Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Scotland battered by severe gales: Severe gales and heavy rain have swept across parts of Scotland with gusts of 60 to 70mph in some areas. A number of ferry services on the west coast were cancelled and Traffic Scotland warned drivers of crosswinds and falling trees and debris.

Flooding and problems with overhead wires affected some ScotRail lines and some football matches were called off. Bridges have also been affected, with the Forth, Tay, Skye and Kessock road bridges closed to high-sided vehicles. The high winds also affected driving conditions on the Friarton Bridge, near Perth, the Erskine Bridge and the Dornoch Bridge.

Winter snowstorm hits U.S. New England area: A blustery winter snowstorm swept into New England on Saturday night, creating hazardous highway conditions across the region and disrupting air traffic throughout the nation.

A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain is blanketing the northeast, from Missouri to Maine. The massive storm is stretching between 23 states. A strong storm pelted the Midwest and Northeast with heavy snow on Saturday, with some areas already seeing a foot on the ground and forecasts predicting that up to 20 states and 70 million people will feel its polar conditions through the weekend.

Cairo Snow 2013: A snowstorm hits Egypt for the first time in 112 years.

More than 4,000 people have been evacuated from flood-damaged homes in northern Gaza.

Cairo snow photo

Wildlife

Sahara Desert Species Vanishing

The world’s largest tropical desert has lost much of its wildlife population in recent years, according to a new study of the Sahara.

Led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London, researchers found that half of the 14 desert species studied were regionally extinct or confined to 1 percent or less of their historic ranges.

Writing in the journal Diversity and Distributions, the team found that the bubal hartebeest is extinct, the scimitar-horned oryx is extinct in the wild and the African wild dog and African lion no longer live anywhere in the Sahara.

Cycles of political instability and long-term regional conflicts have for decades prevented researchers from determining exactly what has decimated the wildlife populations.

“The Sahara serves as an example of a wider historical neglect of deserts and the human communities who depend on them,” said the study’s lead author Sarah Durant.

But some countries have recently begun to protected what species remain.

Niger just established the nearly 40,000-square-mile Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve, which is home to most of the world’s approximately 200 remaining wild addax — a type of antelope.

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Disease

Cholera in Nigeria – Update

Over 300 people have been hospitalised in Kano state following the latest outbreak of cholera in various local government areas in the state.

Wildfires

California

Santa Ana winds could cause extreme fire danger. A high-pressure system building over the L.A. Los Angeles Basin could create dangerous fire conditions as Santa Ana winds blow over the Southland through today.

Western Australia

A controlled bushfire in Western Australia was not contained and poses a threat to homes. A bushfire warning has been downgraded to a watch-and-act alert as firefighters battle the blaze that is threatening lives and homes northeast of Perth.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): The 20th paroxysm at the New SE crater in 2013 began yesterday evening and ended at dawn, shortly after reaching its peak. The eruption lasted relatively long, but was relatively weak in intensity (compared to previous paroxysms). It produced only relatively low pulsating lava fountains with associated ash plumes and a small lava flow to the SE towards the Valle del Bove. Tremor has dropped sharply, but at the moment of updating, strombolian explosions, ash emission and the effusion of the lava flow continue at reduced level.

Puyehue-Cordón Caulle (Central Chile and Argentina): A significant ash(?) plume was spotted on Terra’s satellite images yesterday afternoon. Since there are no other reports suggesting that a (larger in this case) eruption has occurred (e.g. heat signals, eyewitness reports, webcam), it seems likely that the plume was from wind-mobilized ash from the 2011-12 eruption. If new evidence of an eruption becomes available, we’ll follow up, and please post a comment if you have other data. A passenger on a cruise ship reported: “Cruise ship Seabourn Quest sailing out of Castro, Chile, just passed what we believe is the actively erupting Chaiten volcano. Eruption ash cloud clearly visible throughout sunset, 8.15 to 9.00pm, 12/14/2013. Pyroclastic cloud going down left (north) flank. Secondary vents erupting on the flanks.”