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.



Aid for the Philippines – Typhoon Haiyan



Nations, corporate businesses, organizations and individuals around the world have come together to aid the Philippines…
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Although the Philippine government did not anticipate the sheer magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan their response with aid occurred and went in to action immediately.
The government underwent its largest relief operation delivering aid to tens of thousands of people. The Philippines is a chain of 7100 islands with dispersed vast settlements stretching for hundreds of miles and so the task will remain difficult. They spread out over a 1000 armed forces to help with aid.


U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said, “we really need to scale up [the] operation.” She told reporters in Manila “It’s true, there are still areas that we have not been able to get to where people are in desperate need,”I do feel that we have let people down because we have not been able to get in more quickly.” She believes that although aid has been provided much more still needs to be done. Her office has offered $25 million in emergency relief funds. “The priority has got to be — let’s get the food in, let’s get the water in,” Amos said. “We are doing everything possible to rush assistance to those who need it. Now is the time for the international community to stand with the people of the Philippines” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


The USA had provided $20 million. They initiated a massive military-driven rescue operation which included a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, George Washington along with its strike group consisting of 5,000 crew men. They took action commencing with the deliverance of water, food and medical teams. They provided more than 80 aircrafts with aims of transporting supplies and carry the injured to the George Washington for medical care.  In Tacloban, Guiuan and the Samar province Charles Drew, a Navy cargo ship along with U.S. sailors transported over 1900 gallons of water and food.

Ikea, Swedish furniture chain, have done more than the world’s second-largest super power offering $2.7 million through its charitable foundation. That won’t help Beijing’s campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power.


Guam has carried out ‘Operation Guam Cares’ with hopes of raising funds to help with aid and relief in the Philippines. Other companies have generously donated money towards this campaign such as Calvo’s Enterprises [$25,000.00] and Guam Regional Medical City [$50,000.00]. The Family Finder Service has been launched by the American Red Cross-Guam Chapter. This is where families in the affected areas may request assistance in reconnecting with their loved ones.


Australia has offered $28 million.


Japan, has pledged $10 million and offered to send troops, ships and planes


The relief material of 15 tonnes sent by India includes medicines and hygiene chemicals, fresh water, water purification materials, tents, blankets, mattresses, tarpaulin and ground sheet for shelter, readymade meals, biscuits and milk powder.


$10 million for aid and relief


China, a wealthier nation and a newcomer to overseas disaster relief has not made much of an impression according to authorities. China has donated less than $2 million in cash and materials and is unwilling to provide more. The Chinese Red Cross has provided $100,000. Zheng Yongnian, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore, gave his opinion on how this has effected China as a leading super power saying, “They still lack strategic thinking…China has missed an excellent opportunity to show itself as a responsible power and to generate goodwill.” However, regardless of YongChina had demonstrated some goodwill in offering the Philippines $80 000 during the earthquake in Bohol.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which is tracking corporate donations, had tallied more than $10.8 million in aid from dozens of firms. JOHNSONS and JOHNSONS including Fed Ex had come through with aid and relief…

HSBC                                       $1 million

JP Morgan                              $1 million

Samsung                                 $1 million

Royal Caribbean Cruises      $1 million

Toyota                                    $480 000

BP                                           $200 000

Sony                                        $150 000

Nikon                                      $100 000

Air Asia and Zest Hotels offered free flights and accommodation to aid workers
Although the flow of aid coming through to the Philippines has been difficult due to debris causing the lack of access to roads, it has been much more difficult for those who have been mob ransacked.

It is inevitable that not everyone would receive aid just as fast as others due to the widespread of islands and remoteness of villages. People have stolen from government buildings storing packages of rice and convoys for example. Many believe that this is due to the country’s ongoing struggle with crime. To help prevent future more disruption Tacloban police have imposed evening curfews.

Individuals continue to do their utmost best by initiating garage sales and charity events all over the world to help those in need of aid in the Philippines.

‘BBC News – Philippines: Aid teams face huge logistical challenges’

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‘China Gives Less Aid To Philippines Than IKEA’

‘Guam organizations rally to raise relief funding for Philippines’

‘Guam mobilizes to help Philippines’

‘U.S. Marines dispatched to aid with Philippines recovery’

‘BBC News – Typhoon Haiyan: UN launches $301m Philippines aid’

‘World Food Programme provides aid to Philippines’

‘Germany vows to ‘ease the suffering’ in Philippines’

‘Israel offers typhoon aid to Philippines’







Typhoon Haiyan – PHILIPPINES


Fantastic coverage of Typhoon Haiyan from the landfall in Tacloban to the clearing up of the super storm

‘Super Typhoon HAIYAN (YOLANDA) in Tacloban City, Philippines’

On November 8th Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest storms to ever occur in South East Asia, made landfall in Central Philippines. 


