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Snowflake

Record-breaking blizzard freezes Beijing before Congress

Beijing snow
© (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers clear a snow-covered street after a heavy snow-fall in the outskirts of Beijing on Nov. 4, 2012.
Netizens and scholar point to traditional culture, and posit causal link

A blizzard swept through northeastern China on Nov. 4, shutting down transportation in Beijing just before the opening of the 18th Party Congress. The unexpectedly early snow storm was commented on heavily, with Internet users drawing a connection between the inclement weather and the Chinese Communist Party's upcoming political meeting.

Breaks Records

In the early morning on Nov. 4, Beijing's Weather Bureau issued their most severe weather warning, a red alert, for the western and northern parts of the city and a second most severe warning, an orange alert, for the entire city, reported the state-run China Daily.

Igloo

How Earth's oceans plunged the planet into a catastrophic big freeze - and it wasn't caused by humans

The planet's last major cold spell 13,000 years ago was caused by a catastrophic deluge of frigid fresh water from north-west Canada into the Arctic ocean, a new study suggests. Detailed computer simulations show meltwater from the enormous Laurentide Ice Sheet halted the sinking of very dense, saltier, colder water in the North Atlantic.
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© Alan Condron
Detailed: A new model of flood waters from the melting Laurentide Ice Sheet shows how water first flowed north-west into the Arctic, weakening deep ocean circulation and leading to the Earth's last major cold period
That stopped the large scale ocean circulation - the so-called thermohaline circulation - that transports heat to Europe and North America, causing the continents to dramatically freeze. The findings offer a new explanation for the cause of this last big chill, which scientists had thought was caused by freshwater flowing into the Atlantic through Canada's Gulf of St Lawrence.

It led to a cold spell lasting more than 1,000 years known as the Younger Dryas or 'Big Freeze', during which temperatures in parts of the northern hemisphere fell to about 10 degrees C colder than they are today.

Snowflake Cold

Up to 40,000 New Yorkers may need to be relocated - freezing temperatures and more rain and wind from a 'nor'easter' storm

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Up to 40,000 New Yorkers may need to be relocated as the city prepares for freezing temperatures and more rain and wind from a 'nor'easter' storm. It is expected to hit New York and New Jersey with gusts of up to 55mph by Wednesday. The strongest winds are forecast for Long Island, with 40mph more likely for New York City. There is also the chance of more beach erosion, coastal flooding and trees weakened by Superstorm Sandy being felled.

Up to four inches of rain is expected along with snowfall in more inland mountainous areas and a tidal storm surge of up to 5ft is possible, forecasters say. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said tens of thousands of people were in need of shelter, including 20,000 in public housing. Almost 2million people still have no power as cold weather sets in - a week after Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast, killing at least 113 in the US.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters today faced tricky journeys into the city as public transport remained patchy. Rail service was reduced and the subway was at 80 per cent of its normal service. Most schools were due to reopen today, but some lacked power and others were being used as shelters.

Cloud Precipitation

Blizzards sweep in leaving 6in blanket of white as heavy rain sparks flood warnings across Britain

  • Snow fell in the South and the West Country overnight, including in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon
  • Heavy rain in parts of the South-East and East Anglia has led to flood warnings
  • Tomorrow will be the coldest Bonfire Night since daily records began 14 years ago
  • People have flocked to bet on a white Christmas; Ladbrokes have already slashed the odds
  • snow UK
    © SWNS
    Rolling hills: The Met Office reported 'heavy snow' in places as up to an inch of snow settled by morning on higher ground in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon.
    Your calendar may say November... but the weather seems to think otherwise.

    Blizzards swirled across the North East and snow blanketed parts of the West Country yesterday.

    A light scattering of snow was reported in Gloucestershire, an inch fell in Dorset, and up to six inches fell in Somerset in Bath, Frome, Midsomer Norton and the Mendip Hills, after temperatures plummeted on Saturday night.

    snow UK
    © SWNS.com
    Winter's arrived: The snowfall was England's fifth in nine days amid an early winter - after snow in the East last Saturday, in the West on Thursday and the North on Friday and Saturday.

    Snow Globe

    Surprise snow blasts Britain - despite none in the forecast

    snow UK
    © SWNS.com
    Stunning: Snow coats the countryside near Bath, Somerset, as heavy snowfall hit the region this morning.
    Several inches of snow fell on parts of the West Country despite none being forecast in the region.
    Up to six inches of snow was reported in areas including Bath, Frome, Midsomer Norton and the Medips.

    Bath and North East Somerset (Banes) Council said it had been caught unaware because no snow was forecast.

