GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
A bolt of lightning has killed 11 members of a Colombian indigenous group and injured 19 others during a spiritual ceremony in an isolated mountain region on the 5th. The lightning struck the ceremonial hut where spiritual leaders of the Wiwa community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta were holding a meeting on Sunday night. The building, made of adobe walls and thatched roof, burnt to the ground.
The Brazilian capital of Brasilia broke its all-time record high on Wednesday, a record that is already in jeopardy as the heat wave continues across central South America. Temperatures soared to 36.0C on Wednesday in Brasilia and setting a new all-time record high for the city. The previous record was 35.8C from 28 October 2008.
A four day heatwave eased in California, with temperatures dropping to the low 90s, but another intense heatwave is due this weekend (11th-12th), bringing fresh risks of wildfires and power outages. The San Fernando Valley hit 104F on Saturday, making Pasadena's 102F seem merciful, and Torrance's 96F positively cool. Most Angelenos hunkered indoors, close to a fan or air- conditioning, or splashed in the sea, swimming pools and fountains. On Sunday an estimated 50,000, however, participated in the annual CicLAvia, a cycling- centric event which closed streets around downtown and east LA.
A fleeting but devastating microburst slammed parts of Easthampton, Massachusetts, in the early morning of the 8th, flattening trees and battering homes. Just before 5 a.m. EDT, 100 mph winds pushed through Hampshire County, destroying trees along a pathway estimated to be a mile long. A microburst is a small column of exceptionally intense and localized sinking air that results in a violent out-rush of air at the ground. The phenomenon is often destructive with straight-line winds that can flatten trees and cause significant structural damage.
The weekend of the 24th-26th brought summerlike warmth to the central U.S. where locations from Texas to Idaho tied or broke their previous record high temperatures for these days. High pressure over the South pumped warm air in from Mexico and provided abundant sunshine to the central U.S. Not only did many locations break their previous record-high temperatures, many also tied or broke their previous record high-minimum temperatures for these days.
A nor'easter storm battered New England on Wednesday night as widespread damage was reported. Tens of thousands of customers were without power across Connecticut, New York, Maine and Massachusetts. At one point, 44,000 customers throughout the area were without power. Strong winds sent trees crashing throughout the region, blocking roadways across Massachusetts according to local fire departments and trained National Weather Service spotters. Winds gusted close to 60 mph at Blue Hill Observatory. LaGuardia Airport and Philadelphia International Airport experienced over 500 flight delays each as the storm created hazardous conditions. Boston's Logan International Airport and New York's JFK International Airport both suffered extensive delays as well. Some flooding was reported in New Jersey and Massachusetts, closing area roadways.
A slow moving trough of low pressure brought unseasonably heavy rain to Vanuatu in the first week of October 7th-9th. Port Vila normally averages 105 mm in October but received 297.7 mm in the 48 hours to 8am on the 9th, including 271 mm in a 24 hour period to 5pm (local time) on the 7th. In the past 60 years there have only been 4 or 5 occasions when more than 200 mm fell in 24 h and all these appear to have been associated with tropical cyclones in the vicinity.
A slow-moving storm system produced severe thunderstorms in the Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night (14th) leading to flooding, while heavy snow fell in the higher elevations outside the city. A powerful spring storm system was responsible for the wild weather that has resulted in numerous power outages caused by damaging winds. Sydney Airport reported winds as high as 105 km/h during the relentless storms that moved through the area. Rainfall averaged 75-150 mm south and west of downtown Sydney with rainfall of 25-75 mm the city itself through Tuesday evening, local time.
A roof of a home has been ripped off and vehicles damaged after a tornado struck in a town on the 8th. Cars were turned over at the junction of Catherine Street and Mansfield Road in Alfreton, Derbyshire, on Wednesday afternoon. The Met Office confirmed it was a tornado, caused by volatile and unstable air. A tornado was also spotted forming over the M53 motorway in Wirral. Footage was posted online of a twister blowing across the motorway near junction 6 by Vauxhall Motors. The tornado comes after temperatures have drastically dropped in Merseyside over the last few days, with an increasing amount of wind and rain.
Cars were swallowed by rushing floodwaters that diced through streets in the Canary Islands, Spain, over the weekend (1th-20th). A bout of rattling thunderstorms and torrential rain pushed over the region due to a low pressure system spinning to the west of the islands. Rainfall averaged 50 to 100 mm across the islands, most of which fell within a six-hour time frame on Sunday. According to local reports, as many as five people died during the flooding. One woman reportedly died after being trapped under a parked car, unable to escape as flood waters rushed through local streets. Schools in Tenerife, one of the most devastated areas, are set to open on Tuesday after being closed for cleanup efforts on Monday, according to local government.
