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Sunday, 23 August 2020

A long year of weather destruction continues and the madness increases. California beats 2019 fire record in less than a month. Two hurricanes could hit New Orleans on the same day: The Northern Hemisphere saw its hottest July ever: More than a thousand people have died and millions displaced by Asian rains

The five hottest years on record, with 2020 set to be the hottest. Courtesy of NOAA NCEI, Barbara Ambrose.

2020 is proving to be the most horrendous year that many experts had earlier predicted. On top of a devastating coronavirus which is infecting more than a quarter-of-a-million people a day and has almost killed a million people in the first 8 months of this year, however, without question the most destructive force of 2020 has been the weather and because of the Covid-19 stealing the media headlines many of the weather disasters this year have not been reported on. 

Europe

Many of us don't need media reports to realise something is very wrong with the weather. Heatwaves are becoming hotter and longer-lasting, here in Holland we have just endured a record 10-day heatwave with temperatures in the high 30s C 106+F, which due to high humidity had a real feel temperature of around 45+ C, 113+F.

Australia 

In winter this year, we witnessed the terrible consequence of climate change when drought, heat and high winds burned 25% of Australia's temperate forests, killed or injured 3 billion of its natural wildlife and damaged 60% of Australian crop output. Wildfires are normal in Australian summers, however, wildfires this year smashed all previous records by a country mile and burned an area the size of Syria. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison caused anger among Australians when he denied climate change was the cause of the record-breaking fires.

United States

Another leader denying climate change is President Trump. In a tweet reported by CNN, Trump blamed "gross mismanagement" for the devastating California wildfires and just as the Aussie leader, Trump is sparking a backlash from top firefighters' associations, politicians and celebrities. In a series of tweets Saturday, Trump said the state's deadly wildfires are a result of poor forest management and threatened to cut federal aid. "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump tweeted. "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

He may have a point, California has hundreds of millions of dead spruce trees caused by a debilitating beetle infestation. However, the record-breaking early start to the Californian fire season has already destroyed 1 million acres since July

We are barely into the Cal fire season but, the burning of about 1.1 million acres in California in just a month, according to a Times analysis, is an astonishing toll so early in the fire season. In all of 2019, more than 259,000 acres in California burned, according to the Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center. In all, more than 977,000 acres have burned in Northern and Central California — the equivalent of more than 1,500 square miles, three times the size of the city of Los Angeles. At least 744 structures have been destroyed in the last month. Nearly a million acres have burned since Aug. 15, which marked the start of a “lightning siege” during which 12,000 strikes started 585 new wildland fires, officials said Saturday. The blazes include the LNU Lightning Complex fire, which at more than 325,000 acres is the third-largest fire in California history. The SCU Lightning Complex fire, currently covering more than 339,000 acres, is the second-largest. Full story

More dry lightning is coming and the blistering heat is likely to continue for many days to come with no let-up for weary firefighters. California's worst nightmare is by far from over with the fire season lasting until November.

As the Westcoast of America suffers the almost unbearable heatwave which is likely to last at least another 10 days, the highest temperature ever recorded here on Earth was beaten this month. A temperature of 130F (54.4C) was recorded in Death Valley National Park, California. If the temperature is verified by the US National Weather Service it will be the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. A higher reading of 134F, or 56.6C a century earlier, also in Death Valley, is largely disputed. 

On the south East of the US, something very rare indeed could be about to happen. Tropical storms Laura and Marco which are both expected to reach hurricane status could both impact New Orleans on Monday. 

Tropical Storm Marco

Tropical Storm Marco will be the first part of the one-two punch for the northern Gulf Coast. This system faces an uncertain future in the Gulf of Mexico, but it will likely affect parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas next week as a strong tropical storm or hurricane.

