August 2020 Global Weather Highlights

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James Munley

Sep 16, 2020, 7:03:46 PM9/16/20



Italian authorities have evacuated about 75 people, mostly tourists, from an Alpine valley as huge blocks of ice threaten to crash down from a glacier (7th). Planpincieux glacier, in the Mont Blanc massif, has weakened because of intense summer heat alternating with night-time cold. It lies above Val Ferret valley, near Courmayeur ski resort. A local environmental risk expert said the fragile ice could fall at any time. The threatening glacier section is about the size of Milan cathedral.

At least five people have been killed in flooding caused by thunderstorms and torrential rains on the Greek island of Evia (9th). Officials said victims included an eight-month-old baby and two people in their 80s. Rescuers found their bodies in houses in the village of Politika. Search efforts are continuing for two other people reported missing.

A violent storm struck Italy's northern region, bringing hail, floods, strong winds, and a tornado (23rd). In a statement on Monday, August 24, the National Confederation of Farmers (Coldiretti) said the severe weather caused "millions of euros in damages." On the same day, a state of emergency has been declared in several provinces, with authorities saying the consequences were "devastating." The severe storm struck Verona on Sunday afternoon, causing waterlogging and road blockage. Strong winds of up to 80 km/h caused considerable damage to homes and uprooted hundreds of trees.


A second heatwave has hit Europe in the space of a week and experts have warned that temperatures will continue to rise across the continent in the years ahead (8th). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the heat has been caused by a stream of hot air blown across Europe from North Africa. Laura Paterson, a WMO meteorologist, said: "At the moment, there is extreme heat developing across large parts of Western Europe and this is related to a buckling of the jet stream. Across the eastern Atlantic, the jet stream is diving south and then coming further north again and that's dragging very warm, very hot air up from close to northern Africa, up northwards, across Spain, across France and heading into parts of the UK." France has also been sweltering through a heatwave since Thursday, with temperatures pushing towards 40C in several areas. In SW France, Brive-la-Gaillarde broke its own record with temperatures of 40.8C on Friday as did Cognac with 39.8C while Nantes posted a new all-time record of 39.6C.

The UK's wheat harvest is likely to be down markedly this year, according to the National Farmers' Union, capping a tumultuous year for British farming after consecutive seasons of extreme weather. Yields could be down by about a third, with the worst harvest since the 1980s predicted. Good growing conditions over the summer, when about half the wheat harvest was brought in across the country, ended for many regions in the past week with severe thunderstorms following the mini-heatwave, which saw the longest period of temperatures over 34C since comparable records began in 1961. But the problems with the harvest started at the beginning of the year. While this spring was the sunniest since comparable measurements began in 1929, and substantially drier than usual, it followed the wettest February ever recorded.


A devastating derecho ripped through several Midwest states, leaving a path of destruction, more than 1.5 million customers without power, and more than 400000 hectares of destroyed or damaged crops (10th). Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini described the event as one of the worst weather events of 2020 in the United States. The storm ripped through the heart of the Corn Belt - a region of the Midwestern United States that has dominated corn production in the country since the 1850s, with winds gusts up to 180 km/h, causing huge economic impact which is expected to be widespread across the farming community.

What could be the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth - 130F (54.4C) - may have been reached in Death Valley National Park, California (16th). The recording is being verified by the US National Weather Service. It comes amid a heatwave on the US's west coast, where temperatures are forecast to rise further this week. The scorching conditions have led to two days of blackouts in California, after a power plant malfunctioned on Saturday. Sunday's reading was recorded in Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Before this, the hottest temperature reliably recorded on Earth was 129.2F (54C) - also in Death Valley in 2013.

Wildfires are raging across Northern California, which were sparked by dry lightning during a heatwave (26th). Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and 1.5million acres of land has been burnt. Two major wildfires are being tackled by 14,000 firefighters, according to Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


Persistent heavy monsoon rains hit Pakistan's Punjab Province overnight into today, leaving at least 24 people dead and 18 hurt (20th). In Lahore, more than 200 mm of rain fell in 24 hours, which is more than the average August rainfall of 164 mm. Torrential rains left several houses damaged or destroyed as many homes in rural Pakistan are made of sun-baked mud and flimsy cinder block construction.


