Extreme Weather

  • Devastating Ice Rain Imperils Far East Russia

    Weather apocalypse leaves 120,000 people without electricity, many without heating and water at -1C.

    Overnight ice rain and north winds turned Vladivostok, Russia’s Pacific capitalб and most of the Primorye region into a frozen land with hundreds of power lines cut by wet snow.

    In Vladivostok alone 900 block of flats were left without electricity, while elsewhere in the region 120,000 people reported problems with heating, light and water in flats and private households. 

    Flights were delayed, many roads and several bridges were shut with local authorities urging drivers to stay home. Schools and kindergartens had to close. 

    A huge concrete slab fell on a Nissan X-Trail parked in the yard of 34 Neibuta street in Vladivostok, with the car owner evading it by a miracle. 

    The moment caught on CCTV showed Alexander the car owner clearing ice and raising head to check out the source of strange sound - to leap back and watch a part of the building cladding smashing the vehicle a second later. 

    27-year old Alexander, married father of one, said that a moment before it happened his wife Daria went upstairs to get some hot water to help them clear ice. 

    Next to their block of flats, at 47a Neibuta street in Vladivostok a concrete post collapsed on a Toyota Passo, smashing its roof and its back side. 

    Weather will worsen tomorrow, regional governor Oleg Kozhemiako said, urging residents to take extra care and to stay home if it was possible. 

    ‘Emergency services are working to eliminate the consequences.

    ‘The weather in Primorye is expected to worsen tomorrow, so I’m asking you to stay home if possible and not to take your children to school and kindergarten. I am asking companies managers to organise remote work’, he wrote on the social media page.

  • Hurricane Lota becomes first Cat 5 of 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

    Hurricane Iota has rapidly intensified into a rare Category 5, the first of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, as it heads for landfall in Central America, where it will bring potentially catastrophic rainfall flooding, mudslides, storm surge and damaging winds for the second time in two weeks.

    Late Monday morning, Iota became only the second Category 5 hurricane on record in November and the record latest-in-season hurricane ever to reach that intensity in the Atlantic Basin. The 1932 Cuba hurricane reached Category 5 intensity from November 5-8.

    The upgrade to Category 5 intensity was based on both satellite intensity estimates and a Hurricane Hunter mission, which measured flight level and surface winds sufficiently strong enough.

    Hurricane warnings have been issued for portions of Nicaragua and Honduras, where hurricane conditions are expected by later Monday. Tropical storm warnings extend to the west and south of the hurricane warnings in both of those countries.

    A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are also in effect for Columbia's San Andrés Island.

    Iota will make landfall late Monday night along the coast of northern Nicaragua, in the same area Hurricane Eta made its Category 4 landfall on November 3.

    Incredibly, some additional intensification is possible as Iota tracks through a favorable environment that includes plenty of deep, warm water, favorable upper-level winds and a lack of dry air. It's possible Iota could landfall at Category 5 intensity, though an eyewall replacement cycle is possible before landfall that could cap out its intensity.

    Regardless, Iota is likely to be a catastrophic hurricane for Central America.

    This will be the first time on record two major hurricanes - Category 3 or stronger - made landfall in Nicaragua in the same hurricane season,much less only two weeks apart. NOAA's hurricane database only documented seven such Category 3-plus landfalls in Nicaragua prior from the mid-19th century through 2019.

    Potentially Catastrophic Impacts Again

    Rainfall Flooding

    Once again, flooding rainfall is expected to be one of the biggest dangers for Central America, including areas that were devastated by Eta's heavy rain earlier this month.

    Eta's flooding impacts killed at least 120 in Central America and southern Mexico, according to the latest report from The Associated Press. Scores of people are still missing, the AP said. Honduras was one of the areas hardest hit by Eta's flooding and any additional rain could worsen conditions.

    The National Hurricane Center has issued the following rainfall forecasts through Thursday:

    -Honduras, northern Nicaragua, southeast Guatemala and southern Belize may pick up 10 to 20 inches, with isolated totals up to 30 inches. Areas from northeast Nicaragua into northern Honduras could see the heaviest totals.

