GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
Three skiers were killed and another five were injured after an avalanche struck the northern Italian Alps on the 1st. The incident occurred near the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur around midday local time. An official with the national alpine rescue corps said the group had been back-country skiing. Around 8 inches of snow reportedly fell on Tuesday at Courmayeur but no additional snow was reported on Wednesday.
Tornadoes ripped through the Midwestern United States causing destruction in many communities late on Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday night (1st). A preliminary rating of EF3 or greater is expected with the storm damage just to the south of Crossville, Illinois, according to NWS Paducah. An EF3 tornado has wind speeds between 136 to 165 mph and produces extensive damage, as seen below. One person died in Perryville, Missouri, while two people were killed in Illinois. Near the town of Crossville, Illinois, a 71-year-old man was killed when a tornado struck a building near his home. In Ottawa, Illinois, one person was killed after a tree was uprooted. Severe thunderstorms moved through the Washington, D.C. area on Wednesday afternoon producing wind gusts as high as 78 mph. These strong gusts brought down trees and power lines, leaving more than 40,000 without electricity across the region for a time after the storms moved through.
Powerful winds knocked out power lines and caused widespread damage across much of the Great Lakes and the Northeast USA on the 8th. By Wednesday evening, nearly 1,200,000 utility customers lost power from the Great Lakes to the central Appalachians. Crews worked through the night in several states to restore power. DTE Energy in Detroit said it was the largest storm in the history of the utility company as thousands of power lines were knocked down. Hundreds of thousands remained without power in metropolitan Detroit on Thursday morning A plane taking of from Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan slid off the runway on Wednesday afternoon amid high winds, causing extensive damage, the Associated Press reported. All plane passengers and staff were safe, including the Michigan men's basketball team, which was on its way to the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C. In Batavia, New York, a cargo train derailed Wednesday afternoon. According to WIVB, 15-20 train cars went off the tracks around 2 p.m. EST due to the high winds. No injuries were reported. The winds forced the closure of the skydeck at the Willis Tower in Chicago on Wednesday morning.
The north-eastern U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia have declared states of emergency as a huge winter storm sweeps in, bringing heavy snow (the 14th). The U.S. National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from eastern Pennsylvania to south-west Maine. Schools are closed and thousands of flights have been cancelled. The conditions caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone a trip to Washington to meet President Trump. With winds of up to 60 mph, the storm is causing severe disruption for commuters across many parts of the north-east, and authorities in several states are advising residents to stay off the roads. In all, about 50 million people across the country have been warned about the severe weather. Less snow than originally anticipated is now expected to fall in New York City, with the forecast downgraded to between 10 and 20 cm by the US National Weather Service. More than 6,800 flights have been cancelled, tracking service FlightAware reported, with airports in New York, Washington, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia worst hit. Declaring a state of emergency, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said commuters should expect road closures, delays and cancellations. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency and ordered all state employees not involved in the response to stay at home. The winter storm follows a spell of unusually mild weather in the north-eastern US, with last month being the second warmest February since record-keeping began in 1895.
A line of severe thunderstorms ripped through parts of Georgia (21st). There were powerful winds, gusting to around 60mph, which brought down trees across northern Georgia and the Atlanta area, with one man reported to have been killed when a tree fell on his home. Around 170,000 people were left without power at the height of the storm on Tuesday night, which also brought heavy rain and large hail.
