The coldest weather in northern India for at least 44 years has killed more than 100 homeless people, an aid group ActionAid said. The capital New Delhi saw a maximum temperature of 9.8C on Tuesday - the lowest since records began in 1969. Fog forced cancellation of flights and trains. The group said it knew of 107 people who had died in northern states because of cold.




Drought-drained the Mississippi River will rise slightly later this week between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois, but later continue its decline toward historic lows, according to a National Weather Service forecast. Low water, due to the worst U.S. drought since 1956, has already impeded the flow of billions of dollars’ worth of grain, coal, fertilizer and other commodities between the central United States and shipping terminals at the Gulf of Mexico. A further drop in river levels could halt commercial shipping traffic entirely by this weekend, the American Waterways Operators and the Waterways Council Inc said in a statement.


This winter's snow total in Chicago finally exceeded an inch, but there are other snow drought records for the city that remain unbroken. A bit of snow returned to Chicago late on Saturday, accumulating 0.4 of an inch and pushing this winter's snow total to 1.3 inches. Only other three times, since snow record-keeping began in 1886, has it taken longer for Chicago to see the season's snow total reach an inch. Jan. 8, 1944, holds the record for the latest such occurrence. Chicago's snow total, however, still lags behind cities located well to its south, such as El Paso, Little Rock and Oklahoma City, and the nearly 12 inches that typically falls in Chicago by this time of year.


Frigid arctic air held the U.S. Midwest and Northeast in its icy grip on the (23rd) with the cold so dangerous that municipal emergency warming centres opened up and ski resorts shut down. The National Weather Service warned the wind chill could make the temperature feel like -40C in parts of Northern Minnesota until noon on Thursday. Wintry conditions from Minneapolis to Washington marked the coldest conditions in many parts of the United States in four years, but were nowhere near the record lows for January.


Tornadoes ripped through four USA states on Tuesday night and Wednesday, (29th-30th) killing at least two people, as an Arctic cold front clashed with warm air to produce severe weather over a wide swath of the nation. Tornadoes were reported in Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana and Tennessee, an unusual development in January when the focus is more likely to be on snow and ice. The same storm system is moving eastward, bringing a risk of severe weather from the upper Ohio Valley south to the central Gulf Coast and east to the Mid-Atlantic and southeast coast, according to the National Weather Service. Damaging winds of up to 70 mph, hail and more tornadoes are possible. Behind the severe weather, the Arctic front brought snowfall to the central Plains, where many schools were closed and driving was hazardous across eastern Nebraska.




Brazil's northeast is suffering its worst drought in decades, threatening hydro-power supplies in an area prone to blackouts and potentially slowing economic growth in one of the country's emerging agricultural frontiers. Lack of rain has hurt corn and cotton crops, left cattle and goats to starve to death in dry pastures and wiped some 30 percent off sugar cane production in the region responsible for 10 percent of Brazil's cane output. Thousands of subsistence farmers have seen their livelihoods wither away in recent months as animal carcasses lie abandoned in some areas that have seen almost no rain in two years. Dams in the northeast ended December at just 32 percent of capacity, according to the national electrical grid operator. That puts them below the 34 percent the operator, known as ONS, considers sufficient to guarantee electricity supplies. As reservoir levels fell, state-controlled Petrobras imported nearly four times more liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first nine months of 2012, a back-up for hydro-power generation that has hurt the firm's profits. Brazil's reliance on hydro-power to generate electricity has fallen to 67 percent of all electricity generated from about 75 percent five years ago, according to the government-run energy research group EPE.




Australia was bracing for days of "catastrophic" fire and heat wave conditions, with fires already burning in five states and as a search continued for people missing after devastating wildfires in the island state of Tasmania. Tasmanian police said around 100 people feared missing in bushfires had been accounted for and there had so far been no deaths as authorities combed through still-shouldering ruins of homes and vehicles, while evacuating local people and tourists. Bushfires were ablaze in five of Australia's six states, with 90 fires in the most populous state New South Wales, and in mountain forests around the national capital Canberra. A record heat wave, which began in Western Australia on December 27 and lasted eight days, was the fiercest in more than 80 years in that state and has spread east across the nation, making it the widest-ranging heat wave in more than a decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


The Bureau of Meteorology confirms extreme temperatures will continue. The heat wave had broken national records. On Monday (the 9th) the average maximum daily temperature record for Australia was broken at 40.33C. The previous record, 40.17C on 21 December 1972, was held for 40 years. The daily average maximum temperature yesterday (8 January 2013) is a close third at 40.11C. The number of consecutive days where the national average maximum daily temperature exceeded 39C has also been broken this week-seven days (2-8 January 2013), almost doubling the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973. The heat wave, which is pushing the limits of previous temperature extremes, has required an adjustment of the scale used to represent forecast temperatures with new colors representing 50-52C and 52-54C. The current heat wave event commenced with a build-up of extreme heat in the southwest of Western Australia from 25-30 December 2012 as a high in the Bight and a trough near the west coast directed hot easterly winds over the area. Particularly hot conditions were observed on the 30th, with Cape Naturaliste observing 37.7C, its hottest December day in 56 years of record. From 31 December the high pressure system began to shift eastward, bringing well above average temperatures across southern WA between the 30 December and 2 January. Temperatures reached 47.7C at Eyre on the 2nd, its hottest day in 24 years of record, while Eucla recorded 48.2C on the 3rd, its hottest day since records began in 1957. By 4 January the high pressure system had moved off eastern Australia, with northerly winds directing very hot air into southeast Australia, while southerly winds eased temperatures in Western Australia. Hobart experienced a minimum temperature of 23.4C on the 4th (its hottest January night on record), followed by a maximum of 41.8 °C (its highest maximum temperature on record for any month in 130 years of records) and the highest temperature observed anywhere in southern Tasmania. The area of intense heat moved northeast on the 5th as the high pressure system, now centred over the Tasman Sea, and a low pressure trough directed hot northerly winds into the Riverina and western New South Wales (NSW). Areas affected recorded temperatures well in excess of 40C, with Marree in South Australia recording 48.4C, Yarrawonga in Victoria recording 45.7C and Hay in NSW recording 47.7C, breaking its annual daytime temperature record.


