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Global Inundation

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August 19 - 25, 2014

Officials blame heavy rain for a number of landslides that wrought havoc on Hiroshima, Japan this week.  Over 56 people died due to the slides, with around seven people still unaccounted for.  The exact number is difficult to know.  There were several injuries as well, at least two being serious.  The landslides trapped people in over 20 locations.  Meanwhile, another six people are feared dead and one is confirmed dead after a landslide and severe flooding today in South Korea. So far there are only reports of flood related deaths, but the landslide destroyed a senior’s centre.  The landslide there also forced the closure of a nuclear power plant when rain water leaked into a water intake facility.  In other late breaking news, flooding in Bangladesh has decimated houses, leaving nearly half a million people homeless.  The government does not report any deaths as of yet, but that seems likely to change with such heavy flooding.  Furthermore, the situation is expected to worsen, with rivers flowing at dangerously high levels.  Thailand has also seen heavy flooding recently, with Phucket, Thailand flooding a third time in two weeks.  At least 12 people have been killed in India.  Flooding there has inundated no less than 1,500 villages.

Due to a previous forest fire, the heavy rainfall in Washington State triggered landslides.  While nobody was hurt in the landslides, they resulted in highway closures and several trapped vehicles.  Thunderstorms caused flooding in Winnipeg, Manitoba, chiefly in Polo Park Mall.

To see even more stories and read full articles, click here.



Canada’s strange summer and other catastrophes

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July 30 – August 18, 2014

Canada, in particular western Canada, has had a bizarre summer.  Calgary, Edmonton, and other major cities frequently contend with smoke, a problem that this writer has never seen, despite living in Calgary for more than a decade.  The intense smoke came from forest fires in Banff and Jasper National Parks, as well as some fires near Kelowna, BC.  Even the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have been coping with massive fires.  More than 7 million acres, (2.8 million hectares) have burned in those two territories.  No death or injuries have been reported from any fire, though the smoke in much of western Canada has been difficult for those with asthma, emphysema and other cardiovascular diseases.  Sweden also has its hands full putting out fires.  If 1968 was the year the world caught fire, this is shaping up to be the year the world reignited.  With huge swaths of California bone dry and several neighbouring states all under serious drought conditions, we are likely to see the western US light up like its neighbour to the north.  The big problem for the US is that Canada is very sparsely populated in comparison.  Canada has a few large cities where most of the population tends to congregate, with vast stretches of wilderness.  The US is more densely populated, so a fire season like the one in Canada could be far more devastating in the US.

Flame retardant applied after burning

Photo: Jodde Mason
Firefighters uses measures such as flame retardants to try to control burns. The red covering the trees is this retardant.


In other news, a heatwave in Japan has caused the deaths of 15 people, with thousands more being hospitalized.  A landslide in Nepal and India have killed at least 38 people, eight of those in Nepal.  Both landslides were triggered by torrential, unrelenting rains.  Late season floods in Europe have claimed the lives of at least seven people.  An additional 13 people were killed in Varna, Bulgaria due to flash floods.  While western Canada has seen its most fiery summer in years, Bulgaria has seen its wettest summer in years.  A massive rain fuelled landslide in Switzerland caused a train to derail, resulting in several injuries to a contingent of the 200 passengers.  There is severe flooding in Portland, Maine, as well.  Stay tuned for a special on glaciers and why they are important.

To see all of our recent articles, click here.




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Last week, Wyoming experienced some bizarre weather for this time of year.  They received up to nine inches (22.8 cm) of snow.  No damage or shutdowns were reported, but it still makes our radar as an unusual event.  Wyoming very rarely receives snow at lower elevations.

