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Old March 13th 19, 10:32 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default February 2019 Global Weather Highlights

MARCH 1029


The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is warning communities in Queensland's north to prepare for further widespread heavy falls and flooding over the weekend and well into next week as the monsoon trough continues to influence weather across the tropics (1st). A number of sites including Upper Bluewater [1230mm], Paluma [1181mm], Upper Black River [1034mm] and Woolshed [1008mm] have recorded more than a metre of rainfall over the past seven days [to 9am this morning]. The Flood Watch area covers a huge stretch of the state including coastal catchments from Daintree to Mackay, which includes Cairns, Townsville, and also parts of western Cape York Peninsula and Gulf. We are now beginning to see flooding emerge across the Gulf. Increasing monsoonal winds are forecast for the Gulf waters and Torres Strait Islands and are likely to cause tides to exceed the highest of the year, with coastal inundation possible during the weekend.

In north-west Queensland it hadn't rained to any great extent for more than five years. When the downpour finally came last week, graziers were elated (11th). Now it's feared up to 500,000 cattle, mostly from severely drought-stressed herds, have been killed in widespread flood waters. The full extent of the losses won't be known for weeks; some properties remain underwater and the flood waters are moving south. But the agricultural industry's peak body says the situation has already become "a massive humanitarian crisis", affecting an area twice the size of Victoria. After a prolonged drought, some rural parts of Queensland received three years' worth of average rainfall in a week.

A statewide code red has been declared in South Australia with the state in the grip of a forecast seven-day heatwave (25th). The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast maximum temperatures in Adelaide and most regional centers to stay above 35C until at least Saturday. The Bureau says it will be the longest stretch of hot days this summer. The forecast has prompted the state government to declare the code red which triggers the release of extra funds to provide services for the homeless.


At least eight people have died in one of the worst cold snaps to hit the US Midwest in decades (1st). Hospitals have been treating patients reporting frostbite as life across a swathe of the country grinds to a halt. Ninety million people - a third of the US - have seen temperatures of -17C (0F) or below. Some 250 million Americans overall have experienced the "polar vortex" conditions. The National Weather Service (NWS) announced Rockford, Illinois, west of Chicago, broke its all-time low record of -32C (-27F) when temperatures dipped to -34C (-30F) on Thursday morning. Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday, however, with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data. With wind chill factored in, the Midwest and Great Lakes have felt temperatures closer to -40C ( 40F) and -53C (-63F), which is enough to cause frostbite in under five minutes.

A major storm sweeping through the Hawaiian Islands has left one person dead and tens of thousands without power (6th-10th). The storm, known as a Kona low, brought widespread wind gusts of 40-60 mph across the islands, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). A wind gust of 67 mph was reported at Port Allen in Kauai County, while winds whipped to 191 mph at the top of Mauna Kea. The winds stirred dangerously rough surf on the north- and west-facing beaches. The Associated Press reported that one man died after getting stuck in rough seas in Napili Bay, off northwest Maui, this past Friday.

A storm unloaded feet of snow, brought blizzard conditions and shut down travel over the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico and southwestern Colorado (13th-14th). The storm began on Wednesday when it spread disruptive snow over the northern Sierra Nevada, including Donner Summit, California, before shifting over the interior southwestern United States. During Wednesday evening, parts of the valley around Las Vegas picked up over 4 inches of snow. Travel became slick and treacherous in the surrounding area as a result. Thursday set the all-time daily record for snowfall in Flagstaff, Arizona, with 35.9 inches of snow. The previous record was 31 inches set over a century ago on 30 December 1915. This also shattered February's all-time daily snowfall record of 24 inches set on 2 February 1901. The biggest single storm on record in Flagstaff brought 64 inches of snow and concluded on 17 January 1985. The McCarran International Airport near Las Vegas picked up 0.5 inches of snow with this storm. The last time there was enough snow to measure at this location was on 17 December 2008, when 3.6 inches of snow fell.

