World weather news

World weather news, February 2020

A record high temperature of 18.3C has been logged on the continent of Antarctica. The reading, taken on Thursday by Argentine research base Esperanza, is 0.8 degC hotter than the previous peak temperature of 17.5C, in March 2015. The temperature was recorded in the Antarctic Peninsula, on the continent's north-west tip - one of the fastest-warming regions on earth. It is being verified by the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). While 18.3C is a record for the Antarctic continent, the record in the wider Antarctic region - which includes the continent, islands and ocean that are in the Antarctic climatic zone - is 19.8C, logged in January 1982.
Torrential rain across the east coast of Australia has extinguished a third of the fires in the region - and could put more out, officials say. A wide band of rain sweeping New South Wales (NSW) has put out 20 of about 60 fires in the state in the past day. Authorities have welcomed the downpour, but warned of flash flooding in Sydney and other cities along the coast. Some of the affected areas had received the most rain recorded in over a year, said the Bureau of Meteorology. Australia's largest city, Sydney, recorded its wettest day in over 15 months on Friday. Authorities have issued a severe wet weather warning for a 1,000 km stretch of the state - with damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and "abnormally high" tides forecast. Over 280 mm of rain was recorded at the holiday town of Byron Bay in northern NSW. Locals there described the downburst on Thursday night as heavier than that experienced in a 2017 cyclone. Nationally, blazes have killed at least 33 people and destroyed thousands of homes. More than 11 million hectares of land - an area comparable to the size of England - has been scorched.
More than 300,000 homes and businesses in the south-eastern US were without power early in the day after a powerful storm raked the region. At least five people were killed. North Carolina had the most customers without electricity, followed by Pennsylvania, according to the data website The outages matched states that were under high wind and winter weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service. As much as 10 cm of snow fell overnight in Ohio, part of a band of snowy weather stretching from Tennessee to Maine. Blowing snow contributed to several accidents in the Akron area, and the Ohio department of transportation urged people to make room for nearly 1,300 state crews working to improve the icy conditions. The weather destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi and Alabama, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region. Rain kept falling over a path of splintered trees and sagging power lines that stretched from Louisiana into Virginia.
Antarctica has exceeded 20C for the first time, after researchers logged a temperature of 20.75C on an island off the coast of the continent. This latest reading was taken at a monitoring station on Seymour Island, part of a chain of islands off the same peninsula, at the northernmost point of the continent. The previous record for the entire Antarctic region - which includes the continent, islands and ocean that are in the Antarctic climatic zone - was 19.8C, logged in January 1982.
A powerful storm is battering parts of north-west Europe with heavy rainfall and strong winds of up to 150 km/h. Storm Ciara - known as Sabine in Germany and Switzerland and Elsa in Norway - has caused hundreds of flights to be grounded and rail services cancelled in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. Access to exposed areas such as parks and coastlines has been restricted and motorists have been warned to take care as the weather continues to cause severe travel disruption. On Monday, large parts of northern France were placed on an orange weather alert - the second highest warning - with thousands of homes in Brittany left without power.
Sydney has been hit by its heaviest rain in 30 years, bringing widespread flooding but also putting out two massive bushfires in New South Wales. Australia's weather agency said 391.6 mm of rain had fallen in the past four days in Sydney, more than three times the average rainfall for February. About 100,000 homes are without power, and officials have warned flash floods could be life-threatening. But the rainfall means only 17 fires are still burning across the state. The NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday afternoon that the rains had extinguished more than 30 fires over the weekend, calling it "the most positive news we've had in some time". The latest to be declared out is the Gospers Mountain blaze, north-west of Sydney. Since October it has burned 512,000 hectares, and was considered a mega-blaze that was "too big to put out". On Sunday, the Currowan fire, around the town of Shoalhaven, was also put out. It had burned for 74 days, destroying nearly 500,000 hectares and 312 homes. However, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned that fire-hit areas can be particularly prone to flooding, and that fast-moving waters can carry large amounts of debris.
At least seven people have died across Europe as Storm Ciara moves east, shutting down transport and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. High winds in Poland ripped the roof off a ski rental shop, killing a woman and her two daughters. Their father was injured. One man died after his boat capsized in southern Sweden. One other person on board remains missing. Two people were killed in their cars - one in Germany and one in Slovenia. A 58-year-old British man was killed on Sunday after a tree fell on his car. France's Mediterranean island of Corsica recorded winds of more than 220 km/h on Monday night, as heavy rains, powerful winds and flooding spread across the continent. Authorities there said the winds fuelled a fire in the north of the island. Corsican ports and flights remained disrupted on Tuesday. Wind speeds of up to 200 km/h were also recorded in northern Italy. A woman of 71 was killed when she was hit by debris from a roof in Traona in the Lombardy region. After first sweeping across Ireland and the UK on Sunday, the storm thrashed the north coast of mainland Europe. Transport shut down and schools were forced to close across Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Dutch authorities reported traffic jams of more than 720 km across the country on Monday, and there was still some flight disruption on Tuesday after airlines cancelled hundreds of journeys. Austria has also seen high winds, which caused waves to crash over a pier on Lake Constance. In Germany, a crane smashed into Frankfurt Cathedral, damaging parts of the roof. Hamburg's fish market remained flooded on Tuesday after a storm surge reportedly forced the tide 2.7 metres above the norm. The Oresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden was closed for several hours on Monday while winds in the Czech Republic reached 180 km/h. Police in the country said the storm was probably to blame for a car accident which killed a man. However, the powerful gusts did bring one unexpected benefit in Germany. Wind turbines there produced a record amount of electricity, reportedly equivalent to 44 nuclear power plants.

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Last updated 14 February 2020.

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