Seven are feared dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as US braces for storm and state of emergency declared in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina - all the result of hurricane Matthew on the 5th. The fiercest Caribbean storm in almost a decade has made landfall in Cuba after ripping through Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with at least seven people feared dead. The United States is now bracing for the storm's impact and a state of emergency has been declared in three US states - Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The category 4 storm made landfall near Les Anglais on the western tip of Haiti at 7am EDT (11am GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said, bringing 145 mph (230km/h) winds and storm surges that pounded coastal villages. It has since been downgraded to a category 3 storm. The NHC also warned residents of Cuba and the Bahamas that the hurricane 'is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, heavy rains, flash floods, and/or mudslides.' Cuban state media later said that the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the second largest in the country, was not badly hit.




The death toll from Hurricane Matthew in the United States climbed again on Tuesday as officials warned of a continuing threat from floodwaters still rising in several areas of North Carolina (11th). Overnight, four more people were reported killed in the state, Governor Pat McCrory announced at a morning briefing, bringing the tally in North Carolina to 14. Hurricane Matthew, which has killed at least 1,000 people in Haiti, has now accounted for at least 33 deaths in the US, including 12 in Florida, three each in South Carolina and Georgia and one in Virginia. Authorities have warned that levels in several rivers, including the rivers Tar, Neuse and Lumber, were rising above record levels and that the towns of Rocky Mountain, Greenville and Goldsboro would almost inevitably be flooded. A breach in the Woodlake dam was 'imminent', Moore County officials said, threatening nearby residential areas.


In a rare occurrence for Oregon, two tornadoes struck along the state's coast (14). The National Weather Service in Portland said the last time there were two tornadoes in the same day in northwest Oregon was 12 November 1991, when three tornadoes were spotted.


July-like heat baked the central and eastern portions of the United States early this week, putting century old record temperatures in jeopardy (20th). The heat expanded from the High Plains to the East Coast from Sunday to Wednesday. In most cases, highs have generally been around 5-10C Fahrenheit above average. In some cases, highs have reached over 15C above average. Dozens of record-high maximum and minimum temperatures have been recorded during the warm spell. Some records broken or tied have stood for over a century. On Monday, Dodge City, Kansas, reached 10F, which smashed the previous record of 94F set in 1926. This is the first time the city has recorded a temperature at or above 100F during the month of October.




Parts of northern Spain and southern France received some impressive rainfall amounts today (12th). The large rainfall totals were brought about by a large area of low pressure that tracked across the north-western Mediterranean, bringing some lively thunderstorms with torrential rain, frequent lightning, hail and squally winds. The rain totals brought severe flash flooding to the area, with streams of water running through villages picking up cars, blocking roads and destroying infrastructure. One of the worst affected areas was in Vilassar de Mar in north-east Spain, where a 60-year-old man died after his car got swept away with the torrents of water. It was in north-east Spain in Cabrils that recorded one of the highest rainfall totals in the region on Wednesday with 220 mm of rain falling in four hours, and a total of 85 mm in just half an hour. This is significant, as this is the highest rainfall total recorded in four hours at this station since observations began in 1971. Higher totals were recorded over areas of southern France with Meteo-France reporting a total of 300 mm at the Saint-Gervais-sur- Mare station by the time the storms had passed. Such high rainfall rates coupled with what has been a relatively dry summer, meant that the ground quickly became saturated and unable to take the quantity of water that was falling, leading to extreme flash flooding.




Chaba reached super-typhoon status on Monday afternoon and has since weakened (3rd-6th). The Ryukyu Islands of Japan were the first to feel the force of Chaba as the storm tracked just southwest of Okinawa Prefecture on Monday. While Naha and Okinawa were spared the worst conditions, Kumejima was pummeled by damaging winds and heavy rain. A peak wind gust of 214 km/h was reported on Monday. Prior to reaching the southern coast of South Korea, Chaba passed just east of Jeju. The storm unloaded more than 275 mm of rain on parts of the island along with winds of 125 km/h. Chaba turned northeast skirting the southern coast of South Korea on Wednesday and unleashing flooding and damaging winds. At least five deaths have been reported in South Korea while another person remains missing, according to Yonhap New Agency. Floodwaters raced through the streets of Busan. Structural damage was also reported. Widespread rainfall of 50-100 mm fell across the southern third of South Korea causing flooding. Power outages totaled more than 200,000 homes according to Korea Electric Power Corporation. Travel chaos ensued as more than 110 flights were cancelled across South Korea along with impacts to high-speed rail services.


Hurricane Nicole lashed Bermuda with destructive winds and torrential rain through Thursday afternoon, leaving thousands without power (12th-13th). Nicole made a direct hit over Bermuda between 11 a.m. and noon local time as a Category 3 storm. During Wednesday night, Nicole became a major hurricane and attained Category 4 status. This became the first time that two Category 4 hurricanes occurred in the Atlantic basin during October. Matthew was a Category 4 hurricane but also reached Category 5 status earlier this month in the Caribbean. While Bermuda is often affected by hurricanes each year, major hurricanes rarely pass close to the islands. According to the National Hurricane Center, only seven major hurricanes have passed within 40 nautical miles of Bermuda since records began in 1851.


Across north-western parts of the US, remnants of the Pacific typhoon Songda hit Seattle on Saturday (15th), with some heavy rain squalls and gusts of 50 mph. Though it had the potential for more a catastrophic impact, the Pacific storm unexpectedly split into two separate pressure centers, so weakening its intensity before landfall.


In the Atlantic, the post-tropical cyclone Nicole (formerly Hurricane Nicole), has been declared the longest-lived Atlantic tropical cyclone, since 1906, to have formed after the first day of October (17th). Wind speeds of up to 75mph were still prominent in the north Atlantic on Monday morning, but lost strength the following day out to the west of Maine. Nicole regained hurricane status twice, since initially starting up on 4 October and lasting a total of 14 days. Coastal regions of Britain are now on flood alert following Atlantic sea-surge warnings.


Torrential downpours associated with severe flash floods have left Vietnam devastated (19th). Ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Sarika, at least 30 people have been killed and a further 30 injured. More than 100,000 houses have been submerged and destroyed, but it was anticipated that the typhoon would cause further damage when making landfall this week, sustaining wind speeds in excess of 100 mph. Typhoon Sarika developed on 14 October and is the Pacific's 21st named storm of 2016. On Tuesday it hit China's southern province Hainan and by this Wednesday was pummeling a northern area of the Philippines. It had gained strength equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.


One of the most powerful typhoons to ever hit the Philippines destroyed houses, tore roofs off schools and ripped giant trees out of the ground (20th). Super typhoon Haima hit the northern province of Cagayan late on Wednesday night with winds almost on a par with catastrophic Haiyan, which was then the strongest storm to strike the disaster-prone south-east Asian archipelago and claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013. Haima hit coastal towns facing the Pacific ocean with sustained winds of 225 km/h, and wind gusts of up to 315 km/h. It weakened overnight as it hit mountain ranges and by 9am on Thursday was leaving the western edge of Luzon, heading towards southern China.


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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