Record-breaking storm hits US lakeside city

A man clears snow on Tuesday in Erie, Pa. (AP)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Record-breaking storm hits US lakeside city

WASHINGTON: Dreams of a white Christmas have turned into a nightmare in the northeastern US city of Erie after a storm dumped a record-breaking five feet of snow in a 48-hour period, forcing officials to declare an emergency.
Residents took to social media to post stunning photos of the whiteout, with meteorologists attributing the 58 inches of snow that fell over Christmas Day, Monday, to 5pm on Tuesday to icy winds blowing over the adjoining Lake Erie, one of North America’s Great Lakes.
More snow was expected at a rate of up to an inch or two per hour as residents were warned to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and pack emergency kits including tow ropes, flashlights, shovels and flares for essential travel.
Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced in a statement that the state national guard was “providing high clearance all terrain military vehicles to aid local agencies with medical emergency and law enforcement response.”
According to data from the National Weather Service, the 34 inches of snow that fell on Dec. 25 was the highest the city had ever recorded, eclipsing the previous high of 20 inches on Nov. 22, 1956.
The two-day snowfall of 58 inches, which was still ongoing, also surpassed a previous state record of 44 inches set in Morgantown on March 20-12, 1958.
“The crews are out, but quite simply they can’t keep up with the amount of snow that’s falling,” said Matt Exley, a local emergency official on a Facebook live post.
Erie meanwhile has received 97 inches of snow in December, making it the snowiest month in the city’s history, which usually averages about 100 inches of snow in an entire season.
Residents posted pictures reminiscent of a bleak polar landscape, dubbing the phenomenon #Snowmageddon on Twitter.
Vehicles were buried and visibility was limited in some areas to just a few feet.
By Tuesday night the temperature had plunged to 14 Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius), with the lake-effect snow warning forecast to continue through Wednesday, potentially adding an additional five to 10 inches of snowfall.


South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

Updated 12 min 11 sec ago
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South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

  • South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos.
  • The ANC and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February.

MAHIKENG, South Africa: South Africa’s president has cut short a visit to Britain to return home and deal with violent protests in a provincial capital.
President Cyril Ramaphosa left the Commonwealth summit in London to respond to the turmoil in the North West capital of Mahikeng, where residents brought life to a standstill with protests over alleged corruption and calls for the premier to resign.
Ramaphosa was visiting the city on Friday in the most significant test of his public peacemaking skills since he took office in February.
A statement from the president’s office noted clashes with police and called for calm and engagement “rather than violence and anarchy.” It also urged police to show restraint in the city of about 300,000.
The unrest continued Friday, with state broadcaster SABC showing police firing rubber bullets to disperse looters in the streets. It reported that 23 people had been arrested, citing local police.
South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos, SABC reported.
South Africa’s next election is in 2019 and the ruling African National Congress party under Ramaphosa is eager to recover from its worst-ever election showing in 2016, in which the ANC lost control of major municipalities including commercial hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
The party and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February after multiple scandals and allegations of graft. Ramaphosa, Zuma’s former deputy, has repeatedly pledged to tackle the widespread corruption that had weakened investor confidence in one of Africa’s largest economies.
The North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo, is an ANC politician and has faced accusations of corruption from residents who say mismanagement has led to a decline in government services.
Similar protests have been common across South Africa, which the World Bank this year called, by any measure, “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”