Bad weather is anathema to planes. Several planes had trouble landing at Rostov-on-Don airport, Russia, including the ill-fated flight FZ981, operated by FlyDubai. That plane crashed, killing all 62 passengers and crew on board. The pilots missed their approach when trying to land. Then they executed a holding pattern and tried again, but it crashed 250 meters (820 ft) away from the runway. While it is not certain how, it is believed that intense winds of over 80km/h (50mph) caused the disaster. Of course, a detailed picture of what happened will not be available until authorities can analyze the black boxes, a process which will take several weeks, but storm wind is the prime suspect.*
Scorching temperatures as high as 40ºC(104ºF) hit several cities in India, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu. The heat is a result of patterns called westerlies, which are unusual for India this time of year. Long range predictions suggest this is only the beginning. While some respite is expected, the temperature in May is expectedo to top 42ºC(`107.6ºF). Temperatures were three to five degrees above normal, so this was not a heat wave across the state, but it was in some cities, and vulnerable people such as the poor and elderly could face serious trouble as the temperatures soar.
Meanwhile, a brush fire near Douglas, Arizona scorched 150 acres last Monday. The fire is not a threat to any homes, but it is likely the harbinger of a tremendous fire season. Arizona’s winter was particularly dry toward the end. This fire pales in comparison to the serious wildfire is burning out of control in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, where over 400,000 acres have burned (161,874 hectares). One house has been completely gutted. The affected family barely had time to evacuate. They tragically lost everything, including their beloved dog. The fire has claimed the livelihoods of a number of farmers. The number of cattle killed is inestimable, but farmlands that were once verdant are now char.
Vero Beach, Florida experienced a bizarre cold spell. Temperatures bottomed out at 62ºF(16.6ºC), which is an extraordinary 16ºF ( 8.8ºC) below the average. That is one degree lower than the record low of 63ºF (17.2ºC). Possibly the most pressing concern with the situation is not the relative cold, but rather the increased fire risk. The cold snap has brought along strong winds which make fires difficult to control. Fortunately, at the time of writing that threat has not been realized.
A spring storm left snow and freezing rain in southern Quebec and parts of Ontario. Ice storms are more common in the spring than in the winter, because of the way freezing rain forms. Brantford, Ontario and Ottawa were quite possibly the hardest hit. Over 50cm of snow accumulated in Ottawa and power outages affecting around 3,500 customers in Brantford, a town with a population of less than 100,000.** Numerous trees fell under the weight of the ice, smashing houses, cars and power lines as they fell. Some roads were impassable as they were blocked by fallen power lines and trees, but where they were passable, the police were dealing with accidents “all day, nonstop.” Fortunately, none of those accidents caused severe injuries.
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*Tragedies of this sort usually do not come down to one action or event, and this one is no exception. Unofficially, a cockpit voice recorder leak suggests human error during an attempt to land manually, after automatic landing failed twice due to intense wind. Mechanical failure also likely played a significant role in the tragedy, but none of it would have happened were it not for the inclement weather.
**The last census, taken in 2011, reports a population was 93,650.