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Old February 17th 15, 02:08 AM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default Global Weather Highlights January 2015

GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
JANUARY 2015

AUSTRAILIA

Firefighters in South Australia say they are racing to contain a major bushfire before soaring temperatures and high winds fuel the blaze on the 5th. More than 30 homes are already feared destroyed in the hills behind the city of Adelaide. More than 500 firefighters are tackling the fires, which have been burning since Friday. Officials say the blaze is the worst in the area since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, which left 75 dead. Temperatures are forecast to hit 34C in Adelaide on Monday before rising to as high as 38C on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

Australia has recorded its third-warmest calendar year since national records began in 1910, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says. Frequent heatwaves and a marked reduction in cold weather characterized 2014, the Bureau said. Mean temperatures were 0.91C above the long-term average in 2014, the BOM said. The news comes as South Australia is facing some of the worst bushfires in the region in decades. Firefighters are battling to contain a major blaze in the hills behind the city of Adelaide before forecast soaring temperatures and strong winds fuel it further.

UNITED STATES

Temperatures across much of the northern and eastern US are plunged to "dangerously cold" levels, the National Weather Service said on the 7th. The freeze has led to the closure or late running of schools from north to south, from the Dakotas to Alabama. Winter weather warnings have been issued for 17 US states and for Ontario and southern Quebec. A storm dumped about a foot (30 cm) of snow in northern New York another foot of "lake-effect" snow is expected in parts of New York State over the next two days.

The US work week got off to a slippery start Monday as a storm packing freezing rain, sleet and snow made travel difficult from the Ozarks to New England on the 12th. Roads and pavements began to glaze over Sunday night in central Indiana along the Interstate 70 corridor, but the storm produced lighter amounts of ice than forecasters had predicted due to slightly warmer air and lighter precipitation. In upstate New York, a few more inches of snow are forecast to top off the 2 to 4-plus feet of snow that piled up from the most recent lake-effect storms. Snow fell Monday morning from Buffalo to Albany, causing minor delays for commuters in some areas.

The Blizzard of 2015 has hit with all its fury in central and eastern Long Island to southern and eastern New England (16th-27). The storm that started off as a moisture-starved Alberta Clipper caused major disruption here. Much of Long Island and southern and eastern New England was buried under 12-24 inches of snow. Localized snowfall amounts approached 3 feet in New England. This storm brought the greatest snowfall on record to Worcester, Massachusetts, with 34.5 inches. Prior to the Blizzard of 2015, the biggest single-storm snowfall was 33 inches set during March 31-April 1, 1997. Blizzard conditions occurred for approximately nine hours in Boston, where 24.6 inches of snow fell. The Blizzard of 2015 now ranks as number six on the list of greatest snowstorms on record for Boston. The greatest single-storm snowfall was during Feb. 17-18, 2003, when 27.6 inches fell. Approximately 9.8 inches fell on New York City's Central Park with 11.4 inches at LaGuardia Airport. Much less snow fell in the Philadelphia area. The storm delivered 1-2 inches to the city. So why did New York City get much less snow that predicted? Once the storm hit the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, it began to strengthen tremendously and move steadily northeastward, rather than stall. The storm also began to track a few dozen miles farther east than speculated on Sunday. Had the storm swelled larger by 50 miles farther west, blizzard conditions would have reached New York City, and a heavy snow accumulation would have edged into the Philadelphia area. Because of the storm's compact size, relatively speaking, the heavy wet snow was limited to extreme southeastern New England. Storm surge flooding and pounding waves caused major flooding and considerable property damage along the seacoast in Massachusetts. Offshore waves reached 30 feet during the storm.

EUROPE

Thousands of homes remain without power on the 10th following the storms that have been battering Scotland. A total of 29,000 Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) customers in the north and 800 supplied by Scottish Power further south were affected by Saturday afternoon. SHEPD said it would be unable to restore power in the north of Skye, Harris and Caithness until Sunday. It said driving snow, sheet ice and lightning were plaguing its efforts to restore power.

Three people have been rescued from the Cairngorms (Scotland) in two separate operations over the weekend 1th-11th. The Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team was called out to a climber who had fallen in blizzard conditions on Saturday. The 25-year-old man was airlifted to hospital by an RAF search and rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth. On Sunday, a man and woman were rescued from a bothy by Braemar Mountain Rescue Team after becoming stranded in the Loch Etchachan area due to snow. Following the incident on Saturday, the RAF helicopter crew had to fly in whiteout conditions.

