Sunday, 14 August 2016

Extreme weather conditions globally


It has been some time since I have been able to catch up with extreme weather conditions. The global hotspot is Antacrtica which is 4.1C higher than average.

The Middle East is in the middle of a hellish heatwave right now

14 August, 2016

THOUGHT your average Aussie summer was rough?

The Middle East is currently facing one of its most extreme heatwaves ever, with experts warning temperatures are getting almost too hot for human survival.
Climate scientists say it’s evidence that the planet needs to cut down on its greenhouse gas emissions, especially given heatwaves can be fatal.

HOW HOT IS THE MIDDLE EAST RIGHT NOW?

Over the past month, temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq have soared to 54 degrees, while Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, has seen temperatures of 43C and higher nearly every day for almost two straight months.

Meanwhile, parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran were dealt a historic heat index of 60C.

Zainab Guman, a 26-year-old university student from Basra, told The Washington Post it felt like “walking into a fire” when she left the house.

It’s like everything on your body — your skin, your eyes, your nose — starts to burn,” she said.

For the past couple of months, she’s barely left home.
The heat in many parts of the Middle East is seriously out of control right now. Credit: AFP
The heat in many parts of the Middle East is seriously out of control right now. Credit: AFPSource:AFP

A study by climate scientists released last year predicted that extreme heatwaves could push the Gulf in the Middle East beyond human endurance if nothing was done about climate change.

It predicted that extreme heatwaves — more intense than anything the planet has ever felt — will kick in just after 2070, and our most scorching days of today would be near-daily by that stage.

Professor Elfatih Eltahir, one of the study’s co-authors, said this was evidence that the planet needs to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
We would hope that information like this would be helpful in making sure there is interest (in reducing emissions) for the countries in the region,” he said.

They have a vital interest in supporting measures that would help reduce the concentration of CO2 in the future.”

According to a UN report, the combined population of 22 Arab countries is expected to grow from 400 million to about 600 million by 2050.
By that time, the world’s overall population is expected to reach 9.7 billion.

ARE HEATWAVES REALLY A BIG DEAL?

In short, yes. Heatwaves can prove fatal on a mass level. While wealthier families can afford air-conditioning and swimming pools, it’s typically poor people and farmers in rural areas who suffer the most.

Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a research fellow at UNSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, told news.com.au that many people don’t seem to realise that heatwaves have killed more people than any other natural disaster, so much so that it’s been dubbed the “silent killer”.

She said that, while the Middle East is no stranger to heatwaves historically, the key fact here is that they’re getting increasingly more frequent.

People without air-conditioning are suffering the most.
People without air-conditioning are suffering the most.Source:AFP

She warned this would largely impact the lower class — people who worked in outdoor jobs and didn’t necessarily have access to air-conditioning.

People in the Middle East are used to the heat,” she said. “It’s part of their culture. They’ve experienced high temperatures before. But it’s getting more frequent, and people of a certain status are going to suffer a lot more.

If you work outside in these conditions you will not survive. These are the people who can’t afford clean drinking water or to sit in the shade — they’re typically of a lower socio-economic status.”

Earlier this year, temperatures in parts of India soared to 51C, the highest in the country’s recorded history.

The impact of the heat was devastating, and increasingly deadly, particularly for the hundreds of people dying of starvation due to withering crops in their remote fields.
In India, earlier this year, the impact of the heat drove many debt-ridden farmers to suicide.
In India, earlier this year, the impact of the heat drove many debt-ridden farmers to suicide.Source:Supplied

According to local media reports, suicide among farmers in rural areas spiked during this period, due to crippling debt and poverty over poor yields.

Pakistan had a similar crisis midway through last year, when temperatures of up to 45C struck various provinces in the country.

A Pakistani health official said the death toll from the heatwave alone hit roughly 700.

So far, authorities are yet to report any heat-related deaths in Iraq. However, the statistics are complicated by the fact that doctors here don’t usually list heat as an official cause of death.

It’s not just the death toll that’s a concern. Heatwaves can have a significant impact on a country’s overall ability to function.

