It seems as though wild weather events have rarely been out of the headlines recently. It has been a bleak weekend in some parts of America after yet another fatal storm blasted its way through five US states.
While parts of the Mid-West are still reeling from an assault by 81 tornadoes last week, the latest winter storm has left thirteen people dead across the south-west, as freezing torrential rain, ice and strong winds caused flooding and numerous traffic incidents. In Arizona, a person died when the Santa Cruz river flooded, and a four year old child was killed in a storm-related traffic incident in new Mexico. The storm first hit California, where a woman was killed by a tree fallingl onto her car; another person was killed by falling power lines and a third died in a traffic accident. Four other fatalities were reported in a Oklahoma and four in Texas.
In Texas, at least 650 flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Sunday, and more than 300 flights were canceled today.
The wild weather is expected to rage for several more days, heading next for the East Coast and Central Plains and threatening travel chaos ahead of the coming Thanksgiving holiday. Figures issued by the American Automobile Association suggest that over 43 million people will be on the move to visit family and friends over the next few days, but travel plans may have to be altered due to heavy snow and thick ice in the north, and hammering rain further south.
Weather warnings have been issued by The National Weather Service, who have predicted snow and freezing rain for Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and northern Arkansas through today until tomorrow morning. Heavy rain is expected in the Southeast and towards the East Coast on Tuesday, and flooding is expected in the deep South and Mid Atlantic.
Meteorologists are uncertain to what extent the wintry conditions will affect travel for Thanksgiving, but it is likely that both air and road travel will be affected across a wide area. "There's still a whole lot of uncertainty," Lora Wilson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said in an interview. Currently, the forecast is for heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday for much of the East Coast and Central Plains.
"If that's the case it will be your typical soggy-rainy-delay-type situation," she said, though she added that skies should be clear the Thanksgiving holiday and the rest of the weekend.
The extreme sub zero temperatures are unusual for this time of year, and are just another example of the unpredictable and extreme weather events which are occurring across the world.
"These conditions would even be considered cold by January standards," said an advisory from the National Weather Service. "The only warm weather across the country will be in California, the lower elevations of Arizona, and Florida."
The weird weather is not just confined to the US: after the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Unknown Country reported news of an 'apocalyptic' cyclone hurtling through Sardinia last week and killing 16 people. In Japan, a volcanic eruption led to the birth of a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, while in China,' the worst snowstorm ever recorded' has dumped feet of snow onto Harbin in north-eastern China's Heilongjiang province, killing four people and injuring seven others. The official news agency, Xinhua, reported that the storm, which lasted for 60 hours, was the most severe snowstorm to affect the area since records began 50 years ago, and that over 50,000 people needed to be mobilised in order to move the mountains of snow which had accumulated in the city.
Are these freak weather events now becoming our norm, and will the level of intensity continue to worsen until they reach cataclysmic proportions? Whitley Strieber has been predicting such events for years; it may be time to read 'The Coming Global Superstorm' again...
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