The Saga saga continues… Whereverland… GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as the garden withers in the sunshine… Last Knockings… No Countryside for Young Men…

Welcome to my 700th post!

The editor coughs and then nervously speaks up, addressing his diehard fanbase:

“Lazies and gemmun, yesterday evening while composing a long email in reply to an old friend, just as I was signing it off, I seem to have accidentally stroked the keys to the secret combination of letters and commands upon which this, muh li’l HP laptop has yet again and probably for the last time mistaken my intentions and irreversibly dumped the entire text (bar five tantalizing letters of the first word).

In my mildly drunken frustration, as you do, I slammed down the lid and, with a bloodcurdling oath, solidly struck it a mortal blow with my clunking right fist.

It’s in a very delicate state today, half the time it addresses me in System 32 startup mode with wounded, gloomy messages telling me it doesn’t think I’ve got an operating system installed, or that the hard drive is missing and it can’t reboot. So I may need to acquire a new machine from PC World later… if no more Postings emerge for a while you’ll know why.”

-UB

“And this is where we throw our dissidents out…” Secretary Pompeo entertains a party of North Korean diplomats before introducing them to shopping.

The Saga saga continues

Fans of the definitive Scandi-noir drama The Bridge will have welcomed the start of a new series, although perhaps not its new Friday BBC 2 scheduling giving us only one episode a week instead of BBC 4’s Saturday night double helping, during which you could put your feet up and get properly mildly drunk without having to get up in the morning.

It was, excuse me for saying, an idiotic decision, probably born of desperation to harden-up the lacklustre Friday night schedules, but more likely to reduce the program’s ratings.

But there’s one thing that continues to puzzle your Uncle Bogler, and that’s the curious lyrics to the obligatory wailing castrato theme song with doom-laden cello accompaniment. As best I can transcribe them, they go:

Echo starters in crossing moon

Children noises that come too soon

Special Moomin that seem to hear

Decimating a mask of fear

Hollow talking in hollow girl

Voicing out from a mound of pain

Never said it was goo, never said it was smeary

Shadow rises and you are here

And everything… goes back to the beginning.

I’m hoping one or two of the near-record 41 Viewers who visited this, muh bogl, on Sunday, obviously having nothing better to watch on TV – or maybe one of my Followers, Stalkers, Spammers or Those Not Reading This Anymore – maybe my handler at GCHQ – will enlighten me as to what the hell it means, and why the Swedes, who all speak impeccable English, couldn’t find a less drug-addled lyricist? Were Benny and Bjorn out of the country?

I’m also curious to know how it is that there’s always a parking space right outside the Malmö cop shop’s front door whenever Saga screeches up in her battered old Porsche 911 ‘S’*, in that hideous shade of greeny-yellow? (52% of fans will now tweet that they identify as perceiving the color to be maroony-puce – don’t bother, I haven’t got a Twitter account.)

And why nobody, not even her mournful new boss, seems to intuit that she’s way, way up on the autism spectrum but just think she’s a bit, well, offputting. How insensitive do you have to be to get a job with the Swedish police?

One wonders, finally, if she ever gets those sweaty old leather pants dry-cleaned?

Mucky girl.

*After four series, the car at last got a mention last night from a random garage mechanic, so we have established a) that it is a 911 ‘S’, not just any old 911, and b) that Saga won it in a bet that she wouldn’t survive the police academy training course, from a superior who is now the Commissioner of Police. I suspect this was a somewhat heavy-handed joke at someone’s expense. The last thing we need in a tense crime drama shot entirely under lowering skies is political satire.

x

Journey to Whereverland

Speaking of sagas, Melania Trump has resurfaced after three weeks of speculation concerning her exact whereabouts following her minor kidney procedure, the odds-on favorite theory being that she had done a bunk to get out of the gropey clutches of the demented old Orange Husband while images of him grunting and sweating over Stormy Daniels’ recumbent corpse are still fresh..

“Melania Trump has tweeted to address speculation about her health, after not being seen in public for 20 days. “I’m here at the White House with my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” the US first lady tweeted.” – Guardian report.

The Pumpkin remarks without conviction that he expects the hard work she is doing “on behalf of children” involves tracking down the more than 1,500 minors who are simply “missing” after being forcibly removed from their parents by her husband’s ICE gestapo at the US-Mexico border, where two US citizens were arrested last week for “speaking Spanish”. (Great Monty Python fans, the Americans.)

It seems the official childcare regime into which the diminutive liar, Attorney-General Sessions claims children as young as four have to be put as they are considered to be at risk from their parents (all border immigration is now illegal, so just by turning up asking for asylum a crime has been committed, therefore the children must be put in care for their own protection, runs the logic) doesn’t in fact exist. No-one seems to be in charge, no-one even knows where the children have been placed, or in whose tender care, and what happens to them next.

Or, as the devoutly Christian Vice-President Mike Pence calls the unknown realm of these forcible outplacements, “wherever”.

This Trump regime is so utterly banal, so useless, so vicious and vindictive, that it has to end peacefully, now or – as many commentators fear – it will end in bloodshed.

x

GW: staggering about with a large watering-can as her garden withers in the unaccustomed sunshine

USA: As “6 to 10 in.” of rain falls in two hours, Civil War-heritage Ellicott City in Maryland has suffered a “once-in-a-thousand-years”-size flood over the weekend.

For the second time since July 2016.

Once in a millennium: Ellicott City floods twice in 22 months. (Baltimore Sun/AP)

“Brown water rushed through Ellicott City’s historic Main Street, toppling buildings and upending cars, as the nearby Patapsco River swelled to a record-breaking level. In some areas, water levels reached above the first floor of buildings.” 30 people were rescued, a National Guardsman is missing. More rain is expected. – CNN

At time of writing, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto is still out in the Gulf, contemplating an assault on Panama City, Fla. as a near-hurricane, just to the east of New Orleans. Forecasters suggest with 31 deg. C sea temperature off the coast, it’s holding maybe 10 in. to a foot of rain. Storm totals of 25” in Cuba are not out of the question.

2 journalists killed by a tree while covering the storm in N Carolina, where there are fears for the safety of the Lake Tahoma dam after a landslide. Central midwestern states posted record May highs over the weekend, up to 96F, 36C.

Puerto Rico: “The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, open-access paper) reported that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was likely far greater than any estimates to date. The study’s initial estimate of the death toll through December 2017 was 4,645, but when adjusted for household-size factors (see below), the revised best estimate was 5,740, with a 95% confidence range that somewhere between 1,506 and 9,889 people died as a result of Maria in 2017. (Report: Wunderground, 29 May)”

Most of those deaths are post-hurricane “excess mortality”, attributed to the utterly inadequate response of US authorities, led by the self-congratulatory shitbrains, Donald Trump, to the destruction of the US island’s infrastructure.

Get rid of him.

Cuba: floods. 22 thousand evacuated ahead of SubTropical Storm Alberto now moving north-eastward, up Florida and over midwestern states, dumping a lot of rain.

Oman: Cyclone Mekunu… “High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah (and an incredible cascade of water pouring off the mountain behind). By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. … the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year. …risk of flash flooding from further heavy rain through the weekend (26-28 May). High waves and storm surge continue to be a risk, with wave heights of 5 and 8 meters expected.” – edited from Floodlist quoting local authorities. Only 2 casualties were reported, 10 thousand people having been evacuated in advance of the unusual Cat 2 hurricane (now downgraded to TS).

Ethiopia: 16 die in flash flooding and landslides the afternoon of Wednesday 23 May. Houses, roads and vehicles are damaged.

India: 3 die in violent storm causing flooding. Local observers said that Panambur in Karnataka province recorded 334 mm of rain to early 30 May, 2018, breaking the previous high of 330.8 mm set in 1982. Roads around the city were inundated, bringing traffic to a standstill and damaging homes and businesses. Many people were left trapped in their homes or vehicles.

Mercury in Churu, Rajasthan hits 47.3C, 117.4F. Continuing 40C-plus heatwave in Pakistan tops out in Karachi at 48C, 118F.

China: Hong Kong heatwave continuing, 35C-plus (96F) in the city, and over 38C, 100F in places) – reservoirs drying up. 4 injured as ‘small’ tornado wreaks havoc in Jilin.

Malaysia: a man and his daughter are swept away in flash flood in Kulim.

Indonesia: Town of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan underwater after heavy rain.

Europe: heatwave brings on powerful storms, flash flooding, big hail and much lightning… over 400 thousand bolts counted. France, Germany, Spain – massive hailstorms.

Turkey: city of Bursa underwater. Residents of Ankara clear up after 18 inches of hail buries streets in ice.

UK: 80-year old man dies after driving into floodwater in Walsall, north of Birmingham, Sunday 27 May. Up to a meter of flooding occurred locally in the West Midlands and across into Wales at the weekend after torrential rain. Over 150 thousand lightning bolts were counted in a 24-hr period as storms made their way northwards from France.

Tuesday 29th: “Thunderstorms and flash-flooding have brought parts of south-east England to a standstill as the region received a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.” – BBC News. 31 May, the forecast is for more, with amber warnings.

MrMBB333/ CNN/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #122, #123

 

Last Knockings

Yellowstone: We haven’t reported much lately from the Great Outdoors, but you should perhaps know that the Blessed Mary Greeley identifies a number of areas of continually rising ground, intruding magma and increasing surface temperatures; also continuing ‘drumbeats’ and harmonic tremors; together with new gaps in the information record – finagling of the seismometers and spectrograms – in the reports of the USGS and University of Utah monitoring services.

The largest geyser in the park, known as the Steamboat, normally erupts every 1 to 10 years. The last time it erupted three times in a year was in 2003. So far this year it’s blown off steam EIGHT times.

Some concern is being reported as the USGS has finally admitted to a potentially destabilizing “slow slip” of the 600 miles of faults between Vancouver island to the north, on the Cascadia fault, and southern California’s San Andreas, where there are continuing swarms of earthquakes and tremors, many associated with drilling and fracking operations.

Hawaii: the Mt Kilaueia/Pu’u O’o eruption is continuing apace. Signs of geological activity in the Mauna Loa volcano, largest on Big Island – largest active volcano, indeed, on earth – including a M3.2 earthquake, may be worrying for the scientists at the 9-thousand-feet-up observatory, from where global CO2 levels are officially measured. Some are fearing a catastrophic landslip of the SE corner of the island as the 23 vents that have opened up around Leilani Estates, spewing magma into people’s gardens and cutting off roads, join up. Geologists snort in derision.

The USGS has advised residents (in response to an actual query) that roasting marshmallows over volcanic lava is possibly not a good idea. Meanwhile a cloud of poisonous SO2 and other gases from Hawaii is being monitored over Guam, 4 thousand miles away, and health warnings issued.

Ebola: “An outbreak confirmed on 8 May had already claimed the lives of 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of yesterday, with a total of 35 confirmed cases. A vaccination program aimed at health workers and friends and relatives of confirmed cases got underway today”, 30 May. – Express.

Nipah: “The Nipah virus was first reported in the northern district of Kozhikode, India on May 19 and has since spread to the neighbouring Malappuram district in Kerala. Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but it is spreading between humans. The first fatal cases were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.” A soldier who died may also have contracted the virus. – Express.

Tufts website reports: Spread by bats and transmissible between humans, “The virus causes severe brain swelling … and in some cases respiratory disease, and typically kills three-quarters of the people infected.” Although 100% mortality has been reported in some outbreaks. That makes it more deadly than Ebola, or the pneumonic plague in Madagascar this year. 16 cases have so far been confirmed in the current outbreak.

 

No Countryside for Young Men

Your Uncle Bogler has frequently alluded to the dramatic fall in numbers of flying insects – other than small clouds of gnats along the path on warm evenings – in the exurban river valley that passes for our local park, a multi-use greenspace offering a range of habitats between the town and the industrial estate.

Only last night, sitting up in bed drinking my warm milk (I’m quite elderly!), I wondered – exactly as Kevin Rushby, the author of a Guardian piece today has been wondering – where the usual annoying moth has disappeared to, that would normally be flapping inchoately around my bedside light, with the windows open on a 20-deg. C early summer night?

Of course, the fragile silvery clothes-moths are still there: whenever I open a packet of dog meal or cornflakes or something in a kitchen cupboard, usually one or two fall out and stagger around, having never learned to fly.

The buttercups are incredible this year.

A couple of days ago I saw one Small (or Large, hard to tell)-White butterfly emerge from a small patch of woodland I call the ‘tree museum’, on the edge of our local playing fields, and was mildly lifted when three more suddenly burst out from cover, dancing madly over the weed-strewn road verge. It’s a good year for dock, some are up to my waist. And the buttercups are incredible. But where are the insects? Rushby reports:

“Over a quarter of all British birds are under threat, eight species are almost extinct. Three-quarters of all flying insects have disappeared since 1945, including a staggering 60 different moths. Orchid ranges have shrunk by half; two species are gone. The State of Nature 2016 report described Britain as being ‘among the most nature-depleted countries in the world’.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows (sic)

Rushby concludes, the agrichemical industry is to blame. I find this curious, as there is no arable farming within many miles of our valley on which pesticides and herbicides might be widely used; while the combination of ancestral and plantation woodland, heath and marsh, riverbank and meadowland – and, of course, upland grazing – ought to support a rich variety of wildlife.

Instead, I observe only diminishing numbers of squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies and jackdaws, sparrows – starlings and, in winter, a flock of about 50 plovers that descends on the cricket ground to peck at the leatherjackets there. And this year, so far, almost no flying insects; we’ve seen fewer than half a dozen bees all year, although the flowers they feed on were over a month behind, thanks to the late frosts.

But then I think of those intensively managed playing fields; the scorched verges of the paths, burned by liberal applications of Council glyphosate; the trim suburban gardens, kept neat by liberal applications of this or that, the sheds with their shelves of half-used tins, bottles and sprays. (I confess, even I have had to resort to surreptitious spraying over the fence of my late neighbour’s unkempt garden, that has been threatening to invade with perennial weeds and ivy.)

It seems clear that there is a feedback loop involved in the breeding cycles: declining numbers in intensively managed areas leading directly to declining numbers elsewhere. There are temporal disconnects too, as insects and plants that evolved over millions of years to emerge co-dependently together at certain times of the year are forced apart by the warming climate and the chaotic weather patterns it’s producing.

Then there is the never-ceasing roar of traffic from the main road nearby; and the probably confusing electromagnetic soup enveloping the mostly young women giving a running commentary on their frustrations to some unseen distant and long-suffering friend or family member as they wheel their prams along the cycle paths, where young lovers sit three feet apart, morosely texting their mates.

But all is not entirely lost: numbers can recover. Rushby gasps in amazement as he enters a part of Yorkshire where intensive conservation efforts have produced wildlife-rich woods and meadows much as they were in my youth, teeming with insects, birds and flowers; commenting that he now feels cheated by the apparent normality of the ‘green desert’ we have become used to referring to as ‘countryside’ everywhere else.

Hopes are now pinned on the remarkable conversion of one politician: Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, our new and unexpected champion of diversity and moderation in the use of chemical suppressants and promoters.

We’ll see.

 

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Special feature: A Year in the Death

A Year in the Death

Summaries of extreme world weather events logged on The Boglington Post, in the ‘Granny Weatherwax’ column (GW also stands for Global Warming!) between roughly June 2017 and June 2018.

 

Introduction

Only a handful of the following events were ever reported in UK mainstream news, on a piecemeal basis and with the usual filter: the number of casualties; but it surely has to be evident that there is a much wider contextual story unfolding around the globe, at which it is probably too late for us to be alarmed. As the massively depressed “apocalyptic ecologist” Dr Guy McPherson exhorts us, just be kind to one another before the end, 

My principal sources have been mainstream and local TV weather news websites and independent weather reporters such as Dr Jeff Masters of ‘Wunderground’ (The Weather Channel), Richard Davies at Floodlist, Accuweather and Climate & Extreme Weather News, a website collecting ‘citizen journalist’ cameraphone footage of extreme events from around the world. Some credits have fallen off in the editing, while not all the Posts are represented here. There is obvious overlap, and some updating. I’ve tried to maintain chronological order, but it’s not a scientific report….

Your auld granny has been careless to the point of recklessness, too, in mixing up her Celsius and Fahrenheit and metric and imperial measurements. cm and mm and so forth. Where possible, altetrnatives have been included.

Generally, each section covers a week or less – the dates relate to the first posting but each entry is added to over the following few days, so dates are not archival. Some additional text, comment and any photos have been edited out for speed.

The picture in 2017 was pretty similar to 2016 and 2015. 2018 is shaping up to beat them all for chaotic events. ‘Extreme’ has become the new normal. As tipping points are exceeded – air and sea temperature anomalies north of the Arctic circle are giving grave cause for alarm, while wildfires are pouring CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and depositing solar-radiation-absorbing black soot particles over sea ice and glaciers – the Paris targets are fast becoming irrelevant.

South Korean TV for instance reports 1.8C of warming in the past century, well on the way to exceeding the Paris targets. British winters are said to be 2C warmer now than in the 1970s. With 35 deg. C anomalies regularly reported in the Arctic and sea ice again at a record low, Arctic News’ science team warns we are already well past Paris 1.5C and heading for 2C by 2021. On some measures, they note, we are already at 2.3C post-industrial.

But it can still get pretty cold, as US eastern seaboarders found in the first three months of 2018…!

 

 

2018, 05 June

Once again it is necessary only to republish just the menu of video clips of extreme weather events around the world from the most recent issue of Climate and Extreme Weather News (#125, 05 June) to understand the gravity of the situation, so without apology:

Germany: Magdeburg, Schoningen, Betzdorf, Saarland, Soest & Gronau flash floods Belgium: Liege flash floods Luxembourg: Mullerthal & Waldbillig flash floods Austria: Burgenland floods France: Gougenheim & Morlaix flash floods Spain: Tordomar, Socovos & Antzuola flash floods Georgia: Rustavi flood Russia: Saransk & Kazan windstorms The USA: North Carolina flash floods & mudslides; The Ute Park Fire & The 416 Fire Guatemala: Retalhuleu flash flood Mexico: Heatwave India: Storms & floods Indonesia: Tolitoli flood China: Inner Mongolia wildfires & Hong Kong heatwave Malaysia: Penampang flood Yemen: Sanaa flash floods…

USA: “Devastating wildfires have ripped through Durango, Colorado this weekend, burning more than 2,000 acres in a 24-hour period. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in the region after 1,900 homes are threatened by raging blaze.”

And a massive fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, had grown to 27,290 acres by Saturday morning and was 0% contained, according to InciWeb. Nearly 450 personnel were battling that fire. A mandatory evacuation order was in place for the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were threatened by the blaze, called the Ute Park Fire, InciWeb said. CNN.

“Since 1970, the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time. U.S. forests sucked up approximately 250 million metric tons of carbon in 2010, offsetting more than 15 percent of all of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wildfires threaten to turn forests from a carbon sink into a source of emissions by releasing that stored carbon into the atmosphere.” – WX Shift.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency in eight counties affected by flooding from heavy rains. National Weather Service Charleston, WV, said that saturated soils and continued rainfall are leading to flash and other forms of flooding across the West Virginia mountains, adding that “this is a life threatening situation for many folks who have had their fill of rain.”

Meanwhile, 2 massive storm systems have merged over the Texas/Louisiana coast, and there’s a potential Cat 3 hurricane brewing (from weather-watcher, MrMBB333). “An American Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, after a hailstorm damaged the windshield. One of the pilots said they could barely see as Flight 1897 flew into the storms in southern New Mexico before having to turn around.” (The Weather Channel)

In Mexico, a heatwave has reportedly hit 50 deg. C (122F) with temperatures persisting in the high 40s over five states, although across the country May as a whole was not the hottest on record.

Guatemala: as if the devastating eruption of Mt Fuego, causing hundreds of casualties, was not enough, there’s also been flash flooding in the city of Retalhuleu after torrential rain. At the site of the volcano, the thick ash deposit that has buried whole villages is turning to concrete in the rain.

France: “Parts of Eure department in Normandy recorded 70 mm of rain during the night, 04 to 05 June. AFP reports that a man was found dead, drowned in his vehicle in Piseux, Eure department earlier today. This is the second major flood event in France in the last 2 days. A storm that hit Brittany caused severe flooding. Fire and emergency crews were called out to over 450 incidents, over half of them in the town of Morlaix. Social media showed flood water raging through the streets (after) around a month’s worth of rain fell in less than an hour. The Jarlot river that runs through Morlaix reached its highest ever level.” (edited from Floodlist report)

Spain: “Torrential rain in parts of southern Spain from 02 to 03 June caused severe flooding in Valencia, Albacete and Murcia provinces. 116.8 mm of rain fell on Valencia in 24 hours. Roads and tunnels were flooded and transport severely disrupted. Firefighters rescued 3 people trapped in their car in rising flood water. In the province of Albacete, El Gallego recorded 180 mm of rain in 24 hours, according to local observers. (edited from Floodlist report)

Bulgaria: Over 70 mm of rain fell in 24 hours (04 June) in the port city of Varna on the Black Sea coast, flooding streets and causing severe traffic disruption. “…the city would normally see 46 mm of rain during the whole of June.” (from Floodlist)

Russia: the cities of Saransk and Kazan have been hit by ferocious windstorms ripping off roofs and overturning cars. Siberian Times (22 May) reports 40 injured in “hurricane-force winds – worst-hit were Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Yekaterinburg in the Urals, with Tyumen suffering a spectacular sandstorm.” Temperatures in the north have been in the high 20s C (79 F). Reports from the former Soviet state of Tajikistan on the Afghan border say that 6 people drowned in floods and mudslides in late May after torrential rain – the third such incident since 2015.

Siberian Times also reports on the mystery deaths of “thousands” of reindeer in Yamalo-Nenets (“an area twice the size of Germany”). The proximate cause appears to be rain falling on frozen ground and snowfields, coating their forage in ice, so that they starve; however an underlying reason may be a pandemic caused by anthrax spores released by the summer melting of the permafrost.

India: 17 people have been killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh after more wind and dust storms brought on by the intense heat caused houses and trees to collapse. The death toll from these storms in northern India has reached 150 since 01 May. In the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram at least 10 people died when a building was swept away by a landslide triggered by heavy rains. … “a flash flood on 03 June washed away a temporary bridge over the river Tuirini in the northern part of Aizawl district, cutting off 37 villages.” (Floodlist, citing Times of India)

China: 4 thousand draftees have been battling up to 14 wildfires that broke out in primeval mountain forest in Mongolia on 01 June, caused by lightning strikes and fanned by hot, dry winds. Hong Kong has received more heat advisories after beating a previous record of 13 consecutive days over 33 deg. C, 91F. Two storms brewing in the S China sea are expected to ‘blow away’ the heat over the weekend.

Vietnam: “at least” 1 person has died and properties have been damaged by heavy rain causing flooding and landslides as Tropical Cyclone Ewinar passes over the country. Warnings are out for several southerly Chinese provinces. Thousands of hectares of rice crops are again disrupted by flooding. (from Floodlist, 07 June, citing official sources.)

CEWN #125/ Floodlist/

2018, 30 May

USA: As “6 to 10 in.” of rain falls in two hours, Civil War-heritage Ellicott City in Maryland has suffered a “once-in-a-thousand-years”-size flood over the weekend.

For the second time since July 2016.

“Brown water rushed through Ellicott City’s historic Main Street, toppling buildings and upending cars, as the nearby Patapsco River swelled to a record-breaking level. In some areas, water levels reached above the first floor of buildings.” 30 people were rescued, a National Guardsman is missing. More rain is expected. – CNN

At time of writing, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto is still out in the gulf, contemplating an assault on Panama City, Fla. as a near-hurricane, just to the east of New Orleans. Forecasters suggest with 31 deg. C sea temperature off the coast, it’s holding maybe 10 in. to a foot of rain. Storm totals of 25” in Cuba are not out of the question.

2 journalists killed by a tree while covering the storm in N Carolina, where there are fears for the safety of the Lake Tahoma dam after a landslide. Central midwestern states posted record May highs over the weekend, up to 96F, 36C.

Puerto Rico: “The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, open-access paper) reported that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was likely far greater than any estimates to date. The study’s initial estimate of the death toll through December 2017 was 4,645, but when adjusted for household-size factors (see below), the revised best estimate was 5,740, with a 95% confidence range that somewhere between 1,506 and 9,889 people died as a result of Maria in 2017. (Report: Wunderground, 29 May)”

Most of those deaths are post-hurricane “excess mortality”, attributed to the utterly inadequate response of US authorities, led by the self-congratulatory shitbrains, Donald Trump, to the destruction of the US island’s infrastructure.

Get rid of him.

Cuba: floods. 22 thousand evacuated ahead of SubTropical Storm Alberto now moving north-eastward, up Florida and over midwestern states, dumping a lot of rain.

Oman: Cyclone Mekunu… “High waves and torrential rain caused wide areas of flooding in Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. Social media images showed torrents of flood water racing along the streets of Salalah (and an incredible cascade of water pouring off the mountain behind). By early 26 May, Salalah had recorded 278.2 mm of rain. … the city would normally see around 95 mm of rain in a whole year. …risk of flash flooding from further heavy rain through the weekend (26-28 May). High waves and storm surge continue to be a risk, with wave heights of 5 and 8 meters expected.” – edited from Floodlist quoting local authorities. Only 2 casualties were reported, 10 thousand people having been evacuated in advance of the unusual Cat 2 hurricane (now downgraded to TS).

Ethiopia: 16 die in flash flooding and landslides the afternoon of Wednesday 23 May. Houses, roads and vehicles are damaged.

India: 3 die in violent storm causing flooding. Local observers said that Panambur in Karnataka province recorded 334 mm of rain to early 30 May, 2018, breaking the previous high of 330.8 mm set in 1982. Roads around the city were inundated, bringing traffic to a standstill and damaging homes and businesses. Many people were left trapped in their homes or vehicles.

Mercury in Churu, Rajasthan hits 47.3C, 117.4F. Continuing 40C-plus heatwave in Pakistan tops out in Karachi at 48C, 118F.

China: Hong Kong heatwave continuing, 35C-plus (96F) in the city, and over 38C, 100F in places) – reservoirs drying up. 4 injured as ‘small’ tornado wreaks havoc in Jilin.

Malaysia: a man and his daughter are swept away in flash flood in Kulim.

Indonesia: Town of Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan underwater after heavy rain.

Europe: heatwave brings on powerful storms, flash flooding, big hail and much lightning… over 400 thousand bolts counted. France, Germany, Spain – massive hailstorms.

Turkey: city of Bursa underwater. Residents of Ankara clear up after 18 inches of hail buries streets in ice.

UK: 80-year old man dies after driving into floodwater in Walsall, north of Birmingham, Sunday 27 May. Up to a meter of flooding occurred locally in the West Midlands and across into Wales at the weekend after torrential rain. Over 150 thousand lightning bolts were counted in a 24-hr period as storms made their way northwards from France.

Tuesday 29th: “Thunderstorms and flash-flooding have brought parts of south-east England to a standstill as the region received a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.” – BBC News. 31 May, the forecast is for more, with amber warnings.

MrMBB333/ CNN/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #122, #123.

2018, 22-28 May

As if war, plague and famine are not enough, Yemen has experienced – a hurricane.

Jeff Masters at Wunderground wrotre (22 May): “This forecast has TC 2A approaching landfall near the Oman-Yemen border (25 or 26 May) as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 960 mb…”

24 May, BBC reports:

“The island chain of Socotra, famed for unique plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, is coping with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone. The archipelago was struck by Cyclone Mekunu on Wednesday night, leaving at least 19 people missing and forcing its native population to flee floodwaters. Socotra is part of Yemen.”

Floodlist reports authorities calling for international aid as low-lying coastal areas were flooded by a tidal surge. “Residents of Socotra are still recovering from damage caused by the recent Cyclone Sagara which struck the island on 17 to 18 May, 2018.”