A blast of searing heat swept over southern Australia on the 71th, bringing outback heat into two of the nation's biggest cities. The dry heat, reaching 40-43C, kept fire services on edge in the states of Victoria and South Australia, both of which reported wildfires burning. The Melbourne area of Victoria registered highs of 40.8C in the city and 41.3C at the main airport. Highs to 45C were reached in Victoria's far north. These readings were only marginally below seasonal highs reached on Jan. 4 and at least 15 degC above normal for the date. In South Australia, the city of Adelaide registered a high of 43.1C. The late onset of the monsoon has allowed extremely hot air to build up in northern Australia. This year the monsoon onset is about three weeks later than we would usually expect to see it, although this is not a first. During the summer, or northern wet season, of 1972-1973 and 1992-1993 we also saw a late onset of the monsoon, in the last week of January.


About 6000 north Queensland homes are without power and the rail line between Mackay and Cairns is closed due to ex-cyclone Oswald on the 25th.  The low pressure system is generating strong winds and heavy rain as it hovers southwest of Cairns. There's a weak chance ex-cyclone Oswald could re-form as it heads out to sea at the weekend. A massive monsoon trough spans as far south as Gladstone and some areas have had a metre of rainfall in the last four days. More than 300mm of rain has fallen in parts of north Queensland, including 341mm at Paluma, north of Townsville in the past 24 hours. The majority of north Queensland has received between 100 and 00mm in 24 hours.




A rare snowfall occurred in parts of Lebanon on the 10th. Chilly air became entrenched in the storm with temperatures more than 5 degC below normal. Coastal areas such as Tel Aviv saw intense storms with heavy rainfall, but received no snow. Parts of North Lebanon saw accumulation of nearly five feet.




Eastern Newfoundland was pounded by a raging blizzard that knocked out power for most of the island and forced much of the daily activity in the province to grind to a halt on the 11th. The storm, already considered the worst in at least several years with wind speeds topping 110 km/h in many areas, led to cancelled flights, closed schools, docked ferries and the shutdown of public services across the eastern half of Newfoundland. About 47 cm of snow had accumulated in St. John's by lunchtime, Parts of the Avalon Peninsula received anywhere from 25 to 55 cm of snow by the afternoon, with higher amounts likely in some areas, Environment Canada said. It was the biggest snowfall in a single storm in seven years.




Searing heat over the Kalahari Desert has lifted the temperature to near all-time highs in northwestern South Africa. The recognized claimant to the nation's all-time high, Vioolsdrif, reached at least 48C. This followed Tuesday's high of 45.8C. The official high of 48.8C was reached in Vioolsdrif in January 1993. Vioolsdrif lies on river bottom, surrounded by bleak hills and mountains. The rugged Richtersveld walls off the area from cooling Atlantic winds, allowing it bake in blazing summer sun.




Heavy monsoonal rains have triggered severe flooding across the Indonesian on the capital on the 17th, Jakarta, with many government offices and businesses forced to close because staff could not get to work. Authorities said four people were killed and 20,000 had to evacuate. Weather officials warned the rains could get worse over the next few days and media reports said that thousands of people in Jakarta and its satellite cities had been forced to leave their homes because of the torrential downpours this week.




Much of Russia has been blanketed in a deep layer of snow on the 19th. Although Russia is normally well accustomed to large amounts of snow, this season's snow events have been dubbed a 'snowpocalyse' by the Russia Times paper. Unrelenting snow has brought traffic chaos, with flight cancellations, road accidents, highway closures and traffic jams. Moscow has woken up to over 11 inches of snow this weekend, no doubt a factor in the 13 km long traffic jam along one of the capital's main highways. The efforts of some 12,000 snow ploughs could do little to help. Meanwhile, the south-west region of Northern Caucasus saw the equivalent of over two months of snow fall in only two days. The avalanche-prone region was a focus of activity from emergency workers, who used anti-aircraft guns to clear over-hanging snow from roadside mountains.




Tropical Cyclone Felleng has become the strongest cyclone of the South Indian 2012-2013 storm season and the strongest storm in this tropical cyclone region since last February. Highest sustained winds rose to an estimated 115 knots, as of 1200 UTC Wednesday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said. The dangerous storm, equivalent to a Category-4 hurricane, was centered less than 400 miles northwest of Reunion and within 360 miles east-northeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Storm movement was towards the south-southwest 13 knots, or 24 km/h.


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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