Low on snow: Japan’s Olympic cooling plans on thin ice By Aaron Sheldrick and Nobuhiro Kubo•By Aaron Sheldrick and Nobuhiro Kubo NAGANO/TOKYO, Feb 27 (Reuters) – A plan to use snow collected in Japan’s mountains to cool 2020 Olympics venues this summer is being stymied by snowfalls on track to be the lowest on record, according to officials involved.Authorities in Minami-Uonuma in Niigata prefecture north of Tokyo have been trying to collect and store snow to bring by train to Olympic soccer and basketball venues.The snow will be used to cool buildings and also be handed out in packs to spectators approaching the venues in a project costing about 54 million yen ($490,000).
With temperatures around Tokyo often rising to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer, organisers are also planning to use mist sprays and water stations to refresh attendees.
Ever since Alexander the Great enjoyed honey and nectar flavoured snow in the 4th century BC, snow has been used to cool everything from food to fortresses. In Norway, Oslo airport uses snow stored during the winter for summer use to cool buildings.
But Japan’s lack of snow this year has forced a rethink.
„We had to change the snow-gathering site from last year to an area where we can expect more snow,” Mutsumi Seki, the manager in charge of the project at Minami-Uonuma told Reuters.
Still, the city has only collected 1,400 cubic metres (49,000 cubic feet) of snow, compared with 2,000 cubic metres (70,000 cubic feet) last year, when it tested the viability of the plan.
Snow depths this winter in Niigata, which usually boasts some of Japan’s heaviest falls, are on track to be the lowest since records began in 1981, based on data on the JMA website.
Maximum snow depths in areas along the Sea of Japan decreased by as much as 15% per decade in the years between 1962 and 2016, according to a Ministry of Environment study in 2018.
„The warmth in Japan is part of a much larger pattern of unusual warmth around the entire Northern hemisphere this winter,” Professor Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, adding „this larger pattern of warmth is connected to human-caused planetary warming.”Masami Yashima, the manager of the Okushigakogen resort in Nagano next to Niigata, also believes global warming is behind the poor snowfall.”There’s very little snow. About a third of what we get here every year,” he said. „It’s very painful.”($1 = 110.3100 yen)(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Nagano and Nobuhiro Kubo in Tokyo;)
Two winter storms joined forces sending deadly blow to Midwest by Chaffin Mitchell•Two winter storms formed a band of heavy snow that created treacherous travel conditions across the Midwest, resulting in one death in Missouri on Wednesday.The storm’s impacts stretched from the central Plains, across the Great Lakes and into southern Ontario and Quebec.Snowfall totals managed to get as high as 7 inches in 24 hours. Indiana saw the highest snowfall totals all above 6 inches, while Arnold, Nebraska, also reached 6.5 inches.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported on Twitter that they received 125 calls for service, 59 crashes, 24 stranded motorists, seven injured, and one fatality due to the winter weather on Wednesday before 2 p.m. local time.
The Police in Missouri posted a video on Twitter Wednesday morning showing slippery conditions on roadways and reported that officers had responded to several slide-offs and crashes.
Because of the southeastward shift in the swath of snow, St. Louis picked up nearly an inch of accumulation by late morning on Wednesday.
The heaviest reported snow total in Missouri as of 6 p.m. EST Wednesday was 2.8 inches near Saint Peters.
Although Chicago dodged the worst of the storm, snowy conditions at Chicago O’Hare International Airport experienced over 900 delays, according to FlightStats. There was a winter storm watch in effect for the city, but it was lifted as a result of the storms shifting path causing the snow to gradually wind down during the day. Although lakeshore flood warnings remained in effect until 7 p.m. local time Wednesday.
The heaviest reported snow total in Illinois as of 6 p.m. EST Wednesday was 4.1 inches near Homer.
Weather conditions deteriorated quickly across Nebraska when the storm started to spread hefty snowfall amounts on Tuesday morning.
An area near Elm Creek, Nebraska, along I-80 was completely bare while snow and wind created treacherous conditions near Willow Island on, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Hastings.
