HD Weather News #51

March 1, 2023
3-5 minutes

Deadly landslides in Brazil

Record-breaking torrential rains have triggered landslides in southeastern Brazil, killing at least 44 people and leaving 38 missing.

Indeed, 600 millimeters of rainfall were recorded in just 24 hours, which is twice the monthly average, according to city officials.

Nearly 1,730 people have been temporarily evacuated from their homes, 760 are homeless, and 25 people, including six children, are hospitalized.

According to local authorities, nearly a thousand rescuers, 50 cars, and 14 helicopters have been deployed to the scene.

Brazil's National Center for Monitoring and Natural Disaster Alerts estimates that 9.5 million people live in areas exposed to landslides or floods, many of them in favelas lacking basic sanitation infrastructure. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva warned of the dangers of urban constructions located at the foot of hills.

ⓒ Reuters

Exceptional low tide in Venice

Venice recently experienced an exceptional low tide, causing some canals to dry up and disrupting the traffic of gondolas, water taxis, and even ambulances. For example, the Po River in Italy was 61% below its usual level. However, this year an anticyclone brought high atmospheric pressure, preventing meteorological disturbances from occurring.

It is normal to see low water levels in some canals of Venice at this time of year due to low tides. Generally, disturbances such as wind and rain amplify the tides. Their absence in February explains why the water level in the canals was exceptionally low. This phenomenon was common until 2007-2008 but had not been observed since. This situation is very different from the usual problem of acqua alta, a high tide that regularly threatens St. Mark's Square and Venice's historic buildings.

This exceptional tide made rescue management difficult in the city, especially in the historic center. Hydro-ambulances could no longer travel on some canals, forcing medical personnel to continue on foot.

ⓒ Manuel Silvestri

Drought record in France

According to Météo France, France recently set a new drought record with 32 consecutive days without significant rainfall. Indeed, according to the public agency, the period from January 21 to February 21 saw the longest series of days where the cumulative precipitation over the mainland was less than 1 mm since the beginning of measurements in 1959.

Météo-France predicts that due to global warming, February 2023 would be one of the driest months ever recorded, with a rainfall deficit estimated at over 50%. This prolonged drought has been ongoing since August 2021, with a few exceptions. In addition, temperatures in France have been above normal for twelve consecutive months.

Faced with this situation, Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, acknowledged that France was in a state of alert.

Cyclone Freddy in Madagascar

Madagascar was hit by Cyclone Freddy on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, causing significant damage. This cyclone mainly affected the southeast coast of Madagascar, bringing violent winds of 130 km/h, gusts of over 180 km/h, and waves of 10 meters in height. The latest report indicates 7 dead and 100,000 affected, with about 3,300 houses flooded, roads and bridges in ruins, and 700 schools damaged, including 318 classes completely destroyed (representing 24,000 students deprived of classes).

Aid has been provided, such as emergency assistance from the Malagasy Red Cross. In addition, thousands of hot meals were provided to evacuees (more than 22,000 displaced) in shelters in Nosy Varika, Farafangana, Mananjary, Mahanoro, and Manakara on February 21 and 22, according to the World Food Programme.

This cyclone, described as "very intense" due to its powerful meteorological parameters, made landfall about 30 km north of Mananjary, an impact zone almost identical to that of the last two cyclones that devastated the island in February 2022.

Images of the cyclone Freddy here.

ⓒ Laura Morosoli

Snowstorm in California

Heavy snowfall hit Southern California on Saturday, February 25. A snowstorm caused the closure of many roads, including portions of the route linking Mexico, Canada, and the United States, as well as flood and landslide warnings in some areas. Nearly 100,000 households in California were left without power due to these strong winds and snowfall, according to the specialized website Poweroutage. In total, there were also more than 340 canceled flights and 4,000 delayed.

Flood warnings were issued for some areas of Los Angeles County as well as for neighboring Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on the Pacific coast.

This exceptional event in this region known for its sunshine has sparked numerous reactions on social media.

ⓒ Josh Edelson/AFP