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Old November 8th 17, 06:55 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default October 2017 Global Weather Highlights

GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

OCTOBER 2017

AUSTRALIA

The Queensland city of Bundaberg has endured its biggest one-day downpour in more than half a century, causing flash flooding and leaving thousands without power (2nd). A Bureau of Meteorology spokeswoman said the Wide Bay city had received more than 340 mm rain on Monday, breaking a 64-year record by more than 60 mm. Residents described cyclonic-like winds which downed trees and power lines and sent debris flying. The State Emergency Service responded to about 177 calls in the area on Monday and overnight, mostly due to roof damage and flooding, and more than 4,000 homes lost power at the height of the wild weather. Flash flooding closed main roads into the town of Agnes Waters, including Rosedale Road into Bundaberg.

EUROPE

Extreme weather, including heavy hailstorms, hard frosts and drought, has pushed the EU wine grape harvest to an historical low in 2017, the EU department for Agriculture and Rural Development has revealed (5th). As a result of the adverse weather conditions experienced across Europe this year, the EU Commission states that "most of the wine-growing regions in Europe are expecting a very low harvest in 2017". Spain predicts volumes to be 16% lower compared to 2016 and in France and Italy, winemakers are expecting a 17% and 21% reduction respectively. The report stresses that these figures are an average, with some regions believed to have an even greater reduction than the national average, while others have escaped relatively unscathed.

At least seven people died, five of them in their vehicles, and the public was warned to stay indoors as gale force winds and rain swept across northern Germany (5th). Public transport was also severely disrupted. Category 3 storm warnings, on a scale that goes up to 4, were issued for much of northern and eastern Germany due to storm Xavier. Storm Xavier, which reached speeds of up to 115 km/h, killed at least seven people. Bus services began to run again in Berlin on Thursday evening but a spokesman for BVG Berlin transport said the service may not be fully restored until after Friday morning and checks on the network had been made. Hundreds of people were stranded as their trains were cancelled in the capital. Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance trains to and from Berlin as well as services in Lower Saxony, Schleswig Holstein and Bremen and commuter trains in Hamburg. Bremen and Hanover airports cancelled some international flights. Passengers arriving in Berlin remained on board their aircraft as the storm swept over Tegel and Schoenefeld airports and authorities temporarily suspended operations.

Some parts of Cumbria (UK) saw more than 206 mm of rain fall in less than 24 hours, according to provisional figures from the Environment Agency (11th). Honister, Seathwaite and Ennerdale were the worst hit areas as torrential downpours closed schools and disrupted road and rail travel. The agency issued 18 flood alerts and eight flood warnings, while a Met Office yellow warning for rain was in place for much of Wednesday. No serious injuries were reported.

Ireland experienced the worst of the weather associated with ex-hurricane Ophelia on Monday, with winds of almost 100 mph damaging electricity networks and causing widespread disruption (16th). The Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, described Ophelis impact as a national emergency" that forced the closure of schools and colleges and brought the transport network to a standstill on Monday. He said it was the worst storm in Ireland in 50 years and appealed to people to stay indoors. The chairman of Irelands national emergency coordination group, Sean Hogan, said: These gusts are life-threatening. Do not be out there." Referring to Hurricane Debbie in 1961, Varadkar said: The last time we had a storm this severe, 11 lives were lost, so safety is our number one priority." The storm also prevented Bill Clinton from visiting Belfast for a crucial round of talks with local politicians. As Ophelia struck land at about 10 am, there were outages due to felled power lines in the south and south-west of the country. Power cuts continued throughout the day and by mid-afternoon, 360,000 customers were without electricity.. The Irish Republics Electricity Supply Board warned of further outages throughout the night. More than 140 flights from Irish airports were cancelled and by 10am, all Dublin Bus routes in the capital were shut down. The citys Luas tram system was also closed over safety fears. Every creche, school, third-level college and university in Ireland was closed. An "unusual" reddish sky and red-looking sun were reported across many parts of England. The phenomenon was initially seen in the west of England and Wales before spreading to other areas, and was due to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara“ along with debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain. The particles in the air cause blue light to scatter, leaving longer-wavelength red light to shine through. A number of flights to UK airports have been forced to land or divert following reports of "smoke smells" - much of the polluted air seemed to be confined to a small vertical depth in places, thus helping to concentrate the side-effects. Precautionary landings were reported from flights travelling to and from Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool and Jersey.