Sea temperature in the Arabian Gulf is around 32C, 5.5C higher than the lowest temperature required for hurricanes to form. The main danger is from intense rainfall: “Salalah (population 340,000) is a major port city and tourist destination, and receives just five inches of rain per year on average. The region could easily see double that amount of rain from TC 2A, leading to significant flash flooding.” (Wunderground)

STOP PRESS Friday pm 25 May: Mekunu has reportedly strengthened to a Cat 3 with a sustained windspeed of 115 mph and is heading at 10 mph straight for the city of Salalah. This is not – repeat not – normal weather for the region. Wunderground reports:

“Waves estimated by JTWC as high as 32 feet will be slamming into the coast atop a significant storm surge. Because Mekunu is making landfall at a nearly perpendicular angle, its winds will be slamming against a wall of mountains just a few miles inland from Salalah that extend up to 4900 feet in elevation. The upslope flow will greatly enhance local rainfall totals on the seaward slopes of these mountains, and the runoff will pour down normally dry valleys known as wadis onto the coastal plain into and near Salalah, with the risk of potentially devastating flash floods on top of any surge-related flooding along the coast. Residents in valleys and low-lying areas were advised to evacuate by Oman Civil Defense, according to the Khaleej Times.”

Postscript: 2 dead, much damage. Full report at http://floodlist.com/asia/oman-cyclone-mekunu-may-2018

Wunderground also reports, “invest 90L”, the first possible hurricane of the Atlantic season is causing some interest in the Gulf of Mexico, currently as a disorganised tropical storm off the coast of Belize but moving north. The first name on the Atlantic list of storms for 2018 is Alberto.

Weather blogger, MrMBB333 later remarks that Alberto is organizing around an eye, that it runs the risk of stalling over the coast, like Harvey did last year, dumping huge rain – and that its forecast track thereafter is remarkably similar to that of hurricane Sandy, that trashed New York city a while back.

One we missed a couple of weeks ago: “An exceptionally rare subtropical storm appears to have formed off the central coast of Chile in the southeast Pacific Ocean, typically one of the world’s most tropical cyclone devoid ocean basins. The cyclone formed late last weekend several hundred miles west of the South American coast.” – The Weather Channel.

Your old Granny W. just needs to show you the menu for Climate and Extreme Weather News #120, released last night, 22 May; and four days later, #121:

“Afghanistan: Flash floods Cyclone Sagar Pakistan: Heatwave  India: Tripura flood; Uttarakhand wildfires & heatwaves Sri Lanka: Floods & landslides Indonesia: Sulawesi floods China: Chongqing landslide; Wanzhou flood & southern heatwave Russia: Siberian wildfires; Krasnodar flood; Dagestan flash flood & Yakutia Spring floods Spain: Lucena & Ciudad Rodrigo flash floods Portugal: Alcoutim flash flood Turkey: Ankara hailstorm/flash flood Egypt: Heatwave The USA & Canada: inc. Oklahoma storm Mexico: Huejutla, Apizaco & CDMX hailstorms/flash floods Guatemala: Floods Venezuela: Puerto La Cruz flash flood… and add #121: Cyclone Mekunu  Kazakhstan: Astana windstorm Indonesia: Pekalongan & Kaitetu floods Sri Lanka: Floods  Pakistan: Karachi heatwave  India: Heatwaves China: Sichuan floods & Hong Kong heatwave Australia: Perth storm Europe: Thunderstorms, hailstorms & flash floods Canada: Heat & Snow  USA: Ft Collins hailstorm….”

This is getting mad.

Pakistan: 65 people have died as a result of heat-related conditions in the city of Karachi, where temperatures have loitered for days over 44C, 112F.

Kazakhstan: horrendous storm trashes Astana. 9 injured, buildings damaged in wind strong enough to propel a cast-iron park bench and blow a 15-tonne truck backwards along the street. (Video: CEWN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGSnde1Ksig at 12’38”.)

China: major flooding in Sichuan province after heavy rains. 90,000 affected in Lichuan city, buildings collapse, crops lost. Meanwhile, Hong Kong swelters after days at 35C-plus (95F).

India: Floods in Tripura have killed at least 6 and displaced over 20 thousand. Uttarakhand in northern India is experiencing many wildfires started by farmers burning stubble, fears are growing for the air quality in places like Srinagar and New Delhi. In Rajasthan, Maharashtra and other parts of central India a 40C-plus heatwave may peak this week at up to 50C, 122F. Monday 21 May, the capital, New Delhi experienced 44C, 112F.

Sri Lanka: “Over 80,000 people have now been affected by floods, according to disaster management officials. More heavy rain has fallen since the flooding began on 20 May and 12 people have now lost their lives.” Over 20 thousand are “in need of assistance”.

Australia: huge storm batters Perth, WA. 100 km/h winds, power outages… and wildfires!

New Zealand: South Island, record snow – 40 cm dumped in a night.

Uganda: “heavy rainfall in eastern Uganda from around 22 May caused the River Manafura to break its banks. Local media report that around 150 homes have been flooded, forcing (2,000) people to evacuate to nearby schools or churches.” It’s been raining there for several weeks.

Russia: vast areas of Siberia are now burning and many parts resemble the aftermath of a nuclear blast, with nothing living, everything blackened for miles. Torrential rain has flooded the city of Krasnodar.

Turkey: The capital, Ankara is battered by an extreme hailstorm, streets turned to flowing rivers of ice.

Meanwhile, Europe is hotting up, with near-heatwave conditions expected everywhere. There’s been flash-flooding in Spain and Portugal, while: ”

“Storms across northern Europe have caused surface flooding in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and France, including the capital Paris. The region has seen several violent storms over the last few days, in particular on 22 May, where Meteo France said that 13,964 lightning strikes were reported across the country. The storms also brought hail – some areas of Germany have recorded hail 50 cm deep – strong winds and localised heavy downpours which have flooded streets and damaged homes. No fatalities have been reported.” (Floodlist, 24 May)

UK: the Bank Holiday weekend was expected to produce temperatures getting up to 30C, 86F as a plume of warmer air arrives from Spain. So far it’s been a bit disappointing.

27 May: scrolling through impressive photos of some of the more than 15 thousand lightning bolts recorded in the night as heavy storms moved up from France and pounded the south of England. Heathrow briefly out of action. Even hardened weather forecasters are saying they’ve seen nothing like it before.

Despite the late winter cold snap, bookies are offering odds on 2018 being the warmest year on record and a bumper strawberry crop is forecast, with no-one to pick it owing to seasonal labor shortages, USA please note.

Meanwhile….

“Children in London schools are being exposed to higher levels of damaging air pollution inside the classroom than outside, putting them at risk of lifelong health problems, a new study has revealed. …children – who are more vulnerable to airborne pollutants than adults – are breathing in fine particle pollution (PM10 and the even smaller PM2.5) at levels higher than WHO guidelines of 10μg/m3 and 20μg/m3 respectively.” – edited from Guardian report, 24 May.

The USA and Canada are warming too after a bitter winter – wildfire alerts are once again a feature as Canada expects record high temperatures to set in. A wildfire in the Prince Albert country park, Alberta has already consumed 31 thousand Ha. and fires in Saskatchewan have forced whole towns to evacuate. Meanwhile to the east, it’s snowing in Newfoundland. In Colorado, a huge hailstorm has battered Fort Collins (rivers of ice, etc.). Otherwise record heat is forecast for the midwest.

(Reports edited from CEWN #120, #121/ Floodlist/ the Guardian/ BBC News

2018, 16 May

Afghanistan: “At least 40 people have died and 4 injured in flash floods over the last 7 days. Many areas of the country are still struggling with drought conditions after an unusually dry winter. The number of people forced by drought to migrate within the country has reached more than 20,000″ (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May.) PS: 21May,

India: “At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week. Less than 2 weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.” – Wunderground

Sri Lanka: The “Department of Meteorology said that Anamaduwa, Puttalam, North Western Province recorded 35.3 cm of rain (1 ft) in 24 hours to early 21 May.” (Floodlist). Possibly 5 people have died as a result of flooding and landslides as the island is battered by storms, dumping up to 15 cm of rain a day over several days.

“Far East”: US scientists at NOAA are trying to track down a major unexplained source of the globally banned ozone-killing refrigeration-to-aerosols chemicals, CFCs, detected as a result of research showing the ozone holes created in the 1980s aren’t repairing themselves fast enough.

S Korea: flash-floods in and around Seoul, 1 dead, 1 missing as 20 cm of rain falls in 36 hours.

Syria: Heavy rainstorms caused flash-floods in parts of the country, including Banias and Aleppo, on 12 May.

NE Africa: A rare tropical cyclone, Sagar is concentrating in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia. Sagar’s main threat is dangerous flash flooding in the deserts of southern Yemen, northern Somalia and Djibouti into the weekend. (The Weather Channel) … “Severe flash flooding and river flooding across the region will lead to a loss of human life, livestock, and the destruction of crops, property and infrastructure. Very heavy rainfall occurring across Western Yemen … is likely to promote cholera infection rates in the weeks ahead.” – (UK Met Office)

16 dead, many missing. On Sunday, forecast models indicated that a disturbance dubbed 92A could develop into an intense hurricane-strength cyclone this week, possibly threatening Oman by late in the week.

N Africa: the town of Setif in Algeria experiences flash-flooding following a heavy rainstorm.

Russia: Vast plumes of smoke are visible from space along the Amur river near Komsomolsk and around Chelyabinsk, blowing towards the Arctic, as Siberia continues to burn out of control after a month of wildfires. (Siberian Times report)

USA: “Severe storms caused major damage in Northeastern USA on 15 May. 2 deaths were reported – an 11-year-old girl in Newburg, New York, the other in Danbury, Connecticut (where 4 tornadoes, 3 at max. TF-1, touched down on 17 May) – as a result of falling trees. Almost 400,000 people were without power in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Heavy flooding was reported in parts of Maryland, in particular Montgomery and Fredrick counties, where up to 6 inches of rain fell during the storm. Hail up to 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) was also reported.” (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May. More “severe” storms are forecast for the midwest at the weekend.)

USA: “…the California Energy Commission has unanimously voted to approve measures requiring solar panels on all new homes, condos and multi-family buildings up to three stories high beginning in 2020. – (The Weather Channel.)

Alabama Senator, Mo Brooks distinguished his brilliant Republican self in a committee hearing when, while browbeating a climate scientist, he attributed sea-level rise to rocks and soil falling into the water, “like the White Cliffs of Dover”…

Colombia: severe thunderstorm inundates Medellin. (CEWN #118)

Guatemala: 10 cm rain in 24 hrs, floods. 2 dead, 80,000 flooded out. (Floodlist, 19, 21 May)

Europe: It’s been snowing in the highlands of central France, the Alps and over into the Balkans. Up in Scandinavia and northwestern Russia there’s a record spring heatwave, with temperatures in Finland and Sweden touching 30 deg C, 85F. Lapland is bracing for its worst spring thaw floods in decades. Severe thunderstorms and torrential rain have brought flash-flooding to parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The town of Bistransky in Croatia was underwater. (CEWN #118)

Germany: on 16 May, during a powerful storm two people were injured by a huge tornado that hit Viersen, near Dusseldorf. (CEWN #119)

UK: Good news, bad news…. “Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter.

“Funds going into renewable energy fell more than 50% in 2017, having dropped by 10% in 2016, bringing annual investment in the sector to its lowest since the financial crisis in 2008. ( –  The Guardian)

2018: 10 May

Arctic: Weather.com reports that temperatures in the Arctic are hovering around the zero deg. C mark yet again, 35C above the 1981-2010 average for the time of year. Wunderground makes the point that it has been colder in some northerly US states during April than it’s been at the North Pole. The Norway Ice Service reports the loss of 32,000 sq miles of ice in just three days last week. NOAA concludes that the multi-year trend to a hot Arctic could not be happening without a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia: “Storms in Tasmania have caused severe flash flooding in the capital Hobart and south eastern areas of the state. (The) Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said that 129 mm of rain fell in Hobart in 24 hours to early 11 May, 2018 (local time). Mount Wellington recorded 236 mm of rain during the same period.” Over 1 thousand lightning strokes were recorded.

“Scientists in New Zealand have documented what they believe is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The 23.8m (78ft) wave was measured by a buoy on New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on 08 May.”

Canada: around 3000 people have been told to evacuate their homes in British Columbia as rivers peak half a meter above records going back 200 years, due to a heatwave producing rapid snowmelt. “The flood water in British Colombia rivers has made its way downriver and into Washington state, USA, where the governor has declared a state of emergency.”

Kenya: “A dam has burst overnight 09 May, after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 44 people. The breach happened in the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued 39 people so far. Hundreds are said to have been left homeless.” 150 people are known to have died in widespread floods this year.

Ecuador: 70 mm of rain in 24 hours causes local flooding in El Oro province.

Colombia: Baranquila underwater. If you want to know what mother nature thinks of cars, watch 9 minutes of citizen journalism on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmd7K-k6Duo from 04′.42″.

China: Quangjou, Fujian province underwater. 3 dead, 2 missing. Luchuan, Gianxi province underwater. 72,000 people affected, 4,500 Ha crops lost.

Sri Lanka: The start of the monsoon season (as last year) has brought immediate flooding with some 8000 people so far affected. “As much as 166 mm of rain was recorded in Galle in 24 hours to 12 May.”

Iraq; 4 killed in Duhok floods, Kurdistan.

Italy: “Homes and businesses were flooded in San Polo, Tuscany after an intense storm dumped over 50 mm of rain in about 3 hours. The storm hit d “uring the afternoon of 08 May, 2018, flooding areas near Sinalunga (Siena province), San Polo in Chianti (Florence) and Volterra (Pisa).” Legnano, Northern Italy, massive hailstorm, rivers of ice, etc.

Germany: “Severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain affected parts of Germany on10 May, 2018. Flash flooding was reported in Hamburg and areas of Schleswig-Holstein, where emergency services received over 2,000 calls for help. The Schleswig-Holstein town of Quickborn, north west of Oststeinbek, recorded 58.7 mm of rain in 24 hours to early 11 May. 42 mm fell in just 30 minutes.”

Elsewhere in Germany a severe hailstorm affected Rhön-Grabfeld in Bavaria

Greece: Flash-flooding in Thessaloniki after torrential rainstorm.

UK: Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade and climate spokesman, said: “2018 is the year when countries have been asked by the UN to ratchet up their commitments on climate change. Instead our government is actually proposing to count emissions savings made from as far back as 2010 towards fulfilling their obligations in the next decade from 2021-2030.”

Hurricanes: The Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially starts on May 15. “… for the second year in a row, we have the potential to see a record-early start to the season. A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms … 1200 miles southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, had acquired plenty of spin, but was not yet organized enough to be labeled a tropical depression. The first name on the Eastern Pacific list of storm names in 2018 is Aletta.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the isthmus: “The peak season for Atlantic storms, which officially starts on 1 June, is set to spur as many as 18 named storms, with up to five of them developing into major hurricanes, according to separate forecasts from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University.” – Guardian

Weather.com/ BBC News/ Wunderground/ CEWN #117

2018, 06 May

Parts of India and Pakistan are continuing to experience unusually hot spring weather with temperatures in the mid-40sC, 114F. A reading of 50.2C (122.3F) in Nawabshah on 30 April “may count as the highest ever April temperature recorded on earth.” A news service in Hyderabad reports 19 heat-related deaths.

Elsewhere, in Africa:

Burundi: “Red Cross says that over 2,500 people have been made homeless after floods … close to the city of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital … on 28 April, 2018, after a period of heavy rain. According to local officials, the situation worsened when one of the dykes of the Mutimbuzi River gave way, causing the river to flood nearby communities.”

Rwanda: “…as many as 200 people have died in disasters since January … heavy rains have affected the whole country, causing floods and landslides. Storms and strong winds have also affected some areas. Over 4,500 hectares of crops have been destroyed. 15 were killed on 6 May following heavy rains in the western region. A local official in the capital, Kigali, told the BBC that 3 people had also died in a mudslide in the city.”

Somalia: “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days. Observers say the current floods are some of the worst the region has ever seen. The UN says that flash and river floods have now affected 427,000 people.” The President is appealing for international aid. Good luck with that. Uganda also affected by widespread floods.

USA:  1 May saw “21 preliminary tornado reports posted to the … Storm Prediction Center’s database, most of them in Kansas. Very large hail—up to 4” in diameter—pummeled parts of Kansas and Nebraska. No major damage or injuries were reported.” More forecast storms affected the midwest over the weekend of 05 May accompanied by record high temperatures over the east, reaching 93F, 34C in Washington, DC and 91F in New York.

Record cold had ushered in May in parts of the midwest, giving way to severe storms as warmer air pushes northward, and there was more snow in upstate New York. Meanwhile, the wildfire season has kicked off in Arizona with thousands of acres of forest ablaze – the “Tinder Fire”. Forecast highs in Phoenix this week are expected back in the 100sF, 40sC.

Canada: heavy rain on snowmelt. 04 May, “the St John River in New Brunswick is at record levels and expected to rise further. Flooding has damaged homes and roads and prompted evacuations. Authorities have urged residents in the city of St John to leave their homes.” 2 killed, many injured and much property damaged by 100 Kph winds in Ontario. 200,000 left without power.

Caribbean: “Rain, flooding and landslides in parts of the Caribbean have caused at least 4 fatalities and displaced around 4,000 people. Heavy rain has affected Jamaica, Haiti and Dominican Republic since around 02 May”. Bahamas: a weather front stalled over the islands is given a 10% chance of becoming a rare tropical depression for early May as the sea temperature is already 2C above the 26C needed to generate a cyclone.

Argentina: a powerful storm rocks Buenos Aires on the 29th. Flash-flooding, power outages, 2 killed. “Flooding in the province of Entre Ríos (03 May, 300 mm rain) has left 1 person dead, more than 30 evacuated and 1,600 requiring assistance.”

Chile: city of Ancud underwater.

India: “At least 76 people have died and scores more were injured in a fierce dust storm that hit the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The storm on 02 May disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock. … The storm also hit the capital Delhi, more than 100km away, along with heavy rains late on Wednesday evening.”

Pakistan: a high of 49C, 120F was recorded over the weekend of 5 May in Karachi, with 9 fatalities attributed to the heat.

Iraq: “At least 4 people died in flash floods that hit the city of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Saturday, 05 May 2018.” Refugee camps are also affected.

Turkey: “Flash floods caused by heavy rain wreaked havoc in Ankara on 05 May. Further heavy rainfall the next day caused some surface flooding and traffic problems. Officials said 6 people were injured in the floods, with more than 160 cars and 25 businesses suffering damage.” (This actually made the news here in the UK.)

Australia: overall, the country experienced its hottest April on record, the maximum daily average being some 3.17C above normal.

New Zealand: record rainfall brings extensive flooding and a state of emergency is declared in the Rotorua region.

Europe: continent bewildered by a chaotic mashup of extreme cold, heat, rain, floods, hail, snow (in France), high winds and “even a tornado”. Basically anywhere to the west of a line down the Franco-German border through to southern Italy has been too cold, anywhere to the right too hot; south of the Mediterranean, North Africa is roasting. A huge chain of thunderstorms with almost half a million lightning strikes counted was recorded on 30 April stretching from the Spanish border across France to Italy and the Balkans, up through Switzerland, Austria, Germany and over into Poland and Slovenia, where big hailstorms were reported with streets turned to rivers of ice.

Italy: “Two days of heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in Sardinia. Around 100 people have been evacuated from their homes. In the last 48 hours some areas have recorded over 150 mm of rain – more than four times the average monthly total for May.” (This last statistic can also be interpreted as “a year’s worth”)

UK: World Health Organization reports, the steel town of Port Talbot in Wales has the highest level of dangerous microparticulate pollution in the country, at 18 mg per m/3 of air. That’s considered pretty unhealthy, unacceptable in fact – so you won’t want to be moving to Muzaffarpur in India, with a figure of 197 mg per m/3 the world’s most polluted city. (BBC).

Forecasters say the May Bank Holiday high could approach or beat the previous Mayday record of 28.6C, 83F.

Globally: April was the 3rd warmest on record and 0.5C above the 1981-2010 average. Only the unusual cold in the eastern USA and Canada during the early part of the month kept April from being the hottest ever, everywhere. The high of 50.2C (122F) in Nawabshah, Pakistan on 30 April was confirmed as the hottest temperature ever recorded in an April month.

Acknowledgments to: Richard Davies at Floodlist/ Wunderground/ BBC News/ Climate and Extreme Weather News (CEWN) #115, #116/

2018, 27 April

A huge, rotating storm system hit the eastern Mediterranean area on 25 April, stretching from Algeria in the west to Sudan in the south, up into northern Syria and over to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Torrential rain, damaging high winds, flash floods and big hail turning streets to rivers of ice were reported over almost the entire region. It’s not often we report on floods in:

Israel, where tragically 10 teenagers drowned after being washed away while hiking at Nahal Tzafit on an army introduction course near the Dead Sea. 9 others injured. 2 more teenagers died in flash flooding elsewhere.

USA: The BBC and others picked up on the big weather story originally reported on Wunderground: there have been NO TORNADOES in “Tornado Alley” this year! CNN recorded:

“Two of the US states most notable for tornadoes — Kansas and Oklahoma — have yet to see one so far this year. It is the longest into the year that Oklahoma has ever gone without a tornado since NOAA began keeping records. The previous record was April 26, 1062. If Kansas makes it to the end of April without a tornado, it will only be the fourth time this has occurred on record.”

(The story of course ignores the point that there are and have been tornadoes this month in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and many other states, the reason being that the loopy jetstream bringing Arctic weather penetrated farther south and east than normal, making conditions for tornado formation difficult in the central midwest but drawing warmer air up from the Gulf to batter the southeastern states with heavy rain and flooding.)

More severe thunderstorms bringing flooding and possible tornadoes are forecast for the central plains this week, all the way from southern Texas up as far as Minnesota.

Are we seeing more rain? From Dr Jeff Masters at Wunderground:

“The National Weather Service in Hawaii reported that preliminary data from a rain gauge on the north shore of Kauai at Waipa, one mile west of Hanalei, received 49.69” of rainfall over the 24-hour period ending at 12:45 pm April 15. If verified, this would break the all-time U.S. 24-hour rainfall record of 43.00” in Alvin, Texas set on July 25 – 26, 1979, during Tropical Storm Claudette.”

Let’s not forget too, the 64″ of rain that fell near Port Arthur in Texas last year over 72 hours during Hurricane Harvey.

Canada: “Snowmelt in the province of Alberta, Canada, has caused overland flooding and increased river levels over the last few days. Evacuations have been carried out in areas near Drumheller.”

South Africa: Remiss of GW, but we forgot to mention that the total ban on using water in Capetown, that was due to come into effect last week, has been staved-off until 2019 as there has been some relief from the drought and rationing has helped to preserve supplies. CEWN reports that there was “heavy rain” on the 26th that actually caused some flooding in the city.

Rwanda: death toll in floods and landslides in mountain region reaches 18.

Algeria: “Torrential rain in the north has caused at least 6 deaths as well as severe flooding that has damaged houses and washed away roads.” 200 children had to be rescued from a flooded school in Tissemsilt.

Egypt: heavy rain. Cairo floods. Lady filming a car washed away in a wall of floodwater fails to notice what looks like the body of a drowned man floating past. Giza also flooded.

Syria: a terrifying flash flood follows heavy rain on the 26th over the capital, Damascus, washing away hundreds of vehicles. Similar scenes were witnessed in Jordan; while in Somalia almost half a million people have been displaced by floods in April.

Kuwait: however, experienced a huge dust storm, that brought nighttime in the day to the oil-rich state on the 26th.

China: intense rainfall triggers flash flooding and a landslide in Anhui Province, that wiped out the state’s main highway.

Argentina: “A fierce storm struck areas around Buenos Aires on 28 to 29 April 2018. Some areas recorded over 110 mm of rain and wind gusts of 130 km/h. At least 2 people have died and 1,200 evacuated.” Some areas saw more than a month’s worth of rain fall in 24 hours. Rivers and streams overflowed, flooding parts of the city forcing hundreds from their homes.

Brazil: believe it or not, it’s STILL raining! The town of Maceio in the east was underwater on the 22nd.

Honduras: a powerful tropical storm batters Tegucigalpa, with more damage and flash-flooding on the 27th in neighbouring Panama.

Bangladesh: fears are growing for the safety and health of 600 thousand Burmese Rohingya Muslim refugees housed under canvas in the east of the country as the cyclone season begins. A powerful storm hit the capital, Dhaka on the 22nd.

Madagascar: French island of Réunion battered on the 24th by Tropical Cyclone Fakir, the latest ever recorded in the season. Capital St Pierre flooded. 2 dead reported in a mudslide.

2018, 19 April

Colombia: At least 2 people have died after a month’s worth of torrential rain fell in the city of Cali, Valle del Cauca department on Tuesday 17 April, bringing the death toll to 12 in the past week. Local officials said that 68.5 mm of rain fell in 2 hours.

Tanzania: death toll in Dar-es-Salaam flooding reaches 15. Further flooding in Kenya has left over 33,000 people displaced. Local authorities say that more than 20 people have died over the past 10 days.

USA:  flooding from Winter Storm Xanto in New York City and New Jersey. Emergency services were called on to rescue around 50 people trapped in their cars. Heavy rain also affected parts of West Virginia, where a state of emergency was declared. Floods from snowmelt and rain have also affected northern Montana, where a state of emergency is in force.

“The flooding follows a massive storm from 13 to 15 April, 2018, that reached from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest, bringing with it heavy snow, hail and tornadoes. Up to 2 feet of snow fell in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. At least 5 people are thought to have died as a result of the storm.”

2 people have died as a result of the extensive prairie fires still raging in Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Hundreds of square miles and more than 25 homesteads have been destroyed. Storms are predicted for the weekend in the south, but generally an easing of the wintry conditions is forecast.

Martinique: Heavy rain, lightning strikes and hail caused landslides and major flooding on 16 April. In one 6-hour period, 250 mm rain drenched Le François, 125 mm falling in just 1 hour.

Puerto Rico: ignoring 2,000 dead in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina did little to improve George W Bush’s reputation, but the towel-chucking moron soldiers blithely on, having utterly failed the people of Puerto Rico, stricken by hurricanes Irma and Maria six months ago. News reaches us that the entire power grid for the island (pop. 3 million) was down again Monday after a digger accidentally knocked over a transformer. 40 thousand homes have still not been reconnected at all.

At the same time, authorities have approved $125 million for repairs in the wake of floods in Hawaii – another island in the middle of a big ocean.

India: 15 dead in Calcutta storm. Large parts of Central India including Rajastan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are under an extreme heat advisory as temperatures climb past 40C, 104F.

United Kingdom: Blown by an onshore breeze, Granny Weatherwax’s Wunderground location moves from West Wales to Nether Edge shock! “One of the 28 electoral wards in the City of Sheffield, England.” (Wikipedia) Pop. 18,990. Says Gran: “My, they do find some interesting places to send me to!”

11 April, and Arctic sea ice volume was again at a record low for the time of year, threatening an ice-free ocean between July and September (Arctic News website, 17 April).

Edited from Floodlist/ Wunderground/ CEWN #111/

2018, 13 April

US weather bureau storm prediction center (13 April) issued a rare special advisory warning known as a PDS or Particularly Dangerous Situation for an enormous swath of the midwest from the Texas border up to Iowa. The bulletin urges householders to find shelter in basements or in internal rooms “without windows”, as massive storm cells are forming over the Gulf and moving northwards, with a threat of major tornadoes and a “95 per cent probability” of the most severe wind and large hail “events”.

Ahead of the storms, fanned by winds and with temperatures already in the high 90s (38C-plus) after months of little rain, over 200 thousand acres of Oklahoma prairie have gone up in smoke, fires visible from space. Extreme wildfire conditions labelled “historic” (one above “extremely critical”) have been flagged for New Mexico and Colorado.