Waves of heavy rain pounded California, flooding streets, triggering a mudslide that destroyed homes and forcing residents to flee communities scorched by wildfires last year (14th). The powerful system swept in from the Pacific Ocean and unleashed damaging rain, snow and wind across the US west into Wyoming and Colorado after walloping northern California and southern Oregon a day earlier. The National Weather Service reported staggering rainfall amounts across California, including more than 24 cm over 48 hours at one location in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. The deluge triggered a mudslide in Sausalito, north of San Francisco, that overturned cars, uprooted trees and sent a home sliding down a hill and smashing into another house.


Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand's South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes (10th). Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and three fixed wing planes, making it the largest aerial firefight on record in New Zealand. Up to 3,000 people have been forced to leave the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas, the civil defense controller, Roger Ball, told a news conference on Saturday. More people were likely to be forced from their homes on Sunday. Much of the affected area south of Nelson was used for forestry but it also has many small farms. Some livestock has also been moved to safety. Fires started on Monday and Tuesday and quickly spread. On Wednesday, authorities declared a state of emergency.


Aboyne has broken Scotland's February temperature record which had stood for more than 120 years (21st). The highest temperature previously recorded for the month in Scotland was 17.9C in Aberdeen on 22 February 1897. However, Aboyne reached 18.3C today.

The UK is experiencing its warmest February day on record, with the Met Office reporting a temperature of 20.6C at Trawsgoed, Ceredigion (25th). It breaks the UK's record for February, set when the temperature reached 19.7C in Greenwich in 1998. A new English record has also been set with temperatures rising to 20.1C in Hampton Water Works, in south-west London.

The UK has broken the record for its warmest winter day for the second consecutive day, with a temperature of 21.2C in Kew Gardens, London (26th). Temperatures broke the previous day's record of 20.6C in two other places, the Met Office said. Porthmadog in north-west Wales hit 20.8C while temperatures of 20.7C were reported in Teddington, south-west London. In Northern Ireland, temperatures reached 15.6C in Castlederg, County Tyrone. The February record of 17.8C was recorded in 1998.


A fierce storm whipped through Malta this past weekend, disrupting transportation, downing trees, cutting power and unleashing pounding waves along the coast (23rd-24th). Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the storm was the worst to hit the islands since October 1982, according to the Times of Malta. The peak wind gust during the storm was 82 mph in Valletta. Other locations across the islands were battered by extreme winds as well. A wind gust of 63 mph recorded at a weather station in Gharb set an all-time record for the site, according to the Times of Malta. The strong winds littered roads with downed trees, power lines and other debris, turning them into an obstacle course for anyone who dared to venture out. Numerous road closures were reported


Emergency crews responded to a multi-vehicle pileup on Highway 400 near Barrie, Ontario in Canada as near whiteout conditions blinded motorists (25th).. The multi-vehicle pileup involved over 70 vehicles, and several minor injuries were reported, according to Barrie Fire officials. "Whiteout conditions right now, snow and blowing snow, zero visibility," Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police's Highway Safety Division said in a Twitter video. "You do not want to be in this area at this point."


About 3,000 homes north of New Caledonia's main island Grand Terre lost power in the last 24 hours after Tropical Cyclone Oma hit the French territory in the South Pacific (19th). According to local media, trees were brought down and with rainfall totals in excess of 100 mm so far and roads have been flooded. In the town of Kone, on the west coast, the figure for rainfall for 24 hours of stormy downpours was 143 mm, with gusts of wind approaching 100 km/h, blowing from the east. The eye of the cyclone remains out at sea where winds are blowing at about 150 km/h, but the strength of Oma is still increasing. It will likely reach a peak intensity of an equivalent Category 2 hurricane, on the Saffir-Simpson scale. This should be achieved on Wednesday morning. The longevity and slow-moving nature of Cyclone Oma have generated waves more than 8-metres high, which in turn have generated a long-fetch swell heading for the Australian coast. The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia has issued a "hazardous swell warning" for the Queensland coast.

Wutip, the strongest ever typhoon to churn in the western Pacific Ocean during February, is impacting Guam with flooding rain, strong winds and pounding seas (26th). Wutip strengthened into a super typhoon on Saturday night, local time. It again became a typhoon on Sunday. Wutip surpassed Higos from 2015 as the strongest super typhoon on record during the month of February in the western Pacific Ocean.

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