One of the Met Office’s most senior experts yesterday made a dramatic intervention in the climate change debate by insisting there is no link between the storms that have battered Britain and global warming.
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“The text reads: [TOP] This wall was erected – and the piles fixed – Anno Domini 1817 – William Smith, Warden. [LEFT] Variable high tides – March 30th 1874 – Joseph Giles, Warden. [RIGHT] Extraordinary high tide – January 7th 1928 – when 75ft of this wall were demolished – Leonard Collyer, Warden.”
The Thames Valley is a wedge-shaped area widening from Reading to include the Bracknell, Slough, Windsor areas, the Colne Valley and the south-west London fringes. As the river Thames enters the London suburbs of north Surrey, the floodplain is bounded in the distance to the south and west by low wooded hills which lie in the adjoining character area, the Thames Basin Heaths.
In the centre of the Thames Valley, the open Thames floodplain dominates.
Natural England, Character of the Thames Valley
The weather is dreadful. It is extreme and something not seen in many years, if not generations, however we should…
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Emergency – Worst Drought In Decades Strikes 140 Cities In Brazil
Over 140 Brazilian cities have been pushed to ration water during the worst drought on record, according to a survey conducted by the country’s leading newspaper. Some neighborhoods only receive water once every three days.
Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the country’s reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. A record heat wave could raise energy prices and damage crops.
Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil’s population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.
Brazil’s water utility company Sabesp said on its website that the Cantareira water system (the largest of the six that provide water to nearly half of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo) is at less than 19 percent of its capacity of 1 trillion liters. The company described the situation at Cantareira as “critical”: the amount of rain registered in the month to January was the lowest in 84 years. Sabesp said the other five water supply systems in Sao Paulo’s metropolitan area were normal for this time of year, however.
The PCJ Consorcio water association said the area would have to see 17 millimeters of rain a day for two months until Cantareira’s water level recovers to 50 percent of its capacity.
Average reservoir levels in the southeast and central-west regions, which account for up to three-thirds of Brazil’s hydroelectric power generation, fell to 41 percent in late January.
January was the hottest month on record in parts of the country, including in Sao Paulo. The heat, plus a severe drought, has raised concerns over growing water shortages and crop damage. According to Brazil’s national meteorological institute INMET, Sao Paulo’s average maximum daily temperature so far this year was 31.9 degrees Celsius (89.4 degrees Fahrenheit), a degree hotter than the previous January record and surpassing February 1984 as the city’s hottest month ever.
According to the state meteorological agency in Ceara state, the northeast of the country is also experiencing its worst drought in at least 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of cattle have died from heat exhaustion, and farmers are getting desperate. “I have never seen a drought like this,” Ulisses de Sousa Ferraz, an 85-year-old farmer in Pernambuco state, told Reuters, adding that he has lost 50 cows. “Everything has dried up.”
It’s believed that yields from the 2014-15 coffee crop, which will be collected in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo starting in May, were also probably hurt by dry weather in January, according to the PROCAFE Foundation. A shortage of rain could also diminish yields on the current orange crop.
It’s hoped that summer rains could finally return by March to refill reservoirs and prevent serious economic losses.
MAGNITUDE 3.2 – GEORGIA, USA
Subject To Change
Depth: 5 km
Distances: 724 km SW of Washington, D. C., United States / pop: 601,723 / local time: 15:23:35.0 2014-02-16
98 km W of Columbia, United States / pop: 129,272 / local time: 15:23:35.0 2014-02-16
12 km W of Edgefield, United States / pop: 4,750 / local time: 15:23:35.0 2014-02-16
Obama Pledges Aid For Drought-Hit California
The US president announces more than $160m in financial aid to serve families affected by the water shortage
Barack Obama has promised millions of dollars in aid to those suffering in the worst drought to hit the American west for a hundred years.
The president visited a farm in California to meet those affected and see the extent of the damage of a dry spell that has now gone on for years.
More than 90% of the state, which produces half of the country’s fruit and vegetable stock, is now classed as being in “severe” drought.