    -El Salvador and Panama can expect 4 to 8 inches, with local totals up to 12 inches

    -Southern Nicaragua and Costa Rica can expect 3 to 5 inches, with localized totals of up to 10 inches

    This rainfall will lead to dangerous, life-threatening flash flooding, river flooding and landslides.

    According to NOAA meteorologist Alex Lamers, combined rainfall totals from Eta and Iota could match yearly average rainfall in parts of Honduras.

    Storm Surge

    A life-threatening, potentially catastrophic storm surge of 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels is expected north of where Iota makes landfall, along the northern coast of Nicaragua and coast of eastern Honduras.

    Destructive, battering waves will ride atop the surge.


    Potentially catastrophic winds of Category 5 intensity can be expected in the eyewall of Iota as it makes landfall late Monday night into early Tuesday morning in northeast Nicaragua or extreme southeastern Honduras.

    This will lead to severe structural damage, particularly to poorly-built structures, and widespread power outages in northeast Nicaragua and eastern Honduras by Tuesday morning.

    As mentioned earlier, hurricane conditions are expected by late Monday within the hurricane-warned area in northeast Nicaragua and eastern Honduras.

    More Storm Notables

    Maximum sustained winds in Iota increased from 85 mph to 155 mph in the 24 hours ending 7 a.m. EST on Monday. That easily met the criteria for the rapid intensification of a tropical cyclone, which is an increase in maximum sustained winds of at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less.

    Iota is the 10th storm of the 2020 season to meet the criterion for rapid intensification. This tied 1995 for the most such rapid intensifiers in any single season since 1979, according to Tomer Burg, an atmospheric science Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma.

    Iota's 160 mph maximum sustained winds on Monday morning makes it the strongest hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season. It also topped Hurricane Lenny (1999) for thestrongest Atlantic hurricane so late in the season, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

  • Images of the Texas Big Freeze

    Texas is currently experiencing some of the coldest weather it has seen in decades and the pictures coming out from the state show how bad things are. The state, the people, and the infrastructure just aren’t set up for it.

    Highways full of snow

    Icicles hanging from ceiling fans

    Frozen Faucets

    Pools Frozen Solid

    Icicles Hang from a toilet in Dallas home

    Where are the Snow Plows?

    Snow Beaches in Galveston

    Car Wash Ice Sculptures

    Camping out in 43 degree living room

    Ceiling caves in due to Ice and Snow, Dallas

    Indoor waterfall due to burst pipes, Denton

    Surreal scenes from Dallas

  • Record Breaking Winds Cause Ground to Shake in Ontario

    Widespread damaging winds swept through Ontario Sunday, with hurricane force gusts strong enough to cause ground shaking in Toronto.

    Heavy rain and fierce winds whipped through much of southern Ontario Sunday, courtesy of a potent Colorado low with widespread impact across the province.

    Record-breaking winds were reported throughout the day, including a gust of 118 km/h at Toronto Island and an impressive 141 km/h gust in St. Catharines. Those were both strong enough to set new all-time records for the month of November.

    Seismologist John Cassidy flagged an unusual signal on the sensitive seismographs placed along the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto.

    "The wind speed was strong enough to be tracked on the data plot from the output of the seismometer Sunday evening," explains Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.

    The blustery conditions also created flooding along shorelines and a flood warning was issued for Lake Erie by the Long Point Region Conservation Authority(LPRCA). The Port Stanley Buoy in Lake Erie recorded waves of 4.7 metres (15.4 feet).

    At the height of the storm Sunday evening, over 230,000 Hydro One customers were without power due to trees being blown over and tearing down power lines.

    Here's a closer look at the impacts from the potent storm that slammed southern Ontario:


  • Snow and Cold Records Falling Around the World

    Temperatures are currently dropping big time, resulting in unprecedented snow storms across the world from Libya, Greece and Japan to the Middle East.