Meanwhile… “Blizzard warnings were plastered on Friday morning from northeast Colorado to southern Minnesota, along the north side of an (sic) sharpening stationary front. Heavy snowfall rates and wind gusts to 40-50 mph or more will paralyze travel across large stretches of the Northern Plains.” Xanto is being called a ‘once-in-a-lifetime storm’ as more than 30-in of snow is dumped over Wisconsin in 24 hours. Hundreds of thousands of homes without power, several deaths reported.

Major flooding in New Jersey.

Hawaii: “Hawaii Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on 15 April after unprecedented rains caused major flooding and a series of landslides.  The National Weather Service recorded over 27 inches (685 mm) of rainfall in Hanalei on the island of Kauai during a 24-hour period from 14 to 15 April”, beating all records.

India: 15 dead in powerful storm over Calcutta.

Malawi: The “Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has reported heavy rain and flooding in parts of Northern and Central Regions, affecting over 2,000 people and damaging roads and hundreds of homes. As many as 4 people (including three children) have reportedly died or gone missing.”

Tanzania: “At least” 9 dead in the capital, Dar es Salaam as “heavy rain caused buildings to collapse and widespread flooding in the city. The rain has been falling since Saturday 14 April. Reuters reported television footage showing residents seeking shelter on rooftops. … Dar es Salaam recorded 81.8 mm of rain from 14 to 15 April, and 99.6 mm in 24 hours the following day.” Another 50 mm could be on the way. Floods also in Kenya.

Algeria: huge storm over Batna, massive waterspout comes ashore. Flash flooding.

Spain: tornado damages Seville. Thunderstorms cause flash flooding in Italy, Austria – where in Graz, big hail, rivers of ice in streets….

Martinique: big hail, flash flooding.

Brazil: STILL raining heavily! Floods in SE.

2018, 08 April

“On March 18, 2018, the sea surface temperature near Svalbard was 16.7°C or 62.1°F, i.e. 14.7°C or 26.4°F warmer than the daily average during the years 1981-2011.”

While the latest (leaked) report of the International Panel on Climate Change is claiming a mean global temperature increase of just 1°C 0ver pre-industrial levels, seemingly in a bid to validate the 1.5 degree target of the Paris accord, the 2 April Arctic News blog edited by a team of climate scientists going under the collective pseudonym of Sam Carana pours scorn on the finding.

Carana’s calculations take into account a number of different factors to produce a current figure of over 1.7°C: for instance, the obvious stupidity of basing global average temperature on figures derived only from the surface temperature of the sea. Indeed, if you take the highest monthly average figures rather than the lowest, use the 2 metres above sea-level readings and start the clock in 1750 rather than 1900, says Carana, we’re already at 2.3°C above pre-industrial.

With CO2 continuing to rise (note: CO2 level does not include other greenhouse gases having a forcing effect on the climate and so is only a partial indicator of the rate of warming) past the 410 ppm mark (11 March level), warns Carana, the prospect of an 8°C rise by 2026 and 10°C by 2031 becomes frighteningly real.

In other news:

USA: as far as the eastern US is concerned, March seems to be becoming the new February, with many areas again reporting colder, wetter/snowier conditions in the later month. Wunderground coins the hideous neologism “Marchuary”. March’s warmest day/night records across the whole of the USA marginally outran the coldest records last month thanks to record highs in the SW and record lows in the east. Winter Storm Xanto hit the midwest with blizzards, 10 April it was snowing again in Chicago, while parts of Florida were battered by storms, with big hail and tornadoes, including a monster over Fort Lauderdale.

California experienced an unusual weather event, the ‘Pineapple Express’. Aided by a 1°C rise in sea-surface temperature, the atmospheric river that arrived from Hawaii had swept up the remnants of 150mph supertyphoon Jelawat on its track across the Pacific and carried a record amount of water over the Sierra Nevada, some parts receiving over 4 inches of rain overnight. In “San Francisco, the two-day rain total (Fri.-Sat.) of 3.29” was its wettest for any April since before the Civil War”, but the rain avoided Los Angeles, which has had a record dry spell since October.

Southern California at the same time enjoyed a 90F-plus (32C) heatwave, setting records since 1890 for April. On 10 April the mercury topped 100F (38C) in the San Pasqual valley.

Brazil: believe it or not, it’s STILL raining. Widespread floods affecting central and NE regions (Recife underwater).

Colombia: floods.

Argentina: “severe flooding … “paralysed the city of Río Gallegos.”

Dominican Republic: floods. (“Over 99 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Jarabacoa, La Vega Province between 05 and 06 April.”)

Fiji: in the path of intensifying 150 Kph sustained Cat 2 Tropical Cyclone Keni, many evac. warnings issued. “After the low pressure system that had been raining on Vanuatu moved away from the island nation, it intensified, organized and developed into a tropical cyclone.” It’s the second major typhoon to hit Fiji this month.

Indonesia: “At least” 1 dead in floods and landslides in West Java province on 7 April.

New Zealand: late Autumn cold spell. “Christchurch saw highs of 27C give way to highs of just 8C over just a few days, compared to the 17C that is the average high temperature for this time of year. In addition, up to 50cm of rain fell over the mountain passes of the South Island.” A powerful thunderstorm including hail, rain, snow, tornadoes, cyclone-force wind pounds Taranaki, North Island.

Saudi Arabia: Intense rainstorms cause flash-floods, including in Mecca. Yet again, huge hailstones smash car windscreens.

India: 12 people killed in powerful storms affecting the northwest, huge hail.

Spain: widespread flooding in Navarre – city of Pamplona underwater. Spain and Portugal still experiencing heavy snowfalls.

World: Scientists report, the Gulf Stream (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – AMOC) is now 15 per cent weaker than it’s been for the last 1,600 years, threatening much colder, wetter conditions for western Europe, more heatwaves in central Europe and rapid sea-level rise for the eastern seaboard of the USA. 2018 is already looking like a colder outlier on the graph. Globally, March 2018 was the 3rd warmest on record, 0.4°C above the 1981-2010 average and 0.3°C cooler than March 2016, our most recent “hottest” year. But it’s still only April….

2018, 01 April

USA: caught in a loop of the jetstream, Winter Storm Wilbur is dumping another foot of snow over the northern states, from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, as the song goes. It’s the fifth major winter storm event of the year, but it’s a double-whammy as a second front is also hitting the east coast, including New York. Too warm to settle for long, though.

“A powerful late-season atmospheric river is headed for central California late this week, with the potential to bring near-record rains for April … Intense rain rates on Friday night will pose a flood risk in the Sierra Nevada, where the runoff will be bolstered by rain-induced snowmelt. By Saturday, high winds and heavy rains will rake parts of western Oregon and Washington … ‘This is really an historic event …’ said Cliff Mass (University of Washington)”.

“Torrential rain, strong winds, lightning strikes and flash floods hit parts of Indiana and Illinois” on 3 April, Indianapolis recording its wettest ever April day. Local forecasts for Phoenix Az. are predicting the return of 100F, 39C temperatures next week – still early mid-April. Dangerous UV levels already being measured.

Canada: powerful winds knock down buildings in Ontario.

Meanwhile northern Europe and Russia have also seen extreme cold and heavy snow persisting well into spring. These huge pools of arctic air make the northern hemisphere look like Narnia, but elsewhere across Africa, the middle East, the SW US, Australia there are enough hotspots still to keep global temperatures marginally above the 1980-2011 average for March/April.

Bangladesh, Nepal: 7 killed in severe storms, massive hail smashes houses down.

Brazil: STILL raining intensively in many areas, flash floods, cities underwater in Goias province and elsewhere. In Mexico, an intense hailstorm reduces streets in Tlalpan to rivers of ice.

Argentina: “Over 50 people were evacuated and dozens of streets closed after flooding in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz province. Local media reported that the city received 3 times the amount of rain it would normally see for the whole of April.”

Fiji: “At least 4 people (now 6) were killed and another was missing after Cyclone Josie caused severe flooding in the South Pacific island nation. Josie moved past the island of Vitu Levu from 31 March as a category 1 storm, bringing with it heavy rain and wind gusts up to 100 km/h.”

Vanuatu: flash floods destroy homes.

Indonesia: Devastating floods in Sumatra and Java.

Greece: “Several rivers in the Balkans have broken their banks over the last few days, causing flooding in parts of northern Greece, southeastern Bulgaria and northwestern Turkey.” Police are searching for a party of “about 15” migrants thought to be missing after trying to cross a swollen river.

UK: “Snow and heavy downpours closed roads and caused travel disruption throughout the holiday weekend of 31 March to 02 April … Emergency services were called to rescue at least 8 people trapped in flood waters. Up to 10cm (4ins) of snow blanketed areas of north England, north Wales and Scotland. At one point on 02 April there were 271 flood alerts in place…” Interestingly, GW noticed absolutely none of these events taking place locally from her eyrie in Wales. Sorry.

World: “Storms, floods and other extreme weather events are hitting cities much harder than scientists have predicted, said the head of a global network of cities tackling climate change.” According to Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 climate change alliance: “Almost every (C40 member) city is reporting extreme weather events that are off all the scale of previous experience, and ahead of all the modeling of climate change.”

2018, 21 March

USA: California – 30 thousand people evacuated ahead of the latest Pineapple Express. Up to 10 inches of rain forecast for the Santa Barbara area and hillsides denuded of tree cover by last year’s fires threatening more landslips. Powerful storms sweep the south. Cars damaged by hail in Caldwell, Texas. Giant hail falls from the sky over Cullman, Alabama – Weatherman says “never seen a storm like it”, a car lot is trashed. Huge tornado forms over Russellville, Alabama. Homes trashed in Jacksonville, Al.

Storm Toby, fourth major Nor’easter in a little over six weeks, brings more feet of snow and strong winds misery to the east coast states.

Europe: mini-Beast brings more cold and snow across the continent, with disruption from Scandinavia and the British Isles down into Italy. Over in Spain, however, heavy rain causes flash-flooding in the south, boding poorly for the salad crop. 1 dead, 1 missing in Andalucia. Jetstream still lost somewhere over North Africa.

Australia: Sydney’s late autumn heatwave continues. 500 people were rescued from Sydney’s Bondi Beach as the mercury hit 41C, 106F. 70 homes were destroyed in a wildfire at Tethra, NSW. Elsewhere in the state, 1000 people were having to be rescued from floodwaters as the Lower Murray river rose following heavy rain.

Indonesia: Bandung, a powerful flash flood tears through Cicaheum, washing away cars.

Madagascar: a brief visit by Cyclone Eliakim kills 17 people in flash floods.

Brazil: No sign of a letup in the heavy rainstorms that have brought widespread flooding to many parts of the country over the past month. Lots round São Paolo, again. 3 dead, several missing. Valparaiso de Goias, genuinely heartbreaking, apocalyptic scenes.

Uruguay: Extensive flooding around the capital, Montevideo.

Dominican Republic: floods. Puerto Plata airport recorded 272.8 mm of rainfall in 24 hours (10.7 in), beating the previous record by 120 mm.

2018, 18 March

Canada: Alberta blanketed with 30 cm snow after two storms collide. Houses buried to the eaves under 20ft drifts.

USA: Storms land on both coasts. Heavy snow blankets Massachusetts in the east, Oregon in the west. An ‘energetic Arctic jetstream’ is threatening another Nor’easter this week, catching Alabama in the middle with ‘tornadic supercells’ with a high chance of damaging hailstorms. And another ‘Pineapple Express’ atmospheric river is set to bring big rain, possibly triggering more landslips on wildfire-damaged hillsides, to southern California.

Italy: Lit-up by exploding electricity substations, a huge tornado rips through Caserta, near Naples, on the night of 13 March.

Romania: Extensive flooding from rain and snowmelt. Croatia: heavy rain and snowmelt trigger mudslides, carrying away houses.

Ireland: Under several yellow warnings for extensive flooding following intense rainfall, 14 March.

Britain: greets curtain-call of the Beast from the East March 17/18 with two days of freezing weather and snowfalls disrupting schools, traffic and flights.

Australia: Cat 2 Cyclone Marcus kicks off the season, nibbling at northern coastal areas around Darwin and Kimberley with 130 Km/h windspeeds, uprooting large trees and damaging cars and buildings. Meanwhile… Sydney swelters in early autumn 40C, 104F heatwave, a lightning storm puts a power station out of action at Terang and rural properties are lost to an “out-of-control” wildfire burning around Brega in Victoria state.

(The NOAA 5-day forecast track for Marcus seems to be showing a slight possibility that having now headed out into the Southern Ocean, it could swing back toward land somewhere north of Perth, Western Australia state.)

Thailand: ‘freak’ storm with cyclonic wind, hail causes floods, damage. Indonesia: Java flooding.

Africa: floods in Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho, where 5 people died in an intense hailstorm. Madagascar, yet another cyclone, Eliakim brings strong winds and flooding.

World: Despite the Beast and the Nor’easters, February managed 6th warmest on record globally, thanks to persistent heat anomalies in the Arctic and across Africa, Australia/New Zealand and central Asia. It’s been a wild winter in the northern hemisphere, but as March progresses there seems to be some flattening-out of the global extremes and some cooling-off in the Arctic that is extending the icefields again, although larger temperature anomalies are appearing in the Antarctic now.

2018, 13 March

Australia: “Several rivers have burst their banks in North Queensland after 4 days of heavy rain. Disaster areas declared. Many areas have recorded 500 to 700 mm of rain during that time. This is the fourth serious flood event in the state in the last 2 weeks.”

New Zealand: flooding at Hawkes Bay. Vanuatu battered by Tropical Cyclone Hola, bringing torrential rain.

Albania: “Heavy rain and melting snow have caused flooding and landslides over the last few days. Shkodër County in the north west of the country is the worst affected area where the Drin and Bojana rivers have overflowed. Local authorities there said that 2,285 hectares of land were under water.”

Thailand: powerful cyclonic storm strikes Sakon Nakhon. Flooding in Bangkok. Extensive flooding in Indonesia, Bangka Belitung & Cirebon.

Brazil: Many central areas continue to experience unusually heavy rain, thunderstorms and flash-flooding in cities.

Argentina: huge storm trashes Villa Gesell on the northern coast with 140 kmh winds.

USA: Storm Quinn – the third Nor’easter this year and the second in a week – dumps three feet of snow and knocks out power on the east coast. State-wide states of emergency declared in New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia battered. North of the border, Canada however seems to be basking in a warm spell. As again are California and the southwest…

USA: March 10, temperature in Austen, Texas hits 34C, 94F. 2 die as hailstones the size of baseballs batter Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas. Wunderground reports that, OVERALL, from September to March the USA has had a drier and warmer winter season than average. Although they have to admit, there has been record snowfall. And record flooding. With another freezing spell and another storm forecast for the East this week (Accuweather).

Portugal, Spain, France: Storm Felix brings wind, torrential rain, damage and flash-flooding to a wide area.

Kazakhstan: Heavy rainfall above river ice-jams causes extensive spring thaw floods. Many evacuated.

Africa, India, China: heatwave with temperatures “more like May/June than March” continues across a broad swathe of the globe. Temps in S. Sudan hit 48C, 118F. Floods in drought-stricken Malawi. 16 killed when lightning strikes a church in Rwanda.

Arctic: “The situation is desperate”. In February, 260 mph moisture-laden high-altitude winds split the polar vortex into 4 parts. The jetstream was looping and broken. Feb 25 the temperature at the North Pole was 1.1C, 34.1F  a 30C anomaly. The mercury hit 6C, 42.8F in northern Greenland; 8.9C, 47.9F in Hudson Bay. That’s before the sun has even risen above the horizon.

Sea ice extent was at record low for the time of the year and is due to start receding toward the summer about now: driven by gales and big waves, 5-metres thick sea ice between northern Greenland and Svalbard had given way to open water by Feb 27. Peak sea surface temperature near Svalbard rose from 12.4C, 55.4F on Feb 23 to 15.6C, 60F by March 2 – a 26F/16C anomaly above the 1981-2011 average. The rise was accompanied by a measurable methane release. March 1, CH4 levels as high as 3087 ppm were recorded, getting on for twice the global concentration averaged in 2015 (NOAA).

Floodlist/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #101/ Wunderground/ thehumptydumptytribe/ Arctic News, 3 Mar/ CEWN #102

1 March – short summary owing to illness:

USA: Boston, Ma. engulfed by 14ft sea surge as Storm Riley trashes the NE coast, 7 dead…

  • 7ft of snow dumped overnight in California’s Sierra Nevada…
  • 60 dead in Europe’s ‘Beast from the East’ high-pressure system…
  • small child killed by massive hailstorm at La Quiaca, Argentina

“The Rain in Spain” brings flooding – and to Java, the Solomons, Argentina, Brazil, Rwanda, Angola, Malawi, Indonesia, Australia… More idiots driving into 3ft of water and floating away.

Large parts of central India – Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat – experiencing heatwave, with temperatures of 38 to 40C degrees (100-104F) being 6-10C above normal for the start of March…

Hottest summer on record for New Zealand

Cat 3 Cyclone Dumazile heading away from Madagascar...

2018, 07 Feb

Tornadoes in Spain, Portugal… record lows again for both Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice extents.

5 dead in the Philippines as TS Basyang batters Mindanao.

Cordoba, Argentina experiences giant hailstones of 10 cm dia. and more, but we recall it is the city that had five feet of hail in fifteen minutes last August.

12 people have died in record snowfalls over coastal Japan in the past week.

Australia: Central Queensland is heading into a possible record heatwave for next week.

India: 4 people died in a cyclonic hailstorm in Maharashtra, with extensive crop damage.

Iceland: Reykjavik experiences total whiteout blizzard and hurricane-speed winds with 5-ft snowdrifts burying cars overnight.

Arctic sea ice is at another record February low, while a heatwave in the stratosphere is intruding over the Arctic and expected to play hell with the polar vortex over the next few days. The forecaster fails to mention however that the subArctic jetstream is somewhere over North Africa.

USA: “Heavy rain, flooding and landslides have affected areas of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee since 10 February 2018.” 2 die as Chicago experiences 9 straight days of snow.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and flooding has left 6 people dead and 9,600 families affected. As many as 14 municipalities have declared a disaster.”

Mediterranean: “Severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and high waves, caused damage in Malta on 10 February. 1 man was killed and a passenger injured when a car was hit by a fallen tree. A large ship ran aground during the storm. Over 100 mm of rain fell in some areas in 24 hours.”

Pacific: “Days of heavy rainfall brought by Tropical Cyclone Gita have caused flooding and landslides in Samoa. The storm dumped massive amounts of rain from 07 to 11 Feb. Some areas recorded over 600 mm in a 24-hour period.

Heavy rain in eastern areas of Malaysia caused flooding in parts of Sarawak from 03 Feb. Samarahan Division recorded almost 200mm of rain in 24 hours to 06 February. Schools and hospitals have been closed and thousands of people affected.”

Africa: “The south of Malawi is enduring a dire dry season that the country’s ministry of agriculture says will leave more than 700,000 farmers with less than 40 percent yield from their crops.” Mob violence has accompanied rumors that the drought is due to witchcraft. (Washington Post, 08 Feb).

Last week, however, GW was relaying news from Floodlist that northern Malawi was yet again underwater owing to intense rainfall. Maybe a pipeline or some buckets would be useful?

2018, late Jan-early Feb

(this next section was completed as an agglomerated set of reports over several days owing to illness.)

France: Paris – Seine overflows, 1,000 people and the basement at the Louvre evacuated – the Rhône has also flooded at Lyon – torrential rainstorms () in Argentina and Guatemala, large parts of Mexico and Bolivia (new rainfall records set and beaten) underwater, tens of thousands evacuated from rising rivers – floods in Scotland, etcetera.

Postscripta: 1: the supposed-to-be minus 40C winter temperature at the North Pole is about to go 1.5C POSITIVE over the next 24 hours. 2: there is a massive low pressure (957 mb) area equivalent to a Cat 3 hurricane moving northwards in mid-Atlantic pushing warm air up into the arctic.

In the USA the east has been experiencing record WARM winter temperatures again after the horrendously cold start to the year and a winter hurricane, however the polar vortex is expected to return by the weekend and to stretch down right into Florida.

Meanwhile a huge area of the midwest: Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and especially Kansas and part of Missouri is under a wildfire advisory warning today, with sustained, very dry wind of 25 mph and a lot of dead, dry prairie grass to burn.

And with the jetstreams looping and broken, polar air is expected to descend over northern Europe into next week, followed by another warm spell.

Meanwhile Morocco has had a record cold spell, with a six-inch snowfall at altitude.

Iran: It’s also been snowing heavily in Tehran, with roads blocked… and in Saudi Arabia where there have been hailstorms heavy enough to damage cars. However, a winter heatwave is forecast to engulf the Arabian peninsula by 7 Feb.

Northern Malawi is underwater again, 1 death reported.

The extreme cold affecting Siberia has relocated to China, Japan, Korea and as far south as Vietnam. Minus 30C in Harbin City reflects the lowest-ever cold alert that’s gone out for most of northern China. (Sad image: Adelie penguins in Harbin zoo, shivering!)

05 Feb, major flooding in western Java, Indonesia, 4 dead.

While in Australia, the 108F-plus heatwave that roasted tennis players in Melbourne at the weekend gave way to ‘freezing’ (‘only’ 54F!) temperatures yesterday as a mass of antarctic air settled over much of the country – remember, it’s high summer there. But the forecast is for blistering heat to return next week.

And when is a cyclone not a cyclone? When it’s a tropical “low”, according to defensive weathermen in Western Australia, where: “the tropical low has brought near record rainfall across the west Kimberley, dumping more than 639mm in 4 days over the Broome region — just shy of the 4-day total record of 653.8mm in 1978. (After another day it beat the 5-day record, since ever.) Winds reached 100 kilometres per hour — with gusts of up to 125kph.” (ABC News). (A cyclone apparently needs to form over the sea. This one just happened on land, causing widespread flooding.)

Postscript, 01 Feb Floodlist reported: “After causing severe flooding in New Caledonia (43 cm of rain dumped in 24 hrs), the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Fehi brought severe weather including thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the South Island of New Zealand from 31 Jan, 2018. Thousands of homes left without power, local states of emergency declared in Buller and Dunedin…”

As the Understanding Climate Change website writes: There is no more normal.

2018, 10-24 January

Russia: According to the State weather bureau, Moscow had its darkest December ever, recording just 6 MINUTES of sunshine over the entire month.

“The cold in Yakutia, in the far east, dipped below -60C (-76F)”. (Schools are normally closed in Russia’s coldest province at -50C…) “Some residents recorded temperatures as low as -67C, -88F… in touching distance of -67.7C, the coldest-ever officially recorded for a permanently inhabited settlement anywhere in the world”.

In Anzhero-Sudzhensk, the body of a 26-year-old industrial climber was found frozen to the outside of a building.

Kazakhstan: Black snow has fallen on the city of Temirtan. Residents are blaming industrial pollution from the local steelworks. “In 2016, nearly 600,000 tons of harmful substances were released into the air in Karaganda according to Kazakhstan’s statistics committee. In December 2017 alone, the national meteorological agency recorded levels of hydrogen sulphide in Temirtau exceeding the government-mandated limit by more than 11 times.”

Mauritius: Tropical Cyclone Berguitta is likely to be the most powerful to hit the Indian Ocean island in over 30 years, with wind gusts of 130 mph. That’s according to the Meteo France/BBC report: Wunderground’s NOAA tracking map has the storm veering away from the island out to sea. Either way, the smaller islands of Réunion and Maurice are fully in its path (PS and were badly damaged but suffered no casualties).

Mozambique: 11 die in floods. 78 thousand people displaced by a tropical depression, 2 thousand properties affected. 240mm (10-in) rain fell in 24 hours.

Burundi: “severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and flooding has left almost 2,000 displaced and destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of homes since 14 January. Over 12,000 people have been affected.”

South Africa: After three years of intense drought, the first major city in the (modern) world is set to go dry in April: ” “Day Zero is the day that the water resource system runs out of water,” said Mark New, Research Chair in Climate Risk at the University of Cape Town. What does this mean? “No water coming out the taps. Toilets cannot be flushed. Fire services cannot get water out of the fire hydrants. People will have to walk to water tankers to fill up drinking water bottles.” And there will be knock-on effects, such as schools considering whether they can operate with no water on campus.”

New Zealand: hottest January on record (100 years). In nearby Australia, parts of New South Wales are experiencing 48C, 116F.

Philippines: “Heavy rain since 12 January has caused flooding and landslides in Eastern Visayas and Davao Region. Authorities say that at least 11 people have died and around 8,000 have been displaced.” 264 mm rain in 24 hours fell on Catarman – Jan 12 to 13.

Malaysia, Indonesia… more flash floods reported as storms hit Kuala Lumpur and Denipasa respectively.

USA: The death toll from the Montecito mudslides continues to rise. “At least 20 people (Now 21/2) have died and three remain missing as a result of the mudslides and floods that devastated Southern California, according to a Santa Barbara County Press Release on Jan. 15. The mudslides occurred early on Tuesday, Jan. 9, destroying an estimated 115 homes and damaging hundreds of others.”  Shocking footage on CEWN, see below).  In the East, very cold weather is set to return after a short lull.

Colombia: “At least 13 people have died in a landslide near the town of Túquerres in Nariño Department, Colombia. The landslide occurred on 21 January, 2018 after a period of heavy rain. A huge section of a hillside along the Tumaco-Pasto highway fell onto the road, pushing a bus carrying at least 15 passengers into a ravine.”

In fact much of South America has been badly hit by floods and landslides in the past week. Video reports showing powerful storms, torrential rain, urban flash floods, buildings wrecked and streets turned to debris fields have come in from SE Brazil (São Paolo/Santa Carina), Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

UK: 80 mph winds and heavy snow are forecast this midweek, with amber warnings out for most of Scotland. It’s already bloody windy here in the west, with gusts to 65 mph. The 6th storm of the winter season, it’s been named Ffion in Ireland – doesn’t seem to be named at all in the UK, where it’s caused widespread power outages in the southeast – but the Germans are calling it Friederike.

Sunday 21 Jan: snowing in London (a rare event), minus 13C in Scotland, plus 14C in the Southwest (10C here…) as warm front meets cold. Met Office says 20C temperature gradient dividing the British Isles in half is ‘quite unusual’.

Europe: “4 people have been killed by falling trees or debris as a fierce storm tears across northern Europe. Storm-related accidents killed 3 people in the Netherlands and 1 in north-west Germany. Gusts of up to 140km/h (90mph) caused transport chaos. … Police temporarily closed the centre of Almere, a Dutch city with about 200,000 residents.  … warning people to stay at home because of risk from the storm.”

France: Sunday 21 Jan – virtually the entire country is covered by yellow and amber flood warnings. These convert to numerous avalanche warnings in mountain resorts affected by recent heavy snowfall. Meteo France reports, the country overall has seen 4 to 5 times the normal rainfall for December to January. Many rivers, including the Seine at Paris, are giving concern.

Far north… Temperature anomalies in the Arctic region are truly disturbing. “The sea surface near Svalbard was as warm as 15.9°C or 60.8°F on January 12, 2018, compared to 2.4°C or 36.4°F on January 12 for the period 1981-2011. … On January 1, 2018, Arctic sea ice extent was at record low for the time of year … Temperatures as high as 18.5°C or 65.3°F were recorded on Jan. 14 and 15, 2018 in Metlakatla, Alaska. … surface temperatures as high as 7.4°C or 45.2°F were reached on January 16 in Yukon Territory, Canada.” Record high methane levels are also being detected.

World: Figures adjusted to account for annual anomalies caused by the El Niño/La Niña currents show 2017 was ‘significantly’ hotter than 2016 – on unadjusted NASA and NOAA figures, 2017 was either the second hottest year after 2016 and 2015, or the third.

