Winter Storms Take Over the Northern Hemisphere


This winter has seen a series of unequivocal extreme weather events firstly starting with Egypt going white.


Winter storm Alexa overcoming Europe

The Middle Eastern storm, Alexa, created precipitation in the form of snowfall in Egypt overnight on the 11th of December. This weather phenomenon was named the ‘Middle East Cold Snap.” It was the first time in 112 years that the Egyptians had experienced a white Christmas with temperatures falling as low as 28 degrees. Although the heavy snowfall caused 4 ports to close down, two at the Mediterranean and another 2 at the Red Sea, the snowy weather surely bought about excitement within the residents as many were seen outside enjoying the snow and beauty as it covered the pyramids with a white blanket of snow.


The Egyptiain Pyramids covered in a blanket of snow

Other parts of the Middle East experienced snowfall as well including Israel, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. Lebanon received more than 3 feet of snow where 5 inches fell in Syrian refugee camps in the northern and eastern region. The snowfall in Syria affected many including the tens of thousands of refugees who stay in plastic tents with no access to a heating ventilation system. The 3 inches of snowfall in Homs furthered discomfort for the war-torn city.


The holy snowy city of Jerusalem

The holy city of Jerusalem, Israel experienced snow for the first time in 5 decades with Gaza experiencing snowfall for the first time in a decade. Their armed forces were required to aid 35,000 homes of which went out of power. Public transport was at a halt as the city was covered deep in 20 inches of snow. The worst hit communities were West Bank and Gaza of which were aided by UN relief teams. 500 people were evacuated. At a lower elevation Alexa produced precipitation in the form of rain causing flooding. Further south east of the map, northern Vietnam too experienced some strange snowfall. December and January are considered to be the dry season for Vietnam, however they experienced heavy rainfall of 142 mm within 24 hours causing inundated houses due to flooding. Parts of China and Laos experienced this heavy rainfall, yet in Sa Pa and the mountainous areas of Vietnam received snow. The snow attracted more than 5000 civilians causing a five hour traffic jam within the mountainous province of Lao Cai. Arable and livestock farms were destroyed with 900hectares of vegetables buried within the snow and 60 buffalos and cows dying due to the lack of adaptation to the frost.

An Arctic cold front travelled southwards affecting majority of North America currently experiencing a cold wave and a series of snowstorms. Jet streams were exceptional stronger than normal as there was a great difference in pressure creating strong winds. Temperatures have fluctuated and due to the front they have fallen to unprecedented levels within the region with some areas as low as temperature records occurring in the Antarctic, for example New York had a temperature high of 21°C and Miami experienced its highest temperature low of 57°F. Over 200 million within a distance of the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Atlantic Ocean along the east coast and further south in to the United States a 187 million people were furthermore affected by the snowstorm.

Canada was hit first by the winter storm producing a 10 to 30mm build up of ice. This led to 11 deaths with hundreds of thousands without power and electricity. Mass cancellation of flights occurred in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The eastern Prairie Provinces, Ontario, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories. Winnipeg remained the coldest city during the cold wave with temperatures reaching as low as −36 °C (−33 °F) on January 7th. Other areas experienced major low records with Southern Ontario breaking temperature records. Emergency warm-up centers were opened in Toronto for those of whom were without power.

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Weather forecast of Low temperatures and wind chill in North America

In the US the cold wave stretched and even effected parts of the south including Central Florida as well as Northeastern Mexico. Over 400,000 people in Michigan, New York and New England were without power. The cold wave also set off  flooding with heavy rainstorms in Kentucky killing four people and tornadoes in Arkansas.

All in all unprecedented weather has been experienced all around the world raising questions as to whether the Earths global temperature is rising or cooling. The arrival of Storm Leon in North America has made it clear that the occurrence of these extreme weather events are not yet over.



India Takes On Its Biggest Evacuation Plan In History As Super Cyclone Phalin Makes Landfall



It has been 14 years since India has experienced its strongest cyclone. Cylcone Phalin, of which was compared to a category 4 hurricane, attacked the east coast leaving its mark with only 7 casualties dead.

A ‘zero-casualty approach’ was taken as Cyclone Phalin brought about 8 inches of rainfall flooding low-lying lands and villages. The cyclone generated strong wind speeds of around 140mph which resulted in large waves slamming the coasts. Many houses were run down by floods as several were made out of mud and bamboo. Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar was badly hit by floods, however according to Kamal Mishra, state disaster management official, Ganjam was the area worst affected by Cyclone Phalin.


