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Freak weather triggers state of emergency in Russia’s Far East, with freezing ice rain & plummeting temperatures

Strong winds and ice cold downpours have struck the city of Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia, leaving thousands without power, electricity and running water. The local government has officially declared a natural disaster.

As many as 120,000 homes were initially affected and, as of Friday, more than 1,500 households in the area were reportedly still cut off from the grid, with many having also lost their central heating. Although temperatures remained comparatively mild, at -1 degree Celsius, the combination of heavy snowfall and high-speed gales disrupted infrastructure and even caused damage to buildings.

In viral footage shared widely on Thursday, Alexander Zhuk, a Vladivostok native, narrowly escaped being crushed by a giant slab of concrete that fell onto his car, which he had been de-icing. He was later pictured next to the written-off vehicle, drinking a beer and celebrating his lucky escape.

The incident underlines concerns from the city’s residents that the fresh snow and freezing temperatures are taking their toll on the older high-rise residential blocks that are a staple in many Far Eastern cities. Some locals also woke up to find their cars virtually entirely frozen by sweeping ice rain that fell across the region overnight.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published disturbing images on Friday that purport to show the “first fatality” from the weather, with a body laying in the snow in one of Vladivostok’s parks. Local authorities have since confirmed that the man was a 60-year-old of no fixed address. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

A state of emergency has been in place across the region since Thursday, and temporary shelters offering food, warmth and psychological support have been set up for those unable to stay at home. Authorities warn that conditions could continue to worsen. In the longer-term, scientists warn that extreme weather could become more and more frequent as a side effect of climate change.

Courtesy of rt.com

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Drivers stuck for 17 hours in the snow as cold snap batters the UK

An abandoned car near Blackstone Edge in the Pennines
An abandoned car near Blackstone Edge in the Pennines
The severe weather has claimed several lives, with the Army drafted in to help hundreds of motorists stranded across the UK. 
 
Drivers have reported getting stuck for 17 hours as snow and high winds continue to batter the UK.
 
More than 100 cars and lorries were trapped overnight on the A303 between Ilminster in Somerset, and Mere in Wiltshire.
 
One motorist said a gritter “slid sideways” and got stuck in the snow itself.
 
Avon and Somerset Police said about 40 people travelling from London had been stranded through the night. They included a baby, elderly and vulnerable people, and some requiring medication.
 
Thomas Hamilton said he left his home in London at 6pm and was heading to a friend’s farm when he got caught up, coming to a “standstill at the start of the A303 around midnight”.
 
He was only 10 miles from his destination when he got stuck.
 
Wiltshire Council has described it as a “major incident”, urging people not to travel in the area.
An overturned gritter lorry in Devon
An overturned gritter lorry in Devon
On the M20 in Kent, a number of crashes have been reported after the fire service warned of “black ice” on the carriageways.
 
In Devon, a gritter overturned on the A379 near Shaldon. Devon County Council said that “fortunately”, no one had been harmed.
The M80 motorway is completely empty after being closed to clear vehicles stranded by bad weather overnight, near Banknock, Scotland
The M80 motorway near Glasgow after being cleared of traffic stranded overnight
The freezing weather has left several people dead and hundreds stranded amid closed roads and cancelled flights.
 
A seven-year-old girl died after a car slid off the road and hit a house in Cornwall on Thursday.
 
Widespread heavy snow and strong easterly winds are expected to bring “blizzard conditions” and “severe drifting” to affected areas. The Army has been drafted in to help stranded motorists.
An intrepid cyclist navigates his way through the snow outside Sterling Castle in Scotland
An intrepid cyclist navigates his way through the snow outside Sterling Castle in Scotland
Nearly all train operators are warning of cancellations and disruption to services throughout Friday.
 
Flights at the majority of UK airports have also been hit by the severe weather, with Heathrow warning of a “consolidated flight schedule” and Gatwick confirming that “many flights are cancelled or delayed”.
 
Hundreds of schools have been forced to close, resulting in another snow day and a long weekend to thousands of children.
West Midlands Police dashcam footage
West Midlands Police dashcam
Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates warned there is “further snow to come, as well as a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain”.
 
