World weather news, January 2018

Winter storm Eleanor has swept into most of northern Europe, including France and Germany after battering the UK, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes and affecting transport. A skier died in the French Alps and 15 others were injured elsewhere in the country, four of them seriously. Two people were killed when they were swept away by a huge wave on Spain's northern Basque coast. A train was blown off its tracks in Switzerland, leaving several people with minor injuries. One person was hit by a falling tree in the Netherlands. In northern France, the storm cut power to more than 200,000 households and Eleanor is set to move to other regions throughout the day, including Corsica. Air travel was also disrupted in the capital, Paris, and in the east of the country. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was closed because of the strong winds. The city's parks have also been closed until the storm dies down because of worries over falling tree branches. A skier was killed by a falling tree in Morillon, in the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France. In Germany, the storm - named Burglind there - has swept over much of the country. It packed gusts of more than 120km/h in the west of the country and led to transport disruption, reports say. Switzerland has also been badly hit, with some 14,000 homes without power. The high winds left several people stranded in a ski lift in St Gallen canton, overturned a light airplane in Stans and snapped the 13m (42ft) high Christmas tree in the capital Bern, Reuters news agency reports. Meanwhile, record wind gusts of 195 km/h were recorded on Pilatus Peak near the Swiss city of Lucerne, broadcaster SRF reported. In the Netherlands, more than 200 flights were cancelled at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Several main roads and train lines were also closed.
In the Australian state of Victoria, peoples are being told to get ready for extreme temperatures this weekend. A total fire ban was issued across the entire state for Saturday, with Melbourne tipped to experience its hottest day in almost two years. There was an all-day ban on lighting open-air fires and the Country Fire Authority was advising residents living in fire-prone areas to activate their bushfire plans. Melbourne was expected to swelter through 41C in the city on Saturday, with northerly winds reaching up to 40km/h. That would be the hottest day the city had experienced since 13 January 2016, when temperatures soared to 42.2C.
Heavy snow has cut off the Alpine ski resorts of Cervinia in Italy and Adelboden in Switzerland, as stormy weather continues to batter Europe. Italian media report that Cervinia, in the Aosta Valley, is half-buried under 2 m of fresh snow. About 10,000 tourists are stuck there. A similar emergency has gripped Adelboden, where the army was mobilised to clear debris from a landslide. In many resorts the avalanche risk is at level four, out of five in total. The weather jeopardised a World Cup ski race that is scheduled to take place this weekend in Adelboden. The landslide cut the resort's road to Frutigen. But reports in Swiss media say the race will go ahead and the authorities are working to repair the road. In Austria's Tyrol region, the avalanche risk is high too and many roads are blocked. In Vorarlberg it is at level four. In the French Alps, ski pistes have been closed at Val d'Isere - one of the biggest resorts - and Chamonix has stopped most of its ski lifts. Three people died due to storm Eleanor in the French Alps: a 93-year-old woman whose home was flooded in Isere, a farmer buried by snow in Savoie and a skier killed when a tree toppled in Morillon.
North America's East Coast is shivering in a record-breaking freeze in the wake of a deadly "bomb cyclone" that dumped snow as far south as Florida. In Canada, high winds have knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents in Nova Scotia. On Wednesday, snow fell in Tallahassee, Florida, for the first time in more than 30 years, causing travel chaos in the region. Five inches of snow fell in Charleston, South Carolina, making it the third snowiest day since the city began keeping records in 1938. On Friday, the National Weather Service (NWS) predicted dangerously low temperatures moving into the weekend as frigid air lingering over the North Pole prowls towards the US mid-Atlantic region. "An arctic outbreak will keep temperatures 20F to 30F degrees below average across the north-eastern US," the NWS said. In Massachusetts, residents of Boston, which received over 30 cm of snowfall, were clearing the streets with shovels. Giant waves caused by the storm saw freezing floodwaters inundate parts of the New England coast. The extreme weather has so far been linked to up to 19 deaths in the US and two more in Canada. Four deaths were reported in traffic accidents in North and South Carolina. Further fatalities occurred in Wisconsin, Kentucky and Texas. In Philadelphia, a car was unable to stop at a railway line at the bottom of a steep hill and was hit by a commuter train, killing a passenger in the vehicle. In Virginia, a girl was fatally struck by a car while sledging, and a 75-year-old man was killed after being hit by a snow plough. A 13-year-old girl died and 35 others suffered carbon-monoxide poisoning in an apartment building in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where the temperature averaged 20F on Thursday night. Seven of those treated were first responders. The extreme weather caused travel chaos and led to the cancellation of thousands of flights on Thursday and Friday. Most flights have since resumed at airports in New York and Boston. Experts say the so-called bomb cyclone storm drew moisture and strength from as far south as the Caribbean Sea. In Canada, the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are both under winter storm and blizzard warnings. On Friday morning, Nova Scotia Power said some 125,000 customers were still without power after 140 km/h wind gusts hit parts of the maritime province. Power cuts have also been also reported in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Ontario is under an extreme cold warning, while Quebec faces heavy snowfall, strong winds and storm surges. Boston harbour's tide gauge matched its record at 15.1ft - previously set during the great blizzard of 1978. Flooding affected the city's newly renovated seaport district and deluged a downtown subway station. The storm has so far forced hundreds of schools and businesses to close in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, the Carolinas, Maryland and Virginia. The weather pattern has already brought snow to the US South as far down as Florida, where the cold snap has caused iguanas to lose their grip and fall from trees. Natural gas prices in the US north-east have risen to an all-time high, driven by demand for heating fuel.
The Australian city of Sydney has experienced its hottest weather in 79 years with temperatures in the region hitting as high as 47.3C in Penrith, west of Sydney. Severe fire warnings were issued for the greater Sydney area and total fire bans were put in place across the city. Sunday's temperatures fell short of the scorching heat to hit the area in 1939, when the mercury reached 47.8C.

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Last updated 9 January 2018.