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Old February 8th 18, 09:46 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default January 2018 Global Weather Highlights




A winter storm 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 on the 3rd. 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.

Heavy snow has cut off the Alpine ski resorts of Cervinia in Italy and Adelboden in Switzerland, as stormy weather continues to batter Europe on the 5th). 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.

Thousands of tourists are stranded in Swiss ski resorts after heavy snow in the Alps cut off towns and villages (8th-9th). Skiing is not possible as slopes were closed because of the danger of avalanches. More than a meter of snow fell in parts on Monday alone. On Tuesday, a meter 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.

Motorists were warned to drive with caution as snow and ice affected large parts of Scotland on the 16th. 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.

Severe gales caused disruption to much of the UK - with gusts of up to 70 mph on the 18th. 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 center 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 neighboring 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.

The swollen River Seine has peaked at more than four meters above its normal level, leaving a lengthy mop-up job for Parisians after days of rising waters on the 29th. The river rose to 5.84 meters 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 authorized to use the river. The Seine did not quite reach its 2016 high of 6.1 meters, 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 meters 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.


In the Australian state of Victoria, peoples are being told to get ready for extreme temperatures this weekend (5th). 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.

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 hospitalization of 40 people.

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 on the 7th. 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.


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 on the 6th). 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 harbor’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.

Rescue workers in southern California are searching for survivors after mudslides and flooding in which at least 13 people have died on the 10th. 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 neighborhood 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.

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 (16-17th). 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.

A powerful storm unleashed blizzard conditions and over a 30 cm of snow across the Midwestern United States this week (21-22nd). 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 on the 22nd. 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.

A member of Japan's self-defense 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 (23nd). 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-defense force who were taking part in training maneuvers in the area were rescued, some with injuries including fractures


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 slope on the 7th. 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.

As drought continues and water levels plummet in Cape Town's (South Africa) dams, residents are facing a slew of new emergency measures on the 24th. 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 liters 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 liters 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.


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 on the 16th. 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.


A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country and causing a nationwide shortage of fans on the 30th. 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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