According to the anonymous team of climate scientists posting as ‘Sam Carana’ (Arctic-news.blogspot.com): “Global warming has crossed 1.5°C / 2.7°F above preindustrial and looks set to cross 2°C / 3.6°F soon. Due to accelerating warming in the Arctic, that could happen within one or two years’ time, i.e. much faster than the trendlines … may suggest.” After reviewing feedback loops now being triggered that will speed the process, they conclude: “Add up the impact of all warming elements and, as an earlier analysis shows, the rise in mean global temperatures from preindustrial could be more than 10°C in a matter of years.”

Meteonovosti / Siberia Times/ BBC Weather/ BBC News/ Floodlist/ Accuweather/ Wunderground/ Meteoalarm/ Natural Resources Wales/ Arctic News, posted 22 Jan./ Climate & Extreme Weather News #90, Pt 1 (10-24 Jan)

2018, 10 January

USA:  At least 17 people have died in mudslides and flooding in California after a powerful coastal storm followed weeks of unseasonal Santa Ana wind-driven heat and wildfires to drench hillsides scarred by the huge Thomas fire and denuded of tree cover. More than 30 miles (48km) of the main coastal road have been closed and police said the scene “looked like a World War One battlefield”. A group of 300 people are reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon neighbourhood east of Santa Barbara. 163 people have been hospitalized. The death toll is expected to rise.

Africa: 48 people have died in floods and landslides around the capital of the DR of Congo, Kinshasa. Powerful storms with hail have pounded South Africa after several days of 40 deg C (104F-plus) temperatures. Namibia is basking in 100F-plus temperatures. For the second year running, it has snowed in the Sahara. Cat 2 cyclone Ava killed 49 in Madagascar, now threatened by strengthening Tropical Storm Six.

China: at least 21 people have died in heavy early winter snowfall in the eastern part of the country. Up to 30cm fell in Henan province.

Australia: Weather Network reports roads melting in the Canberra region of Western Australia as temperatures exceeded 40C, 104F for the fifth day. Sydney hit 47.3C, 117F, almost but not quite the record (47.7C, 1939). Fires broke out around Melbourne on 6 and 7 Jan. Now the northwest is experiencing Tropical Cyclone Joyce, a cat 1 storm with 95 mph gusts.

S America: wildfires around Mendoza, Argentina consumed more than 200 thousand hectares (490 thousand acres) in the space of three days. Santa Cruz in Bolivia and Colon in Panama were underwater on 2 Jan after torrential rainstorms

Europe: Avalanches have blocked the railway line out of Zermatt, where 13,000 tourists have been stranded for several days by 7ft deep snow. A British snowboarder is feared dead. “Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said Tuesday afternoon that at least 80 cm (31.5 inches) of snow had dropped on the Zermatt area over the last 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level of (‘almost unheard-of’) five on an avalanche-warning scale.”

There’s been heavy snowfall too in northern Italy. New wildfires have broken out on Corsica, while Poland and Hungary have been experiencing a record warm ‘early spring’ – here in my part of the UK, daffodils are flowering a month early while Scotland, the north and east of England experience a real winter. In France, the river Seine flooded parts of Paris, in Germany the Rhine was closed to shipping.

World: despite talk of a new mini ice-age, the latest global temperature anomalies map from the University of Maine’s climate change unit shows that while the north and east of Canada and the USA are looking like the arctic, the arctic is looking more like California… outside the USA the world is still warming up fast. It’s frankly chaos!

BBC News/ Wunderground/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #89, citing China’s the World Today, Euronews, et al/ The Sun/ Pattaya Mail/

2017, 18 December

Australia: monster hailstones, some 6-in. across, precipitate over Grafton, New South Wales, continuing a summer-long tendency towards extreme hailstorms seen from Turkey to South America. And a years-long tradition of hailstorms at Grafton, it seems, where in 2015 a racehorse at the local track had to be euthanased after being startled by hailstones and trying to negotiate a gate in panic. To reassure readers who may have feared global cooling had arrived, temperatures up in the top left corner of the big island – the northwest – are back up in the 100s F.

Severe thunderstorms, strong cyclonic winds, 100 mm rain per hour and “thousands” of lightning strikes batter SE Queensland around Brisbane (10 Dec), causing widespread damage.

Italy: “The River Enza in the town of Lentigione burst its banks on Tuesday 12 December, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. Severe weather including snow, rain and freezing temperatures has affected much of Italy since Monday. Schools have been closed and road, rail and air travel all adversely affected. … Local security assessor Paola Gazzolo said: ‘We are in the presence of floods of historical significance.'” The county of Emilia Romagna was severely affected by flooding. Further north, heavy snow (up to 3 ft in places) has caused major disruption.

Red storm warnings were out for SE France, in the Grenoble area as Storm Ana moved eastwards.

USA: “As of Monday morning, CalFire reported that the Thomas fire had consumed 230,000 acres and at least 790 structures, making it the fifth largest and tenth most destructive wildfire in (California) state history. … none of the previous top 20 fires in terms of acreage occurred any later than October—much less in December, well beyond the typical tail end of wildfire season. It’s entirely possible this fire will burn till Christmas and beyond, and not out of the question it will roll past the Cedar Fire of 2003 (273,246 acres) to become California’s largest fire on record.” (PS – it did!)

Meanwhile the entire east coast of the US is locked-in from Florida to Maine with feet of snow and subzero temperatures.

Only… in Alaska, “The National Weather Service thermometer at Juneau International Airport on Friday hit 54 deg. F, the highest temperature ever recorded in December there, the Juneau Empire reported. It was warmer Friday in Juneau than it was in Houston Tx, Jacksonville, Fla or Monterrey, Mexico.”

Chile: “Heavy rain triggered a major landslide on 16 December leaving at least 5 dead, 18 missing and 12 injured. The landslide occurred in the town of Villa Santa Lucia in Chaitén commune, Los Lagos Region. Over 200 personnel from fire, police, military and civil defence are working in the area, searching for survivors.”

Philippines: 27 people have been killed as “Remnant Tropical Cyclone Kai-Tek (Urduja) passed over the islands Friday (15/16 Dec) at 2 knots before dissipating over colder waters. Several towns, including Calbiga, Samar province were left underwater. As of 18 Dec., over 230,000 people had evacuated their homes with 190,247 housed in evacuation centres, and a further 46,081 displaced.” NASA satellite data showed rainfall of up to 5.6 inches PER HOUR. “Several of the powerful storms in the area were found by GPM’s radar to reach altitudes greater than 16 km (9.92 miles).”

Indonesia: capital Jakarta yet again underwater (11 Dec).

S Africa: 50 injured and many very expensive-looking homes destroyed when a huge tornado struck Vaal Marina, in Midvaal.

Malawi: “At least 6 people have died in flooding that struck areas of Lilongwe District in the Central Region late on 16 December, 2017. According to a statement by the Government of Malawi, over 1,000 people from 200 households were affected by the floods. Two people have been reported injured.”

Arctic: temperature anomalies persist well above the 50-year mean to 2002. Ice extent, volume, thickness third/second lowest on record after 2012. Ahlstrom, Peterson et al (GEUS) report that a sudden and unprecedented acceleration in melt runoff from the SW Greenland ice sheet is affecting the atmospheric temperature gradient at the Arctic circle.

Independent/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/ EurekAlert/ US News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #86, citing Metro TV News (Indonesia); credit Katrina Finnson/9 News

2017, 28 December

UK: “…findings from power research group MyGridGB show that renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90% of 2017, figures up to 12 December show. British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year. … In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.” Snow has closed roads and airports, ahead of Storm Dylan (30 Dec.)

Malta: a private jet belonging to Britain/Belize’s tax-dodger-general, Tory donor Lord Michael Ashcroft, was picked up and blown through an airport fence, crashing into an office building Thursday, by a powerful gust of wind. Struck back in August by a ‘Med-icane’, the island has again been hit by a powerful storm system, with 5-meter waves, thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain and a single-digit cold snap all in the forecast.

Australia: SE Queensland swelters through a Christmas heatwave, until powerful storm cells bring strong winds, heavy rain and hail, smashing up homes, breaking car windshields and causing power blackouts. “Cricket-ball sized” hail batters the small town of Athol, near Twoowoomba (just as England’s Cook was battering cricket-ball sized, er, cricket balls for his 244 in Melbourne). More storms are forecast for the New Year’s weekend.

Philippines: the death toll from Typhoon Tembim (TS Vinta) stands at 240, with 107 still unaccounted for. Whole villages were washed away or buried. The remnant typhoon, downgraded to a TD, is now battering Vietnam.

USA: Much of the eastern mid- and NE US is experiencing record cold and snowfall in a huge swath from the Arctic circle down to Florida. Erie, Pennsylvania is under five feet of snow, that fell in a day and a night. “3 to 4 more feet” is the forecast. 50th State, Hawaii has had near-record rainfall and flash floods; 6-in fell on Maui airport in 24 hours. Meanwhile, heatwave conditions persist in the far SW and California, where the Thomas fire is 80% controlled.

And as for Alaska… temperatures this December have been “20 to 30 degrees above average”. 2017 is likely to be the costliest year ever for the US in terms of weather disruption. 700 scientific staff posts are reportedly vacant after a wave of resignations at the US Environment Protection Agency.

Oceans: “…on December 21, sea surface temperatures were as high as 31.7°C or 89°F north of Australia. In line with rising temperatures caused by global warming, sea surface temperature anomalies are high across the oceans. … temperature anomalies over the Arctic Ocean could be as high as 30°C, 54°F.” (Shome confusion here… 30°C is 86°F, not 54°F, which is 12°C. Ed.)

BBC News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #88, citing CBS News, RUPTLY, Maui Now, et al./ Wunderground/ Arctic News

2017, 08 December

USA: “A swath of high-impact snowfall—in some places, among the heaviest ever observed—made its way from South Texas to Atlanta on Friday, en route to the big cities of the Northeast U.S. (see below).

Meanwhile, massive wildfires continued to scorch the landscape of Southern California, raging at unprecedented scope for December. … With no sign of any meaningful rains for Southern California over the next two weeks, it is quite possible that some of this week’s wildfires will burn until Christmas and beyond. … (Hurricane) Harvey’s 64 inches of rain near Port Arthur were the greatest on record for any storm in U.S. recorded history. Despite this unprecedented deluge, portions of the (Texas) region that received 20+ inches of rain are now in drought.”

“California’s coastal cities and mountains are on high alert this week, as an unusually (late) prolonged bout of (bone-dry) Santa Ana winds blowing toward the coast will lead to a multi-day period of extremely dangerous fire weather.” Rain in SoCal has been almost non-existent this autumn, with 30-year record low rainfall of just 0.2mm since 1 October.

(14 big fires break out. 120,000 evacuated in LA area – 8 Dec.)

“27,000 residents forced to flee (5 Dec) the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula, 70 miles (115 km) north of Los Angeles. Firefighters warned the fire was moving so fast they were unable to contain it. Fanned by 70 mph winds, the fire swept through 31,000 acres (12,500 hectares) in a matter of hours. One elderly woman was found dead in her car.” (edited from reports).

Early winter blizzards closed schools and delayed flights in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Extensive heavy snow warnings are out in the midwest. Winter Storm Benji threatens to blanket the entire east coast with 4-in or more snow.

Canada: Daytime temperatures in Edmonton, Alberta have been up to 10 deg. C (50F) above normal for the time of year.

Taiwan: experts are consulting the record books over a rainbow that hung over the city of Taipei for 9 hours.

Solomon Islands: “Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes on Guadalcanal after rivers overflowed on 05 Dec. Heavy rain has affected the country over the last few days. In a 24 hour period between 04 and 05 December, 97 mm of rain fell in Honiara, the capital.”

Brazil: Rio Casca underwater (Dec 4).

Panama: parts of Panama City underwater (Dec 2).

UK: Storm Caroline hit the north of Britain this week, with forecast winds of up to 90mph (135kph) prompting a severe Amber weather warning for northern Scotland. Oil rigs were being evacuated in advance of 15m (48ft) waves, and schools and bridges closed. A gust of 116 mph was recorded in the Cairngorms. It’s only the third named storm of the autumn so far. Snow and plummeting temperatures were forecast to affect the northwest of the country by Friday, moving south over the weekend.

France: heavy snowfall blocks roads in the south-east of the country.

Albania: five days after torrential rain caused extensive flooding, the country’s government has called for international aid, “Damage assessments suggest that more than 15,000 hectares have been flooded and the current assessment indicates the following damage: 4,715 buildings, 41 businesses, 127 road sections, 177 schools, 78 bridges, 30 water supply stations, 11 dams, 26 electrical stations, 29 dikes and one water pumping station.” Quite a Christmas list….

Spain, Portugal: believe it or not, after last summer’s record heat, drought and wildfires, potentially disruptive “extreme” low temperatures and snow are warned for this week, over much of the Iberian peninsula.

India: 100 fishermen “missing” after Cyclone Ockhi kills 37 in Tamil Nadu and 13 in nearby Sri Lanka.

Indonesia: Lokhsukon, Banda Aceh, under 3ft water (4 Dec).

Malawi: “About 2.8 million Malawians – nearly 20 per cent of the population – face food insecurity, making the country one of the worst hit in southern and eastern Africa, where the current drought affects 50 million people, according to United Nation figures.” So, that was April 2016 (report: Al Jazeera)… as the drought persists in 2017 water levels have fallen so low that the country, which is 98% dependent on hydro-power, is experiencing extended power outages lasting up to a day at a time. Hospitals are relying on generators.

Arctic: “Nov. 2017 averaged 17.2°F in Utqiaġvik (Point Barrow), Alaska, a new monthly record—besting the previous record of 15.3°F established in November 1950—and some 16.4° above average. … Eight of the warmest years on record for Utqiaġvik will have occurred in just the past 10 years.”

“While 2017’s summer melt season didn’t break the record, Arctic (sea ice) falls far below the 1981 to 2010 median extent by over 1.58 million square km (610,000 square miles). Moreover, surface cover isn’t everything when it comes to the state of the Arctic — what experts say matters most is the total volume of ice — a combination of thickness and extent, and 2017 saw summer volumes among the lowest ever recorded.” This translates to a loss of three-quarters of the total volume of ice at the annual minimum since 1981, with most of the loss occurring in the last 12 years.

BBC News/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/Neven1 Arctic Sea Ice blog, PIOMAS/ Arctic News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #85

2017, 23–30 November

Australia: Superstorm warning for SE Australia. After an unprecedented November heatwave, a huge blocking system stalled off the coast is producing a “major weather event” as violent thunderstorms dump torrential rain (up to 300 mm in 36 hours) and cause flooding in almost all of Victoria state. Forecaster Scott Williams, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said “This is a vast, intense, high-impact event. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deep low form over Victoria whilst we’ve got this moisture around.”

Indonesia: 19 dead as TS Sempaka brings floods and landslides to east Java. Houses destroyed in Pacitan. Extensive new flooding has left roads 1m deep underwater in Riau, Sumatra, cutting off 800 residents.

USA: Mount Vernon, Seattle, (24 Nov) the Skagit river bursts its banks after ‘worse than expected’ rainfall brought in by the Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ system.

Argentina: Rio Cuarto battered by sudden violent storm (24 Nov). Flash flooding, cyclonic wind, golfball-size hailstones.

Peru: Cajamarca, torrential rain floods town, streets flowing with muddy ‘red tide’ washes cars away.

India:  “A Test cricket match in New Delhi between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on 3 Dec with claims players were continuously vomiting due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to toxic smog. Airborne pollution levels (were measured at) 15 times the World Health Organisation safe limit.”

Sri Lanka: “At least 13 people have died, 1 missing and 61 injured in Sri Lanka since 29 Nov after severe weather including strong winds and heavy rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi. According to the country’s Disaster Management Centre, as of 02 December more than 106,000 people in 16 districts across the country had been affected.”

World: thanks to the broken Arctic jetstream and weak La Niña, two polar vortices are sitting far down in the northern hemisphere, one over Europe and one over eastern parts of America, with temperatures well below normal and heavy snowfall. Elsewhere, at the same latitudes ‘heatwave’ conditions are persisting into December. The temperature north of the Arctic circle in Western Greenland is still 6.9 deg. C. above freezing, causing melt conditions.

ABC News/ News.com.au/ Jakartapost.com/ Metro.TV Java/ Floodlist/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #84/ Guardian

2017, ‘Early December’

Western Malaysia: “has been affected by flooding over the last few days. Around 13,000 people have been evacuated to special relief camps. Local media report that 2 people have died in the floods.  One area of Pasir Mas District in Kelantan recorded rainfall above 400 mm each day for 4 consecutive days from 25 November.”

Thailand: almost 400,000 people are affected by flooding in the south of the country. The department for disaster prevention reports at least 5 dead and states of emergency have been declared across a wide area. More heavy rain is forecast.

Australia: “December will commence on a volatile note across eastern Australia (Canberra area) with flooding rain and powerful thunderstorms expected. Residents should prepare for disruptions to travel, outdoor and weekend activities. The strongest thunderstorms may be capable of causing damage.”

Spain: “A short period of heavy rain in Andalusia, southern Spain, caused flash flooding in the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Seville and Cadiz on 29 Nov. A train was derailed near Seville with at least 21 people injured, 2 of them seriously. Local media said the derailment was caused by the heavy rain. Houses were damaged in several areas.”

Albania: “Torrential rain has caused flooding in central areas of the country, prompting dozens of families to evacuate their homes. A man died after he was electrocuted in flood water. Roads have been blocked, flights cancelled and schools closed. Over 70,000 homes have been left without electricity. Emergency services have evacuated 200 people after they were trapped inside a flooded shopping centre in Kashar. Heavy rain has also been reported elsewhere in the region, including in Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro. More heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast…”

Italy: a huge waterspout formed off the coast comes ashore as a tornado and trashes the town of San Remo.

USA: Good news; the official Atlantic hurricane season ended today, 30 November, with no last-minute major disasters. “Preliminary death toll from Harvey is 84, and 95 from Irma. Hurricane Maria, though, may be responsible for over a thousand deaths. New research that has not yet gone through peer-review puts the indirect death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico at 1,085 and rising, according to a story published Wednesday at vox.com”

Total US damage from this last, most busiest hurricane season has been estimated at $207 billion, comfortably beating an adjusted-for-inflation total of $185 billion for the second-most expensive ever hurricane year for the US, way back in 1893. These are insured losses and capital recovery project costs only, there’s no accounting for the rest, hoi polloi.

No figures have been added, however, for an extended flood-and-wildfire season; and the effects of prolonged drought across most of the midwest. Houston, New Orleans, Kansas City, Charleston and Las Vegas were all hit by severe flooding from non-hurricane weather systems during the summer, while the California wildfire season has been the worst ever in terms of damage and casualties.

Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/

2017, ‘Late November’

Caribbean: Four hours of torrential rain – a ‘month’s worth’ for November – creates impressive flash flood in coastal resort of Montego Bay, Jamaica. overwhelming drainage defences.

Indonesia: Sidoharjo, East Java trashed by slow-moving tornadoes. 35 hospitalized, whole buildings destroyed. City then battered by heavy rain, 380mm falling in 24 hours.

“7 deaths were reported when a landslide struck in Klesem village in the Kebonagung Sub-district of Pacitan Regency. 2 further fatalities occurred in a separate landslide in Sidomulyo village, also in the Pacitan district in East Java. 2 other victims reportedly drowned in flood water in the same area where rivers have overflowed.”

Thailand: Phetchaburi river overflows after heavy rain, floods – city under 3ft of water. Hundreds evacuated. 2 more die in renewed flooding in Vietnam as Tropical Depression Kirogi crosses the country.

New Zealand: “a slow moving storm that began around 15:00 on Sunday 26 November caused flash flooding in the small town of Roxburgh in the Central Otago District. Local media said 42 mm of rain fell in just a few hours.”

Australia: there’s concern for electricity supplies as an unprecedented November heatwave over Melbourne continues into its second week and air conditioner sales boom. Records were broken too in Hobart, Tasmania, where a peak of 31.5C last Friday (24 Nov) was 13 deg. C. above normal for the time of year.

USA: record November temperatures ‘from the west coast to the plains’ are running 15 to 20 deg. C. above normal as strong winds, cold and snow affect more northerly and eastern states; SW states continue to be plagued by tornados. Anaheim, Cal. recorded a temp. of 100F on 22 Nov. “According to climatologist Guy Walton: November will be the 36th month in a row where U.S. daily record highs outnumbered record lows.”

UK: After a run of unusually warm winters, this year’s La Niña, a weak jetstream and colder air displaced from the Arctic have brought endless rain, gales and temperatures now falling into low single-figures (and forecast to continue downward in places to -10C (14F) to much of the British Isles, with night frost and disruptive snow in the north. Nevertheless as GW reported a few months back, average winter temperature in the British Isles has increased by 2 deg. C. since 1981.

Two rivers burst their banks at Mountmellick, Rep. of Ireland, flooding homes. Elderly residents couldn’t recall anything like it in their lifetime.

World: “Warming is accelerating. For some time, it has been warmer than the 1.5°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement promised should not be crossed. This conclusion follows from analysis of NASA land+ocean data 1880-October 2017, adjusted by 0.59°C to cater for the rise from preindustrial and with a trend added that also indicates that the global temperature looks set to cross the 2°C guardrail soon, with 2021 falling within the margins of the trend line.

This, warns Arctic News, does not take account of sub-surface ocean warming (93% of total warming has gone into the seas) and feedbacks that might speed up the process.

Arctic: “From 1981 until 2011, ocean temperature off Svalbard island during the early winter months of October/November remained stable – including a 1 deg C. cooling trend across the two months. Measurements this year (2017) however show that the ocean has warmed at the surface during this two-month period since 2011 by an average of 13.9 deg. C. with no cooling evident”

Saudi Arabia: “Hundreds of people have been rescued from stranded cars and flooded homes after heavy rain hit parts of western Saudi Arabia on 21 Nov. Civil defence teams reported that, as of late 21 November, they had rescued 481 people, mostly from vehicles stranded in flood water. Heavy rain was reported in Ha’il, with over 100 mm falling in 24 hours. Streets were under water up to 50 cm deep in some of the affected cities, causing major traffic problems. In rural areas, wadis turned into raging rivers, causing significant dangers for drivers. Local media are reporting that several people have died after being electrocuted in flood water in both Jeddah and Mecca.”

2017, 17 November

Greece: “At least 16 people died early Wednesday as major flash flooding tore through several towns on the northwest edge of the Athens metropolitan area. Mudslides poured through the region after torrential overnight rainfall, inundating roads with bright red-orange soil and tossing vehicles like toys. In the town of Nea Peramos, some 1000 homes were flooded (as reported by the Guardian).” A state of emergency was declared on the island of Symi.

The website Severe Weather Europe warned early Thursday that 48-hour rainfall amounts of 200-400 mm (8 – 16”) were possible on Saturday in parts of central and northern Greece.” The storm has been named Numa and was sufficiently violent to be classed as a rare “Medicane” – a hurricane-like weather system, that more usually affects the western Mediterranean – indeed, a similar storm hit Malta two weeks ago. (21 Nov: Greece death toll confirmed at 22.)

Turkey: Freak hailstorm batters the town of Mersin in the SE of the country. Streets turn to rivers of ice, etc.

France: warning of unstable glacier above the ski-resort town of Chamonix in the French Alps as basal temperature approaches melting point; many Alpine glaciers already gone.

Indonesia: “At least 2 people died in flash floods in West Nusa province of central Indonesia on 19 November… floods affected 2,280 people in 15 different villages … 367 homes and 14 bridges were damaged.”

Bolivia: Cochabamba province: town of Ivirgazama underwater after torrential rainstorm.

Paraguay: Powerful storm hits Ciudad del Este: cyclonic wind brings down trees, buildings.

Colombia: Extreme rainfall produces flash flooding and a giant mudslide in the city of Corinto (7 Nov.). People missing, streets left 6-in deep in mud. Raging torrent flows through Santa Marta, city centre, seafront inundated.

Haiti: Floods caused by several days of torrential rain have left 5 people dead and thousands of homes damaged. Haiti’s civil protection directorate said on Thursday that between 14 and 16 November at least 10,000 houses were flooded.

Australia: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, hit by sudden tropical storm. Wind gusting to 107 kph tears down trees and power lines. 12mm hail falls in 15 mins.

Vietnam: Yet another Tropical Storm, Kirogi, crosses Vietnam, bringing down trees and power lines and causing flash flooding in Saigon.

USA: Pacific ‘atmospheric river’ dubbed The Pineapple Express brings heavy rain and snowfall to western states. 3 feet of snow dumped over northern California in 48 hours sets new November record. Tornado and 100 mph winds rip through midwest. To the east, ‘dangerously’ strong winds cause damage in New York; cold and snow cause commuter misery, 5 injured in scaffolding collapses. 100 million affected by storms.

Meanwhile the southwest and southern California are enjoying record high late November temperatures in the 90s F.

Wildfires in California last month that killed 40 people caused over $8 billion insured damage – it’s said, the costliest single fire-related event in US history.

World: “October 2017 was tied for fourth warmest October for Earth since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA; NASA rated it second warmest. The January – October period was the third warmest such period on record, and 2017 is on pace to be Earth’s second or third warmest year on record, behind 2016.” In Dr Jeff Masters’ analysis, the fact that 2017 has been 0.18 deg. C behind 2016 is due to there having been no El Niño event this year, which normally results in higher temperatures still – and not to any intrinsic slowdown in the warming trend.

Climate & Extreme Weather News #80, #81/ Enikos.gr/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Aljazeera

2017 Mid-October

USA: Tropical Storm Nate brings major flooding, after “at least 30” dead in floods and landslides in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Oil and gas production shut down as it barrels at 25 mph towards the US Gulf Coast as Cat 1/2 hurricane, pushing a 6ft storm surge. Misses New Orleans, floods Biloxi Ms. Later reported dispersing with heavy rain up the east coast into New York state, almost 1ft of rain falling in North Carolina.

California: 17 dead, over 100 injured, 150 still “missing”, 1,500 buildings including entire suburbs destroyed, 20 thousand evacuated as “tens of thousands of acres” including many vineyards affected by “at least 14” wildfires that broke out Sunday in the Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. National Weather Service has issued a warning for the San Francisco area that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly” as dry, windy conditions persist.

Up to 30-in. of snow falls on Montana – heaviest snowstorm “since 1914”. 10 thousand without power. Winter storm warnings for up to 1ft of snow around Denver, Colorado – meanwhile the Autumn heatwave continues over the southeastern states with temperatures up into the high 80s F.

Germany: Storm Xavier brings strong winds, torrential rain, kills 7 in the far north of Germany. Storm surge floods Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven. 2 dead in neighboring Poland, 8 emergency workers injured. Local severe weather alerts for ‘disruptive’ thunderstorms are in place for the whole of southern Italy, Oct 9/10. Autumn heatwave continues in Portugal, where more fires have broken out, this time in Pampilhosa da Sierra region.

Norway: Torrential rain causes severe flash-flooding and river overflow around Kristiansand. Much property damage.

China: new flooding, landslides and rain damage has been reported in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi – 23 dead, 5,000 homes destroyed. Engineers warning of relief efforts at Three Gorges dam causing more flooding downstream.

India: More flooding affecting Assam state: the fourth wave of flooding since the Brahmaputra river overflowed on 02 June. 78 thousand people affected. 4 dead. Power failure as central Hyderabad underwater. 48 hours more rain forecast.

Indonesia: Pangandaran, West Java underwater after heavy rains. River overflows. 4 dead.

Vietnam: “Torrential rain brought by a tropical depression has caused landslides and floods (12 Oct), leaving 37 dead, 40 missing – 21 in Hoa Binh, many of them in landslide. 11 people have also been reported missing in Yen Bai Province. 17,000 houses flooded, over 200 homes have collapsed. 20,000 acres of paddy fields destroyed and around 1,200 head of cattle and 30,000 poultry drowned.” (edited report)

Australia: Heavy rainfall on the 5th inundates Bundaberg, Queensland. Bureau of Meteorology sources, said “the Wide Bay city had received more than 340mm rain on Monday, breaking a 64-year record by more than 60mm”.

