation to homes and isolated people in Newfoundland, Canada. Days of extremely heavy rain finally took its toll, when flood waters came sweeping through towns, leaving hundreds of people homeless.
Around fifty homes are said to have been affected, meaning the number of people displaced runs into the hundreds and a number of important road links have become swamped.
- Romania fought to prevent a major natural disaster as floodwaters surged down the swollen Danube, forcing thousands to flee as melting mountain snows, driving rain and winds added to the crisis.
In Hungary, as a swollen Danube tributary, the Tisza river, topped the 10 metre-mark, a day after breaching its record level. Officials said more than 18,000 people were engaged in the fight to save their homes.
Downstream where the same river enters Serbia, the floodwaters had risen by late the day to their highest-ever level of 9.35 metres.
The Danube is expected to reach a new peak later in Bulgaria, where the town of Nikopol was partly flooded and some riverside houses were evacuated.
Floodwater levels have broken 100-year records in several rivers across the Balkans this week, but the region has shown better preparedness to deal with the problem of melting snows, so far preventing any loss of human lives.
- Two people had a lucky escape as three houses were struck by lightning during a storm in Nashville, USA.
Fire fighters were called out to three separate incidents of lightning striking homes.
The strikes happened as strong winds and hail battered the area.
A mother and daughter were in their home when it was hit by a bolt of lightning which caused fire to break out.
Fortunately both escaped unharmed, while two people were treated in hospital after lightning struck near to their tent in Radnor Yards.
- Tropical Cyclone Monica developed in the Coral Sea on the 17th and reached Australia's Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland near Cape Sidmouth by the 19th with maximum sustained winds near 80kn. Monica was the fourth tropical cyclone to strike Australia since the beginning of March 2006.
Monica re-strengthened over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, reaching maximum sustained wind speeds of 155kn before landfall in the vicinity of Maningrida on the 24th. Strong winds and heavy rains lashed the region. Monica contributed to a record amount of April rainfall at Darwin, where 383mm was recorded through the 27th. The old April rainfall record was 357mm observed in 1953.
Sustained winds with very destructive gusts caused extensive defoliation and felling of trees in a 30-40km wide area west of Maningrida. A dozen houses and a school in Maningrida were unroofed or extensively damaged. Houses were damaged and power lines downed by falling trees in Milingimbi, Oenpelli, Jabiru and Elcho Island. Power lines were also damaged in Yirrkala, Ramingining, Goulburn Island and other smaller communities and outstations.
TC Monica was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to affect the Northern Territory. Monica's estimated maximum intensity was stronger than TC Tracy in 1974, TC Neville in 1992 and TC Ingrid in 2005. Monica was an unusual late season tropical cyclone and was the first cyclone to affect the NT area of responsibility in the 2005/06 season.
- At least 15 people were killed when a landslide and floods triggered by weeks of torrential rain swept through a town on Indonesia's Java island. At least 13 died when a torrent of mud buried homes in the East Java town of Trenggalek, nearly 600km east of Jakarta.
- At least nine people were killed and scores injured in a tropical storm that hit the eastern Indian city of Kolkata and surrounding districts overnight.
The storm, accompanied by rains, snapped power lines and uprooted trees stalling traffic on city roads.
The storm also threw rail and air services into disarray.
The storm packed windspeeds of up to 109 km/h.
- Thousands more people have been evacuated from their homes in Romania as the Danube river continues to flood.
Around 5,000 people were forced to leave their homes in villages along the Danube basin on April 25th and 26th.
The effects of the flooding are being felt hard by those who have received damage or in many cases lost their homes.
The flooding has been caused by heavy rainfall and melting snow, both of which have caused Europe's longest river to swell.
- Parts of northern China are suffering from their worst drought in over half a century.
Hundreds of thousands of people are said to be suffering due to a lack of drinking water and crops are suffering hugely.
The province of Hebei is said to be enduring the worst drought it has seen for 55 years, with four million acres of wheat crops being lost.
China is often affected by droughts and flooding but a substantial dry period has led to the current situation in Henei.
- Chunks of a comet currently splitting into pieces in the night sky will not strike the Earth next month, nor will it spawn killer tsunamis and mass extinctions, NASA officials said. The announcement, NASA hopes, will squash rumors that a fragment of the crumbling Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW 3) will slam into Earth just before Memorial Day.
"There are some Internet stories going around that there's going to be an impact on May 25," NASA spokesperson Grey Hautaluoma, said. "We just want to get the facts out."
- Southern China's Guangdong province is on alert for flooding after heavy rains pounded the area.
The local government has taken action to strengthen reservoirs under threat from rising waters after torrential downpours across the province Wednesday and Thursday.
Northern, central and southeastern parts of Guangdong saw daily rainfalls of 60 to 95mm in some places.
- Volcanic ash rain has fallen in a village in Indonesia as fears grow that Mount Merapi is close to erupting.
The village of Dukan reported a light rain which blanketed the village with black volcanic ash.
Sustained exposure to the ash could lead to health problems for people in the region and a number of villagers have reported respiratory problems.
Last week 20 llamas were found dead after eating grass which had become contaminated.
- Much of Queensland experienced well above average rainfall during April. This was due to continued monsoon activity over northern Australia with severe Tropical Cyclone Monica having a major impact over Cape York Peninsula. A number of longstanding records for April were broken including Burketown Post Office with 333.2mm (average 24mm, 115 years of record); Camooweal with 239mm (average 15 mm, 113 years of record). In S Queensland Eumundi had its driest April on record, receiving 8 mm of rain - just 5% of the monthly average.
World weather news, March 2006
- A storm, which has been cited as the heaviest in three years, has hit eastern Africa - cutting off communication and stranding hundreds of people on two sections of the Dar es Salaam-Arusha-Nairobi highway.
The heavy rains, which have come at a time of severe drought in the region, caused heavy flooding on the highway as well as in the town of Arusha.
Many people travelling on the flooded roads got stuck in the mud or were simply not able to continue on the water-logged asphalt.
The rains began on 27 February and it has now been raining for three consecutive days.