Reservoirs have fallen to below 20% of their normal levels and the public of America’s most populous state is being asked to conserve water.
The president held a round table discussion with farmers who have seen their land turned into scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Mr Obama said: “I wanted to come here to listen. This is going to be a very challenging situation for some time to come.
“We’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for. We’re going to have to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for.
“We are going to stay on top of this because it has national implications.”
Mr Obama announced more than $160m in financial aid, including programmes to cover the loss of livestock and food banks, to serve families affected by the water shortage. He will also call on government facilities in California to limit water consumption.
“These actions will help, but they’re just the first step.
“We have to be clear. A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher.”
For the first time in its history, California’s state water project, which distributes supplies through a network of waterways, has announced it will not be able to meet demand for millions of people.
The drought continues after a year of the lowest rainfall on record. It has sparked wildfires and brought to a head a political row over the state’s water resources that feed major cities. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.
Mr Obama is also pushing for a $1bn fund to mitigate the impact of climate change. The Climate Resilience Fund is intended to finance research into better understanding of projected impacts and how to better protect communities and infrastructure.
While in California the president is holding talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah on the Middle East peace process and the situation in Syria.
Severe Weather Warnings For US And Canada
A major winter storm has brought misery to large parts of the US and Canada, with further weather warnings still in place
The US and Canada have issued further storm warnings a day after severe weather left dozens dead and brought travel in many areas to a halt.
The US National Weather Service said blizzard conditions were likely in Canada on Saturday into Sunday.
It added: “A storm gathering strength in the eastern US is forecast to become a strong coastal winter storm for the North East this weekend.”
It forecast more rain and snow in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, with New England among those expected to be worst hit.
The NWS said up to 14in (35cm) of snow is expected in eastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island.
In Maine, forecasts call for as much as 18in (46cm) beginning on Saturday night.
Further south, New York City could see 2 to 4in after the city got nearly a foot of snow on Thursday.
Stormy weather wrought chaos along the US East Coast on Thursday into Friday, with at least 25 people killed and hundreds of thousands of people left without power.
Among the victims was a pregnant woman in New York who was killed after being struck by a snow plough. Her baby was later delivered by caesarean section and was said to be in a critical condition.
In North Carolina two people were killed when they tried to help a truck driver whose vehicle spun out of control on a snow-covered highway.
At least 30 people were injured in a series of multiple car pile-ups that shut down parts of a Pennsylvania highway. The accidents are believed to have involved up to 100 vehicles during the rush hour on Friday.
The storm, which first struck the US South on Wednesday, before moving north, pushed up into eastern Canada on Friday, bringing high wind and heavy snowfall to areas of Quebec and parts of Newfoundland.
A 200km (124-mile) section of the Trans-Canada Highway was closed in Quebec and many more highways were shut south of Quebec City.
The US is reported to be suffering one of the snowiest winters on record.
As of early this month, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and St Louis had received up to three times as much snow as normal at this point in the season.
The storms and cold blasts are blamed in part on a kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude air currents that dictate weather.
Colorado Avalanche: Two Skiers Missing
Skiers across the state had been warned of dangerous conditions after two weeks of heavy snow in the high country
Rescue crews have continued their search for two missing skiers caught in a large avalanche in Colorado.
Seven skiers on Star Mountain triggered the slide at about 5pm local time on Saturday, according to the Lake County Office of Emergency Management.
On Sunday, the agency posted on its Facebook page that search and rescue teams were trying to reach one of the missing skiers after pinpointing their location.
The skier’s condition was not immediately known.
Three other skiers were taken to hospital on Saturday with injuries that included a broken leg, a broken ankle and a possible broken rib and collapsed lung.
One person was treated and released, The Denver Post reported.
Authorities have not released the names of any of the skiers involved.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had issued warnings of dangerous conditions across much of Colorado’s mountains after two weeks of heavy snow in the high country.
The avalanche happened near Leadville, which is about 80 miles southwest of Denver.