Images below from the Nebraska Department of Transportation cameras show a separation of less than 40 miles at the same moment, which exhibits how fast conditions can change when a storm hits.
|Images showing two different stretches of interstate taken at the same time less than 40 miles apart on Tuesday morning, Feb. 25, 2020, showed how quickly road conditions can deteriorate for motorists traveling through Nebraska. (NWS / Nebraska Department of Transportation)|
Recent snow reports show Arnold, Nebraska, had one of the highest snowfall totals from the storm at 6.5 inches on Wednesday. Angola, Indiana, had the top snowfall total at 7 inches.
A Winter Weather Advisory was issued for the Toledo, Ohio, area for Wednesday into early Thursday morning due to heavy snow.
The heavy snowfall from the storms didn’t impact The University of Toledo enough to cancel classes. In the image below, you can see the ground covered in snow.
|Snow blanketing the ground in Toledo, Ohio, at The University of Toledo. (Image/The University of Toledo)|
The heaviest reported snow total in Ohio as of 6 p.m. EST Wednesday was 3.5 inches near Ottawa.
People who encountered wet or slushy conditions on their travels during the day Wednesday may have trouble for the drive home Wednesday evening or the morning drive Thursday.
Blizzard warnings are in effect now for parts of New York as residents brace for as much as 5 feet of snow this week.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
A winter storm barreling toward Chicago shifted south overnight, sparing the Windy City a blast of the heaviest snow but taking aim at Detroit and Toledo with some of the region’s biggest snowfalls of the season.
The heavy snow will probably disrupt travel along Interstates 70, 80 and 90 as it moves east. Snow will affect travel from eastern Missouri to parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western and northern Ohio on Wednesday
Up to 8 inches of snow is likely in some areas.
Two Midwest winter storms merged to form one large storm, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.
On the northeast end of the storm, southern parts of Quebec could see up to 2 feet of snow, Pydynowski said.
Winter storm warnings were in effect for parts of western New York, including Buffalo, as well as northern New England as the storm heads east on Thursday. Lake-effect snow warnings have also been issued in western New York to the southeast of Lake Erie and to the east of Lake Ontario.
As the storm tracks to the east, rain is expected to turn to snow across parts of the Appalachians and the interior Northeast.
Also, locally heavy rain will be possible across portions of the Northeast, while a potential line of strong thunderstorms may roll through the mid-Atlantic.
These two pictures were taken less than 40 miles apart. The first is I-80 near Elm Creek and the 2nd is Hwy 30 near Willow Island. Shows just how quick road conditions can change when travelling! #NEwx pic.twitter.com/CsUiiqPpOi
— NWS Hastings (@NWSHastings) February 25, 2020
Temperatures to plummet
|Above-average pollen levels are expected to affect a massive area of the United States stretching from Texas to Maine this season, according to AccuWeather’s annual spring allergy forecast released on Feb. 26, 2020. (AccuWeather)|
The arrival of spring is just a few weeks away, and many are looking forward to getting outdoors and enjoying the building warmth. But, for millions of Americans, the season of rebirth also brings a return of sneezing, sniffles, coughing and itchy eyes due to seasonal allergies. We’ve got you covered with AccuWeather’s annual spring allergy forecast. Meteorologists say Americans who live in one particular area of the country may want to stock up on tissues.
Allergy sufferers in the eastern United States should brace for a long and severe season this spring as predicted above-normal rainfall and near-average temperatures mean much of the region will be ripe for tree, weed and grass pollen production, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
Above-average pollen levels are in store for a huge portion of the country, an area that has a population of 193 million people and stretches all the way from Texas to Michigan on east. More than 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Even if individuals don’t suffer, there are ripple effects from family members, including millions of children, who struggle with symptoms.
„Grass pollen sufferers will face a long and severe season into summer,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.
The ideal growing conditions mean the season is likely to get underway even earlier than usual. The same is true for tree pollen from the mid-Atlantic down to the Gulf and the southern Plains.
