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Default December 2017 Global Weather Highlights

GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

DECEMBER 2017

MEDITERRANIAN

Flooding rainfall targeted Albania Thursday into Friday, leaving at least one person dead, homes destroyed and numerous roads blocked (1st). Three other people were injured when the flood waters struck Albania, according to the Associated Press. At least 18 dozen homes were destroyed in weather-related incidents, while many roads became impassable across the country. Officials closed schools throughout the nation on Friday. The flooding rain resulted as moisture from the Mediterranean Sea interacted with a slow-moving front. One weather observation site near Albania's capital of Tirana recorded 121 mm (4.76 inches) of rain in the 24 hours ending on Friday morning, local time. A similar total was measured in Kukà in northeastern Albania, while nearly 150 mm (6 inches) inundated Gjirokastr in the south. More lives and property will be threatened into Friday night as heavy rain continues to stream into Albania, especially southern areas, and northwestern Greece.

ASIA

India's Mohammad Shami and Sri Lanka's Suranga Lakmal vomited on the field on day four of the third Test, which has been plagued by smog in Delhi (4th). The Indian city has suffered from smog pollution for several weeks and Sri Lanka fielders have taken to wearing masks at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Shami and Lakmal walked off the field after both were sick. Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas sais his players were in "discomfort" and that Lakmal "didn't feel very well". Play was halted on three occasions on day two because of the conditions and the issue has continued to affect the match.

Twenty-six people are dead and 23 are missing following landslides on the island of Biliran in the eastern Philippines, officials said (16-17th). Tropical Storm Kai-tak, known locally as Urduja, battered the area on Saturday with heavy rains, strong winds and flash flooding. One police officer told AFP news agency "rocks as big as cars" had been dislodged by the rainfall. About 88,000 people were forced to leave their homes ahead of the storm. The storm has also disrupted ferry services, disaster officials said, leaving more than 15,000 passengers stranded, many of them trying to reach home for the Christmas holidays. However, the storm weakened on Sunday and was downgraded to a tropical depression.

A ferry carrying 251 people capsized off the northeast coast of the Philippines on Thursday (21st) midday, local time, leaving at least four dead. The passenger vessel was reportedly lashed by large waves and strong winds when it began to sink. While 240 people have been rescued from the vessel by fishermen and the coast guard, seven others remain missing, and at least four deaths have been reported by officials, according to the Associated Press..

UNITED STATES

A rare snow fell in parts of southern Texas late this week, including as far south as San Antonio and Houston (8th). Houston recorded measurable snow for the first time in eight years on Friday morning. San Antonio received nearly 2 inches of snow.

Much of California's avocado crop has been destroyed by wildfires that have ripped through the southern part of the state, industry experts say (9th). "We've lost at least several hundred acres of avocados, probably more," the California Avocado Commission told agriculture news site AgNet West. About 90% of US avocados are grown in California, and the industry is worth millions to the economy. About 5,700 firefighters have been battling the fires, officials say. One death has been confirmed - that of a 70-year-old woman found in her car on Wednesday. Three firefighters have been injured and about 500 buildings destroyed. There are now fears the fires will have serious implications for California's vast agricultural industry. Last season's avocado harvest produced a crop worth more than $400m (£300m), according to the California Avocado Commission. Much of this was grown on family-owned farms in the south of the state. An inmate firefighter fights a fire in avocado orchard at the Ojai Vista Farm threatened by the fire Ventura County, which is California's largest growing region for avocados, has seen the worst of the fires with 180 square miles (466 sq km) consumed, according to officials. John Krist, chief executive of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, told Reuters news agency: "A lot of that fruit everybody was looking forward to harvesting next year is lying on the ground." Food safety regulations mean the crop cannot be sold once it falls from the tree.

Parts of the northeastern U.S. experienced their first major snowfall of the season on Saturday and Sunday (9-10th). Snow blanketed New York City, creating picturesque holiday scenes. Nearly 5 inches of snow fell in Central Park. However, the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills created scenes out of a movie, as whiteout conditions enveloped the stadium in Orchard Park, New York. An Alberta clipper brought more wintry weather to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic on Thursday, creating travel chaos for some. Snow was blamed for numerous car accidents and delays in places like Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A blanket of snow covered the region, with a foot of snow falling in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.