An Iraqi economist said the country’s gross domestic product had contracted between 10 and 20 per cent during the heatwave.

There’s a similar relationship between heat and a country’s economy in Australia,” said Dr Kirkpatrick.

Public transport slows down, the air-con breaks, people get to work late or don’t go at all. For farmers, crops fail. Agriculture gets damaged, which affects everything. Everybody loses their ability to concentrate.”

The situation is especially dire for people who don’t have access to air-conditioning or swimming pools.
The situation is especially dire for people who don’t have access to air-conditioning or swimming pools.Source:AP

She also warned that over time, this could eventually lead to a mass migration, which would hold implications for the rest of the world.

She compared this to villages in Fiji, where residents have been forced to relocate uphill because their homes were threatened by rising sea levels, as well as the country of Kiribati, which may be completely immersed in water in just decades.

So, what’s the government to do? Dr Kirkpatrick said, quite simply, that while governments can help people be more adaptive to changing weather patterns in the short-term, the only real solution was taking effort to reduce carbon emissions.


Truly historic event’: Flooding batters Louisiana, at least two deaths confirmed –‘Our state is experiencing an unprecedented event’




14 August, 2016

By Joe Sterling and Boris Sanchez
13 August 2016
AMITE CITY, Louisiana (CNN) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called the widespread flooding spawned by the region's pounding rainfall across the southern part of the state a "truly historic event" that won't be over anytime soon.
The rainfall battered the parishes around Baton Rouge and is expected to move west, he said at a news conference Saturday.
There are record levels of flooding and cresting along rivers and creeks that will affect homes, roads, and driveways, he said.
"This is a major disaster," the governor said. "This is an ongoing event and we are still in the response mode."
The governor said at least two deaths have been confirmed and searches are being carried out. Initially, as flooding news emerged on Friday, CNN reported three deaths. [more]


Enhanced infrared satellite image for the central Gulf Coast reveals the vast scope of the area of low pressure generating torrential rains in southeast Louisiana, 12 August 2016. Graphic: NOAA/NESDIS
By Bob Henson
12 August 2016
(wunderground.com) – A devastating flood event was unfolding over southeast Louisiana on Friday, and conditions may get worse yet, as an extremely slow-moving center of low pressure is dumping colossal amounts of rain on the region. This sprawling, “stacked” low is carrying more water vapor than many tropical cyclones, and its slow motion is leading to persistent rains that could add up to all-time record totals in some places.
Multi-sensor analyses indicate that several areas in southeast Louisiana and southermost Mississippi racked up more than 6” of rain from 7:00 am CDT Thursday, August 11, to 7:00 am Friday (see Figure 1). More than 10” of rain was analyzed just northeast of Baton Rouge, the hardest-hit area thus far. In the 24 hours from 2:00 pm CDT Thursday to 2:00 pm Friday, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport recorded a preliminary total of 8.49” of rain. Since records began in 1892, the city’s largest calendar day total is 11.99” (set on April 14, 1967), and the largest two-day calendar total is 14.03” (June 6-7, 2001). Given the very slow motion of the stacked low, these all-time records are conceivably within reach. A cooperative observer in Livingston, LA, reported 17.09” of rain from midnight to 3:00 pm CDT Friday. The state’s official 24-hour record is 22 inches, reported near Hackberry on August 28-29, 1962.


Forecasts issued on Friday morning, 12 August 2016, were calling for an all-time record flood crest of 42.5 feet late Sunday on the Amite River at Denham Springs, just east of Baton Rouge, LA. The forecast keeps waters above the previous record of 41.5 feet (April 8, 1983) for a full 24 hours. These projections could be boosted further in light of the heavy rains persisting in the area on Friday. The last major crest in this region was 36.09 feet on 13 March 2016. Graphic: NOAA/NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

