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Wed, 27 May 2020
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Extreme Temperatures

Snowflake

11 dead as Mideast battered by hail, snow, rain

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© Image Credit: REUTERS
A car drives through the snow in Aley area, eastern Lebanon January 9, 2013. At least 17 people have also died due to the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Bad weather has brought misery to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Syria.

Abnormal storms which for four days have blasted the Middle East with rain, snow and hail have left at least 11 people dead and brought misery to Syrian refugees huddled in camps.

Officials reported that two women were found dead in the West Bank on Wednesday after their car was swept away in floods, while a 30-year-old man froze to death in Taalabaya, in Lebanon's Bekaa province, after he fell asleep drunk in his car.

Snow carpeted Syria's war-torn cities but sparked no let-up in the fighting, instead heaping fresh misery on a civilian population already enduring a chronic shortage of heating fuel and daily power cuts.

In Occupuied Jerusalem, schools closed at midday and driving wind, hail and rain battered the city as temperatures hovered just above freezing and the polar air mass moving down from Russia sent temperatures plummeting as far south as Cairo.

Raging winds and flash floods caused widespread damage to infrastructure across the Palestinian territories.

"The Palestinian infrastructure is deeply flawed and unable to handle weather like this," said Ghassan Hamdan, head of medical relief in the northern city of Nablus.

Bad Guys

DEA agents arranged prostitute for Secret Service agent

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© Manuel Pedraza / AFP - Getty Images file
View of the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, where a prostitution scandal involving U.S. Secret Service agents erupted in April 2012.
Two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents "facilitated a sexual encounter" between a prostitute and a U.S. Secret Service agent days before President Barack Obama visited Colombia for a summit meeting in April 2012, according to a Justice Department investigation obtained exclusively by NBC News.

A summary of the findings of the investigation, included in a Dec. 20 letter from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General to Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, indicated that a third DEA agent present on the night of the incident was not involved in procuring the prostitute for the Secret Service agent.

"While DEA agent #3 was present for a dinner that took place earlier that evening with the USSS agent and the other two DEA agents, he was not present in the residence when the sexual encounter took place and played no role in facilitating it," the summary said.

All three DEA special agents admitted that they had paid for sexual services of a prostitute, the investigation also found, and "used their DEA Blackberry devices to arrange such activities." In addition, the report says the agents tried to destroy incriminating information or initially lied to investigators about the incidents. All three agents have high-security clearances.

Snowflake Cold

January could get progressively colder for most of U.S.

Snow
© Unknown
Meteorologists predict that the second half of January will bring significantly colder patterns.
AccuWeather reports that beginning near or just past the middle of the month, signs are pointing toward waves of frigid air moving southward across North America from the North Pole.

Much of the nation has been experiencing higher-than-average temperatures and lower heating bills so far during the cold weather season, with the exception of some bouts the past couple of weeks.

However, there are signs of a potential change on the way beginning during the second half of January.

A phenomenon known as sudden stratospheric warming has occurred in the arctic region during the past few days. The stratosphere is located between 6 miles and 30 miles above the ground.

Meteorologists predict that the second half of January will bring significantly colder patterns. Often when this occurs, it forces cold air to build in the lowest layer of the atmosphere then to drive southward.

SSC map
© AccuWeather

Snowflake

Snow blankets parts of Middle East, Jerusalem

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© ALAA BADARNEH - EPA
A general view of the snow covered West Bank city of Nablus, taken from a hillside overlooking the city during snowy weather, on 10 January 2013.
Four to six inches of snow fell in Jerusalem Wednesday night into Thursday morning, snarling traffic and closing schools and government offices. The snow in Jerusalem resulted from a large storm system that produced days of inclement weather in the Middle East. Initially, the storm brought mainly wind and heavy rains that caused flooding and damage in some areas.

But as cold air wrapped into low pressure tracking through the region, temperatures plummeted and snow reports spiked. Up to three feet of snow fell on Mount Hermon in northern Israel the Inquisitr reported. Snow was also observed in areas of the West Bank, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

The cold, stormy weather in Syria brought further suffering in war-ravaged cities and for refugees. "The United Nations says millions of people inside Syria and 600,000 refugees outside the country need assistance, including food, blankets and warm clothes," Voice of America wrote.

Ice Cube

'Lowest temperaure in Bangladesh's history' brings at least 80 deaths

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A cold snap which saw temperatures drop to 40-year lows in Bangladesh has killed around 80 people, officials said.

According to AFP, Shah Alam, the deputy head of the weather office, said the lowest temperature was recorded at 3 degrees Celsius in the northern town of Syedpur.

He said the last time the temperature dropped below that level was in February 1968 when Bangladesh was still part of Pakistan.

"The temperature is the lowest in Bangladesh's history," he said.

The Red Crescent said hospitals were packed with patients suffering respiratory illness.

The society's general-secretary Abu Bakar said impoverished rural areas had been worst hit as many people could not afford warm clothing or heating.

Snowflake Cold

Unprecedented cold spell breaks 50-year records in Pakistan

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© thenewstribe.com
The winter, normally a season of feast and joy in the region, otherwise known for its enervating summers, has brought with it a strange phenomenon in recent weeks. Record chill has sent people scampering to keep themselves warm, and made commuting a dicey task, especially at night.