An outbreak of severe weather unfolded across the south-central United States on Tuesday and continued to impact parts of Oklahoma and Texas into Wednesday morning (28th-29th). The powerful thunderstorms left behind damage across North Texas and caused power outages to more than 200,000 in the state. Thousands were also without power in Oklahoma early Wednesday. There were at least 14 reports of tornadoes on Tuesday, with all of them in Texas, as well as dozens of wind damage and hail reports. A 74-mph wind gust and tennis ball-sized hail were reported in Seymour, Texas, while a 95-mph wind gust was observed in El Reno, Oklahoma. Two young boys died on Wednesday in East Forth Worth, Texas, after they were electrocuted by downed power lines knocked over during the storms. Three storm chasers were killed in a two-car accident near Spur, Texas, on Tuesday afternoon. Two of the victims, Kelley Williamson, 57, and Randy Yarnall, 55, both of Cassville, Missouri, were contractors for The Weather Channel. The third, Corbin Jaeger, 25, was a storm chaser for MadWx. Investigators told the Associated Press that a black Chevrolet Suburban driven by Williamson ran through a stop sign at an intersection and collided with a Jeep carrying Yarnall and Jaeger. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Tropical Cyclone Enawo made landfall between Farahalana and Antalaha late on Tuesday morning local time as an intense tropical cyclone. Enawo packed winds over 225 km/h. At least five people have been killed and seven injured; about 22,000 have either been left homeless or suffered property damage. There are fears that the cyclone has destroyed vanilla crops in northeastern Madagascar, where much of the world's vanilla comes from, the Associated Press reports. The cyclone also destroyed roads and cut off communication to the Antalaha district, which is home to 230,000 people in northeastern Madagascar. Around 500 people of the nation's capital, Antananarivo, reportedly had to take shelter in a local sports hall as a major waste canal overflowed. The city of Sambava was pounded by strong winds and heavy rainfall on Tuesday as Enawo made landfall. Rainfall totaled more than 300 mm, leading to flooding. The cyclone is the strongest to strike Madagascar in 13 years. Tropical Cyclone Gafilo struck similar areas in 2004 and resulted in the deaths of 363 people.
Late season snow has cut off parts of northern India around the foothills of the Himalayas on the 10th. The winter storms have lingered across the states of Himachal Pradesh along with Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir for much of this week. Jammu And Kashmir State was badly hit on Friday after heavy snow blocked the arterial Mughal Road, disrupting traffic movement and leaving commuters stranded.
A further wave of torrential rain drenched areas around Auckland, Northland and Waikato Peninsula (New Zealand) over the weekend. The heavy rain was brought by a storm system dubbed 'The Tasman Tempest' that has affected northern areas for the last week. Last week many of the same areas of the North Island recorded high levels of rainfall - some as much as 250 mm in 24 hours. Over the six day period, Whangamata recorded 475 mm of rain, which is around the same amount it would normally see for the whole of autumn. Auckland Civil Defense and Emergency Management (CDEM) said on Sunday 12 March that Titirangi recorded 65 mm of rain in just 1 hour. New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said that some areas saw over a month's worth of rain fall in a 24 hour period 10 to 11 March. Coromandel recorded 130 mm, Rotorua 97 mm and Auckland 91 mm. An average March rainfall ranges between 75 to 110 mm in Auckland. According to latest reports from emergency responders, 321 homes in Auckland have suffered flood damage. Power was cut to almost 4,000 homes, and nearly 600 emergency calls were made. According to local media around 50 people have been forced to leave their homes and are currently staying in temporary accommodation. Ten people had to be rescued from flood water by emergency crews.
The worst drought in over half a century has hit parts of East Africa affecting more than 10 million people. Thousands of families have travelled for days across scorched scrubland from Somalia to Kenya, including barefoot children with no food or water after their crops and livestock were destroyed by drought. More than 10 million people have been affected across the Horn of Africa. Acute malnutrition has reached 37% in some parts of north east Kenya and child refugees from Somalia are dying of causes related to malnutrition either during the journey or very shortly after arrival at aid camps. The drought has been partly caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which has affected east and southern Africa.
Four people have been rescued from rising waters overnight as torrential thunderstorms continue to soak northern New South Wales and parts of south-east Queensland, causing flash flooding on the 16th. Emergency crews in NSW received more than 80 calls for help on Wednesday night, mainly for leaky roofs, as heavy rain drenched the north and mid-north coast regions, from Taree to Lismore. The week started with intense thunderstorms when an upper-level low-pressure system interacted with warm, moist air flowing in from the Tasman Sea. Severe storms produced damaging winds, flooding rain and large hail in parts of Queensland and NSW. The town of Sawtell, 500km north of Sydney, received 250 mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday. Smokey Cape, 450 km north of Sydney, had its heaviest March rainfall in 43 years, recording 180 mm in the 24 hours to 9am. Port Macquarie received 166mm of rain, the heaviest in 10 years for any month.