    Snow in Libya for the first time in 15 years

    The Green Mountain in northeastern Libya was veiled white this week as snow fell in the area for the first time in 15 years.

    The rare flurry began on Monday and is expected to continue for at least two more days.

    Worst snow storm in over a decade hits Athens, Greece

    The cold front, dubbed “Medea” after the mythical Greek sorceress of the Argonauts, sent temperatures plunging.

    The last time we saw so much snow in the centre of Athens was in February 2008, said meteorologist Costas Lagouvardos.

    Snow storm pummels Japan, disrupts travel

    A strong winter storm has lashed northern Japan and coastal regions, whipping off roofs, flooding homes and disrupting transport.

    A gust of 162km/h was recorded at Cape Erimo on Hokkaido and 135 km/h in the city of Sakata, Yamagata prefecture.

    The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of “the most powerful blizzard in years,” which could produce white-out conditions, for part of the island through Wednesday.

    A severe blizzard battered the northern island of Hokkaido on Tuesday and a storm surge inundated homes in part of the island.

    Heavy blizzard hits Istanbul, Turkey

    The snowfall Istanbul is experiencing is expected to be as harsh as the winters of 1987, 2002 and 2004.

    In 1987, Istanbul had one of the worst winters, where snow reached depths of 1 meter in some locations, with people stranded in their homes for days.

    The Bosporus, the busiest waterway in the country that divides Istanbul in two, was closed to maritime traffic on Sunday as visibility dropped below half a nautical mile.

    5 million in northern Mexico without power as winter storm in Texas freezes natural gas pipelines

    Freezing weather in the US state of Texas left almost five million people in northern Mexico without power early on Monday, as a shortage of natural gas disrupted electricity production.

    Mexico’s government-owned utility, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), said on Monday its operations were interrupted as the winter storm in Texas froze natural gas pipelines.

    Mexico uses gas to generate about 60 percent of its power, compared with about 40 percent in the United States, and the country built pipelines to take advantage of cheap natural gas from its northern neighbour.

    A deep freeze across Texas during the weekend took a toll on the energy industry in the largest US crude-producing state, shutting oil refineries and forcing restrictions from natural gas pipeline operators.

    Meanwhile, the heavy snowfall is reported across the Middle East in parts of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt…

    Snow is blanketing parts of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Egypt, blocking roads, disrupting traffic and even delaying exams at some universities.

    Large parts of Syria were covered with snow was as high as 15 cm (6 inches) in the mountains of Sweida province, including the capital Damascus.

    Roads in some provinces were blocked. In the central province of Hama, bulldozers shoveled snow to open roads while vehicles skidded on ice, further causing traffic disruption.

    The University of Damascus called off mid-term exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in all its branches around Syria because of the extreme weather conditions. The country’s ports remained open.

    In the opposition-held northwestern Syria, civil defense teams have been building dirt mounds since Tuesday around displaced persons’ camps to prevent the rain from flooding the crowded areas. Nearly 3 million displaced people live in northwestern Syria, mostly in tents and temporary shelters. Heavy rainfall last month damaged over 190 displacement sites, destroying and damaging over 10,000 tents.

    In neighboring Lebanon, Storm Joyce hit late Tuesday with gale force winds registering between 85 km/h (52 miles/h) and 100 km/h (62 miles/h). The storm is expected to get stronger Thursday.

    Breaking a warm spell, the storm brought heavy rainfall, a sharp drop in temperatures and the heaviest snow fall in Lebanon this year. Snow is expected to cover areas of altitudes as low as 400 meters high, according to the Meteorological department. Nearly a dozen roads in eastern and northern Lebanon were closed to traffic because of the snow.

    The Israeli Meteorological Service forecast heavy thunderstorms and cold temperatures across much of the country, with snowfall at higher altitudes expected later on Wednesday, including in Jerusalem. Heavy snowfall covered the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria.