- In Oklahoma City the temperatures were more akin to those of high summer, rather than the first day of March. The daytime maximum reached 33.3C, well above the average of 14C, breaking the previous record for 1st March of 32C set in 1976. In Dallas the high of 33.9C broke a 23-year-old record.
- In Australia, heavy rainfall along the east coast stranded thousands of people. Around 2,500 residents of the city of Bellingen in northern New South Wales were temporarily isolated by river flooding.
- At least four people were killed and more than 100 injured as a tropical thunderstorm spawneda tornado that flattened hundreds of houses in six villages in Bangladesh's southern Sunderbans coastal region.
Tropical thunderstorms from the Indian Ocean frequently hit coastal Bangladesh in the spring and summer and kill dozens of people every year.
- The lack of snow in Alaska, US, has forced organisers of the Iditarod Trail sled dog race to change the route of the course.
Warmer weather in Alaska this winter has resulted in sparse snow conditions at the southern end of the trail.
As a result, the race will begin at Willow, a village 48km north of the town of Wasilla - where it usually begins.
The opening ceremony for the Iditarod Trail sled dog race takes place today and the competition will begin in earnest on Sunday.
Competitors will arrive at the finish in Nome around nine days later.
- Tropical Cyclone Diwa developed in the south Indian Ocean east of Madagascar on the 4th, passing approximately 230kmto the west of Reunion Island on the 5th. Heavy rainfall and winds gusting as high as 65kn occurred on the island, producing power cuts to 10,000 homes and water utilities interruptions to 20,000.
- Heavy rain/thunderstorms and strong winds occurred in areas of Peru during late February and early March. Over 65 houses had been destroyed displacing an estimated 325 people in northern Peru's Tumbes department. In the southern part of the country, additional flooding and mudslides were reported.
- At least 17 people have been reported dead following a weekend of heavy snowfall and strong winds across central Europe.
Car accidents in the adverse conditions were the main cause of death, with ten people reported dead as a result in Germany.
Parts of the country have reported their coldest winter on record, with Bavaria being covered by 50cm of snow after the weekend. In the state of Hessen it was the heaviest snowfall for 15 years, and nearly a metre had fallen at higher levels in the Bavarian Alps.
One woman was knocked down while shovelling snow in the village of Charite Sur Loire in neighbouring France.
A number of other people died in avalanches, in what has become one of the worst winter seasons on record for such incidents.
In the southern Swiss Alps a woman was killed by masses of snow while out snowshoeing, while an avalanche was also responsible for the death of a Norwegian man in northern Italy.
- Scottish ski resorts enjoyed their best weekend for many years after several days of snow. After recent winters that have seen Scotland's ski areas struggle due to lack of snow, Cairngorm Mountain had its busiest weekend for two decades, causing the resort's ski hire centre to run out of skis. The Lecht ski centre saw more than 2,000 visitors enjoy over 1 metre of snow despite one of the resort's access roads being blocked.
- Heavy snowfall in parts of Romania has left several villages without power and blocked national roads.
Drivers remained stranded on roads in the snow, despite bad weather warnings earlier in the day.
In Gorj county several hundred villages were without power when the burden of snow snapped overhead power cables.
- An Icelandair B757 airplane was forced to return to Keflavik Airport due to damage sustained from a lightning strike.
The incident occurred five minutes after the plane took off from the base, leaving the aircraft with substantial damage to its on-board radar equipment and nose.
The landing went smoothly and all passengers were able to leave for New York, their initial destination, several hours later on a different aircraft.
- The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has secured a deal with AXA, which will cover Ethiopian farmers should a drought ruin this year's harvest.
AXA's policy will pay out $7 million if this happens, which will be used to aid up to 17 million farmers in the country.
The cover is the first ever to offer insurance against a humanitarian emergency.
James T Morris, executive director of the WFP, said: "The humanitarian emergency insurance contract might in the future offer us a way of insuring against these massive losses before they spell destitution for millions of families."
East Africa, where Ethiopia lies, is currently experiencing a long-term drought, which is threatening millions with starvation.
Livestock have died and crops have failed in recent years as a result of the dry conditions.
- Two people have been reported dead, and two injured, following a couple of avalanches in the Austrian ski resort of Praebichl, which is situated in the south-eastern province of Styria.
The news comes shortly after a Swedish man was killed in an avalanche in the Tirolean resort of St Anton.
- Flash floods from the heaviest rains in 20 years have swept the south and central parts of Malawi, leaving more than 8,000 people homeless.
The flooding added to the misery in one of the world's poorest countries, which is now in the middle of a food crisis caused by drought last year.
Flooding from a rain-swollen river in the southern district of Mangochi displaced more than 6,000. The waters cut villages off and washed away bridges, making the area inaccessible.
- Avalanches have killed at least 86
people in Europe's Alps this winter. The French government reported a
record number of avalanche-related fatalities.
The avalanches are being triggered by unusual
late-season snowstorms coupled with more backcountry skiing and
snowboarding, says Cécile Coléou, a meteorologist with Meteo France.
In all but one case in France, the victims had
been skiing "off piste".
Nearly all the avalanches are being triggered by
the victims or somebody in the victim's group.
The hardest-hit area has been the French Alps,
where 47 people including two Americans have died since 3 December.
Avalanches also have killed 19 people in
Switzerland and 12 in Italy.
Avalanche risk is measured on a 1 to 5 scale.
Level 5 indicates imminent danger. Many parts of the Alps are at level
4: a high probability of avalanches.
Avalanches have killed 17 people in the USA and
six in Canada this winter. That's far fewer than last
year's North American total of 37 - a result of this season's dry
- Violent storms that spawned a record number of tornadoes killed 10 people across the Midwest, including nine in Missouri (USA) where twisters, high winds and baseball-sized hail wrecked homes.
An estimated 113 tornadoes touched down on Sunday, breaking a 16-year-old record for any day in March, the National Storm Prediction Center said.
Damage and power outages from the storms and twisters extended across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
The unsettled weekend weather included freak snowfalls in normally balmy sections of California and relief from the record 143-day drought gripping Phoenix.
On Saturday 11th, 17 tornadoes were reported across the region, contributing two fatalities to the weekend death toll.
