A series of about a hundred fires are burning out of control in Chile. Some of them, firefighters classify as “highly resistant to control.” As it stands, over 35,000 acres (14,161 ha). Sadly, it has not only been tracts of wilderness that gone up in smoke, but also 15 houses. Australia is also battling wildfires, which are threatening several vineyards in the wine growing region, Adelaide Hills. Wine, it turns out, is very sensitive to smoke, and what is known as smoke taint is bad news for vintages. The smoke gets into grapes’ skins and the resulting wine tastes like an ashtray; obviously an unpopular drink. While there is no estimate of damages from smoke taint just yet, in previous years it has easily topped $7 million. Sadly, hundreds of animals have also been killed in the fires. In the US, another cash crop might be in trouble; chile peppers. The ongoing US drought in the Southwest is forcing farmers to rely more on well water than water from the Rio Grande. This well water is saltier than river water and it results in weakened, smaller crops. Farmers fear that within a few years they will not be able to grow the crop at all. Brazil is also having trouble with crop production, even as drought recovery is beginning. Coffee trees will not recover easily from the extreme heat and drought in 2014.
Also in Australia, in the Northern Territories and surrounding areas, three people were successfully rescued from flash flooding. One man was not so lucky. He was reported missing after tire-tubing along a riverbed and police recovered his body. Police are urging residents to use extreme caution while the rain continues, as there is a risk of further flash flooding. Travellers are advised to check road conditions before going anywhere. In other news, the Middle East is facing a new humanitarian threat. Lebanon, Syria, and several other countries are being covered in snow. Refugee camps in Syria were not prepared for the arctic blast, and at least two refugees are dead as a result. More deaths will likely follow, as temperatures are expected to plummet to -17ºC (1.4ºF.) While this is on par with what Canadians experience annually, it is dramatic for Lebanon. Meanwhile, in Myanmar, four people are dead after a landslide at a jade mine. Heavy rain triggered this fatal event.
This summary in no way reflects all of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our headlines from the past week, please click here.
Ktsm.com reports that...
Farmers say the drought – which has crippled much of the southwest – has made things so bad soon that could be a reality.
Read more at www.ktsm.com
Cbc.ca reports that...
The first major winter storm forecast for 2015 brought mainly rain to Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver, but caused significant snowfall in other parts of B.C.
Read more at www.cbc.ca
Montrealgazette.com reports that...
Lenny Colesio returns to her home on Elmhurst Ave. in Montreal Sunday night January 4, 2015 where power had been out since the morning.
Read more at montrealgazette.com
Abc7.com reports that...
STUDIO CITY, Calif. (KABC) –
Rain continued to fall across most of Southern California into Sunday morning. It wasn’t a downpour, but a widespread, steady rain — the kind that warrants the use of windshield wipers and slows down traffic.
Read more at abc7.com
We will start our newsletter this week with an update on the Malaysia tragedies we reported last week. AirAsia flight 8501has been located and large chunks of debris were found. These large pieces of debris support the position we proposed, based on what pilots think happened. The debris is consistent with an intact plane at the time of impact. We know that the airframe didn’t disintegrate; such things have happened before, though we don’t know the exact cause of the crash. Meteorologists have fingered icing of the engine as a probable cause. Meanwhile, 24 people have been killed in the floods, with over 200,000 told to evacuate. Now they face the new threat of landslides, which can be even more damaging than flooding.
Meanwhile, floods in Alabama, have caused several road washouts and closures. Mississippi was also deluged, and was struck by at least two tornado earlier this week. One of those tornados damaged homes, no doubt causing substantial economic loss. In southern France, New Years Day plans were obviated as residents dealt with severe flooding. At least five people there were killed and thousands were ordered to evacuate.
This week has not just been a rainy one, but also a snowy one in the American Midwest and Canada. Near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a salt truck slammed into a house after losing control on ice. We have no word on the condition of its operator. Snow and freezing rain are causing severe traffic chaos in the Midwest as far south as Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle. The freezing rain is mostly in the northern parts of the country. Freezing rain happens when nearly frozen rain encounters a thin layer of cold air. This causes the droplets to freeze on contact to important surfaces like roads. When this happens, the results are predictable. It is probably the deadliest condition in which to drive. The Canadian province of Quebec and a few states have laws requiring that all consumer vehicles be equipped with winter tires, which help in freezing rain, but traction is still poor, though less so, even with proper tires. The ice that builds up during freezing rain can also bring down trees, power lines, and even roofs. In fact, freezing rain downed power lines in Quebec this week, leaving around 150,000 customers without power. There is no word on injuries or deaths from this event, but with no power there is no heat, and one’s home offers only paltry shelter from the cold. Meanwhile, in Arizona, there was enough snow on the ground that people had snowball fights, something very unusual for the state. In Canada this week, nearly the entire country was blanketed with snow. While most of the western provinces were under cold advisories, Calgary received more than a 30cm (1 ft) dumping of snow but was at least relatively warm; relevant to other cities and provinces, that is. The temperature with windchill hovered at around -30ºC (-22ºF). At this temperature there is an elevated risk of exposure injuries like frostbite.
In other news, the worst wild fires in 30 years are burning in Adelaide, Australia. Australia is unusually dry. While Australia might get some rain in the near future, it is not all good news. The rain is expected to bring thunderstorms, which are the most prevalent natural cause of wildfires. All told, this has been a very hard week for a lot of people.
This summary in no way catches all of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our headlines from the past week, please click here.
Globalnews.ca reports that...
Hydro Quebec’s new electronic hydro meters covered with snow and ice after first major snowfall of the season, Laval, Que., December 11, 2014.
Read more at globalnews.ca
Citypress.co.za reports that...
Roads and houses in some parts of Cape Town have been damaged by flooding caused by a tide.
Read more at www.citypress.co.za
Sott.net reports that...
Three days of heavy rainfall have caused flash floods in northern and central areas of Sri Lanka. Eastern, North-Central, Northern and North-Western provinces have all seen heavy rain since Saturday 20 December 2014. Sri Lanka’s Disaster management Centre (DMC) say that as many as 452,960 people have been affected by floods or landslides in the past 3 days.
Read more at www.sott.net
Bbc.com reports that...
Severe storms continue to batter the western Mediterranean, with damaging winds and torrential downpours.
Read more at www.bbc.com