The arrival of the storm was of no surprise, however the impact it made left behind nothing but dismantled and blown away houses along with the fatalities and misplacement of humans. The speed at which the category 5 storm was moving may have spared many more lives than expected as it made its way from the Philippines further south to Vietnam.


The Philippines is located within the tropical belt [5°N -20°N] and so it experiences 20 typhoons on average within a year. It does not go through an official typhoon season as there is none and so typhoons form throughout the year with June-November receiving the most frequent amount of typhoons.


According to the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor they have recorded and estimated Typhoon Haiyan’s winds to be at 190 to 195 mph, with gusts to 230 mph nearly attaining the maximum speed for a typhoon due to its warm seas. Waves reached 12 to 15 feet in Samar and Leyte.

The unprecedented storm simply left the government unprepared to handle the aftermath. 18 million people were in the storm’s path and according to Filipino authorities the death toll has now official raised to 6000, however local officials in the province of Leyte have reported more than 10,000 dead. Neighborhoods are now deserted with death tolls in remote areas doubling overnight, where populous cities like Tacloban, which had 220 000 residing in it now has remnants of denuded hills and rubble from torn down buildings of which can no longer stand.


However, authorities were praised as they managed to evacuate 1 million people before the storm hit the nation. The unprecedented storm made damages worth $15 billion. The 7.2 magnitude that hit the province of Bohol on October 15th still currently has 350,000 people temporarily residing in shelters. Fortunately, they were not located within Typhoon Haiyan’s path and so were not as affected in comparison to civilians residing within the island of Leyte.

Six ships had sailed ashore due to the large waves. Rooftops were blown away along with houses of which were secure and well-constructed. Many believed that the intensity and magnitude of the storm was too massive and severe to handle. Civilians and authorities did not anticipate that the aftermath would be as devastating as it appeared to be. The main impact Typhoon Haiyan had on the Philippines apart from the resulting death toll was that it cut off telecommunications, closed airports and pathways to islands such as Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Panay. Reviving telecommunications and power is said to even take months with the extent of the damage. This will inevitable slow down rescue effort and the delivery of aid.


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung personally saw to it that preparations for Haiyan were carried out accordingly. He declared the highest level of alert.

Infrastructure is expensive and so are national preparedness programs. Unfortunately, the Philippines are ranked 165 in the world by GDP Capita just under the Republic of Congo and so it is considered to be in poverty. The infrastructure created by the government was poorly built resulting to why many families have lost their homes and have been displaced. Tacloban was completely inaccessible after the storm had passed leaving people struggling and waiting for aid, food and shelter.

After landfall in the Philippines it immediately made its way across the South China Sea eventually making landfall in Vietnam. Vietnam experienced less damage in comparison to the Philippines as the typhoon surprisingly weakened as it travelled across the South China Sea. Authorities were aware of the extent of the damage it caused the Philippines and so they prepared beforehand. 6.5 million People out of 90 million were supposed to be affected by the storm. They managed to evacuate 800,000 people; however there were only 14 deaths. They received praise from the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies for the plans they successfully managed to carry out.


It is easy to say that when a nation falls it can stand back up. In the Philippines case it is possible, but with the amount of damage the unprecedented storm had left behind the Philippine’s aim to recover as quickly as possible will be just as difficult. Aid is currently being provided to areas hit and safety and recovery has been initiated. The death toll continues to rise with families having to undergo mass body burials. Typhoon Haiyan left a scar for all Filipinos affected not just in the Philippines but all over the world.

‘The “miserable” situation in Tacloban, Philippines’

‘Super Typhoon Yolanda Hits Philippines – CNN Report’

‘Oxfam worker describes ‘devestation’ in the Philippines’

Aid for the Philippines – Typhoon Haiyan

Inspiring Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda Stories That Caught My Heart


Southeast Asia Takes A New High on Haze


Toxic Haze succumbs Southeast Asia

Singapore takes the cake as it hits 401 PSI [Pollutant Standard Index].

Other South Eastern countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have passed the unhealthy rates of PSI of which is 200.

300 is considered hazardous. Malaysia has doubled this rate as it is at around 750 PSI.

Read more HERE.


“The Toxic Haze Choking Southeast Asia”