World weather news, March 2018

Fresh heavy snowfalls lashing Europe have caused transport delays, with the deep freeze expected to continue. The blizzard forced the cancellation of all flights at Dublin airport on Thursday and the temporary closure of Geneva airport in Switzerland. Large parts of the Continent continue to shiver in the grip of a Siberian weather system that has brought the coldest temperatures for several years. The cold snap has been given various nicknames in different countries. In Britain it is "the Beast from the East" - with Storm Emma close behind - while the Dutch are calling it the "Siberian bear" and Swedes the "snow cannon". The airport in the Swiss city of Geneva was forced to shut down on Thursday morning but was later reopened after the runway was cleared using snow ploughs. Icy blizzards across Europe have also seen trains cancelled and roads come to a standstill. About 2,000 drivers were stranded on a motorway near the French city of Montpellier, with some complaining of being stuck for as long 24 as hours.

World weather news, February 2018

Cyclone Fehi sparked evacuations and a state of emergency along New Zealand's west coast as the storm affected the North Island on route to the nation's South Island. A state of emergency was declared for South Island's cities Dunedin and Buller. Cyclone Fehi was downgraded to a severe storm as it moved past New Caledonia, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service. Earlier New Zealand's Civil Defence announced the Nelson Tasman Group Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been activated, with a number of evacuations throughout the region in coastal areas. The majority of flights in and out of Wellington on the North Island were delayed, diverted or cancelled. The nation's Civil Defence was urging people who reside on the Otago Peninsula and West Harbour to go home early for safety reasons as a king tide is due at around 5pm local time (0400 GMT). A king tide comes just after a new or full moon, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water.
Moscow has seen its heaviest snowfall in a day since records began, with more than 2,000 trees brought down and air travel disrupted, officials say. More than half the monthly average snow - 38 cm - fell on Saturday, beating the previous record from 1957. A falling tree and collapsing power line killed one person and five others were injured. Dozens of flights have been delayed at the Russian capital's airports.
The heaviest snowfall since December 2010 caused travel chaos across northern France, including Paris, into Wednesday. As of 6 a.m. Wednesday local time, 12-15 cm of snow had fallen in Paris and caused significant travel disruptions. Snowfall of this magnitude occurs in Paris every 10 to 20 years according to Meteo France. The snowfall forced restrictions on vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and caused travel traffic jams totalling more than 700 km across the city and surrounding areas Tuesday evening, according to France 24. The snow forced the closure of the Eiffel Tower from Tuesday into Wednesday; however, the snowy scene caused travellers and locals to flock to the iconic structure for a snow-covered picture.
A winter storm is leading to widespread disruptions across the northeastern United States. The heaviest snow fell along a zone stretching from central Ohio to the coast of Maine with many locations across interior New England measuring over 6 inches of accumulation. Thes storm stretches about 2,000 miles from the storms in the South to the snow impacting New England. Some airlines began cancelling flights scheduled for Wednesday on Tuesday afternoon in anticipation for the inclement weather.
A winter storm moved across the eastern United States on Wednesday, unleashing rain across the southeastern U.S. while snow and ice fell from the lower Midwest to the shores of New England. More than 200 flights were cancelled at Newark Liberty International Airport, where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was also reporting delays up to 1 hour and 40 minutes on arriving flights. In total, over 1,000 flights were cancelled across the northeastern on Wednesday. Major travel disruptions unfolded as the storm delivered heavy snow and a slippery, icy mix in the Northeast. A Southwest Airlines plane skidded sideways off a runway at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport while preparing for takeoff, according to the FAA. There were no injuries reported among the 149 passengers onboard Flight 906, which was due to depart for Montego Bay, Jamaica. Erie, Pennsylvania, received enough snow to take this season's total to 152.1 inches, making it the snowiest winter in the city's history. The previous record was 149.1 inches, set in the 2000-2001 season.
Powerful Cyclone Gita caused widespread damage to parts of Samoa and American Samoa last week before targeting Tonga Monday night into Tuesday. An emergency declaration was made by the governor of American Samoa which was approved by President Donald Trump allowing aid to be distributed to the island territory. Flooding and power cuts were widespread across Tutuila, including the capital of Pago Pago where rainfall in excess of 150 mm was reported. In Samoa, there were no immediate reports of injury or death from the cyclone, according to Radio New Zealand. More than 350 mm of rain fell in the capital city of Apia from Friday into Saturday. Widespread flooding was reported along with damage to buildings from strong winds. Niue was next in the path of Gita; however, the island was largely spared as Gita passed east and south of the island nation Sunday into Monday. Gita continued to strengthen as it turned westward and approached Tonga Monday night into Tuesday. The centre of the storm passed just south of Tonga unleashing damaging winds, flooding rain and inundating storm surge on Tongatapu and Eua. At its closest approach to Tonga, Gita was equal to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic and east Pacific oceans with sustained winds of 232 km/h. Tonga's Parliament House was completely destroyed in the storm's fury, according to the Associated Press. The Tonga Met office was also damaged, forcing forecasters to take shelter and shift warning responsibilities to the Fiji Met Service.
