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Sun, 20 Aug 2017
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Extreme Temperatures

Sun

Heatwave in France sees temperatures reach 38C (100F)


File photo
Almost all of France (apart from the south east) is now roasting under temperatures up to 38C as heatwave alerts are extended to 66 departments.

Most of France is sizzling under scorching temperatures with 66 departments now on heatwave alert, including the entire greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, national weather agency Meteo France said.

The weather agency extended the orange alert from 16 departments to 66 on Tuesday, meaning the sweltering temperatures are now affecting vast swathes of France.

The mercury is predicted to rise to nearly 40C in the west of the country with temperatures in the southwestern seaside town of Biarritz expected to reach a whopping 38C.

Sun

It's so hot in Phoenix, Arizona, planes can't fly

© Michael Chow/The Republic
The extreme heat forecast for Phoenix on Tuesday has caused the cancellation of 20 American Airlines flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport.

According to a statement from American Airlines, the American Eagle regional flights use the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. Tuesday's forecast for Phoenix included a high of 120 degrees, and the flights that are affected were to take off between 3 and 6 p.m. MT.

Customers affected were told to contact American Airlines for rebooking options or to request a refund.

Extreme heat affects a plane's ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed.

Comment: The number of cancelled American Airlines flights has almost reached 50.


Igloo

Lowest solar activity in 200 years

Frank Bosse and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt present their monthly solar activity report at their Die kalte Sonne site.

In May the sun was very quiet as sunspot number was a mere 18.8, which is only 36% of what is typical for the month this far into the cycle. Seven days saw no sunspot activity at all.

The following chart shows the current cycle, Solar Cycle 24 (red), compared to the mean of the previous cycles (blue) and the similarly behaving SC 5 (black).
© No Tricks Zone
It's clear that the current cycle is significantly weaker than the mean and far weaker than the cycles we saw throughout most of the warming 20th century. So far there have been a number of signs indicating that upcoming SC 25 will also be a weak one. Historically periods of weak solar activity are associated with cooler periods and altered weather patterns.

The current cycle SC 24 has been so quiet that it is in fact the weakest since SC 6, which took place close to 200 years ago.

Fire

At least 43 people killed in forest fires in central Portugal

© Getty
A wildfire is reflected in a stream at Penela, Coimbra
At least 43 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road.

The deaths happened as blazes rage in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 93 miles north east of Lisbon.

Around 600 firefighters were trying to put out the blazes, which started on Saturday.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said 16 people died in their cars on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera and three died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

Public broadcaster RTP said there were about 20 injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in a serious condition.


Snowflake

It's June but California is still covered in snow

The summer solstice is just around the corner, but someone forgot to tell California's snowpack.

After years of wallowing in drought, this winter walloped California's Sierra Nevada mountains in a major, record-setting way. And while the calendar says summer, winter still has its grips on the granite spine of the Sierras.

NASA Earth Observatory released satellite imagery on Thursday that shows what a difference a year makes. Snowpack is at 170 percent of normal when averaged across the state and some areas are reporting way higher totals than that, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Alpine Meadows, located just west of Lake Tahoe, reported 288 inches of snow on the ground (no, that's not a typo) as of early June. Deep green hues of healthy vegetation also extend down the Sierra Nevada western slope, another benefit of all that precipitation.


Comment: See also: California roads still being cleared of snow in June


Snowflake

Snow cancels Yukon-Alaska bicycle race

© Dan Reimer
Snow in Haines Junction, Yukon, has cancelled the 25th-annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.
The 25th-annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay has been cancelled due to snow at the starting line, affecting about 1,300 riders who were set to begin the race Saturday morning.

This is the first time the race has been cancelled.

"The race was cancelled because not only snow and slush in the upper elevations in the summit legs, but right here in Haines Junction at the start," said Mike Kramer, race coordinator.

Snowflake

California roads still being cleared of snow in June


Crews feverishly blowing snow off the road in early June as they ready for the first summer visitors
A dangerous snow removal operation is continuing in areas of Yosemite National Park.

Snow fell as recently as Monday, but a late week heat wave with temperatures increasing by 40 degrees will help the removal of snow in the park and other areas of northern California.

Crews have been working round-the-clock through spring to clear the snow from the roads of the state's highest mountain, which stretches 400 miles.

Mountain passes are typically open by Memorial Day. Though the only road through Yosemite, Highway 120, remained closed at the park's eastern entrance this week as crews dig out from snows that topped 20 feet and drifted well over 50 feet.

Attention

Nemesis - The Sun's long-lost twin

© Bill Saxton, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NRAO/AUI/NSF
A radio image of a triple-star system forming within a dusty disk in the Perseus molecular cloud obtained by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
Nemesis is apparently real, even if its bad reputation is undeserved.

For decades, some scientists have speculated that the sun has a companion whose gravitational tug periodically jostles comets out of their normal orbits, sending them careening toward Earth. The resulting impacts have caused mass extinctions, the thinking goes, which explains the putative star's nickname: Nemesis.

Now, a new study reports that almost all sun-like stars are likely born with companions, bolstering the case for the existence of Nemesis.
"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," study co-author Steven Stahler, a research astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.

But the new results don't paint Nemesis as a murderer: The sibling star probably broke free of the sun and melted into the Milky Way galaxy's stellar population billions of years ago, study team members said.

Ice Cube

Climate-change expedition scrapped due to 'very severe ice conditions'

© Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans
A team of scientists - aboard an icebreaker, mind you! - had to abandon their expedition because of hazardous ice conditions. Ice chunks measured 16 to 26 feet (5 to 8 m) thick. The "very icy conditions" were caused by climate change, says the group's leader.

About 40 scientists were using the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen for a 133-day expedition across the Arctic, part of a $17-million, four-year project to look at the effects of climate change. They began their trip on May 25 in Quebec City, but due to bad ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland, the icebreaker was diverted to help ferries and fishing boats stuck in the ice. Some had even took on water.

'Very severe ice conditions'

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the conditions were unlike anything ever seen before in the area. "It was just extreme ice conditions that required everything that we've got in order to make sure we were able to provide the services," said Julie Gascon, the coast guard's assistant commissioner for the central and Arctic region.

Ice Cube

Record cold across Nevada - Heavy snowfall in the mountains

Several daily low temperatures and rainfall records were set yesterday across central and northern Nevada. On the same day, the state's mountainous regions received an estimated 6 - 12 inches (15 - 30 cm) of snow.

The rare winter-like storm hit parts of California and Nevada on June 11 and 12, 2017, dumping measurable snow on Lake Tahoe on the California/and Nevada border.