GLOBAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
A family of three were reportedly among 16 people killed when torrential rain across the French Riviera sparked flash floods that upturned cars, submerged whole streets and inundated homes on Oct. 4. Witnesses on Sunday described how driving 'horizontal rain' struck the Côte d'Azur - a record 107 mm fell in Cannes in just one hour - along with hailstones the size of ice cubes. Burst riverbanks sent torrents of water pouring through French towns in the area as a combination of lightning and water damage knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of homes. Most of the victims died in vehicles, but three elderly residents of a retirement home near Antibes drowned after the river Brague burst its banks and left the ground floor of the building submerged. The area was subject to an 'orange' weather alert on Friday when it began raining early in the morning. The weather improved briefly on Saturday morning, but the deluge began again by evening. Weather officials said parts of the region endured 10% of their average annual rainfall in a matter of hours. One local resident spoke of seeing two meters of water fall in less than two hours. French weather experts were criticized for not forecasting the disaster but insisted they had issued adequate warnings and admitted they could not have predicted the severity of what they described as 'sudden and exceptional' meteorological conditions.
In Croatia, over the weekend there was abundant, in places a record amount, of rain on Oct. 12. Record 24-hour precipitation amounts were recorded in Komiza, Split and Lipik. During the period from 8 am to 8 on 10th-11th, 46 mm fell in Lipik, 72.6 mm in Komiza and at Split-Marjan 102.8 mm. At some stations more than the average October monthly rainfall occurred in 24 hours. In addition to the rain, which caused severe floods, problems were also caused by strong winds.
In the Limburg hills saw the first snow of autumn on Oct. 14. Sleet admittedly, but of sufficient intensity for the landscape to be colored white. In the Netherlands it rarely snows in October. At De Bilt the earliest recorded snow in the autumn fell on 13 October 1975; this was followed in many places by several centimeters of snow. Also on 18 October 1973 and on 24 October 2003 there was a thin layer of snow. The 14th this year was particularly cold for October. In the eastern half of the Netherlands temperatures peaked around 5 -6C. Ell in Limburg recorded, on the 13th, the first frost this autumn with a minimum temperature of -0.1C; on the 14th Deelen measured -0.4C. De Bilt recorded a maximum temperature of 5.9C on the 13th this year; on 13 October 1975 De Bilt reached only 5.3C.
Today, central and eastern parts of Germany woke up to some early season snow - even down to sea level on Oct. 14. A combination of chilly air and an area of low pressure, bringing moisture laden fronts, has blanketed these areas with as much as 10 cm in some places. Snow in October is common in the mountains but rare across low ground; snow below 200 meters was reported in places. Overnight frosts were widespread and daytime temperatures on the 13th barely reached 4C or 5C in many places.
At least five people have died after storms in central Italy caused major flooding and landslides on Oct. 15. Cars were submerged, shops inundated by mud and basements flooded. Italian authorities are on high alert for further flooding and landslides in southern regions. The Aniene River near Rome burst its banks late on Wednesday, with a man killed after a landslide hit the car he was travelling in. A woman died in the adjacent Abruzzo province when a wall collapsed on her during the downpour. Two women died in the southern region of Campania on Thursday due to the adverse weather, police said.
A storm system that brought heavy rain and severe weather across Greece and western Turkey at the end of the Oct. 26 and into the weekend brought severe weather to Israel on Sunday. On Saturday, heavy rain and severe weather was seen across southern Greece and the west coast of Turkey. Rainfall from Friday afternoon into Saturday surpassed 50 mm in many areas and reached 77 mm in Cesme, Turkey. Marmaris, in southwest Turkey, received around 250 mm of rainfall from this storm system as of Friday morning. As this system pushed to the east over the weekend, severe thunderstorms moved into Lebanon and Israel, bringing damaging wind gusts, large hail and flooding rain. These storms killed a worker in Israel as high winds toppled a wall at a construction site, burying him. High wind gusts toppled a crane in Tel Aviv as storms rushed across the city. Large hail fell and heavy rain caused also flooding in parts of Israel.
A 'once-in-a-millennium' downpour has flooded large parts of South Carolina, causing at least seven deaths on Oct. 5. The storm had dumped more than 45 cm of rain in parts of central South Carolina by early Sunday. The state climatologist forecast another 5-15 cm through Monday as the rainfall began to slacken. Though hurricane Joaquin did not hit the Carolinas and the rest of the southern US east coast as expected, instead passing out to sea over the Atlantic after battering the Bahamas, thousands in the state were still left without power by the rain. Officials in the state capital, Columbia, said 100 people had been rescued by mid-morning Sunday from vehicles after trying to cross flooded roads. Police said another 200 rescue calls were pending and state officials reported a total of 200 swift-water rescues around South Carolina.
An intense heatwave in southern California smashed records as temperatures topped 40C on Oct. 9. The mercury peaked at 42C at Camarillo airport, beating the previous all-time monthly record of 39.5C set in September 1976. Temperatures for October are usually around 25C for south California but were 10C to 20C higher than normal in many places, causing circuits to overheat and leaving about 9,000 people without power Friday and Saturday evening. The heatwave was the result of an area of high pressure located over the south-west US, pulling in hot, dry, air from the desert interior.
