News Winter storm blasts Europe; 13 dead amid heavy snow, gustsKIRSTEN GRIESHABER•A passenger train crosses the Cuha Valley in the heavy snowfall near Vinye, some 140 km west of Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Zoltan Mathe/MTI via AP)BERLIN (AP) — Deadly winter weather blasted Europe for yet another day Tuesday, trapping hundreds of people in Alpine regions, whipping up high winds that caused flight cancellations and increasing the risks of more deadly avalanches.At least 13 people have been killed in weather-related accidents in Europe over the last week, most of them from avalanches.In Norway, attempts to find the bodies of four skiers were again put on hold due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall. A 29-year Swedish woman and three Finns, aged 29, 32 and 36, were presumed dead after a 300-meter (990-foot) wide avalanche hit a valley near the northern city of Tromsoe last week.Romanian police on Tuesday found the frozen body of a 67-year-old man in a parking lot in the southern city of Slatina after his wife reported he hadn’t returned from work. Temperatures in Romania plunged to a low of minus 24 Celsius (minus 11.2 Fahrenheit).In Austria, hundreds of residents were stuck in their homes due to blocked roads and some regions experienced power outages after snow-laden trees took down power lines.Schools in some Austrian regions remained closed for a second day and homeowners were advised to remove snow from their roofs after several buildings collapsed. One 78-year-old man was severely injured when he fell off his roof in Turrach while shoveling snow, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.On Monday night, 11 German hikers had to be rescued by mountaineers from a cabin near Salzburg, after having been snowed in without electricity and little food since Friday. Other people have also been killed by avalanches in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and authorities warned that continuing snowfall is increasing the risk of more avalanches.In the northern coastal German city of Hamburg, residents were preparing for a storm flood caused by a winter gale, the German news agency dpa reported.In the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol Airport saw nearly 25 percent of its flights cancelled Tuesday. Dutch carrier KLM canceled 159 flights to and from European destinations. Flight cancellations were also reported in Slovakia.Low-lying Dutch coastal regions were being hit by strong winds and wild seas, and local water authorities were checking dikes holding back all that water to make sure they were not damaged.The Noorderzijlvest water authority said it was monitoring dikes because of debris floating in the sea after 281 shipping containers tumbled off a cargo ship in a storm last week. Many of the containers are still at sea and some have broken open.”A fridge or container that is rammed against a dike can cause damage,” the authority said.Heavy snowfall and strong winds were reported Tuesday over central Scandinavia, hampering efforts to restore electricity that had gone out after another storm swept through on Jan. 2.In Greece, schools in Athens and many surrounding areas remained closed after snow blanketed the capital. Some rural mountain roads were also closed.Dozens of refugees housed in tents at a migrant camp in northern Greece protested their harsh living conditions as temperatures in some areas sunk to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit). Snow was even reported on many of Greece’s islands._Mike Corder contributed reporting from The Hague, Netherlands; Jan M. Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark; Karel Janicek from Prague, Czech Republic; Elena Becatoros from Athens, Greece; and Alison Mutler from Bucharest, Romania.
A cat is seen inside the archaeological site of the ancient Temple of Zeus following a snowfall in Athens, Greece, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis ATHENS (Reuters) – The ancient monuments in Athens got a rare dusting of snow on Tuesday as temperatures across Greece hit record lows, bringing transport to a standstill in some areas.While early morning tourists at the Acropolis were treated to a snow-globe scene, locals had to contend with roads made impassable by ice and many schools were closed in the Athens region.In northern Greece, where an all-time low of -23 degrees Celsius (-9 Fahrenheit) was recorded in the city of Florina, highways, rail and bus services were disrupted.Heavy rain and snow was reported on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which is more used to protracted periods of drought.(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Some people are truly into the winter — and who doesn’t love the part where you get to snuggle up in a cozy sweater with a hot drink after a long day in the snow? But even if you aren’t someone who feels the cold, sometimes the weather can actually get so frigid that it’s dangerous to go out. But when is it too cold, and what should we do to stay safe? Wrap up and read on.
How cold is too cold?
The point at which cold gets dangerous is a higher temperature than you might think, especially if you live somewhere that frequently sees temperatures in the teens or lower. “It’s safe to be outside if the temperature is 32°F or above,” says David A. Greuner, MD, FACS, co-founder and director of NYC Surgical. “If the temperature falls between 13°F and 31°F, you should take breaks from the cold approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. If wind chill temperatures are 13°F and below, you should remain indoors.” Wind chill measures the true danger of weather conditions by factoring in how the low temperature and wind speed combine to remove heat from an exposed human face. To get a better idea, check out this chart created by the National Weather Service. For example, if the ambient temperature is 20°F and the wind speed is a breezy 10 mph, the wind chill is a significantly colder 9°F.
