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Snow strands thousands of travelers around Europe

Snow and icy weather disrupted travel across Europe on Sunday, closing Geneva airport on one of its busiest tourist weekends of the year and prompting a state of emergency on part of Germany's Baltic coast.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at Geneva's Cointrin airport after heavy overnight snow kept it closed until noon.

"It was the first time we had so much snow on the runway since 1985," airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said on French-language Swiss radio at midday as departures began.

Delays were expected as frustrated passengers queued to rebook flights at the airport, where 100,000 people had been due to transit over the weekend.

Many British, German and other European skiers use Geneva airport to reach popular Swiss and French ski resorts in the nearby Alpine region, including Verbier.


Extreme weather batters Poland

Eighty-six people have died of hypothermia, rail traffic has come to a halt, and many roads are impassable, after the weekend's heavy snow and temperature drop across Poland, writes tabloid Fakt.

Several localities are cut off from the rest of the world, and thousands of households have no electricity, and the worst is still to come, warns the daily.

As Gazeta Wyborcza reports, Warsaw has so far forked out up to 10 mln euro for clearing roads, which is equal to the amount the city's culture budget. Meanwhile, cars in Bytom Odrzański, western Poland, have to plow through the snow as is in line with the city mayor's money-saving policy. "Why waste the money if the snow will melt anyway?" asked the official.


How Long Will the Cold-Snap Last?

The following sample of stories from the past year show that much of the world has been experiencing a cold spell:
  • Across the South, Midwest, and Eastern seaboard [of the United States], a stubborn “arctic outbreak," tacked onto an already cold return to work for many Americans, augurs what meteorologist at AccuWeather.com are calling “the coldest winter in many people’s memory.”


Record cold in Florida strains power grid, sets usage record

Demand for electricity across the bitterly cold Sunshine State has shattered Florida Power and Light's all-time record.

"This morning, we set a new all-time record peak load on the electrical system, with customers drawing more than 23,500 megawatt-hours of power," said Sarah Marmion, FPL spokeswoman. "This breaks FPL's previous peak record, which occurred on Aug. 17, 2005."


Cold stuns Floridians, causes deaths elsewhere

Orlando, Florida - Mark and Barbara Willard were at home in Wickford, England two weeks ago checking the weather forecast on the Internet before packing for their trip to Orlando - sunny and 70 degrees.

On Saturday afternoon they had the hoods on their brand new coats pulled tight around their heads as the walked down the International Drive tourist strip. The weather: 35 degrees and cloudy with a chance of icy rain or even snow.

"The good news is two days after we go home we're off to Jamaica," said Mark Willard.


Global warmists falling deeper into denial: UK's Guardian asks "Could 2010 be the hottest year on record?"

Despite the big freeze Britain's climate is getting distinctly warmer - and we may feel it this summer

It may be a hard notion to accept after a week that has seen the nation paralysed by snow and ice. Nevertheless, meteorologists are adamant that our world is still getting warmer. Indeed, many now believe that 2010 may turn out to be the hottest year on record.

Britain may be shivering, the Met Office may have issued emergency weather warnings for the entire country and hundreds of trains and flights may have been cancelled, but our future is destined to be a hot and sticky one. And we are likely to feel the consequences sooner rather than later.

It is a point stressed by Doug Smith, a climate expert at the Met Office. "The hottest year on record was 1998 and some people have argued that if global warming is really taking place, we should have had an even warmer year since then. We haven't, I admit. And yes, the weather is absolutely terrible at present. However, I am sure things will change - and we won't have to wait long either."

Comment: Very odd that he will admit in one breath that all the global warming hype has been a bunch of hooey and in the next breath, express hope that this hooey will come true in the future. This guy is delusional and should be locked up!

The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a delusion as:
A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.


John Hirst, UK's Top Meteorologist, Blasted For Receiving Bonus After Predicting 'Mild Winter'

John Hirst, the head of the UK's national weather service (Met Office), came under fire this week over the fact that, as the country's top weatherman, he had a predicted a mild winter for Britain, which is instead currently suffering from its biggest cold spell in 30 years. To make matters worse, Hirst, following a significant pay increase, now makes more than the Prime Minister, despite leading an organization notorious for getting its forecasts wrong, the Telegraph reported recently.

In the video below, a BBC host asks Hirst bluntly, "So given that it's clearly not a mild winter by any standards, why are you getting a performance-related bonus?"


How Plants 'Feel' the Temperature Rise

© iStockphoto
Arabidopsis thaliana
Plants are incredibly temperature sensitive and can perceive changes of as little as one degree Celsius. Now, a report in the January 8th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, shows how they not only 'feel' the temperature rise, but also coordinate an appropriate response -- activating hundreds of genes and deactivating others; it turns out it's all about the way that their DNA is packaged.

The findings may help to explain how plants will respond in the face of climate change and offer scientists new leads in the quest to create crop plants better able to withstand high temperature stress, the researchers say.

"We've uncovered a master regulator of the entire temperature transcriptome," said Philip Wigge of John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom in reference to the thousands of genes that are differentially activated under warmer versus cooler conditions.

Bizarro Earth

Colombian Volcano Erupts, Evacuation Ordered

© Ingeominas/Reuters
An aerial view of the Galeras volcano near Pasto city is seen in this handout file photo taken December 3, 2009.
The Galeras volcano in southern Colombia erupted on Saturday, shooting rock and ash and prompting authorities to order the evacuation of about 8,000 people.

No one was killed or injured in the eruption. But officials warned that the volcano could remain volatile.

Galeras, located in the Andes mountains near Colombia's border with Ecuador, erupted 10 times in 2009. Most people living in the vicinity have grown used to the alerts and refuse to evacuate when ordered to by local authorities.

Thousands of revelers celebrating the annual Black and White Carnival in the nearby city of Pasto were startled by Saturday's eruption but the festivities carried on.

Bizarro Earth

US: 6.5 magnitude quake strikes off northern California coast


The quake struck about 27 miles west of Eureka, CA
The U.S. Geological Survey says a 6.5 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Northern California.

The USGS says the quake hit just before 4:30 p.m. Saturday about 27 miles from Eureka, a coastal city that's 110 miles south of the Oregon border.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is no threat of the quake generating a tsunami.

USGS geophysicist Richard Buckmaster says the quake was felt as far south as Capitola in central California, and as far north as Roseburg in central Oregon.

Comment: The US Geological Survey's details are available here.