Brazil: San Bernardo del Campo, Saõ Paolo – massive ice storm. Buildings brought down, streets turn to rivers of ice.

Mexico: Tropical Storm Ramon brings new flash-flooding to Oaxaca and Tamaulipas provinces, for the fourth time this year: Altamira and Tampico underwater, 2 dead, 18,000 evacuated. More ‘torrential’ storms forecast.

Argentina: powerful hailstorm batters Corrientes. Cars damaged.

South Africa: Huge storm, tornadoes strike Johannesburg on 9 Oct. 8 dead, many injuries, shopping mall trashed, 150 homes destroyed. Electricity substation knocked out, large areas without power. Hailstones “the size of tennis-balls”. In Durban, a powerful storm-cell raises hurricane-force winds with torrential rain bringing flash-floods to large parts of the city and environs. Coastal storm surge washes away cars; “autoggeddon” inland too as busy roads become rivers under 5 ft of water. The storm moves on to Pietermaritzburg, where a man is swept away and drowned.

Atlantic: Out in mid-Atlantic and unlikely to threaten landfall other than possibly in the Azores, is a new Tropical Storm, Ophelia, that’s forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane. If and when it does, it will be the C19th-record-equalling tenth TS to become an Atlantic hurricane this year, with six weeks to go before the ‘end of the season’ (whatever that implies in this new record-setting year!).

UK: 12 Oct, the Met Office is warning that remnant hurricane Ophelia is on track to graze Portugal and Galicia in the next 48 hours and make direct landfall in southwest UK and southern Ireland as an 85 mph Tropical Storm, Monday. Another system that developed to the SW of Ophelia has a 20% chance of deepening into a Tropical Depression before running into the Bahamas. If it strengthens over warmer water to a Tropical Storm it will be known as Philippe.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #71, #72 citing AP, Euronews, Ruptly, TOI, etc./ BBC News/ Floodlist/ 13News Now/ Weather Underground

2017, 19-24 September

Hurricane Maria: weakening to a Cat 2 as it moves north over colder waters, the “will-it, won’t it?” make landfall along the US East Coast debate continues. Even if not, it will be felt as it passes between the Outer Banks of N Carolina and Bermuda. It is still a huge and violent storm bearing potentially 2-3 feet of rain. Death toll across the Caribbean now exceeds 30 and many remote areas have yet to be reached.

90% of homes in Dominica have sustained damage or destruction. Guajataca dam on Puerto Rico still threatening to give way (24 Sept.), 70,000 evacuated from communities in its path. “The storm dumped over 960 mm of rain in Caguas on 21 September.” High winds and flooding too claimed lives in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (24 Sept.).

Atlantic: Meanwhile, Jose is still toggling gamely around in the west Atlantic but has weakened to a depression and not likely to make landfall. Former Tropical Depression, Lee has woken up in mid-Atlantic after doing nothing for days and has strengthened to a Cat 2 hurricane, on a predicted northeasterly track – ie towards northern Europe, the UK, Iceland – but weakening to a TS over colder waters.

Australia: New South Wales/Sydney experiences its first-ever 40C (104F) heatwave – for equinoctial September (early spring month). System extends up into Queensland.

Guatemala: raging floods continuing after days of intense rainfall.

Spain: Another heavy ice-storm, this time on the lovely Moorish city of Teruel, Aragon. Rivers of ice flowing through the streets freeze solid for a time, trapping cars. Many lightning strikes. “35 litres of water per square meter fell in half an hour, causing localised flooding, as well as leaving a number of people requiring treatment for hypothermia. The storm hit just before 9pm, after a sudden drop in temperature of nearly 20 degrees.” Severe, possibly disruptive thunderstorm alert out for Vilabella, SE Spain.

Gran Canaria: wildfires raging in city outskirts, metres from hotels. Tourists sent fleeing.

Congo: death toll in Kivu state flooding officially now 12, over 100 missing. Torrential rain and landslides destroy many homes.

Malaysia: extreme flash-flooding and rivers overflowing in Perlis and Kedah regions.

Indonesia: Bengkulu region hit by extreme flash-flooding.

Thailand: Khuan Kalong hit by extreme flash-flooding. Satun province experiencing third major flooding event this year. Thousands of acres of rice paddy rotting. Major dam at Phitsanulok dangerously exceeding capacity.

India: Torrential rains continue to fall in Kerala province, with flash-floods and landslides, casualties reported. Schools and colleges shut. More rain over Mumbai (Bombay), flooded last month, is bringing September to a record month, already the second highest rainfall total recorded.

USA: weird weather has the country split in half:

“Parts of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and adjacent Canada were running 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) above average, while parts of the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin were 12 – 20°C (22 – 38°F) below average.” Many northeastern cities have experienced 90F-plus temperature surges over the weekend, setting new record highs for late September. “Provo, Utah (Brigham Young University) had a daytime high of just 42°F on Sunday, which was its coldest day ever notched during September in records going back to 1916.” At the same time to the north of Utah it was 93F, 33.8C in Toronto, Canada, its hottest day of the year so far and hottest day ever recorded in late September.

Antarctica: ‘A-68’, the trillion-tonne monster iceberg the size of Cyprus, that calved from the Larsen C shelf three months ago, is thought finally to be on the move out into the South Atlantic.

The Weather Channel/ Moana Loa observatory/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #69/ Wunderground/ English Radio News, Spain/ Floodlist/ Reuters

2017, 10 August

Arctic: Sea ice ‘gone’ by mid-September? “On average, surface temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have been more than 2.5°C (or 4.5°F) warmer than in 1981-2010. The warmer air is now also melting the sea ice from above, as temperatures over the Arctic have risen to well above the freezing point.”

Greenland: ‘unprecedented’ wildfire burning since 31 July, 3000 acres destroyed (no firefighting available). Australian firefighters arriving in Canada to help with 28 new wildfires in British Columbia adding to the 100 already burning – some rain may arrive shortly to help, but not enough.

Russia: powerful storm brings flash flooding to Vladivostock, most easterly city in Europe and home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Roads and bridges washed away. A 2000 km-long plume of smoke from wildfires over Siberia, its origin centred around the city of Krasnoyarsk can be seen from space.

Mexico: city of Campeche, Yucatan hit by Tropical Storm Franklin, with widespread flash flooding. Other parts flooded; Moncova, Cloahuila, Nuevo Leon. Heatwave affecting Hermosillo, NW Mexico, expected to peak at 44C, 111F on Friday.

USA: unseasonal ‘freak’ tornado injures 30, damages houses, shops and cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma. City pounded by powerful storm, 130 mph wind, localized flooding. Power out. Weather service taken completely by surprise.

USA: Kansas City: 8 inches of rain overnight brings more flooding to the city. 6in rain falls on Houston, Texas in 6 hours. Dallas, Texas on flood alert. New Orleans floods starting to abate. Tornado in Maryland blows cars away – again no warning. Storms and flood alerts in east.

Italy: Alpine ski resorts melting out under a layer of soot from fires, glaciers vanishing rapidly. 5 dead in violent storms following a week-long 120F, 48C heatwave. More amazing scenes as rivers of ice flow through Cortina’s streets from massive hailstones the size of hens’ eggs. Temperatures locally in south anecdotally touch 55C, 131F (not confirmed).

Austria: clearing up after flash floods in the mountains. Flash floods in Switzerland.

Spain: Drought. Towns in Andalucia and rural villages running out of drinking water, reservoirs at historic lows, intermittent mains water interruptions reported. A powerful storm with many lightning strikes floods the town of Denia, on the Costa Blanca. Violent storm over Ibiza brings torrential rain, property damage. New fires are raging through central Portugal.

UK: heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as the Met Office warns of further rainfall. A huge bulk grain carrier has departed for Spain with 70,000 tonnes of barley on board to feed cattle starved of grazing by the drought.

Japan: Typhoon Noru hits mainland, dumps 500mm rain, flooding, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated. Storm reported weakening over land as it approaches Tokyo.

China: As if the earthquake in Sichuan was not enough (death toll 25 and counting, 45 seriously injured, 85,000 evacuated) a flash flood and landslide carries away part of a village in Puge county. 25 people are missing, 71 homes destroyed. Heilongjian province, northeast China, the city of Harbin floods after torrential rain.

S Korea: deaths from heatstroke reported among the elderly. 37C – plus (100F) heatwave continues into fourth week. 2.7 million chickens and other livestock have died due to extreme conditions. Korean TV reports, annual average temperature is accelerating fast. Hospital admissions with heatstroke have doubled in the past five years.

India: new flooding in Assam, 65,000 evacuated.

Iraq: building workers given day off owing to extreme 50C–plus heat.

2017, 06 August

The Lancet reports, excess heat could kill up to 150,000 more people a year in Europe alone by the end of the century. I don’t suppose anyone much will be around to see that.

Europe: still in the grip of 40 deg C-plus heatwave Lucifer, expected to relent gradually after Wednesday.

Italy: Extreme heat in north. More fires across south. Drought persists in Italy’s grainbelt, 60% crop losses reported across all agri sectors. Deliveries to northern markets failing. Water shortages looming.

Greece: extreme heat. Island of Kythira ablaze. The entire Aegean area has been plagued by earthquake swarms in recent weeks since 2 were killed in the M5 on Kos.

Austria: powerful thunderstorms trigger flash floods affecting mountain communities.

Russia: noonday temperature currently (7 Aug) in Norilsk, northernmost city in Siberia, 21C, 72.6F. Desperate authorities have started chemically seeding clouds to combat wildfires consuming the Taiga.

Japan: Typhoon Noru claims 2 lives in Kyushu, moves on over Honshu main island, bringing 60cm rain in 48 hours. Flash floods in Osaka area. More heavy rain following on behind.

China: Heavy rain affecting the northeast up into Mongolia. Flash flooding, 100 thousand people affected, 25,000 acres of crops damaged. Liaoning – 1,000 flood refugees trapped on higher ground by rising water, being rescued a second time. 2 dead, 350,000 affected in Jiling province. Damage estimated at $700 million.

India: 10 dead, new widespread flooding in Uttarakhand. ‘Huge loss’ of property. More heavy rain forecast.

Pakistan: “At least 5 killed and others injured after floods and landslides in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Met. department issued warnings for glacial lake outburst floods after heavy rain and temperatures up to 5 deg. higher than normal (caused) ice to melt.” 116 people have died as a result of flooding or landslides in Pakistan since the start of this year’s monsoon.

S Korea: severe heatwave continues.

USA: again, New Orleans experiences flooding with up to 3ft of water as a tropical storm brings up to 10 inches of rain in 4 hrs to the city. “The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history.” New York State is on flash flood alert, as is Manhattan, with more heavy rain also forecast across Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware. A ‘rare’, out-of-season tornado causes casualties and damage in Toledo, Ohio.

USA: Las Vegas, Nevada – one victim died and 7 others were rescued after flash floods in two areas of the city. Flash flooding submerged parts of Kansas City, shutting down parts of highway I-35 and flooding other streets across the city. Vehicles were submerged and drivers left stranded by flood water.

Staff at the US Department of Agriculture have been told to avoid using the term “climate change”, with officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead. The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the injunction to “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter”.* Sound policy indeed. Dig more shit in, the BogPo says. (The Guardian, 7 Aug.)

Mexico: Tropical storm Franklin now building over the Caribbean is expected to head across the Yucatan Peninsula towards the capital, Mexico City, bringing up to 300mm of rain.

Venezuela: as if the country doesn’t have enough to worry about, severe flooding after days of torrential rain has caused several major rivers including the Orinoco to burst their banks, with about 10 thousand people affected.

Arabian peninsula: It’s currently 43C, 117F in Baghdad and Kuwait, a little cooler in Riyadh – only 40C. Across North Africa temperatures are in the high 30s to mid 40s currently: 95 – 100F. Not as bad as July and August the last two years when searing 50 C-plus heat killed 100s. The forecast is for temperatures ‘building across the week’. Satellite map shows zero cloud cover across the region. Long drought is causing severe crop losses in Egypt.

Africa: heavy rains persisting across mid-western and central Africa, eg. Nigeria. Bad news for elusive anteaters:

“Hotter temperatures are taking their toll on the aardvark, whose diet of ants and termites is becoming scarcer in some areas because of reduced rainfall, according to a study released Monday. Drought in the Kalahari desert killed five out of six aardvarks that were being monitored for a year, as well as 11 others in the area…”

World: despite the record heatwaves in Europe, Asia and the US west and midwest, provisional global weather data give July as only the second hottest on record, after 2016; it seems Antarctica has been letting the side down. The US NOAA report for June states:

“June 2017 was characterized by warmer to much warmer-than-average conditions across much of the world’s land and ocean surface. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across much of central Asia, western and central Europe, and the southwestern contiguous U.S. where temperature departures from average were 2.0°C (3.6°F) or greater. … Overall, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2017 was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F) and the third highest June temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2016 (+0.92°C / +1.66°F) and 2015 (+0.89°C / +1.60). June 2017 marks the 41st consecutive June and the 390th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.

Strangest of all: Uni. of Ottawa’s much-Followed climatologist and podcaster, Prof Paul Beckwith reports that on July 20, for the first time he believes in history, the weakening and fragmenting northern and southern jetstreams crossed the equator at various points all around the globe into one another’s hemispheres, pulling hot and cold air masses with them and creating a huge vortex over the Pacific. The southern jetstream is dissipating and covers 95% of the hemisphere. This chaotic mixing is attributable to rapidly warming water in the Arctic and has no predictable weather outcomes, other than bad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJYWvnuA9w8&t=563s

Climate and Extreme Weather News #51/ D Mail/ NW Global temperature report/ Floodwatch/ NOAA/ Paul Beckwith/ the Guardian/ local weather reports.

2017, 30 July – 4 Aug.

Japan: Typhoon Noru is expected to make landfall on Saturday, 5 Aug. in Kyushu island. Windspeeds estimated at 133 mph, wave heights at 16m (53 ft), up to a foot of rain forecast. South Korea also on alert for Noru’s plotted trajectory in the coming days. (PS it missed!)

Taiwan: Typhoon Nesat dumps 60 cm of rain overnight, 30 July. Flooding causes 10 thousand people to be evacuated, 130 injured. That was Saturday, on Monday Typhoon Haitang brought 100-mph winds and flooding to the north of the country. Half a million people were without electricity.

Myanmar (Burma): “Four western regions have been declared disaster zones after heavy floods, caused by monsoon rains, left at least 27 dead. Rescue teams have not yet reached many areas and are still awaiting reports on the worst-hit regions. In the neighbouring eastern Indian state of Manipur, a landslide buried a village, killing at least 21.”

Vietnam: More than 30 people dead/missing in flash flooding at Mu Cang Chai, North Vietnam.

Thailand: Flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Sonca last week has claimed 23 lives in Sakon Nakhon and is affecting two-thirds of the country with up to 2 metres of standing water in some places.

Indonesia: Jayapura city under three feet of water.

China: Fujian, SE China, 70 thousand people evacuated in advance of Typhoon Nesat and bracing for Haitang. Another of those violent ‘freak’ hailstorms hits Sichuan, causing damage and flash flooding. Chongqing city hit by severe storm.

China: “Shanghai, the most populous municipality in the world, is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, with the region topping 100 degrees for eight consecutive days and counting.”

India: Gujarat flooding – death toll exceeds 215 as more bodies recovered from receding waters. West Bengal, “At least 48 people died this week in the western part of the country. In the desert state of Rajasthan, about 24,000 people fled to higher ground” – AP. Unknown number of casualties – min. 3 – in flash flooding in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Villages cut off.

USA: ‘Historic flood’ inundates Kansas City after 7-in of water dumped overnight, with river levels up to two feet above previous records. A ‘rare’ tornado (only the third ever recorded) causes extensive damage in Maryland, where 2 people drowned in flash flooding in Ellicott City on Monday. A sudden violent storm hits Phoenix, Az after weeks of 100F + heat.

USA: Tropical Storm Emily suddenly appears out of the Gulf, taking forecasters by surprise, flooding parts of Florida. While from Seattle, Washington State, comes news that it hasn’t rained for 47 days – approaching the record interval between showers. Las Vegas, Nevada, records its 55th day of 100F + heat.

USA: Portland, Oregon is basking unusually in record 42C, 108F sunshine – local readings topping 120F in parts of the city. Corona, Southern California is hit by a sudden violent storm causing damage and localized flooding.

USA: “Hot and dry conditions in the West continue to influence wildfire activity. Currently 36 large fires have burned nearly 580,000 acres. More than 11,500 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the nation.” (1 Aug )

Canada: 150 wildfires are reportedly still burning in British Columbia, affecting over a million acres. People still being evacuated. Coastal cities smoke-ridden, asthma cases increase, 35C -plus heatwave warnings as far north as Vancouver.

Mexico: Violent storm, flash flooding washes away cars, buildings in the city of Ocampo.

Turkey: Another of those ‘freak’ hailstorms breaks car windows, causing extensive flash flooding in Istanbul for the second time in three weeks. An airliner is forced to make an emergency landing after sustaining damage from large hailstones.

Albania: “Armed forces joined hundreds of firefighters on Friday to battle dozens of forest fires as temperatures reached 40C. Albania has asked the European Union for emergency assistance to help prevent the wildfires spreading near the capital, Tirana.”

Russia: “‘By 2080 Siberia (will) become ‘the go-to place to live due to climate change. Vineyards will flourish as winters become almost 10C milder’, says new scientific prediction.” Meanwhile: “In Yamalo-Nenets officials reported 47 wildfires across 2,097 hectares after a blast of hot weather … Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: ‘The temperature in the region is extreme. The situation will remain the same for some time'”.

Arctic: sea surface temperature anomalies are well above 8°C (14.4°F) in several parts of the Arctic Ocean. Global sea ice extent is at a record low for the time of the year. “There is basically NO thick ice left on the Arctic Ocean surface.” (Beckwith). Sea temperature average is 2.5C, 4.4F above 1981-2010. Sea surface temperature in the Bering Strait on 22 July recorded at 19C, 62F.

Atmospheric methane is currently at 3.7 times pre-industrial level. High emission levels being recorded at both poles.

Mediterranean: A heatwave with a name! Lucifer…. “A surge of hot air will lift temperatures close to or above 40°C, 102°F across popular holiday destinations in the Med through to next week. Eastern Spain, Ibiza, Majorca, Italy, southern France, Croatia and Alpine regions will roast over the next (ten) days as temperatures climb to as high as 10-15C above average.” Severe thunderstorms are forecast for the whole of Europe.

Croatia: The temperature in fire-ravaged Split hit a record 42.3C (105F) on Friday. A lethal 46C (114.8F) is the forecast for northern Italy over the weekend. The heatwave is not expected to relent before Wednesday. Mysteriously, though Croatia Week carries a heat warning there is not one mention of the wildfires that have ravaged the country over the past two weeks. Tourism must go on.

Poland, Bulgaria, Romania all sweltering at 35C-plus, peak demand for electricity exceeded.

Spain: 300 evacuated from wildfire covering 2,500 acres of pine forest at Castilla-la-Mancha; firefighters have been battling a large fire 30 km south of Athens, Greece.

UK: The winter of 2016 was the warmest for England and Wales in records that stretch back to 1910, the Met Office’s annual State of the UK Climate report revealed on Thursday. The average temperature from December 2015 to February 2016 was more than 2C above the long-term average across the southern half of the UK.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #49, 50/ Extremeweather.co.uk/ US National Interagency Fire Center/ New York Times/ Washington Post/ Siberia Times/ Science Daily/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Arctic News/ Croatia Week.

2017, 25-27 July

8: Number of tropical cyclones reported active in the Pacific region currently, a 40-year record.

Myanmar (Burma): widespread floods, storm surge drowns town: watch from 14’30” as a gilded buddhist temple is washed into the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smxPAG_yCzU&t=250s. Lack of drinking water affecting villagers.

China: Yulin province, widespread flooding in Yulin city washes away buildings, cars; smashes up streets. 4 die in Sichuan and Guangxi flash-floods. Buildings collapsing. 20 thousand evacuated.

China: Shanghai, highest temperature ever recorded in the city @ 40.9°C (105.6°F), 21 July. Humidity high.

South Korea: heat advisories for 95 deg. -plus in south, more forecast; widespread flooding follows torrential rain further north, around Seoul.

Assam, India: 5 million still displaced by flooding; death toll reaches 73. Kaziranga National Park underwater, many animals drowned.

Gujarat, India: widespread flooding. 113 dead. Millions affected. Many dams overtopped, towns inundated, national highways closed. Shortages of food and drinking water. More rain forecast.

Thailand: “Flooding has affected several provinces, damaging 10,000 homes, and crops. Disaster management authorities have issued warnings for further heavy rain for the next 4 days.”

Japan: “Authorities in Akita Prefecture, north western Japan, issued evacuation orders on Sunday 23 July due to flooding after a period of heavy rain. Some areas recorded more than 300 mm in 24 hours. Severe damage was recorded in 17 cities.”

New Zealand, South Island: widespread flooding. Dunedin cut off by road; states of emergency declared in Christchurch, Canterbury, Otago. (Odd UK media does not report any of this, instead focus is on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit and his boorish insults to Maoris.)

USA: record-river-level flooding in Algonquin, Galina, Pearl City Il. Powerful storms, more rain forecast. Widespread flooding in New Orleans as tropical storm ‘stalls’ over the city. State of emergency in Wisconsin, power outages, roads broken up in DC. Flash floods, local states of emergency in Kentucky, Missouri. Storm cells moving east have caused extensive flood and wind damage in the midwest. Major flooding in Birmingham, Al.

USA: “Excessive heat warnings were in place Friday (21st) for Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, and neighboring areas, where heat indices will range between 105°F and 115°F. The Philadelphia area was also in an excessive heat warning for heat indices that could reach 103°F.” – http://www.wunderground.com

USA: Wildfires continue to burn in California, Nevada, Utah, but the huge Detwiler fire near Yosemite National Park, Wyoming, is said to be ‘coming under control’ after a week. 75 thousand acres burned. Heatwave abating slowly but still in the 90s – 105F again in Phoenix today, 95F across Florida, Texas.

Guadalajara, Mexico: City inundated after flash flooding, torrential rain.

Lagos, Nigeria: localised flooding in the city and outlying villages, continuing rain.

Ghana: 2 die in flash flooding in Tamale province.

France: Firefighters battling 1,400 acres of forest burning in the hills inland from St Tropez. 10 thousand tourists evacuated after spending the night on beaches and in gym halls.

Corsica: 4,000 acres burned, homes and villages threatened. High winds (‘Mistrale’) a factor.

Portugal: more big wildfires breaking out in central provinces inland from Coimbra. More dry heat and high winds forecast.

New heatwave forecast next week for W and S Europe.

Freak hailstorms trap cars in northern Italy, a foot of hail piles up somewhere in Croatia (location not clear from report).

Germany: flood forces evacuations in northern town of Goslar. Flash flooding in the Harz mountain region. Flash flooding in Romania.

The President of low-lying Palau, in the Pacific, Tommy Remengesau has complained that his garden is now usually underwater due to sea-level rise of 1 ft since 1989.

UK: weather service warns, rains to become heavier, more persistent.

2017, 19 July

State of emergency declared as ‘1-in-200-year’ floods inundate New Zealand‘s South Island (22 July).

USA: 100 sq miles of Mariposa County near the Yosemite National Park are ablaze. Thousands evacuated from town of Mariposa. Cal. Gov. Brown declares state of emergency. Dry heatwave (>10% humidity) continues into fourth week over California and parts of western USA, elsewhere in US severe storms are causing flooding.

USA: 10 drown, incl. 2 children, in flash flood while swimming in a river gulch in Arizona. Large areas of the state affected by floods as well as heatwave.

Major new floods ‘unprecedented’ following storms in Maryland, USA, around Baltimore, and into Washington DC.

Canada: 150 fires still burning around Williams Lake, British Columbia; reported joining up to form larger ones. 40,000 people evacuated.

CO2 concentration measured over BC: 743 ppm.

Croatia is an inferno after weeks of dry heat. City of Split menaced by huge fires. Vast areas burned out.

Turkey: violent storm, heavy rainfall with large hailstones floods parts of Istanbul.

Flash flood inundates the town of Halkidiki, in Greece.

Villagers evacuated on Corsica due to wildfires. Fires still burning on Sicily.

70 MILLION people now affected by flooding across northern India, seeking refuge. 100-plus drowned or buried in mud. 6 die in flash floods in Kashmir.

China: storm with large hailstones and flooding hit Beijing on 08/9 July, 1 dead. Still vast areas of Hunan, Sichuan and other provinces, cities underwater. ‘Torrential rainstorms’ hit Shangxi city. 1 in. (32.5 mm) rain falls in 1/2 hour.

Japan: violent thunderstorm, high winds, large hailstones batter, flood parts of Tokyo. Severe heatwave advisories across S Korea.

Widespread flooding in Timor, Indonesia.

Russia: Torrential rainstorm, hurricane-force winds, large hailstones batter, flood Kirov.

Wildfires in Kazakhstan – and in Mongolia, where CO2 level measured by satellite at 873 ppm.

Hong Kong, major flooding from Tropical Storm Talas. 2.7-in. rain falls in less than 1 hr.

UK: villagers and tourists evacuated as more storms hit across Cornwall and the south of England. 7-in. rain falls in three hours.

Nearly 700 wildfires recorded in Europe, EU area, so far this year = 3 times the annual average since 2008. Up to 60% crop losses from drought reported in Spain, Italy.

These wildfires remember are venting huge volumes of carbon and other g/h gases into the atmosphere.

 (Climate and Extreme Weather News #45, 46/ Arctic News/ Floodlist/ Copernicus

2017, 7-8 July

138 major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada.

USA: Palm Springs, California: 122 deg. F. (50 C.) Phoenix Az. still 111 F. Wildfires in Santa Barbara Ca, Arizona, Utah, Colorado. 90 mph winds, severe storms bring flooding to the east of the USA, Massachusetts – Cape Cod – into New York.

22 dead in floods in Japan‘s Kyushu island after Typhoon Nanmadol brings 3 ft of rain in 9 hours.

83 dead since mid-June in Hunan province, central China. 12 million affected, 1.5 million evacuated. Flooding and landslides hit North Vietnam.

26 million facing severe food shortages in East Africa after two-year drought.

Some 15 million are displaced by flooding and 44 dead in Assam, Manipur, India and southeastern Pakistan (8 July).

Kuwait: 96 deg. F. Oh, wait, that was at two a.m yesterday morning… 121 F. now… Watch CEWN as a truck slowly sinks through the tarmac up to its axles.

Madrid, Spain: parts of the city underwater after torrential rain, freak hailstorm. Metro system closed.

Greece basks in 42 deg. C., 107F heat. 28 major wildfires reported, 2 on Crete.

Mexico: historic centre of Veracruz under 3 feet of water.

2017, late June:

More than 35 wildfires burning across the southwestern USA. The uncontrollable fire at Brian Head in Utah has consumed over 54 thousand acres and continues to spread. The forecast is for continuing 95 deg. heat and rising windspeeds. (Less than a month ago, the governor of Arkansas was declaring a federal emergency owing to extreme flooding and storms.)

Mexico: A flash flood has left parts of Mexico City underwater. (A number of people were killed the previous week including 11 trapped in a bus in floods and landslides across Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.)

Russia: Multiple wildfires are reported in Siberia as boreal forest and tundra continue to blaze due to record temperatures ‘not seen in past 10 thousand years’, according to Russian meteorologists. Krasnoyarsk sweltered in 37 deg. C. last week and is still in the mid-20s this week. In the North Caucasus, record rainfall has caused devastating flash floods. Moscow has been hit for the second time in five weeks by an abnormally violent thunderstorm, leaving 2 dead and a dozen injured.

Gerona in Spain was battered on Friday by a freak hailstorm, leaving rivers of ice two feet deep flowing through the streets. Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqfa6do4u50, at 25’30” in, it’s a most bizarre sight.