Southern California authorities scrambled to rescue motorists stranded on roadways as flash floods and large hail pounded areas north of Los Angeles on Oct. 15. Flash floods sent water flowing into roads, triggering mudslides that forced the closure of a portion of Interstate 5. Some motorists fled, while others sat trapped in cars and called 911 for help, according to Lisa Williams of the Los Angeles County Emergency Management. Cars sat submerged in mud with their roofs barely visible. Hail the size of golf balls tumbled from the sky. Between 4-6 inches of rain fell in parts of Kern and Los Angeles counties, prompting floods that led to nearly a half dozen water rescues.
A trailer from an RV park was whirled on to the roof of a Holiday Inn, buildings were shredded and more than a foot of rain drenched Austin as storms hammered Texas, killing at least two people on Oct. 30. The small town of Floresville, near San Antonio, was hit by a suspected tornado early in the morning. Local news footage showed damage to power lines, homes, businesses and a high school, although no one was hurt. There were reports of other tornadoes in counties including D'Hanis, 50 miles west of San Antonio, where a bank and other buildings were wrecked. Several central Texas counties remained under a tornado watch on Friday afternoon. In and around Austin, intense rainfall caused rivers and creeks to overflow. Dozens of roads were closed, including several major routes. One man who needed to be rescued after he was caught in a flash flood shot a video from inside his car as it floated away.. Flights were suspended at Austin-Bergstrom international airport on Friday morning after six inches of rain fell in one hour, flooding the ground floor of the control tower, officials said. The airport received 14 inches of rain between midnight and 3pm Central Time. Parts were being reopened in the afternoon, according to a statement, but dozens of flights were delayed or cancelled. In the Hill Country, a popular tourism area west of Austin, the Blanco River in Wimberley rapidly rose from 4ft to more than 26ft, twice as high as its flood stage, though its level was receding on Friday afternoon. Police in Hays County used Twitter to urge some residents to shelter in place, while San Marcos city officials issued an evacuation order for people living along the Blanco and San Marcos rivers. The death toll from flooding in Texas reached at least six after authorities found the body of an elderly woman who had been swept away from her home in the Austin area.
Southern areas of Saskatchewan, Canada, were hit by extreme winds as a very active cold front swept through the region on Oct. 11. The strongest winds gusted at over 75mph in the city of Swift Current. Trucks were blown over and some roofs lost, while toppling trees damaged power lines and led to numerous power cuts.
Hail and torrential rain occurred across New South Wales (Australia) and thousands of homes are without power, while reports say two people struck by lightning on Oct. 20. There were reports of two people being hit by lightning in Sydney's inner west and a video has captured the moment that a Qantas jet narrowly avoided being struck by a lightning bolt as it came in to land at the city's airport. Thousands of people were left without power as the storm swept through in the late afternoon, Ausgrid said.
No major damage has been reported after a hailstorm passed over south-east Queensland this afternoon on Oct. 27. The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 2:30pm, warning of heavy rainfall and large hailstones near Brisbane's CBD. The Bureau said "golf-ball-sized hail" was reported at Indooroopilly at 2:15pm, with small hailstones reported south of Brisbane. Heavy rainfall also lashed the city and inundated roads, with 39 mm of rain recorded in just 15 minutes at Toowong. There were also reports of isolated flooding in nearby Indooroopilly.
At least 20 people died after an unexpectedly strong typhoon hit southern coast of China, unleashing deadly tornadoes in the region on Oct. 4. Typhoon Mujigae gained power quickly before it made landfall in densely populated Guangdong province, wielding winds as strong as 215 km/h. The tornadoes created by the storm smashed into houses and other infrastructure in two major cities, Guangzhou and Foshan, killing seven people, Guangdong's civil affairs department said. The storm's heavy rain also set off landslides that left seven people dead across the western half of the province, according to the civil affairs department. Another person died in a collapsed structure, it said. Authorities said they had evacuated more than 200,000 people from vulnerable areas as the storm approached.
Former Tropical Cyclone 03A tracked westward across the northern Arabian Sea during the week of Oct. 15 and arrived in Oman today bringing downpours and producing flash flooding. Flash flooding was reported across north-central and northeast Oman where rainfall of 12-25 mm was reported with isolated amounts up to 50 mm. In some areas, floodwaters a meters in depth was reported.
A storm akin to a subtropical depression brought a spell of wet and windy weather to southern parts of Spain and Portugal on the 17th and 18th. Portuguese tourist hot spots were some of the worst hit with Sagres and Faro receiving 76 mm and 74 mm of rainfall in the 72 hours to Tuesday lunchtime respectively. Some areas experienced gusts of over 40 mph during the peak of the stormy weather. Also, there were strong to near gale force winds off the western coast. Granada coast and the village of Salobreña registered 81 mm in twelve hours, but 30.6 mm of this fell in just 10 minutes leading to flash flooding in many streets and the cancellation of school classes.
