Snow storms and flooding

  • The Pilbara Region of Western Australia, before the recent flooding associated with Cyclone Heidi. Source: NASA

    Flooding of the Pilbara region on 15th January 2012, after the heavy rains associated with Cyclone Heidi. Source: NASA

    Snow cover map of the Pacific Northwest on 20th January 2012. Source: NOAA

    Snow cover map before the recent winter storms on 13th January 2012. Only 40% of the region was covered in snow. Source NOAA.

  • Snow storms and flooding
    21.01.2012 14:40


    This past week has seen some notable weather events right across the globe. While snow storms have been battering parts of the USA and Turkey, flooding has caused damage to south-east Africa and parts of Australia.

    After flooding associated with Tropical Cyclone Heidi affected the northern coast of Western Australia earlier this month, the focus of the floods moved to south-east Queensland this week. The worst rains affected the area on Monday 16th with over 100mm widely recorded over the 24 hour period around the Brisbane area. 123mm was measured at Beerburrum, to the north of the city. The storms also brought high winds and heavy surf, forcing the closure of all the beaches along the Gold Coast on Tuesday.

    Heavy rain and flooding also affected south-east Africa this week, with parts of Mozambique, north-east South Africa and Zimbabwe worst affected. At least 5 people have been killed, with thousands more evacuated or displaced from their homes. 20 foreign tourists had to be airlifted from the Kruger National Park in north-east South Africa where 138mm of rain fell in just 12 hours on Wednesday 18th.

    For parts of the Northern Hemisphere however, snow has been an issue. The cold weather continued across the eastern Mediterranean this week, with significant snowfalls affecting inland parts of Turkey. Over 69cm of snow fell around the northern town of Zonguldak. The winter weather lead to widespread school and road closures, and two people were killed when a snow laden roof collapsed.

    The Pacific Northwest was also battered with winter storms and sub-zero temperatures through this last week. A record breaking 6.8 inches (17cm) of snow fell on Seattle on Tuesday 17th, more than the 5.9 inches (15cm) average for the entire year. Unsurprisingly widespread power cuts, road accidents and flight cancellations were reported. North of the border, parts of southern British Columbia have also been experiencing wintry weather. Vancouver failed to get above freezing between Tuesday and Thursday. A high of just -3 Celsius was measured at Vancouver Airport on Wednesday, 8 Celsius below the long term January average. However, temperatures rose above freezing on Friday, allowing a partial thaw to begin.

    Here in the UK, it is unlikely that we will experience any significant wintry weather over the next week. Atlantic systems will continue to dominate the weather over the next few days with bands of rain spreading east across the country. Any snowfall is expected to be confined to northern hills and mountains. However, it looks like it may turn a little colder into next weekend.

    By: Chris Burton