Germany: 150 mm of rain falling in a few hours has left parts of Berlin underwater.

Greece: reports a 42 deg. C (108F)-plus heatwave, with wildfires and melting roads.

The city of Chennai in drought-stricken Tamil Nadu state, India, has run out of water and rationing has been tightened. North of there large parts of Assam state are underwater, as are neighbouring areas of Pakistan, with deaths reported.

More severe flood warnings are out across Hunan province, central China, but the list of Chinese regions afflicted with major floods is now over 40, too long to include.

(Climate and Extreme Weather News #39, 26-30 June/ Floodlist.com)

2017, Early June

USA: Wildfires have destroyed 4,000 acres in northern Florida.

27 tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin and Oklahoma yesterday, trashing a trailer park and killing at least 2 people. More scary tornado warnings are out tonight (19/05) across the Midwest.

Carbon dioxide concentrations recently exceeded 560 ppm (NASA) in parts of West Africa and Central Asia, thanks to uncontrolled forest fires and annual agricultural burning. A problem with wildfires and crop-burning is that sooty particulates precipitate out over ice fields where the darker surface increases melting of glaciers and sea ice.

World: Record flooding with many casualties and mass evacuations has been reported just this week in Indonesia (Sulawesi/Borneo); the US: Arkansas (state of emergency declared), Mississippi, N. Carolina; Europe: Hungary/Romania; China’s Guangdong and four other provinces; Kenya and Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa; S America: Chile (where over 1m acres were destroyed by wildfires in January); the Caribbean: Haiti, Jamaica – and in Canada (state of emergency declared in Ontario province).

137 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Alicante, Spain; 280mm in Kamphaeng Phet province, Thailand.

http://floodlist.com/america/usa/floods-arkansas-missouri-april-may-2017

France: Hundreds of religious pilgrims including many disabled have been evacuated as heavy flooding hits the southern French town of Lourdes after days of rain.

A record-breaking 42 deg. C (100F) heatwave is affecting the Chennai area of Tamil Nadu, in the far south of India for the second year running.

Two tropical cyclones are currently battering northeast and northwest Australia, with another Category 5 storm threatening Vanuatu, the second this year.

An earthquake ascribed to possible ‘isostatic rebound’ due to melting ice hit Greenland on May 8, triggering a tsunami (4 dead) and a massive release of methane. Methane levels have risen 256% from 1750 to 2015 and could double again by 2040 (Arctic News).

Svalbard: “The Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.” – BBC report. (The Norwegian-funded seed bank, said to be the most important reserve of plant genes in the world, was designed to last 1,000 years…)

Arctic: While Colorado enjoyed heavy snow last night (20 May), some scientists are forecasting an ice-free Arctic ocean by mid-September. Admittedly they have been saying this for the past four years. However, thanks to Arctic methane eruptions, some trendlines (best/worst-case scenarios) are pointing to possibly 3C. rise over 2018 and a potential, unsurvivable 10C. by 2026

April 2017 was the third warmest recorded across the USA, after 2015 and 2016 (NOAA). Temperature in Washington DC yesterday touched 34C, 93F.

Mr Trump appears not to have noticed.

Donny and Kimmy: The on-again, off-again fatty bromance… A Nobel ambition… The trouble with headlines… The true purpose of diplomacy… GW: Yemen hurricane… Despair is setting in…

“Yes, I’m willing to talk to any thuggish criminal dictator.” (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is believed to be contemplating a Pyongyang visit.)

Donny and Kimmy: The on-again, off-again fatty bromance.

There seems little point in writing about those two bears, Donny and Kimmy’s on-again, off-again fatty bromance, until it’s either on or off. It could go right to the wire, and the suspense is killing us.

Trump’s bizarre love tweet to the North Korean dictator, suggesting they could run away together, exchanging tanning tips and diet recipes mixed in with dire threats of nuclear options – “love me or I’ll kill myself and you and the kids too” – was apparently personally dictated by the Orange Imbecile himself, to some amanuensis with basic spelling and grammar skills.

As it was Donny who called off their big date, it seems a bit rich that he’s blaming Kimmy for the breakup.

But that’s serial abusers for you.

(So, what’s it to be instead, eh, Pumpkin? (Ed. writes.) Could it be the breaking news of Donny Jr’s flirtation with Russian organized crime, as uncovered in Spanish investigators’ wiretaps of Aleksandr Torshin, a Putin ally and Central Bank contact who may have been the conduit from a known mafia boss for millions of laundered dollars sent via the National Rifle Association (of which he is a long-term member) to fund the Trump campaign on a promise of “closer relations” with sanctioned oligarchs?

Or could it be the relationship that’s been uncovered by the New York Times between Michael Cohen and Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, that reportedly led via an intermediary, Andrew Intrater, to a payment of over half a million dollars into the slush fund Cohen was operating via an obscure shell company in Delaware, out of which he appears to have been paying hush money to Trump’s various bits on the side?

(We recall, it was Vekselberg who among others attended Trump’s inauguration along with Kremlin lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had previously met with Donny Jr, Manafort and Kushner at Trump Tower to discuss, er, the problems of adopting Russian babies.)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5293361/FBI-concerned-Russians-inauguration.html

Or could it be what Rudy Giuliani has now admitted is a total fabrication of Trump’s, concerning an FBI informant inside his campaign camp, spying for Hillary and the black guy? Yet another red herring cooked up to try to throw the Mueller probe off-balance. And when is the puerile oaf finally going to let the shoe drop, that he got elected somehow and that’s that, and he should just get on with whatever insanity he has planned for everyone?

The FBI’s investigation – as opposed to the Mueller investigation – of the fake-news Russia Thing is getting increasingly murky and convoluted, with more leaky back-channels turning up between members of the Trump family campaign and Russian crime figures than Mount Kilueia has spawned magma-spewing fissures. But as The Pumpkin has been saying all along, it’s about the money, stupid.

To put it at its absolute simplest, this story is about a bunch of very clever, wealthy people with connections to the criminal underworld in Moscow getting their hooks into a bunch of complete dimwits in the hastily arranged, under-strength and under-funded campaign to elect a dreadful old made-for-TV fraud desperate for money to the useful position of President of the United States, from whom they could buy favors.

No collusion.

(More brackets… and let’s not lose sight of Trump Sr’s own previous brushes with the Moscow Mafia, such as his old relationship via his business partner Felix Sater with the feared crime boss, Semyon Mogilevitch, who lost a packet investing in his failed Atlantic City casino adventure and Trump SoHo – as reported by BBC Panorama’s John Sweeney.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hPtC2KjF4k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N5Kun2sJPA

But maybe we won’t write about those stories after all.

Because there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

It’s just a new form of entertainment for the masses.

x

A Nobel ambition

It seems perfectly clear to The Pumpkin, he tells me over coffee and toast, that Trump’s desperate attempts to push the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un back onto the rails has less to do with achieving peace in our time, than with the meme his advisors have firmly planted between his furry old, golden ears; that realm where profound disturbance reigns.

If he pulls this deal off, they whisper, he’ll be a shoo-in for the Peace Prize.

It would indeed be ironic if this braggadocious and abusive armchair warrior with his five draft deferments, his threats of violence against opponents, his probably illegal drone strikes and his trillion-dollar military budget were even to be nominated to the committee.

Ironic too, if the award were to go more properly to Kim and his southern counterpart, Mr Moon; since it has been the two of them, with a little help from Korea’s neighbors, who have brokered the historic achievement for which the Orange Imbecile gives himself the credit. Not by making peace overtures, but by threatening to annihilate North Korea. Shades of ’53.

There is as yet no guarantee that Kim will abandon his nuclear weapons without an end to US threats, sanctions and blatant intimidation; an end to Bolton, Pompeo and Pence’s talk of a possible “Libya solution”, implying military-led regime change in the north and the humiliating downfall of the Kim dynasty.

The only person with whom Kim has even mentioned removing the nukes is Moon: it’s still an enormous bone of contention with Washington.

Why then is Trump so keen to propose himself for the Nobel award? Not a difficult question to answer: just general reasons, we suspect.

One is the prospect of someone, anyone in the world independently validating his presidency, which to date has been pretty much a total flop bar the tax giveaway to his donors, and an insult to democracy.

It would be one in the eye for his critics, who appear to include everyone on the planet not actually sitting mutely in the Republican seats in Congress, their lips sealed with Koch money.

It would be one in the eye too for the Mueller inquiry, which Trump has always seen not as a criminal investigation but as a Democrat plot to question and undermine his legitimacy.

And it would confirm the place in history he has convinced himself he undoubtedly deserves.

It would mean too that he could say in his private moments aside with the ghosts of his contemptuous daddy Fred, who always belittled him by comparison with his drunken but cleverer elder brother, and his cold-hearted momma: “look at me, I’m flying!”

But more to the point, it must be utterly galling to him that “44”, the Black Man in the White House, got his Nobel first, and for doing practically nothing, just giving a few brave speeches in English, with joined-up sentences.

The Korean deal is purely a vanity project, for the failure of which Trump has transparently already been preparing his dumbfucks and his critics in the media alike with disarming remarks about the possibility that nothing will come of the talks, but hey, you win some, you lose some….

It’s not like him to wear a cloak of modesty, but it could quite impress the committee that he’s not being too brash about the prospect of unavoidable success.

x

The trouble with headlines

Ketamine is a “banned substance” in Britain, a Class B drug, but it is sometimes medically prescribed for pain relief and for use in anesthesia, and of course for doping racehorses.

So we are to understand from a complaint upheld by the Press Complaints Commission (now known as IPSO), by the shockbitch columnist, Katie Hopkins against the Daily Mirror.

” She was concerned most readers would believe she had been detained for taking drugs, rather than alleged racism.”

Probably owing to the extinction of we subeditors as a species, the Mirror had carelessly compressed a story that The Hop had been taking ketamine for a shoulder injury into another story, that she had been chucked out of South Africa for spreading racial hatred. The implication of the headline, false as it happens, being that she was expelled for drug use.

So warped is the woman, so hopelessly befuddled, a known side-effect of taking ketamine, that she appears to imagine spreading racial hatred is okay, but taking a Class B drug in a country where it’s legal in medical form is not.

(Yes, that was intended as satire. In fact, her many fans would find drug use entirely unacceptable.)

About a month ago, I was forced to sign a petition calling on the Home Office to permit the medical use of cannabis, in order to help save the life of a child with a rare disorder amenable to treatment with the drug, which is available in medical form in many other countries.

That it is not licensed here is a scandal, sheer hypocrisy, as Britain is one of the largest exporters of medical cannabis to the world. But the politicians remain obdurate: no way will they risk seeing headlines in the Sun newspaper or the Daily Mail, screaming that they’ve gone soft in the absurd “war on drugs”, that will never be won and is killing people by the tens of thousands.

Ms Hopkins, who has a painful shoulder, poor thing (let’s hope it’s her tweeting arm), however should be careful: as, according to the Wikipedia article:

“In 1989, psychiatry professor John Olney reported ketamine caused irreversible changes, known as Olney’s lesions, in two small areas of the rat brain.”

Maybe she’d be safer with just a handful of aspirin?

 

The true purpose of diplomacy

From the weirdly computer-voiced Politics News, a YouTube commentary channel:

“US ambassador quits — and just exposed the Trump administration. On his way out, the former U.S. ambassador to Panama likened President Donald Trump to a “velociraptor” who destroys any obstacles in his path.

“This article was originally published at Salon.

“‘In private, he is exactly like he is on TV, except that he doesn’t curse in public,’ John D. Feeley told the New Yorker. ‘He’s like a velociraptor. He has to be boss, and if you don’t show him deference he kills you.’ Former Marine Corps helicopter pilot and career diplomat, Feeley announced his resignation from his diplomatic post earlier this year, saying he could no longer serve under the Trump administration.

“In an op-ed for the Washington Post, titled ‘Why I Could No Longer Serve This President,’ Feeley explained that Trump had ‘warped and betrayed’ what he considered as ‘the traditional core values of the United States.’ He wrote, ‘America is undoubtedly less welcome in the world today.'” – Politics News.

Aw, what a liddle snowflake!

At his first meeting with Trump following his nomination, Ambassador Feeley recalls, the President asked him, “So what’s in it for us? What can we get from Panama?”

I’ll bet you’re not in the least bit surprised, shocked or offended by that, are you? (I’m not even going to ask how the Panama Papers got leaked, or why. It’s none of my business.) Trump views the presidency purely as a license to beg for loose change in the world’s streets.

x

GW: Yemen hurricane

As if war, plague and famine are not enough, Yemen is about to experience – a hurricane.

Jeff Masters at Wunderground writes (22 May): “This forecast has TC 2A approaching landfall near the Oman-Yemen border (25 or 26 May) as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 960 mb…”

24 May, BBC reports:

“The island chain of Socotra, famed for unique plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, is coping with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone. The archipelago was struck by Cyclone Mekunu on Wednesday night, leaving at least 19 people missing and forcing its native population to flee floodwaters. Socotra is part of Yemen.”

Floodlist reports authorities calling for international aid as low-lying coastal areas were flooded by a tidal surge. “Residents of Socotra are still recovering from damage caused by the recent Cyclone Sagara which struck the island on 17 to 18 May, 2018.”

Sea temperature in the Arabian Gulf is around 32C, 5.5C higher than the lowest temperature required for hurricanes to form. The main danger is from intense rainfall: “Salalah (population 340,000) is a major port city and tourist destination, and receives just five inches of rain per year on average. The region could easily see double that amount of rain from TC 2A, leading to significant flash flooding.”

STOP PRESS Friday pm 25 May: Mekunu has reportedly strengthened to a Cat 3 with a sustained windspeed of 115 mph and is heading at 10 mph straight for the city of Salalah. This is not – repeat not – normal weather for the region. Wunderground reports:

“Waves estimated by JTWC as high as 32 feet will be slamming into the coast atop a significant storm surge. Because Mekunu is making landfall at a nearly perpendicular angle, its winds will be slamming against a wall of mountains just a few miles inland from Salalah that extend up to 4900 feet in elevation. The upslope flow will greatly enhance local rainfall totals on the seaward slopes of these mountains, and the runoff will pour down normally dry valleys known as wadis onto the coastal plain into and near Salalah, with the risk of potentially devastating flash floods on top of any surge-related flooding along the coast. Residents in valleys and low-lying areas were advised to evacuate by Oman Civil Defense, according to the Khaleej Times.”

Wunderground also reports, “invest 90L”, the first possible hurricane of the Atlantic season is causing some interest in the Gulf of Mexico, currently as a disorganised tropical storm off the coast of Belize but moving north. The first name on the Atlantic list of storms for 2018 is Alberto.

Weather blogger, MrMBB333 later remarks that Alberto is organizing around an eye, that it runs the risk of stalling over the coast, like Harvey did last year, dumping huge rain – and that its forecast track thereafter is remarkably similar to that of hurricane Sandy, that trashed New York city a while back.

One we missed a couple of weeks ago: “An exceptionally rare subtropical storm appears to have formed off the central coast of Chile in the southeast Pacific Ocean, typically one of the world’s most tropical cyclone devoid ocean basins The cyclone formed late last weekend several hundred miles west of the South American coast.” – The Weather Channel.

Your old Granny W. just needs to show you the menu for Climate and Extreme Weather News #120, released last night, 22 May; and four days later, #121:

Afghanistan: Flash floods Cyclone Sagar Pakistan: Heatwave  India: Tripura flood; Uttarakhand wildfires & heatwaves Sri Lanka: Floods & landslides Indonesia: Sulawesi floods China: Chongqing landslide; Wanzhou flood & southern heatwave Russia: Siberian wildfires; Krasnodar flood; Dagestan flash flood & Yakutia Spring floods Spain: Lucena & Ciudad Rodrigo flash floods Portugal: Alcoutim flash flood Turkey: Ankara hailstorm/flash flood Egypt: Heatwave The USA & Canada: inc. Oklahoma storm Mexico: Huejutla, Apizaco & CDMX hailstorms/flash floods Guatemala: Floods Venezuela: Puerto La Cruz flash flood… and add #121: Cyclone Mekunu  Kazakhstan: Astana windstorm Indonesia: Pekalongan & Kaitetu floods Sri Lanka: Floods  Pakistan: Karachi heatwave  India: Heatwaves China: Sichuan floods & Hong Kong heatwave Australia: Perth storm Europe: Thunderstorms, hailstorms & flash floods Canada: Heat & Snow  USA: Ft Collins hailstorm….

This is getting mad.

Pakistan: 65 people have died as a result of heat-related conditions in the city of Karachi, where temperatures have loitered for days over 44C, 112F.

Kazakhstan: horrendous storm trashes Astana. 9 injured, buildings damaged in wind strong enough to propel a cast-iron park bench along the street.

China: major flooding in Sichuan province after heavy rains. 90,000 affected in Lichuan city, buildings collapse, crops lost. Meanwhile, Hong Kong swelters after days at 35C-plus (95F).

India: Floods in Tripura have killed at least 6 and displaced over 20 thousand. Uttarakhand in northern India is experiencing many wildfires started by farmers burning stubble, fears are growing for the air quality in places like Srinagar and New Delhi. In Rajasthan, Maharashtra and other parts of central India a 40C-plus heatwave may peak this week at up to 50C, 122F. Monday 21 May, the capital, New Delhi experienced 44C, 112F .

Sri Lanka: “Over 80,000 people have now been affected by floods, according to disaster management officials. More heavy rain has fallen since the flooding began on 20 May and 12 people have now lost their lives.” Over 20 thousand are “in need of assistance”.

Australia: huge storm batters Perth, WA. 100 km/h winds, power outages… and wildfires!

New Zealand: South Island, record snow – 40 cm dumped in a night.

Uganda: “heavy rainfall in eastern Uganda from around 22 May caused the River Manafura to break its banks. Local media report that around 150 homes have been flooded, forcing (2,000) people to evacuate to nearby schools or churches.” It’s been raining there for several weeks.

Russia: vast areas of Siberia are now burning and many parts resemble the aftermath of a nuclear war, with nothing living, everything blackened for miles. Torrential rain has flooded the city of Krasnodar.

Turkey: The capital, Ankara is battered by an extreme hailstorm, streets turned to rivers of ice, etc.

Meanwhile, Europe is hotting up, with near-heatwave conditions expected everywhere. There’s been flash-flooding in Spain and Portugal, while: ”

“Storms across northern Europe have caused surface flooding in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and France, including the capital Paris. The region has seen several violent storms over the last few days, in particular on 22 May, where Meteo France said that 13,964 lightning strikes were reported across the country. The storms also brought hail – some areas of Germany have recorded hail 50 cm deep – strong winds and localised heavy downpours which have flooded streets and damaged homes. No fatalities have been reported.” (Floodlist, 24 May)

France, 26 May, Violent hailstorms hit western France destroying swaths of vineyards and killing a girl out walking with her parents in a park in Mayenne. The sudden and powerful storms that struck the Bordeaux and Charentais winemaking regions on Saturday took residents by surprise.  Wine growers from famous names fear the loss of two years’ production after also being hit by frosts earlier in the year. (Buy now!)

UK: the Bank Holiday weekend is/was expected to produce temperatures getting up to 30C, 86F as a plume of warmer air arrives from Spain. (I say “expected”: glorious until yesterday, it’s turned cold and rainy under lowering skies in Boglington today, Friday. This happens every year.

27 May, BBC reported: “Storms have caused flash flooding across parts of Birmingham. The Environment Agency has issued multiple flood warnings and alerts are in place across the West Midlands. A Met Office amber weather warning is in place for the region.” 2.25 inches of rain – a month of May’s worth – fell in one hour.

Scrolling through impressive photos of some of the more than 15 thousand lightning bolts recorded in four hours during the night as heavy storms moved up from France and pounded the south of England. Stansted airport briefly out of action. Even hardened weather forecasters have been saying they’ve seen nothing like it. (A solitary fly has entered the studio. Welcome, stranger.)

Despite the late winter cold snap, bookies are offering odds on 2018 being the warmest year on record. Meanwhile:

The USA and Canada are warming too after a bitter winter – wildfire alerts are once again a feature as Canada expects record high temperatures to set in. A wildfire in the Prince Albert country park, Alberta, has already consumed 31 thousand Ha. and other fires in Saskatchewan have forced whole towns to evacuate. Meanwhile to the east, it’s snowing in Newfoundland. In Colorado, a huge hailstorm has battered Fort Collins (rivers of ice, etc.). Otherwise record heat is forecast for the midwest.

(Reports edited from CEWN #120, #121/ Floodlist/ the Guardian/ BBC News/ Guardian

 

Despair is setting in

Your old gran is not sure how long she can go on with this before topping herself. It is becoming depressingly more apparent with every week that passes that we are completely screwed. There is no magic bullet that can stop this process from playing out inexorably, we have left it far too late. We cannot change course now.

And no, it’s not the stupid “Grand Solar Minimum”, that doesn’t exist other than as another bullshit bogus scientific meme punted around the dumbfuck YouTube dwellers by the fossil-fuel ecocides to absolve themselves of blame for the ongoing mass extinction, while they continue to bask in a Trump-led rise in oil prices following his precipitate announcement on the Iran “deal”. Gasoline here is now 9 pence (14 cents) a liter at the pump more than two weeks ago, possibly a Good Thing as we might be encouraged to burn less. (Oh, no, sorry, the oil price just slumped again as OPEC has started furiously pumping, to keep demand up.)

What is killing us is not the sun, you dumbfucks and lizard brains. “Minimum” means just that: the lowest level of activity! It’s the runaway greenhouse effect. It’s CO2 at 412ppm and methane venting from the Arctic, caused by burning billions of tonnes annually of coal, oil and natural gas for 170 years, pumping heat-retaining gases remorselessly into the air and sea,

Got it yet?

(The BogPo will be publishing a special 44-page report next week, edited from all the Granny Weatherwax’s Global Warming columns from the past year. Read it and weep.)

 

Send us a sign. Make it a different one.

One small ray of hope; I have spotted a fly in the kitchen!

Yes, it may be a sign that all is not yet lost. Although there are no bees flying anywhere in the valley*, despite the masses of May blossom; the lilac, and the opening wildflowers. And no blowflies at all on the rotting marrowbone Hunzi has been guarding in the garden.

Indeed, Hunzi and I recorded only one flying invertebrate on a 45-minutes’ walk through the valley yesterday, an unidentifiable species of large, brown horsefly or possibly a beetle, I didn’t have my glasses with me, poised on one of the many fading blossoms at the end of a spectacular display by a solitary rowan tree.

Rowan blossom has a faint carrion smell that might not attract bees, but must surely call to flies from miles around. Yet there was just the one.

But look, there’s a fly in the kitchen! Alleluja! They’re not yet extinct!

Er… Oh. I think I may have just accidentally trapped it in the fridge….

*No, beg pardon, we found two honeybees gathering pollen on a hawthorn by the river last night. You may be too young to remember the deep humming of thousands of bees in the summer meadows.)

Grenfell, a bonfire of the sanities… We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary – a letter to Rex Tillerson… Fore!… GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills… Dissertation: On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

Two thousand liters of water are needed to produce just one kilo of avocados. – Guardian

This may explain why Avi, my avocado tree, has yet to produce fruit. She’s lucky to get a couple of pints a week…

x

Grenfell

A bonfire of the sanities

It is clearly not good enough nowadays to know what you are talking about.

Any “expert” who fails to court the approval of the Sun newspaper and the rag-tag and bobtail herd of self-publicizing, technologically unsophisticated and overpromoted windbag MPs is doomed to be ground to dust and scattered to the winds of history.

The BogPo has previously noted how the aptly named Professor Nutt, among the world’s leading experts on the neurological effects of recreational drugs, lost his post as head of a commission set up to review the regulatory framework when he published a scientifically determined recommendation that certain drugs could safely be declassified to save policing costs and cut the prison population, thereby incurring the predictable wrath of a scientifically unqualified but clearly panic-stricken Home Secretary.

Then there was the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland, who sensibly proposed abandoning an almost entirely fruitless and seemingly unending inquiry into the 30-years-old crimes committed during The Troubles, ordered in the wake of the Good Friday agreement to bring “closure” to victims’ families, as it was badly draining police resources sorely needed to fight today’s crimes. That cost him his job in a welter of Cameronian outrage.

You would think that these so-called “experts” would know better than to make sensible suggestions based on advanced knowledge and years of research. Would it not make perfect sense to save money by not having an education system at all, but to put children directly to work in call-centres?

(Subsequently a number of MPs have called for the Northern Ireland investigations to carry on, while demanding the inquiry overlook the clandestine role of the security services in well-publicized political assassinations. There clearly needs to be one law for the baddies and another for the good killers. It’s an insult to our brave boys to pursue them for their murky conspiracies after all this time. After all, there was a war on.*)

So, this morning a report is published by a leading engineer and public safety specialist, looking into the use and application of the building regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

This was not the fabled, judge-led “inquiry” into how 72 people came to lose their lives in that towering inferno, which hasn’t even started yet*, but merely a supportive technical report into building safety, human accountability and the regulatory environment.

Before anyone could possibly have read, let alone understood all 350 densely argued technical pages, the media and politicians – experts all – were stridently demanding the head of Dame Judith Hackett on a platter for failing, seemingly, to do the obvious thing.

Scrap 349 pages of the report and use Page One to call for an immediate ban on the filthy stuff: yes, killer cladding….

Cladding helped spread the fire. But was its use already banned?

Never mind that there are already explicit legal controls on the use of flammable materials in high-rise buildings. Controls that are not being properly enforced, as Dame Judith cogently reports, with local authorities, architects and builders cutting corners and costs. The point being that they need to be properly enforced through a thorough overhaul of the systems for specifying, testing and applying these materials safely, making certain people accountable for failures at every stage of the planning and construction process.

It’s not a cladding issue, so much as an enforcement problem. And Dame Judith argues that until the regulations are more tightly enforced and people made accountable, no amount of banning is going to help.

Tell that to the Marines, as they used to say.

Dame Judith is a serious academic and so failed completely to comprehend her role in all of this, which was simply to go along with the unlettered emotional demands of the lawyers, survivors and families of the victims of the fire, the media and Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey, and BAN the filthy stuff, whatever it is.

Just magic it away.

Why they don’t get sick-bitch Katie Hopkins or Trevor fucking Kavanagh of The Sun or Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian to handle these investigations – “experts” who understand that the real issues  are too much immigration, too little social equality, Tory indifference – is not immediately obvious.

It didn’t help either that, when asked three times on BBC Radio 4’s Today show why she did not call for a ban on flammable cladding and solve all of the problem forever, as if Martha Kearney was the only one who had thought of it, Dame Judith stupidly tried three times to explain that banning it was not really the solution, until it sounded as though she was suggesting setting fire to all high-rise buildings.

Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.

It does not help that she is a former director of the Energy Saving Trust, an organization that in the past promoted the use of a similar type of plastic cladding insulation to that which contributed its toxic fumes to the high death toll at Grenfell House. (Guardian report)

Notwithstanding, the regulations already state that it must not be used on high-rise buildings, and Dame Judith’s point is that someone had been responsible for ignoring the regulations, while others had failed to implement safety measures recommended by previous inquiries, such as the mandatory retrofitting of sprinklers, which certain politicians still in office had determined would be too expensive to waste on the poor. Banning polyisocyanurate foam (PIR), she argues, will not help if people were simply going to break the rules.

A subtle distinction which, I fear, does not lend itself to the construction of crowd-pleasing headlines and sensible political statements free from electioneering and media-driven hysteria, pandering to the general ignorance of the public, promoting further socially damaging mistrust of people who do at least know what they’re talking about.

