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Wed, 20 Jan 2021
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Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Beijing freezes as temperature sinks to lowest since 1969

Temperatures in Beijing fell to the lowest level since 1966 this week.
© AFP/Noel Celis
Temperatures in Beijing fell to the lowest level since 1966 this week.
Temperatures in the Chinese capital plunged to their lowest for more than five decades on Thursday (Jan 7), as Beijing was hit by gale-force winds and bitter conditions.

On Thursday morning the mercury dropped to minus 19.6 degrees Celsius, breaking a previous cold weather record set in 1969.

The cold reading was the lowest since 1966, when temperatures in the city fell to minus 27.4 degrees Celsius.

Thousands took to social media to complain about the city's weather, with the hashtags "How cold is this winter?" and "Beijing's temperature reaches the lowest since 1966" both trending topics on Weibo and garnering a collective 240 million views.

"I heard the wind shouting at me: I want to kill you," wrote one.

Comment: 20 weather stations in China reach or break lowest temperatures recorded for December, affecting 80% of the country


205 roads blocked by heavy snow in Himachal Pradesh, India - up to 30 inches deep

A man removes snow from a car after the town
© PTI)
A man removes snow from a car after the town received fresh snowfall, at Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti District.
The tribal areas and other higher hills of the state received fresh snowfall while lower and middle hills witnessed widespread rains disrupting normal life. As many as 205 roads were closed due to heavy snow in the state.

The minimum and maximum temperatures rose marginally even as the sky remained heavily overcast and icy winds, accompanied by showers, blew across the region. The local Met office has warned of dense fog at isolated places in lower and middle hills in Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra and Mandi districts till January 9 and predicted rain and snow at isolated places in middle and high hills on January 8, followed by dry weather.


Novel atmosphere phenomenon 'STEVE' makes ANOTHER appearance over Finland

STEVE over Finland
© Rayann Elzein
Last night, STEVE visited Finland. The purple ribbon of light, which is not an aurora, appeared over Utsjoki in the Finnish Lapland. "This is very unusual," says Rayann Elzein, who photographed the apparition.

"I've been chasing auroras in Arctic Finland for nearly a decade, and this is only the second time I have seen STEVE here at 70 degrees N," says Elzein.

Comment: STEVE (Strong Thermal Velocity Enhancement) is a relatively recent discovery, first spotted and photographed by Canadian citizen scientists around 10 years ago. It looks like an aurora, but it is not. See also: Discoveries like STEVE are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the unusual phenomena that reflects the shift occurring on our planet - and even further afield:


500 people evacuated from the area around the Merapi volcano, Indonesia after thick clouds of smoke expelled

Merapi volcano
© Travel News Twitter
Merapi volcano
At least 500 people were removed from the island of Java, Indonesia, today after the erupting Merapi volcano began to expel thick clouds of smoke, the Indonesian Geology Agency said.

The authorities evacuated an area of five kilometres around the volcano.

"So far the potential danger does not exceed five kilometres," said Hanik Humaira, director of the Indonesian Geology Agency, in a statement.

Activity at the Merapi, 400 kilometres southwest of Jakarta, began to increase last Thursday, according to the Indonesian Geology Agency, which indicated that the volcano was erupting.


Waterspout filmed off the coast of the Philippines

Onlookers recorded as a waterspout spun off the coast of the Zamboanga City, Philippines, on Jan. 3.

Cloud Precipitation

50,000 people affected by floods in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) in Sri Lanka reports severe weather, including high winds, lightning, heavy rain and flooding has affected over 50,000 people across the country since the start of the year.

Most of those affected were in Batticaloa, Eastern Province, where 12 division have seen flooding since 03 January 2021. Sri Lanka's Meteorological Department reported 142.4mm of rain fell in Batticaloa in 24 hours to 04 January.

Over 18,000 people have been affected by floods in Kattankudy, around 13,000 in Manmunai North and 8,000 in Eravur Pattu. DMC report 8 houses have been damaged across Batticaloa district as a result. No displacements or injuries were reported.


