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October 2020 Global Weather Highlights

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James Munley

Nov 25, 2020, 10:51:44 AM11/25/20


Devastating wildfires have broken out across Paraguay, as drought and record high temperatures continue to exacerbate blazes across South America (2nd). A total of 5,231 individual wildfires broke out across the country on 1 October up 3,000 on the previous day. Most of were concentrated in the arid Chaco region in the west of the country, but thick yellow smoke had reached as far as the capital, Asuncion. Paraguay's outbreak came as the southern hemisphere heads into summer and neighboring countries also face unprecedented wildfires. The Brazilian Amazon is recording its worst blazes in a decade, with numbers up 61% on the widely reported fires of last year, and separate fires in the southern Pantanal region. Argentina has also seen record numbers of fires devastate the wetlands along the Parana River, with multiple areas of the country continuing to experience aggressive blazes. One of the country's worst droughts of recent decades has seen the River Paraguay one of its main waterways drop to 50-year lows. Meanwhile, the country is going through a heatwave, registering a record high temperature of 45.5C last Saturday.


Nice, France: Fierce winds drove heavy rain across large swathes of France, knocking out electricity for tens of thousands of homes along the western Atlantic coast and causing destructive flooding in the southeast, officials said (2nd). An autumn storm baptised Alex buffeted Brittany overnight, with wind gusts reaching 186 km/h at Belle-Ile-en-Mer, an island off the coast near Nantes. Le Talut has reported 162 km/h with Beg Melen recording 158 km/h. Emergency services have been mobilized to clear fallen trees and downed power lines, although no deaths have been reported in the area, authorities said. But many schools and parks have been closed, rail services have been cut off and access to the coast prohibited. In the southeast, a road bridge was destroyed as muddy waters churned through a valley near Saint-Martin-Vesubie, north of Nice near the Italian border, Eric Ciotti, an MP for the Alpes-Maritimes region, told AFP. "The service station was washed away, houses were severely damaged, and the stadium and the cemetery have been flooded" after some 235 mm of rain was dumped in just a few hours, Ciotti said. Beaches in Nice and other coastal cities were closed, and authorities asked people to stay at home and refrain from using their cars unless in case of emergency.

At least two people have died and up to 20 are still missing after a powerful storm hit south-eastern France and north-western Italy (4th). Named Alex, the storm brought fierce winds and torrential rain. A number of villages north of Nice in France suffered serious damage from floods and landslides, with roads, bridges and homes destroyed. In north-western Italy, flooding was described as "historic". A section of a bridge over the Sesia river collapsed. Meteo-France said 450 mm of rain fell in some areas over 24 hours - the equivalent of nearly four months at this time of year. The southern Alps region appeared the worst hit, with serious damage in the Roya, Tinee, Esteron and Vesubie valleys. The villages of Saint-Martin-Vesubie and Rimplas were cut off, with roads inaccessible. The two fatalities were a 53-year-old firefighter in the Aosta Valley who died during a rescue operation, and a 36-year-old man whose car was swept into a river in the Piedmont region. A section of a key bridge over the Sesia river in Piedmont's Vercelli province collapsed shortly after it had been reopened on Saturday afternoon. In the rest of Piedmont, several villages were cut off after the rains made roads impassable. The situation there was described as "extremely critical" by officials. Piedmont President Alberto Cirio told La Stampa that 630 mm of rain had fallen in 24 hours, an amount "unheard of since 1954". The storm also affected the north-western regions of Lombardy and Liguria. The Roja river in Ventimiglia has also flooded. Flood alerts remain for sections of the Po river which have swollen by 3 m in 24 hours.


Rounds of heavy rain hit parts of northern and central Vietnam, causing floods and landslides in which at least 8 people lost their lives or are considered missing (5th-6th). The northern province of Lao Cai, home to the resort town of Sa Pa, registered 400 mm of rain in just 9 hours, triggering flash floods in which one three-year-old girl lost its life. This is considered the heaviest October rain in 63 years. Floods have also destroyed tens of hectares of farmland and gardens, and damaged 35 houses. In 24 hours to October 7, Hong Linh in Quang Tri Province registered 435 mm of rain.

Heavy rains affecting parts of India, including Telangana, Maharashtra, and Karnataka this week claimed the lives of at least 77 people by (16th). Meteorologists described the rains as rare and unseasonal. At least 50 people have died in Telangana, many of them in the capital Hyderabad, since Tuesday night, when a deep depression brought unprecedented rains and floods. According to the India Meteorological Office (IMD), Ghatkesar on the city outskirts received record rainfall of 322 mm from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. IMD said Hyderabad has last seen such heavy October rains in 1891. 2020 is now the wettest year on record for Telangana, with 400% more than normal annual rainfall. Hyderabad itself has received 404% excess rainfall.

Extensive flooding has left about 150000 families affected and at least 31 people dead across Cambodia, as heavy rains have been pounding much of the country since earlier this month (21st). Around 13000 families have been displaced and more than 73000 houses flooded; wide swaths of agricultural land have been ravaged.


