Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the South Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone Fobane is located approximately 649 nm south-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. The weak storm churns the central Indian Ocean, far from any land areas, but shipping lanes are threatened.

NewsBytes:

Britain – River Thames breaks records for water flows in January. The amount of water flowing through the Thames this January was the highest recorded for January since records began in 1883. New data from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology shows that the rate of water flow has now exceeded 275 metres per second for more than 50 days. Southern Britain is likely to have the wettest winter ever recorded.

Tens of thousands of homes are still without power as Britain prepares for yet ANOTHER devastating storm. A month’s worth of rain is expected in just two days as experts warn of more hellish downpours this weekend. A weather system over the Atlantic will send yet another violent storm – the eighth this winter – crashing into Britain from Thursday night.

Environment

Extreme Weather Hits Hard Worldwide

From unprecedented storms and flooding in the UK to severe drought in California and Brazil, 2014 has kicked off with some exceptional and weird weather events.

The UK is experiencing its most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years, with hundreds of flood alert warnings covering much of the country and hundreds of home left inundated. The prolonged storms have played havoc across the country since December, with more than 130 severe flood risk warnings — meaning a potential threat to life — issued and more than 5,000 homes flooded. This week fourteen severe warnings remain in place, with no let up of the rain in sight.

Across the globe in Brazil, residents in Sao Paulo — South America’s largest city — are facing the opposite problem, as record heat and drought have sparked fears of water shortages. The city is on alert following warnings the system that provides half the its drinking water could run dry in the next 40 days. Like cities across Brazil, Sao Paulo is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, with last month the hottest January on record. The combination of low precipitation and extreme heat right across the country are not only sparking fears of water shortages but also of crop damage and higher energy prices.

The Western U.S. is facing similar problems, as the state of California is in the grips of what is likely to be the region’s worst drought in 500 years. Low snowpack in the mountains are leaving the state’s creeks, rivers and reservoirs — which provide essential water and hydroelectric power for cities and the agricultural industry — dry, putting food prices at risk. Meanwhile, wildfires continue to plague the region at increased rates. Brazil and California aren’t the only places experiencing record drought and heat.

In Alaska, record high temperatures have triggered a series of extremely large avalanches, with debris piles more than 30-metres thick blocking off towns from highway access.

Stifling heat in Australia is also causing havoc, after the country suffered through its hottest January in 13 years — the fourth hottest on record. The dry and hot conditions have left scores of wildfires raging across southeast Australia, and are threatening the country’s agriculture production, as farmers struggle to provide water for their cattle and crops.

A slew of deadly flooding events are also hitting communities around the world. In Bolivia flooding and landslides have so far claimed 42 lives this year, while flooding in northern Indonesia has killed 13 people and driven tens of thousands more from their homes, and in Mozambique 11 people have been killed in flooding.

Extreme rainfall is also hitting countries across mainland Europe. Large parts of France and Italy are under flood alert, with hundreds of people being forced out of their homes. The heavy rain and flooding have also claimed three lives in Italy and two in France.

In Romania heavy snowfall has been the problem, blocking roads and railways across the country and leaving schools closed and thousands stranded both in their homes and on the roads. Cold weather has also been playing havoc in Slovenia, where trees, buildings and cars have been encased in thick ice, causing perilous conditions as power lines and tress tumbling to the ground. The government estimates that around 40 percent of the country’s forests have been damaged by the cold snap.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 113.7 degrees Fahrenheit (45.4 degrees Celsius) at Port Augusta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 57.0 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Siberian community of Selagoncy.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Disease

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China and the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), Hong Kong, SAR, China has notified WHO of a total of eight additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including one death.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Kelud (East Java): BNPB (Civil protection) confirmed 3 fatalities (indirectly or directly) caused by the eruption: two as result of breathing difficulties caused by the ash, one as a road accident during evacuation. All of the victims were in Pandasari village less than 7 km from the volcano where 20 cm of ash has fallen. So far, 76,388 people are confirmed evacuated into 293 shelters so far, while evacuation efforts within the 10 km exclusion zone continue. Preliminary estimations are that the eruption produced 80 million cubic meters of tephra. At the moment, the volcano continues to emit ash and steam, accompanied by tremors. The government of East Java has declared the state of emergency for the affected area. 350,000 dust masks are being distributed. The ash plume from last night’s major eruption (possibly sub-plinian or even plinian in size) of Kelut is drifting rapidly to the west above the Indian Ocean. It is estimated to be as high as 55,000 ft (16 km) and extends several hundred kilometres in both N-S and W-E directions. An important warning for aircraft using routes in this part of SE Asia was issued by VAAC Darwin.

The eruption plume is well visible on satellite data. According to VSI, the eruption started at 21:15 local time, following a rapid build-up in seismic activity during the same day. Monitoring staff were forced to evacuate their observation post as the eruption began to increase and a heavy rain of gravel-sized lapilli set in. It is still unclear how large exactly the eruption was and what type exactly is was. An important question is whether fresh magma was involved (which seems rather likely) or whether it was phreatic (no new magma involved) and simply the result of a brutal release of pressure that had accumulated beneath the 2007 lava dome. In the first scenario, there would be a significant amount of fresh, viscous magma that has come to explosion. In this case, the eruption might still continue for a while, possibly with new violent explosions, until the portion of the new gas-rich magma that is able to erupt has been vented. It could then end with the emplacement of a new lava dome at the end of the eruption, corresponding to the last, relatively degassed magma that is able to reach the surface.