The strange thing about this phenomenon this season has been that it gripped the Pothohar region and the plains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well, contrary to the trend of the past few decades when nearly blinding fog mostly affected the plain areas of the Punjab.

This time around, the 50-year cold records in the Punjab plains were broken, while also plunging the wide swathes of Pothohar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in an unprecedented cold spell, which spread over a fortnight or even three weeks, with weather pundits saying that maximum temperatures fell by as much as 10 degree Celsius.

After shivering even in the daytime during the two days in the 'aftermath' of fog-induced cold, Tuesday night brought with it some cheers for the winter-weary people, as a cloudy sky prevented fog to accumulate, also bringing visibility level back to normal for the traffic and keeping the temperatures from dipping to sub-zero level, as was seen in the previous two weeks.

Snowflake Cold

Heavy snow, torrential rain, gale-force winds batter Greece

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© ekathimerini
Bad weather conditions of heavy snowfall, strong torrential rains, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds continued to batter parts of the mainland and the Aegean Sea islands in Greece on Wednesday for a third day this week, disrupting land and sea transport.

Several mountainous areas in particular in northern and central provinces, some suburbs of the Greek capital, as well as the southern island of Crete, have been most affected with blocked motorways even for vehicles with snow chains and closure of schools.

As winds of up to 8 on the Beaufort scale sweep the Aegean Sea, a ferry boat crashed into the dock of a port at the eastern island of Lesvos with no injuries or major damage caused, local authorities said.

The Greek National Meteorological Service (EMY) reported the lowest temperature over the past few days, as the thermometer plunged to -11 Celsius in the northern city of Nevrokopi. Experts at EMY forecast that the cold snap will subside on Thursday.

Ice Cube

Phoenix, Arizona to break 25-year record low - 15 degrees below normal

Crank up the heat: It's going to be plenty cold in the Valley this weekend. Weather analysts are forecasting four days of freezing temperatures, starting Saturday night, running through Tuesday. The last time the Valley had four straight sub-freezing mornings was 25 years ago. Rain also is expected to arrive between 9 p.m. and midnight Thursday.

Chris Kuhlman with the National Weather Service said it will be a struggle to reach 50 degrees Friday.

"It will be very cold. Some areas will see the mid-20s for lows," Kuhlman said. "Other areas will be right at the freezing mark and below. This is a very large system coming off the north Pacific and very cold.

"Right now it's going across California and then we have a reinforcing shot of cold air coming down from western Canada on Sunday and that will keep our area temperatures about 15 degrees below normal."

Cloud Precipitation

Severe winter storm brings snow, flash flooding and strong winds to Mideast

Snowball Fight
© Bilal Hussein/The Associated Press
Syrian refugee children have a snowball fight at the mountain town of Bhamdoun, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday. The fiercest winter storm to hit the Middle East in years has unleashed flash flooding, strong winds and a snowstorm that killed six people in the past few days.
Amman, Jordan - The fiercest winter storm to hit the Mideast in years brought a rare foot of snow to Jordan on Wednesday, caused fatal accidents in Lebanon and the West Bank, and disrupted traffic on the Suez Canal in Egypt. At least eight people died across the region.

In Lebanon, the Red Cross said storm-related accidents killed six people over the past two days. Several drowned after slipping into rivers from flooded roads, one person froze to death and another died after his car went off a slippery road, according to George Kettaneh, operations director for the Lebanese Red Cross.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, a Palestinian official said two West Bank women drowned after their car was caught in a flash flood on Tuesday. Nablus deputy governor Annan Atirah said the women abandoned their vehicle after it got stuck on a flooded road, and their bodies were apparently swept away by surging waters. Their driver was hospitalized in critical condition.

In the Gaza Strip, civil defence spokesperson Mohammed al-Haj Yousef said storms cut electricity to thousands of Palestinian homes and rescuers were sent to evacuate dozens of people.

Igloo

Athens snow closes roads and schools; city opens homeless shelters

Heavy Snow
© Ekathimerini.com
Heavy snowfall in northern parts of the Greek capital on Tuesday prompted authorities to close roads and schools, while municipal authorities made three public buildings to the homeless shelters as temperatures dropped to the 0-Celsius mark.

The Penteli ring road was closed early on Tuesday due to ice and fog and was reopened to traffic later in the morning, while Dionysos Avenue remains off limits from Anatoli to Dionysos and drivers were advised to use snow chains on the road between Katsimidiou and Aghiou Merkouriou in Tatoi.

The old national highway linking Thiva to Athens was shut off to lorries and other heavy vehicles, with regular cars allowed access only with snow chains, as the road leading from the funicular to Mont Parnes Casino on Mount Parnitha remained closed from Sunday.

Several schools were also given the day off in Dionysos, Penteli, Nea Penteli, Kapandriti, Kalamos, Malakasa, Petroupoli and Liosia, among other parts of northern Attica.

Meanwhile, the city of Athens opened three emergency centers for the homeless on Monday at buildings on the corners of Lenorman and Alexandreias, Mamouri and Dymis, and Aghiou Meletiou and Xenagora. The 1960 hotline will also be operating 24 hours a day where citizens can report the location of homeless people in distress.

Municipal day centers for the elderly (KAPI) will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, providing heated shelter.

The meteorological service expects the cold snap to continue through Wednesday, with temperatures starting to climb back up on Thursday and Friday.