Deadly floods in North Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia - at least 3 killed

Floods in Bima Regency, Indonesia, 05 January
© BPBD Bima Regency
Floods in Bima Regency, Indonesia, 05 January 2021.
Disaster authorities in Indonesia report at least least 3 people have died in recent flood incidents in North Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara Provinces. Meanwhile flooding in Lhokseumawe City in Aceh Province has damaged over 2,000 homes.

National Disaster Agency BNPB reported flash flooding in Bima Regency, West Nusa Tenggara Province from 05 January 2021. At least 2 people have died and around 90 homes were damaged.

The previous day, high intensity rain falling on unstable ground triggered landslides and flash flooding in soil conditions in the Sangihe Islands in North Sulawesi Province. BNPB reported the sub-districts of Tahuna, Kendahe, Maganitu, South Maganitu, Tabukan Selatan Tengah and Tabukan Selatan Tenggara were all affected. At least 1 person died, over 200 buildings damaged and 223 families displaced. Flood waters were up to 1.5 metres deep in some areas.

Snowflake Cold

Kugaaruk, Canada suffers a record -47C (-52.6F) with a windchill below -60C (-76F)

Kugaaruk, Canada

While extreme Arctic conditions have spared southern Canada of late, instead favoring to dip deep into Asia where Russia and even the subtropical regions of China and India continue to suffer record-breaking sub-zero temperatures, things have played out very differently in northern Canada.

Taking Kugaaruk as an example, on the morning of Tuesday, January 5 the small Nunavut hamlet located on the shore of Pelly Bay registered -47C (-52.6F) — this was a temperature among the area's coldest on record, and it also comfortably broke the previous Jan. 5 all-time low of -42C (-43.6F) set back in 1985 (solar minimum of cycle 21).

In addition to the official new record low, a staggering windchill or "feels-like" benchmark was also set.

When speaking to Yahoo News, Jaclyn Whittal, meteorologist at the Weather Network, pointed out that Kugaaruk's windchill was over -60C (-76F) early Tuesday morning, a number she said is hard to even wrap your head around.

"Windchills of minus 60 would freeze your skin in less than two minutes," said Whittal. "Think about that. It takes two minutes to order a coffee at a drive-through".

Comment: Global temp plunges 0.26C in a month: "The next ice age has just started"

Cloud Precipitation

Chennai, India records highest rainfall for a January day since 1915

Chennai rain
The sudden downpour on Tuesday left many roads inundated in Chennai and brought significant inflows into waterbodies. The city recorded the highest quantum of rainfall on a single day in January since 1915.

While the northeast monsoon extending to January is not uncommon in Chennai, what came as a surprise was the intensity of rain lashing the city and neighbouring districts since Monday night.

Officials of the India Meteorological Department attributed it to an easterly trough over north Tamil Nadu.

Nungambakkam and Meenambakkam recorded 6 cm and 5 cm of rainfall respectively for 24 hours ending 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday. However, by 6.30 p.m., the two stations had recorded 8 cm and 10 cm rain respectively. Many other places, such as Taramani, received 12 cm, West Tambaram 10 cm and Poonamallee 7 cm.


Sudden stratospheric warming could increase risk of snow over coming weeks

© University of Exeter
Lead author of the study, Dr Richard Hall, said there was an increased chance of extreme cold, and potentially snow, over the next week or two.
A pioneering new study helps shed light on the chances of extreme cold, and potentially snow in the UK in the next fortnight.

A dramatic meteorological event, known as a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), is currently unfolding high over the Arctic. SSW events are some of the most extreme of atmospheric phenomena, occurring in only about 6 of every 10 winters, and see polar stratospheric temperature increase by up to 50°C over the course of a few days.

The usual strong westerly winds of the stratospheric polar vortex also break down and reverse in direction.

The new study, by experts from the universities of Exeter, Bristol and Bath, involved the analysis of 40 observed SSW events which occurred over the last 60 years. Researchers developed a novel method for tracking the signal of an SSW downward from its onset in the stratosphere to the surface.

These events are linked to severe weather events, such as the infamous 2018 "Beast from the East" which covered the UK in swathes of snow.

The study is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The stratosphere is the layer of the atmosphere from around 10-50km above the earth's surface.