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Old April 18th 18, 12:30 AM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default March 2018 Global Weather Highlights


MARCH 2018


Fresh heavy snowfalls lashing Europe have caused transport delays, with the deep freeze expected to continue on the 1st. The blizzard forced the cancellation of all flights at Dublin airport on Thursday and the temporary closure of Geneva airport in Switzerland. Large parts of the Continent continue to shiver in the grip of a Siberian weather system that has brought the coldest temperatures for several years. The cold snap has been given various nicknames in different countries. In Britain it is "the Beast from the East" - with Storm Emma close behind - while the Dutch are calling it the "Siberian bear" and Swedes the "snow cannon". The airport in the Swiss city of Geneva was forced to shut down on Thursday morning but was later reopened after the runway was cleared using snow ploughs. Icy blizzards across Europe have also seen trains cancelled and roads come to a standstill. About 2,000 drivers were stranded on a motorway near the French city of Montpellier, with some complaining of being stuck for as long 24 as hours.

The death toll from severe weather has risen across Europe, with at least 23 casualties in Poland alone amid sub-zero temperatures, officials say on the 2nd. Shelters have been opened as the plight of rough sleepers is a major concern. More than 60 people have died across the continent, AFP news agency reports. Several countries continued to face disruption caused by snow and ice. The unusually cold spell brought by a Siberian weather system was being felt as far south as the Mediterranean. Flights in and out of Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland were suspended until Saturday at the earliest. All schools in the country were shut and people were urged not to drive. Trains stations were also closed until at least midday on Saturday, and all non-urgent surgeries were cancelled by the country's health authority. In parts of central Italy, ice forced the closure of several roads and railways.. At least four people were killed in an avalanche near the ski resort of Entraunes in the French Alps today. In Ukraine, all schools and higher education institutions were told to close in an effort to save gas, after its Russian supplier refused to deliver more fuel. Over the past week, the cold weather has killed seven in Slovakia, six in the Czech Republic, five each in Lithuania and France (excluding the avalanche victims) and at least three in Spain, according to AFP.

A damaging tornado hit the vicinity of Caserta in Campania, southern Italy on the 12th-13th.. Significant damage has been reported, as well as at least 15 injuries. Affected areas include San Nicola la Strada, Marcianise, Capodrise, Recale, Portico and Macerata. Reported damage includes damaged roofs on buildings, uprooted trees and overturned cars and larger vehicles. While it is still early in the season, Italy is no stranger to tornadoes. In the past several years it has experienced wedge tornadoes and tornadoes as strong as F4.

Dust from a sandstorm in the Sahara desert is causing snow in eastern Europe to turn orange, transforming mountainous regions of Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania into Mars-like landscapes (23rd). The unusual scenes are believed to be created by a mix of sand, dust and pollen particles stirred up and swept across from storms in northern Africa. According the meteorologists, the phenomenon occurs roughly every five years. Steven Keates, a weather forecaster at the UK's Met Office, told the Independent: "As the sand gets lifted to the upper levels of the atmosphere, it gets distributed elsewhere. "Looking at satellite imagery from Nasa, it shows a lot of sand and dust in the atmosphere drifting across the


Severe storms battered the U.S. eastern seaboard, causing coastal flooding and power outages and bringing travel services to a halt on the 2nd and 3rd. More than a million residences were without power in the Northeast and Midwest while rail operator Amtrak suspended its Northeast service. Heavy rains and damaging winds also led to the cancellation of more than 2,600 US flights. At least six people have been killed, US media report. They died when strong winds brought branches or entire trees down on streets, cars, and homes. Seawater flooded Boston's coastal streets for the second time this year caused by an extreme high tide. 30 cm of snow fell on northern and western areas of New York State. The National Weather Service was forecasting continued coastal flooding on Saturday as the storm slowly moves away from the east coast. Gusts of up to 70 mph have downed trees and power lines in the Washington, DC region. New York's LaGuardia airport suspended all arrivals and departures and rail operator Amtrak temporarily halted service between New York, Boston and Washington. Amtrak tweeted on Friday that its Northeast Corridor service was "temporarily suspended due to multiple weather related issues".

Thousands of people were left without power as a storm brought more than 60 cm of snow to the US east coast on the 7th. More than 800,000 customers were without electricity, including some who have been without power since last Friday's powerful winter storm. Heavy snow and icy roads prompted officials to close schools and cancel or delay thousands of flights across the region. It is the second storm to hit the US East Coast in less than a week. At least one death has been blamed on the storm. An 88-year-old woman died after she was struck by a falling tree in Suffern, New York, according to the Journal News newspaper. More than 2,000 flights were cancelled as of Wednesday night, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. The governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency, allowing for release of government funds for recovery and redevelopment operations if necessary.

Two people died in East Texas after severe storms rampaged the area on the 10th. Strong winds and hail tore through a campground near Jefferson, Texas, about 130 miles east of Dallas. One woman was killed at the campground and another person was killed 25 miles away after a tree fell on a mobile home.