A powerful thunderstorm hit New York's Capital District, leaving more than 200,000 customers without power and killing at least two people (7th). The storm was described as an "unusual event" with winds of 68 mph - the highest daily gust for the month of October, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Albany. According to National Grid spokeswoman Virginia Limmiatis, the region has not experienced outages this widespread in more than a decade.

Widespread heavy snow falling across the central Rockies and central Plains shift further south and develop into another major winter storm for the southern High Plains, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) (25th-26). The station in Potomac, Montana, recorded -33C on Sunday morning (25th), the lowest temperature at an official climate site in the U.S. this early in the season.

A winter storm hit parts of the northern U.S., breaking scores of snowfall records in Montana, Iowa, and Minnesota, where more than 1100 road accidents were reported due to heavy snow (18th-19). Montana was the hardest hit, with up to 35 cm of snow through the 19th, setting a number of October snowfall records. This included the heaviest daily October snowfall of 20.8 cm on the 18th and the greatest October snow depth of 25 cm on the 19th, breaking the previous record set in 2019; earliest-in-season snow depth. Two rounds of snow covered parts of Iowa. On Sunday, Des Moines recorded its second earliest snow on record (since 1885). On Monday, central and eastern Iowa registered up to 23 cm of snow - the snowiest October day on record in Ankeny.


Northern Territory's capital Darwin was hit by up to 177 mm of rainfall, the city's highest daily rainfall for October since record-keeping began in 1941, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) confirmed (8th). The agency added that the rain came from multiple lines of storms consistent with La Nina conditions. Northern Territory had a flying start to the west season as rainfall in Darwin was 17 times greater than what fell during the same time in 2019. Marrara in north Darwin recorded 177 mm of rain on Thursday morning, Royal Darwin Hospital saw 137 mm, while Darwin airport received 113 mm. The previous record for the highest October daily rainfall was 95.5 mm set in 1969. Before modern data-keeping started in 1941, the Darwin Post Office registered 117 mm of rain in 1880.


Heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides in Garut District of West Java, Indonesia (12th). Intense downpours began on Sunday 11th, and continued into Monday morning. This resulted in the overflow of the Cipalebuh and Cikaso rivers, sending floodwaters to surrounding houses, More than 900 houses were inundated, forcing around 800 families to evacuate. No casualties were reported, Imrania added. The affected districts were Cikelet, CIbalong, Peundeuy, Singjaya, Banjarawangi, and Pameungpeuk, which was hit the worst.


Flooding and waterspout outbreak hit southern Greece after heavy rains struck the islands (21st). Several people were trapped in floodwaters but were successfully rescued. No injuries were reported. According to the World Meteorological Organization, Crete's capital Heraklion recorded 138.1 mm of rain in a 24-hour period, while Karpathos in the Dodecanese registered 244 mm.


Libya's capital Tripoli was hit by a sudden storm which generated exceptionally massive hail measuring more than 20 cm in diameter (27th). Reports indicate that the hail could be one of the largest on record, along with the 2010 Dakota storm and the 2018 Argentina hail. Local reports said the sudden storm resulted in severe damage to properties as many trees were knocked down and hailstones struck several vehicles. The Libyan Port and Shipping Authority confirmed that the port of Tripoli sustained damage, including fallen containers in the squares and port basin.


Hurricane Delta has made landfall in the US state of Louisiana, which is still recovering from the damage caused by a previous hurricane in August (9th). This is the 10th named storm to make US landfall so far this year, breaking a record that has stood since 1916. Delta hit Creole, Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane at 1800 h local time , with winds of 100 mph. It weakened to a Category 1 as it moved inland, causing widespread power cuts. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) also warned of an eight-foot-high "life-threatening storm surge" across the Louisiana coast, caused by high winds from Delta. The hurricane first made landfall near Puerto Morelos on Mexico's Caribbean coast on Wednesday, forcing thousands of tourists and residents to move into shelters for safety. Having crossed the Gulf of Mexico, Delta is now moving across central and north-eastern Louisiana, and will enter northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley on Saturday. Many people left their homes to try to get out of the storm's path. Parts of the state were already severely storm-damaged from the more powerful Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which ripped through homes and uprooted trees when it hit on 20 August. More than 6,000 people are still displaced and living in temporary accommodation, such as hotels, after their homes were destroyed. Streets in cities such as Lake Charles, which was particularly badly-hit by Hurricane Laura, remain littered with debris.

Rescue teams in Vietnam have used heavy machinery to search for survivors buried under landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the region for decades, the government said (28th-29th). The landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam, have killed at least 15 and 38 people are missing with rescue efforts hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm, the government said.

Hurricane Zeta is battering southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi with high winds, heavy rain and a life-threatening storm surge, according to the National Hurricane Center (29th). The Category 2 storm made landfall with winds of 110 mph, though it had weakened to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds as of 9 p.m. ET, the hurricane center said. Zeta is moving quickly at 25 mph as it heads into southeastern Mississippi and that speed is expected to increase Wednesday evening. The eye of the storm passed over New Orleans at roughly 7:30 p.m., according to CNN crews in the city. Winds were beginning to pick back up after the eye's passing, according to a tweet from the New Orleans g overnment. A weather station in Golden Meadow reported a wind gust of 110 mph, while the New Orleans Lakefront Airport has seen winds gusting more than 50 mph.

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