Even worse for us than the wind is water, warns Michael Richardson, MD, a Boston-based family medicine practitioner with One Medical. “During the winter, we try to insulate our body with warm clothes that trap in our heat, but what if that protective layer becomes drenched when we have to slog through the snow, or we trip in a slushy puddle? Wet clothes can lead to a rapid drop in your temperature, as the thermal conductivity of water is roughly 30 times greater than air.” This means water transfers heat away from your body more effectively than air, so you’ll get colder faster. That’s helpful in summer, but in winter, Dr. Richardson cautions, it can be a “fast track to hypothermia.”
Who is most vulnerable?
While 32°F is the limit for most people, some people are extra susceptible to the cold. Dr. Richardson explains, “Most people can get away with going out in the cold if dressed appropriately, but very young toddlers, infants, and the elderly have more difficulty regulating their [body] temperature. If you are going out with your child or an elderly person, you may want to plan ahead to minimize their exposure to the cold.” Janette Nesheiwat, MD, a family and emergency medicine doctor in New York, adds, “Cold injury is exacerbated by dehydration, drinking alcohol, and being ill or if you have an underlying medical disease like Raynaud’s disease, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and circulatory problems.” If you’re already battling health problems, don’t add cold on top of it!
When does frostbite occur?
It’s most famously associated with Arctic explorers, but frostbite isn’t picky. “Frostbite can occur when a body part isn’t properly protected in the extreme cold,” Dr. Greuner warns. The colder the wind chill is, the quicker frostbite comes on. According to that National Weather Service wind chill chart, if it’s 0°F outside and the wind is blowing at 15 mph, creating a wind chill temperature of -19°F, you’re at risk of frostbite after being exposed for just 30 minutes.
The condition starts slowly and gets gradually worse. “The first symptoms of frostbite are sore, red skin, which is called ‘frostnip,’” Dr. Greuner says. “If you are experiencing these initial symptoms, get indoors immediately!” The extent of the damage is measured in four different degrees — similar to heat-related burns — Dr. Nesheiwat says. The severity of your injury, she tells us, “is determined by the depth of tissue freezing. First-degree frostbite starts when your fingers become painfully cold, may change color to red and then maybe turn grey or blue. You may get tingling and loss of sensation. The worst type of frostbite, the fourth degree, is deeper than the skin, and includes muscle, nerves, and bones, and can sometimes lead to amputation.” In this very advanced stage, Dr. Greuner adds, “the skin becomes very hard and cold to the touch and darkens; [depending on your natural skin color] it may look blue and later turn black.”
What precautions should we take?
If you can, stay inside when it’s below freezing outside — but if that’s not an option, start by dressing the part. In addition to a hat, gloves, scarf, and warm shoes or boots, Dr. Greuner suggests you layer up. “Wear three layers of loose clothing. Your first layer should keep you dry, the second should be made of an insulator like fleece, and the third should be wind- and waterproof,” he says. If you can, he says, take regular breaks from the cold, every 20 to 30 minutes. And if you notice any signs of frostbite, go straight inside.
Unfortunately, it’s not just frostbite you have to worry about. “Avoid strenuous activity, because events like heart attacks occur often in the cold,” Dr. Nesheiwat says. “Pace yourself, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol because it gives you a false sensation of warmth.” Be aware that the impact of cold can creep up slowly. As Dr. Richardson explains, “Mild hypothermia presents subtly — you become short of breath, your heart beats faster, and you start to shiver. These are all signs that your body is trying to compensate for the cold, so take this as your first warning that it’s time to head indoors for some hot cocoa.” We’ll take one of those too, please.
How do you bundle up against the cold weather? Share your hot tips with us @BritandCo.
(Photo via Getty)
An unusual tornado touched down in northeastern Ohio on Tuesday morning as severe thunderstorms rumbled across the region.
It is very uncommon for tornadoes to occur in this part of country during January. Only six tornadoes have been reported in January across Ohio between 1950 and 2018.