A pub landlord is counting the cost after a Suffolk river burst its bank, flooding the building 10th-11th. Water began "bubbling up" into The Harbour Inn in Southwold at about 22:00 GMT, Nick Attfield said. Damage was limited as the Environment Agency had issued warnings, but the cost of closing for 48 hours and paying 20 staff to "clean up the mud" would be about 5,000, he said. The Environment Agency issued 13 flood warning for parts of Suffolk overnight.

Wintry weather is causing disruption across parts of the UK, with warnings of severe gales forecast for England later. More than 200 schools are closed across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, several rail services were suspended and snow blocked roads causing problems for commuters.. A second spell of persistent snow has caused further disruption for commuters across parts of Scotland. Almost 100 schools in the Highlands are closed. Some schools in Perthshire and Stirling are also shut. No train services will run on four west coast routes from 18:00 on Wednesday until 18:00 on Thursday. Two HGVs have jack-knifed on the A9 at Ralia. Police Scotland said the slow progress of another lorry had added to challenging driving conditions near Trinafour. Travel on the A82 has been affected by snow and an accident at Invergarry.

A number of major roads remain closed by snow in Cumbria (UK) (30th). The A592 Kirkstone Pass between the Troutbeck and Hartsop junctions and the A686 Hartside Pass between Melmerby and Alston are both still closed to traffic.. Cumbria Police warned black ice was affecting stretches of A595 Muncaster and further south and advised motorists to drive with "extreme care". Wintry weather is continuing to cause travel disruption in other parts of England. Several roads and dozens of schools, including in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, are closed as snow and ice causes disruption for a second day. Overnight, 30 abandoned vehicles on the Woodhead Pass, near Sheffield, were moved following heavy snowfall. In the South West, ferry sailings from Plymouth to Roscoff have been cancelled until Sunday, due to the weather. On Thursday, flights were suspended at Manchester Airport and snow caused disruption to travelers across the northern half of the UK.

AFRICA

The Malawi government has declared half the country a disaster zone and appealed for international humanitarian help after torrential rains killed at least 48 people, left 70,000 homeless, and destroyed bridges and roads on the 14th. Downpours and flooding have also hit neighboring Mozambique, where 25 schoolchildren were swept away by torrents on Monday, and where 18 other people have been reported missing. The country's Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned of heavy rainfall and flash floods for the next two to three weeks. The crop outlook in the southern African country - where much of the agriculture is still done by subsistence farmers - has deteriorated after a late start to rains in the summer planting season, which usually gets under way in October or November.

ASIA

Heavy winds and driving snow buffet northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Saturday evening (17th), stranding motorists on open roads around the capital Urumqi. The gale-force winds reduced visibility to within 50 meters on some roads. More than 100 emergency services personnel were called in to help motorists trapped in their cars.

A deep trough of low pressure pulled moisture northward from the Arabian Sea into the Persian Gulf leading to flooding across parts of United Arab Emirates, Oman and southern Iran (19th). The week began with rain from the United Arab Emirates into southern Iran and northern Oman. Thunderstorms produced heavy rain totaling 12-25 mm with localized amounts in excess of 50 mm. This amount of rainfall occurring in a short time period caused flooding problems as entire roadways became submerged.

TROPICAL

Typhoon Mekkhala made landfall in northern Samar Island on Saturday night (local time). As of Sunday night, local time, nearly 300 mm of rain had fallen in Catarman in northern Sumar. In southeastern Luzon 259 mm fell in Legaspi. Samar is one of the areas hardest hit by former Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda. Pope Francis was visiting eastern Visayas to interact with people who were severely impacted by this tragedy only a little more than a year ago. Pope Francis's visit to Tacloban City on Leyte Island was cut short by 4 hours due to the approaching storm.

SOUTH AMERICA

Sweltering heat has dominated a large portion of Brazil in January, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio where temperatures have resulted in blackouts over the past week (22nd). Temperatures this month have averaged 4.4 degC above normal in Rio de Janerio and 5.7 degC aboce normal in Sao Paulo. Making matters worse is an ongoing drought that dates back at least three years. This drought has put a stress on water supplies across the region. Since Brazil relies heavily on hydroelectric power, the water shortage has now begun to impact power supply as well.

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