Strong winds have buffeted the UK as the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo hi 21st-23rd. Planes wobbled at they came in to land at Manchester Airport, while about 10,000 passengers were affected by flight cancellations at Heathrow. A woman died and four people were taken to hospital after winds felled trees and caused widespread disruption. Gusts of up to 88mph - the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo - hit Oban in western Scotland, while most of the UK saw strong winds. The woman died in central London, with a man hurt in a nearby incident and three people injured in West Sussex. The strongest winds in the UK were recorded mainly in northern parts of the country and in Wales. Ferry services were cancelled, roads closed and hundreds left without power in parts of Scotland At one stage 400 people were left without electricity as gusts of up to 70mph caused travel disruption and power cuts in Wales.
After slamming areas from the United Kingdom and Ireland into central Europe with damaging winds and locally heavy rainfall earlier this week, a powerful storm system containing the remnants of former Hurricane Gonzalo hit other parts of Europe Rainfall from Tuesday night into Wednesday totaled 50-100 mm from southern Austria and western Hungary into Slovenia and northern Croatia. Flooding of homes and streets was reported in Slovenia, especially around the capital of Ljubljana where 137 mm of rain fell in under six hours. Wednesday night into Thursday, the heaviest rain fell across southwest Romania, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. While rainfall averaged 25-50 mm, some areas received as much as 100 mm.
Landslides have closed several roads across Scotland as further heavy rains batter the country on the 28th. The A835 Ullapool was closed for several hours because of a landslide at Garve. The Met Office issued an amber warning of rain for the Highlands, as well as yellow warnings covering parts of Perthshire, Fife, Strathclyde and the south west. In Edinburgh, Balcarres Street has flooded. People living in neighbouring flats have put up their flood gates to stop the water from entering their homes. Meanwhile, the A82 was closed for a short time earlier on Tuesday between Tarbet and Crianlarich. The section of road has been reopened under temporary traffic lights. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued flood warnings for large parts of Perthshire and Tayside, Skye, Lochaber, Speyside and Easter Ross. Flood alerts were also in place for Argyll and Bute, Wester Ross and Caithness. The Met Office said that since Saturday the worst-affected parts of the country had seen three-day rainfall totals in excess of 150 mm. And BBC Scotland weather presenter Chris Blanchett said 265 mm of rain had fallen in some parts of the Highlands since Friday.
Rescuers in Nepal are trying to reach more than 20 trekkers trapped below a high Himalayan pass by heavy snowfalls and avalanches as the death toll from the unfolding tragedy was reported to be as high as 32 on the 16th. High winds and blizzards hit much of central Nepal this week as the tail end of a cyclone travelling west across northern India reached the Himalayan mountain chain. The head of the Trekking Agencies Association Nepal said there had never been a disaster like it. The trekking group is reported to be trapped close to the 5,400m (17,700ft) Thorong La, a pass on the famous three-week Annapurna circuit route. Clear weather has raised hopes that they will be reached before further deaths, though there are concerns that members may be suffering exposure, frostbite and severe dehydration. Local officials said 24 bodies had been found on the Annapurna circuit, which circles the Annapurna mountain and attracts thousands of walkers every year, after blizzards on the 15th.
A deadly mudslide struck central Sri Lanka after days of rain soaked the nation on the 29th. More downpours threaten to hinder rescue and recovery operations. A total of 120 workers' homes at the Meeriabedda tea plantation in Sri Lanka's Badulla district were wiped out when the mudslide occurred at 7:30 a.m., local time. At least 10 people are dead with as many as 250 others still missing. The site of the mudslide is 220 km east of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo. Badulla has recorded daily amounts of 23 mm or more of rain on eight out of the last ten days.
