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Hail Storm

Golf Ball-Sized Hailstones Fall in Australia

Over the past several weeks, Australia has experienced extreme wildfires which threaten wildlife all over the continent and continue to this day. Now, another extreme weather event has befallen Australia, as golf ball-sized hailstones have fallen from the sky in Canberra, destroying vehicles and threatening human safety and property. The hail arrived alongside severe thunderstorms, which left two tourists in the hospital after they were struck by lightning. The hail has already caused serious damage in Australia; glasshouses in which studies on crop sustainability were being conducted were destroyed by the hail, ruining the scientific endeavors conducted in the building and leading the Insurance Council of Australia to declare the storms a “catastrophe.” 

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Given the apocalyptic nature of the wildfires that have destroyed large swaths of the country, the rain provided by the storms is welcome, but the destructive hail it brought only contributes to more misery in a country besieged by recent rare and extreme weather events. Unfortunately, such weather events are likely to continue throughout the coming years and decades, as scientists believe that the weather was made much more powerful by the effects of climate change, which will only worsen over the next century irrespective of whether humans eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions, which itself seems unlikely. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of “giant” hailstones in advance of the storm, but it was impossible for people to prepare for the destruction that the hail wrought upon the city of Canberra and the surrounding areas. The hail injured a large number of birds, many of which were brought to vets by concerned passersby.

While the hailstorm lasted just thirty minutes, it badly damaged hundreds of cars and buildings, according to The Guardian. Fortunately, no deaths were reported, although two people were treated for minor injuries from the hail. As a result of the storm, 20,000 houses and buildings lost power in the south-east part of the country. The winds from the storm were so powerful that they ripped branches from trees and knocked over trees, in some cases causing people to be trapped in their cars on the road as felled trees blocked their path. Additionally, the National Museum of Australia experienced serious damage as the storm tore off part of the building’s roof, caused leaks in hallways, and damaged shade cloths, leading the building to close its doors. According to the Insurance Council of Australia, more than 11,000 claims have been filed in connection with the storm. 

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And as if these extreme weather events weren’t enough, the weather has also brought huge dust storms to the country, which were so powerful that they blocked out the sunlight. New South Wales was particularly affected, and citizens shared videos of the tremendous storms on social media, drawing significant attention online. People around the world have chipped in to help Australia in the aftermath of these wildfires; for instance, runners are participating in a virtual race for charity in order to raise money to benefit the country. With hope, calm weather will return to Australia soon, and the country will have a chance to recover. 

Flooding

Indonesia Hit By Extreme Flooding

Extreme weather conditions have been rocking the world recently and Indonesia has been one of the latest regions to be hit. Last week torrential rains hit Jakarta and its surrounding areas which in turn caused landslides and floods that have taken the lives of 29 individuals. At one point over 62,000 citizens had to be evacuated from Jakarta, although Agus Wibowo – a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency – confirmed that the numbers of those evacuated had dropped to 35,000 people.

The city of Bekasi was also hit, although the waters are starting to recede, leaving muddy roads covered in garbage, as well as damaged cars littering the area. With so much damage locals were forced to use tire inner tubes or rubber lifeboats just to get around the city.

Many buildings showed signs that the water had reached the second floors after a local river broke its banks with local Deddy Supriadi saying he “saw the water coming and it just kept getting higher and higher. It swept away 40 or 50 cars that were parked right here.”

Many residents across the region became trapped in their own homes as rescuers were seen helping seniors and children evacuate via inflatable boats. The National Search and Rescue agency confirmed that they had been called to make many rescues, including an incident where rescuers had to wade through water that was ‘chin-deep’ so they could rescue a baby who was carried to safety in a small bucket.

The agency’s spokesman Yusuf Latif confirmed “we’ve been rescuing new-borns, mothers who just gave birth and babies trapped in houses without food.”

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“In some places, the rescue operation was quite challenging and difficult. The water was deep with a strong current. Some alleyways were so narrow that it was hard for our inflatable boats to pass through.”

However, children in the area were spotted swimming in the waters while others took to the streets with their fishing rods. Agung Rosiadi, 28, saw people fishing so he joined them, however he commented that “there were lots of fish before but I don’t know why they’ve all gone now.”

Sadly at least 26 people have lost their lives in greater Jakarta with a further three dying during flash floods in the nearby Lebak regency. Police have confirmed they are still looking for eight missing people with Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara admitting “we hope the toll won’t keep going up.”