South-east Queenslanders experienced severe storms in the evening, which dumped huge hail and wreaked havoc on the power network. By Monday morning repair crews were scrambling to restore power to about 57,000 properties that remained without power after destructive winds, gusting beyond 100 km/h in some places, downed hundreds of power lines across the region. The severe weather also caused delays to train services on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh lines. The wild weather, after a day of baking heat across much of Queensland, generated more than 265,000 lightning strikes.
Tropical Cyclone Kelvin crossed the Western Australian coast on Sunday morning near Anna Plains station, about 250km south of Broome, as a category 2 storm. Cattle producer David Stoate said the property, which includes 20,000 cattle, copped a "belting" with roaring wind, roofs knocked off, windows smashed and trees uprooted. He estimated the damage to be about $150,000. Elsewhere in the region, lives and homes remained in danger on Sunday afternoon, with a red alert in place for people between the Bidyadanga Aboriginal community and Sandfire in the Kimberley region. People were warned to remain inside and shelter in the strongest part of their homes or at the evacuation centre, away from doors and windows, and to keep emergency kits with them.
At least 17 people were killed after being buried by debris when heavy rain caused a large mound of garbage to collapse in Mozambique's capital. The disaster took place at the Hulene garbage dump, the largest such facility in Mozambique's capital of Maputo. The garbage dump rose up to the height of a three-story building and collapsed onto homes as heavy rain poured down, the AP reported. A weather station in Maputo recorded nearly 90 mm of rain in 24 hours, ending on Monday morning, local time.
After leaving destruction from Samoa to Tonga, Cyclone Gita brought more damage as it hit New Zealand, unleashing powerful winds and heavy rainfall. Despite losing its tropical characteristics, the powerful storm still caused travel disruptions, power outages and significant flooding. A state of emergency has been declared in Taranaki, Selywn, Buller, Grey, Westland, Nelson/Tasman and Christchurch regions, according to the New Zealand MetService. A peak wind gust of 130 km/h was reported in Hawera. Up to 14,000 homes were left without power during the peak of the storm in Taranaki region as a result of the high winds. The heaviest rain has fallen over northern South Island and southern North Island where 25-75 mm has been common. The February rainfall in Wellington has surpassed 75 mm as of Tuesday night. Normal rainfall for the entire month of February is around 89 mm. Similarly, rainfall has surpassed 50 mm in Christchurch which averages only 45 mm for the entire month. The storm has also disrupted travel with numerous road closures and cancelled flights.
An Australian town has been hit by a dust storm that covered the outback community in orange dust. The storm swept through Charleville in south-west Queensland on Tuesday, knocking down trees and causing minor damage. Authorities said recent weather conditions had allowed strong winds to pick and spread dirt from the region. "We do see a fair few dust events through the western parts of Queensland because it is such a dry and hot place, but it's definitely one of the more impressive events of the last few years," said Harry Clark, from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. He estimated the dust storm was about 200 km wide. It gave winds of up to 60 mph, while visibility at the local airport was reduced to about 200 m.
At least five people have been killed as a strong storm system caused flooding, hail and high winds in central and southern US states over the weekend. Three people died in Kentucky as tornadoes ripped through the state. Emergencies were declared in several states as heavy rainfall continued to cause widespread flooding on Sunday. The governor of Indiana issued disaster declarations for 11 counties due to flooding. Tornadoes were also recorded in Tennessee, with sustained winds recorded of up to 125mph (200km/h). No deaths were reported there, but a teenage girl was injured by falling debris at a basketball game on Saturday night after a reported lightning strike. The Ohio River was measured at 18 m deep - its highest level for 21 years.