Tropical Storm Laura

Tropical Storm Laura will carve through Hispaniola and Cuba, bringing locally flooding rain and wind, then is an increasing, but still uncertain, hurricane danger for the U.S. Gulf Coast next week anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to the Texas coast. This system could aggravate and prolong bad conditions following Marco. Full story

Siberia

A record-breaking heatwave in Siberia would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate change, a study has found. The Russian region's temperatures were more than 5C above average between January and June of this year. Temperatures exceeded 38C in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June, the highest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic circle. The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average. An international team of climate scientists, led by the UK Met Office, found the record average temperatures were likely to happen less than once every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change. That makes such an event "almost impossible" had the world not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude in the study. The scientists described the finding as "unequivocal evidence of the impact of climate change on the planet".  Full story

Exceptional and prolonged heat in Siberia has fuelled unprecedented Arctic fires, with high carbon emissions. At the same time, rapidly decreasing sea ice coverage has been reported along the Russian Arctic coast.

Global

The Northern Hemisphere saw its hottest July ever — surpassing its previous record high set in 2019. The year-to-date (YTD) global land and ocean surface temperature were the second highest in the 141-year record at 58.79 degrees F (14.85 degrees C), 1.89 degrees F (1.05 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. This value is only 0.07 of a degree F (0.04 of a degree C) less than the record set in 2016. It was the hottest YTD on record across a large portion of northern Asia, parts of Europe, China, Mexico, northern South America as well as the Atlantic, northern Indian and Pacific oceans. The Arctic sea ice coverage (extent) for July 2020 was the smallest ever for July in the 42-year record, 23.1% below the 1981–2010 average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. July’s Arctic sea ice extent was smaller than the previous record set in 2019 by 120,000 square miles, roughly equivalent to the size of Vietnam. Full story

Rainfall

A series of torrential rainfall events have been hitting Western Africa, Indo Pakistan, Bangladesh China and Japan on and off since the beginning of June. More than a thousand people have died and millions have been displaced. 

Unusually heavy monsoon rainfall is driving severe flooding over large swathes of Asia, from northeast India and Bangladesh to China, Mongolia, and Japan. Floods have hit nearly 10 million people in South Asia, destroying crops and farmland, forcing evacuations, and killing at least 550 people in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In Bangladesh, a third of the land has been submerged, hundreds of thousands are stranded, and more than 500,000 homes have been inundated, the UN reported. More than 100 people have died in floods and landslides in Nepal, where rapid urbanisation has also exacerbated disaster risks. Heavy rains and floods have forced some 2.7 million people in China to evacuate, according to the EU’s humanitarian aid arm, ECHO. Flooding around the Yangtze River basin this year has been “unprecedented”, according to the state-run news agency, Xinhua. And in Mongolia food security is becoming a pressing issue for hundreds of evacuated families after flash floods damaged key arteries, the Red Cross reported. Full story

Desert Locust situation update August 2020

Swarms persist in the Horn of Africa and in northwest Kenya while other swarms prevailed near the border of Uganda and Somalia. Other swarms are present in adjacent areas of eastern Ethiopia between Jijiga, Harar, Dire Dawa, and the Djibouti border, and numerous swarms are in the Afar region, partially as a result of several swarms migrating from Yemen.

Good rains have caused large areas of green vegetation to develop that will allow breeding and a further increase in locust infestations during August and September in Yemen and Oman. There was an unconfirmed report of a swarm on the Red Sea coast near the Sudan/Eritrea border that may have arrived from Yemen.

In Southwest Asia, summer breeding continues along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. In Pakistan, hopper groups and bands continue to form in the Nagarparkar area of southeast Sindh where fledging has started, and adults are forming small groups of adults.

In India, widespread breeding is underway throughout Rajasthan where hoppers are forming groups and bands. More hatching is expected this month. There remains a risk that a few swarms could still arrive from northern Somalia. Control operations continue in both countries. The situation has returned to calm in Iran.

In West Africa, low numbers of solitarious locusts are present in the summer breeding areas of the northern Sahel in Chad, Niger, and Mauritania where local breeding will occur in areas where rains fell recently much further north than normal. Full story



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