From an unprecedented locust swarm in southern Mexico tofearsome hailstorms in Australia to one of the deadliestwinters in United States and European histories, worldweather continues in a state of extreme violence.
The most recent outbreak of tornadoes in the southeasternUnited States generated an unusual “major severe weatheroutbreak” from the US Storm Prediction Center. The stormsmoved across ground at the extraordinary speed of fiftymiles an hour, leaving widespread destruction and at leasttwenty people dead. This is the third major tornadicoutbreak in the US this winter. The previous two outbreakswere on December 25 and February 2, both in Florida. TheFebruary 2 event also killed at least 20 people.
Normally, tornadoes become more intense as springprogresses, and changing climactic condition do suggest thatextreme storms will be possible anywhere in the UnitedStates from Colorado to Maine this year.
In Australia, which has been experiencing a prolonged andextremely dangerous drought, summer thunderstorms ofextraordinary intensity struck in Feburary, leaving as muchas three feet of hail on the ground in Canberra. TheAustralian Bureau of Meteorology could not offer records ofa more intense hailstorm in the area. And while Feburarythunderstorms are common in the area, more have beenrecorded this year than during any previous February on record.
In Mexico, a locust swarm of unprecedented size hasdevastated at least 5,000 acres of crops in Yucatan. Locustswarms are a cyclical phenomenon in many parts of the world,but this year’s swarm, containing locusts as much as 5inches long, has farmers trying and failing to remember whenit was ever this bad.
The reason that the locust swarm is so intense is that idealbreeding and hatching conditions for the insects have beenpresent in the area for about 5 years, during which time theweather has grown more humid and warmer in Yucatan.
During the latter part of January and early February, fiercestorms swept Europe as cold air finally invaded the regionafter one of the warmest early winters on record. The stormskilled over a hundred people and left extensive propertydamage from the United Kingdom to Poland.
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