MAY 2014


Spring has been put on hold as gales continue to batter Wales this weekend (May 10-11). A yellow weather warning for wind was issued today, with the Met Office warning gale force westerly winds are likely to affect south and west Wales this afternoon and evening, with gusts of up to 60mph expected. A spokesman for the Met Office warned that this could lead to difficult driving conditions and perhaps some disruption to outdoor activities. They said: "An area of low pressure will move eastwards across northern Britain today.  As it does so, a swathe of very strong westerly winds will cross southwest England and southern and southwestern parts of Wales during the second half of today. "In addition, some heavy blustery showers are likely.  Winds should ease somewhat on Saturday night."

Britain was set for the hottest weekend of the year on the 18th, with temperatures in much of the country hotter than Mediterranean resorts such as Marbella and Ibiza. London, the South East, East Anglia and the East Midlands were enjoying the highest temperatures of 23C (73.4F) on Saturday, while the rest of the UK was warm also.

Packed into buses, boats and helicopters, carrying nothing but a handful of belongings, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in Bosnia and Serbia to escape the worst flooding in a century. Rapidly rising rivers surged into homes, sometimes reaching up to the second floors, sending people climbing to rooftops for rescue. Hundreds were also evacuated in Croatia. Authorities said on Saturday 25 people had died, but warned the toll could rise. Tens of thousands of homes were left without electricity or drinking water. Three months' worth of rain fell on the region in three days last week, creating the worst floods since records began 120 years ago. On 15 May, the daily rainfall totals broke historical records in Belgrade (107.9 mm), Valjevo (108.2 mm) and Loznica (110 mm). By the 15th the monthly rainfall in Belgrade had broken the historical record (175 mm) from 1897, reaching 205 mm.


Flooding continues to be a concern in parts of the Balkan Peninsula in eastern Europe on the 21st, but a new concern has been raised: land mines. The days of heavy rainfall from a slow-moving storm which led to historic widespread flooding may have also caused land mines hidden more than 20 years ago to appear above ground. Bosnia and Herzegovina's demining center issued a warning to residents about the possibility of land mines and shells uncovered by mudslides and flood waters. As many as 220,000 land mines are still hidden from the Bosnian War of 1992-1995, Mine Action Center said. The heavy rainfall triggered some of the worst flooding in recent decades. Flooded rivers have closed roads, cut off power and caused hundreds of mudslides across the region. At least 37 people, including a firefighter, have died in the flooding and mudslides, but authorities have warned that the death toll could rise. In Belgrade, Serbia, around 225 mm (9 inches) of rain was reported in 48 hours, more than the normal rainfall for the city during the months of April, May and June combined. At least 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Serbia with many needing to be airlifted from their homes due to the flooding.


Much of Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming was closed Monday after a spring storm brought up to 3 feet of snow to the Rockies and severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to the Midwest. A flash flood watch was in effect for portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas, where more than 4 inches of rain were possible. Meanwhile, residents in eastern Nebraska were cleaning up from Sunday's thunderstorms and twisters, which ripped roofs off homes and toppled buildings, but caused no major injuries. People in the western Panhandle woke up to a blanket of heavy, wet snow.  In Wyoming, a 180-mile stretch of I-80 was closed between the Nebraska state line and Rawlins. Another 200 miles of eastbound I-80 between the Utah state line and Rawlins also was closed because of snow and blowing snow. Truck stops in southeastern Wyoming were full of stranded truckers.  In Colorado, the snow that began falling on Mother's Day caused some power outages as it weighed down newly greening trees. Among those affected by the outages was Denver International Airport, where some escalators and elevators temporarily stalled Monday morning. Airport spokeswoman Julie Smith said a backup generator spared the airport any major problems. At least 27 arriving and departing flights were canceled due to the weather, but Smith said there were no major delays. Crews were working overnight to de-ice runways.

California and much of the south-western United States are in a state of severe drought after one of the driest years on record last year and the continuation of the dry and warm conditions through the winter and into early spring. California and surrounding areas largely rely on rainfall during the winter season for their water supply as the summers are often rather dry and sunny. The drought has become so severe across the area that a state of emergency is in effect with water restrictions commonplace. Another major source of water for California is from snow melt off the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the east of the State. The snow-pack over the mountains is currently only at 18% of the long term average for this time of year, due to the very low levels of precipitation over the winter and the fact that persistently high temperatures have led to any early spring melt. With snow melt estimated to account for around a third of the water supply in the state, water supply issues are only going to get worse over the coming months.