Emergency services received more than 550 calls for help on Saturday and responded to 2,748 requests after another drenching on the mid north coast of New South Wales, Australia (18th). There were also more than 70 flood rescues, most on the mid north coast and in the Hunter. A lingering low pressure system extending through the region and across parts of the Hunter, northern rivers and northern tablelands was threatening to cause flash flooding, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Forecasters on Saturday afternoon issued a severe weather warning, noting that areas inland of Evans head in the northern rivers region had received 70 mm of rain in just one hour. Areas of the mid north coast that had already experienced a drenching in the 24 hours to Saturday morning included Careys Peak in the Williams Range (179 mm), Bellingen (142 mm) and Red Hill in Coffs Harbour (135 mm).
Sydney was battered by a severe thunderstorm which left tens of thousands of homes without power (22nd). The storm brought heavy rainfall and damaging winds, especially to western Sydney, felling trees, bringing down power lines and causing localized flooding. The clean-up operation was hindered on Thursday by further heavy rain.
Queenslanders woke up on Wednesday to a huge cleanup following the cyclone Debbie, as the now ex-tropical cyclone brought yet more heavy rain as it worked its way through the state (28th-29th). At 3am on Wednesday morning the Bureau of Meteorology downgraded Debbie out of the cyclone category to a tropical low, bringing sustained winds of 55km/h with gusts of up to 85km/h. Heavy rains were still expected as it moved south-west, with a severe weather warning in place. On Tuesday night the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, predicted 'shock and awe' in the state when the full extent of the devastation wrought by the cyclone was revealed. At its most ferocious the cyclone downed trees, stripped buildings and left shorelines swamped after making landfall as a category four storm at midday on Tuesday near Airlie Beach. The storm was downgraded to a category three cyclone just after 3pm, but strong winds continued to lash Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Bowen late in the afternoon. The Australian defense force mobilized soldiers, vehicles, aircraft and other resources to respond to Debbie, which the Insurance Council of Australia declared a 'catastrophe'. The storm earlier pounded the Whitsunday Islands, with gusts of 263km/h recorded at Hamilton Island while the jetty at Daydream Island was virtually washed away. More than 48,000 homes were without power across the Bowen, Mackay and Whitsunday regions and more than 400 schools and childcare centers closed. In Bowen, where much of the local housing was built before cyclone safety standards were introduced in the 1980s, the cyclone wrecked homes and caused 'major environmental damage', Whitsunday regional councilor Mike Brunker said. Early on Wednesday the Bureau of Meteorology said the tropical low system had moved over inland central Queensland, bringing the risk of flash flooding with up to 250mm of rainfall in a day possible.
Two people have died and others are feared drowned in flooding in New South Wales in the wake of Cyclone Debbie (31st). Police found one woman's body on a flood-affected property in the north of the state, where five natural disaster zones have been declared. She had disappeared on Thursday night in floodwaters at a rural property at Upper Burringbar, 20km south of Murwillumbah, and her body was found by a family member at about 8am on Friday, police said in a statement. A second victim died after the car she was in was swept away About 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate northern NSW as flooding continued to hit the area. On Friday, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Tweed, Lismore, Byron, Richmond Valley, and Kyogle and Ballina local government areas were natural disaster areas, meaning residents can access disaster assistance funding.
Sixty-seven people have been killed and thousands more forced to evacuate by intense rains which damaged 115,000 homes and destroyed more than 100 bridges in Peru's worst floods in recent memory the 17th. 'We are confronting a serious climatic problem,' said Peru's president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in a broadcast to the nation on Friday afternoon. 'There hasn't been an incident of this strength along the coast of Peru since 1998.' The disaster - which came after a period of severe drought - has been blamed on abnormally high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, and fueled criticism that the country is ill-prepared for the growing challenges of climate change.
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