Global Weather Highlights May 2018
GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Two days of heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in Sardinia, Italy (1-3rd). Around 100 people have been evacuated from their homes. In the space of 48 hours some areas have recorded over 150 mm of rain - more than four times the average monthly total for May. Schools have been closed in several areas of the island due to the bad weather. Flooding and landslides have closed roads in the Municipality of Villacidro and near Cagliari. The Tirso river broke its banks in several places in Oristano province and the Flumini Mannu flooded fields in San Nicolo d'Arcidano, also in Oristano. In Siniscola, Nuoro Province, as much as 164 mm of rain fell in 48 hours to early on 3 May, which is considerably more than the May monthly average (36 mm) and already a good proportion of the typical annual rainfall (around 660 mm). A red level weather alert remains in place in Sardinia and Civil Protection have warned of further heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms in Sardinia and across the country, in particular Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia.
A tornado swept through the Lower Rhine region of North Rhine-Westphalia on Wednesday evening, and at least two people were injured and property badly damaged on the 16th. Shortly before 6 pm, dark clouds filled the sky in a region just west of Dusseldorf and suddenly tree branches were breaking off and homes were being unroofed. Initial police reports state that the tornado had come and gone within ten to fifteen minutes; but in that short span of time a lot of property was damaged and two people were injured. The tornado also hit the districts of Nettetal-Schaag, Schwalmtal-Dilkrath, Schwalmtal and Niederkruchten, the local authorities reported. The motorway 61 near the Dutch border was also partially closed down. Police moreover reported that the rail route between Venlo and Monchengladbach had to be shut down.
Storms across northern Europe have caused surface flooding in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and France, including the capital Paris on the 22nd-25th). The region has seen several violent storms over the last few days, in particular on 22 May, where Meteo France said that 13,964 lightning strikes were reported across the country. The storms also brought hail - some areas of Germany have recorded hail 50 cm deep - strong winds and localized heavy downpours which have flooded streets and damaged homes. No fatalities have been reported. A thunderstorm and heavy rain on Thursday, 24 May caused flooding in the Vogtland region of Saxony, Germany. Emergency services responded to over 200 calls for assistance in the towns of Adorf, Bad Elster and Elsnitz. The German Weather Service (DWD) said that Bad Elster recorded 124 mm of rain in 5 hours. Flooding also affected neighboring parts of Czech Republic late on Thursday, 24 May. Radio station Radio Praha said that "Clean-up operations are underway in central, western and southern Bohemia which were hit by flash floods on Thursday night." Roads were still closed in the Karlovy Vary region. Some houses were damaged and as of Friday, remained without electricity. Radio Praha added that Firemen have been working around-the-clock to clear roads and pump water from cellars. In France, heavy rain during the afternoon of 24 May caused flooding in the Pays de Caux area of department of Seine Maritime in the Normandy region. The towns of Auffay, Bosc-Bordel and Neufchatel-en-Bray were all flooded, according to local media. Rail tracks were flooded and train services severely disrupted. In Belgium, storms during the afternoon of 22 May caused surface flooding and damage in the provinces of Hainaut and Liege. Local firefighters were called to over 100 incidents. Surface flooding was reported in Esneux, Grace-Hollogne, Flemalle and the city of Liege. Local media also reported flooding in Tilff (Liege) and a small mudslide in Erquelinnes, Hainaut, which has damaged around 10 homes. Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's public international broadcaster, said that thunderstorms and hail affected areas across western Germany, with 50 cm of hail falling in Kaisersesch in Rhineland-Palatinate on 22 May. "Tuesday's "summer thunderstorm" in the west and southwest of Germany damaged buildings and flooded cellars and streets, particularly in the states of Hesse, Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate," DW added. Just across the Dutch border from Heinsberg, the towns of Sittard-Geleen and Munstergeleen in the Netherlands also some some surface flooding, damaging houses in the area.