Homeless people in parts of Brussels will be detained overnight if they refuse shelter to protect them from sub-zero temperatures this week. The mayor of Etterbeek, a Brussels neighbourhood that is home to many European Union offices, said he had asked police to take all homeless people to shelters even if they were unwilling. The mayor of Brussels City, one of 19 councils that make up the greater Brussels region, said he had given similar orders to police and asked them to prioritise children sleeping outside. Officials in Lithuania say this winter's record low temperatures claimed the lives of at least three people over the weekend in Vilnius. Seven people have received treatment for substantial frostbite to their hands and feet in the past few days. The impact of the cold weather has been felt across the continent, although not as severely as in the Baltic states. Schools have been disrupted across Italy and Romans woke to the rare sight of the capital city covered in snow on Monday. It was the heaviest snowfall in Rome in six years and the largest for the end of February in decades. The city, which is not well equipped to deal with snow emergencies, asked other areas to send in snowploughs to help clear roads. Only one runway was operating at Rome's main airport, Fiumicino. Its second airport, Ciampino, was closed overnight allowing workers to clear a runway so it could reopen on Monday morning. On Sunday night, temperatures in Moscow dropped to nearly -20C, the coldest night of the Russian winter so far. Roman Vilfand, the chief of the Russian meteorological office, said Muscovites should brace themselves for frosty weather in early March and could only "count on the warmth of the soul", not higher temperatures outside. In Germany, meteorologists reported a record cold for this winter of -27C on Zugspitze, the country's highest peak. In the UK, the bookmaker Coral slashed the odds on March being recorded as the country's coldest ever month. In Romania, where temperatures plunged to -8C on Monday, the mayor of Bucharest, Gabriela Firea, announced schools would be closed in the capital for at least two days. Schools were also closed elsewhere in Romania. In Croatia, about 1,000 soldiers joined efforts to clear the snow in the worst-affected areas where more than 1.5 metres of snowfall has been reported. Schools have been closed in the north-west and heavy vehicles have been banned from all roads leading toward the coast.

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.
Snow started falling on the Algerian town of Ain Sefra in the early hours of Sunday morning, giving children an opportunity to race each other down the slopes. Rising temperatures meant it began to melt later in the day. It is the third time in nearly 40 years the town, known as "The Gateway to the Desert", has seen snowfall. In 1979, a snowstorm lasting half an hour stopped traffic. Two years ago, snow settled for around a day, and the town saw snowfall again last year.
Thousands of tourists are stranded in Swiss ski resorts after heavy snow in the Alps cut off towns and villages. Skiing is not possible as slopes are closed because of the danger of avalanches. More than a metre of snow fell in parts on Monday alone. On Tuesday, a metre more is forecast. The avalanche risk is set at the rarely used maximum on a five-point scale. This is the highest it has been for almost ten years. Many schools have been closed and some houses evacuated. Snow has blocked road and rail links to many ski resorts In the resort of Zermatt, home to the famous Matterhorn mountain, more than 13,000 tourists cannot leave.
Rescue workers in southern California are searching for survivors after mudslides and flooding in which at least 13 people have died. More than 30 miles of the main coastal road have been closed and police said the scene "looked like a World War One battlefield". A group of 300 people are reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon neighbourhood east of Santa Barbara, with rescue efforts due to resume at daybreak. The death toll is expected to rise. Some 163 people have been taken to hospital. Twenty had "storm-related injuries" and four were critically hurt. The first rain in months caused mudslides when it hit ground that had been scorched by December's huge wildfires. In some places mud was waist-deep, officials said. Thousands had to leave their homes, many for the second time in two months. The emergency services declared an exclusion zone, saying anyone moving around the area would be in the way of rescuers and would be subject to arrest. Boulders the size of small cars were rolling down hillsides and blocking roads.
Motorists were warned to drive with caution as snow and ice affected large parts of Scotland. Dozens of schools were closed in the Highlands and Dumfries and Galloway, after overnight snowfall. Police reported dealing with jackknifed lorries on the A9 at Dalwhinnie, and on the M74 between Lockerbie and Moffat. Wintry conditions forced Inverness airport to close for a time. Flights in and out of Aberdeen Airport were also affected and Glasgow Airport was closed for a while as the runway, taxi and passenger routes were cleared.
People living in some of the coldest places on earth are hunkering down as temperatures fall to near-record lows that are even defeating thermometers. Temperatures in the remote, diamond-rich Russian region of Yakutia on Tuesday plunged to -67C in some areas. In Yakutia - 5,300 km east of Moscow - where students routinely go to school in -40C, school was cancelled throughout the region. Local police also ordered parents to keep their children at home. Over the weekend, two men froze to death when they tried to walk to a nearby farm after their car broke down. Three other men who were with them survived because they were wearing warmer clothes, local investigators reported on Monday. The press office of Yakutia's governor said Tuesday all households and businesses in the region have working central heating and access to backup power generators. In the village of Oimyakon, one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, state-owned television showed mercury falling to the bottom of a thermometer that was only set up to measure down to -50C. In 2013, Oymyakon recorded an all-time low of minus -71C.