- Storms and heavy rainfall in south-eastern Europe have killed one person and led to fears over flooding, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency in several regions.
In the Romanian capital Bucharest, a teenager was killed and two were injured Monday when a tree uprooted by a strong wind, fell on them.
In the rest of the country, over 300 towns in 14 counties were without electricity Monday afternoon and dozens of national roads were shut, due to strong snowfall and storms hitting Romania.
Four villages in the county of Alba in the centre of the country were isolated following an avalanche in the Apuseni mountains.
In Bulgaria, heavy rains and melting snows over the weekend prompted authorities to call a state of emergency in at least three regions to the west and south of the country.
In the towns of Ihtiman, Kostenetz, Gorna Malina and Elin Pelin in western Bulgaria, rescue teams were put on high alert Monday as incessant rains and overflowing rivers flooded several roads and railroads, causing mudslides.
- Canada has recorded its warmest winter in nearly six decades of record-keeping, with temperatures that a veteran forecaster said were almost "un-Canadian."
Environment Canada said temperatures averaged 3.9C warmer than normal from the end of November 2005 to the start of March 2006, and broke the previous record for the country's warmest winter by almost a full degree.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories basked in temperatures that were more than 6C above norm.
Canada began keeping national weather records, including records from the Far North, in 1948.
The warm winter follows three unusually warm seasons in 2005, and seasonal temperatures have been above normal for the past eight years.
- The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbed to a record 381 parts per million last year.
The reading was up 2.6 parts per million, according to preliminary calculations, David J. Hofmann of the Office of Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
In addition to carbon dioxide, 2004 data from WHO calculated that nitrous oxide, which has been rising steadily since 1988, totaled 318.6 parts per billion. Methane has risen the most dramatically over the past two centuries, with the total amount in 2004 at 1,783 parts per billion, but its growth has been slowing.
- Drought that has shrivelled crops and sparked fires in bone-dry forests will persist and could even worsen across the Southwest and central and southern Plains (USA) through at least June.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its spring weather forecast that these regions, which have already seen thousands of acres go up in flames, should brace for a "significant" wildfire season in 2006 as conditions become more severe.
The return of La Nina could make the Atlantic tropical storm season especially dangerous.
Indeed, some forecasters have already warned that the number of storms may top the record set just last year.
- A major winter storm affected the parts of the USA Great Plains. Heavy accumulations of snow affected a large area from parts of Colorado and Wyoming eastward into North and South Dakota and Kansas. Nebraska was particularly hard-hit, with snow accumulations of up to 75cm. The snow caused many travel disruptions and closed many schools and businesses.
- Tropical Cyclone Larry developed in the Coral Sea on the 18th, reaching Australia's Queensland coast just south of Cairns near Innisfail on the 20th. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were at least 100kn with gusts as high as 155kn. While there were no fatalities, there were 30 injuries with damage to over 55 percent of the homes in Innisfail. The cyclone was described as one of the most powerful cyclones to hit Australia in decades, wiping out nearly 90 percent of the banana crop in the center of Australia's banana production region.
- An air quality warning was issued for the entire island of Taiwan as a dust storm from Inner Mongolia and Mongolia moved in.
Coming via the Chinese mainland, the storm caused the levels of fine particulates in the air to rise above normal levels, according to the environmental protection authority.
According to authorities, the dust storm formed on the 16th in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia when strong winds caused dry topsoil and fine sand particles to get whipped up into the air.
- In Germany, two people were killed and 80,000 homes suffered power outages when a tornado struck the northern city of Hamburg. The storm ripped off roofs and overturned several cars. Around 300,000 people in Hamburg spent the night without electricity.
- Emergency services mopping up after a severe tropical cyclone battered a major oil and mining region of Western Australia expressed amazement at the lack of damage caused by the storm.
There were fears Cyclone Glenda would damage vulnerable industry infrastructure and endanger lives as it lashed the Pilbara region overnight with winds of up to 250km/h.
But officials said the cyclone, which was rated category four on a scale of five when it hit the coast, had missed major population centres and industry hubs, with flooding now the main danger in the rain-sodden region.
The storm passed directly over the town of Onslow, where residents were well prepared and the major problems were water damage to the local hospital and a minor fire in an evacuation centre.
- Following Sydney's (Australia) third warmest summer, average temperatures during March were the highest on record (records began 1859).
World weather news, February 2006
- The mild January has caused sap to run early and some Vermont (USA) maple sugar producers to tap their trees ahead of schedule.
The warm days followed by cold nights are ideal conditions for sugaring, and the lack of snow has made it easier to tap trees early.
A number of sugar producers have tapped trees early this year, particularly in southern Vermont - 6 weeks earlier than last year.
- Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow when he emerged from hibernation in Pennsylvania to predict six more weeks of winter but his methods failed peer review by scientists at the world's largest weather convention.
Phil's prognosticating prowess was scrutinized earlier in the week by the scientists at 86th annual convention of American Meteorology Society in Atlanta but he failed to impress.
One researcher noted that the groundhog's accuracy since the predictions were first recorded in 1887 languished at 39 percent.
Legend has it that when the rodent emerges from hibernation on February 2 and sees its shadow it means six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, spring is near. The groundhog's staged emergence draws thousands of fans each year and has even been the subject of a movie.
- The US National Weather Service is changing how it categorizes tornadoes after finding that it doesn't take 300 mph winds to disintegrate homes and turn cars into missiles - a 200 mph twister can do just as much damage.
National Weather Service said Thursday it had changed the Fujita Scale, a three-decade-old system of ranking a tornado's strength, to align wind speeds more closely with actual damage.
The change was introduced at the American Meteorological Society meeting in Atlanta. However, the new system will not fully go into effect until February 2007, giving weather scientists time to adjust to it.
Under the old system, created in 1971, an F-5 tornado - considered the most powerful of tornadoes - was capable of destroying a typical frame house, with wind speeds estimated at 261 mph to 318 mph. Since then, engineering studies have shown that much slower winds could cause the same damage.
Under the new system, an F-5 tornado - which can disintegrate a strong frame house after lifting it off its foundation or badly damage reinforced concrete buildings - has wind speeds of at least 200 mph.
