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