He said: “Even parts of London and the South East are not immune to seeing more snow through the afternoon – not as much as yesterday, but still enough to cause further disruption.
 
“We are not out of the woods yet.”
Planes grounded by the weather at Dublin Airport
Grounded and going nowhere!
The sub-zero cold snap and Storm Emma have combined to deadly effect.
 
On Thursday, a 75-year-old woman was found dead on a snow-covered street in Leeds; a 46-year-old man died in a collision on the A34, and a 60-year-old man died after being pulled from a lake in Welling.
 
On Tuesday, three people were killed in a car crash in Lincolnshire; one man died in a collision in Cambridgeshire and a homeless man was found dead in his tent near St Swithun’s Church in Retford.
Workers try to clear the runway at Aberdeen Airport
Workers try to clear the runway at Aberdeen Airport
Military forces were called in to assist with a major incident in Hampshire after a build-up of traffic left motorists stranded on the A31.
 
The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust put a call out for drivers of 4x4s and SUVs to meet at their Hampshire headquarters to help staff get to where they needed to go.
 
The Royal Air Force was drafted in to help Lincolnshire residents, with reports of some remote villages receiving up to 61cm (2ft) of snow.
Making the most of the amenities on the 1705 Waterloo to Weymouth service
Making the most of the amenities on the 1705 Waterloo to Weymouth service
Passengers on the 5.05pm service from London Waterloo to Weymouth found themselves stuck at Brockenhurst station after a broken down train ahead left them stationary on the tracks.
 
With “frozen conductor rails” blamed for the front train’s breakdown, about 50 passengers were left at a standstill until 3.30am. Staff reportedly gave out blankets and refreshments.
 
In Scotland – which saw the first of the snow when it hit on Thursday – hundreds of motorists spent hours trapped in cars on the M80 motorway near Glasgow.
 
Some remote areas of the Scottish Borders remain completely cut off.
 
Most of the Republic of Ireland has been placed under red alert after being hit by the worst snow in 65 years.
 
Residents have been warned to stay indoors, with the severe weather warning in place until at least 6pm on Friday.
Courtesy of Sky News

Ice storm knocks out power for thousands across B.C.’s Fraser Valley, Canada

Ice Storm
As a freezing rain warning gripped the Fraser Valley, thousands of homes were plunged into darkness Thursday night.
 
The first outages started popping up shortly before 8 p.m.
 
At one point on Friday morning, about 11,000 BC Hydro customers in Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack didn’t have any power.
 
Customers in Kent, Langley and Surrey were also impacted.
 
In a statement on its website, BC Hydro said it dispatched all available resources to work on the outages, but difficult conditions and extensive damage made it a challenge for crews to do their work.
 
As for Friday, the weather in the Fraser Valley isn’t expected to improve.
 
In addition to the freezing rain warning, Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the area, with more freezing rain expected later Friday morning.
 
The freezing rain is expected to stick around until the evening hours.
 
Environment Canada is urging people to avoid travelling if they can until conditions improve.
 
On its website, it says if you are going to be out on the roads to “prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions.”
Courtesy of globalnews.ca

Monster snow storm causes mayhem in Ontario, Canada

Winter Storm Warning_2

A blast of snow in southern Ontario has brought travel chaos to the province, with varying degrees of snow from a few centimetres, to more than 30 cm.
 
Eastern Ontario in particular has seen the heaviest hit from this system, with the city of Ottawa surpassing the 35 cm mark by mid-afternoon, with hours of snow still ahead.
 
“Snow, heavy at times, will taper off this evening. Total snowfall amounts of 30 to 40 cm are likely with this storm with amounts up to 50 cm possible,” a winter storm warning covering the National Capital Region reads. “Blowing snow may also reduce visibility to a few hundred metres at times this evening as northwesterly winds strengthen to 30 gusting to 50 km/h.”
The snow is coming from a low-pressure system currently tracking south of Canada through the northeastern United States. It sparked snowfall warnings in eastern Ontario and the Niagara region, along with heavy snow and freezing rain in Quebec and parts of Atlantic Canada.
 