A powerful typhoon (Typhoon Phanfone) lashed southern Japan on the 5th, churning up high waves that washed three American airmen out to sea and killed at least one. In Suzuka, in central Japan, a French formula one driver was severely injured in an accident in the Japanese grand prix, which had to be shortened because the heavy rain made conditions too dangerous. One of the three US airmen was found dead. The other two were missing, according to the air force and the Japanese coast guard. They had been on Okinawa island's northern coast when they were overcome by the waves. In Suzuka, the Formula One driver Jules Bianchi of the Marussia team went off the track at a turn and hit a recovery vehicle that was removing a car that had crashed earlier. An unconscious Bianchi was taken to a nearby hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for a severe head injury. Race officials said he was in critical condition. By late Sunday, Typhoon Phanfone was off the coast of Shikoku in south-western Japan, with winds of up to 90 mph after hitting the regions of Okinawa and Kyushu, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. Several people on Kyushu island were injured in the typhoon. The storm also grounded more than 100 flights on Sunday and knocked out power to more than 9,500 Kyushu homes. Elsewhere in the Pacific, a separate typhoon whipped the Mariana Islands, including Guam, with high winds and heavy rain. The eye of the typhoon in the Marianas was expected to pass over the small island of Rota, which has about 2,500 residents and many buildings made of concrete.
Typhoon Vongfong started life at the end of September as a weak tropical disturbance on the 9th. It gained strength as it moved over the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and was classified as a tropical storm on the 2nd October. It was named Vongfong, which translates into English as 'wasp'. The storm intensified further, becoming a typhoon on the 3rd October. A measure of the intensity of a typhoon (or hurricane, or cyclone) is the atmospheric pressure at the centre of the storm system. In simple terms, the lower the central pressure, the stronger the storm is. Super Typhoon Vongfong is estimated to have had a central pressure of 900 millibars on the 8th October, which makes it the strongest tropical storm seen anywhere in the world (so far) this year. It isn't the lowest ever recorded though - that dubious honour belongs to Typhoon Tip which had a central pressure of 870 millibars on October 12th, 1979.
During the week of the 11th-19th, Japan was slammed by Typhoon Phanfone, Vongfong brought another round of torrential rainfall and locally damaging winds. Vongfong, meaning "the wasp" in Cantonese, turned northeastward and moved across Kyushu and Shikoku on Monday. Landfall occurred on Kyushu near Kagoshima around 9:15 a.m. on Monday, local time, as the storm began to accelerate northeastward. This northeastward track continued on Monday night and Tuesday as the cyclone brought torrential rain and locally damaging winds to Honshu and parts of Hokkaido. Prior to reaching Mainland Japan, Vongfong blasted through the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan over the weekend. Wind speeds peaked at 143 km/h at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Nearby, about 500 mm fell at Kunigami on Saturday. Despite weakening while crossing Japan, wind gusts over 92 km/hwere reported in Tokyo along with torrential downpours that produced 50-100 mm of rain. The Associated Press reported that at least 75 people have been injured and one killed in Japan as the cyclone brought torrential rain and locally damaging winds to the region. As the storm moved across Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) took precautions to prevent problems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
Tropical Cyclone Hudhud, only the second named cyclone in the northern Indian Ocean this season, brought devastation to India during the 11th-14th. The powerful cyclone moved onshore Sunday morning near Visakhapatnam, one of the largest cities on India's eastern coast. Through Sunday evening local time, Visakhapatnam was drenched with over 150 mm of rainfall. The heavy rain led to flooding across portions of eastern India, and more flooding is expected as Hudhud traverses through northern India and into Nepal. While coming onshore, Hudhud brought wind speeds of 195 km/h. Many trees were unable to withstand the power of the cyclone and were brought down in the storm's wrath. Power has been cut to thousands of people across the region. At least 400,000 people were evacuated from the coastal areas of the Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states ahead of the storm. Gaurella in Chattisgarh reported more than 175 mm of rain as Hudhud moved through the area Monday into Tuesday. Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, received more than 115 mm.
Hurricane Gonzalo grew into a major category 3 storm and is expected to strengthen further as it heads toward Bermuda after killing a man in the Dutch Caribbean territory of St Martin. The storm had top sustained winds of nearly 115mph and was centered about 770 miles south of Bermuda on Tuesday afternoon, said the US National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was moving north-west at 13mph. Forecasters said Gonzalo could become a powerful category 4 hurricane Wednesday as it spins over open waters through Friday on a track toward Bermuda. category 4 storms have sustained winds of at least 130mph with the potential to cause catastrophic damage. Gonzalo was blamed for the death of an unidentified elderly man who was aboard a boat in St Martin's Simpson Bay Lagoon, which looked like a ship graveyard Tuesday, with several masts protruding from the water. Acting coast guard director Wendell Thode said 22 of the 37 boats destroyed by the storm were in the lagoon.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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