*

*Okay, it started the next day. By one of those astonishing synchronicities for which The BogPo is justly famed, this story resurfaced in the news just 24 hours after I posted the paragraph above about Northern Ireland, and in pretty much the same format as the original, in 2014:

Prosecutions for Troubles-related murders should be brought to a halt, according to Northern Ireland’s former Director of Public Prosecutions. Barra McGrory denounced proposals for a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) as “convenient politically”. But he added it had not been properly thought through. In response a UK government spokesman said it was “committed to building widespread consensus and delivering better outcomes”. (BBC News)

Let’s see how long McGrory lasts. Longer than this government, one hopes.

x

A Letter to Rex Tillerson

Former US Secretary of State, retd.

Dear Mr Secretary

You were, I believe, the Secretary of State for the United States government in 2017 exactly a year ago, when President Trump made his much-hailed visit to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – and then on to Tel Aviv, the erstwhile capital of Israel?

And the Secretary of State is, correct me if I am wrong, the senior diplomat, consulting on and implementing, if not always driving foreign policy?

Trump waggles his weapon. Was Qatar shafted to the hilt?

I am wondering therefore how you have responded, in your reserved and private fashion, to the emerging news of what might have happened, there in Riyadh and afterwards?

I am referring, obviously in the first instance (we’ll leave Israel out of it for now), to the Qatar affair.

For it seems that while you were supposedly in command of international diplomacy, being constantly undermined by your boss, the following narrative was playing out, very probably without your knowledge.

Qatar, Mr Trump assured us at the time of his visit, was a good friend of the USA and a key ally in the fight against ISIS. He met the Emir, vague promises of $billions in military sales were made for the cameras – it should be remembered that Qatar already hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East, al Udeid, the forward operations headquarters of Centcom.

On the basis of what is currently suspected rather than definitively known, however, behind the young Emir’s back – and apparently yours, Mr Secretary –  Mr Trump was doing – or soon afterward did – one of his famous “deals” with the Saudis.

The presumption has to be, does it not, that he offered to go ahead with abrogating the Iran nuclear pact in Saudi’s regional hegemonic interest, in exchange for certain services?

(He is, as you well know, apart from Messrs Bolton and Pompeo, two convenient anti-Iran “hawks” he appointed to the senior security and foreign policy posts in his administration just before announcing US withdrawal, the only person in the foreign policy establishments of more than half the world who thinks it is a good idea to abandon the Iran treaty.)

The deal, I believe, was much as follows:

Saudi Arabia under its new Crown Prince, a US shoo-in, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would agree to put intolerable pressure on Qatar to meet certain, may we say incoherent, objectives. Economic and trade sanctions, a blockade of essential supplies, closure of the Al Jazeera news services, even military invasion were threatened. America would not be directly involved, but would explicitly support those actions.

Mr Trump in turn would make speeches to his not very bright support base, accusing Qatar of this and that, being a major funder of global terrorism, a secret ally of Iran, etc., etc., undermining their global credibility – especially that of their wealthy international investment community, to whom his comments were clearly addressed.

But why pick on poor little oil-rich Qatar?

Perhaps because Mr Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law and “senior White House advisor” in charge of Middle East peace negotiations, the shining booby Jared, had – it’s reported – been lobbying the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, touting for a half-billion dollar investment to bail out his failing property empire in the States.

The Kushners were desperate for cash.

In 2007, while Kushner Sr was in gaol over fraud and witness tampering charges – he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law – left in charge, pathetically eager to please, Jared had done a hasty and ill-considered deal to acquire a massive piece of Manhattan real estate, 666 Fifth Avenue, and had caught a serious cold with the financial meltdown that year, incurring debts approaching two billion dollars from which he’s never recovered.

Chinese banks had originally offered rescue finance, but withdrew. On that basis, Qatar felt the Kushners’ credit was not good enough, and also withdrew. Two weeks later, the threats from Riyadh began; boosted in April this year by a further threat, directly from Washington to relocate the vital al Udeid airbase and its 10 thousand US service personnel to another country.

But then, by a fantastic stroke of luck, or in a sensible and informed change of heart, the New York Times reports, having granted Saudi Arabia its reward, not to mention Israel’s, this month Mr Trump began once again hailing Qatar as an important friend and ally. The UAE is backing off and all’s right with the world.

A sudden and, observes MSNBC News, a remarkable turnaround. Well, and how did that happen?

So, Kushner Companies are presumably celebrating the news from Bloomberg that the Qatari sovereign wealth fund is “looking again“ at the many obviously advantageous opportunities presented by becoming a part-owner of Manhattan’s most prestigious, near-empty office block.

Could it be there’s a connection? Nah, it’s too far-fetched. The President start a war just for personal gain? Preposterous! A conspiracy theory. Fake nooze.

(A building, incidentally, over the marketing of hard-to-shift units within which Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump were to be indicted for sales misrepresentation – until Mr Trump’s election, when the charge simply melted away, along with all the District Attorneys in New York.)

Mr Secretary, I wonder what you think of this criminal shakedown of a sovereign nation by the most corrupt US president in history? A nation which, we might mention, competes aggressively for major real estate deals around the world?

To bend US government policy to the fraudulent acquisition of public wealth might in some unimaginable but possibly plausible universe at least have benefited the nation.

But to conspire to extort foreign finance purely for the private benefit of his son-in-law, a government official to boot; to blackmail and threaten the existence of a sovereign nation, to risk a regional war leading to a greater conflagration and the security of a major US military facility purely for a sum of money which Mr Trump has extensively boasted he has in his own bank accounts, and much more, is surely a criminal and treasonous enterprise worthy of condign punishment?

Will you please, Mr Tillerson, for God’s sake and that of your benighted Republic, speak up about what you know, or suspect you know about this squalid “deal”?

We can’t hear you, Mr Secretary.

 

Fore!

And why wouldn’t Trump extort money from little Qatar, when as a quid pro quo he’s ordered his consigliere, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce department to lift sanctions on ZTE, a giant Chinese telcoms company he previously accused of ripping off US tech firms, when by an amazing coincidence the Bank of China has just agreed a $500 million loan to finance a resort project in Indonesia featuring Trump-branded hotels and golf courses?

Let’s stop pretending, if we ever did, shall we? His modus operandi is becoming clearer by the day: he is abusing the power of his office and the might and global reach of the USA to extort vast sums of money from corporations and even nations for his own personal gain and that of his crime family.

(The latest one is Ukraine, whose government has reportedly paid $400 thousand into the Cohen slush fund for access to the White House.)

The President of the United States is one big, fucking crook. Not in the usual sense they all have been, one way or another. No, actions speak louder than words. Trump’s methodology is to run the world misusing US foreign policy as a vast protection racket. And to co-opt the American people as his accomplices in crime.

It’s doubtful that even the vast and rambling Mueller probe is going to unseat him, or even prevent him running for and probably winning, a second term in 2020.

Because, like all the best mobsters, Trump is untouchable. His lieutenants may go down, his wheeler-dealing may look heinous, the corruption blatant: but so far, nothing seems to be linking him directly with any actual crimes.

And even if it did, the constitutional issue of whether a President can be indicted for any common criminal activity short of treason remains an open one.

x want to extort money from Qatar

GW: warming her gnarly fingers by the light of the burning windmills

Afghanistan: “At least 40 people have died and 4 injured in flash floods over the last 7 days. Many areas of the country are still struggling with drought conditions after an unusually dry winter. The number of people forced by drought to migrate within the country has reached more than 20,000″ (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May.) PS: 21May,

An update by Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) of 20 May reported that the total number of flood related deaths now stands at 72. “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days as heavy rain has continued to fall.”

India: “At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week. Less than 2 weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.” – Wunderground

Sri Lanka: The “Department of Meteorology said that Anamaduwa, Puttalam, North Western Province recorded 35.3  cm of rain (1 ft) in 24 hours to early 21 May.” (Floodlist). Possibly 5 people have died as a result of flooding and landslides as the island is battered by storms, dumping up to 15 cm of rain a day over several days.

“Far East”: US scientists at NOAA are trying to track a major unexplained source of the globally banned ozone-killing refrigeration-to-aerosols chemicals, CFCs, detected as a result of research showing the ozone holes created in the 1980s aren’t repairing themselves fast enough.

S Korea: flash-floods in and around Seoul, 1 dead, 1 missing as 20 cm of rain falls in 36 hours.

Syria: Heavy rainstorms caused flash-floods in parts of the country, including Banias and Aleppo, on 12 May.

NE Africa: A rare tropical cyclone, Sagar is concentrating in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia. Sagar’s main threat is dangerous flash flooding in the deserts of southern Yemen, northern Somalia and Djibouti into the weekend. (The Weather Channel) … “Severe flash flooding and river flooding across the region will lead to a loss of human life, livestock, and the destruction of crops, property and infrastructure. Very heavy rainfall occurring across Western Yemen (linked to, although not directly from the cyclone) is likely to promote cholera infection rates in the weeks ahead.” – (UK Met Office)

16 dead, many missing. On Sunday, forecast models indicated that a disturbance dubbed 92A could develop into an intense hurricane-strength cyclone this week, possibly threatening Oman by late in the week.

N Africa: the town of Setif in Algeria experiences flash-flooding following a heavy rainstorm.

Hold that taiga! Siberia burns, as seen from space. 15 May.

Russia: Vast plumes of smoke are visible from space along the Amur river near Komsomolsk and around Chelyabinsk, blowing towards the Arctic, as Siberia continues to burn out of control after a month of wildfires. (Siberian Times report)

USA: “Severe storms caused major damage in Northeastern USA on 15 May. 2 deaths were reported – an 11-year-old girl in Newburg, New York, the other in Danbury, Connecticut (where 4 tornadoes, 3 at max. TF-1, touched down on 17 May) – as a result of falling trees. Almost 400,000 people were without power in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Heavy flooding was reported in parts of Maryland, in particular Montgomery and Fredrick counties, where up to 6 inches of rain fell during the storm. Hail up to 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) was also reported.” (Edited report from Floodlist, 16 May. More “severe” storms are forecast for the midwest at the weekend.)

USA: “…the California Energy Commission has unanimously voted to approve measures requiring solar panels on all new homes, condos and multi-family buildings up to three stories high beginning in 2020. The requirement is a historic first in the United States and is in keeping with the state’s ambitious zero net energy goals to reduce greenhouse emissions.” The decision emerged the same day a 350-page report was released, highlighting rapidly accelerating climate change in the region. – (The Weather Channel.)

Alabama Senator, Mo Brooks distinguished his Republican self in a committee hearing when, while browbeating a climate scientist, he attributed sea-level rise to rocks and stuff falling into the water, “like the White Cliffs of Dover”…

Colombia: severe thunderstorm inundates Medellin. (CEWN #118)

The scene in Guatemala yesterday (Photo: Red Cross)

Guatemala: 10 cm rain in 24 hrs, floods. 2 dead, 80,000 flooded out. (Floodlist, 19, 21 May)

Europe: It’s been snowing in the highlands of central France, the Alps and over into the Balkans. Up in Scandinavia and northwestern Russia there’s a record spring heatwave, with temperatures in Finland and Sweden touching 30 deg C, 85F. Lapland is bracing for its worst spring thaw floods in decades. Severe thunderstorms and torrential rain have brought flash-flooding to parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The town of Bistransky in Croatia was underwater. (CEWN #118)

Germany: on 16 May, during a powerful storm two people were injured by a huge tornado that hit Viersen, near Dusseldorf. (CEWN #119)

UK: Good news, bad news…. “Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter. Wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas …. At one point overnight 17 March, wind turbines briefly provided almost half of the UK’s electricity.” However…

“Funds going into renewable energy fell more than 50% in 2017, having dropped by 10% in 2016, bringing annual investment in the sector to its lowest since the financial crisis in 2008. The environmental audit committee said (16 May) that the government would be unable to meet its pledges on carbon emission reductions if the collapse continued. The MPs also said the government was failing to implement policies to cut emissions. (Reporting: The Guardian)

As if that were not enough, British Environment Secretary, Michael Gove was summoned to Strasbourg earlier in the year to explain Britain’s failure to do anything much about NOx pollution:

“On Thursday morning (17 May), after an apparently unconvincing performance and an extension of the deadline to come up with policies, the UK has now been referred to the European Court of Justice, along with the other big polluters: France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania. The limits set out on air pollution under EU Directive 2008/50/EC had to be met in two stages, by 2005 and 2010, but are still being breached by the referred states as of 2018.” – The Independent.

Insectageddon

Mildly drunk, I’d left some of the dog’s meat out uncovered on the kitchen worktop overnight. This morning it was still there, gently oxidizing, and not a fly to be seen.

Normally after a week of warm sunny weather it’d have turned to fly-egg pie by then. There wasn’t a pregnant bluebottle anywhere in view; not even an egg. It’s late May, and 17 degrees.

Later, I took Hunzi for his usual walk. Apart from a few gnats, I saw no flying insects. No butterflies on the sedum flowers, no bees on the clover. There’s not much out by way of pollen-rich wildflowers, but there’s enough. This time last year we had a minor plague of click-beetles and false-wasps of various kinds feasting on the rotting umbrels of cow-parsley flowers.

No cow-parsley flowers.

Botanists using standard measurements for this and that say Spring is arriving 26 days earlier now than 100 years ago. This year it arrived 26 days late. The last trees – mainly ash – are only just coming into leaf now. Many have abnormal leaf development, while conifers around the sports ground here are massively overproducing cones, often straight out of the bare wood, and the Corsican pines all appear to have developed some kind of browning-off disease.

I think the reason for the lack of insects is not insecticides – we have no commercial or arable farming locally for miles, just sheep. It’s the dislocation of the seasons. Everything evolved in synch, now we have winter arriving in spring, wetter summers colliding with warmer, dryer winters; shorter autumns. Insects and plants evolved to emerge at times beneficial to each other: now the clock is broken.

Either that, or it’s those darned chemtrails. Plus, of course, Planet X Nibiru and the Hawaiian volcano.

A propos of which:

Hawaii’s Big Island increasingly resembles the pit of Hell. But the residents are mostly staying put. (Photo: Express)

“Lava destroyed four more homes and isolated dozens of others in the shadow of the volcano Saturday during a “very active” morning, according to scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It advanced at rates of up to 300 yards per hour.

“It then entered the Pacific Ocean, forming lava haze, or “laze,” as the hot lava hit the ocean, the Star-Advertiser also reported. Residents were warned to stay away from any ocean plumes, as laze sends steam and hydrochloric acid peppered with fine glass particles into the air.”

22 fissures are now spewing molten lava into the air and a major eruption is still a possibility.

Awesome footage:

weather.com/news/news/2018-05-02-hawaii-kilauea-volcano-activity

x

Dissertation

On the Tedium of Buying Stuff From Builders’ Merchants.

When our two nearest branches of the B&Q consumer DIY supplies chain closed two years ago (to “increase our consumer choice”, according to the press release), it left in the town no midrange supplier of useful materials for light amateur building work.

If you needed to buy things like bricks, paviors and fencing panels, timber, doors, paint or sheet materials, the choice came down to, either housewares stores and garden centers stocking none of those items, or the full-blown builders’ and agricultural Trade merchants, with their grudging back-store bins of tools, ironmongery, creosote and useful unexplained small architectural items.

There’s nothing inbetween.

So my new garden wall, all six feet ten of it (it’s taken ten days to get that far) that’s reached its final brick course with just two more bricks still needed – one-and-a-half, actually – and no more cement mortar, was sitting there in the sunshine on a Saturday morning before work (yes, I have work, for now!), inviting me to spend a few hours completing it, had I the requisite supplies (it’s always a fine calculation between ordering too much and too little).

Accordingly, as I wasn’t really needed in an exam room with only ten candidates still sitting, I took an unpaid hour off work to get to a local builders’ merchant I’ve been using for the project in time before they closed – at noon.

Arriving at ten minutes to, I found the front gate half shut. A surly young man warned me to turn around, as they were closing in “two minutes”. Can I have fifty bricks? I asked, having the previous week pre-purchased 250 to finish the wall but, having nowhere they could all be delivered to and stored simultaneously, suggested they hang on to them and I would collect them as needed. “Fifty?” he demanded, incredulously. “But we’re closing now!”

Eventually he relented and started loading the car. There were some other small items needed, but I thought better of going in to the Trade counter and even daring to ask, when obviously they were all hoping to fuck off early, presumably to catch the Royal Wedding… lolz.

This deliberately offensive recalcitrance is just so typical of the builders’ merchants’ anachronistic business model.

It is of course designed to suit the traditional bare-buttocks Trade builder, who doesn’t work weekends. Or doesn’t he? The Ukrainians putting up the 12 million-pound flats next door to my old mum in London worked weekends, evenings too. Drove her barmy. The times, they have a’ changed. Except in the wholesale supply business, obviously.

Who else still closes at 5 p.m. weekdays and noon on Saturdays, just when hardworking householders have done their supermarket shopping and are thinking about getting out and doing stuff around the garden? Here is an obvious consumer market opportunity being missed to suit the recidivist and curmudgeonly jobsworths who populate the building supplies trade.

Usually three or four blokes are hanging around the office area behind the counter, doing what looks suspiciously like nothing much. A phone will be ringing off the wall but no-one takes any notice of it – nor of the two or three crumpled-looking, dust-covered, boiler-suited customers – and you, trying to catch their eye. Instead, the customers catch yours, observing how your lack of a well-filled toolbelt and steel toecapped boots, your unlined face, plaster-dust-free hair and soft hands indicate you’re just another householder imagining you can do a man’s job and thereby save yourself a pittance.

Huh, little do you know!

One sales assistant will be listlessly doing something on an aged computer running Windows 6; another making tea, a third drinking his slowly. A fourth will be laboriously browsing through a trade catalog to find the price of the thing someone asked for, half an hour ago. The phone will be ringing off the wall. None will actually be assisting.

Every request is greeted with much sucking of teeth and rolling of eyes. “Ooh, dunno mate, was it the triple-flanged 4 mil. squiggled wonkin you was wanting, or just the double? Only they don’t make those in brown anymore, purple do you?…”

Endless forms will be generated in triplicate, to be taken along by hand to the warehouse, way across the nine-tenths empty yard, as proof of purchase, plus VAT, where three more blokes doing nothing much will scan them for several long minutes before emitting deep sighs of frustration. “You want it cut to length? Here’s a saw…” Later, they will all guffaw over your CCTV footage.

It’s like finding yourself back in the early 1960s.

How do they do it? B&Q would have been open until 8 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Even the local recycling center, with its bolshy operatives and Hitlerian foreman is open on a Sunday. With five builders’ merchants in and around the town it’s a miracle how at least four haven’t gone out of business years ago, owing to their infuriatingly lackadaisical approach to customer service and short supplies of almost everything.

Yet miraculously they survive, while the Bs & Qs of this world are increasingly going under. Overpriced and poor quality, it’s no wonder we can’t build affordable homes that don’t leak.

I’d guess the key is, don’t try to be a supermarket unless you’re a supermarket. Builders’ merchants have understood the principle well, and there they still are, curse them, sitting on their grim industrial estates, resolutely closed at every opportunity.

The British love and deserve nothing better than to be monumentally frustrated, a service the builders’ merchants deliver with aplomb.

 

A New World Order… The Presidency racket… GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

“Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.” Washington’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, kissing furry golden ass on the occasion of the repurposing of the US consulate in Jerusalem as a monstrous standing provocation to the stalled Middle East peace effort.

“Welcome to England, Mr President…”

A New World Order

“Re-imposing sanctions on Iran will create the greatest division between Europe and the U.S. since the Iraq War, Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Washington, told me. “Only this time it will be worse, since not a single European state sides with the U.S. on this matter.” Beyond Europe, American credibility worldwide “will go down the tubes,” he said. “Who will ever want to strike a deal with a country that, without cause, pulls out of a deal that everyone else knows has been working well?” – Robin Wright, in The New Yorker magazine, 10 May.

Perhaps somebody could make the same point to Theresa May and the treacherous little shits and Russian-cash-soaked millionaires behind the Brexit plot?

That blithely tearing up 45 years’ worth of carefully negotiated and complex multinational manufacturing, trade and customs agreements, safety standards, environmental controls and workers’ and consumers’ rights with our European partners – and hence, the wider trade networks with 60 countries more easily accessed through the EU – sent a signal to every country in the world that “perfidious Albion” is just a bunch of embittered fantasists and amoral hooligans who cannot be trusted to stick to our agreements and stand by our allies, ever again.

Sadly, it seems to be symptomatic of a new world order in which greed, caprice, emotion and whimsy rule in an atmosphere of celebratory ignorance and anti-intellectualism, encouraged and funded by a new, largely hidden elite of unelected data capitalists and money-movers whose interests lie mainly in breaking apart the democratic consensus and pulling down its institutions. Those – and attempting through amassing vast personal wealth to escape the lethal consequences of the self-interest of previous generations of capitalists.

Much of what we do see is sleight-of-hand: distraction and deflection, setting up straw targets manufactured from the tropes of past conflicts: class warfare is back on the agenda, with a leavening of stirred-up racial tensions; as now with Israeli dissembling over their actions in Syria – the old, childish game of “Oh, but THEY started it!” – is the prospect of a genuine war we seem too apathetic and bored to stop.

And who benefits? Yawn… just watch the price of oil.

 

“… he doesn’t like them earning money at his expense”

The Presidency racket

The Cohen affair in the USA has gone way beyond the Stormy Daniels payment.

Allegations are swirling around the possible creation of a secret $5 million slush fund run by Cohen, the President’s closest legal advisor, built up from payments by industrialists buying access to the White House and sanctioned Russian oligarchs seeking relief and a safe haven for their dirty money.

Outed by the media (which Mr Trump has again been vigorously trolling in the past few days, he publicly admits in order to discredit any real news inimical to his interests), companies found to be paying into the fund have given only shifty reasons, claiming for instance to have been employing Cohen as a consultant in a variety of capacities in which he hasn’t the slightest qualification.

It’s beyond satire. The corporations implicated are huge and do not require the services of an averagely incompetent legal consultant, having thousands of their own and access to the best. But they are terrified of the effect the wayward President and his sloppy, intemperate tweets might have on their share prices. And they think that through Cohen they can get closer to the Orange Effulgence.

The discovery of this hitherto unsuspected funnel of cash pouring into a decidedly gray, unaccounted area of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign through what appears to be little more than a barely legal climate of extortion and patronage has highlighted the incredible number of former and current corporate lobbyists now employed inside the Trump administration, said to be approaching two hundred.

Far from “draining The Swamp” of corporate lobbying in Washington – one of his big campaign promises to the screaming dumbfucks, who will never be disillusioned no matter what – Trump is seemingly determined to fill it up with placemen loyal to him, at least financially, while – it is suggested – benefiting personally like a mafia boss from a steady stream of kickbacks and commissions bubbling up through the mire from lobbying fees paid by corporations to government employees – of whom Trump, did he but realize it, is one.

As is being said, in the same way he doesn’t like his people getting more media attention than he does, he doesn’t like them making loads of money at his expense.

Due tribute must be paid.

Accordingly, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have proposed a startling theory about many of Trump’s seemingly deranged, out-of-the-blue attacks and dire threats he tweets against companies – like Ford Motors – and even other countries, pointing out that the first thing his “victims” always do is employ more lobbyists to try to avert his wrath; who in turn may be paying a chunk of their enhanced fee income into the Cohen piggybank, which has been used, among other things, to buy off embarrassing people like Stephanie Clifford (Daniels).

What else might it be being used for? We assume that releasing his tax returns, which he stubbornly refuses to do, might indeed raise questions as to the sources of much of his income.

Even major foreign policy decisions such as the controversial withdrawal from the Iran nuclear nonproliferation treaty, that threatens to widen the conflict in the Middle East, could benefit Trump personally through the enhanced lobbying activity it will undoubtedly cause in The Swamp, as well as use of his hotels by official State delegations, from which – despite the emoluments clause – he continues to profit.

By “draining The Swamp”, few perhaps suspected Trump meant “bleeding it dry”….

Yet few took seriously his repeated assertions on the campaign trail that he was always greedy for more money. They thought he was making a self-effacing joke. Only he doesn’t do those. He rarely self-effaces – he frequently self-incriminates. He knows he can get away with anything, always has, always will, so it doesn’t matter – a sort of reverse fifth amendment.

If this bears out – and much of the speculation started with Daniels’ canny lawyer, Michael Avenatti – it would surely be evidence of staggering top-level corruption, extortion and conspiracy to add to the litany of Trump’s calumnies: collusion with Russia, damaging foreign and domestic policy initiatives, bullying, aiding and abetting money-laundering, endless lies and incompetence that has attached to this extraordinary “made-for-TV” individual since he was doubtfully elected by just three heavily gerrymandered constituencies only 16 months ago.

No doubt the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller will be keen to get to the truth of these assertions, if he hasn’t already; just one more reason for Trump to be desperately angling for ways to make his inquiry go away.

To get a flavor of what is now being discussed, go to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3IbcvpeGCw

Oh, wait, there’s more…

I turn this morning to the delightful Joy Reid, MSNBC’s weekend breakfast show gal, for further news.

So, you remember last month the FBI raided the files of Michael Cohen, Trump’s “fixer”? Now at his team’s request the Southern District court has appointed a Special Master to go through the files to see what can be used as evidence and what is protected by attorney-client privilege.

And she’s received a letter this week from a lawyer called Gleason, requesting that letters he exchanged with Cohen in 2013 be protected on grounds that their release would infringe his own clients’ rights to privacy.

Who were his clients? Why, two “women”, alleging sexual harassment by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned just last Monday from his position as New York’s Attorney-General over similar allegations by four other women who have just come forward.

Why is this relevant? Because, so Vanity Fair magazine suggests, instead of bringing a case against Schneiderman through the normal legal channels, Gleason apparently took the story to the National Enquirer magazine, a scandal sheet owned by Trump’s friend David Pecker (no, seriously), who in turn seems to have passed it on to Cohen in his capacity as Trump’s attorney.

Why he do dat?

What had the matter to do with Trump? Well, Schneiderman was at the time looking into Trump’s phony “Trump University” scam, over which Trump would later have to settle $25 million to compensate his many victims. Remember, this was back in 2013, long before Trump launched his bid to steal the presidency.

Trump then tweeted out that Schneiderman (with the usual dismissive insults about his capabilities) was linked with Anthony Weiner, who would three years later have his emails hacked as part of the attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton and get a gaol sentence for sexually harrassing a teenage Democratic party staffer. No kidding, he texted her sexts of his Wiener. These people are beyond satire.)

How did Trump know about Weiner’s behavior at that stage? He could only have known if he was running an operation through Cohen to dig and retain “dirt” on various possibly useful individuals who, like him, had been accused of sexual impropriety; a kind of boys’ club for serial pussy-grabbers.

Cohen, as we now know, was operating a fund to buy off and/or threaten women complainants, and revelatresses like Stormy Daniels. So it now seems plausible from what various media outlets are reporting that Trump’s strategy was to use sexual blackmail against people he wanted to shut up, or to do bad stuff for him.

Where it gets really messy, however, is – as reported above – that some very large and respectable (supposedly) corporations, including an investment fund whose largest shareholder is a Russian oligarch close to Putin, have been paying very large sums into the fund, supposedly to employ the inept but brusque Cohen as a consultant; but in practice, to gain access to the White House.

Or was it for murkier purposes?

And it’s being suggested the money sitting in a Delaware-registered shell company owned by Cohen – who has reportedly paid himself over a million dollars out of it – might also be available for his boss’s personal use.

Watch various spaces – this one could run and run.

x

GW: Still blowin’ hot and cold.

Arctic: Weather.com reports that temperatures in the Arctic are hovering around the zero deg. C  mark yet again, 35C above the 1981-2010 average for the time of year. Wunderground makes the point that it has been colder in some northerly US states during April than it’s been at the North Pole. The Norway Ice Service reports the loss of 32,000 sq miles of ice in just three days last week. NOAA concludes that the multi-year trend to a hot Arctic could not be happening without a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia: “Storms in Tasmania have caused severe flash flooding in the capital Hobart and south eastern areas of the state. (The) Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said that 129 mm of rain fell in Hobart in 24 hours to early 11 May, 2018 (local time). Mount Wellington recorded 236 mm of rain during the same period.” Over 1 thousand lightning strokes were recorded.

