GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Parts of the Big Island of Hawaii were hit by a major storm that left the area with several feet of snow on the 5th. The worst of the winter storm struck Mauna Kea, which rises to a height of 13,803 feet. Despite the tropical latitude of Hawaii, snow is not unusual on Mauna Kea. While the storm was unusually large for the area, Mauna Kea frequently sees smaller snow storms. At lower elevations, parts of the island were under a flood watch. Hilo, the largest city on Hawaii Island, had more than 3 inches of rain since Saturday morning. The snow left the road leading to Mauna Kea's summit closed, as temperatures barely climbed above freezing following the storm. Forecasters said it is usual for the mountains to see snow in the winter months, however National Weather Service Meteorologist Matt Foster said that the recent snowfall is "at the higher end of what we¡Çd typically get up there." He added that there have been winters in the past in which the mountains got little to no snow, including last year.
Parts of the Midwestern and north-eastern states of the U.S. have been hit by continuous lake-effect snow over the past few days (11th). With generally westerly winds the worst affected areas were those directly east of the Great Lakes, particularly of Lake Erie. For example, Perrysburg, to the east of Lake Erie received 17 inches of snow with snow falling at a rate of up to 2 inches an hour.
Most of the Dakotas and south-west Minnesota were turning into an 'icy, slippery mess' due to freezing rain on Sunday morning (25th) that was expected change into snow later in the day when temperatures fell, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A blizzard warning was in effect for most of North Dakota, western South Dakota and a small section of eastern Montana through Monday, with expected snow totals of 8-15 inches and winds up to 55 mph.
A winter storm dropped two feet of snow over parts of New England on Thursday and into early Friday morning (30th). The potent storm caused messy travel and led to one fatal accident in Vermont. Thundersnow was reported in Boston and Portland, Maine. As of 3:30 a.m., Naples, Maine, received 27 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. As of 1:30 a.m. on Friday, Androscoggin, Maine, reportedly received 14 inches of snow in five hours, a rate of nearly 3 inches of snow per hour. York, Maine, had as much as 25.6 inches of snow as of 1:00 a.m., reported by a trained spotter
The number of cars on roads was limited and factories were temporarily shut in some northern Chinese cities today (19th) to reduce pollution during a national smog red alert. More than 700 companies stopped production in Beijing and traffic police were restricting drivers by monitoring number plates, state media reported. In choking conditions, dozens of cities closed schools and took other emergency measures after the alert was issued for much of northern China. Authorities in Hebei province ordered coal and cement plants to shut down or cut output. Elsewhere, hospitals prepared teams of doctors to handle an expected surge in cases of pollution-related illnesses. China's long-standing air pollution is blamed on its reliance on coal and emissions from older cars.
In an extremely rare occurrence, snow fell in the Sahara Desert this week. According to the Telegraph, snow was seen on the sand dunes near the desert town of Ain Sefra, Algeria. This marks only the second time in living memory that snow has fallen in the desert. The only previously known occurrence was on 18 February 1979.
Tropical cyclone Vardah, the first hurricane-strength storm to hit the Bay of Bengal this season, has struck the coastal Indian city of Chennai (12th). The storm uprooted trees, overturned cars and did extensive damage to buildings as it tore across the city. At least 10 people have died, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. The winds at landfall on Monday were around 140 km/h, making Vardah equal to a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Prior to the storm's landing, Chennai already was pounded with heavy rain and winds. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued heavy rain warnings for the whole of southern India. Fisherman have been told not to take their boats out for two more days.
A typhoon has lashed the northern Philippines, killing at least six people and forcing more than 380,000 in several provinces to abandon Christmas celebrations at home and move to safer ground (25th-26th). Typhoon Nock-ten cut power to five provinces due to toppled electric posts and trees, dimming the festivities in Asia's largest Catholic country. More than 300 flights were delayed or rescheduled and ferries were barred from sailing, stranding more than 12,000 holidaymakers. Six people died from drowning or by being pinned by fallen trees, poles and a collapsed concrete wall in the provinces of Quezon and Albay, south-east of Manila, after the typhoon made landfall in Catanduanes province on Sunday night. After weakening on landfall, the typhoon had sustained winds of up to 74 mph and gusts of 111 mph when it blew into the South China Sea after battering the congested provinces of Batangas and Cavite, south of Manila.
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