Snow swept across the southeastern United States on Tuesday and Wednesday, chilling the region and causing widespread road closures and flight delays from southern Texas through North Carolina. The winter storm unfolded across the Gulf Coast states on Tuesday with snow, sleet and ice making some roads impassable from Houston through Birmingham, Alabama. Stretches of Interstate 10 were closed from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday due to snow and ice. By Wednesday, the focus of the snow shifted from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas. Areas near the coast saw little to no accumulation, but accumulations of 4 to 8 inches were common farther inland. The heaviest snow occurred in an area just to the northwest of Durham, North Carolina, where there was 8 to 12 inches. Wintry weather was blamed for a slew of road closures and accidents across areas from Texas to Kentucky. The snow and ice also forced school and government offices to close and numerous flight delays out of major hubs like Houston and Atlanta.
Hundreds of drivers spent the night in their cars after becoming stranded due to heavy snow. Mountain rescue teams were sent to help those stuck on the M74 in Dumfries and Galloway after severe weather led to closures at Millbank and Beattock. Public transport has been disrupted and schools remain closed in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Disruption was also reported on the M62 trans-Pennine motorway, although by Wednesday morning traffic was able to move. Scottish Borders Council has said no schools will open in its area.
Severe gales caused disruption to much of the UK - with gusts of up to 70 mph. Police in several areas, including Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Gloucestershire, reported fallen trees on or near roads. Damage to overhead electric wires caused problems for train services in the Midlands, and drivers are being warned to take extra care on the roads. In Scotland, police urged motorists to drive with "extreme caution" in the wintry conditions. Drivers in Scotland and northern England were being warned not to travel at all until after 0500 GMT, the first such warning issued since high winds in January 2013. Rail commuters faced delays in London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. In Sydenham, south east London, a train hit a tree. Scottish Borders Council said no schools would open today, affecting 15,000 pupils.
Dutch authorities have suspended all flights to and from Amsterdam Schiphol airport as a severe storm causes transport chaos in the Netherlands. Most rail traffic has also stopped as winds gust at up to 140 km/h. Police have closed the centre of Almere, a city with about 200,000 residents lying just east of Amsterdam. They tweeted an alert warning people to stay at home because of risk from the storm. The Dutch Railways (NS) and operator ProRail said overhead power lines had been damaged by the wind, as well as some railway tracks. High winds have also toppled trees and caused structural damage in western regions of Germany, where the storm is called "Friederike". The national train operator, Deutsche Bahn, has suspended rail traffic in North Rhine-Westphalia and parts of neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state. Dozens of flights are also being cancelled in Germany - at Cologne/Bonn airport every fourth flight has been scrapped. An emergency siren wailed in the city of Duisburg, warning residents that they should stay indoors, German news website WDR reported. Eight people were killed in storm-related accidents; three people died after being hit by falling trees and debris in the Netherlands and one in Germany. Those killed in Germany also included two firefighters and two lorry drivers whose vehicles were blown over. The storm later moved east into Poland. It was the most powerful storm to hit Germany for 11 years.
A powerful storm unleashed blizzard conditions and over a 30 cm of snow across the midwestern United States this week. The snowstorm began over the Rockies on Sunday, forcing nearly 200 flights to be cancelled at Denver International Airport. The heaviest snow fell along a narrow swath from northwestern Kansas through Nebraska, northwestern Iowa and south-central Minnesota, with widespread totals of 8-14 inches. Visibility became so poor that the Platte County Highway Department in Nebraska pulled snow removal crews off the roads on Monday morning. The Minnesota State Patrol reported over 600 crashes and vehicle spin-outs as well as dozens of jackknifed semi-trailers from midnight to 8:45 p.m. CST Monday.
Heavy snow affected the Tokyo metro area. Tokyo picked up 23 cm of snowfall, making it the heaviest snowfall there since February 2014, when 27 cm fell. There were more than 600 traffic accidents due to the slippery road conditions in Tokyo, and hundreds of flights were cancelled. Reuters reported that about 50 cars got stuck on the Rainbow Bridge along Tokyo's waterfront. Traffic jams trapped cars inside a tunnel for up to 10 hours. Travel by train was also affected when a train failed to make it up a slope due to the snow, causing the Yurikamome Line to come to a halt, the Japan Times reported.
