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Old February 6th 19, 11:15 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default January 2019 Global Weather Highlights



Rainfall records were shattered across the eastern and southern United States during 2018 (1st). Dozens of cities from the lower Mississippi Valley to the southern Atlantic Seaboard, mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley received 125-180 percent of their normal yearly rainfall in 2018. Washington, D.C., received 66.28 inches of rain (the average is 39.74 inches). In addition to Washington, D.C., Baltimore; State College, Lancaster and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Wheeling and Charleston, West Virginia; Jackson and Lexington, Kentucky; Lynchburg, Virginia; and Asheville, Raleigh and Wilmington, North Carolina; are among the other cities where 2018 became the wettest year on record. 0.75 inches of rain on the last day of 2018 at Pittsburgh pushed the city's yearly total to 57.83 inches, surpassing the previous record of 57.41 inches which was set in 2004. In Atlanta, 2018 set its mark as the second wettest year on record, falling just shy of the 71.45 inches of rain that fell in 1948. As the deluge persisted farther east, it was a different story on the West Coast, where drought and wildfires were rampant. The Camp Fire in Northern California became the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state's history in November.

A rare January tornado touched down in northeastern Ohio as severe thunderstorms rumbled across the region (8th). It is very uncommon for tornadoes to occur in this part of the country during January. Only six tornadoes have been reported in January across Ohio between 1950 and 2018. The tornado was reported near Mosquito Lake, Ohio, and was later confirmed by the National Weather Service to be an EF1 tornado. No one was injured - but winds up to 100 mph damaged a building and knocked down numerous trees.

A powerful storm has been wreaking havoc in California, further raising concerns of flooding, mudslides and avalanches. Previously, on Monday and Tuesday (1th-17th), Los Angeles received over 1.75 inches of rain, and San Diego picked up just over 0.55 of an inch of rain. The series of storms prompted officials to put communities on alert for mudslides and flooding, as well as creating dangerous travel conditions. Toppled trees, snarled roads and downed power lines could be found all around Northern California on Wednesday, sometimes with deadly consequences. At least six deaths have been reported during this week, as storms pass through the region. Over 20,000 people were without power Wednesday night, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. Blizzard conditions blanketed the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, prompting a blizzard warning for much of the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe on Wednesday night. Winds gusted up to 164 mph at the summit of Mammoth Mountain, California, on Thursday morning. The heavy snowfall also prompted an avalanche warning in the Sierra Nevada on Wednesday.

Severe thunderstorms rumbled across the Deep South on Saturday afternoon (19th), with one storm producing a tornado that caused extensive damage in the town of Wetumpka, Alabama. Photos on social media showed damage to buildings throughout the town. Injuries have also been reported. A storm survey from the National Weather Service said that a tornado with a rating of EF2 caused the damage.


An 8-year-old Syrian girl has died in Lebanon after she fell into a swollen river and drowned in the northern town of Minyeh, as refugee camps were battered by extreme winter weather (6th-11th). Refugees have been struggling with dangerous conditions including flooding and heavy snow since Sunday when Storm Norma hit, bringing strong winds, rain and colder temperatures across the country. Hundreds of refugee camps and settlements from the Akkar plain in northern Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley in the east were damaged.

Visibility was low in Cairo as an orange cloud of dust blocked out the sky and pedestrians covered their faces from the wind gusts (1th). In Cairo, winds reached over 30 mph, bending palm trees along the River Nile, while in Libya rain, wind and cold weather was driving increased demand for electricity that overloaded the electricity grids and led to power cuts.


