Global weather

  • Global weather
    01.03.2011 12:55


    Aside from the extremes of weather in Australia noted in our previous article there have been disturbances all around the world during the past week or so.

    On Thursday last week, 24 February, a vigorous front pushed eastwards across the central USA, spawning the first widespread outbreak of tornadoes in the southern Plains and the South this year. About ten tornadoes were spotted across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama.

    There was torrential rain as well, with floods proving fatal in Kentucky as four children were swept away by rapidly rising creek waters. 

    Latterly the storms moved on eastwards across Georgia and the Carolinas, bringing hail, severe thunderstorms, intense rain and damaging winds on Monday 28 February, including at least one tornado. The temperature in the Carolinas dropped markedly, with warm, humid air flooding northwards ahead of the front to take the temperature close to 30 degrees Celsius in places.

    Earlier, the same weather system had brought at least one funnel cloud to the skies over Sacramento, California, with intense showers and hailstorms. It was unusually cold not only in California but across the western USA in general.

    Although no snow fell on low-lying areas, sparing California’s coastal cities, there was snow on the hills and mountains just inland from, San Francisco, Los Angeles and even San Diego. In san Francisco it was just cold enough for a dusting of snow on the lofty Twin Peaks, which rise 281 metres above the geographical centre of the city.

    Texas is worried abut a different threat, with the front having introduced strong winds and much drier air. A “fire weather watch” was issued on Monday amid concerns that stray sparks could ignite wildfires that would rapidly spread in the dry and windy conditions.

    Closer to home, the Mediterranean has had a stormy week, with vigorous and slow-moving low pressure systems bringing strong to gale force winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms and tumultuous seas. Waves peaking at 10 metres in the central Mediterranean and the Gulf of Sidra hampered efforts to evacuate American citizens from Libya aboard a ferry. The wind whipped up sandstorms, creating an additional hazard for aircraft, so flights were also delayed.

    The storms did pump some hot air across parts of Spain, however, and Murcia in the southeast broke its February temperature record on Saturday 26 February when it recorded a maximum of 29.4 degrees C, well above the previous record in 1995 of 27.8C. Just as remarkably the temperature plummeted the next day, with the maximum 11 degrees lower at just over 18C as hefty showers passed by and cool, blustery NE’ly winds set in.

    Eastern and central Europe has stayed wintry with outbreaks of snow, and strong winds led to blizzard conditions and blowing snow across Ukraine. Temperatures from eastern Poland, Romania and Bulgaria eastwards have failed to rise above freezing, so despite the recent mild couple of days, the UK winter is still not far away from the UK. Although not anywhere near as cold as that it will be rather chilly through the coming week; however, with high pressure dominating it will be dry for much of the time.

    By: Stephen Davenport