GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
A series of avalanches was sparked by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing at least 119 people, officials say on the 3rd. "At least 89 people have been injured and 190 homes destroyed by avalanches in multiple provinces," said Wais Ahmad Barmak, the Afghanistan minister for disaster management and humanitarian affairs. According to Reuters, dozens more were missing after an avalanche buried a village in eastern Afghanistan, provincial governor Hafiz Abdul Qayum said. An avalanche in neighboring Pakistan killed at least 14 people and buried five homes, Nizamud Shah, a local official in the northern town of Chitralv told the Associated Press. He added that several other people are missing.
Seven New Orleans parishes and the Baton Rouge area were hit by tornadoes in an afternoon of tumultuous weather across south-eastern Louisiana on the 7th. The tornadoes that struck parts of south-eastern Louisiana destroyed homes and businesses, flipped cars and trucks, and left thousands without power, but no deaths were reported, said Louisiana's governor, John Bel Edwards. The governor took an aerial tour and made a disaster declaration before meeting with officials in New Orleans. The worst damage was in the same Ninth Ward that was so heavily flooded in 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
Treacherous travel was reported in Massachusetts early Wednesday (8th) after freezing rain slicked roadways. Multiple crashes involving dozens of vehicles were reported near the town of Wakefield, Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts State Police. Approximately 55 vehicles were involved in a crash which shut down Route 128 northbound. Several injuries were reported but none were believed to be serious, according to law enforcement officials.
As a blizzard unloads feet of snow in eastern New England, authorities have reported numerous car crashes, school closings and flight cancellations (13th). Slick and hazardous travel will continue to unfold across New England into Monday night as blowing and drifting snow occurs in the wake of the storm. The Maine State Police are urging people to stay off the roads as conditions are extremely treacherous on major roadways across the state. Some locations have already totaled more than 2 feet of snow in the central part of the state. Visibilities are only a couple hundred yards at best. Conditions are too severe for snow plough trucks to continue operation in Waldoboro, Maine, according to the Waldoboro Police.
Severe thunderstorms erupted across southeastern Texas in the morning, leaving thousands without power around Houston and causing significant damage to homes and businesses (14th). Wind damage, downed fences and tree branches on roadways was reported in the town of Stafford, Texas, according to the Stafford Police Department. In addition, several buildings and homes had their roofs blown off. There were also several reports of a funnel cloud. Another tornado touchdown was reported southwest of the town of Rosenburg, Texas, according to a National Weather Service trained spotter. The Houston Chronicle reported that the storms may have been a factor in one fatal crash.
At least three people have died after one of California's strongest storms in years brought torrential rain and flash floods to the state (19th). More than 100 homes have been evacuated over fears of mud slides near Los Angeles after the Pacific storm parked itself over southern California, opening sinkholes and cutting power to thousands of people. More than 300 flights at Los Angeles international airport have also been cancelled or delayed. The storm stretched far out into the ocean and was at its strongest late on Friday afternoon. One man was found dead in a submerged vehicle in the desert town of Victorville after several cars were washed down a flooded street, San Bernardino county fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said. A second man was electrocuted in the Sherman Oaks area of LA when a tree falling in heavy rain downed power lines that hit a car. Later in the same neighborhood, a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in. Firefighters rescued one person from the first car, and the driver escaped from the second vehicle before it fell into the hole. Amtrak cancelled services for much of California's southern and central coast, and several stretches of road were closed by flooding. "The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit south-west California this season," the National Weather Service said. "It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995." By Friday evening, Ventura county and northern Los Angeles county had recorded 24-hour rain totals of up to 7.5 in, with the San Marcos mountain pass in Santa Barbara county receiving nearly 8.5 in.
Heavy rain has lashed parts of Fiji the past several days as a tropical low passed through the region (8th). Rainfall has totaled more than 450 mm in Nadi causing widespread flooding and cutting off some people from their homes for several days as the Nadi and Ba Rivers overflowed their banks.