Conditions are expected to gradually improve as the snow eases west to east late Tuesday afternoon into the evening hours. The evening commute will be impacted for areas from Cobourg to Cornwall and Ottawa however, as the system departs through the overnight hours. The Niagara region should also see a few more centimetres of snow heading into the evening.
The Greater Toronto area has mostly seen the worst of the system, and no more than a few flakes should fall in the evening.
 
For that part of the province, and some areas east of the city, the worst occurred in the morning hours, bringing traffic grinding to a halt and contributing to numerous collisions and some temporary road closures.
At 3:30 p.m., major highway impacts included some lane closures on the 401 at Guelph Line and the Fort Erie-bound QEW.
 
Several school bus services, particularly in eastern Ontario, were cancelled, and the Ottawa and Kingston airports reported some flight delays and cancellations, though most power utilities in the region were not reporting many outages as of mid-afternoon.
 
The system will continue to push east into the Maritimes Tuesday, where milder temperatures and heavy rain could result in localized flooding due to the significant snow already on the ground.
Courtesy of theweathernetwork.com

State Of Emergency Declared by Tennessee and Kentucky (USA)

State Of Emergency

Tennessee declared a state of emergency Monday night as more than 55,000 residents were without power across the state, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
 
A number of counties are also requesting state assistance with their responses. Roane County has requested five chainsaw crews from TWRA to help with clearing debris.
 
Meanwhile, 19 counties are being impacted by power outage spikes. Knox, Monroe, and Fentress are among the top six counties with the most people stuck in the dark as of Tuesday night, according to TEMA.
 
Just stay home.
 
That was Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s request of his fellow citizens for Tuesday.
 
An ice storm warning remained in effect until Tuesday morning for Middle Tennessee, creating the potential for ongoing traffic headaches for hundreds of thousands residents.
Middle Tennessee remained under an ice storm warning
Middle Tennessee remained under an ice storm warning until Tuesday morning. (Photo: The Tennessean)
Middle Tennessee, in fact, appeared to suffer the brunt of the huge storm system that moved across Tennessee.
 
According to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: “Another blast of cold air is expected to move into Tennessee on Tuesday bringing some of the coldest temperatures so far this winter. On Wednesday, the Memphis area may see a low of 5 degrees, while Nashville may hit a low of minus 4 degrees. Wintry precipitation is again a possibility with this next incoming system.
 
“Travel will be treacherous Tuesday morning across Tennessee and motorists are urged to avoid unnecessary trips. A majority of schools systems across Tennessee will be closed Tuesday.”
 
In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency to expedite efforts to help the public and cope with snow. Some areas of the Bluegrass State may see as much as 16 inches of snow.
Numerous flights were cancled in and out of Memphis
Numerous flights were cancelled in and out of Memphis on Monday and slushy conditions made rode travel tricky. (Photo: WMC-TV)
At least a half-dozen shelters were opened in the state for anyone seeking storm relief, including at Caryville, Rockwood, Jellico and Monteagle. They were to remain open until further notice. Many more 18 shelters were on on standby to open if needed, according to TEMA.
 
In Nashville, Southwest Airlines cancelled all departures and arrivals Monday from the airport, and most other flights at the Nashville International Airport are either canceled or delayed, according to The Tennessean.
 
In addition Monday, American Airlines had cancelled all operations at the airport until midday.
 
The Tennessee General Assembly will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 17 because of the weather. All legislative offices will be closed and all committee meetings are cancelled, according to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office.
 
Mayor Dean said road safety and taking care of Nashville’s homeless population were two pressing issues in the metro area.
 
Fearful of continuing bad weather, including bitter cold, numerous Middle Tennessee school systems called off classes. Among them: Metro public schools, Williamson, Wilson, Cheatham, Sumner, Rutherford and Franklin Special school districts will be closed Tuesday. Robertson and Dickson schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
 
The Tennessean, WSMV, WMC and WRCB contributed to this report.
A crash on I-40 in Middle Tennessee near Lebanon shut
A crash on I-40 in Middle Tennessee near Lebanon shut down westbound traffic Monday. (Photo: WSMV)
Courtesy of WBIR