Typhoon Koppu had gained 'Very Strong' status as of Saturday morning with a central pressure of 930 mb and winds gusting to 155 mph around its center on Oct. 19. It made landfall in the early hours of Sunday (local time) close to Casiguran in northern Philippines as an intense Typhoon. At landfall it was equivalent to a category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds averaged over a minute estimated to be close to 155 mph with gusts near 185 mph. There were reports of significant storm surge/large waves. Through Sunday Koppu tracked slowly west across Luzon and was near San Fernando this morning (Monday) where it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. 238 mm of rain was recorded in the city of Baguio in just 6 hours earlier today.
The death toll from a ferocious typhoon in the Philippines climbed to 54 on Thursday (Oct. 22), as home-wrecking floods shifted downstream to coastal villages, displacing tens of thousands of residents. Residents of Bulacan and Pampanga province, around two hours' drive from the capital Manila, fled by foot to evacuation centers as the waters rose quickly overnight, aggravated by a high tide. Close to 60,000 people left their homes in Bulacan and Pampanga, a geographic catch basin for waters from the upland provinces of Nueva Ecija and Aurora, which bore the brunt of Koppu on Sunday and Monday. Koppu made landfall on the east coast of Luzon, the Philippines' biggest and most populated island, early on Sunday with 210 km/h winds. Koppu, the second strongest typhoon to hit the country this year, then crawled over vast swathes of Luzon for three days, bringing torrential rains that triggered landslides and massive flooding. The Philippines is battered by an average 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly.
Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Pacific Ocean late Thursday (Oct. 23) less than 200 miles from the coast of Mexico, where residents and authorities are rushing to prepare for what will likely be the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall on that country's Pacific coastline. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released a special advisory at 12:30 a.m. CDT Friday saying Patricia's central pressure had dropped to 892 millibars, making it by far the lowest pressure ever measured in a Pacific hurricane. NHC estimated Patricia's maximum sustained winds at 185 mph, well above the 157-mph minimum threshold required to make it a Category 5 hurricane. Amazingly, the Air Force Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance mission responsible for those findings has measured even lower pressures and higher wind speeds since then. At 2:03 a.m. CDT, NHC released a data message reporting that an instrument dropped from the aircraft had measured a pressure of 885 millibars at sea level inside the eye, though not in the exact center. Shortly before that, winds at flight level (roughly 10,000 feet above the ocean) were measured as high as 221 mph in the eyewall, the zone of powerful winds ringing the clear, relatively calm eye. The revisions came shortly after Air Force Hurricane Hunters flew through the eye of Patricia and reported a sea-level pressure of 894 millibars as measured by a dropsonde inside the eye itself. Wind measurements suggested that the pressure measurement was not in the exact center of the eye and was probably not the absolute lowest pressure, prompting NHC to estimate the minimum central pressure at 892 millibars. Tropical cyclone strength comparisons are typically based on minimum central pressure. At 892 millibars, Patricia has shattered the Eastern Pacific basin's previous record of 902 millibars set by Hurricane Linda in 1997. While a number of typhoons in the western North Pacific have been stronger, Patricia is by far the strongest recorded in the eastern or central North Pacific, where the term "hurricane" applies. The eye of Patricia is expected to move onshore Friday night in the Mexican state of Jalisco, which includes the popular coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta as well as the inland metropolis of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.
Heavy rains fueled by two storm systems, one of them remnants of hurricane Patricia, have hit south-eastern Texas, triggering flash floods in Houston and derailing a freight train on Oct. 25. Forecasters predicted 15-30cm (6-12in) of rain for coastal areas of the US, including south-west Louisiana, by Monday morning, exacerbated by tides up to 1.5 metres (5ft) high and wind gusts of up to 35mph. The rain systems were intensified by the remnants of hurricane Patricia, which was downgraded to a tropical depression after crossing Mexico's west coast. Navarro County, about 50 miles south of Dallas, was one of the hardest-hit areas. The tiny town of Powell got 50 cm of rain over 30 hours. A flash flood swept a Union Pacific freight train off the tracks on Sunday morning, pushing locomotives and some rail cars on their sides. No injuries were reported. Some 80 water rescues from vehicles, homes and businesses had been carried out in Navarro County since Friday. Saturday's rainfall led to the cancellation of about 100 flights at Dallas/Fort Worth international airport, one of the countries busiest, according to tracking service Flight Aware. Retailers reported a run on supplies in anticipation of floods.
As Patricia, the biggest storm ever recorded in the western hemisphere, made landfall on the Mexican west coast on Friday (Oct. 26) Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA's JPL explained its origins. The current El Niño was 'high-octane fuel for hurricanes' because it had 'piled up a tremendous volume of warm water in the eastern Pacific'. The water temperature is 30.5C, close to a record high and about 2C above average, creating ideal conditions for strong hurricanes. There is more energy to create stronger winds and pick up more moisture. The exceptional sea temperature is a combination of the very strong El Niño and climate change, which is raising average sea temperatures across the globe. Patricia gathered pace dramatically reaching the highest category 5 hurricane but fortunately, as the storm made landfall in a mountainous region, the peaks took the brunt of the 200 mph winds and 'tore the bottom out of the storm.' However, the mountains caused the clouds to rise and cool down dumping large quantities of rain.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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