Saturday, February 23, 2008

In the previous blogs, I have discussed and mentioned of the extremely cold conditions since Jan/Feb in the sub-continent. Unusually low, and record temperatures, were of the order since Jan. and mentioned several times in my blogs.Thus this year becomes one of the coldest and a long winter for the sub-continent. Normally hot and muggy Mumbai too had a "winter" ,with temperatures going down to 8c,and normally cold regions like north Kashmir touching -29c at Leh.


Well, the point here is, this year's winter was not restricted to this region, but its severity was almost all over the Northern Hemisphere.
Across much of the northern hemisphere, from Greece,Iran to China and Japan, they have been suffering their worst snowfalls for decades.
Similarly freakish amounts of snow have been falling over much of the northern United States, from Ohio to the Pacific coast, where in parts of the state of Washington up to 200in of snow have fallen in the past fortnight.
In country after country, these abnormal snowfalls have provoked a crisis.
In China the worst snow for 50 years triggered an unprecedented state of emergency. In Afghanistan, freezing weather (-22c) and the worst snow for 30 years have killed more than 900 people.
In neighbouring Tajikistan, the coldest winter for 50 years, along with soaring food prices and a massive energy crisis. (china picture)
In Greece and Turkey, where temperatures dropped as low as -31c, hundreds of villages have been cut off by blizzards and drifting snow. Athens was covered in several centimeters of snow and the outskirts were cut off due to heavy snow and ice on the roads following two days of snowfall.
In Israel, Jerusalem were treated to another rare sight of snow. This is the second significant snow fall to descend on the City this year. While snow is often seen across other parts of the country, it seldom settles in Jerusalem itself. However this morning it is reported that snow lay to a depth of 5cm in places.
In Iran, following heavy snowfalls last month, its eastern desert regions - normally still hot at this time of year - have seen their first snow in living memory.
In Saudi Arabia last month, people were amazed by the first snow most had ever seen.
On the Pacific coast of Japan last week, heavy falls of snow injured more than 50.
And, a spell of cold weather in northern Vietnam has killed nearly 60,000 cattle and destroyed crops. The ongoing cold spell started on 14 January, beating the 31-day record set in 1989. Temperatures have sometimes dropped to below 10C. In two localities, a temperature of -2C was recorded.
Alpine ski resorts have seen their best snow conditions for many years.

Now, what is the result and effect of this :In light of such frezzing news from so many places round the world, it was not seem surprising that U.S. satellite data for January shows the extent of snow cover in the northern hemisphere as reaching its highest level since 1966, 42 years ago - and that temperatures were lower than their average for the whole of the 20th century.

And that the "little" big freeze is not restricted to the northern hemisphere !Following last year's freak snowfalls in such southern cities as Buenos Aires and Sydney, and RECORD CHILLY TEMPERATURES have sent residents in Kalgoorlie (Austrailia) and other parts of Western Australia reaching for the blankets. Kalgoorlie has experienced the extremes of weather over the past five days with Wednesday’s chilly 15.1C maximum and 15C on Tuesday setting a RECORD LOW FOR FEBRUARY. The previous lowest temperature in the mining town during February was 16.4 C in 1993. The mercury has taken a massive dive since Sunday when the maximum reached 41C. On Monday it was 34.6C. Kalgoorlie’s average for February is 32C. “To be as low as 15C, that’s REALLY REALLY UNUSUAL.” OTHER RECORD LOWS were recorded in the Gascoyne region, Midwest and Southern Cross. Cooler winds from the southeast and extensive cloud, along with the impact of Tropical Cyclone Nicholas, are blamed for the colder weather.
As a result, ice cover round the Antarctic is at its greatest extent for this time of year since data began in 1979, 30per cent above average.

I refrain from drawing any long-term conclusions from 2008's great freeze. But it is one of the most startling developments to have emerged in the world's weather patterns for a long time - not least in that it was so unexpected.The amazing feature of this great freeze is how little it was predicted.
kapadias@gmail.com


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