Tornado-spawning storms that tore through parts of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska over the weekend will move across the central United States on Monday the 12th. The NWS said severe weather and flooding will be possible from the central Plains to the Great Lakes region. Colder air will continue to bring heavy snow across portions of the Rockies. On Monday, there's a 50-60% chance of thunderstorms in Omaha, Nebraska, and Kansas City, Missouri, the weather service said. Clear weather is forecast for Tuesday. Though the storms in the Plains bypassed the cities, residents of rural areas began cleaning up after twisters wreaked havoc. No deaths or serious injuries were reported. Severe storms expected in Nebraska In Sutton, Nebraska, at least one tornado touched down Sunday. Loren H. Uden, Emergency Management Coordinator for Clay County, told CNN a police officer was hurt when high winds blew the windows out of a cruiser. Ten grain bins were damaged and roofs were blown off eight businesses.

Wildfires continue to rage in southern California on a the 15th, as thousands of people in San Diego county are forced to flee their homes. A major fire engulfed the coastal town of Carlsbad, north of San Diego, scorching several buildings and forcing an amusement park to close. Further north, blazes also caused evacuations at a nuclear plant and a military base. Four air tankers and 22 military helicopters were employed fighting the fires. Officials have ordered at least 20,000 people to leave their homes. And the campus of California State University-San Marcos, with almost 10,000 students, has been shut down amid the university's final exams, with all commencement ceremonies cancelled. Officials say tinder-dry conditions following many months of drought - coupled with the winds and high temperatures - have left parts of the region highly combustible.


The death toll from last week's (around the 25th) flash floods in northern Afghanistan now stands at almost 150. Some areas are still completely cut off, with no help reaching people because roads were swept away. The flooding last week caught many people by surprise. Hundreds were trapped on the roofs of their homes and needed to be rescued by army helicopters.

At least 2,100 people were killed in massive landslides that struck a remote region of Afghanistan on the 2nd. A spokesman for the governor in Badakhshan province, bordering Tajikistan, said on Saturday that 2,100 people had been confirmed dead after a village was buried in up to 100 meters of mud. The Afghan military flew rescue teams to the area on Saturday because the remote mountainous region is accessed by narrow, poor roads that have been damaged by more than a week of heavy rain.




The flooding rainfall over China from the weekend of the 12th continued to push off to the east drenching parts of southern Japan. Rainfall over the weekend in parts of China approached 50 cm as a cold front pushed off to the east. Just northwest of Hong Kong, rainfall totals of 25-50 cm were scattered over the region. Eighteen people died after a rain-related wall collapse on Sunday in Qingdao. The collapse crushed a workers' house where 40 people were gathered. Heavy rains have fallen across the region since Thursday night. Taishan, China, located west of Hong Kong, received 419.2 mm of rain in 24 hours, ending Friday evening local time.  


The normal onset of the southwest Indian monsoon occurs during the second half of May across Myanmar before reaching southern India at the beginning of June. This year the monsoon was actually several days ahead of schedule reaching Myanmar, but it has stalled over the Bay of Bengal during the past week. As a result, the onset of the monsoon in southern India will likely be up to a week late across parts of the south, but the beneficial rains are forecast to increase during the second week of June. Consequently, the northward advance of the southwest monsoon is forecast to be delayed for most of central and northern India allowing temperatures to soar well above normal for much of the month of June. Several long stretches of temperatures over 42C are possible in New Delhi and the surrounding region.


Recent heavy rain has claimed at least 37 lives across South China on the 29th. Over the past week, torrential rain has left 37 people dead and six missing across southern China. Guangdong province was hardest hit with 17 deaths reported from the most recent flooding. Also in Jiangzi, 5,000 residents of Pingxiang City remained trapped by floods as of midday Sunday (local time). More than 4,000 people had already been evacuated. Overall at least 25,000 homes have been destroyed by the flooding this year. In total more than 400,000 people have been displaced by the flood waters.




Amanda became the strongest May eastern Pacific hurricane on record on the 25th as peak winds approached that of a Category 5 hurricane. Amanda's maximum sustained winds increased to near 155 mph and its central pressure dropped to 932 millibars by 11 a.m. PDT Sunday, meaning Amanda was a very powerful Category 4 hurricane. Amanda has continued to weaken from its peak strength, now a tropical depression, and continues to move slowly northward over the eastern Pacific. Adolph from 2001 originally held the distinction of strongest May hurricane in the basin. At the peak of Adolph's intensity, the central pressure bottomed out at 940 millibars and winds were nearly 145 mph.


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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