Because the new system still uses actual tornado damage to estimate wind speeds, officials said it is not likely that the new system's lower wind speed rating for the F-5 tornado will result in more tornadoes being classified with the nation's top tornado rating.
- Some 10,000 people a year die prematurely in Belgium due to fine particles in the air, according to environmental agencies in the country.
Warnings have been issued to the government after air pollution levels rose sharply this week, due to the migration of polluted air from eastern Europe.
Exceptional weather patterns in Belgium have caused a reduction in the dilution of air pollution, which has resulted in high concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and benzene.
Residents have been told to avoid any strenuous activity and opt to take public transport instead of travelling by car.
Environment minister Eveline Huytebroeck is also advising those in Brussels to lower their heating levels in order to reduce harmful emissions.
- High winds swept across Colorado (USA) over the weekend, which sent blizzards into the state and forced many mountain passes to be closed to traffic.
Gusts of up to 90mph were recorded on Sunday morning in Golden, with damage to property reported.
Snow and wind created dangerous driving conditions in the northern mountains and forced the closure of the US 40 at Rabbit Ears Pass and on Colorado 14 at Cameron Pass.
- Emergency measures are being implemented in Beijing this morning as heavy snowfall swept through the Chinese capital in the early hours.
Some 335 vehicles and 1,700 tonnes of snow-thawing equipment were utilised. Over 8,000 people have also been mobilised to clear the streets.
At 09:50 local time this morning, the Beijing observatory issued a yellow alert of snow, which was later changed to orange - indicating heavy snowfall within the next six hours.
- Heavy rainfall in northern Iraq produced extensive river flooding that displaced an estimated 7,000 families. The most affected areas included the towns of Erbil, Sallahaddin, Kirkuk, Dyiala and Missan.
- The roof of a supermarket in southern Germany has collapsed after heavy snowfall in the region. Ten people were treated for shock in Toeging-am-Inn, a town approximately 50km from the German city of Munich.
District officials reported that the supermarket roof sagged under the weight of the snow and caved in.
Heavy snow had fallen in the Bavarian region for much of the night and throughout the morning before the collapse of the roof.
- Freezing temperatures, ice and heavy snowfall have hit central and southern regions of Italy.
In Rome, ice patches on the roads caused the closure of via Cristoforo Columbo near via Larentina when three accidents occurred.
Snowfall also forced authorities to close the A19 motorway between Catania and Scillato, which resulted in vehicles driving in both directions on one lane towards Palermo.
Sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall was also reported in the region of Apulia and snow in Valle d'Itria closed schools.
In the province of Enna, schools have been shut due to water supplies being cut when the pipes froze.
- The coldest February day in 44 years arrived in Malta, bringing temperatures as low as 8.7C.
Malta's meteorological office said that this means that it is the coldest February day since 1962, when temperatures only reached 7.2C.
Weather services in the country reported that the strong north-west winds on Tuesday had prevented temperatures from rising.
High winds swept through Malta and were thought to have been caused by an anticyclone over western France and low pressure over the eastern Mediterranean.
- Freezing temperatures swept through Bulgaria's second largest city, Plovdiv, today, with temperatures dipping as low as -21.6C.
In the capital of Sofia, temperatures of as low as minus -19C were recorded.
However, on Wednesday, the coldest conditions hit northern Knezha and Dragoman regions; temperatures of minus -26C and -25C respectively were experienced.
- Gov. Janet Napolitano has summoned members of Arizona's new drought response team and asked them to help the state cope with one of the worst dry spells in decades. This 'rainfall year' is shaping up as drier than any in at least a century in Arizona.
No rain has fallen in Phoenix for a record 114 days and counting, and Flagstaff has received just 1.6 inches of snow this season - 56 inches less than normal.
Brittle forests and rangelands around the state have produced wildfire conditions usually not seen until June or July.
So far, less precipitation has been recorded this year than in 2002, which wound up as the driest year in Arizona's recorded history and one of the driest in 500 years, according to paleoclimate records culled from tree-ring studies.
- In Algeria, rare heavy rainfall in the Sahara Desert region of Tindouf produced severe flooding. The rain fell during the 10th-11th in a desert region of Algeria not far from the Moroccan and Mauritanian borders. Approximately 50,000 people were affected, with one fatality reported.
- Some 30 people have been reported dead in the Ukraine as a result of the continuing freeze.
The dead were mostly homeless who could not survive when temperatures plummeted to -30C in some areas.
Officials have now erected tents to provide shelter for those who need it.
Schools and mines across the country have closed as a result of the cold.
For the winter of 2006 the death toll has now risen to 801 and some 4,900 have been hospitalized to receive medical assistance.
In Alchevsk, 60,000 people were left freezing in unheated apartment blocks when the heating system in the eastern city failed due to the cold spell.
- A lion and a llama have died in a zoo in southern Macedonia after freezing temperatures gripped the country this week.
The baby llama and the 25-year-old lion were found dead in their cages after temperatures in the city of Bitola fell to -28C.
Officials at the zoo claim that the lion was too old to withstand the adverse temperatures and the baby llama was too young to be taken from her mother and put in a heated cage.
Local media in Macedonia are describing this year as a "polar winter", with temperatures in Bitola making it the coldest city in the country.
Conditions in the zoo were described by reporters as "dire". Both animals were housed in open bar cages with no heating.
- Snowploughs cleared thousands of miles of roads and commuters braved long delays on Monday as the northeastern United States dug its way out of thigh-high record snowfall after the first big storm of the season.
The sun came out as people along the East Coast returned to work after snow kept falling most of Sunday, sinking New York City into its deepest snow on record during a winter that has been notably mild along the U.S. East Coast.
Before the storm, it had been a warm, dry winter along the East Coast. In Boston, snowfall was about 6 inches below normal and January was the sixth warmest January since 1892.
In New York City's Central Park, where record-keeping began in 1869, 68.3cm of snow fell between 4 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, breaking the previous storm total record of 67.1cm set during a 26-27 December 1947 storm. In Hartford, CT, a total of 55.6cm broke the old storm total record of 53.3cm set in 1983.
