**When natural disasters or other globally traumatic events occur, there’s a collective experience of shock and grief. Often there’s widespread media coverage of the event, which reinforces a sense of national tragedy. People feel the need to share their sorrow and acknowledge loss even if the event hasn’t directly impacted them...Grief and the love of life are twins, natural human skills that can be learned first by being on the receiving end and feeling worthy of them, later by practicing them when you run short of understanding.**
U. S. - An incredible variety of weather hazards made their presence felt over Christmas weekend across the central U.S., from blizzard to tornado to freezing rain to flash flooding and river floods. More than 40 weather-related deaths have been reported since Wednesday. The multi-day storminess is related to a gradual realignment of the large-scale pattern over North America. A stunningly warm, moist air mass across the eastern and southern U.S. - by some measures the most tropical on record for early winter - is in the process of being displaced by a strong upper-level storm across the West, bringing much more seasonable cold.
Deadly tornadoes struck near Dallas on Saturday - Ahead of a strong cold front in west Texas, supercell thunderstorms that ripped across the sprawling eastern part of the Dallas area spawned several tornadoes that killed 11 people.
The widespread persistence of warm, humid conditions over the last few days has led to a unprecedented U.S. stretch of severe weather for December, including tornadoes from Mississippi to Michigan on Wednesday. Sunday was the seventh day in a row with at least one U.S. tornado reported - the first such week-long stretch for any December in NOAA Storm Prediction Center records dating back to 1950. The previous record string of six days, December 22-27, 1982, occurred during the “super El Niño” of 1982- 83.
2015 is the first year in records going back to 1875 that has seen more confirmed tornado-related deaths in December than in the rest of the year combined. The only other year with December having more deaths than any other single month was 1931.
Blizzard pummels southern High Plains As severe storms continued to rumble across east Texas on Sunday, the western part of the state was dealing with a crippling blizzard that extended into eastern New Mexico, while freezing rain knocked out power to tens of thousands of western Oklahomans. Exceptionally strong winds - gusting above 70 mph in some areas - have led to near-zero visibilities and drifts of 6 feet or more, paralyzing travel across the region.
Massive flooding hits Missouri and Illinois, killing 13 - Only days after major flooding across central and northern Alabama late last week, the weekend storm brought incredibly heavy rains to eastern Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and southwest Missouri, with 10.0" falling in a 30-hour period ending Sunday evening on the south side of Springfield, Missouri. An additional 1 - 2" of rain is expected over most of Missouri and Arkansas by Monday evening, but dry weather is mercifully expected the rest of the week.
Historic flood imminent on the Mississippi River - The Mississippi River near St. Louis was near flood stage late last week due to excessive rains of 2 - 4" (400 - 600% of average) that fell during the past two weeks farther upstream in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. A massive pulse of flood waters from this weekend's epic December rains will pile into the Mississippi River over the next few days, bringing the river to flood levels never recorded this time of year. The Mississippi River at St. Louis was approaching moderate flood state on Sunday evening, and is forecast to crest on Wednesday at the second highest level ever observed, just five feet below the all-time record set during the disastrous flood of 1993.
On January 20, the Mississippi flood crest is expected to arrive in New Orleans, bringing the river to its 17-foot flood stage in the city, just 3 feet below the tops of the levees. The damage from the December 2015 - January 2016 Mississippi River flood is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Big Christmas Warm - Hundreds of records were buried by sunshine, warmth, and humidity instead of white-Christmas snowfall all across the eastern U.S. during the holidays, especially on Thursday and Friday. Christmas Day was the apex for the north-south breadth of warmth, with record highs set from Florida (82°F in Jacksonville) to Maine (62°F in Portland). Many records on Thursday and Friday were smashed by margins of 10°F or more. Philadelphia has seen eight days this month (through Sunday) with record daily highs.
For the period 12/1 – 12/24, December saw a phenomenal 3164 daily record highs and 4511 record warm lows, compared to 147 record cold highs and 147 record lows. Despite the intense cold in the eastern U.S. early in 2015, this year will end up with more than twice as many U.S. daily record highs as lows.
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.6 MARTINIQUE REGION, WINDWARD ISL.
