So Much For Global Warming: Arctic
Freeze and Snow Wreak Havoc Across The Planet
Arctic air and record snow falls gripped the northern hemisphere
yesterday, inflicting hardship and havoc from China, across Russia
to Western Europe and over the US plains.
There were few precedents for the global sweep of extreme cold
and ice that killed dozens in India, paralysed life in Beijing
and threatened the Florida orange crop. Chicagoans sheltered from
a potentially killer freeze, Paris endured sunny Siberian cold,
Italy dug itself out of snowdrifts and Poland counted at least
13 deaths in record low temperatures of about minus 25C (-13F).
The heaviest snow yesterday hit northeastern Asia, which is suffering
its worst winter weather for 60 years. More than 25 centimetres
(10in) of snow covered Seoul, the South Korean capital
the heaviest fall since records began in 1937.
In China, Beijing and the nearby port city of Tianjin had the
deepest snow since 1951, with falls of up to 8in and temperatures
of minus 10C. In the far north of China, the temperature fell
to minus 32C. More than two million Beijing and Tianjin pupils
were sent home and 1,200 flights were delayed or cancelled at
Beijings international airport.
The same far-eastern weather system took its toll of Sakhalin,
the Russian island off Siberia, which was hit by blizzards and
avalanches. Farther west, in northern and eastern India, more
than 60 people, mainly homeless, died of exposure. Thousands of
schools were closed. In Uttar Pradesh, the state neighbouring
Nepal, the authorities spent £1.3 million on blankets and
firewood for needy households.
Western Russia suffered a deep freeze as snow swept across the
Baltic and north-central Europe, leaving the worst devastation
in Poland, where 13 people died, bringing the toll from the cold
this winter to 122.
Up to ten skiers died or were missing in avalanches. The worst
incident was in the Diemtig Valley in Switzerland on Sunday, when
avalanches hit a group of skiers and then the rescuers who went
to their aid. Eight people were pulled from the snow alive, but
four died, including an emergency doctor, and three more were
In Italy, emergency services struggled with rare cold and ice.
Motorways in the northeast were closed and military helicopters
were sent to Sicily with medical aid.
In the United States, heavy snow fell again on the northeast.
In Burlington, Vermont, a record 33in of snow fell in a weekend
storm. The previous record in a three-day period was set in 1969.
Residents of the Northern Plains were warned to expect lethally
cold temperatures of about minus 30C.
The icy conditions of Western Europe, which broke records in
half a dozen countries in December, are expected to last for at
least another week.
Guo Hu, the head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, linked
this weeks conditions to unusual atmospheric patterns caused
by global warming.
Meteorologists were also trying to find a pattern in the heavy
rains that have hit equatorial regions and the southern hemisphere
in the past week.
At least 20 people have been killed in flash floods in Kenya
after torrential rains made thousands homeless.
In Australia, the authorities declared a natural disaster along
the Castlereagh River as it peaked after torrential rain, forcing
1,200 residents to abandon their homes for high ground.
In Brazil, the death toll from flooding and mudslides over the
past four days rose above 80.
Closer to home, forecasters have warned Britons to brace themselves
for a freezing cold, bleak new year this winter is set
to be the coldest for more than 30 years.
January 6, 2010