On Sunday, some 40,000 homes lost power in Washington and parts of Maryland and another 85,000 lost power in the Baltimore area, according to utility groups.
- A road traffic accident involving 86 cars has been reported on a western Michigan freeway in the US, after sudden, violent winds hit the region.
Police have reported that 25 people were injured in the wreck when whiteout conditions reached the state.
Visibility was also down to zero on the icy road, with many drivers slowing, causing their vehicles to be rear-ended by cars and trucks that were unable to stop.
- A 53-year-old man who collapsed while running the Hong Kong marathon later died in hospital.
It is thought that Tsang Kam-yin suffered from asthma and the race was run when the air pollution index (API) was almost 150 - the highest level since September 2005.
Health officials have reported that another 33-year-old man is still in hospital in a critical condition.
Some 20 runners were taken to hospital and over 4,800 people suffered cramps after thick smog covered the city.
The government said that the environmental protection department had advised people with cardiac or respiratory conditions to reduce physical exertion when the API increased on Sunday 12 February.
Environmentalists are attributing the air pollution to emissions from vehicles in territory factories in southern China.
- Some 19 people have been killed and dozens more injured in flooding and mudslides, after heavy rains hit Bolivia.
Over 100,000 people have been affected by the adverse weather conditions.
Evo Morales, Bolivia's new president, has appealed for international aid after the heavy rains have ravaged the country for over a week.
- Motorists were caught in the aftermath of hundreds of accidents and road closures in the US state of Utah, as heavy snowfall hit the Wasatch Front.
By 17:00 local time authorities had reported more than 200 accidents in Salt Lake County alone.
On state roads across Utah, highway patrol troopers said that they responded to over 235 incidents, with several injuries reported.
Some areas of Utah received up to ten inches of snow and 14 inches were recorded in Snowbasin.
- Thousands of people in China have been affected by flash floods caused by the unexpected thaw in four snow-covered counties.
There have been a series of rapid thaws in the snow-covered counties of Yili Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uygar autonomous region.
Around 11,226 people have become trapped and 6,427 houses damaged. Some 2,900 people have also been forced to relocate.
These four counties have experienced unseasonably high temperatures in the past two weeks, which are thought to have caused the abrupt melting of the snow and ice.
In Yili, temperatures have risen to above freezing point over the past 14 days, which is 12 degrees Celsius higher than the average monthly temperature.
- A severe long-term drought continued throughout southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, northeastern Kenya, as well as adjacent areas of eastern Uganda and Tanzania. Drought in Somalia was characterized as the worst in a decade. In all, an estimated 11 million people in East Africa and the Horn of Africa continue to face critical food shortages brought about in part by the continuing drought.
- Low levels of rainfall have caused officials to worry that this summer could see a repeat of last year's severe drought in France and Spain.
By the end of January the water deficit in the majority of France was over 70 per cent, which is up by some 35 per cent from the beginning of the month.
Nelly Olin, the French environment minister, told Reuters that the situation was "extremely worrying".
He went on to say that if the situation had not improved by the end of May then water-rationing curbs would have to be enforced.
Meanwhile, the French farm minister, Dominique Bussereau, has said that this year's grain harvest could be even worse than last years as "the drought is moving eastwards".
In Spain, which faced a worse drought in 2005 than France, water levels have not risen significantly since the start of the year.
The environment ministry there said water reserves were at 38 per cent "of their total capacity".
- Mudslides triggered by heavy rains buried hundreds of houses and a school in the central Philippines, killing at least six people and raising fears of a far higher death toll.
There were unconfirmed reports at least 200 people could be dead and about 1,500 missing around Saint Bernard town in Leyte province.
- The US National Weather Service was forced to issue a flash flood warning on after parts of Windward Oahu in Hawaii were hit by heavy rain.
Kamehameha Highway in Waikane had to be closed temporarily as a result of the downpour and there were reports of flooding at 'Aiali'i Place in 'Ahuimanu.
Ahuimanu Loop inhabitants experienced the most rain, with some 200 millimetres falling during the 24 hours until 8pm.
- At least five people were killed in severe flooding brought on by torrential rains in southwestern Yemen. The five drowned in the floods that swept through Dhamar. Some 1,900 people were trapped in around 100 flood-besieged homes. The flooding occurred at the start of Yemen's rainy season.
- Landslides and floods triggered by torrential rain have killed at least 24 people in Indonesia's eastern city of Manado.
The disaster occurred in the North Sulawesi provincial capital, where parts of the city were inundated with one-metre high floodwaters after hours of rain.
- A British touring skier died after he was caught in an avalanche near the French ski resort of Puy Saint-Vincent.
The incident occurred after 20cm of snow fell on Sunday 19th. This resulted in a high risk of avalanches.
Two Hungarian cavers were reported dead after they were hit by an avalanche in the Alps in north-eastern Italy.
Rescue workers they had earlier been hit by a smaller avalanche, from which they were able to escape, but were then struck by the deadly slide when they were descending the mountain.
There has been heavy snowfall across northern Italy for some days now, with Olympic alpine events postponed due to poor visibility.
- The roof of a covered market in Moscow collapsed following heavy snowfall, killing at least 40 people and injuring dozens more.
The entire roof of the Baumansky market in eastern Moscow collapsed at 05:45 local time.
The 2,000 square metre market roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snowfall and plunged onto the stalls beneath as traders were setting up for the day ahead.
- The southern Chinese city of Beihai has been hit with a severe drought, leaving over 300,000 people with shortages of drinking water.
Water levels in the Guangxi Zhuang region's reservoirs are down 40 per cent on the previous year, according to local authorities.
- A deep area of low pressure swept across Newfoundland, Canada, bringing heavy snow and strong winds, causing major disruption to the island throughout the weekend.
The eastern side of the island was worst hit by intense blizzards which dumped 70cm of snow during Saturday afternoon, blocking many roads, shutting the island's international airport for several hours and paralysing the capital city of St John's.
During the storm winds gusted up to 80mph, blowing the snow into drifts, which measured as high as 1.5 metres burying cars and blocking shop windows.