At least three people lost their lives while around 1500 were displaced by severe flooding in Chad's capital N'Djamena, which began today (20th). Floods struck after several hours of heavy rains and were worsened by poor drainage system in the city. Around 230 houses were destroyed while 100 others were damaged in the Dembe quartier in the 7th arrondissement, displacing 1500 people from 327 families. Three people died in flood-related incidents.


Heavy rainfall caused destructive flooding in NE Turkey's Giresun Province, leaving huge infrastructural damage, at least 4 people dead and 11 missing (22nd). Officials said heavy rains in the district of Dereli started at 1500 LT, with 137 mm accumulating before the end of the day. The rains caused the Aksu Creek, which runs through the district's centre, to overflow, turning roads into raging rivers, sweeping away vehicles, and destroying buildings. Roads to 118 villages in Giresun are closed.

Pakistan is seeing the worst rainfall since records began 89 years ago (28th) The annual monsoon rain is particularly bad this year and the city of Karachi is largely underwater. Roads have turned to rivers, houses have been destroyed and people had to flee to shelters.


Three people - including a four-year-old boy - have been killed by falling trees after a storm lashed the Australian state of Victoria (27th-28th). Gusts of up to 100 mph were recorded, causing widespread damage and knocking out power to 95,000 homes. The deaths happened in suburbs across the state capital, Melbourne - a city already reeling from a Covid outbreak. On Friday, residents in 88 suburbs were also warned that the storm had contaminated drinking water. Locals made more than 2,100 calls for emergency assistance after the storm crossed the state late on Thursday, bringing down power lines and damaging buildings.


Tropical Storm Josephine became the earliest-forming J-named storm in the Atlantic basin (13th). The previous earliest J-named storm was Tropical Storm Jose in 2005
Tropical Storm Isaias is moving along Florida's east coast, bringing strong winds and rain to the US state. Isaias, the ninth named storm of 2020, was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm after battering the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas. It caused the deaths of two people in the Caribbean. Early bands of heavy rain lashed the state's Atlantic coast early on Sunday morning. The storm is now moving slowly offshore along the eastern coast, with winds gusting up to 105 km/h. Thousands of power cuts have already been reported in Florida. Mr De Santis told residents to have a week's supply of food, water and medicine prepared. People in affected areas were advised to stay indoors, or to evacuate if living in mobile homes.

Hurricane Isaias has come ashore in North Carolina, crossing the coast 40 miles south-west of Wilmington (4th). It made landfall at 0310 GMT today with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm after hitting islands in the Caribbean, but was re-categorized as a category-one hurricane on Monday.

At least 12 people have been killed as two storms tore through the Caribbean on Sunday (23rd). Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura brought high winds and rough seas leaving at least nine people dead in Haiti and another three in the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains have also battered Cuba and the US territory of Puerto Rico. Marco is expected to make landfall in the US state of Louisiana on Monday, with Laura hitting Texas by Thursday.

Hurricane Laura has struck the US state of Louisiana, causing flash floods, severe damage to buildings and power cuts to more than half a million homes (27th). By Friday evening 14 people had been killed by the effects of the hurricane, most by falling trees. It is one of the strongest to ever hit the US Gulf Coast, striking at category four with winds up to 150 mph. Laura's storm surge has not reached the levels feared but is still considered life-threatening, and could spread 40 miles inland. Half a million residents had been told to leave parts of Texas and Louisiana. More than half a million homes in Louisiana were reported to be without power Laura and another storm, Marco, earlier swept across the Caribbean, killing 24 people. Hurricane Laura made landfall shortly after midnight local time (0500 GMT) near the district of Cameron, in Louisiana. It tracked north, just east of the Texas-Louisiana border. Four hours later it had been downgraded to a category three storm, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported, before weakening again. At 1400 GMT it was a category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. But the NWS said "a catastrophic storm surge, hurricane force winds and flash flooding will continue". Lake Charles, a city of 78,000, and its surrounding areas have been badly hit. Trees and electricity pylons have been ripped from the ground and vehicles overturned. More than 420,000 Texas residents were ordered to leave, while an additional 200,000 were told to evacuate Calcasieu Parish in south-western Louisiana. Haiti and the Dominican Republic were both earlier badly hit by storms Marco and Laura, with at least 24 fatalities and severe flooding. Thousands of homes were damaged and there were extensive power cuts. Cuba suffered material damage but did not record any deaths. In Jamaica, there were reports of landslides and flooded roads. The US territory of Puerto Rico was also hit.

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