India has had a strong history of several cyclones emerging upon its land, with several causing extensive damage with a large number of fatalities. In 1999 a Cyclone 05B killed over 10,000 people and so authorities made it their mission to see that history would not be repeated with the super cyclone with Mishra saying, “we have taken a zero-casualty approach…If people do not move, force will be used to evacuate them.” His and the army’s initiative made a positive response as over 900,000 people were evacuated in Odisha alone with many being housed in shelters, strongly built schools, hospitals and temples. Power and transport had been cut off for the safety precautions.


Aid was in effect by the International Humanitarian Organization World Vision. They offered help to local communities with preparedness programs which involved training the locals on how to act and react, search and rescue, first aid and how to protect livestock.


Many believe that India tackled the grave situation with a positive manner, quickly and extremely well. History and awareness plays a strong part in how precautions were taken resulting to a low number of fatalities as millions were faced with the deadly hazard. Forecasters warn that as the Cyclone moves northwards it could cause furthermore severe and environmental damage due to the Himalayas, but India’s authorities are prepared to tackle the threat with hopes to continue their ‘zero-casualty approach’.




India’s Floods: Not a natural disaster?




Northern India has experienced a dramatic state of flooding due to record rains in the month of June and July. This resulted to devastating landslides where the state of Uttarakhand became badly inundated as 6,000 people were misplaced and 1 fatality occurred in the Morigaon district. Although many may claim this disaster to be caused by mother nature’s terrible charms, some environmentalists say the great after effects of the flooding is strongly due to anthropogenic reasons.


100,000 people have been rescued by the air force and security force personnel, however there is no official death toll leaving the missing ‘presumed dead’. The Ganges River and the Brahmaputra River as well as its tributaries, Dhansiri and Jia Bharali, have flown over the danger mark. They have washed villages and roads away due to heavy rain. 100,000 people have been rescued by the air force and security force personnel. The Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary have been hit. 7,000 hectares of agriculture was severely destroyed. 30,000 civilians are still affected by the flooding in the Nagaon district with an elephant and antelope lost within the floods.

Indian floods



1,500 people are being sheltered by 6 relief camps and 24 temporary shelters are now homes to 25,000 people. Vijay Bahuguna, Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister, that the federal government will aid 150,000 rupees [$2,500] to the families in the state besides compensation.

The heavy rainfall further lead to a Himalayan Tsunami, which resulted to the     Indian Air Force carrying out the largest airlift in India’s history as they rescued residents and pilgrims and sent relief material.








Environmentalists ravaged their opinions on whether mother nature was entirely at fault. Most believe that the over-dramatic impacts of the flooding were due to the modification of the Himalayas’ natural state caused by humans. Devinder Sharma of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security talked to CNN and said, “ You’ve heard of homicide, well this is eccoside…The hills have been shorn of the forest cover, theres extensive mining taking place in this region and on top of that the roads that are being constructed are haphazard…We are playing with nature but at the same time blaming nature.”

CNN spoke to Souparno Banerjee, from the Indian advocacy group the Center for Science and Environment and she said, “Unregulated development and unregulated tourism is responsible for the scale of the disaster…The Himalayas are the biggest mountain range in the world, but they are also extremely fragile.”

Mayor Vijay Bahuguna responded and contradicted their opinions saying, “This is a very childish argument- that cloudbursts, earthquakes and tsunamis are caused by human factors. In the history of hundreds of years of Kedarnath, no such incident has taken place. In a Himalayan state this catastrophe has come about in 37,000 square miles of area. This cloudburst, 330 mm of rain, cannot be anticipated.”

Since mid-May the commencement of flooding has affected over 1.5 lakh people in over 500 villages across 12 districts in the state. This particular flooding disaster led the number of deaths and casualties fluctuate uncontrollably. Mayor Vijay Bahuguna is devasted at the disaster and fears that this would ruin the state’s economy. They rely on tourism and he fears that this major contribution will decline.






Affected districts:














‘Indian floods a man-mad disaster, say environmentalists’ []

‘Indian Floods: Nearly 6,000 Missing A Month After Devastating Inundation’ []

‘Assam flood situation improves, 59 villages still under water’ []


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