GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
A moist air mass associated with a storm system over the Mediterranean lifted north on the 3rd, interacting with the cold air to give areas of snow, and freezing rain. Elsewhere, the increase in moisture helped produce thick fog, which froze to objects resulting in widespread icing. Temperatures hovering just below freezing and ample moisture in the atmosphere, ice continued to build on trees and power lines causing them to snap to the ground. Radio Prague reported numerous accidents related to icy roadways, while the rail system was brought to a standstill, leaving some passages stuck in railcars overnight. The complete shutdown of the rail system is the first of its kind due to poor weather. More than 100,000 passengers were affected.
Schools and offices were shut in parts of the central Philippines and residents stocked up on supplies and food, as provinces yet to recover from last year's devastating super-typhoon Haiyan braced for another category 5 storm. Typhoon Hagupit was churning across the Pacific at about 860 km east of the island state, packing winds of up to 195 km/h and gusts of up to 230km/h. It was expected to strengthen to a category 5 storm before slamming into Eastern Samar province in the central Philippines on Saturday. Eastern Samar and Leyte island were worst-hit in November 2013 by Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to make landfall, which left more than 7,000 dead or missing and more than 4 million homeless or with damaged houses. Local government officials and emergency teams from the Red Cross, army and coastguard were braced for swollen rivers, landslides, flash floods, and storm surges, said Roger Mercado, governor of Southern Leyte province. The government said it had moved the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting next week from Legazpi to Manila to avoid the likely path of the typhoon. About 20 typhoons strike the Philippines each year, most hitting the north along the main island of Luzon.
Typhoon Hagupit made landfall as a powerful typhoon in the Philippines late Saturday night local time in the Province of Eastern Samar, bringing sustained winds over 185 km/h with gusts around 230 km/h. Major threats from Hagupit, named Ruby in the Philippines, include widespread flooding, strong winds and mudslides. Hagupit will continue to slowly traverse the Philippines through Monday bringing damaging winds and torrential rainfall. The storm's landfall comes a little over a year after Super Typhoon Haiyan brought devastation to the country and within 100 miles of where Haiyan first made landfall. Recovery efforts from Haiyan are still ongoing, and there is concern that Hagupit's impacts could threaten to undo the rebuilding progress.
A vigorous storm rolled into California and brought torrential rain, mudslides, power outages, roaring winds, and even a tornado on the 11th-12th. In the severely drought-stricken state, the rainfall provided some relief. However, thousands were without power as a result of the storm. As the storm inundated parts of Northern and Southern California, it also produced a tornado Friday morning in South Los Angeles. No one was injured but damage occurred on several blocks from the EF-0 tornado. Los Angeles County officials said the rain brought 1.8 billion gallons of water to the region, which they said is enough to support 30,000 residents for one year.
Following a fast-hitting storm, Thursday morning (12th) commuters across Kansas City were slowed by snow-packed roadways and vehicle related incidents. The first substantial snowstorm of the season, which totaled nearly 5 inches of snow in some areas, was responsible for widespread slide-offs and accidents during the commuting hours. Major transportation routes along I-70 and I-35 were closed throughout Thursday morning due to snow related incidents.
A picturesque northern winter-scape is hardly the reality as a spate of weird weather lingers in Anchorage (Alaska) on the 19th, which is almost 2ft behind the snowfall totals typical by this time. With just days to go until solstice Sunday signals the official start of winter, bare ground can be seen in places and temperatures have been averaging in the 30s.
Tornadoes unleashed by thunderstorms along the US Gulf Coast ripped through south-eastern Mississippi on Tuesday, killing at least four people, injuring numerous others and causing extensive damage to homes and businesses (24th). The twisters were spawned by thunderstorms in the region, and that severe weather was moving into north-western Alabama, followed by a wave of heavy showers that were expected to dump 100-150 mm of rain in some areas.
As temperatures fall along the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, each winter, it's not unusual for visitors to find foam freezing on the surface. This month, however, River Dee Trust Biologist Jamie Urquhart discovered dozens of pancake like pieces of ice floating along the historic river on the 22nd. This is the first time the ice pancakes have been spotted on the River Dee. They are more commonly seen in the Antarctic or the Baltic Sea. Below-normal temperatures for the month of December may have aided in their formation.
A storm delivered wet snow to part of the United Kingdom on Friday the 26th. Accumulations in the hilly, interior areas of north-central England generally ranged from 2 cm to 8 cm. A spell of rain and sleet affected Ireland through the morning and afternoon with just a little snow over the hills. As the low deepened further and tracked into Wales and north-western England it encountered colder air and combined with the intensity of the precipitation caused a spell of heavy snow to affect parts of northern Wales, the north Midlands and northwest England. The precipitation rate was quite high resulting in the snow accumulating very quickly. The highest official snowfall depth was record at Leek Thorncliffe, Staffordshire with 12 cm of lying snow by 11 p.m. on Boxing Day.
A storm will continue to spread rain and disruptive snow farther to the east across southern and eastern Europe through Wednesday the 31st. . The storm has already delivered rain and wet snow to the United Kingdom Friday night and parts of France, Germany and Switzerland on Saturday. In France, approximately 15,000 vehicles were stranded in the Savoy Prefecture late Saturday due to heavy snow, reports Lameteo. Savoy is situated in far eastern France near the border with Switzerland and Italy. Additionally, a man was killed Saturday when his car slide off of a road into a ravine near Isère, France. Snow totals on Saturday reached 3 cm in Brussels, Belgium, 6 cm in Frankfurt, Germany, and 10 cm in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. As the storm continued to move southeastward, snow fell from the higher elevations of northern Italy into the Balkan Peninsula on Sunday. Heavy snow fell across parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Romania.
Pollution has combined with air stagnation across northern India and Pakistan to lead to extremely poor air quality during the past week. Without a significant change in the overall weather pattern, poor air quality, and low visibility will remain into the start of the coming week. Visibility from Islamabad, Pakistan to New Delhi and Patna, India has been reduced to less than 1000 m frequently during the past several days due to the pollution and fog. Visibility at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport has dropped to below 50 m on occasion over the weekend. Smog is so prevalent it has also been keeping daytime temperatures cooler than normal across this region.
Heavy rainfall over the last several weeks has caused major flooding in Malaysia, leading to 10 deaths and forcing nearly 160,000 to be evacuated. For the last two weeks, there has been torrential rain in the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula. Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia, reported that the situation in the states of Negeri Sembilan and Kedah had fully recovered after residents returned to their homes. However, the situation in the states of Terengganu Kelantan and Pahang remained problematic. Kelantan was among the hardest hit areas and more than 80,000 residents remained in relief centers on Saturday, Bernama said.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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