Jul 8, 2012

Climate Chaos in the Northern Hemisphere - Signs of the Times

Sweltering U.S. heat wave claims 30 lives

July 7, 2012WASHINGTONAmericans dipped into the water, went to the movies and rode the subway just to be in air conditioning Saturday for relief from unrelenting heat that has killed 30 people across half the country. The heat sent temperatures soaring over 100 degrees in several cities, including a record 105 in Washington, St. Louis (106) and Indianapolis (104); buckled highways; and derailed a Washington-area train even as another round of summer storms threatened. If people ventured outside to do anything, they did it early. But even then, the heat was stifling. “It was baking on the 18th green,” said golfer Zeb Rogerson, who teed off at 6 a.m. at an Alexandria, Va., golf course but was sweltering by the end of his round. The heat sent temperatures soaring in more than 20 states to 105 in Louisville, Ky., 101 in Philadelphia, and 95 in New York; besides in Washington, a record of 104 was set in Sioux Falls, S.D., At least 30 deaths were blamed on the heat, including nine in Maryland and 10 in Chicago, mostly among the elderly. Three elderly people found dead in their houses in Ohio had heart disease, but died of high temperatures in homes lacking power because of recent outages, officials said. Heat was also cited as a factor in three deaths in Wisconsin, two in Tennessee and three in Pennsylvania. Officials said the heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin. In Maryland, investigators said heat likely caused rails to kink and led a green-line train to partially derail in Prince George’s County, Md., on Friday afternoon. No one was injured, and 55 passengers were safely evacuated. Thousands of mid-Atlantic residents remained without power more than a week after deadly summer storms and extreme heat struck the area, including 120,000 in West Virginia and some 37,000 in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. In the Washington area, Pepco asked customers to conserve power, saying the heat was stressing the system. “This is becoming a black swan of heat waves, in the sense that it’s such a long heat wave, such a severe heat wave and encompassing such a large area,” said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. -WSJ

Chaos in skies over Britain: forecasters describe horrific summer as ‘the worst since records began’ 

July 7, 2012 UNITED KINGDOMBritain is facing its “worst ever” summer with cold wet weather ruining family holidays and blighting the Olympics, forecasters warned last night. August is set to be a washout following a miserable July and the wettest June since records began – meaning summer is effectively over. Gloomy forecasts suggest dire weather will continue as officials last night put Britain on flood alert after torrential downpours yesterday wreaked havoc. As the Environment Agency warned of a “potential danger to life” with rivers swelling to breaking point in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, Government forecasters were on standby to brief the Cabinet if severe floods strike. The agency last night issued 51 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – and 135 alerts. Monsoon-like downpours hit 85,000 music fans at the T In The Park festival in Kinross, Scotland, and 28,000 Formula 1 spectators camping for the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone. Race meetings today in Nottingham and Carlisle were cancelled while play was delayed on all courts at Wimbledon – other than Centre Court. In Leeds, organizers cancelled music festival MFEST over safety concerns. Emergency services reported a surge of flood callouts, dispatched special operations teams and told motorists not to drive through floodwater. The misery is set to continue with parts of the Midlands and northern Britain braced for six inches of rain – more than two months’ worth – in the 72 hours to tomorrow night. Tony Waters, deputy chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We are expecting very heavy and thundery rain, with worst affected spots likely to be in central and northern parts. “Some places could see around 100mm (3.9in). The Met Office said the washout will continue into August. A spokesman said: “A protracted spell of hot, sunny weather looks very unlikely.” Forecasters MeteoGroup last night described this summer as “the worst since records began.” Forecaster Paul Knightley said: “This is as bad a summer as we can get in this country. “It’s wet, cool and dull. It’s not wrong to suggest the first half of summer has been the worst since records began.” Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “There is no settled fine weather on the horizon and August looks as doomed as July. It is a bitterly disappointing summer and already set to be in the top five wettest on record. “The first couple of days of the Olympics are likely to be very wet indeed, and the rest of the Games unsettled.” -Express