Washington Post] From the top of the world to near the bottom, freakish and unprecedented weather has sent temperatures soaring across the Arctic, whipped the United Kingdom with hurricane-force winds and spawned massive flooding in South America.
The same storm that
slammed the southern United States with deadly tornadoes and swamped the
Midwest, causing even greater loss of life, continued on to the Arctic.
Sub-tropical air pulled there is now sitting over Iceland, and at what
should be a deeply sub-zero North Pole, temperatures on Wednesday
appeared to reach the melting point — more than 50 degrees above normal.
That was warmer than Chicago.
Only twice before has the
Arctic been so warm in winter. Residents of Iceland are bracing for
conditions to grow much worse as one of the most powerful storms ever
recorded blasts through the North Atlantic. This rare “bomb cyclone”
arrived with sudden winds of 70 miles per hour and waves that lashed the
Thousands of miles south, in the center of Latin America,
downpours fueled by the Pacific Ocean’s giant El Niño pattern have
drenched regions of Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
what’s described as the worst flooding in a half-century, more than
160,000 people have fled their homes. The Paraguay River in that nation
is within inches of topping its banks, and the Uruguay River in
Argentina is 46 feet above normal, according to a BBC News report.
dramatic storms are ending a year of record-setting weather globally,
with July measured as the hottest month ever and 2015 set to be the
Up and down the U.S. East Coast, this month will
close as the hottest December ever. In much of the Northeast into
Canada, temperatures on Christmas rose into the 70s — tricking bushes
and trees into bloom in many locations. In the Washington area,
forsythia, azaleas and even cherry blossoms were suddenly in full color.
see this as a double whammy,” Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology
at Penn State University, said in an email. “El Niño . . . is one
factor, human-caused climate change and global warming is another. You
put the two together, and you get dramatic increases in certain types of
extreme weather events.”
The impact is more and more devastating.
rain-soaked Missouri, where more than a dozen people have died because
of the flooding, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has declared a state of emergency.
two dozen levees along the Mississippi River are considered at risk,
and forecasts are calling for record or near-record crests of the river
and tributaries that feed it. Nearly 450 river gauges have hit flood
stage since Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Illinois to Texas, 6 to 12 inches of rain have fallen since Dec. 26.
Dozens of new precipitation marks were set last weekend, in some cases
doubling or even tripling old records. Read More