While most deaths were caused through hypothermia or drowning, there were also other instances including a 16-year-old boy who was electrocuted by a power line and an eight-year-old boy who died during a landslide.

One resident saw many families flee the floods in the western edges of Jakarta, telling reporters “the floods hit without warning. The water came very fast and it rose quickly. We couldn’t manage to get our stuff out, including my car.”

Other residents were evacuated from their homes in East Jakarta including Umar Dani who was rescued with his family on a rubber boat after the flood waters rose to neck height. “It has not flooded for so long here. We didn’t have the chance to bring anything. I have to live on the streets now.”

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Following several electrocutions, officials decided to turn the power off in many areas in Jakarta to prevent further incidents, thus resulting in several train lines being closed down, as well as a local airports, however the majority of services were back to normal within 24 hours.

Joko Widodo – Indonesia’s President – spoke to reporters and confirmed that both safety and evacuation procedures would be prioritized and demanded more planning between the central government and local administrations.

Speaking via his Twitter feed Widodo blamed flood control infrastructure projects being delayed for the flooding, with some being delayed for nearly three years as a result of land acquisition problems.

During a visit to areas in East Jakarta the governor of Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, announced that the authorities had been deploying hundreds of pumps in an attempt to remove the majority of the rainwater from several residential settings throughout the capital, meaning many residents could return back to what was left of their homes.

“They want to return home immediately and start cleaning up their houses as soon as they are able to enter their houses as water recedes.”

Reports confirmed that water levels have dropped dramatically in some of the affected areas with images showing many streets needing clearing of mud and rubbish.

However if locals thought the danger has passed authorities have warned them that the “extreme weather” is due to continue for another week – with heavy rainfall predicted until the middle of February – and urged people to “remain vigilant.”

Bad Weather Traffic

Storms Threaten Holiday Travel Across US

The holidays are undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year to travel in the United States, as roughly 55 million Americans take to airports and highways to visit their families before the end of the year. This year, however, may pose even more of a travel headache than usual, as multiple storms are forecasted to hit various parts of the US this Thanksgiving. According to U.S. News, a snowstorm is expected in Colorado, Kansas, and northern New Mexico on Friday and Saturday, potentially wreaking havoc on these states’ roads. Additionally, a mixture of rain and snow is forcasted for Missouri and Maine, among other states. Much of the southeastern U.S., alongside the East Coast, is expected to be impacted by thunderstorms as well. 

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Over the weekend, the disruptive weather system is predicted to continue moving east, causing freezing rain in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Next week, rain will turn into snow in Chicago on Tuesday, and Wisconsin and Michigan will receive heavy snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Northeast, temperatures will not reach freezing, but a storm system will cause rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, thankfully clearing up in time of New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday.

Already, a winter storm in Denver has caused a 50 car pile-up, and this storm is moving from the Rockies toward the Northeast, according to ABC 7 NY. The central U.S. is predicted to be the area of the country most affected during the peak of Thanksgiving travel, but travel is sure to be disrupted throughout the country due to weather over the coming days and weeks. According to the AAA, travel during the holidays already takes four times longer than usual due to the increase in traffic, and weather will likely make this travel time even longer to the point of being nearly impossible in some areas. Even more people are predicted to travel this year than last year, as the AAA predicts an additional 1.6 million more people will travel in 2019 than in 2018, as a result of a strong economy.

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If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning on traveling this year, it would be wise to take some precautions to ensure you arrive at your destination safely and on time. According to a AAA report, the absolute worst day to travel is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, though roads are likely to see very heavy congestion all week. AAA predicts that it will receive more than 368,000 calls from motorists in need of help this holiday season, with dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires being the most common issues. While gas prices are predicted to stay at a relatively low $2.57 per gallon this holiday, this means that more people will be motivated to drive, making congestion worse.

Many people travel to warm-weather areas during the holiday season, and this year will be no different. According to the AAA, the top three travel destinations for Thanksgiving will be Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; and New York, New York, with theme parks being a major attraction during the holidays. In addition to car and plane travel, travel by train, bus, and cruise ship is also expected to peak during the holiday season, though not to the same degree as the other, more popular forms of travel. Air travel in particular will be more difficult this year than last year, as the AAA predicts that air travel will grow by 4.6% this year, a substantially higher margin than any other form of travel. The most important thing to consider when traveling during the holidays, especially when weather conditions are projected to cause difficulties, is the personal safety of yourself and your passengers. As such, you should take steps to prepare for the event of an emergency if you plan to travel.