The Thomas Fire has now burned more acres than any previous wildfire on record in California, and there are no signs of a pattern change that would deliver beneficial weather for battling the blaze (25th). Since starting on 4 December the Thomas Fire killed one firefighter, one civilian and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including more than 750 homes. The flames forced thousands of evacuations and numerous schools to close. On Monday, CalFire reported that the Thomas Fire had charred 281,620 acres and was 88 percent contained. The fire has surpassed the Cedar Fire from October 2003, which burned more than 273,246 acres.


There's White Christmas. And then there's Whiteout Christmas (25-26th). Erie, Pennsylvania, experienced the second one Monday when a total of 34 inches of snow fell on Christmas Day, blanketing the city and shattering the city's previous records for snowfall in a single day. The snowfall total was more than four times the city's previous all-time Christmas record of 8.1 inches, and it also broke the record for most snowfall in one day in the city's history, which was 20 inches on 22 November 1956. The snow didn't stop overnight, either. Erie picked up another 19 inches of snow on Tuesday morning, making for a total ongoing snowfall total of 53 inches. That is the highest two-day snowfall total in the entire state of Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service. The huge snowfall total is a consequence of lake-effect snow, a weather phenomenon where cold air combines with lake water to create narrow bands of powerful snow. The lake effect snow is expected to continue through Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

NORTH AMERICA
Bitter cold continues to blanket the northern United States and Canada as forecasters warn that the deep freeze will continue into the start of 2018. International Falls in the US state of Minnesota - the self-proclaimed "Icebox of the Nation" - saw temperatures drop to -38.3C. New Hampshire's Mount Washington, home of the "worst weather in the world", set a new low record at -36.6C. In Erie, Pennsylvania, where more than five feet (1.5m) of snow has fallen since Christmas Day, state National Guard troops have been deployed to help clear the "incredible amount" of snow. Two cities in New Jersey have cancelled their ice water "plunges" - where hundreds of people run into the Atlantic Ocean - planned for New Year's Day. Local officials in Ventnor and Ocean City cancelled the events, citing safety concerns. The annual ball drop in New York City's Times Square is expected to take place in near-record cold temperatures. Parts of upstate New York also experienced nearly five feet of snowfall, with firefighters in the town of Lorraine reporting that they were forced to dig through the snow to rescue a woman stuck inside her home. Officials are warning people to take measures to prevent frostbite and hypothermia by bundling up in layers of warm clothing. Forecasters add that any exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 30 minutes. President Donald Trump used the cold snap to reiterate his outspoken views on climate change, suggesting on Twitter that the eastern US "could use a little bit of that good old global warming". In Chicago, one 62-year-old man died of cold exposure after he was found unresponsive in his car, CBS reports. In Kansas, icy conditions are being blamed for a deadly car wreck that killed four people on Tuesday.

EUROPE

Heavy snow blanketing northern Europe has caused many flight cancellations and delays at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands and Brussels airport (11th). Nearly 300 KLM flights were cancelled at Schiphol, while Brussels airport scrapped at least 50. Travelers have been advised to check flight updates at home, rather than set off for the airport in bad weather. In Germany the heavy snow has caused many car crashes and traffic jams, as well as train delays. More than 300 flights were cancelled on Sunday at Frankfurt airport, the busiest in Germany. In France 32 regions were put on an emergency footing, as snowstorms battered coastal areas and cut power to thousands of homes. About 80,000 homes lacked electricity in the Loire Valley on Monday, the daily Le Parisien reported. Snowstorms have also spread southwards to Italy, causing some travel chaos in northern regions. The snow caused the closure of schools in Liguria, Piedmont and Tuscany, Italy's La Stampa daily reported. Ferry services to the islands off Naples were suspended because of strong winds.

TROPICAL

More than 180 people are reported to have been killed as a tropical storm swept through the southern Philippines, with dozens more missing (22-23rd). Storm Tembin brought flash flooding and mudslides to parts of Mindanao Island. Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders. Tembin, known as Vinta in the Philippines, started lashing Mindanao on Friday, with a state of emergency declared in some areas including the Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur regions. Tubod police officer Gerry Parami told the AFP news agency that there had been at least 19 deaths in the town, which is in Lanao del Norte. The remote village of Dalama was wiped out by flash floods. "The river rose and most of the homes were swept away. The village is no longer there," he said.



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