More than 40 people have been killed in wildfires scorching Portugal and Spain, according to government officials (18th). The death toll in Portugal has reached 42 according to the Associated Press, following deadly fires over the weekend. Portugal's Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa submitted her resignation on Wednesday amid public outcry against the government response to the deadly fires. A state of emergency has been declared across Portugal for all areas north of the Tagus River. Further north, five deaths have been reported in the Galicia region of northwest Spain following several new wildfires over the weekend. Firefighters continue to battle 27 blazes across the region including seven near residential areas. The combination of months of dry weather and gusty winds related to former Hurricane Ophelia resulted in dangerous fire conditions. Rainfall since 1 July in Porto, Portugal, totaled only 39 mm, just 29 percent of normal for that time period.

Parts of Britain were hit by winds gusting to almost 80 mph and heavy rains as storm Brian crossed the Irish Sea after causing flooding in some parts of Ireland (21st). Gusts of 78 mph, the highest recorded on Saturday afternoon, struck the LlÅ·n Peninsula on the north- west coast of Wales, the Met Office said. Dozens of flights and ferry crossings have been cancelled because of the high winds, with British Airways cutting 10 flights to and from Heathrow to reduce the number of aircraft movements at the airport. The rough seas and strong winds forced Brittany Ferries to cancel eight sailings, with Irish ports particularly affected by the rough conditions. P&O Ferries were also hit by the disruption and on Saturday evening it cancelled all crossings of the Irish Sea between Dublin and Liverpool.

Strong winds battered northern and central Europe, killing at least six people in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, with authorities watching for oil leaks from a huge freighter that ran aground in the North Sea. Four victims in Poland and the Czech Republic were killed by falling trees. The storm also knocked out power to thousands of Czechs and Poles, and rail traffic in large parts of northern Germany remained suspended after heavy damage from fallen trees (29th). Winds reached more than 100 km/h in several parts of the Czech Republic and topped out at 180 km/h on Snezka, at 1,602 meters, the country's highest mountain, Czech Television reported. The two victims in Germany included a 63-year-old German man who drowned at a campsite in Lower Saxony as a result of a storm surge, and a woman whose motorboat overturned in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, German media reported. The "Glory Amsterdam," a 225-metre long freighter ran aground on the German island of Langeoog, and authorities were keeping a close watch for any signs of oil leaks. The ship's crew of 22 were safe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. In Germany, railway operator Deutsche Bahn cited what it called "significant damage" on key routes, and said rail traffic on many routes in northern and central Germany would remain suspended until Monday. The decision left thousands of travelers stranded and cut rail access to cities such as Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Hanover and Kiel. Deutsche Bahn restored some service late on Sunday and provided sleeping cars at stations for stranded passengers. The winds felled trees in the Czech Republic, with one man dying after being hit on a sidewalk in a town in the north of the country and one woman killed by a tree in a wooded area, media reported. The weather delayed or halted traffic on several railway lines and slowed road traffic, with a fallen tree blocking one highway just outside of the capital, Prague, the website of newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes reported. Prague zoo closed because of the winds, but Prague airport was running without problems, newspaper Lidove Noviny's website reported. The winds also hit Poland, damaging a pipeline at Poland's liquefied natural gas terminal in the port of Swinoujscie. They caused a small leak but no greater damage, according to a spokesman for the state gas pipeline operator, Gaz-System.

AFRICA

At least nine people are dead after dangerous conditions unfolded from Durban to Johannesburg, South Africa, stranding vehicles and toppling trees (10th). One police officer of Durban was pronounced dead, when a container fell on his car on Tuesday morning, according to Times LIVE of Johannesburg. Two other people died when a wall collapsed at the Umlazi hospital, while eThekiwini officials report that another man died when attempting to cross a flooded river. Others travelling in and around the Durban area found themselves trapped by rising floodwaters and blown-over trees. As of Tuesday afternoon, local time, areas south of Durban, including Paddock, had more than 140 mm of rainfall from the storm. Rising water levels nearby rivers flooded both of the roadways and homes, prompting the closure of some local schools. Garrith Jamieson, a Rescue Care spokesperson for the area, said there were dozens of water rescues in the cities of Pietermaritzburg, Isipingo and Umlazi.