- Strong winds have brought a severe sandstorm to Cyprus, resulting in breathing difficulties for people and cancelled flights.
The sand, which was brought in by wind gusts from the Sahara desert, blocked out the sunlight over Nicosia.
A number of flights were delayed as a result of the gritty dust in Paphos and several people were hospitalised after reporting breathing difficulties.
Cyprus is often affected by the tail-end of sandstorms coming from countries such as Lebanon or Egypt - but meteorologists there say they are usually not so severe.
Meanwhile, in Egypt at least 25 flights were cancelled on the day, while fog and dust also covered Cairo.
- Heavy rains on resulted in flash floods across six areas in Shah Alam, Malaysia, forcing some 2,000 households to evacuate their homes.
The floods had been caused by "unusual heavy rain", which was recorded at 400mm in Kuala Lumpur - up from the average of 60mm per month expected for this time of year.
- Tropical Cyclone Emma developed in the south Indian Ocean on the 27th and made landfall in Western Australia's remote Pilbara coast on the 28th with maximum sustained winds near 35kn. Heavy rain was the primary impact from the storm, although Emma's approach prompted precautionary shutdowns of mining, oil and shipping operations. The heavy rain from Emma has meant that Karratha, which also lies on the north coast of Western Australia, has recorded its wettest year ever.
So far this year, Karratha has recorded 589mm of rainfall, already beating the previous record by 30mm.
Emma moved southwards across much of Western Australia, bring up to 150mm (6 inches) of rain in places, leading to many flood warnings being put in place.
- Residents on New Zealand's south island are facing water cuts to their daily supply as the region's shortage shows no signs of improving.
This is the worst drought to have hit the island in a century and three reservoirs have had their water levels measured at record lows.
Residents are now being asked not to use dishwashers or take baths and to use half-flush on toilets.
The local public swimming pool in Westport has been closed and currently many homes are experiencing low water pressure.
World weather news, January 2006
- Raging bushfires destroyed homes and vehicles in Australia's New South Wales as Sydney recorded its hottest New Year's Day on record.
High temperatures and strong winds fanned 44 fires across the state.
Sydney reached 44.2C the 1st, making crowds head for the beaches and causing several people to seek medical help.
The heat also caused major delays to train services, with power faults in overhead wiring and potential heat-related track problems.
- Unseasonably warm weather brought severe storms to parts of the Ohio Valley and the South (USA), spawning tornadoes, dropping hail and contributing to the death of a utility worker in Indiana.
Tornadoes were reported in Georgia and Kentucky.
In suburban Atlanta, at least seven houses were damaged or destroyed near Tyrone by what residents said was a tornado. Near Palmetto, a tornado damaged about four houses.
Across the region, temperatures were more like April than January. It hit 69F degrees in Evansville, Ind., and 74F in Bowling Green, Ky. Temperatures in Georgia were in the 60s and 70s.
- Homeowners shovelled away mud and other debris and authorities worked to repair damaged levees after a pair of storms flooded Northern California's wine country.
The rain let up over the hard-hit region and moved into Central and Southern California, drenching the Rose Parade for the first time since 1955 and threatening mudslides on hills stripped bare by last summer's wildfires.
Initial estimates put the damage throughout Northern California at more than $100 million. The storms were blamed for two deaths, both of them victims of falling trees.
The Russian River at Guerneville began receding after cresting at 41 feet - 9 feet above flood stage - but officials said it would probably not return to its banks until Tuesday morning.
Water also receded in the heart of wine country along the Napa River, which rose out of its banks at the town of Napa and inundated several downtown blocks. Napa officials said some 600 homes and 150 businesses were flooded, and damage was estimated at $50 million.
Saturday's storm dumped 4 to 5 inches on much of Northern California, with Napa County getting up to 9 inches in less than 24 hours.
- The death toll from flooding has risen to 18 in central and northern Mozambique where heavy rains have left thousands homeless.
The rough weather claimed the lives of 13 people in the northern province of Nampula and five in the central province of Sofala.
The flooding cut several roads in Sofala, isolating thousands of people, and caused flooding in Beira.
Weather forecasters said the heavy rains, which began on 25 December, were expected to continue over the coming days.
The torrential rains come in the wake of a lengthy drought that has left nearly one million people, mostly in the south of the country, in need of food aid.
- A landslide triggered by heavy rains crashed into the village of Sijeruk in Indonesia's Central Java province killing at least 16 people and possibly trapping scores more under debris.
The disaster followed landslides in neighboring East Java province earlier this week that killed at least 77 people.
- Tropical Storm Zeta continued to defy expectations as it maintained strength and churned in the open Atlantic, but it posed no threat to land.
The 27th named storm of a record-breaking 2005 hurricane season, Zeta had top sustained winds near 65 mph, or 9 mph shy of hurricane strength.
- Japan was bracing for more snow on Friday after some of the heaviest snowfall on record that has left 53 people dead and paralyzed transport.
Almost 4m of snow has piled up in the worst-hit areas of Niigata near the Japan Sea coast, though the snowiest season of the year is yet to come.
53 people, including the latest fatalities, have died because of the inclement weather in the past few weeks, many of them elderly people trying to clear snow from their roofs.
Akita prefecture in the north of Japan's main island of Honshu, has been hit hard by snow in recent days.
Many train passengers were left stranded in the area as services, including the high-speed bullet trains connecting Akita with Tokyo, came to a halt.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said cold weather and heavier-than-usual snowfall would likely continue through January, caused by cold air flowing over the country from the North Pole.
This is a phenomenon that occurs on a regular basis, but has lasted longer than usual this winter.
- Thunderstorms rolled their way across southeast Queensland bringing torrential downpours,
large hail and spectacular lightning displays.
The hail smashed tiles off house roofs and in one part of Brisbane it was reported that people
had even put mattresses on their cars to protect them from being damaged by these icy golf balls.
The State Emergency Service (SES) had over 200 calls about damage caused by the hail.
It was not only hail that caused problems but also lightning, with seventeen thousand strikes
being reported on the electrical network in just 4 hours. Energex, who supply the electricity,
said that over one hundred thousand homes were without power, but hoped to restore most by today.
