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Old August 10th 20, 11:07 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default July 2020 Global Weather Highlights

JULY 2020


Unusually intense rainfall has swept away buildings and ruined homes in southern China, affecting about 15 million residents (3rd). In the inland Chinese city of Yichang, the murky water ran waist-high, stranding people in their cars and turning streets into canals. Near the metropolis of Chongqing, torrents of water swept away country roads. The tourist town of Yangshuo experienced a cloudburst that an official called a once-in-two-centuries event. Weeks of abnormally intense rains have wrought destruction across southern China, leaving at least 106 people dead or missing and affecting 15 million residents in the worst flooding that parts of the region have seen in decades. One of the hardest-hit provinces has been Hubei.

At least 14 people are feared dead at a nursing home on Japan's southern island of Kyushu as unprecedented rainfall caused landslides and massive floods (5th). Tens of thousands of people have been told to evacuate homes. The Kuma river in Kumamoto prefecture burst its banks. PM Shinzo Abe ordered 10,000 troops to be deployed, after rescue services were overwhelmed with calls for help. Another two people were feared to have been killed in a landslide in the town of Tsunagi. The NHK broadcaster says there are reports eight homes in the town's Takinoue district were washed away. 412 mm of rain fell in the 24 hours ending 0600 GMT at Ushibuka on the island. On Saturday night, the Kuma river burst through its levees in numerous places inundating low-lying settlements. Fourteen victims were found in one nursing home, after river waters flooded the ground floor. Another 50 were rescued. It is Japan's worst disaster since Typhoon Hagibis struck in October 2019, killing some 90 people.

China raised its flood response alert to the second highest level as heavy rain battered regions along the Yangtze River, with the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Jiangxi among the worst hit, state media reported (12th). Flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi pushed water levels of Lake Poyang, China's biggest freshwater lake, to above 22.52 m, a historical high and well above the alert level of 19.50 m. By Saturday evening, provincial military authorities had dispatched thousands of soldiers to help bolster nearly 9 km of the lake's banks, state television said. China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level one representing the most severe. So far this year, some 141 people have died or gone missing in the floods, which have ravaged 3.53 million hectares of farmland and flattened 28,000 homes.

At least 50 people have been killed and more than two million affected by heavy monsoon flooding in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, officials say (15th). Heavy rain has submerged thousands of villages. Hundreds of relief camps have been set up to shelter those displaced. A heavy monsoon in the region is common, but this year comes as India battles rising Covid-19 infections.

Rounds of wet weather have been drenching parts of southern Japan since the end of June, with one of the most severe incidents occurring duing 3-4 July when devastating flooding and landslides battered the island of Kyushu. "Historic heavy rain has been hitting Japan. Kanoya had 1082 mm of rain within a week, which is about a half of the annual rainfall," according to Sayaka Mori, a meteorologist for NHK. Kyushu is Japan's third-largest island and home to more than 12 million people. Approximately 3 million of those residents were advised to evacuate. Sixty people have been confirmed dead in Kumamoto Prefecture, two in Fukuoka Prefecture and one in Oita Prefecture due to the flooding. Thirty-five people were found indoors and it is believed that most could not escape flooded houses, according to NHK. The Kuma River, which flows through the Kumamoto Prefecture and Kuma Village, rose well above its banks on the 4th, washing away at least one bridge and cutting off citizens from rescue crews and causing widespread power outages.

Heavy rains have been affecting northern parts of Vietnam over the past three days, particularly the Ha Giang Province, causing severe floods and landslides that resulted in property damage and five casualties (21st). The rains came after the region experienced its longest heatwave in 49 years, with temperatures up to 2.5 degC higher than average. The Ha Giang Province has been affected by flooding during the past three days due to heavy rains. As a result, traffic jams and landslides occurred in many areas. Most streets were inundated to a depth of about 1 metre. In nearby Quan Ba District, floods and landslides buried structures in Thai An Hydropower Plant, prompting officials to pause operations. The National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting (NCHMF) issued a level 1 warning for floods, flash floods, and landslide due to heavy rain across the provinces of Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Cao Bang, and Bac Kan, Son La, Ho Binh, and Thai Nguyen. NCHMF revealed that the region recorded 21 days of hot spells in June, with average temperatures 1.5 to 2.5 degC higher than the past years. This is considered the longest heatwave in the area since 1971. Temperatures between 36C to 39C were recorded in the provinces of Lang Son, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, and Ninh Binh. The heatwave was caused by a low-pressure from the west and a Foehn wind, according to NCHMF head Nguyen Van Huong.