Severe dust storms across northern India have killed more than 100 people, destroyed homes and left hundreds without electricity (2nd). Billowing clouds of thick dust and sand frequently blow across the region during the dry season, but the death toll from this week's storms has been unusually high. There were 73 confirmed deaths in Uttar Pradesh state, most in Agra district where the Taj Mahal is located. Another 36 died in Rajasthan and two each in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The death toll in all four states could still rise. The destruction has extended to Punjab, where two died, and Haryana, where trees were uprooted and power supplies cut by the squall. Less intense storms in Delhi caused traffic jams and flight diversions. Most of the deaths occurred when houses people were sleeping in collapsed overnight, disaster management officials said. Falling pylons and trees also contributed to the death toll. The dust storms are created by a rapid ascent of warm air, which creates a vacuum that air closer to the ground rushes to fill, taking sand and dust with it. Meteorologists said abnormally high temperatures in past weeks had contributed to the disaster. Another 14 people were killed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which was hammered by more than 41,000 lightning strikes on Wednesday, disaster officials said.
A torrential flood has swept through a district in the Turkish capital of Ankara, sending vehicles downstream and damaging local businesses (5th). The rain was expected to last for three hours on Saturday afternoon (local time), but instead came down in nine minutes, causing flooding in Ankara's Mamak district. Ankara's Mayor, Mustafa Tuna, told local media it was a "natural disaster like never before". Four people were injured in the floods, which damaged more than 160 cars and 25 businesses, Turkish Social Security Minister Julide Sarieroglu said.
A massive dust storm with winds gusting up to 70 km/h has battered northern India on the 7th. The storm was caught on camera over Bikaner in the northern state of Rajasthan. This type of dust storm, triggered by a collapsing thunderstorm, is known as a "haboob". Haboobs can be highly dangerous, as the visibility drops dramatically in a matter of seconds. Within the cloud of dust, the winds can be gusting over 150kph and the temperature usually drops by a couple of degrees. The storm ripped down trees and power lines, as it tore across the northern cities of New Delhi, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Meerut and Ghaziabad.
Less than two weeks after 134 people were killed in severe weather, another round of deadly thunderstorms lashed several Indian states on Sunday on the 13th. In total, at least 80 people have been killed and more than 100 injured throughout Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and the National Capital Region from severe weather on Sunday. The death toll had risen above 50 in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh as of Monday afternoon, with more than 80 others being injured, according to the Times of India.
At least 41 people have died after heavy rains caused a dam to burst in Kenya, sweeping away homes across a vast area of farmland on the 9th. The breach happened near the town of Solai, 190 km north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The dead are thought to include children and women trapped in mud. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued about 40 people so far. More than 2,000 people are said to have been left homeless. Local officials say the full extent of the damage is not yet clear. There are fears the death toll could rise as the search-and-rescue operation continues. The heavy rains in Kenya and other regional states come after a severe drought which left millions of people in need of food aid.
An outbreak of strong thunderstorms caused an estimated five deaths in Northeast, during the first occurrence of severe spring storms for that region this year on the 15th. Strong winds, hail and heavy downpours caused most of the damage, although there were also reports of tornadoes in New York state. Many places were struck during the busy evening commute, which enhanced the disruption.
Over 80 passengers became stranded on a passenger train in the evening near the town of Brunswick, Colorado, which was also pummeled by severe weather early this week. Enough hail fell to make it look like lying snow on the 15th.
Residents and business owners in historic Ellicott City were picking up the pieces Monday after the second "1-in-1,000-year" rain event in two years walloped the Maryland town on the banks of the Patapsco River (27th-28th). More than eight inches of rain on Sunday triggered flash flooding that sent a wall of water down Main Street, reaching the second floor of some buildings and sweeping cars into culverts. Two years ago, 6.5 inches of rain fell on Ellicott City in about 3 hours, with 5.5 inches falling in just 90 minutes, the National Weather Service said. That was dubbed a 1-in-1,000-year rain event. The town was defenseless for Sunday's precipitation onslaught. Four creeks converge on the town enroute to the Patapsco. There was no place for the water to go. "The worst flooding was Main Street, which is all concrete, so it flowed right through," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said. "There were heavy, drenching thunderstorms training over the area with several inches of rain per hour. An incredible rate." Lada said the storms were fed by extensive moisture in the air being experienced around the region. Many areas were blasted by storms, but Ellicott City just happened to be hit over and over again. The river level spiked almost 18 feet in two hours, reaching an all-time record high, he said.