The storms forced the abandonment of the Twenty20 cricket match between Queensland and Tasmania,
taking place in Brisbane when clouds darkened the skies and the power went out. The pitch is said
to be like a lake after the heavy rains and hail.
- Tropical Storm Zeta, which developed at the end of December 2005, weakened below tropical storm strength without affecting land areas. Zeta closed out the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season as the unprecedented 27th named storm.
- Lightning struck three funeral-goers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving all of them dead.
Lightning hit the funeral procession at Tshikapa in the central province of Western Kasai and also
injured several other mourners.
- In India, frost was observed in New Delhi for the first time in 70 years as cold air sweeping in from the
Himalayas produced a low temperature of 0.2C. On January 16, 1935, Delhi reported -0.6C. There were 146 deaths blamed on cold weather in India since early December 2005.
India’s Kashmiri Valley has seen temperatures plummet to -6.3°C, with reports of the Dal Lake freezing in Srinagar City. Heavy snowfall has also been causing problems in this area in recent days, with an avalanche of snow collapsing on to houses.
- The first tropical cyclone of Australia's storm season reached the country's northwest
coast, cutting power to thousands of homes and forcing oil companies to shut down their offshore rigs.
Cyclone Clare had winds gusting to more than 115 mph.
Up to 1,500 people were evacuated from the area ahead of the cylone.
- Temperatures in Manitoba, Canada are averaging about ten to fifteen degrees warmer than the norm for this time of year.
- At least 22 people have been swept to their deaths in Mozambique after severe downpours hit the region.
The government has put the country on cyclone alert as the death toll from the heavy
seasonal rains increased sharply.
The rains have fuelled the spread of cholera and 114 cases were reported from the
Sofala region. No cholera-related deaths have so far been reported.
- The western side of the U.S. and Canada has been battered by storms over the last week,
lashing many states with copious amounts of rainfall: higher up, this has meant good news
for the ski slopes on the Rockies, where periods of persistent and heavy snow has fallen over the last week.
The storms have brought some of the best conditions in years to the mountains with 244cm of snow falling since
Christmas at the Canadian resort of Whistler. The storms were so severe that 33cm fell on Monday alone.
At Jackson Hole, the snow depths are the second deepest in the 40-year history of the resort. There have
been reports of 6.5 metres of snow lying on the ground, 2.4 metres of which fell from last weeks storms alone.
Further south in Colorado they are boasting the best snow in 20 years.
- Around 200 cars have been trapped in five avalanches in western China after heavy snows hit the region.
The cars were trapped by the avalanches near the Gouzigou resort close to the border of Kazakhstan.
Most of the cars were travelling from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region's capital Urumqi.
Some 50cm of snow has fallen on the area in recent days.
- Japan issued avalanche warnings as temperatures were forecast to rise
in mountainous areas buried under record snowfalls that have been blamed killing more than 80 people
and injuring nearly 2,000, many of them elderly.
Temperatures were forecast to rise to well above freezing in affected areas after parts of
the country saw the snow pile up to almost four metres.
The government will disburse $100 million to local governments in affected areas to help them clear
snow from roads.
Troops were being called in to clear snow in the Shakotan region of the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, following similar relief work by the military in Akita,
Nagano and Niigata prefectures on the main island of Honshu.
Tokyo, however, has had virtually no snow this winter.
- The death toll after record blizzards in Japan has reached 100 (the highest figure for over 20 years) and a six-year-old boy remains in hospital after being buried in the snow.
Nevertheless, dangers from the landslides across eastern, western and north-eastern parts of the country have been downgraded to advisories and some roads have been reopened.
- The arrival of record cold temperatures in Moscow sent officials into
a panic on Monday, with electricity suppliers ordering power cuts at
factories across the city amid fears that surging demand could lead to
a wider power blackout.
The city's big freeze, which was forecast to reach close to 30C
on Tuesday, came as a cold front rolled in from
Western Siberia and 50-year lows were expected for the rest of the
In Western Siberia, temperatures late last week plummeted to -50C in some areas, forcing local authorities to declare states of
emergency. Authorities in several regions east of the Urals closed
schools for the duration.
By the evening, temperatures in the city had plummeted from around
zero to -20C - about 12 to 20 degrees lower than usual,
- A powerful extratropical storm system brought heavy rains, strong winds and interior snowfall to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States. Strong winds gusted to near 60mph in the Boston and New York City metropolitan areas, causing significant travel disruptions and knocking out power to more than 440,000 homes and businesses in the region. The strong winds were blamed for two deaths.
- Moscow shivered in its coldest spell for
a generation on Thursday with temperatures in Moscow plunging
overnight to -30C, killing the homeless and drunks,
and threatening power supplies.
- Moscow's coldest spell in 26 years brought out the
quirkiest in the Russian character with one animal trainer
feeding an elephant a bucket of vodka to warm it up -- only to
watch the drunken beast set about wrecking the central heating
- Ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky led other
publicity-hungry politicians by plunging into a bitterly cold
pond in early morning Christian Orthodox ceremonies.
- The cold quickly depleted mobile phone batteries, played
havoc with lifts and even seemed to jam public cash dispensers.
- According to one newspaper, a 45-year-old man in Mordovia,
east of Moscow, was treated for frostbite to four fingers for
talking too long on a mobile phone in the freezing
- In Noyabrsk in the Arctic part of Western Siberia,
Noyabrskneftegaz oil company suspended drilling operations
because of the extreme cold, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
- State schools have given parents the option of keeping
their children at home. Police have been told to find places
for the homeless to shelter rather than clear them from
doorways, stairwells and metro stations as they normally do.
- "The present cold is unique by its duration, which will
either be a record or be close to a record," Russia's chief
meteorologist Roman Vilfand was quoted as saying on Thursday.
- This year is the coldest since the winter of 1978-1979,
when temperatures dropped to minus -38C. The 1940
Moscow record of -42.1C could be broken.
- Japan's harshest winter in decades finally caught up to Tokyo on Saturday to blanket the capital in its heaviest snowfall for five years, forcing flight cancellations and slowing trains.
