Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

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A trio of super strong hurricanes pummeled the Caribbean and US Gulf coast with each storm causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
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In a spate of ice slides dozens were killed in a series of avalanches on the Afghanistan Pakistan border.
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The dry conditions that fueled flames in some spots also perpetuated long term drought in others.
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Hurricane irma hit Florida hard; growers are worried about the long term effects on their crops.
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Experts estimate the damage from Hurricane Harvey alone could cost upwards of $100 million.
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California spent much of the fall in flames.
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Chinese village was utterly destroyed in a June landslide but the death toll there is still a mystery.
Updated 30 July 2018
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Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

  • The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August
  • The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people

DUBAI: From heatwaves to white-outs, from fires to floods … the weather appears to be throwing everything it has at our planet.
Across the world, the climate and the conditions are going to vastly different extremes. For some, it means delight. For others, it spells danger. And for those living in the Arabian Gulf, it has just brought dust.
Riyadh, the Saudi capital, was blasted by a sandstorm last week, and on Sunday it was the turn of the UAE. High winds and sandstorms swept across the emirates, cutting visibility to virtually zero at times, and giving the nation its own weather talking-point as countries around the world coped with both heat and horror.
In Myanmar, at least 10 people were killed and tens of thousands more driven from their homes as the region was drenched by monsoon rain that, in some places, left only the rooftops of houses visible above the rising waters.
Tragedy has also struck 12,500km away in northern California, where wildfire has claimed five lives and entire neighborhoods have been devastated by a blaze that has now destroyed more than 500 buildings and has already continued into its seventh day. The US state has seen temperatures rise to a record 48.9C in the city of Chino.
In Japan, western areas which have already had to withstand floods and landslides earlier this month were hit by a fresh weather crisis, as Typhoon Jongdari struck. Winds of up to 180km an hour were accompanied by torrential rain and travel chaos.
But across the northern hemisphere, the vagaries of the weather have brought something that sounds like a dream but which carries its own threat — record high temperatures.
The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people. But they have also been felt in Sweden, hardly a nation used to sweltering temperatures, but now suffering an unprecedented drought and devastating wildfires amid its hottest spell in 250 years.
Meanwhile, in less-than-tropical Germany, farmlands in northern areas have been stripped bare by unrelenting sun, leaving combine harvesters to kick up dust rather than gather up crops. Farmers have voiced concerns that their livelihood is in danger, with talk now turning to whether a natural disaster — which is declared in Germany when 30 percent of the average annual harvest is destroyed — will be called.
There is no respite in immediate sight, either: The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August. Its deputy secretary-general, Elena Manaenkova, has said the heatwave is “consistent with what we expect as a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise, as the past three years have been the hottest ever recorded on Earth. But as Anders Levermann, a professor at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “The most important question is ‘Will we see this more often if we don’t reduce carbon emissions?’
“And this question is the one we can say ‘yes’ to.”


Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 20 min 59 sec ago
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Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok
  • Proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.