Thousands of people have been stranded by heavy snowfall at ski resorts in the Alps, with many unable to return home following skiing holidays. Train lines and roads to Zermatt in Switzerland and St Anton in Austria have been blocked off, and authorities are asking people to remain in their accommodation for safety reasons. While some tourists were airlifted out of Zermatt by helicopter, flights were stopped following a deterioration in weather conditions. Authorities in Zermatt have been attempting to clear the snow using helicopters. At St Anton in Austria, police have restricted travel in and out of the town to cars with snow chains, while firefighter escorts transported some people to a nearby valley. This is the second time visitors to Zermatt have been snowed in this month.
A member of Japan's self-defence forces died and about a dozen skiers were injured after a volcano erupted near a ski resort, triggering an avalanche and sending rocks raining down on the slopes. The skiers were injured when they became trapped by the avalanche or were hit by falling volcanic rocks from Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, according to local media. Five were seriously injured, but none was in a critical condition, rescuers said. Five other members of Japan's ground self-defence force who were taking part in training manoeuvres in the area were rescued, some with injuries including fractures.
As drought continues and water levels plummet in Cape Town's (Soth Africa) dams, residents are facing a slew of new emergency measures. Messages of conservation have fallen on deaf ears, the city said, necessitating a crackdown on usage. "We have reached a point of no return. Despite our urging for months, 60 percent of Capetonians are callously using more than 87 litres per day," Mayor Patricia de Lille said. This week, the government is set to vote on the introduction of a punitive tariff, which will charge residents using above 6,000 liters per month exponentially higher rates for their water. As of February 1, usage will be restricted to 50 litres per person per day to make up for months of overuse. Though desalination plants are set to go online in February and drilling into the aquifer will also take place, officials say the additional resources are too little too late. The city has announced water collection points, which will become the only way to obtain water for personal use if dam levels continue to drop. Taps will be shut off and residents will be able to retrieve 25 liters per person each day from one of 200 collection points across the city.
Authorities in Victoria and South Australia are urging people to behave sensibly and watch out for vulnerable friends and family as the southern states swelter through another extremely hot and humid day. Melbourne and Geelong were forecast to reach 39C on Sunday, with overnight conditions not expected to fall below 27C. Parts of the state's north-west, such as Mildura, were expected to hit 44C following at least a week of temperatures into the 40s. The lack of winds meant there was only "very high" fire danger for around Melbourne, and central north and western parts of the state, and a "high" fire danger in the east. In South Australia, total fire bans were declared for parts of the state. On Sunday afternoon, lives and homes were at risk from an out-of-control bushfire south-east of Adelaide, authorities warned. It was Adelaide's second heatwave this month, following similar conditions the week before which led to the hospitalisation of 40 people.
The swollen River Seine has peaked at more than four metres above its normal level, leaving a lengthy mop-up job for Parisians after days of rising waters. The river rose to 5.84 metres early on Monday morning, causing problems for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks. Around 1,500 people have been evacuated from their homes, according to police, while a similar number of properties remain without electricity. The capital's famous Bateaux Mouches rivercraft service was suspended and only emergency services were authorised to use the river. The Seine did not quite reach its 2016 high of 6.1 metres, when priceless artworks had to be evacuated from the Louvre. The December-January period is now the third wettest on record since data collection began in 1900, according to France's meteorological service. A main commuter line, the RER C, will not stop in the city until at least 5 February, and some expressways that run alongside the Seine have been closed. However, fears of flooding like that seen in 1910, which saw the Seine rise to 8.62 metres and shut down much of Paris's basic infrastructure, appeared unfounded. But several areas on the city's outskirts were underwater, including the southern suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, where some residents were getting around by boat and dozens have been evacuated from their homes.
A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country and causing a nationwide shortage of fans. Temperatures have soared above 37C in parts of the South Island, with records broken in Dunedin, Wanaka, Christchurch and many other cities and towns. Temperatures are expected to peak on Tuesday or Wednesday around the high 30s or 40C mark - highs that are proving particularly challenging for school children as many New Zealand classrooms are equipped with heaters but not air conditioners. Ben Noll, a meteorologist from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), said unusually warm sea temperatures were the major factor contributing to the heatwave, as the mainland experienced a dramatic rise in land temperatures as soon as the sea rose above average. NIWA has recorded seas of 24C to 26C around Auckland, compared with 18C to 22C at the same time last year. New Zealand was tracking towards its warmest January on record, Noll said, with high temperatures expected to continue into February. New Zealand's current hottest temperature on record was 42.4C, recorded in Rangiora in the South Island in February 1973, according to NIWA.

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Last updated 1 March 2018.