Although snow can fall in Tokyo once or twice a year, temperatures usually hover above freezing, making significant accumulations rare.
As of 0600GMT some 7cm of snow had fallen in the Otemachi area of central Tokyo.
At Haneda Airport, 82 domestic flights were cancelled. One runway at Narita International Airport east of Tokyo was closed for about an hour.
Shinkansen bullet trains between Tokyo and the western city of Osaka were running behind schedule.
The snowfall was the heaviest since 8cm fell on 27 January 2001, the Meteorological Agency said, adding that the snow was expected to continue until evening.
- People in Kenya are beginning to die of starvation as the drought that has gripped the country for several months shows no signs of easing.
So far 30 people in the east African country have been reported dead and officials say that the real number is probably higher as those in remote regions have not been accounted for.
Aid agencies in the area have warned that the whole region, including the surrounding countries of Ethiopia, Burundi, Somalia, Tanzania and Eritrea could be heading towards a "humanitarian catastrophe".
- It is estimated that some ten per cent of Russia's winter crop would be "severely damaged" from the cold spell that has hit the country.
Alexey Gordeyev, the Russian agriculture minister, said that production of cherries, apples, peaches, grapes and other winter fruit and crops would be down.
Furthermore, a lack of snowfall has also added to these fears, with some areas getting only 100mm of rainwater equivalent.
- Last week saw above-average temperatures across the US, which resulted in stress for the winter wheat crop.
In particular, southern parts of the Great Plains were adversely affected.
Temperatures here exceeded averages by some 4.5C, which together with the dry conditions caused the wheat crop to become stressed, according to the agriculture department.
In northern parts of the region, snow cover was depleted by the warmth.
Further south in the state of Texas, the unseasonably warm winter has continued to cause poor conditions for wheat and oats.
Freezing weather has killed scores of people in eastern Europe and snowstorms forced the closure of the Acropolis in Athens and blanketed parts of Sicily and Turkey on Wednesday as the Arctic air pushed south.
- Ukraine said 66 people had died there since the freeze set in last week. Neighboring Russia has asked it to restrict gas usage as demand has rocketed during the coldest winter in a generation in the region.
The Romanian Health Ministry said extremely low temperatures in the country had caused 27 deaths in the past three days.
Ten people froze to death or died of burns while trying to keep warm in the Czech Republic in recent days after temperatures fell below -30C.
Police said another 14 people have died of exposure in Poland over the past 24 hours.
- In Greece, more than 400 villages and towns were cut off after 36 hours of continuous snowfall and hundreds of snow-clearing vehicles struggled to keep main routes open.
A Cambodia-flagged cargo ship sank in the northern Aegean amid a snowstorm on Tuesday.
- In Turkey, the Education Minister said the country's schools, due to resume classes after a mid-year break next week, would remain closed until 6 February because of the freezing weather.
Much of Turkey, including Ankara and Istanbul, was covered in snow while shipping was halted on the Bosphorus because of hazardous conditions.
- Bulgarian officials said the country's two main ports of Varna and Bourgas on the Black Sea had been closed because of high winds and heavy seas.
Bulgarian media reported that three people had died of exposure since the cold spell began on Tuesday, with temperatures falling down to -20C.
- Italy was also suffering from the cold snap, with the thermometer falling to -35C in mountains in the northeast. At the other end of the country, heavy snow swept parts of the Mediterranean island of Sicily early on Wednesday.
Newspapers reported that two people died of exposure near Imola in the north of the country, while cities around Italy opened metro stations and railway waiting rooms overnight to provide shelter for the homeless.
The harsh winter has led to a surge in demand for gas as Italians try to keep their homes warm, forcing the government to introduce emergency measures to preserve dwindling gas stocks.
- The famous canals in the Dutch city of Amsterdam froze briefly and television news showed footage of commuters on bicycles skidding on black ice, which also caused hundreds of car accidents.
- Thousands were displaced in the northern and southern Philippines as torrential rains triggered flash floods.
The province of Nueva Ecija in the north was the most heavily affected, with more than 7,000 people forced to evacuate to higher ground after a dyke broke.
In Kalinga province, also in the north, at least 20 houses were underwater and almost 1,500 people were evacuated.
In the southern city of Davao, flash floods washed out at least two houses.
- Thunderstorms sweeping across the bushfire-ravaged Australian state of Victoria dampened some of the deadly fires with patchy rain, but lightning sparked a new blaze and threatens to wreak more havoc in the coming days.
Hundreds of people have evacuated their homes as four large blazes burned out of control and stretched firefighting resources. Three of the fires are less than 100km from Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne.
The Grampians fire has burned through more than 120,000 hectares of land. It has razed 24 homes and killed 61,000 sheep.
The Victoria blazes have killed three people.
- In Brazil, flash flooding caused by heavy rains killed 4 people in Rio De Janeiro. The fatalities occurred when a shopping mall parking garage became flooded.
- The cold weather which has gripped much of Europe over the past week has now spread further west. Lisbon, Portugal, recieved their first snowfall for several decades.
After a morning of heavy rain in the Portuguese capital, the rain quickly turned to snow as a cold front crossed the area causing the temperatures to plummet. This is the first snowfall seen in Lisbon since 1954. However, the snow did not settle as the temperatures hovered around freezing.
Elsewhere in Portugal the snow was heavy enough to cause traffic problems. The major motorway linking Lisbon to Porto was closed for several hours on Sunday, along with many other motorways.
In Madrid, the minimum temperature dropped to -7C on Sunday night, well below the average minimum temperature of 2C. Winds circulating around an area of high pressure brought cold air across France, Spain and Portugal, and also brought some unexpected snowfall.
- Over 1,500 people were left homeless when storms ravaged 281 houses in Gatumba zone in the western province of Bujumbura in Burundi.
Heavy downpours caused trees to be uprooted, which damaged electric pylons and caused blackouts across the city.
The storm also injured five people.
These adverse conditions took place in the north, north-east and south-east regions that are currently suffering from drought after poor rainfall.
If you have a snippet of weather news that you feel merits inclusion, then please feel free to email it to me.
Last updated 22 January 2007.