Haze from the Kilauea volcano eruption in Hawaii blanketed the Marshall Islands 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) away on Sunday, as officials warned it would continue moving west on the 28th. The haze, a phenomenon known as "vog" or volcanic smog, is spreading across Micronesia, the US National Weather Service based in Guam said. The volcano on Hawaii's Big Island is now in its fourth week of eruptions. Meteorologists advised residents on the Marshall Islands with respiratory problems to stay indoors while airlines and shipping companies were warned to be aware of "lower visibilities". The Guam weather office said haze produced by Kilauea would spread westward and reach Kosrae, Pohnpei and possibly Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia over the next few days.
Two people were killed when a home collapsed in Boone, North Carolina, after extreme flooding triggered a landslide on the 30th-31st. The Boone Police Department tweeted that crews were on the scene of a structural collapse in the Heaven Mountain Area on Wednesday. The home was destroyed by a gas leak following a landslide as the state continues to feel the effects of Subtropical Storm Alberto. Some areas of the North Carolina mountains have received up to 20 inches of rain in the past 15 days. Two people were reported missing Thursday after reportedly being swept away in floodwaters in Albemarle County. Later in the day, officials confirmed that they had recovered the body of one of the two missing persons, but had to halt the search for the second due to dangerous conditions.
Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in western Colombia after heavy floods at Colombia's largest hydroelectric dam project, which had already displaced hundreds over the weekend on the 16th). The Hidroituango dam on the river Cauca was in the final stages of construction when a blocked tunnel was cleared on Saturday night (12th), causing flooding downstream that swept through a riverside hamlet. Six hundred people were left homeless and two bridges, two schools and a health centre were destroyed.
Eastern Russia has been experiencing widespread and intense spring wildfires, thanks to a drier than normal autumn and winter, leading to parched vegetation on the 17th. As of today, nearly 700 fires had been recorded, according to the Russian Federal Forest Agency.
At least 16 people died as Tropical Cyclone Sagar pounded the Middle East and eastern Africa over the weekend, making history as the strongest tropical storm ever recorded in Somalia on the 1th and the 20th). The deadly storm destroyed the homes of at least 80 families and left nearly 1,800 displaced, director general of Somalia's Ministry of Planning and National Development Abdirashed Ibrahim reported. An elderly woman was killed near Aden, Yemen, when her house caught fire due to Sagar, according to the Associated Press. The emergency center of Yemen's Health Ministry reported that flash flooding caused sewage to pour into the streets of the city of Aden. In western Somalia, an undisclosed number of people were reported missing in Bulaxaar, according to ReliefWeb. Communication was disrupted in the Lughaya district after the storm destroyed a telecommunication tower and at least 15 shelters were destroyed in the Ceel Sheekh village. Sagar struck at around noon local time Saturday about 100 miles southeast of the city of Djibouti, along the flat, arid coastal plain of far western Somalia. As Sagar tracked inland, satellite imagery indicated widespread rains across western Somalia, the nation of Djibouti, and far northeast Ethiopia as Sagar tracked inland.
A powerful cyclone has struck Oman and killed at least three people, among them a 12-year-old girl, officials have said on the 26th. Cyclone Mekunu caused flash flooding that tore away some roads and submerged others in Salalah, the country's third-largest city, leaving drivers stranded. Strong winds knocked over street lights and ripped off roofs. The cyclone also struck neighboring Yemen. Fast-moving waters from the rain and storm surges flooded normally dry creek beds. Tourist beaches were littered with debris and foam from the Arabian Sea.
Subtropical Depression Alberto has the southeastern United States on alert into Tuesday as it moves inland after making landfall along the Florida Panhandle on the 28th. Heavy rain and gusty winds have already been felt for several days across Florida. Impacts will only worsen and expand in the Southeast through Memorial Day and beyond. Alberto made landfall late Monday afternoon near Laguna Beach, Florida.
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