Yesterday, 12/27/15 -
5.3 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.0 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.2 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES
5.1 OFFSHORE COQUIMBO, CHILE
5.0 OFFSHORE COQUIMBO, CHILE
5.4 DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE
6.2 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
5.7 WEST CHILE RISE
5.8 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA
5.1 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
6.1 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.0 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
Scores injured as powerful quake jolts Afghanistan, Pakistan - A 6.3-magnitude earthquake centred in the Hindu Kush jolted Afghanistan and Pakistan, damaging homes and leaving dozens of people injured just two months after a killer quake rattled the same mountainous region. The earthquake late Friday hit at a depth of 203.5 kilometres (126 miles), sending people fleeing shaking buildings into a bitterly cold night and prompting fears of aftershocks.
The epicentre of the quake, which was felt as far away as New Delhi, was in the remote Afghan province of Badakhshan, close to the Pakistani and Tajik borders. A pregnant woman was killed when a boulder fell on her house in Peshawar and up to 50 others were left injured in the northwestern Pakistani city. Initial information suggested at least 45 houses were damaged in Badakhshan where communication with remote, mountainous villages is typically slow, and 12 people were injured in the Afghan province of Nangarhar.
In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake in the same region ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain. For many in Pakistan, October's quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million. Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. In Nepal a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
There needs to be a "complete rethink" of the UK's flood defences following unprecedented flooding across northern England, the Environment Agency says. Christmas downpours left parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester inundated after rivers at record levels burst their banks. The Environment Agency has nearly 30 severe flood warnings, meaning danger to life, in place for north-east and north-west England, with more than 180 other flood warnings and alerts in England and Wales.
On Sunday, the government said 200 soldiers were being deployed to affected areas in addition to 300 already on the ground. A further 1,000 personnel are being held in reserve in case the situation gets worse. Although Monday will be drier than the weekend, more heavy rain is forecast for the middle of the week. Many places have seen record river levels over the past 24 hours, including the River Aire in Leeds, and the rivers Calder and Ribble, affecting places such as Whalley, Hebden Bridge and Ribchester.
More than 6 billion gallons of water have poured into Lake Tahoe in less than two days, helping the lake begin to recover from four years of crushing drought. Since midnight Monday, the lake has gone up 1.92 inches, the equivalent of 6.39 billion gallons of water. The water comes as a winter storm slams the Sierra, bringing several feet of snow to higher elevations and rain at lake level.
Severe flooding hits South America - More than 100,000 people have had to evacuate from their homes in the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe flooding in the wake of heavy summer rains brought on by El Niño, authorities said on Saturday. In the worse affected country, Paraguay, around 90,000 people in the area around the capital city of Asuncion have been evacuated. Many are poor families living in precarious housing along the banks of the River Paraguay.
Argentina floods force thousands to evacuate - At least 7,000 people have been evacuated in north-eastern Argentina as heavy rains cause rivers to swell. Those living close to the Uruguay River in Entre Rios province are reported to be among the worst affected. The mayor of the town of Concordia, on the border with Uruguay, was quoted as saying a quarter of the town was underwater.
Thousands of people have also been affected by the rains in neighbouring Paraguay and Uruguay. "There's never been flooding like this...Today the river is going to rise another 40cm [16in]. We are going to... keep evacuating more families all day."
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
Blizzard conditions were the latest subset of extreme weather to hit the U.S. heartland Sunday after a string of severe storms left at least 43 people dead across seven states over the previous four days. Heavy snow fell across New Mexico, west Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.
Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars. This slow-motion land subsidence — more than one foot a year in some places — is not expected to stop anytime soon, experts say, nor will the expensive repairs. "It's shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye."
Australia braces for new heatwave as residents return to charred homes - Residents returned on Sunday to charred homes after a Christmas Day bushfire in southern Australia destroyed more than 100 properties, with firefighters bracing for a new heatwave forecast in the lead- up to the new year.
Some 116 homes southwest of Melbourne in the wooded coastal area along the Great Ocean Road tourist drive were razed as about 500 firefighters battled to put out the inferno. Scenes of burnt-out homes, blackened cars, fallen trees and downed power lines greeted residents allowed back into the zone to inspect their properties. Temperatures were also set to soar again in the lead-up to the new year, rising to as high as 38 degree Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the state,
California wildfire 75 percent contained - Hundreds of firefighters on Sunday mopped up the remnants of a wind-whipped wildfire that threatened dozens of Southern California coastal homes. Authorities said their new worry is a landslide if rain pounds the charred hills.
The fire that scorched about 1,230 acres north of Ventura was 75 percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday. The blaze erupted Friday night when high winds caused power lines on an oil field to arc. At its peak, the fire closed a 15-mile stretch of an adjacent, six-lane freeway, U.S. 101, and another major north-south route, the Pacific Coast Highway.
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