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Freezing weather in US, severe heat in Australia: 2019 begins in extreme

Feb 03, 2019

Frostbite inducing cold in America, severe heat in Australia and heavy snowfall in the Alps and the Himalayas marked an unusually extreme January, the World Meteorological Organisation has said.

The cold

In North America
Dangerous cold and heavy snow crippled the northern US this week, killing more than two dozen people and frostbite, broken bones, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning leaving hundreds injured

The cold was caused by an influx of Arctic air, with wind chill factors making temperatures outdoors as cold as -53.9 degrees Celsius in southern Minnesota, which can cause frostbite -- the condition in which tissues freeze --within minutes

The frigid winds were a result of a mix of climatic conditions, all of which are being seen by experts as a consequence of climate change.

Himalayas and Alps hit too
Indian weather officials issued warnings of heavy or very heavy rain and snow for Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, prompting warnings of avalanches amid an intense cold wave.

In the European Alps, some regions witnessed record snowfall in January. In Hochfilzen, in the Tirol region of Austria, more than 451cm of snow fell in the first 15 days of January, an event statistically only expected once a century

Delhi’s long winter
With snow in the mountains and a series of western disturbances hitting northwest India, Delhi recorded the longest cold spell in at least 13 years

Heatwaves and fires

In Australia
- Temperatures hit a record with a series of heatwaves unprecedented in their scale and duration gripping the country. The city of Adelaide saw an unprecedented high of 46.6 degrees Celsius on January 24. In the eastern Australian state of Queensland, once-in-a-century floods covered cities in waist-deep waters with more heavy rain predicted to make the situation worse.

In South America
- A weather station in the capital Santiago set a new record of 38.3 degrees Celsius on January 26, while central parts of Chile saw maximums topping 40 degrees Celsius

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