The Tickfaw River broke its record high level, reaching 22 feet Friday, 12 August 2016. The National Weather Service expected it to crest at 25 feet Saturday. Graphic: National Weather Service
As the low edges westward over the next 24-48 hours, the zone of heaviest rain potential will shift toward west Louisiana and east Texas, but southeast Louisiana will remain under the gun for more downpours at least into early Saturday. The short-range HRRR model produces another 2”-6” of widespread rain over southeast Louisiana through Saturday morning, with localized totals of 8-12” not out of the question.
Both flash flooding and river flooding threats are looming large for southeast Louisiana, where flash flood warnings were in place on Friday afternoon. Major flooding has already occurred throughout the day Friday, and a flash flood emergency (the most urgent type of flash flood warning) was in effect Friday afternoon for parts of Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, and East Baton Rouge parishes, which extend roughly from Baton Rouge northward. Water rescues and evacuations were under way in this region, according to the NWS. Even if the rains ease during the weekend, the area faces a major flood threat. The Tickfaw River at Montpelier, LA, hit a record crest of 22.75 feet at 1:30 pm CDT Friday, with several more feet expected this weekend. A number of other rivers across southeast Louisiana are projected to reach all-time crests, including the Amite River, where record levels of flooding can be expected to inundate many homes and roadways on the eastern side of the Baton Rouge metro area for an extended period. [more]


Caskets have floated up in the St. Mark's Cemetary on Dunn St. in Walker, Louisiana as a result of record flooding, 12 August 2016. Photo: Walker Police Department
Saturday, 3:20 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, has asked FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to "rapidly process" coming Major Disaster Declarations from state and local governments as well as request for assistance from individuals and public entities in Louisiana. His office shared a copy of the letter Richmond sent to FEMA in a news release.
"I have no doubt our state is experiencing an unprecedented event," Richmond wrote. "I anticipate our state officials, after preliminary assessments, will present a formal request for a Major Disaster Declaration by the President.  Your agency, under the President's leadership, has been responsive to our requests for assistance in the past.  I hope this instance will be no different."
Read Richmond's full letter.

Southeast Louisiana storm updates: flooding, dangerous conditions



Hotter than hell’ heat wave causes power outage leaving nearly 1,000 Harlem residents in the dark



14 August, 2016

The New York heat turned downright diabolical Saturday as oppressive humidity made it feel like 110 degrees — and power outages left some residents to swelter.

An excessive-heat warning was extended through the weekend, with temperatures expected to stay in the 90s — and the real-feel continuing to bubble above 100.

In Harlem, nearly 1,000 residents were left without power Saturday night in an outage affecting the area between W. 145th and W. 147th Sts. from Seventh Ave. to Eighth Ave., a Con Edison spokeswoman said.

The utility promised to return power by 4 a.m. Sunday. And meantime, in Fresh Meadows, Queens, customers were not expecting their air conditioners back on until around 1 p.m. Sunday.

New York meteorologist George Wright said a heat wave like this “only occurs on average once a summer. (Saturday was) probably be the worst.”

From a few days ago

Sahara-Like Heat Marches North, Sparks Scores of Massive Wildfires Across Portugal


Portugal Spain Wildfires August 10 2016 NASA
Over the past week, Sahara Desert-like weather conditions marched north into Spain and Portugal. This extreme, abnormal heat brought with it a rash of severe wildfires. And, unfortunately, these are exactly the kinds of conditions we should expect to see more and more of as a result of human-forced climate change.

(Wildfire consumes homes, businesses and vehicles on Madeira Island, Portugal on August 10, 2016. Meanwhile, scores of wildfires are also burning over the mainland. Video Source:CV.)
*****
Yesterday, the temperature hit a hot, dry 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) just west of Lisbon, Portugal — temperatures more typical to the Sahara desert hundreds of miles to the south. On any normal August day, this Atlantic coastal town would expect to see readings around 28 C (83 F).

To the north, a sprawling heat dome of high pressure has tucked beneath a big jet stream wave for much of the past week. Pulled poleward by near record-low sea ice extents, this atmospheric brute — one of a new breed made stronger and thicker by human-forced warming of the atmosphere — funneled in brisk winds even as it baked Portugal’s lands and islands day after day....[ ]


The hot spot on the globe is Antarctica which is at present 4.1C higher than average


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