HD Weather News #56

May 16, 2023
3-5 minutes

Floods in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Two villages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were devastated last week by floods and landslides, killing more than 401 people according to a local governor.

According to UN OCHA, on May 6, about 1,200 houses were completely destroyed and another 1,800 were damaged, leaving 3,000 households homeless.

UN climate experts have warned that climate change could worsen the situation as it increases the intensity and frequency of rainfall in Africa. In addition, poor urban planning and weak infrastructure make the region more vulnerable to this type of disaster.

Affected communities need immediate humanitarian assistance for safe and dignified burials, medical care, food and shelter for those affected.

A national day of mourning was observed on May 8, 2023.

ⓒ Moses Sawasawa

Flooding in New Zealand

Torrential rains caused flooding and landslides in the city of Auckland, New Zealand on May 9, 2023. Local authorities declared a state of emergency in response to the critical weather situation. Firefighters and emergency services reported a total of 277 weather-related calls, including landslides, falling trees and trapped cars. Local media also reported numerous traffic accidents on the Auckland highway system, with traffic being severely disrupted.

The rainfall was particularly intense in Auckland, where MetService New Zealand reported rainfall of 40-50 mm per hour in some areas, while other parts of the city received between 50-90 mm per hour.

Auckland's civil defence opened shelters for evacuees in the Massey and Albany areas.

Fire burns 30 hectares in the Pyrénées-Orientales

A forest fire broke out on Monday afternoon, May 8, in the commune of Argelès-sur-Mer, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, a department in France that is currently the most affected by drought. The latter has already experienced a major fire earlier this month, which ravaged 1000 hectares of vegetation.

The fire burned 30 hectares of vegetation without affecting homes or campsites in the area, and was brought under control in the evening thanks to the intervention of 160 firefighters and three aircraft (Dash and Canadair).

The Pyrénées-Orientales, which is located on the border with Spain, is currently the French department most affected by drought. Since 1959, date of the first meteorological statistics by department, the situation has never been so critical.

Fire in Canada

Since the beginning of May, Canada has been facing a crisis situation with devastating forest fires that have spread rapidly across several provinces. The fires have been fuelled by unusually high temperatures, in some places 10°C above normal, which have caused "abnormally dry" or even "severe drought" conditions in some areas. The heat wave also caused flooding and landslides in western Canada.

The province of Alberta has been the hardest hit by forest fires. As of Sunday, May 14, there were 88 active fires, 27 of which were not under control. More than 13,000 people have been ordered to evacuate and more than 25,000 Canadians have been forced to flee their homes. Authorities have asked thousands more to be ready to leave at any time. According to the latest figures, an estimated 521,000 hectares have burned, an unprecedented situation.

The effects of the fires have been devastating. In Fox Lake, in northern Alberta, 20 homes, a store and a police station were destroyed by the flames. Residents were evacuated by boat and helicopter. Oil facilities were also affected, resulting in production shutdowns and significant economic losses.


Heat wave in Vietnam

South Asia continues to experience extreme temperatures. Indeed, in Thailand and Vietnam, it has never been so hot in any month. Authorities announced on Saturday that a new temperature record was recorded in Vietnam. In Thanh Hoa, a province in the country's north-central region, the thermometer reached 44.1 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous national record of 43.4 degrees Celsius recorded in 2019. State-owned power company EVN has warned that low water levels threaten the country's hydropower production. Dams in northern Vietnam have seen their water levels drop by 30 to 40 percent compared to previous years due to the drought, which could significantly reduce power generation.

The heat wave began in April and has affected all of South Asia, leading to record temperatures in neighboring countries:

- 44.6°C in Mak, Thailand and 43.8°C in Osten, Myanmar on May 06
- 44.2°C in Tuong Duong, Vietnam, 43.5°C in Luang Prabang, Laos, 41°C in Bangkok, Thailand on May 07.

Cyclone Mocha in Burma

A powerful cyclone named Mocha hit the Bay of Bengal on Sunday May 14, 2023.

With winds of up to 200 km/h, this storm is considered the most devastating to hit the region in over a decade. Its point of impact was between Sittwe, Burma, and Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

In terms of human toll, local authorities and media report that Cyclone Mocha caused 60 deaths in Burma. In Bangladesh, where the authorities have taken preventive evacuation measures and managed to move about 750,000 people out of risk areas, no casualties have been reported so far.