The tornado was reported near Mosquito Lake, Ohio, around 10:30 a.m. EST and was later confirmed by the National Weather Service to be an EF1 tornado. No one was injured, but winds up to 100 mph damaged a building and knocked down numerous trees.
The tornado that touched down in Trumbull County, Ohio, on Tuesday morning. (Photo/@bairshophippies)
Another round of severe thunderstorms erupted over Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon with gusty winds and hail larger than pennies.
Strong thunderstorms will continue across Ohio and western Pennsylvania into early Tuesday night ahead of the next blast of cold and windy weather.
An EF-1 tornado occurred in Cortland, OH in Trumbull County this morning: https://nwschat.weather.gov/p.php?pid=201901081916-KCLE-NOUS41-PNSCLE …
BEIRUT (AP) — A winter storm packing heavy rain and snow on Tuesday turned streets in Lebanon into rivers of water and mud and paralyzed parts of the country.Among those affected were tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom live in tent settlements. In the eastern Bekaa Valley, many Syrian refugees stayed indoors next to diesel or wood heaters as snow covered their flimsy tents.Authorities closed the highway linking Beirut with the Syrian capital Damascus after parts of it that cut through high mountains became covered with snow.In the coastal town of Dbayeh, just north of Beirut, part of the highway was closed after it was filled with water. Rescuers later used small boats to help people stranded in their cars.Most schools were closed Tuesday and the Lebanese education minister called for school to be closed even on the coast for a second day Wednesday.On Monday, a woman gave birth in an ambulance as it took a long time to reach a hospital because of snow. The woman and the baby later arrived at the nearby hospital and both are in good health, according to state-run National News Agency.The storm dubbed „Norma” began Saturday and is expected to reach its peak Tuesday night.
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Unions representing Ryanair <RYA.I> cabin crew in Spain called off plans to strike on Tuesday to allow time for further talks, the SITCPLA and USO unions said in a statement.
The unions, which are due to meet representatives of Ryanair on Tuesday morning, have not canceled plans for one-day strikes on Thursday and Sunday, the SITCPLA union said in a Twitter post.
„We have suspended the strike on Jan 8, 2019, in order to continue negotiations,” the two unions said in a statement.
Ryanair suffered a number of strikes last year by pilots and cabin crew, forcing it to cancel hundreds of flights, after the airline recognized unions for the first time in 2017.
But it got through Christmas without any industrial action.
According to the strike plans agreed with the Spanish labor authorities, cabin crew union members would operate all flights between Spanish islands and 50 percent of flights between Spanish islands and the Spanish mainland on the strike days.
But they will only operate 25 percent of flights to and from Spain over 500 km.
Ryanair last week said it did not expect customers would be disrupted by the action but a spokesman for the SITCPLA union said he did not think disruption to flights could be avoided if cabin crew go through with their strike action.
(This story has been refiled to correct to show unions to meet Ryanair on Tuesday (not Wednesday), paragraph two.)
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Neely)
IBM has figured out a way to improve the way we predict the weather.
The company’s ability to provide better forecasts worldwide will be highlighted by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty when she delivers the keynote address at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday. The Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System, or GRAF, will use IBM supercomputers to aggregate data from millions of sources, including the smartphones of Weather Channel app users (on an opt-in basis), to more-accurately predict the weather. GRAF will be rolled out later this year.
The company, which owns The Weather Channel, has its own interests in improving forecasting, but Rometty reminded USA Today that IBM is also involved in more day-to-day transactions than consumers typically realize: “Your ATM doesn’t work without us, you can’t get an airline ticket without us, you cannot charge your car through your gas without us, you (won’t have a) supply at Walmart without us. We really are underneath almost all of it.”
The new tool will have implications for businesses and consumers alike, especially in regions where accurate, reliable, and up-to-date weather forecasts are not available. According to Rometty, adverse weather saw the loss of $500 billion in economic value last year.
The decision to double down on collecting data from consumers’ phones is a bold one for IBM, whose subsidiary The Weather Channel was sued on Friday by the city of Los Angeles for allegedly collecting and selling users’ data under false pretences. The lawsuit claims the app asks permission to collect data, but informs the user that it’s needed to provide “personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts,” without mentioning other uses of the data. (The Weather Channel says it plans to defend its “transparent” use of location data and “appropriate” disclosures.)
Rommety is also expected to highlight IBM’s forays into a cloud-based platform where users can debate an AI, as well as the company’s efforts to be more inclusive.
The headline of this story has been updated to accurately reflect the capabilities of IBM’s new weather system.