The extensive flood situation due to seasonal monsoon rains remains severe in India as the death toll has crossed 470 this week, according to the National Emergency Response Center (NDMI) (22nd). West Bengal is the worst-hit state, with 142 fatalities. More than 6 million people are now affected and more than 91 000 have been displaced. About 470 fatalities have been reported across nine states - 142 in West Bengal, 111 in Assam, 81 in Gujarat, 46 in Maharashtra, 44 in Madhya Pradesh, 25 in Kerala, 19 in Uttarakhand, and two in Uttar Pradesh. In Delhi alone, floodwaters have washed away more than 10,000 homes, prompting authorities to set up 300 relief camps. Several hundred villages have been totally cut off by high waters, hampering relief and rescue operations.

At least 19 houses were swept away by a huge landslide following persistent heavy rainfall in Lamjung District in Gandaki Pradesh, Nepal. No fatalities were reported, but six people sustained injuries, and around 62 more residential properties are at high risk as the land is still sliding, posing threats of a further unprecedented mudslide. Incessant rains in the past days triggered the landslide at around 03:15 UTC (09:00 LT) in Tarapu Pallotari..

At least two people lost their lives after widespread, intense rainfall triggered flash flooding in Busan, South Korea (22nd). As heavy rain lashed the city, an underpass was inundated by up to 2.5 m of floodwaters. With vehicles stuck under, firemen had to rescue eight people and take them to the hospital for treatment. However, two of the victims eventually died. Rescue operations were underway in other parts of the city as flooding swept through various areas. More people were rescued from a flooded hotel garage and a basement of a nursing home. By midnight, firefighters reported that a total of 32 people had been rescued. The Korea Meteorological Administration has issued heavy rain warnings for many parts of the country, including Seoul and Busan, as the severe weather is expected to continue in the following days.

Mumbai, India, surpassed its July 2014 record (1468.5 mm) for the all-time high monthly rainfall on Tuesday with intermittent intense rain spells, taking the monthly rain tally to 1,474.3 mm by 5.30pm (28th). Meanwhile, the city had surpassed its July average rainfall of 840 mm by the 15th. Mumbai has witnessed a total of eight heavy to very heavy rain days this month, which paved the way for previous records to be broken. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) maintains rain data from 1959 onwards. Other landmark years over the past 61 years include 1455.5 mm in 1965, 1385.5 mm in 1961, 1312.9 mm in 2011, 1250.4 mm in 2010, and 1226.1 mm in 1988. IMD classifies 15.6-64.4 mm as moderate rain while 64.5-115.5 mm rain as heavy, 115.6-204.4 mm as very heavy, and over 204.5 mm as extremely heavy rain for a period of 24-hours. The city had seen five 'very heavy' rain days through July 2020 so far with maximum rainfall recorded between July 4 and 5 of 200.8 mm. Apart from July 2, the city has received rainfall every day of the month so far.

Almost 2,500 people have been evacuated as record-high rainfall poured over northern Japan, causing damaging floods and landslides, including in the Yamagata Prefecture, where the Mogami River burst its banks and a mudslide left 540 people isolated (29th). Heavy rain has been battering the northern region of the country since the 27th, triggering several landslides and causing rivers to overflow. In Yamagata, as many as 540 people were left isolated due to mudslides. In Nagai City, 206.5 mm of rain was recorded into 27th-28th, which was the highest 24-hour July rainfall since 1976, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Meanwhile, Okura village recorded 95.5 mm of rain in only a three-hour period on the same day. Numerous areas in Yamagata recorded more than 200 mm of rain in 24 hours to Wednesday, 29th, including Tsuruoka, Nishimura, Oguni, and Nagai, according to the JMA.


Farmers and agriculture experts are counting the financial impacts incurred by a severe thunderstorm in Minnesota (11th). Winds of up to 80 km/h and hail as big as 63.5 mm in diameter battered thousands of hectares of land in counties from Kandiyohi to Nicollet, at a time when commodity prices are already down. "We had a wonderful crop. Best we've had in this area in five years," said farmer and crop consultant Curt Burns. With an early planting season and unseasonably warm temperatures in late June and early July, corn and soybean crops were developmentally more advanced, relative to previous years. The storm, which was up to 60 miles long and 6 miles wide, caused extensive damage to corn, soybeans, kidney beans, alfalfa, sweet corn, sugar beets, and peas.


