Powerful cold front unleashed damaging winds on parts of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania on the 1st. Many homes lost power during the wind storm, including residences in the Adelaide and Melbourne. Power companies continue to try to restore power to customers across the region. At the peak of the storm, 90,000 people were without power according. Winds gusted to near 100 km/h at Melbourne International Airport while nearby neighborhoods reported winds as high as 140 km/h.
Almost 1,500 firefighters in the Australian state of New South Wales have been battling its worst bushfires in a decade after more than 100 blazes broke out across the region on the 17th. Hundreds of homes are feared to have been destroyed, and the NSW premier, Barry O'Farrell, said that it would be a miracle if there was no loss of life, warning that it would take days to extinguish all the fires. Hot and gusty winds on Thursday worsened conditions, which were described as "difficult, dangerous and erratic" for firefighters. The blazes followed the unusually early start to the bushfire season last month, well ahead of the start of the Australian summer which normally heralds their arrival. They are likely to prompt further debate about the impact of climate change, blamed by experts for the shift in bushfire seasons, at a time when Tony Abbott's government is trying to repeal the country's carbon pricing scheme. The fires created traffic chaos around Sydney, with a 20km queue on the Hume highway for city-bound traffic. The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre said last month that "large areas" of southern Australia face a raised threat of fire, fuelled by an unusually warm winter and an abundance of burnable vegetation, grown after rain earlier in the year.
Blizzards have covered large parts of South Dakota and Wyoming in a heavy layer of snow, closing airports and making roads dangerous on the 4th-6th. Heavy rain, snow, and tornadoes have also affected many other US states, bringing infrastructure to a standstill. In northeastern Nebraska and northwestern Iowa on Friday, severe storms spawned dangerous tornadoes. 15 were injured, the Associated Press reported. On Saturday, the National Weather Service Omaha office reported that the damage survey team in Wayne found some damage in an industrial park that suggested an EF-4 tornado had touched down. Mostly, however, the damage was rated EF-2 and EF-3, they said. On Friday and Saturday, several feet of snow fell across Wyoming and South Dakota, bringing blizzard conditions to the region. In the span of 24 hours, the scenic Black Hills in South Dakota were coated in up 1.1 m of wet, heavy snow.
Powerful Typhoon Fitow has killed at least five people in China, with four others missing on the 7th. The tropical cyclone hit China's eastern coast early on Monday, with winds of up to 151 km/h. The storm flattened houses, flooded villages and farms, and affected more than 4.5m people, officials said. It has caused economic losses of more than 21bn yuan (£2.1bn), officials in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces said. Typhoon Fitow - named after a flower - made landfall at 01:15 local time in the city of Fuding, Chinese meteorologists said.
Tropical Cyclone Phailin made landfall in northeastern India, but advanced warnings and evacuations may have been what saved hundreds of thousands of lives on the 12th. The approach of Phailin, among the most powerful historical cyclones in the region, led to the evacuation of close to 1 million people. Reports of fatalities vary, but at this early stage, range upward to over a dozen people. The storm, the strongest to hit India in more than a decade, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops. The threat for widespread heavy rain and flooding is over across much of northern India, however some areas remain flooded after days of torrential downpours. Even though Phailin weakened slightly prior to landfall, destructive winds well over 160 km/h and flooding rain of at least 200 mm hit the region. A crippling storm surge of at least 3 m is expected to have swamped the coast near and just northeast of the point of landfall. The India Meteorological Department confirmed that Phailin made landfall over Gopalpur on Saturday evening with winds over 200 km/h. Phailin reached peak intensity Friday night into Saturday when the storm was the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane or super typhoon.
Rotating frontal disturbances over the Netherlands on the 12th-13th led to some prolonged rainfall, especially in the southwest of the country where heavy rainfall caused flooding and damage. Most of the rain fell Saturday to Sunday in South Holland: in some places more than 120 mm fell. In a much larger area of Zeeland, Zuid-Holland and Utrecht was totals amounted to 75 mm of rain or more. Such rainfall in one day on this scale occurs with a frequency of less than once every thirty years.
A small tornado is believed to have swept through a seaside town causing damage to nearly 100 houses, trees, and telegraph poles on the 20th. Hampshire constabulary said they had received reports of disruption in Hayling Island, thought to have been caused by the unusual weather. A Havant council spokesman said the small tornado is believed to have caused damage to properties in Blackthorn Road and Ilex Walk, although no injuries had been reported.
The Angolan government has been accused of being in denial over a drought that has affected 1.8 million people because the crisis threatens to tarnish the country's image as a booming economy on the 22nd. Children as young as nine are digging wells to fetch water, amid a severe drought in southern regions of Angola that has forced people to use unclean water for consumption and cooking, according to the UN. Neighboring Namibia, which has also been badly affected, has declared a drought emergency and appealed for humanitarian aid. Angola has done neither, although it has appointed a special inter-ministerial commission to respond to the drought, delivered food aid and drilled boreholes. Government sources have told the UN that funding requirements are between $150m and $350m, but amounts disbursed so far have not been confirmed. International relief agencies, including Unicef, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, began responding to Angola's drought in 2012, but the Angolan government was slow to respond, according to aid officials.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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