    If you want tome more images, this video features the ongoing snow storms across Jordan (00:00), Syria (05:09), Lebanon (06:36), Israel (07:57), Palestine (08:40), Saudi Arabia (09:42) and Egypt (10:23)

  • Texas power blackout: Nearly 3 million households without electricity

    The death toll from the historic winter storm sweeping across large swaths of the US has increased to at least 23 — as more than 3.4 million people in Texas remain without power, including 1.4 million in the Houston metropolitan area, according to reports.

    In addition to the Lone Star State, the brutal storm claimed lives in Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri, shuttered COVID-19 inoculation centers and hindered vaccine supplies.

    No relief is expected until the weekend, officials said.

    Four people were killed in a house fire in Sugar Land, Texas, where the power was out, according to police and local media.

    In South Austin, hundreds of residents waited in a seemingly endless line that stretched down Congress Avenue to buy supplies at a newly reopened H-E-B grocery, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

    “We knew a week in advance this storm was coming. ERCOT should have had a backup plan,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during an interview on KLBK, referring to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which provides 90 percent of the state’s power.

    Texas officials have drawn criticism as the state’s energy grid repeatedly failed, forcing rolling blackouts. The frigid conditions crippled giant wind turbines across the West Texas landscape, making it impossible for energy companies to meet skyrocketing demand.

    Lina Hidalgo, the top executive in Harris County, which includes Houston, warned residents to prepare for prolonged problems.

    “Let me give it to you straight,” she said on Twitter late Tuesday. “There’s a possibility of power outages even beyond the length of this storm.”

    Critics have long argued that the state’s deregulated energy market provides scant financial incentives for operators to prepare for rare bouts of extremely cold weather, according to Reuters.

    Natural gas wells and pipelines in Texas do not undergo the winterization of those farther north.

    According to the Poweroutage.us tracking site, more than 3 million residential, commercial and industrial customers were without power in Texas as of Tuesday night.

    In the state capital, Austin, the temperature dropped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit — well below February’s average low of 45. By contrast, thermometers in Anchorage, Alaska, read 20F.

    Joshua Rhodes, an energy researcher at the University of Texas in Austin, said the electric grid fell victim to a cold spell that was longer, deeper and more widespread than the state had seen in decades.

    “The system as we built it is not performing to the standards we would like to see,” he said. “We need to do a better job. If that involves paying more for energy to have more reliability, that’s a conversation we’re going to have to have.”

    Climate change also should be factored in, he added.

    Meanwhile, the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office, which covers for three counties, has requested a refrigerated truck to expand its body storage.

    Judge Mark Henry, the top county executive, could not immediately provide details on why the extra capacity was needed or on the number of weather-related deaths in his 340,000-person county. But he’s worried.

    “We were listening to the radio this morning and it was just welfare check, after welfare check, after welfare check,” Henry said. “Unfortunately, those are not all going to turn out to be positive.”

    The Arctic air mass descended over much of the country, pushing temperatures to historic lows on Tuesday, said meteorologist Lara Pagano of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

    In Lincoln, Nebraska, a reading of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit shattered a record set in 1978 of minus 18F.

    In Mississippi, people woke up to discover much of the state transformed into a snow-and-ice-covered landscape. Authorities were reportedly struggling to clear roads, as they did not have plows because the state so rarely needs them.

    On Tuesday, President Biden offered his administration’s assistance in a call with at least seven governors of states impacted by the severe weather.

    The White House said Biden told governors that he and his wife were praying for their citizens and pledged to deploy federal emergency resources as needed.

    Among those on the call were Abbott, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

    Meteorologists blame the historically chilly weather on a large disruption of the polar vortex with Arctic weather that’s normally located near the North Pole, but it escaped and sent low temperatures south.

    The vortex is stronger and longer than usual, experts say, and these events are happening twice as often as they used to.  

    “One thing that Texas situation highlights is that we are likely to deal with more compound extreme weather events — multiple event weather systems that have cascading impacts on society and our infrastructure,” said Marshall Shepherd, a University of Georgia meteorology professor.

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