Fires Southern Europe, western parts of Canada and California have been devastated by wildfires this year. The Thomas Fire in California is now the biggest in California’s history, scorching more than 280,000 acres or 440 square miles (nearly the size of New York City). Thousands have been evacuated in northwestern Spain. 2017 was the deadliest year on record for wildfires killing people (105) in Portugal. Italy, France, Croatia, Spain and Greece were all swept by three times (3X) the average number of wildfires. Hundreds of homes were destroyed by wildfires in Siberia. Chile wildfires were unparalleled in the country’s history according to President Michelle Bachelet. Even Greenland, not known for its hot, dry conditions, suffered an unprecedented blaze this summer. Scientists say wildfires are likely to become increasingly frequent and widespread (longer fire seasons, harsher, longer recovery).
01/09/2018 Alps hit by ‘once-in-a-generation’ snow storms: Hundreds of roads across the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland were closed, cutting off resorts and villages, after the kind of snowfall that only comes once every 30 years. Tens of thousands of people have been stranded across the Alps after ‘once-in-a-generation’ weather dumped almost 2 meters of snow on some ski resorts in less than 48 hours. Schools and nurseries in have been closed and roads cut off after the Savoie department in France was placed on red alert – the highest warning for avalanches. Météo France, the weather forecaster, said that similar conditions had occurred only once in 30 years. “We really recommend that people stay at home, the avalanche risk is high, these are conditions that we’ve not seen since 1978.” said Captain Hélène Delas, a fire fighter in Savoie Department.
01/15/2018 SNOW FALLS IN WORLD’S HOTTEST DESERT: The people of Ain Sefra were greeted by a strange sight when they woke up last Sunday: 4-12 inches of snow had fallen overnight in the northern Algerian town known as ‘the Gateway to the Desert’, situated between the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains. This is only the third time in the last 40 years that the Sahara’s dunes have been coated with snow. The Sahara is one of the hottest places on the planet but strangely, it snowed there last year as well. Before that, it had been 37 years since Ain Sefra’s last snowfall. The Sahara is the largest and hottest desert in the world, covering 3.5 million square miles, an area approximately the size of the continental US. In 1922, a temperature of 136° Fahrenheit, the highest land surface temperature ever recorded, was set in the Sahara at El Azizia, Libya.
02/05/2018, Reuters Russia calls in army after “snowfall of the century” in Moscow: MOSCOW – Russian soldiers have been drafted in to help clear the streets of Moscow and the surrounding region after a record snowfall which delayed flights, felled hundreds of trees, and turned some roads and pavements into an obstacle course. More than a month’s worth of snow fell on Moscow within just 36 hours at the weekend as the temperature hovered below zero degrees Celsius, the biggest snowfall in the Russian capital since meteorological records began. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, calling the event “the snowfall of the century,” said one person had been killed when a tree brought down electricity lines, one of over 2,000 trees toppled under the sheer weight of the snow. At least five other people were injured in separate incidents, Sobyanin said. The Russian military said in a statement it had sent 100 soldiers, two snowplow and a truck to help clear the snow in one Moscow district and at a location in the Moscow region. How much did it snow? It snowed so much that Moscow called a snow day. That never happens. When Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted late Sunday that schoolchildren should stay home from classes Monday morning because of heavy snowfall in the Russian capital over the weekend, there was a collective gasp on the internet. Moscow and snow have always been a match made in hell — a 6-month-long stream of early darkness, subzero temperatures and frequent snowstorms.
Somalia’s “strongest cyclone on record” has left dozens dead and thousands displaced: A tropical cyclone has caused destruction across the Horn of Africa, leaving at least 15 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. Tropical cyclone Sagar, which means “the sea” in Hindi, formed in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and northern Somalia late last week. Since landing over the weekend, the cyclone system has caused heavy rains in both the Puntland and Somaliland regions of Somalia, and moved along the coast to strike the tiny nation of Djibouti. With top sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, Sagar made landfall further west than any tropical cyclone in 52 years of record-keeping for the North Indian Basin. The cyclone, which is being called the strongest ever recorded in Somalia, left a trail of destruction including loss of livestock and crops and destruction of homes, as well as massive damage to infrastructure. “This is the biggest storm to hit the region in years,” Nigel Tricks, the regional director for the Norwegian Refugee Council said. The NRC said that at least 30,000 people were affected in Somalia and Djibouti. But the extent of the damage is yet to be confirmed, especially given the current armed conflict between Somaliland and Puntland that had already displaced almost 10,000 people prior to the cyclone’s arrival. Torrential rains also pounded other parts of Somalia, with people and cars slowly moving through waist-deep floodwater after homes were inundated. Officials said the storm killed at least six people in the capital Mogadishu. The United Nations estimates 700,000 people in flood-affected areas will need livelihood support through September.
March 19, 2018 Hailstorm; A giant hailstone found in the Crane Hill area during Monday’s storm has grabbed the attention of the National Weather Service. NWS representatives were in Cullman County Wednesday to survey damage and determine if tornadoes touched down in various areas where damage was heavy, but they also were planning to examine the frozen hail that was preserved, said Cullman County Emergency Management Agency Director Phyllis Little. The large, spiky ice ball is considered large, even for hail and may be a record, but no report was available Wednesday, she said. “They wanted to measure it, just to see,” Little said. “The hail caused so much damage across the area and there were reports of various sizes, some as large as softballs or larger.”
An EF-1 tornado touched down briefly near Vinemont during Monday’s storm, but the rare occurrence was the size and force of the hail. The magnitude of the hail storm, which included one spiked hail stone measuring 5.25 inches in diameter, was rare for Alabama and the Southeast, said Chris Stumpf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. “With the size encountered, we call this extreme hail. This was rare for this region, but what happened was two storm systems collided and began moving rapidly, keeping the hail with it as it moved through the area,” Stumpf said. While that system moved rapidly through Cullman County, two smaller ones followed, making the length of the storm seem longer to residents, he said. The widespread damage from the hail can be attributed to speed and size. “With the size of the hail and the strength of the merged storm systems, some of the hail was descending at speeds close to 130 miles per hour,” Stumpf said. At that speed, numerous homes, businesses and automobiles were damaged by hail, which caused most of the damage throughout the area.
.On July 23, 2010 a hailstone 8 inches in diameter and 1.93 pounds fell in Vivian, South Dakota.
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