More severe weather happened last week as well.  Rain pummelled parts of the Midwest last week and again this week.   Minnesota saw over 10 inches (30 cm) of rain in just one day, triggering a mudslide.   That much rain usually falls in a week.  Yet more rain over the weekend has caused the Mississippi to stay in a flood state, and it is expected to do so until July 4.   This June has been the wettest on record there since 1874.  In Iowa, fifty foot trees were swept away in twisters.  Severe weather there has claimed at least one life.  The same system caused a sinkhole in Des Moines.  Severe storms continue to lay waste to the Midwest, with more flooding along the Mississippi.  Damages from this serious flooding could be well into the billions.  The seemingly unstoppable storm system also caused flooding in Texas, closing two popular theme parks, Six Flags over Texas and Hurricane Harbour.  More than twenty people had to be rescued from the raging torrents there.

Other parts of the world saw severe flooding.  Parts of China were flooded by the monsoon rains that missed India last month, slowing sowing of crops there.  At least 26 people have been killed due to the deluge.  Most of the damage was in three provinces, but nine were affected.  Those three provinces were Yunan, Guangxi, and Hunan.  In parts of Guangxi, a month’s worth of rain fell in just a day.  The floods have caused over $650 million damage to crops.

The Canadian prairies, with Alberta being spared this year, are experiencing horrendous flooding as well.  87 municipalities across Manitoba and Saskatchewan have declared states of emergency.  Both the agriculture and the oil industry there are taking severe damage.

To read all our articles in the past two weeks, click here.



Watery chaos

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Severe flooding has hit Louisiana this week, sweeping away cars where the flow is most powerful and blocking several roads elsewhere.  The system responsible for the floods also brought wind damage and caused several power outages.  Germany and Poland are also inundated, with 60 mm (2.5 in) of rain falling in just a couple hours, bringing flash floods there. Flights were delayed in Frankfurt, Germany and Bavaria also suffered some flooding.  The situation is the worst in Poland, where the torrents have killed at least a dozen people.  Closer to home, rain has caused a 4 mile (6.4 km) long mudslide in Colorado, killing three people and causing extensive damage.

In other news, the Arizona wild fire that we reported on last week is 25% contained.  It is frightening when a week such as this is a relatively calm week.

To see all our articles over the past week, click here.



Fire, floods, and frost

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Some areas of the Balkans, this week, received three months worth of rain in a single day.  The deluge has killed at least 37 people, caused devastating property damage, and even unearthed land mines from previous conflict in the region, complicating the situation for rescuers and aid workers.  In Virginia, a major thunderstorm system has caused flooding,  severely damaging property.  Interstate 95, a major American thoroughfare was completely flooded.  Fortunately, no loss of life or serious injuries have been reported.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a late frost has severely damaged crops.  At the James Arthur Vinyard, manager, Josh Rockemann comments that he has never seen a frost this late.  They may have lost over 20,000 tons of grapes, while a local strawberry farm, Roca Berry Farm, has lost most of its crop.  In Colorado, severe weather caused major delays at the Denver airport, with six planes removed from operation due to damage from baseball sized hail stones.  Much of the state also suffered minor flooding, and the system spawned eight tornados.

In other news, the fire season in Arizona is off to an intense start, with firefighters there battling what is already a 450 acre  (150 ha)  blaze.  It is believed to be human caused,  but strong winds quickly whipped it into a major conflagration.



Oil troubles, floods, fires and drought

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Most people are likely aware of the controversy over the Alberta tar sands, namely oil extraction in northern Alberta, Canada.  While the hub of activity in the tar sands is in Fort MacMurray in northern Alberta, some oil is extracted farther north, in the arctic circle.   There are few or no highways leading that far north, so the regions are only accessible by air or ice roads.  A paramedic from one such region, High Level, says he worked only a month last winter due to the failing ice roads, which are basically frozen rivers.

Excessively high temperatures are causing problems not only in the arctic, but also notably California, where there is ongoing drought and record high temperatures, and on top of that a record early fire season.  The heat and drought are not only making the wildfire problem more dangerous, but also threatening one of the state’s major exports, king almonds.

Flooding woes continue across the US, with six Washington, D.C. drivers requiring rescue, two injuries in Fort Worth, Texas, and dozens of road closures.  While flooding is normal during the spring, there seems to be an alarming increase in the damage that they do.