A large tornado ripped through Mineo in Sicily, Italy, in the afternoon (14th), causing major damage. The tornado occurred during violent storms that battered southern Italy, including Sardinia and Calabria. Sicily was the most affected region as 30 mm of rain fell in the area.

Croatian capital Zagreb battled widespread flooding on Friday night, following torrential rains and strong winds that left the city in chaos (24th). The emergency department received more than 1,000 calls from the public as the city was submerged underwater, stranding many motorists on the road and residents in their homes. Torrential rains struck the city around 1900 UTC, triggering extensive floods. According to the Zagreb Emergency Management Office, the Fire Brigade conducted more than 80 interventions by midnight and accommodated more than 1,000 emergency calls. One firefighter died during an intervention.


A severe storm accompanied by hurricane-force winds and heavy rain hit parts of western Russia, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency in Saratov's St. Petersburg area (14th). Power was disrupted to about 52 000 residents, including in Balakovo and Marx. Valery Radaev, head of the Saratov region, ordered municipal services to tackle the aftermath of the storm as soon as possible, noting that one of the most affected was Balakovo. Strong winds also affected other areas, including Ershov and Krasnokutsky.

A record-breaking heatwave in Siberia would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate change, a study has found (16th). The Russian region's temperatures were more than 5C above average between January and June of this year. Temperatures exceeded 38C in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June, the highest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic circle. The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average. An international team of climate scientists, led by the UK Met Office, found the record average temperatures were likely to happen less than once every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change. That makes such an event "almost impossible" had the world not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude in the study. The scientists described the finding as "unequivocal evidence of the impact of climate change on the planet".


An unusual interaction between two low-pressure zones caused intense storms over New Zealand's Northland area (17-18th). The worst affected was Whangarei, where emergency services responded to more than 220 calls. "This is just diabolical for our people. We've gone from drought to dealing with a 1 in 500-year event. Unbelievable," Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said.. According to MetService meteorologists, the storm dropped 220 mm of rain on Whangarei from 1900 LT/17th to 0700 LT/18th. 'We call this a greater-than-500-year return period,' the service said. The worst of the storm came around 1900 LT, with about 50 mm/h fall rates. Several gauges exceeded 250 mm of rain in 24 hours, including over 150 mm in just 4 hours at Whangarei Aero and 56.8 mm at Kaikohe in just 1 hour. According to NIWA, Whangarei recorded its wettest July hour on record between 2000 and 2100 LT on the 17th, with 39.6 mm. 132.6 mm fell in just 4 hours between 1800 and 2200 LT, which is 78% of the monthly normal.


Heavy rains triggered widespread severe flooding that paralyzed the city of Taif in Mecca, Saudi Arabia (24th). The traffic in Taif City was brought to a standstill as floodwaters trapped many vehicles on roads and streets. The Civil Defense said they responded to about 30 reports of stranded cars as a result of the accumulated waters, 14 of which had people stuck inside. Stranded individuals were successfully rescued. Residents in Taif's district of AL-Muntazah were forced to stay indoors due to intense downpours, the Civil Defense added.


A coastal low brought strong winds, heavy rainfall, flooding, and damaging surf to parts of New South Wales, Australia, over the weekend (2th). The severe weather prompted volunteers to respond to more than 2,200 calls for rescue and left about 15,000 properties without power on Monday.


Heavy rain is likely to lead to "life-threatening" flash flooding in southern Texas and north-eastern Mexico even as Hurricane Hanna weakens, US officials have warned (25-26th). The hurricane made landfall on Saturday but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. But the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) says that rains and strong winds "remain a threat". Hanna was initially classified as a Category One hurricane, the lowest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, before being downgraded. It made landfall on Padre Island on Saturday, and on Sunday moved into Mexico. At 22:00 local time on Saturday (03:00 GMT Sunday), maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph, the NHC said. It added that "rapid weakening is expected as Hanna moves farther inland" over Texas and into north-eastern Mexico on Sunday.

The first hurricane this season in the Central Pacific skirted just north of Hawaii on Sunday night, sparing the island chain of the worst effects from the storm (26-27th). The core of the system just missed the Islands without making a landfall. As the storm made it's way past the Hawaiian islands on Sunday, heavy rain and wind gusts battered Maui. On Oahu, home to the state's biggest city, Honolulu, gentle rain fell and blustery winds swayed trees.

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