    Buses and trains were suspended, while Wiltshire police confirmed that several vehicles had become stuck in snow near Bradford-on-Avon.

    Snowflake

    Blizzards, freezing rain hit northern China

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    © Xinhua/Liu Changlong
    Tourists shelter from the sleet under umbrellas as as they walk near the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, on Nov. 4, 2012. The capital city had witnessed snowfall and sleet since Saturday night as cold current swept north China and dropped temperature.
    Beijing authorities released a citywide orange alert and regional red alert concerning blizzards early on Sunday morning as a cold spell swept across northern China.

    China has a four-tier color-coded snow warning system: red, orange, yellow and blue, red being the most serious.

    By 10 a.m. on Sunday, the capital had received an average daily precipitation of over 58 mm, a post-1951 record for the city during China's Nov.-March winter period, according to the Beijing Meteorological Center.

    In the Fenghuangling region of Haidian District, the snowfall has lasted for over 40 hours and brought the maximal precipitation to 96 mm.

    "With a complicated distribution of precipitation, this process is bringing greatly different effects to citizens living in various regions of such a a large city," said Sun Jisong, the center's chief forecaster.

    Snowflake Cold

    Sub-zero temperatures coupled with early snowfall have killed 14 people in Poland

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    Warsaw - Sub-zero temperatures coupled with early snowfall have killed 14 people in Poland over the past week, national police said on Wednesday. "In eight days we've recorded 14 deaths associated with freezing weather in Poland," Krzysztof Hajdas, a spokesperson for police headquarters told AFP.

    "The bodies of these people, mostly men, were found in various regions of the country," he said without elaborating.

    A weekend cold snap and heavy snowfall across Poland caused chaos on the roads and left about 70 000 people temporarily without electricity in the region surrounding the capital Warsaw. Last winter, over 100 mostly homeless people and alcoholics died of exposure in Poland.

    Cow Skull

    Scotland's potato harvest at risk of write-off due to poor weather

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    Waterlogged fields in Scotland, 16 October 2012
    The struggle continues for our Crop Watch agronomists this week, particularly in Scotland where ware potato crops are at risk of being left in the ground to rot.

    SAC senior potato consultant Matthew Smallwod was driving through snow, against the backdrop of growers trying harvest their crops. "It's been a fight between the elements and the grower," he says.

    "The elements have won by knockout against growers under contract. Those on the open market are awaiting the judges' decision."

    Growers that gambled on late burn-offs of their crops will now be playing cat and mouse with the weather, desperately trying to finish harvest before it is too late.

    Snakes in Suits

    Secret Service agent kills self amid affair probe

    secret service
    A senior Secret Service agent who was being investigated by the government for failing to disclose a long-standing relationship with a foreign citizen killed himself last week in Washington, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

    Rafael Prieto, a married father assigned to the security detail for President Barack Obama, had acknowledged to U.S. investigators that he had been having an affair for years with a woman from Mexico, these people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Prieto's death or the investigation. Prieto's relationship was revealed to Secret Service investigators by an agent who had been entangled in the Colombian prostitution scandal earlier this year, these people say. That agent was concerned that the Secret Service wasn't enforcing its rules consistently.

    Secret Service rules require that employees with a security clearance notify the agency about any relationship with a foreign citizen to ensure that the person is not a risk to national security. There is no evidence that Prieto's relationship posed any security threat. Failing to disclose such a relationship would be a violation of the agency's administrative rules, not a crime.

    Prieto was serving on the protective detail for Obama, though he was not on duty at the time of his suicide. As recently as 2009, he was identified as the resident agent in charge at the Secret Service's office in White Plains, N.Y. He had worked for the Secret Service for 22 years. He was 47, according to public records.

    Snowflake

    Early snow pummels West Virginia

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    © Robert Ray/AP


    An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, W.Va. on Oct. 30. Superstorm Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow.
    Parts of West Virginia were digging out from up to three feet of snow dumped in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a deluge that cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents and shut down main highways.

    The thick blanket of snow at higher elevations across the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, including in parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, also brought concerns that rivers and creeks in low-lying areas could flood later in the week as the snow melts, with temperatures expected to reach 60 degrees. Falling trees and storm-related traffic accidents claimed the lives of three people in Maryland, three in Pennsylvania and one in West Virginia, state officials said Tuesday.

    Close to 300,000 West Virginia residents were without power Tuesday afternoon, as high winds and heavy snow snapped branches and downed power lines, and officials expected the number to rise. Outages at several utilities had left some areas without access to water, and officials were sending out trucks to deliver bottled water.