In other news, lightning struck 11 planes at a Salt Lake City, Utah airport.  It is very unusual for 11 planes to be struck in a single day at a single airport.

For more articles used over the past week, click here.



Flooding events across continents

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The last week has brought chaos world wide.  Afghanistan saw a major mudslide, killing an estimated 2,700 people, and prompting international aid efforts.  Mudslides occur when slopes become saturated with rain, destabilizing the soil.  A small mudslide begins and gains momentum as it rocks, soil and other debris.  Another probable mudslide decimated cars in Baltimore, Maryland.  After heavy rainfall there, a street tilted, taking a number of parked cars into floodwater before what seems to have been a mudslide washed the hillside under it away.

Pensacola, Florida was inundated with more than two feet of water last week, causing serious damage and claiming the life of one man who was trapped in his car.  He was one of more than a hundred stranded drivers, though nobody else seems to have been swept away.  The storm system responsible for the flooding has also caused 37 deaths across eight states.  Two people were killed in the Marche region of Italy due to flooding there.  Cars were floating in the muddy torrents of Senegalia.  In Surrey, BC and White Rock, BC, Canada, more rain fell over the weekend than typically falls in the entire month of May.  The resultant flooding washed out two roads in the small towns.

In other news, temperatures in northern India peaked at 45.9ºC, (114.6ºF).  Temperatures that high can be fatal, and are of particular concern to the elderly, as they may not notice signs of dehydration.  Fortunately, no deaths have been reported at this time.  In Murrieta, California, firefighters put out a seven acre (2.83 hectare) fire.  While the blaze itself is unremarkable in comparison to the gargantuan conflagrations of the past year, it marks the start of a very early fire season.  Officials blame the longstanding drought conditions for the fire.

To see a list of all recent weather events, click here.



The Two Extremes: Thunderstorms and droughts

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This week has seen several deadly and damaging weather events.  On Monday, flash floods engulfed parts of central Alabama.  More than two dozen people had to be rescued there, and the floods in Mississippi from the same thunderstorm system have possibly claimed the life of a nine year old girl in Jackson.  In Santiago, Chile, thunderstorms resulted in the deaths of 60 dairy cows, costing ranchers thousands of dollars.  Meanwhile, in Griffin, Georgia, USA, an EF1 tornado has damaged several homes, one severely, and is blamed for a crash that landed three people in the hospital.  Another thunderstorm caused a fatal plane crash in West Virginia.

California is still experiencing drought conditions, but it may benefit from this year’s El Nino.  Meanwhile, war torn Syria is also dangerously dry.  Up to 6.5 million Syrians may require emergency food rations.  Back to Chile, which was also recently hit by a major earthquake, they are now facing an out of control fire that has forced more than thousand evacuations and killed upwards of 12 people.

To see all articles mentioned and more, click here.



March Weather Madness

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The Washington State mudslide that killed 14, up from eight initially reported, was not the only deadly slide today.  This week, the bodies of a father and son were discovered buried in an avalanche.  They inadvertently triggered the avalanche while tobogganing (sledding) in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.  A further two people were killed in an avalanche on a Sochi ski slope that was recently a venue for the Olympic Games.

In other news, one man is dead after flooding in Sydney, Australia.




Dramatic Varied Weather

Jodde     Blog, Uncategorized     0

The way January is shaping up, people might just remember 2013 as a calm year in weather.  That is a phenomenon called creeping normalcy, which at The Global Warming Foundation, we aim to fight.  It is basically a trick of memory, as we remember sharply demarcated changes better than gradual ones.  In the news this week, floodwaters have inundated the Philippines and Indonesia, while in North America the polar vortex, the “hole” in the jet stream letting through tons of freezing arctic air, is causing temperatures as low as -40ºC (ºF).  Meanwhile, unprecedented drought spawned fires in California are raging out of control.  The drought threatens to cause “explosive fires” for at least the next few months.

Click here for all the articles used this week.