Another eventful week in weather news, both at home and around the globe – a week which saw the Winter Olympics draw to a close – in the tropical climate which is Sochi! This will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the stranger Winter Games, with a citywide “search for snow” going on very publicly in the media!
It’s not often we cover shipping stories here on Weatherwatch, but this one was pretty significant! On any day, between 5 million and 6 million containers are on the high seas, carrying everything from potato chips to refrigerators. But not all of them make it to their destination, as the crew of the Svendborg Maersk have just found out. Their Danish-flagged ship was in the Bay of Biscay last week as hurricane-force winds battered the Atlantic coast of Europe. Amid waves of 30 feet and winds of 60 knots, the Svendborg began losing containers off northern France. Check out the story here.
It seems not a week goes by without some kind of climate change study being published, and this week it’s volcanoes in the spotlight. The impact of volcanic eruptions on global warming could provide a new explanation for the so-called “pause” used by sceptics to deny climate change is happening, scientists have said. According to a study in the US, models for predicting the rate at which temperatures around the world would rise from 1998 onwards did not take into consideration the measurable impact volcanoes can have. Check out the full story, here.
China’s pollution problems seem to have come to a head finally this week, with Beijing’s first ever ‘orange alert’ registered in response to a rapidly worsening atmosphere in the Chinese capital. Heavy smog routinely blankets the capital, all but blotting out the sun and forcing residents inside. Australian Open champion Li Na revealed she’s had to train indoors in Beijing due to the high levels of pollution, while smog across most of northern and eastern China has prompted officials to send teams of investigators to the worst-hit parts of the country. That alert was subsequently lifted later in the week, after steady winds helped to partially clear the skies.
A little closer to home, and March is the peak of the South Pacific cyclone season and latest computer models show a fairly high chance of a cyclone forming north of New Zealand in the first week of March.
While various models seem confident of a cyclone forming, they aren’t confident about the exact path. Some show it making a direct hit to Northland at the start of the second week of March while others show the risk zone for a storm tracking westwards towards Queensland (with a high over New Zealand). Read Philip Duncan’s full thoughts in his article, here.
Strong winds, hail and generally stormy conditions caused numerous problems in the South Island last weekend, which even resulted in tornadoes and powercuts – check out the pictures and story, here.
Australian weather authorities have given drought stricken farmers some positive news – the nationwide “heatwave” may be finally over. National forecasters are picking the latest 30 degree day in Sydney to be the last for a while, with a wetter, cooler weather pattern set to replace the heat. Meanwhile, further north, cloud and heavy rain spreading across the Northern Territory is set to have a broader impact than localised flooding. In fact most of Australia’s population will be affected during the coming fortnight.
In the USA, just weeks after their horrific “polar vortex”, some parts of the country are gearing up for another deep freeze – with another blast of cold Arctic air gearing up to roll across most of the country this week. The National Weather Service says some places from the central U.S. to the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys could be having some frosty high temperatures, as low 20 to 30 degrees below normal. So if you’re planning a trip stateside in the next fortnight, don’t forget your mittens!
Finally, check out Philip Duncan’s latest weather video here, which has hope for some rain relief in the driest parts of the country…fingers crossed!
– Drew Chappell for weatherwatch.co.nz