World weather news, January 2022

At least 21 people have died after heavy snow trapped them in their vehicles in northern Pakistan. As many as 1000 vehicles became stranded as would-be tourists reportedly rushed to view the winter snowfall in the hilltop town of Murree. The military is attempting to clear roads and rescue those still trapped. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the crisis had been caused by the number of people travelling to the area, north of the capital Islamabad. More than 100000 cars had arrived in the colonial-era town in recent days, with social media in Pakistan flooded with pictures of people enjoying the snow. But by Friday, local media reported that tourists were getting stranded. On Saturday, the heavy snow and increase in vehicles prompted authorities to declare the region a disaster zone. Pictures and video on social media show cars trapped bumper to bumper, snow piled onto their roofs.
Washington State Governor declared a State of Emergency, after a series of severe winter storms struck Washington State (USA) beginning on 17 December 2021, producing extensive rain and snow and causing hazardous driving conditions, flooding, and extended road closures on mountain passes and other roadways throughout the lowlands and high elevations statewide. Rain and snow hit the state in historic proportions again this week, setting the stage for swollen rivers and avalanche concerns Friday, the Seattle Times reports. As a result, nearly all of the major road and train routes connecting Seattle the rest of the state and country were shut down, cutting off the city from Portland and Western Washington from Eastern Washington. The last time the region was cut off so much was in 1996 after an atmospheric river closed mountain passes and Interstate 5, NWS meteorologist Ted Buehner said. This time, the culprit was a warm front that stalled over Western Washington from the 5th to 7th January, rather than moving past quickly, like usual, said NWS meteorologist Samantha Borth.
The last seven years were the world's hottest on record, with the first analysis of global temperature in 2021 showing it was 1.2 degC above pre-industrial levels. The assessment of the year, by the European climate agency Copernicus, also found carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached record levels and that the potent greenhouse gas methane surged 'very substantially', also to a new record. The rise in greenhouse gas concentration means more heat is being trapped than ever before but 2021 ranked as the fifth hottest year on record. This is because La Nina exerted a cooling influence by bringing cold Pacific waters to the surface.
Tropical Cyclone Cody formed today near Fiji as the second named storm of the 2021/22 South Pacific Ocean cyclone season. Cody's center passed south of the island without making landfall, but strong winds and prolonged heavy rains caused widespread floods and infrastructure damage, especially on the western side of Viti Levu. At 0000 UTC on 10 January, Cody's center was located about 255 km SW of Viti Levu, with maximum sustained winds of 74 km/h. At least one person was killed in Tavua Town, northern Viti Levu, and a number of people were forced to evacuate in northern and western Viti Levu due to floods.
Australia has equalled its hottest day on record after a remote coastal town reported temperatures of 50.7C. The temperature in Onslow, Western Australia, on Thursday matched a record set in 1962 in South Australia. Onslow and the surrounding areas could see records broken again with temperatures set to rise slightly on Friday. It comes after Western Australia reported large bushfires last month. One fire near Margaret River scorched through more than 6000 hectares of land, forcing evacuations. The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed on Thursday that Onslow equalled the record at 1426 local time (2226 GMT). According to local media, the average temperature in Onslow at this time of year is 36.5C. Two other towns, Mardie and Roebourne, reported temperatures of more than 50C on Thursday.
More than 549 cities in Brazil are now under a state of emergency due to severe floods affecting the country over the past couple of weeks. Dozens of people have been killed and more than 133000 forced to evacuate their homes. In addition, 200 cities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul are in a state of emergency due to droughts. The worst affected by floods are Minas Gerais and Bahia with 341 cities and 175 municipalities under a state of emergency. Minas Gerais is home to the country's 3 most at-risk tailings dams, renewing traumas in a region that has experienced two catastrophic dam collapses since 2015.
A major winter storm affecting the eastern United States spawned multiple tornadoes in southwestern Florida today, destroying at least 28 homes and damaging others. In addition, at least 7000 homes were left without power in Lee and Collier counties. Lee County officials said at least 62 homes are currently unlivable after the county was hit by an EF-2 tornado at 0735 LT on Sunday morning. The tornado may have completely destroyed 30 of 108 mobile homes near Fort Myers, according to a preliminary damage survey by the National Weather Service (NWS).
A low-pressure system tracking south of the Great Lakes brought significant snowfall and blizzard conditions to parts of Ontario and Quebeck, Canada today, forcing authorities to issue the first blizzard warning for the City of Toronto since 1978. This system is a part of a large storm affecting the U.S. East Coast and central and eastern Canada. Environment Canada issued the blizzard warning forecasting up to 60 cm of fresh snow in some parts of the region and snowfall rates of 6 to 10 cm per hour. Toronto saw 37 cm by 0900 LT today and strong northwesterly winds gusting up to 50 km/h, resulting in areas of poor visibility.
Some 2800 people were stranded on a major highway connecting Turkey's southern provinces after rare heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions hit the province of Gaziantep late Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Heavy snow and blizzard conditions also affected other parts of the country, closing schools in 52 of Turkey's 82 provinces and isolating remote towns and villages. Some remote areas in the northeast are reporting up to 2 m (6.5 feet) of snow.
Widespread flooding affected South Australia after parts of the state received more than a year's worth of rain in just three days. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior meteorologist Kylie Evans said there were a number of daily rainfall records set, including 181 mm at Winter Springs near Cowell, and 160 mm in Kimba, both on the 21st, and 86 mm in Kadina on the 23rd. There were also new January daily rainfall records set across a number of locations, including Wharminda with 71 mm, Yardea 70.4 mm, and Leigh Creek 93 mm. This rare rainfall event has been attributed to a slow-moving upper low pressure front across the Great Australian Bite, with a deep tropical moisture and a surface trough.
Heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures affected Greece, including Athens and many Aegean islands, on the 24th, forcing authorities to close schools and warn the public to limit their movements. The temperatures across the country started falling on Saturday, followed by heavy snow and frost. While snow is common in the Greek mountains and in the northern part of the country, it's not usual in central Athens and on the Aegean islands. Rare snow was also reported on the island of Mykonos the 23rd.
At least 34 people have died and dozens are missing after strong winds and heavy downpours wreaked havoc in Malawi and Mozambique as Tropical Storm Ana made landfall. Almost 16000 people in the south of Malawi were affected, according to the Red Cross, as search and rescue operations continue after the first cyclone of the region's season. Heavy flooding has forced the main hydropower supplier in Malawi to shut down, meaning much of the country was without electricity.

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Last updated 26 January 2022.