The third nor'easter in two weeks has hit the northeastern United States on the 13th. The region has endured a relentless stream of wintry weather since the start of March, disrupting travel for millions. The most recent storm produced blizzard conditions in New England, dropping more than 2 feet of snow in some areas. Winds gusted past 70 mph. The blizzard brought travel to a halt in Boston as fierce winds and heavy snow limited visibility to just several hundred feet during the height of the storm. Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Boston's Logan International Airport. On Tuesday evening, over 200,000 electric customers were without power across Massachusetts.

One of the largest severe weather outbreaks of the year unfolded from Monday night into Tuesday morning (`19th-20th), as damaging thunderstorms spawned tornadoes, hail the size of tennis balls and damaging winds across the Southeast USA. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center listed nine tornado reports from Monday, all of them in Alabama. Damaging tornadoes ripped through the town of Jacksonville, Alabama, located about 76 miles northeast of Birmingham. As the damage survey continues, and based on an assessment of structures in the vicinity of Jacksonville State University the tornado intensity has been upgraded to an EF-3 with winds around 140mph. "Considerable" damage was reported at Jacksonville State University as campus officials warned students and faculty against traveling to the school as trees and power lines were down throughout campus. The university remains closed on Tuesday due to the extensive damage. Despite the reports of damaged structures, there have not been any reports of injuries or fatalities.

Spring kicked off with another major snowstorm in the northeastern United States on the 21st. Washington, D.C., and New York City were slammed by the fourth nor'easter of the month, bringing travel to a halt and leading to widespread school cancellations across the region. Hundreds of accidents were reported across the region. More than 8 inches of snow fell in Central Park, breaking a daily record. That amount of snow occurs once every 20 years during this time of year in New York City. Washington, D.C., received 4 inches of snow before the snow tapered off on Wednesday afternoon.


A lightning strike killed at least 16 people and injured dozens more at a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Rwanda on the 10th. Most of the victims died instantly when lightning hit the church in the southern district of Nyaruguru, local mayor Habitegeko Francois told AFP. Two people died from their injuries, and 140 people were rushed to hospital and health centres. Lightning also killed a student in the area on Friday, the mayor said. The incident in the mountainous region near the border with Burundi took place around midday on Saturday while parishioners of the town of Gihemvu were at a church service.


Cyclone Hola continued its path south-eastwards across the South Pacific this week, brushing along the northern-most fringes of New Zealand's North Island (11th). The cyclone, which intensified to category 4, brought with it heavy rain and strong winds in excess of 70 mph to communities along the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne as well as to the country's capital, Auckland. It was the third big storm to strike the country this year.

Darwin residents are in clean-up mode and tens of thousands are without power or drinkable water after the strongest cyclone to hit the city in 30 years caused widespread destruction (17th-18th). Emergency services said the strength of the storm was "a real wake-up call" for the city. Tropical Cyclone Marcus passed directly through Darwin about midday Saturday as a category two storm, bringing 130 km/h wind gusts and rain, and felling hundreds of large trees and powerlines throughout the city and suburbs. Multiple streets, including the arterial Stuart Highway, were blocked by fallen trees. The cyclone warning was cancelled for Darwin on Saturday afternoon and residents began clearing debris from gardens and streets, using chainsaws to clear trees from blocked roads. Up to 23,000 homes remained without power on Sunday morning and the Greater Darwin area, including Palmerston, was warned to boil water and let it cool before drinking or using it to brush teeth. The region had been on high alert for days, with people preparing cyclone kits, stocking up on food and water, and clearing debris from yards and homes.. About 130 people, including homeless people and clinic patients took cover in city shelters on Saturday, including courthouse carparks. The cyclone led to the cancellation of flights in and out of Darwin from Friday night, as well as the postponement of sporting events including the Tiwi Islands footy final and the NTFL grand final.

Tropical Cyclone Eliakim has battered Madagascar with strong winds and torrential rain on the 18th. The storm made landfall on the peninsula of Masoala in northeastern Madagascar and tracked southwards along the coast. Strong winds battered the island and torrential rain fell on already-saturated land, triggering landslides and flooding. The cyclone comes less than two weeks after Dumazile grazed the east coast of the island nation. Both storms hit Toamasina, Madagascar's second largest city. Images on social media showed widespread flooding with roads and homes inundated. According to local media, at least 17 people were killed by Eliakim and many more have been injured.

More than 40 people have been rescued from floodwaters at two Cairns (Australia) caravan parks after deluges from ex-cyclone Nora overwhelmed emergency services (26th). Desperate residents and visitors called state emergency services workers for help on Monday night as flash flooding swamped the parks on the city's outskirts. Lance Duncan from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said authorities had been expecting the rain, but the strength of the downpour had been unexpected. "We weren't prepared for 100 mm of rain in a minute," Duncan said. The region is bracing for major flooding with the Barron River expected to reach its highest level in a decade, while Townsville has also been told to prepare for heavy falls as the weather system moves south. Port Douglas was hit with nearly 600 mm of rain in the 24 hours to Monday morning, while Kuranda, just north of Cairns, had more than 400 mm with nearby Barron Falls raging with water. Port Douglas residents have also been told the town's water supply is at critical levels because the local water treatment plan is struggling to cope with the continued rain.

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