GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Mexico City officials ordered all cars to off the road one day per week, following a smog alert and dangerous air quality during the middle of March. From April 5 until June 30, all vehicles will participate in the program "One day without car." Previously, a hologram permit would allow exemptions from travel restrictions. Likewise, authorities have decided to eliminate the pre contingency, which previously only required restrictions to go into effect at air quality indices over 200, which are considered a "purple alert" or very unhealthy. Now, Phase 1 will be enabled when the air quality index reaches 150, which is considered a "red alert" or unhealthy. Phase 2 will begin when levels reach 200, according to the statement from CAMe. An estimated 20 million people, owning roughly 10 million vehicles, live in Mexico City's metropolitan area.
Rescuers are attempting to reach thousands of people stranded by floods and landslides in Pakistan's north-west and parts of Kashmir after the death toll rose to 55 (on April 4). Disaster management officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where 47 people have died since the downpour began on Saturday night, said they were consulting the military about a rescue operation there amid fears the death toll could still climb. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Neelum Valley, officials said thousands were stranded by landslides. At least eight people including five children died there when two houses were buried in a landslide caused by the rains.
Blistering heat is common across India ahead of the yearly monsoon rains; however, temperatures are soaring earlier than normal this year (April 22). Intense heat has affected the country, with impacts being felt from Hyderabad to Kolkata and New Delhi. The heat has already claimed the lives of more than 160 people and has also forced the closure of schools in Orissa until at least April 26.
In recent weeks all-time national heat records have been observed in Cambodia, Laos, and (almost) in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam (April 27). Meanwhile extreme heat has resulted in all- time record high temperatures in the Maldives, India, China, and portions of Africa as well. Cambodia: National all-time record high of 42.6C set at Preah Vihea on April 15th. This surpassed the record set just two days previously at Bantey Ampil (42.2C on April 13th). Prior to this year, the maximum measured temperature in Cambodia was 41.4C at Stoeng Treng in 1960. Laos: National all-time record high of 42.3C set at Seno on April 13th. This surpassed the former record of 42.0C recorded at Savannakhet in March 1933. An all-time national record high minimum temperature was measured at Takhek on April 13th of 30.5C. Malaysia: Near national record of 39.2C measured at Batu Embun on April 10th (the hottest temperature ever measured in central Malaysia). The all-time Malaysian record is 40.1C at Chuping on April 9, 1998. In March this year Chuping reached 39.5C. Singapore: Near national record set in Singapore with a 36.6C at Pulau on April 13th. National record is 37.0C at Tengah on April 17, 1983.
All-time national temperature records have also been set for the Maldives Islands, India, China and in Africa (April 27). China's southernmost province of Hainan (Island) saw several sites breaking all-time heat records with the warmest being Danxian with a 40.5C reading on April 16th. In India on April 24th the city of Titlagarh measured 48.5C. This is the highest reliably measured temperature in India for the month of April. In addition, Bangalore recorded its all-time highest temperature on record with a 39.2C reading beating out its previous record of 38.9C observed on May 22, 1931. In the Maldives a national record high of 34.9C was observed at Hanimadhoo on April 16th edging out the previous record of 34.8C set at Kadhdhoo on March 27, 1999. In Africa Burkina Faso set its all- time national record high with 47.5C on April 13th; the previous record was 47.2C at the same site on May 13, 1984.
Thailand is currently experiencing its longest heatwave in at least 65 years and authorities have advised people to stay indoors (April 28). The average temperature has risen above 40C in many regions in April, with the mercury spiking one day to a near record breaking 44.3C. The hottest day ever recorded in Thailand was 44.4C on April 27, 1960, in the northern province of Uttaradit. According to the Thai Meteorological Department, the average temperature nationwide has surpassed alert levels and the heatwave is expected to continue,
Fiji suffered severe flooding Monday and Tuesday (April 4-5), following several days of torrential rain due to a slow-moving tropical disturbance nearby. Many homes flooded, especially in the north-west of Viti Levu, where schools were shut, and the town of Nadi closed off after the river burst its banks. The effects of the flooding strike especially hard as many areas are still recovering from the extensive damage wrought by from Cyclone Winston in February.
At least one person is dead and another is missing in Fiji in the wake of flooding brought on by Tropical Cyclone Zena (April 7). The cyclone was the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins at peak strength. Zena is impacting much of the same area that was inundated by Tropical Cyclone Winston in late February, the strongest ever to hit the island nation. A fatality and a missing person were reported in the western division of the island chain, the Fiji Times said. Thousands of other people were evacuated as a result of the cyclone. A separate disturbance brought around 300 mm of rain to Nadi on Sunday and Monday causing flooding ahead of Tropical Cyclone Zena. Another 150 mm have fallen from Tuesday night into Wednesday from Zena. Satellite imagery confirmed that Zena had strengthened markedly on Tuesday before weakening as it passed south of Fiji's main island.
