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Extreme Temperatures


Wintry weather threatens Christmas travel chaos across Britain

Motorway M6
© Dave Thompson/PA
The M6 motorway in Cheshire: driving conditions are expected to worsen over the next 24 hours.
Torrential rain and heavy gales are threatening to create a hazardous Christmas getaway in many parts of Britain, forecasters have warned.

Gusts of up to 90mph are forecast in some areas on Monday and Christmas Eve, as heavy rainfall sweeps into south Wales and south-east England. The wintry showers have increased the possibility of a white Christmas in parts of Britain, with odds slashed in cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

The Met Office issued a severe weather warning from dawn on Monday and advised travellers to brace themselves for chaos on the roads and rails.

"There is scope for very heavy rain, potentially some localised flooding, and strong winds in some areas so there is a risk of travel disruption," said Calum MacColl, a Met Office forecaster. An amber alert for rain was issued for south Wales and parts of southern England on Sunday, with conditions expected to worsen over the next 24 hours due to a low-pressure weather system swept in from across the Atlantic.

"[Monday] will start quite nicely in some places, but there will soon be heavy outbreaks of rain in the south-west of England and south Wales. That will quickly move into the north-east, and will bring gales with it."


Ice and snow frustrate US holiday travel rush

US Weather
© AP Photo/Weather Underground
This is a Weather Underground forecast for Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, for the U.S. A storm will produce showers and thunderstorms from Texas to Tennessee. Rain will be likely from the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley and portions of the Northeast. Snow will fall from the central Plains to Lower Michigan and northern New England.
Chicago - A storm with a 2,000-mile footprint frustrated Christmas travelers Saturday from Texas to Nova Scotia with a little of everything Mother Nature has to offer, from freezing rain, ice and snow to flooding, thunderstorms and even tornadoes.

Some of the millions of people who hit the roads and airports by midday Saturday squeaked through before any major weather had hit, but the cancellations and flight delays started to mount as the afternoon wore on.

Forecasters warned motorists that roads that seemed passable one minute could turn treacherous the next, as a cold blast on the storm's back end turns rain to ice and snow.

The system's strange swirl of winter and spring-like conditions produced starkly different weather at times in areas separated by a couple hundred miles. While drivers in Oklahoma and eastern Missouri were navigating ice-slicked streets Saturday, residents in Memphis, Tenn., were strolling around in T-shirts in spring-like temperatures in the mid-60s.

Snowflake Cold

Video: Snow in the Middle East, floods and fireballs in the first half of December 2013


Florida: Number of annual manatee deaths top 800 for first time on record

© Wikimedia Commons.
A group of three manatees
For the first time since records began being kept in Florida in the 1970s, the number of manatee deaths in a single year has topped 800, with two weeks remaining to the end of 2013.

Numbers released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg this week showed the number of dead manatees at 803 as of Dec. 13. That's about 16 percent of the state's estimated population of 5,000 manatees.

And 173 of the dead were breeding-age female manatees, Martine DeWit of the institute's Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory said Thursday.

Although it's too soon to say how this will affect the future of the species, she said, "It must have an impact to lose these important breeding females."

For comparison, last year's total number of manatee deaths was 392, which is more in line with what's normal.

The old record for manatee deaths, set in 2010, resulted from a lengthy cold snap that killed hundreds of manatees, pushing that year's number of deaths to 766. That cold snap mostly affected younger manatees that had not yet attained breeding age, DeWit said.

This year's record die-off was driven by two causes - one of which remains a mystery.

Snowflake Cold

Ice Age cometh: Northern Thailand declared cold disaster zone - Snow in Vietnam - In Turkey, animals literally freeze where they stand

Donkeys freeze in Turkey
© Unknown
Donkeys freeze where they stand during a cold snap in Turkey
A flurry of Middle Eastern and Asian news websites are reporting on "unusual" cold sweeping across vast areas of Asia and the Middle East.

The online Thailand pattayamail.com reports "Hundreds of thousands of residents of northern and northeastern Thailand are suffering from the current cold snap, with many areas having been declared disaster zones. [...] Some 100,000 people are suffering from the cold and in need of winter clothing. "

The German language thailand-tip.com reports that the "Meteorological Institute forecasts temperatures in the north to fall another 4 - 7°C by Thursday."

Alarm Clock

In the wealthiest area of the country, 7 homeless people have frozen to death this winter

Joe White, a homeless man who died during a Bay Area cold snap last weekend, in a photograph with his mother Mary Archuleta
Joe White was this close to making it.

A 50-year-old California man described by relatives as a "loving father and a doting grandfather," White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.

But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.

White died on Sunday.

Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White's body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He'd been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White's sister had given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police speculated that his death was weather-related.


Jordan: Four days of heavy snowfall leaves Amman paralyzed

Thousands of homes in Jordan's capital Amman have been left without power, after four days of heavy snowfall left the city paralysed.

Hundreds of vehicles were left stranded, covered by the snow. Amman's residents have begun trying to clear the roads.

It is one of the worst blizzards to hit the country in recent history, leaving half a metre of snow in certain areas. Heavy snow has fallen in parts of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Syria over the last few days. The major winter storm, known as Alexa, is the first to hit the region this season.

Cloud Lightning

Finland's chief meteorologist can't understand why storms on increase


This powerful storm battered Finland in 2010
The last four winters in Finland have been brilliantly white, with snow. Intense storms are also on the increase. This has the Director of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Mikko Alestalo, rather confused.


Cold wave grips Mumbai for 2nd day

© OLA Cabs
Mumbai: A cold wave continued to grip Mumbai for the second consecutive day with Santa Cruz recording a minimum temperature of 15.6 degrees Celsius on Monday.

On Sunday, Mumbai had recorded the first coldest day of this season with a minimum temperature of 15.7 degrees C. This sudden drop in temperature is due to the northerly cold winds, said V K Rajeev, director, India Meteor-ological Department (IMD), Mumbai. The temperature is currently 2-3 degrees below normal, and would continue for the next two-three days. "After that, the city might witness a slight rise in temperature."

IMD officials said that as the northern parts of the country cool further, the temperature in the city might drop a bit more towards the end of the year or early in January. "The temperature is likely to stay between 15 and 16 degrees C for the next few days," said an official.

If other parts of the country get even cooler, Mumbai might see some drop in the maximum temperature in the coming few days," said an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Officials said that last December, the maximum temperature in the city had dropped to about 30 degrees C around this time of the year giving Mumbaikars a respite from the heat during the day. Currently, the maximum temperature is a little above 32 degrees C. "Other parts of Maharashtra are already much cooler. Bur Mumbai's proximity to the coast adds to the humidity and keeps the maximum temperature high," said an official.

IMD officials said morning haze will be a fixture till the end of January adding to the coolness. "Earlier, the haze would lift by 7am. Now, it stays till about 8.30am. In December, more than 75% of the days witness a visible haze," the IMD official added.

Ice Cube

Ice Age Cometh: Unprecedented influx of Arctic Ivory Gulls into UK

On par with a mammoth influx of juvenile Snowy Owls in North America (involving at least 750 so far), the UK has experienced its largest-ever influx of first-year Ivory Gulls from the Arctic ice-shelf.

Following the first off Seaburn (County Durham) on 30th November, an unprecedented five more have been discovered since......

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