Heavy snowfalls brought chaos to parts of Germany and Sweden, leaving roads blocked, trains halted and schools shut (11th). The Red Cross helped drivers stuck on a motorway in the southern German state of Bavaria and a nine-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree. The front of a Swiss hotel was hit by an avalanche and a winter storm made roads impassable in Sweden and Norway. Austrian rescuers had to battle through chest-deep snow to reach a snowboarder. There was some respite in Austria on Friday, after three meters of snow fell in some parts in previous days. Seven people have died in the past week and two hikers have been missing since Saturday. "Such quantities of snow above 800m altitude only happen once every 30 to 100 years," said Alexander Radlherr from Austria's Central Institution for Meteorology and Geodynamics. The Austrian military sent helicopters to blow snow off treetops to reduce the risk of trees falling on roads and rails. In Sweden wintry storms ravaged parts of the north. One area recorded winds of 111 mph as Storm Jan ravaged Stekenjokk near the Norwegian border. Some of the heaviest snow was in Bavaria where some villages were cut off Rail services were worst hit in the south and east of the state and roads were cut off by drifts and falling trees. The armed forces were sent in when hundreds of people were cut off near Berchtesgaden Roads in the Berchtesgaden area close to the Austrian border were blocked and the army sent up to 200 soldiers to help hundreds of people caught up in the snow.

Snow and ice have been causing difficult driving conditions across the NE Scotland (17th). A woman was taken to hospital after an unoccupied car slid into her in Quarry Road in the Aberdeen suburb of Cults. Collisions and breakdowns have also closed the A920 at Huntly and the A947 between Turriff and Oldmeldrum. The road problems also led to transport issues at several schools.

A major winter storm continues to create travel nightmares and a risk of power outages in the Northeast with an ice storm across southern New England and feet of snow to the north (20th). At least two semi-trucks and a handful of other vehicles slid off roadways around Danforth, Ill., on Saturday, local officials reported. Visibility was severely poor in parts of eastern Illinois on Saturday afternoon amid a massive snowstorm. Thousands lost power in Connecticut. After starting with snow, the storm transitioned to sleet and freezing rain from far northeastern Pennsylvania to southern and eastern New England.


Port Augusta in South Australia has reached 48.9C on Tuesday, an all-time high there since records began in 1962, as a heatwave sets in across much of Australia threatening more record hot days (15th). All-time highest minimum temperatures have also been broken in three places. Meekatharra in Western Australia (WA) and Fowlers Gap and White Cliffs in New South Wales (NSW) all registered an overnight minimum of 33C on Monday. Severe to extreme heatwave conditions extending from the interior of WA across South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and NSW will bring maximum temperatures of 8C to 12C above average, and in some places up to 16C above average before the end of the week. Port Augusta Hay in NSW had reached a high of 47.2C by Tuesday afternoon and several locations in Victoria reached temperatures in the mid-40s, with Walpeup in the state's north-west recording 45.6C.

All-time Australian temperature records were set in South Australia with 49..5C being the highest temperature recorded (at Port Augusta) and Adelaide recording its highest
temperature on record with 46.6C (24th).

January was Australia's warmest month on record. The mean temperature for January averaged across country exceeded 30 degrees, the first time this has occurred in any month (31st). The main contributor to this heat was a persistent high pressure system in the Tasman sea which was blocking any cold fronts and cooler air from impacting the south of the country. Tasmania experienced one of its warmest Januarys on record for mean, minimum and maximum temperatures. It was also the state's driest January on record. Hobart experienced its warmest and driest month on record. For the first time since 1957, the Bureau of Meteorology's Adelaide city site recorded zero rainfall for the month. Western Australia had one of the warmest Januarys on record for the state as a whole, but temperatures were cooler than average in parts of the west coast and southwest. Rainfall for the state was below average and the driest since 2005. Perth had a cool month, recording its coolest January in more than a decade.


A tornado and pounding rain have hit Havana, Cuba, toppling trees, bending electricity poles and throwing shards of metal roofing through the air as the storm cut across eastern Havana (28th). President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Monday at least three people had been killed and 172 injured, as power was cut to many areas. A government meteorologist said the tornado was category F3, with winds between 155 and 199 mph. Miguel Angel Hernandez of the Cuban Meteorology Institute said tornadoes were unusual around the capital and a strong one had not hit the city in decades. Sunday night's storm was produced when a cold front hit Cuba's northern coast.


Rain, wind and surging seawater from a tropical storm has buffeted coastal villages and tourist resorts on southern Thailand's east coast, knocking down trees and utility poles and flooding roads (4th). One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but by nightfall it appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk had caused less damage than feared. Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and some tourists were forced to change travel plans. Beaches were closed but some bars and restaurants on the popular island of Koh Samui remained open.

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