Parts of Sydney, Australia have experienced the hottest April day on record, with the weather bureau saying the temperature reached 34.2C at Observatory Hill about 1:30pm (April 6). The previous April record of 33.9C was set in 1986. It was a hot day in the west, with Richmond hitting 36.6C, but that was shy of the April record there of 38.2C in 1986. Meanwhile at Bourke in the state's central-west, the mercury hit 38.6C, recording the hottest April day anywhere in New South Wales for 30 years.
With the official end of the Australian tropical season only days away, the calmest season in decades will come to an end. The season, which officially runs from 1 November through 30 April, has seen only three named cyclones originating within the Australian Tropical Basin. Having only three named storms of Category 1 strength or higher in the basin would be the fewest dating back to 1970, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). According to Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls, "El Nino played an important role in the low activity of the tropical season as tropical development flourished closer to Fiji and Vanuatu and away from Australia." El Niño occurs when ocean water temperatures rise above normal across the central and eastern Pacific, near the equator which influences global weather patterns. Nicholls added, "A positive Indian Ocean Dipole during the early season limited development near Western Australia." The Indian Ocean Dipole is a measure of heat across the Indian Ocean from west to east. A positive event occurs with cooler-than-normal waters near and northwest of Australia. As a result, the first landfall did not occur in Australia until late January. Tropical Cyclones Stan, Uriah and Tatiana each strengthened to Category 2 tropical cyclone strength on the BOM scale, which means peak winds ranged between 88 and 142 km/h.
Severe thunderstorms erupted in parts of the southern and central United States this week, bringing damaging hail the size of baseballs in spots (week of April 10). The hailstorm wrecked hundreds of vehicles at a BMW dealership in San Antonio on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. In Cole Camp, Missouri, hail about 2 inches in diameter was reported along with dented cars, broken windshields and siding damage to buildings. As part of the same outbreak that brought large hail and damaging winds, torrential rains inundated the Deep South. In Jackson, Mississippi, the rains caused a school roof to collapse, sending people running to safety. A 24-hour rainfall total of 6.07 inches was reported northeast of Jackson on Tuesday morning.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, was forced to declare a state of emergency in Houston on Monday as torrential rain during the day and on the previous night caused severe flooding and damage, leaving at least seven people dead, hundreds displaced and thousands without power (April 18). Monday was the wettest April day on record at Bush intercontinental airport, with 252 mm falling, leading to nearly 2,000 flights being cancelled or delayed. Not only did this surpass the previous record of 207 mm in 1976, but it was almost three times the average for all of April. The highest rainfall total recorded was in Harris County where 447 mm fell at Little Mound Creek.
A series of storms brought heavy rain to central Chile, including Santiago, where widespread flooding was reported from Sunday into Monday (April 14-17). The flooding forced many businesses and schools to be closed. The early season rain brought more than a month's worth of rain in a single day to much of central Chile, while rain was reported as far north as La Serena. Heavy rain has also fallen across parts of northeastern Argentina and Uruguay; more than 200 mm of rain has fallen in Treinta y Tres, Florida and Paso de los Toros, Uruguay and the potential exists for 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) of additional rain by the end of the day on Tuesday.
A powerful April snowstorm buried parts of Colorado under feet of snow, forcing road closures and flight delays over the weekend. The storm's slow movement allowed heavy, wet snow to persist for more than 24 hours in some locations. The heaviest snow fell across the Colorado Rockies. Over 46 inches accumulated near Conifer, Colorado, just west of Denver. Amounts between 20 and 30 inches were widespread. Portions of I-70 and I-80 were closed for a time due to white-out conditions. The weather also snarled air travel for thousands, as snow forced the cancellation of nearly 70 percent of inbound and outbound flights at Denver International Airport on Saturday.
Tropical cyclone Fantala's estimated maximum sustained winds reached 150 knots making it the most powerful South Indian Ocean tropical Cyclone of 2016 (April 17-18). This increase in intensity made Fantala a category five tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale. Fantala became this powerful while moving over the open waters of the South Indian Ocean to a position north of Madagascar. On April 18, satellite radar found rain falling at over 186 mm per hour in an intense feeder band on the eastern side of the tropical cyclone.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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