Intense heat building back across Sydney, Australia, late this week should cause a 121-year-old record to fall (9th). Temperatures are set to soar to around 38C on Friday and Saturday in Sydney with a strong area of high pressure overhead. For a city where a high of 26.5C is more common in February, this latest blast of heat will not only put a strain on residents but will also enter history books. Friday and Saturday could make for the 10th and 11th days this summer of highs exceeding 35C at Sydney's Observatory Hill (the city's official weather station). Never before have so many such days been registered in a summer since record-keeping began in 1859. The current record for the most days is nine, which was originally set during the summer of 1895-96, according to data from the Bureau of Meteorology. The record was tied this summer on 31 January as the city's hottest month on record came to a close.
Thousands of dead bats are dropping from trees after temperatures topped 45 degrees in parts of New South Wales (Australia 13th). The area worst affected was Casino in the Richmond Valley region of northern New South Wales, where more than 2,000 dead flying foxes have been found. Richmond Valley Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said many of the dead bats were difficult to access because they were scattered along riverbanks. He said the council was working as fast as it could to dispose of the animals, but residents should brace themselves for the stench of decay.
The heatwave that engulfed southeastern Australia at the end of last week has seen heat records continue to tumble like. On Saturday February 11, as New South Wales suffered through the heatwave's peak, temperatures soared to 47C in Richmond, 50km northwest of Sydney, while 87 fires raged across the state amid catastrophic fire conditions. On that day, most of NSW experienced temperatures at least 12 C above normal for this time of year. In White Cliffs, the overnight minimum was 34.2C, a new record for the state's highest observed minimum temperature. On Friday, the average maximum temperature right across NSW hit 42.4C, beating the previous February record of 42.0C. The new record stood for all of 24 hours before it was smashed again on Saturday, as the whole state averaged 44.0C at its peak. At this time, NSW was the hottest place on Earth. And still the records continue to fall. Mungindi, on the border of NSW and Queensland, broke the Australian record of 50 days in a row above 35C, set just four years ago at Bourke Airport, with the new record now at 52 days. Meanwhile, two days after that sweltering Saturday we woke to find the fires ignited during the heatwave still cutting a swathe of destruction, with the small town of Uarbry, east of Dunedoo, all but burned to the ground.
Following the worst drought Bolivia has seen in more than 25 years, severe thunderstorms plagued parts of central South America last week (13th). Whilst rainfall helped alleviate drought conditions, more than 75mm of rain fell in just a few hours across parts of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, triggering severe flash floods as water inundated the dehydrated and impermeable ground. Other regions were hammered by crippling hailstorms, leaving at least two fatalities.
Millions of people are without water after heavy rains struck Chile over the weekend during the country's usually dry summer months, leaving three people dead and at least 19 missing (26th). The rains, which caused rivers to overflow their banks in mountain valleys near Chile's capital, Santiago, had isolated 373 people, the Onemi emergency service said late on Sunday. The drinking-water supply for over a million households in Santiago had been affected, and Aguas Andinas, the company that provides water to the capital, said rains were making repairs difficult. Agency France-Presse estimated four million people were affected.
A woman was killed and at least two people were seriously injured as Storm Doris brought winds gusting to 94 mph, snow and rain to the UK. (23rd) West Midlands Ambulance Service said the woman had suffered head injuries when a piece of debris fell on to a street in Wolverhampton. Strong winds led to flight cancellations and road and rail disruption across much of the country. About 1,500 homes and businesses were without electricity in Northern Ireland after trees fell on overhead lines. More than 21,500 customers had their power restored earlier. Northern Powergrid says nearly 900 homes were left without power in Sheffield at one point. UK Power Networks said 12,030 properties lost power in Suffolk and about 40,000 homes in total were without power across East Anglia at one time. Energy company SSE said about 700 customers had experienced power cuts in Scotland, mainly in rural Perthshire, Kinross, Dunblane and Milnathort, as a result of heavy snow damaging its overhead network. Highways England later re-opened the Dartford Crossing linking Kent and Essex, the Orwell Bridge on the A14 in Suffolk and the M48 Severn Bridge, which were all closed due to high winds. The M80 reopened after earlier closures in both directions due to snow. Heathrow has flagged at least 77 flights as cancelled on its website and says its schedule was reduced by 10% because of the weather. Aer Lingus cancelled 19 of its 111 flights between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Gale-force winds led to the cancellation of ferries and flights between the Isle of Man and the UK Speed limits of 50mph were imposed on several train lines affecting Arrival Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Trains, Grand Central, Great Northern, South West, and Southeastern services.
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