UNITED STATES

As many as 16 active fires have charred over 214,000 acres in California, according to Cal Fire. Fire crews have been called upon from other states to help battle the blazes (14th). The wildfires have taken the lives of at least 40 people and have forced approximately 100,000 people to evacuate, according to the Associated Press. It is estimated that 5,700 homes and other structures have been destroyed. Early on Saturday morning, additional mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Sonoma Valley and the Santa Rosa area. Even when the winds lessened, low humidity and dry vegetation provided ample fuel for the fires to burn. Firefighters and residents also had to deal with persistent warmth and poor air quality. This has been the deadliest outbreak of wildfires across Northern California, surpassing the 29 fatalities caused by the 1933 Griffith Park Fire. The wildfire complex alone near Santa Rosa killed at least 21 people.

A powerful storm unleashed flooding and strong winds, which resulted in widespread power outages and travel disruptions, in the northeastern United States from Sunday to Monday (29-30th). The storm was a combination of tropical moisture from Philippe and a non-tropical system that converged on the Northeast. However, the main circulation from Philippe remained just off the coast. Wind gusts reached hurricane-force (74 mph) in parts of New England.. Gusts of 82 mph were measured in Mashpee, Massachusetts, and 78 mph just off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Isle of Shoals. At the height of the storm, close to 1 million utility customers were without power as falling tree limbs and whole trees took out power lines. Strong winds and soggy soil contributed to train disruptions in the New York City suburbs. Many areas across the Northeast received between 2 to 6 inches of rain from the storm.

TROPICAL

At least two people were killed and many injured as a mammoth typhoon struck Japan, hurling dangerous winds and threatening to cause major flooding and mudslide 23rd-24th). Typhoon Lan made landfall early Monday along Japan's southern coast near Minamiizu. More than 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, with a further 2.2 million homes under advisory to prepare for evacuation. In Fukuoka, a city on the southern island prefecture of Kyushu, a 63-year-old man died when falling construction scaffolding struck him, police in the city told CNN. Police in Osaka, in central Japan, said a woman was found dead in a flooded car in the city, though they could not be certain the incident was related to the typhoon. Several parts of Japan have already recorded rainfall totals greater than 500 mm in the past 72 hours. Shingu, a city in the Wakayama Prefecture southwest of Tokyo, recorded 894 mm of rain over the past 72 hours - their greatest rainfall total in such a period since the city received 425 mm in 2000.

Vietnamese authorities say 37 people have died from floods and landslides caused by heavy rain (9-10th). Another 40 are missing, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes, as a tropical depression sweeps across northern and central Vietnam. The South East Asian country often experiences severe storms, and sees several deaths every year from floods. The latest bout began on Monday, and weather officials have warned that the tropical depression may intensify into a more powerful storm in coming days. The death toll was one of the highest ever recorded in the country that was caused by flooding, Reuters reported Vietnam's disaster prevention agency as saying. Officials say at least 16,000 homes have been submerged. The northern Yen Bai and Hoa Binh provinces have been particularly hard hit, with reports of widespread inundation and deadly landslides, and homes washed away.


Tropical Storm Nate has killed at least 22 people in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras (5-6th). A state of emergency has been declared in the Central American nations, where more than 20 people are missing. It has caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which are blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses. In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters. At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15 inches of rain had been predicted to fall by the US's National Hurricane Center. Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing. On Thursday morning, Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nate, just as it made landfall on Nicaragua.
Hurricane Nate brought a burst of flooding and power outages to the US Gulf coast before weakening rapidly on Sunday (7-8th). Nate was the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005. It quickly lost power, diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed north into Alabama and towards Georgia with heavy rain. It was a category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early on Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting south-eastern Louisiana on Saturday evening. The storm surge from the Mississippi Sound littered Biloxs main beachfront highway with debris and flooded a casino lobby and parking structure overnight. By dawn, however, receding floodwaters did not reveal any obvious signs of widespread damage in a city where Katrina had leveled thousands of beachfront homes and businesses. No storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported. More than 100,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama were without power on Sunday morning, although some were starting to get electricity restored. About 6,800 customers lost power in Florida, Governor Rick Scott said.


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