Drought intensifies in large part of continent
Wed 5 Sep 2018
The monthly Drought Statement issued by the BoM today shows that rainfall deficiencies have increased in the worst affected areas. Large parts of NSW and southern QLD as well as smaller areas in VIC, SA and WA now rate in the bottom 5% of all 17-month totals since 1900, placing them in the severe deficiency category. Some areas of central and NE NSW and central southern QLD have recorded their lowest 17-month totals on record.
Serious or severe rainfall deficiencies in the past 5 months cover a much broader area reflecting five consecutive months of below average rainfall across much of Australia. They include a large area along and inland of Western Australia's southern coast extending into the southern Goldfields, Central Australia, a much larger part of Queensland and most of New South Wales.
The Drought Statement, including maps, commentary, a rainfall tracker and much related information is here.
Typhoon Jebi hits central Japan, worst cyclone in 25 years
Wed 5 Sep 2018
Poor Japan. Yet another typhoon, this time recently Super Cat 5 Typhoon Jebi, crossed the coast of Honshu near Kobe, just west of Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, about 1600 EST yesterday 4th. Japan has suffered grievously over the past two months: over 200 people died and two million were evacuated in western Japan in early July in the worst flooding in over 30 years, a lengthy summer heatwave killed over 300 people, while so far in August the country has endured two other typhoons and a tropical storm. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) estimated nearly 30 million people were exposed to risk by Jebi.
Jebi is the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 1993. Hurricane force winds gusted to 208km/h on Shikoku, the large island offshore from Osaka, while a storm surge piled the waters of Osaka Bay onto the city's Kansai International Airport, built on an artificial island in the bay, closing it possibly for a week. An oil tanker blown into the only bridge connecting the airport and mainland badly damaged the bridge, isolating 3,000 intending passengers in the airport until they could be rescued this morning.
Eleven people lost their lives, according to press assessments, while up to 200 were injured. Damage was widespread in the Osaka area, and included high-sided vehicles being blown over as well as buildings unroofed and blown apart. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency issued evacuation advisories for over million people at one point, with orders to evacuate issued to about 49,000. About 2.2 million homes were without power at the height of the storm according to a central government tally. Many major factories, including Panasonic, Toyota and Daihatsu, closed today. While official meteorological data is still sketchy, Canada's CBC reported that around 100mm of rain fell in Kyoto, the major city inland from Osaka, in one hour with up to 500mm forecast to fall in Honshu's mountainous hinterland by noon today. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said that many locations registered their highest wind gusts on record.
After rapidly crossing Honshu, Jebi reached the Sea of Japan before moving away from land, weakening and dissipating. Heavy rain is expected to affect central and northern Honshu Island and later the east coast of Russia in coming days.
The typhoon was well covered by the New York Times (partial paywall), AP via CBC, Reuters, AFP, NHK Japan, ABC News, extended video from ABC News, Sri Lanka Mirror (good pictures), ITV (good pictures and video) and a spectacular photo and article from Al Jazeera.
Wed 5 Sep 2018 International Wrap-Up
North Korea (DPRK): Severe floods. Severe floods since 30 August in North and South Hwanghae provinces in SW North Korea are reported to have caused 200 deaths and over 9 000 displaced people as well as destruction of houses, infrastructure and crops. Kangwon province in the SE is badly affected according to limited information, although the Red Cross Society indicated 10,000 houses were damaged and 35 000 people displaced.
USA: Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall west of Alabama-Mississippi border. Gordon made landfall early today EST with sustained winds of 110km/h. The storm, which was earlier feared could develop to hurricane strength before landfall, is weakening as it moves inland dragging heavy rain.
New Zealand: Heavy rain in the north, snow in the south. NZud doesn't want to let go of winter as a polar blast hit the country in the past few days. Gales, and snow as low as 400m, hit the South Island while in the North Island snow closed the Desert Road in the Central Plateau, stopped inter-island ferries and closed major roads due to landslips.