A week of contrasts

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  • A week of contrasts
    15.12.2010 16:05

    Abnormally cold weather is not confined to the UK. Florida felt the chill last week, with early frosts threatening crops. Temperatures below freezing have forced some farmers to use helicopters to try to force milder air down onto their fields, and with temperatures low enough to damage the fruit the price of orange juice futures has dropped to its lowest in a fortnight.

    The cold air flooded southwards from eastern Canada, which was hit by a storm last week that brought heavy snow to Ontario and torrential rain, a storm surge and floods to the Canadian Maritimes, where wind gusts reached nearly 70mph.

    Southeast Europe and the Near East have had an unusually warm early winter – hot, even. Israel's largest known wildfire broke out a couple of weeks ago around the city of Haifa, as temperatures rose to 31 degrees Celsius near the end of a long drought.

    However, there was a dramatic change during the second half of last week as a vigorous depression and cold front moved through. Bosnia and Herzegovina saw a rapid fall in temperature on Thursday 9 December: Banja Luka dropped from 19.5C to 1.2C in just three hours, with rain turning to heavy snow.

    The same weather system took torrential rain and thunderstorms across Turkey on Friday 10 December, with snow on the mountains. In the 12 hours up to 8pm, Alanya in the south of the country received 108mm of rain, and the temperature in Istanbul dropped from 17C to 5.5C.

    The storm went on to cause downpours, thunderstorms and strong squally winds in Israel and Lebanon on Saturday 11 December, gusting over 60mph, and brought the first significant rain after a long drought. Lebanon saw its first snow of the season in the mountains.

    The fierce winds hit Egypt, Syria and Jordan as well, causing dense and dangerous sandstorms, while the eastern Mediterranean had waves as high as 10 metres.

    By: Stephen Davenport