GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Australia's record-setting run of hot weather continued into the New Year with temperatures in some parts tipped to peak just shy of 50 degrees in the coming days. Sydney's temperature will probably remain in the high 20s into the early afternoon before reaching about 33 to 35 degrees after 3pm, said Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist with Weatherzone.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said a number of properties had been lost in the fire, one of 35 active across Victoria. Meanwhile, warnings for four major fires burning in South Australia, where at least 13 homes are thought to have been destroyed, have been downgraded but authorities say the threat is still very real. More than 203 deaths were reported to the coroner, more than twice the average. The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine expects the number of deaths to reach that of the unprecedented heatwave in 2009, which is thought to have killed more than 370 people in Victoria alone. Temperatures across the south-eastern states regularly pushed above 40C for several days as the heatwave gripped the region. The institute's director Stephen Cordner says the heat affected the most vulnerable people in the community. "The largest number would have been those people elderly pre-existing problems such as artery disease, lung problems, and also those with psychiatric problems," he said.
More than 7,000 flights had been delayed, and more than a quarter of the flights out of Chicago’s O’Hare International, Newark’s Liberty International, New York City’s LaGuardia and Dulles Airport in Virginia were canceled. Chicago’s Midway Airport saw 20 percent of its departing flights canceled, while more than 40 percent of flights out of Baltimore-Washington International have been delayed, as were 25 percent of flights out of Reagan National Airport. Snow began falling at 1:30 a.m. in Boston, the first East Coast city to be hit by the storm that is expected stretch from New England to Chicago and as far south as Nashville. Boston could receive up to 18 inches of snow, according to forecasts, while New York City is projected to receive about 8 inches. The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for Long Island, Cape Cod and Massachusetts’ South Shore. Detroit and Chicago have already been hit by snow and are expected to face bitter cold temperatures in the next several days with lows dropping below zero. The D.C. region is expected to face high winds and cold temperatures but should receive less than 5 inches of snow.
Shivering Ohioans bundled up Friday as the state endured some of its coldest temperatures in years and the forecast called for more snow and cold weather in the next few days. Temperatures started in single digits Friday, with wind chills well below zero in much of Ohio. Authorities said at least two people were killed in weather-related crashes in the northeast part of the state Thursday as the storm dumped 8 to 10 inches of snow on parts of northern Ohio. The storm ended by Friday morning but left bitter cold and icy roads.
The American Midwest and Northeast have braced for a "polar vortex," a megastorm that is expected to bring record low temperatures on Monday (the 5th). So far extreme weather conditions have claimed at least 16 lives, paralyzed travel and caused power shortage. For those exposed to the inclement conditions frostbite and hypothermia will be a danger as – 31°C is expected in North Dakota, - 35 °C in Minnesota, and - 26 degrees below Celsius in Indianapolis and Chicago. Adding the wind chill factor, the temperature could feel as low as – 56 °C. The freezing air began to spread Sunday reaching areas as far south as the Gulf Coast.
A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire because of high winds, low humidity and tinder-dry vegetation was in effect in the Greater Los Angeles area on the 17th for the fifth straight day. ``High pressure over the Great Basin will continue to generate gusty Santa Ana winds over Los Angeles and Ventura counties,’’ said a National Weather Service advisory, adding the winds should weaken Friday afternoon. At the same time, ``an unseasonably strong upper-level ridge has combined with the offshore flow to bring very warm and very dry conditions.’’
A winter storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on the 21st and caused departure boards at airports along the East Coast canceled. With almost 3,000 flights called off Tuesday, passengers had to change their plans for getting home, getting to meetings, getting on with their lives. It's the weather that was causing cities along the East Coast to shut down early Tuesday night as a major snowstorm hampered life and travel in states from North Carolina to Maine. Winter storm warnings and watches were in effect for all or part of 13 states from the mid-Atlantic to New England. There was a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Some areas received more than a foot of snow.
A brief but brutal winter storm swept San Antonio on the 24th. Freezing drizzle turned to sleet and ice overnight Thursday, and by rush hour Friday, icy cars sat idle on slick roads while emergency responders crisscrossed the city, answering hundreds of calls for crashes and motorists stranded in their vehicles. Officers handled 2,462 calls for service from 8:30 p.m. Thursday to 2 p.m. Friday, San Antonio police said. SAPD reported no major injuries resulting from 173 major accidents, 414 minor accidents and 218 traffic-related calls while the weather raged.
A sodden Britain prepared for a deadly deluge today as a tidal surge and gale-force winds hit the country’s coastlines Weather experts warned of 70mph winds combining with high spring tides to create horrific conditions and likely flooding of homes. The storms were due to hit a 1,000-mile stretch of Britain’s coastline from the North West down to Sussex. The Environment Agency last night issued 17 severe flood warnings, the highest category indicating a danger to life, in Devon, Cornwall and Wales. The strongest winds were due to hit the South West this afternoon with the maximum risk of flooding occurring near the evening high tides, which vary from 6.42pm in Croyde, North Devon, to 8.07pm in Exmouth, South Devon. A Met Office spokesman said: “The winds will pick up after dawn but will reach 70mph by the afternoon. When these combine with high tides, it will create large waves which can breach sea defenses and create flooding around river estuaries. "This risk is highest in the evening around the time of the second high tide.”
A man has died after his mobility scooter fell into a river during some of the worst winter storms to hit Britain in more than 20 years on the 5th. The 47-year-old was pulled out of Osney Lock in Oxford on Saturday evening but died at the scene. Police said the “tragic incident” highlighted the dangers of using flooded pathways as more heavy rain threatened to put swathes of southern and western England at further risk of flooding. The strong winds, persistent rain and tidal waves that have left a trail of destruction in Britain's coastal areas over the last 48 hours were predicted to move inland on Sunday, battering the UK for at least another two days.
Large swaths of southern Ontario have been experiencing a phenomenon known as frost quakes, a comparatively rare meteorological event that only takes place in unusual circumstances. Meteorologists say recent ice storms, thaws and deep freezes have created ideal conditions for the frost quakes that have caused public consternation and even alarm. Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist with the Weather Network, said the reaction is perfectly justified. Frost quakes – scientifically known as cryoseisms – are more commonly found in glaciers than in residential areas, she said. The quakes take place when water is allowed to seep into cracks in the soil, then quickly turns to ice as a result of a rapid drop in temperature.
Winter is keeping its relentless reign in Eastern Canada on the 5th. As Ontario readies for another winter storm and the Prairies face extreme wind chill warnings, tens of thousands of New Foundlanders remained without power in the wake of Friday's blizzard. Evironment Canada issued a special weather statement Saturday night for much of southern Ontario, warning of heavy snowfalls for Sunday, with mixed precipitation in some parts. Wind chill warnings are in effect for northwestern Ontario, as another blast of Arctic air invaded the region Saturday night. Temperatures are expected to plummet to –30 C to –35C. With wind chills, it will feel more like –40C Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
The last of 5500 properties near Auckland that had power cut by gales today are expected to have supply restored tonight. Lines company Vector said there were two outages remaining on the northern part of the network, affecting 583 customers, shortly before 8.30pm. Muriwai had 533 customers off, which were expected to be restored shortly, and the others, at South Head were expected to have their power back later tonight. Vector said this afternoon there were up to eight outages in the northern part of the network, affecting as many as 5538 customers, all of them weather-related. The areas affected included Waiwera, Puhoi, Parakai, Maraetai, Whangateau, Snells Beach, Helensville, Muriwai and Titirangi. The wind looked to be abating late this afternoon and crews were continuing to work to restore further customers, Vector said.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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