GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Hong Kong came to a standstill as Typhoon Nida brought 90 mph winds and torrential rain, shutting down schools, businesses and transport services on the 2nd. More than 180 flights were cancelled and hundreds rescheduled. After battering the northern Philippines last weekend, with more than 275 mm of rain falling over the town of Tuguegarao in 24 hours, Nida made landfall near Hong Kong on Tuesday morning, rated as the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane. Thousands of people were evacuated from offshore oil rigs, as well as from construction sites, and headed to tunnels and bridges in the city. Hong Kong Observatory recorded 121 mm of rain on Tuesday. As Nida moved north-west away from Hong Kong and into mainland China it weakened to a severe tropical storm. However, due to the slow-moving nature of the storm, torrential rain triggered widespread flooding across south-west China, particularly in low lying regions.
India's holy city of Varanasi has been forced to halt cremations along the banks of the river Ganges as deadly floods from monsoon rains hit parts of the country on the 23rd. More than 20 people have been killed and more than 100,000 forced from their homes in recent days in northern states of Uttar Pradesh and neighboring Bihar as rain-swollen rivers burst their banks. Varanasi is India's most sacred Hindu city where thousands flock to cremate relatives in the hope of attaining nirvana, before scattering the ashes in the Ganges. Cremations have been affected in the Hindu holy city of Allahabad, also in Uttar Pradesh, where pyres were being lit in nearby congested alleys, an official there said.
Macedonia declared a state of emergency in its capital, Skopje, and neighboring districts on Sunday, a day after at least 21 people were killed in flash floods caused by a storm 6th-7th. Torrential rain flooded homes, swept away a section of the city's ring road and wrecked cars late on Saturday evening. Northern suburbs of the capital were particularly hard hit, though the city centre also suffered. Macedonia, a small former Yugoslav republic of about two million people, has declared Monday a day of national mourning. "This is a catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude," the deputy prime minister, Nikola Todorov, told reporters. The rain had stopped by Sunday morning and water levels receded and though there was more rain on Sunday evening - there were no reports of further flash flooding. Further north in Croatia, heavy winds caused disruption on some roads, including the closure of the highway linking the capital, Zagreb, to the southern coast for lorries and buses, according to local media.
France has been hit by a heatwave that will last until Friday 23rd-24th) at least, weather forecasters said as temperatures soared into the high 30s C and authorities warned the elderly to stay indoors during the middle of the day. On Tuesday Meteo-France put 22 departments, including the Paris region, on orange alert, reducing the number to 11 on Wednesday morning then raising it to 37 in the afternoon. The highest temperatures at 4.00pm on Tuesday were recorded in the west - Rennes (34C), Nantes, Cognac, Bordeaux (35C) and Mont-de-Marsan (36C).
A lightning strike in Norway is being blamed for the surprising deaths of over 300 reindeer on the 26th. Kjartan Knutsen, a spokesman for the Norwegian Environment Agency, told the Associated Press that it's not uncommon for wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes. However, the number of animals involved in this instance was particularly high. "We have not heard about such numbers before," Knutsen said.
Mudslides triggered by intense rainfall in eastern Mexico have killed 38 people as saturated hillsides collapsed on to homes in the wake of tropical storm Earl on the 7th. At least 28 people died in multiple mudslides in the mountainous north of Puebla State. The states of Puebla and Veracruz bore the brunt of the wild weather and more is on the way after the US National Hurricane Center said on Sunday that a new tropical storm, Javier, had formed off the country's Pacific Coast. Before crossing into Mexico, Earl battered Belize on Thursday, punching holes in the roofs of Belize City's wooden houses. It also flooded parts of the coast.
A rare 'landspout tornado' was photographed on the southwest side of Chicago on the 7th. The tornado was the first to occur inside Chicago's city limits since 22 September 2006, according to the National Weather Service in Chicago. The National Severe Storms Laboratory defines landspouts as "narrow, rope-like condensation funnels that form while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing and there is no rotating updraft." The NWS said there was no rain shower or thunderstorm, just cumulous clouds along the lake breeze. Landspouts are typically observed under cumulonimbus clouds or towering cumulous clouds and are the land-based equivalent of waterspouts.
There has been severe flooding in Louisiana during the past week after two days of intense rainfall on the 17th. A very slow-moving low pressure system hovered over southern parts of the state from Thursday to Saturday bringing persistent heavy rain to some areas and a series of thunderstorms to other areas. More than 600 mm of rain was recorded in places, with the deluge initially causing localized flash flooding. There was more widespread flooding later in the weekend and into this week as the water flowed downstream and overwhelmed larger rivers. At least 11 people were believed to have been killed and about 11,000 forced into temporary shelters.
Multiple tornadoes were reported in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan on the 20th. A plethora of trees and power lines were knocked down and over 25,0000 people were without power at one point. No injuries were reported.
Rescue teams searched for survivors on Saturday after floods devastated Louisiana for several days, killing at least 13 and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes on the 20th. Waters have receded since the rains stopped earlier this week, but the floods forced 30,000 evacuations and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. In some areas, the waters remained high enough to keep cars submerged, and people rowed boats out to inspect their homes. Many schools, daycare centers, health clinics and other public services have been damaged by the waters and are closed indefinitely. The state superintendent, John White, said 22 of Louisiana's public schools were so heavily damaged that they would be unable to open next week for the start of school. In East Baton Rouge, where rains caused some of the worst flooding, almost 60% of the city was inundated, according to a map compiled by authorities. A local agency, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, reported on Friday that as many as 110,000 homes were in flooded areas of the metropolitan area, including 7,300 businesses. The sheriff, Sid Gautreaux, said on Friday that the city would have a curfew from midnight to 6am ET so police can keep shelters safe and so that first responders can safely deliver supplies in the area.
A strong typhoon has struck near Tokyo with heavy rain and winds grounding more than 400 flights as officials warned of landslides and flooding (22nd). Typhoon Mindulle made landfall at about 12:30pm local time in Tateyama city, roughly 80 km south-east of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. As of noon, the storm was packing gusts up to 180kmph and heading north at a speed of 20kmph, the agency said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or significant damage.
At least nine elderly people have been found dead at a nursing home in Japan after heavy overnight rain from Typhoon Lionrock flooded towns across the north of the country (30th-312st). Further north, on the island of Hokkaido, at least two rivers broke their banks. The embankments gave way early on Wednesday. Typhoon Lionrock made landfall on Tuesday evening near the city of Ofunato, 500 km north-east of Tokyo on the Pacific coast, and crossed the main island of Honshu before heading out to the Sea of Japan. It was the first time a typhoon has made landfall in the northern region since 1951, when Japan's Meteorological Agency started keeping records.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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