“Scientists in New Zealand have documented what they believe is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The 23.8m (78ft) wave was measured by a buoy on New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on 08 May.”

Canada: around 3000 people have been told to evacuate their homes in British Columbia as rivers peak half a meter above records going back 200 years, due to a heatwave producing rapid snowmelt. “The flood water in British Colombia rivers has made its way downriver and into Washington state, USA, where the governor has declared a state of emergency.”

Kenya: “A dam has burst overnight 09 May, after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 44 people. The breach happened in the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued 39 people so far. Hundreds are said to have been left homeless.” 150 people are known to have died in widespread floods this year.

Ecuador: 70 mm of rain in 24 hours causes local flooding in El Oro province.

Colombia: Baranquila underwater. If you want to know what mother nature thinks of cars, watch 9 minutes of citizen journalism on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmd7K-k6Duo from 04′.42″.

China: Quangjou, Fujian province underwater. 3 dead, 2 missing. Luchuan, Gianxi province underwater. 72,000 people affected, 4,500 Ha crops lost.

Sri Lanka: The start of the monsoon season (as last year) has brought immediate flooding with some 8000 people so far affected. “As much as 166 mm of rain was recorded in Galle in 24 hours to 12 May.”

Iraq; 4 killed in Duhok floods, Kurdistan.

Italy: “Homes and businesses were flooded in San Polo, Tuscany after an intense storm dumped over 50 mm of rain in about 3 hours. The storm hit d “uring the afternoon of 08 May, 2018, flooding areas near Sinalunga (Siena province), San Polo in Chianti (Florence) and Volterra (Pisa).” Legnano, Northern Italy, massive hailstorm, rivers of ice, etc.

Germany: “Severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain affected parts of Germany on10 May, 2018. Flash flooding was reported in Hamburg and areas of Schleswig-Holstein, where emergency services received over 2,000 calls for help. The Schleswig-Holstein town of Quickborn, north west of Oststeinbek, recorded 58.7 mm of rain in 24 hours to early 11 May. 42 mm fell in just 30 minutes.”

Elsewhere in Germany a severe hailstorm affected Rhön-Grabfeld in Bavaria

Greece: Flash-flooding in Thessaloniki after torrential rainstorm.

UK: Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade and climate spokesman, said: “2018 is the year when countries have been asked by the UN to ratchet up their commitments on climate change. Instead our government is actually proposing to count emissions savings made from as far back as 2010 towards fulfilling their obligations in the next decade from 2021-2030.”

Hurricanes: The Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially starts on May 15. “… for the second year in a row, we have the potential to see a record-early start to the season. A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms … 1200 miles southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, had acquired plenty of spin, but was not yet organized enough to be labeled a tropical depression. Conditions were favorable for development (NHC: 70%), with … sea surface temperatures … 28°C (82°F), about 1°C above average. The first name on the Eastern Pacific list of storm names in 2018 is Aletta.”

Anyway, it’s not on track to make landfall anywhere. Meanwhile, on the other side of the isthmus:

“The peak season for Atlantic storms, which officially starts on 1 June, is set to spur as many as 18 named storms, with up to five of them developing into major hurricanes, according to separate forecasts from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University.” – Guardian

However, Bob Henson at Wunderground speculates that while rising sea temperatures may provide additional energy and precipitation to storm systems, rising air temperatures in future may inhibit the formation of defined hurricanes.

Weather.com/ BBC News/ Wunderground/ CEWN #117

 

Yearning for a credible alternative… Support the zad… GW: stripped to me undies in the rain and snow… Bring on the ecopolypse… The fuckwitted booby… Memory Lane: Depression Blue.

“You could drive a bus through these legs…!
Bestriding the narrow world like a Colossus, our new Home Secretary vows with his reinforced trousers to fix the Windrush migrant crisis, before joining the Hard Brexit party and chucking out all the… er….

 

Yearning for a credible alternative

Here’s a long list of indictments for you to be going on with:

  • 100 thousand more children in absolute poverty than a year ago.
  • 120 thousand children living more than 6 months in temporary accommodation.
  • Housing starts remaining static; targets on social and affordable housing not being met.
  • House prices flatlined or falling.
  • Failure to make promised safety reforms in the wake of the Grenfell House fire.
  • Campaign of disinformation against critics of the government’s inaction in the wake of the fire.
  • Continuing welfare and benefit cuts affecting the poorest, e.g. “two children” policy; “universal credit” fiasco.
  • 1.2 million free “3-day” ration packs dispensed by food banks in 2017 to registered users.
  • Continuing “austerity” cuts to vital public services, including local authority, police, road repairs.
  • NHS in almost permanent crisis of undercapacity, staff shortages and mismatch of resources.
  • Little progress made on mental healthcare, especially for teens.
  • Failure to tackle shortages of social care beds and staff and integrate patient care across sectors.
  • Rising rate of violent crime; failure to tackle cybercrime (underresourced policing).
  • Failure to deal rationally and pragmatically with totally failed drugs policy.
  • Universities in meltdown over fees, falling rolls, demotivated lecturers and greedy Vice-Chancellors.
  • Schools having to beg parents for money to buy teachers, books and other essentials; support “grey” kids.
  • Mrs May’s disastrous “hostile” immigration policies resulting in incompetence, cruelty and injustice.
  • Failure to resolve post-Brexit status of legal EU residents here and Brits abroad.
  • Soaring cost of mostly successful immigration and disability “fit for work” appeals.
  • Massive cuts in legal aid making the law available only to the wealthy.
  • Continuing high wastage and incompetence in defence and computer procurement.
  • Failures of outsourcing partners, e.g. Carillion, Capita. Criticisms of G4S.
  • Continuing inability to address the additional costs to public finances of PPI projects.
  • Feeble and overly prolonged negotiations over the Brexit withdrawal arrangements.
  • Major split in the party over Brexit tactics; “magical thinking” on the Irish border issue.
  • Certifiable lunatics, failures and joke figures in seemingly unassailable positions; eg. Johnson, Gove, Williamson.
  • Long overdue reforms in the banking, money-laundering and offshore investments sectors.
  • High-level unminuted meetings with Russia-connected ‘hard Brexit’ thinktank The Legatum Institute.
  • Acceptance of almost £1 million in party donations from Russian exiles in London.
  • Dependence on DUP votes, a party having unexplained financial links to the Leave.EU campaign.
  • Attempts to bypass the sovereignty of Parliament; attacks on the Lords and the courts.
  • Impotence in the face of data breaches and other internet-related issues.
  • Failure to tackle large-scale corporate tax avoidance and offshoring of untaxed funds.
  • Sleaze and bullying culture in Westminster.
  • No attempt to tackle the problems of unearned CEO pay and bonuses.
  • Slavish support for Trump’s dangerously incoherent foreign policies (maybe not the Iran deal, but if it’s war? …).
  • GDP growth slowed to 0.1% in the first quarter of 2018
  • Being taken to court in  Europe for pathetic response to air pollution regulations …..

And of course, whenever any of these points are put to the very junior ministers and ex-ministers who do sometimes dare to go on radio and TV to answer journalists’ anodyne questions, what do we always hear?

“Oh, but we’re throwing lots more money at the problem, so there’s no problem. The experts are wrong.”

But they don’t mean it. The money is invariably already allocated and will simply be moved around at the expense of some other budget – more likely, not reallocated at all.

The Tory party: all smirk and mirrors.

It is quite beyond me how, after almost ten years in power, this headline-driven, rotten, heartless and inept government can still find a single person in Britain willing to vote for them, who is not out of their head on their designer drug of choice. And yet their poll lead is widening as Jeremy havers over Brexit, pissing off two-thirds of Labour voters who voted to remain.

Ending in a draw, the local elections seem to have been a case of “anybody but Jeremy”. (Incidentally, following the ‘draw’ at the polls it still appears from the numbers that there remain almost exactly twice as many Labour councillors in England than there are Conservatives…)

Possibly because the media tend to hype local government elections as a barometer of voter intentions for the next General Election, people forget that Councillor Jim Figgis from the next street has no influence over anything other than the binbag collections, meals on wheels and library closures. National issues are not relevant.

Or maybe not, and that’s why voters still feel they can vote Tory at the local level while yearning for a credible alternative in Westminster.

Don’t do it, it only encourages them.

 

“(Macron) sits in a primary school classroom. He speaks about the zad for a little over a minute, “republican order must be returned” he says, and “everything that was to be evacuated has already been evacuated”. As he speaks a hundred and fifty concussion grenades are launched in less than half an hour in the Lama Sacrée field, the explosions echo across the bocage, bursting the ear drums of those nearby…”

Support the zad

You may very probably not have heard of the zad.

It’s not the kind of thing the mainstream media owners like people to know about.

Thousands of protestors holding a huge area of land originally zoned for a new airport have daily since 8 April been battling against eviction by 2,500 riot police armed with plastic bullets, teargas and plastic fragmentation grenades, causing dozens of casualties.

Squatters who have lived on the site for a decade or more, occupying abandoned farmsteads, building their own camps, a complete rural society, a small township sprang up and has persisted as a kind of independent state. The airport plan was abandoned two years ago, but the French authorities, who can be pretty authoritarian, seem to have just gotten tired of this successful alternative anti-capitalist way of living. Despite the clever, mostly peaceful – ironic, even – tactics of the resisters, it all sounds pretty brutal, in the customary way of the French police.

Where is the zad?

It’s outside Nantes, in Brittany, near a village (scheduled to be bulldozed) called Notre-Dame-des-Landes – and it puts the “Swampy” occupations of 1980s British planning atrocities to shame; although we shall see what transpires once the British government starts trying to evict nice, middle-class, elderly people from the site of the new runway at Heathrow, bulldozing pretty, wisteria-clad C18th villages heartily redolent of our vanishing traditional British values.

“There is so much gas, we can no longer see beyond our stinging, running noses. The police are being pressurised simultaneously from the other side of the road by a large militant crowd with gas masks, makeshift shields, stones, slingshots and tennis rackets to return the grenades. They are playing hide and seek from behind the trees. The armoured car begins to push the barricade, some of us climb onto the roof of the two story wooden cabin, others try to retreat without crushing the beautiful vegetable plot. It’s over, the end of another collective living space on the zone. Then we hear a roar from the other side of the barricade. Dozens of figures emerge from the forest, molotov cocktails fly, one hits the APC, flames rise from the armour and the wild roar transforms itself into a cry of pure joy.”

That this incredible battle has been raging just a few hundred miles from here without comment, even from The Guardian and other faintly leftwing media, is astonishing. It is, after all, a powerful echo of “les événements” of exactly fifty years ago. Ah, 1968… The zad writes, collectively:

“From making our own bread to running a pirate radio station, planting herbal medicine gardens to making rebel camembert, a rap recording studio to a pasta production workshop, an artisanal brewery to two blacksmiths’ forges, a communal justice system to a library and even a full scale working lighthouse – the zad has become a new commune for the 21st century.

And we can’t have that, can we. There’s no room for nonconformity in little Macron’s unimaginative, dull and soulless technocracy.

For a good long read, turn to:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/zad-forever/revenge-against-commons?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=68a8708f5b-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-68a8708f5b-408090269

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“…the highest ever April temperature recorded on earth.”

GW: stripped to me undies in the rain and snow

Parts of India and Pakistan are continuing to experience unusually hot spring weather with temperatures in the mid-40sC, 114F. A reading of 50.2C (122.3F) in Nawabshah on 30 April “may count as the highest ever April temperature recorded on earth.” A news service in Hyderabad reports 19 heat-related deaths.

Elsewhere, in Africa:

Burundi: “Red Cross says that over 2,500 people have been made homeless after floods … close to the city of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital … on 28 April, 2018, after a period of heavy rain. According to local officials, the situation worsened when one of the dykes of the Mutimbuzi River gave way, causing the river to flood nearby communities.”

Rwanda: “…as many as 200 people have died in disasters since January … heavy rains have affected the whole country, causing floods and landslides. Storms and strong winds have also affected some areas. Over 4,500 hectares of crops have been destroyed. 15 were killed on 6 May following heavy rains in the western region. A local official in the capital, Kigali, told the BBC that 3 people had also died in a mudslide in the city.”

Somalia: “The flood situation has worsened over the last few days. Observers say the current floods are some of the worst the region has ever seen. The UN says that flash and river floods have now affected 427,000 people.” The President is appealing for international aid. Good luck with that. Uganda also affected by widespread floods.

A mad catfish is photographed from space, terrorizing the Bahamas. What is happening to our weather?

USA:  1 May saw “21 preliminary tornado reports posted to the … Storm Prediction Center’s database, most of them in Kansas. Very large hail—up to 4” in diameter—pummeled parts of Kansas and Nebraska. No major damage or injuries were reported.” More forecast storms affected the midwest over the weekend of 05 May accompanied by record high temperatures over the east, reaching 93F, 34C in Washington, DC and 91F in New York.

Record cold had ushered in May in parts of the midwest, Iowa and Wisconsin having their coldest April in 154 years, giving way to severe storms as warmer air pushes northward, and there was more snow in upstate New York. Meanwhile, the wildfire season has kicked off in Arizona with thousands of acres of forest ablaze – the “Tinder Fire”. Forecast highs in Phoenix this week are expected back in the 100sF, 40sC.

Canada: heavy rain on snowmelt. 04 May, “the St John River in New Brunswick is at record levels and expected to rise further. Flooding has damaged homes and roads and prompted evacuations. Authorities have urged residents in the city of St John to leave their homes.” 2 killed, many injured and much property damaged by 100 Kph winds in Ontario. 200,000 left without power.

Caribbean: “Rain, flooding and landslides in parts of the Caribbean have caused at least 4 fatalities and displaced around 4,000 people. Heavy rain has affected Jamaica, Haiti and Dominican Republic since around 02 May”. Bahamas: a weather front stalled over the islands is given a 10% chance of becoming a rare tropical depression for early May as the sea temperature is already 2C above the 26C needed to generate a cyclone.

Argentina: a powerful storm rocks Buenos Aires on the 29th. Flash-flooding, power outages, 2 killed. “Flooding in the province of Entre Ríos (03 May, 300 mm rain) has left 1 person dead, more than 30 evacuated and 1,600 requiring assistance.”

Chile: city of Ancud underwater.

India: “At least 76 people have died and scores more were injured in a fierce dust storm that hit the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The storm on 02 May disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock. … The storm also hit the capital Delhi, more than 100km away, along with heavy rains late on Wednesday evening.”

Pakistan: a high of 49C, 120F was recorded over the weekend of 5 May in Karachi, with 9 fatalities attributed to the heat.

Iraq: “At least 4 people died in flash floods that hit the city of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Saturday, 05 May 2018.” Refugee camps are also affected.

Turkey: “Flash floods caused by heavy rain wreaked havoc in Ankara on 05 May. Further heavy rainfall the next day caused some surface flooding and traffic problems. Officials said 6 people were injured in the floods, with more than 160 cars and 25 businesses suffering damage.” (This actually made the news here in the UK.)

Australia: overall, the country experienced its hottest April on record, the maximum daily average being some 3.17C above normal.

New Zealand: record rainfall brings extensive flooding and a state of emergency is declared in the Rotorua region.

Europe: continent bewildered by a chaotic mashup of extreme cold, heat, rain, floods, hail, snow (in France), high winds and “even a tornado”. Basically anywhere to the west of a line down the Franco-German border through to southern Italy has been too cold, anywhere to the right too hot; south of the Mediterranean, North Africa is roasting. A huge chain of thunderstorms with almost half a million lightning strikes counted was recorded on 30 April stretching from the Spanish border across France to Italy and the Balkans, up through Switzerland, Austria, Germany and over into Poland and Slovenia, where big hailstorms were reported with streets turned to rivers of ice.

Switzerland: 7 skiers, 2 climbers and a guide have died in 5 separate incidents after bad weather swept through the Alps region on 6 May. 5 skiing victims, from France, Italy and Germany, were among a group of 14 who failed to reach a mountain cabin.

Italy: “Two days of heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in Sardinia. Around 100 people have been evacuated from their homes. In the last 48 hours some areas have recorded over 150 mm of rain – more than four times the average monthly total for May.” (This last statistic can also be interpreted as “a year’s worth”)

UK: World Health Organization reports, the steel town of Port Talbot in Wales has the highest level of dangerous microparticulate pollution in the country, at 18 mg per m/3 of air. That’s considered pretty unhealthy, unacceptable in fact – so you won’t want to be moving to Muzaffarpur in India, with a figure of 197 mg per m/3 the world’s most polluted city. (BBC).

Forecasters say the May Bank Holiday high could approach or beat the previous Mayday record of 28.6C, 83F.

Globally: April was the 3rd warmest on record and 0.5C above the 1981-2010 average. Only the unusual cold in the eastern USA and Canada during the early part of the month kept April from being the hottest ever, everywhere. The high of 50.2C (122F) in Nawabshah, Pakistan on 30 April was confirmed as the hottest temperature ever recorded in an April month.

Acknowledgments to: Richard Davies at Floodlist/ Wunderground/ BBC News/ Climate and Extreme Weather News (CEWN) #115, #116/

 

Bring on the ecopolypse.

Among other things, I’ve been thinking for a while about buying an air quality monitor.

Since I moved to live beside an increasingly busy main road I’ve had an itching sensation in my nose, low-level throat and chest congestion – rhinitis – am always bunged-up first thing in the morning and suffer from “dry-eye”, an obscure condition that is actually “wet-eye” as they’re constantly blinded with tears. Add to which, I’m always wiping a fine dust off every surface, that may have ruined my digital piano, and would like to have the scientific data to know how bad it is here so I can write to the local paper… lol.

And, as you know, your old Granny is always boring on about carbon dioxide concentrations. An air quality monitor of the right sort will tell you how well that’s doing too, both inside and outside your home.

Just now I went on Amazon, and while browsing the info about a particular model (see what I did there? Hahaha, particles!) costing a deterrent £229, was amused to see below it, a suggestion that (as, obviously, an eco-terrorist) I might (also? Instead?) like to purchase 1Kg of Sunwarrior “Warrior Organic Blend” drinking chocolate for £29.95.

Sod the pollution, I thought. Bring on the explosive dopamine.

And bring on the ecopolypse. The chocolate warriors are ready for anything.

(Photo: John Seach/ Volcanolive.com)

Even volcanoes.

The situation on Hawaii’s Big Island is looking unusually serious.

If you’re not paying much attention, Mount Kilauea has been erupting for over 20 years, and is one of a handful of volcanoes in the world to maintain a permanent lake of lava in its main crater. The lake has now escaped sideways through underground channels and the magma is erupting violently 24 miles away in a dormitory suburb. The nightmare of molten rock suddenly bursting out of people’s gardens and swallowing homes, roads and cars, huge fiery vents opening in the earth, the main ones now numbering 12, with thousands of earthquakes, the release of sulfurous poison gases, is like something out of Dante’s Ingerno and is expected to go on for weeks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNNoGCm3nqU

 

The fuckwitted booby

The Kremlins’ “Useless Idiot”, Trump recently presented an award to Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, praising her work in educating the children of America.

The poor booby apparently failed to spot a collection of faintly insulting anti-government campaign badges on Ms Manning’s dress; or to notice that she was refusing to speak to him on the platform.

Nor did he manage to understand that she doesn’t teach ordinary schoolkids: she specializes in English language development for refugees and other immigrants.

“Teachers like Mandy play a vital role in the wellbeing of our children, the strength of our communities and the success of our nation”, the US president said.

The story in today’s Guardian concludes by pointing to a certain irony in Trump’s position on foreigners:

“Trump has cracked down on both legal and illegal immigration and suspended the US refugee program … He has demanded that a wall be built on the Mexican border to keep out murderers, drugs gangs and other criminals”.

No wonder he didn’t know his lawyer, Michael Cohen, had paid Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) to keep quiet about the affair they never had, despite the existence of emails to the contrary, when he reimbursed the $130,000 Cohen says he borrowed from a bank using a false-front account just prior to the election, claiming it was his own money and that she had breached the confidentiality agreement Trump had failed to sign as First Party, the pseudonymous “David Dennison”, forbidding her from lying about whatever it was that never happened. As wealthy celebrities so often have to do. And of course, Trump says, he gave Cohen the money without knowing why. From what is now reported to be a slush-fund deliberately created to shut embarrassing people up.

Luckily, the orange imbecile has brought his friend, former NY Mayor and Rumpelstiltskin’s gropy grandad, Rudy Giuliani onto the legal team, so he could tell Sean Hannity on Fox News the exact opposite of the story Trump and Huckabee Sanders had been spinning the press for days: no affair, just ordinary blackmail; no precise knowledge of any payment; no payment. Poor sweaty christian Huckabee is taking the flak for lying.

There’s no argument any longer, he’s a total loser.

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Memory Lane

Young IT baboons partake of TSB’s fermented fruit, prior to collapsing in a groaning heap. (Guardian/LinkedIn)

Banking on “facial recognition” technology – of the analog kind!

Depression Blue

At the time my wife and I separated in 2005 we had a joint account with Lloyd’s Bank. Being somewhat older, I had had accounts with Lloyd’s since 1972, including a period from 1991 to 1996 when we had our business account with them as well; and a mortgage with Lloyd’s-owned Cheltenham & Gloucester.

Not only that, but coincidentally as a senior advertising agency copywriter, between 1987 and 1990 I had worked on creating consumer and business-to-business campaigns for all five main divisions within the Lloyd’s Bank Group.

I’m not sure how much more “brand-loyal” any customer could have been.

We decided to close the joint account, and I set up my own personal account. As part of our voluntary separation agreement, because I was back in work (although pretty poorly paid) and my wife was not, I agreed to take on the £150 a month repayments of our joint £19,000 liability to the bank.

As it happened, we’d had to come to an earlier arrangement with the bank over the loan at a time when neither of us was in work (we had for some reason moved to a part of the country where there isn’t any), and my persuasive wife had succeeded as part of the deal in negotiating an unusually favorable rate of interest.

Despite micro-managing our tiny revenue to the nearest penny, going just a few pounds overdrawn for any reason would result in bullying phone calls from Brighton – one even threatening to have us arrested and charged with fraud over a dishonored check for £50 we had written in good faith weeks before. Yet we had the security of owning our own home! (We didn’t know it at the time, but it was going up in value by about £12 thousand a year.)

This concessionary interest rate was then turned against me by the bank when, on agreeing my new personal account, and although I had found a job, a managerial position, and still owned half a house, they nevertheless informed me that my credit score was being reset at zero. That would not allow me to have any form of credit, not even a check guarantee card.  Instead I was given a kind of Master-criminal card that would only allow me to withdraw up to £50 a day from an ATM, provided there was enough money in the account; which, as I was paying over half my salary in maintenance for my family, there often wasn’t.

This punitive situation lasted for three years during which I continued to make regular payments to the bank, while I enjoyed two pay rises; I was by now overseeing a £5 million business development project involving a culturally important institution, dealing with grants and government finance departments, yet I couldn’t pay for anything over £50, and it had to be in cash. Despite my appeals for greater flexibility, the bank remained obdurate.

Only with a change of manager did the situation improve, and in 2008 I was finally granted a debit card and a £50 overdraft facility.

Yet I had done nothing wrong, other than repay a loan!

On one occasion my employer (who lived abroad) failed to pay my salary on time – she had not realized it was a Bank Holiday in Britain. I became £5.72p overdrawn for one night and was immediately threatened with penalty charges and interest that, I calculated, amounted in the first year to more than two thousand pounds. I was tempted not to repay the fiver, just to see what might happen. It would have made a good story in the media.

In, I think, 2012 (there will be a letter somewhere), along with around two million other Lloyd’s customers, we were given the cattle-truck treatment. Our accounts were automatically being moved, certainly without my consent, into the TSB; a secondary bank of which, I imagine, few had ever heard, to, as Lloyd’s PR people charmingly put it, “increase our consumer choice”. (Fucking copywriters!)

Since then, however, I have found my local TSB branch staff – Lloyd’s immediately galloped out of town on their black horse – to be perfectly kind, helpful, efficient and friendly, to the point where I don’t even want to do Internet banking.

I enjoy a relationship “over the counter” with all the staff, who know me by sight and are able to sort out problems – as, for instance, the time when Experian informed them I didn’t exist – but that’s another story. I’ve had a couple of useful loans from them, plus a flexible overdraft arrangement, while my accounts – I can even save, and tragically have an ISA – remain miraculously in credit.

For the first time in my life I’ve found a bank that’s allowed me to breathe.

I don’t trust the internet, as it turns out presciently, and I appear so far to have escaped the worst of the consequences of the perfectly predictable IT meltdown at TSB, which has been trying to get the Lloyd’s monkey off its back (they are forced to pay £100 million a year to share Lloyd’s’ wheezing and clanking old systems but are now part of a different, go-ahead Spanish-owned group). I fear it may have ramifications that will eventually affect those customers who don’t rely on personal technology to rule our lives wisely and well – indeed, I don’t have any social media accounts, as I’ve never trusted them either.

What an old stick-in-the-mud. But you learn from experience, don’t you.

(Whouaahouaahouaa…. eerie flashback music)

My business had gone bust at the end of 1995, leaving me unemployed and with two credit card debts. I’d taken out one card earlier that year through the Institute of Directors (there was a case of claret on free offer) for the sole purpose of financing the acquisition of a computer we needed at work to service a lucrative new account, who insisted on compatibility with their own systems. A few months later, the client was ‘re-engineered’ without warning by its parent group and closed down over a single weekend, leaving us holding many thousands of pounds’ worth of promotional materials they hadn’t paid for.

The IoD-branded card was underwritten by Beneficial Bank, a rackety US corporation, who had sold me PPI – as indeed had Lloyd’s, on my personal credit card, through London & Edinburgh assurance. I was glad of it at the time. L&E paid out immediately, without a fuss, and even left me with £100 in the account. But Beneficial Bank’s Irish insurers refused to pay the principal, covering only the interest on a month-by-month basis – and I was out of work for the first time, with nothing coming in.

What happened next is still not fully explained, but the following year – 1997 – I started getting letters out of the blue from Beneficial Bank, demanding repayment of the principal in full, about £2,500, which I could not do. I eventually contacted them, and we came to an arrangement to pay a monthly amount. After several more months, however, I got another demand to repay the principal, again without being given a reason. So I resorted to the old trick of hanging on until their demands turned purple, then called the Credit Controller and offered him a minimal settlement figure, which I loaded onto a new “zero-interest” card taken out for the purpose. Well, why not? Our clients used to do it to us on a regular basis.

He told me nothing of what had happened. Subsequently, however, I began to piece together a narrative that puts them in a somewhat murky light.

Shortly after my original claim started paying out, it seems the bank had parted company with their Irish insurers without making arrangements for a new insurer to continue the business, which was why the interest payments had stopped – without telling me. That was on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, but it screwed my credit rating all the same. They had also managed to lose a large tranche of their customer records in a computer “upgrade” that had gone disastrously wrong, again without telling anyone, and so had no recollection of our arrangement and instead, pursued me for the balance.

Had I known at the time, I would certainly have filed against them for maladministration. But the PPI misselling scandal was still many years away, there were no “no-win, no-fee” solicitors chasing lucrative bank business, and now I no longer have any records on which to base a claim for damages.

But you can understand why, last week, after learning that TSB was “upgrading” its systems at the weekend, I made sure to go into the branch and transfer some savings into my current account, just in case, and get a paper record of the balances to use as evidence when (not if!) the records vanished.

Once bitten, as they say. The bank teller was super-confident. Oh no, she assured me, they’d been trialling the new system for weeks, nothing could go wrong. And so far, everything seems to be working normally, even using the debit card in shops. You can’t beat “facial recognition” technology – of the analog kind!

So, sorry to sound smug, but I hope this affair won’t bring TSB crashing down, I rather like them.

As long as CEO, Paul Pester doesn’t get his £1 million bonus for presiding over the screw-up, of course.