About half of Thailand is in drought, although the rice belt has been largely spared. Rice throughout Asia is usually grown using wet farming methods, which requires the fields to be flooded. The central rice growing regions are expected to have enough water until May, but thereafter may face water shortages too.
Meanwhile, intense rains in California have given some residents hope that the historic drought may be ending, but as it stands, most of the rain in southern California drains right to the Pacific due to civil engineering. This prevented the tremendous flooding that would have resulted were the storm drains not in place, but resulted in a missed opportunity for California to capture a great deal of water. Nearly 3 inches (10cm) fell in this rain-starved state last week. The government is now spending $200 million to capture water instead of draining it to the Pacific. Such measures may control the drought or even eliminate it, but this seems to be a concession that it will take a man-made effort to eliminate drought and flooding together. In other words, this reflects an improvement in ingenuity, not the natural forces causing the drought in the first place.
Meanwhile, a powerful storm walloped the Atlantic provinces of Canada. 12,000 people in Halifax lost power. Many schools, businesses, and government offices were closed. A number of flights were cancelled as well. More storms are on the way, however, for the region, and there is a high risk of storm surges causing local flooding. There was a severe flooding incident this week in Mississippi. Many people are unable to return home, and the flood waters are receding, but there was extensive damage. In Israel, massive dust storms have been covering the region in thick dust. They were until very recently facing literally suffocating pollution because of the dust. The pollution levels were up to nine times the average pollution in several regions.
In other news, Hurricane Pali just formed in the Atlantic. That hasn’t happened in January since 1938. The incredibly rare storm was able to form due to favorable conditions brought on by El Niño, which itself is shaping up to be the most powerful since 1950. The storm is even heading due south, toward the equator, which is unusual as well. Most storms move west or north, according to meteorologist Derrick Wroe. El Niño is also being blamed for another bizarre event recently. Thousands of squid suddenly died and washed up on the shores of Chile. Without being too specific, the oxygen levels suddenly dropped, resulting in the deaths. This is of course bizarre and alarming in itself, but for Chileans there is the added threat of a sanitary emergency. Officials claim that locals will suffer health problems resulting from the decomposition.
Unfortunately, the tragic events we reported on are in no way a full reflection of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our recent headlines, please click here.