GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Flooding in the Yangtze River basin in China on the 5th has left 112 people dead or missing in recent days, with more damage feared from a typhoon expected to land within days. About 16 million people have been affected by heavy rains that have engulfed vast areas near the Yangtze, China's longest river, the Beijing News cited the civil affairs ministry as saying. Water levels in Lake Taihu, close to Shanghai, are at their highest since 1954, it said, adding the area faced a serious risk of flooding if a typhoon hit nearby on Friday. Flooding is common during the summer monsoon season in southern China, but rainfall has been particularly heavy this year and many areas have been lashed by torrential rains this week. China's vice-premier, Wang Yang, warned last month that a strong El Niño effect this year would increase the risk of floods in the Yangtze and Huai river basins. The El Niño effect was linked to China's worst floods of recent years when more than 4,000 people died in 1998, mostly around the Yangtze.
The Chinese city of Wuhan is on red alert for more heavy rainfall, after torrential downpours overnight left parts of the city submerged on the 6th. Transport links and water and power supplies in the city of 10 million are severely affected, and some residents are trapped in their homes. Flooding has killed more than 180 people and caused chaos across China. Police in neighboring Anhui province even warned that alligators from a farm there had escaped due to the flooding.
Across parts of Iraq, western Iran, Kuwait and northern Saudi Arabia, extremely high temperatures have been recorded over recent days on the 21st. On Thursday Basrah Airport, Iraq reached 53.4C, while Mitribah in northern Kuwait recorded 54.0C. Both of these temperatures, subject to confirmation, are new national records and the 54.0C recorded at Mitribah is among the highest temperatures ever recorded in Asia.
Heavy rains and floods in India have affected more than 1.6 million people in the tea-growing north-eastern state of Assam, with officials having to move hundreds of thousands of people into 300 makeshift relief camps (27TH). The death toll in Assam rose to at least 12 on Wednesday, according to police and rescue workers. Heavy monsoon rains are forecast for at least another 48 hours. Hundreds of thousands of villagers have abandoned their homes and livestock. Some used homemade rafts made from banana trees to flee; others were rescued by soldiers from the rooftops of their waterlogged homes. In neighboring Nepal, flash floods and landslides have swept through villages, killing at least 58 people over two days. The Brahmaputra river and its tributaries have burst their banks, flooding roads, highways and villages in more than half of the region's 32 districts. Mobile phone signal is down in many parts of the state, and power transmission towers have been toppled.
In south Asia dozens of people were killed by severe thunderstorms at the weekend (30-31st. Heavy rain claimed the lives of nine citizens in Mumbai when a building collapsed, and it forced about 50,000 from their homes in southern and eastern India. Lightning killed more than 50 people in Odisha, on the east coast of India. At the same time, in Bangladesh, 15 people were killed by lightning, and flooding took the lives of a further 17 people.
Stifling heat has been baking the central United States, but will finally ease across northern areas this weekend (24th). Some figures include: 109F in Pierre, South Dakota on the 20th was the highest since 29 August 2012. Dallas first reached 100F on the 22nd, 21 days later than normal. 105F at Little Rock, Arkansas, on the 22nd tied the day's record high with 1943.
Howard County officials said on Sunday the body of a second person had been found after flash flooding devastated low-lying Ellicott City, in Maryland (30-31st). The damage sustained during the flooding on Saturday night was reportedly the worst in at least 50 years and possibly the worst in the history of the 244-year-old town. Virtually every structure and business along Ellicott City's Main Street was damaged, with the damage estimated at tens of hundreds of millions of dollars. The town received more than 150 mm of rain, most of it between 7pm and 9pm. Maryland governor Larry Hogan was touring the damage having declared a state of emergency, which will allow greater aid coordination and assistance.
Flooding and mudslides have been reported in and around Durban (South Africa) with the city recording 150 mm of rainfall in 12 hours on Monday, or five times its average July rainfall (25-26TH). Along the coast in Paddock, 315 mm of rain has fallen since Sunday, equivalent to around a third of the rainfall it would expect in a whole year. Meanwhile inland in the southeastern interior there has been heavy snowfall. The South African Weather Service has issued a number of snow warnings and has highlighted the risk of trael disruption for various passes between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
Several tropical storms prowled the eastern and western regions of the Pacific Ocean the week of the 19th, as a dormant tropical season sprung to life. The first three tropical storms of the year in the East Pacific developed southwest of Mexico. While Agatha reached tropical storm strength by 2 July, it was downgraded to a depression by 4 July. Blas developed into a tropical storm on the 3rd, well south of Mexico like Agatha. Unlike Agatha, the system continued to strengthen and became a Category 3 hurricane on the 5th, the first major hurricane of the season for the basin. Tropical Storm Celia followed close behind, forming southwest of Mexico on Friday. Agatha, Blas and Celia remained well away from shore.
A tropical storm in China has killed six people, with at least eight more missing, reports said, after super typhoon Nepartak lashed Taiwan 1oth-11th. By late Sunday more than 200,000 residents in 10 mainland cities had been temporarily relocated and 1,900 homes destroyed. Power was cut for hundreds of thousands in the south-eastern province of Fujian, while five airports were closed and hundreds of high-speed train journeys cancelled, the Global Times newspaper reported on Monday. Nepartak hd previously brought chaos to Taiwan on the 8th, forcing more than 15,000 people to flee their homes as part of the island saw its strongest winds in over a century. It had weakened into a tropical storm by the time it made landfall in Fujian on Saturday but still caused havoc, with pictures showing cars upended, buildings ripped apart and towns swamped in mud. In Taiwan, Nepartak killed three people and injured more than 300, according to the island's central emergency operation centre.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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