„With above-normal rainfall and near-average temperatures for much of spring, we will have plenty of tree growth in the Southeast and even pushing into the southern Plains and mid-Atlantic,” Reppert said.
The “snow drought” finally ended in the Triangle, and data shows how much likely fell in the region.
Wintry weather pushed through parts of central and eastern North Carolina on Thursday, blanketing areas with up to 5 inches of snow, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service.
Though the Triangle didn’t have the most snow in the state, accumulation was reported in all its counties.
Durham, Orange and Wake recorded snowfall totals of 1.5 to 3.5 inches, according to unofficial figures from the National Weather Service’s Raleigh office.
More snow fell to the northeast, with about 4 inches falling in Franklin, Vance and other counties near the Virginia border, a map shows. The brunt of the accumulation was east of Roanoke Rapids, an area that saw about 5 inches, the weather service says.
Not too far away, some communities escaped measurable snowfall.
That’s because temperatures “very close to” the shore lingered around 34 to 36 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
But further inland, temperatures plunged below freezing, meaning rain turned into snow, officials say.
Last week’s storm was the first time the Raleigh area had gotten snow since December 2018, ending a so-called “snow drought,” The News & Observer reported. Typically, 7.9 inches of snow fall in the area each year.
After the snow, black ice remained a danger for drivers on Friday, according to The News & Observer.
As water levels reach record-breaking levels along the River Severn, floodwaters have been pouring into towns and threatening to breach barriers in others.
An unsettled pattern over the British Isles has brought rounds of rain to the region, including downpours from windstorms Ciara and Dennis.
As rainfall totals climbed through the month of February, flood barrier walls were set up along the River Severn that runs from central Wales through western England.
Rising water levels caused the river to pour over these barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on Tuesday night after heavy rain moved through the area, according to The Telegraph.
Farther north, the strength of the floodwaters pushed back the barriers in Ironbridge, but the barriers remained intact, reported Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, of West Mercia Police in a tweet.
Officials announced an ‘immediate evacuation’ in Ironbridge as the river continued to test the flood barriers, uncertain if the structures would continue to hold back floodwaters.
While flood barriers are already struggling against the weight of the water, some points on River Severn are still forecast to rise.
As of Friday afternoon, local time, River Severn at Bewdley was at 5.48 m (17.98 feet) and is forecast to approach the highest level recorded at this location, which was 5.56 m (18.24 feet) on Nov. 2, 2000.
Hundreds of flood warnings and alerts are still in effect across the United Kingdom, meaning that flooding is expected and immediate action is required or flooding is possible and residents need to be prepared for worsening conditions.
On Tuesday, most Network Rail lines were closed as floodwaters reached dangerous levels on the Severn Viaduct, which carries the majority of lines in and out of Shrewsbury station, according to BBC News.
Lines will remain closed until water levels recede and the safety of the viaduct has been ensured.
On Monday, the A5 between Gobowen and Gledrid was closed due to high water. Several schools across the region were closed at the start of the week as the flooding situation worsened, according to BBC News.
Businesses are remaining open as long as they can in Shrewsbury, but the town remains accessible only by foot.
„If the barriers breach at Coleham again, as they did last week, then that will close off the town and the English Bridge,” Clive Wright of the Shropshire Council told BBC News.
A resident who lives near the English Bridge, Debbie Bradbury-Walker, and her partner Anna told the news agency that 0.08-0.1 meters (3-4 inches) of water filled the ground floor of their house.
The residents said it’s the first time water entered their home in the five years they lived there, according to the BBC.
Thousands of homes have been evacuated since Storm Dennis aggravated flooding across Wales and England during the middle of February.
Even as river levels begin to recede in the coming days, the threat of flooding will continue to loom over the area. AccuWeather meteorologists say the stormy pattern that has set up over northern Europe is forecast to continue into at least next week.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
It’s here. AccuWeather’s annual spring forecast for Asia is out — and meteorologists are expecting a warmer-than-average season for much of the continent in 2020.
While a large swath is set for ample rain this season, other locations will face building drought.
Additionally, coastal areas will be at risk for a few tropical cyclones.
Meanwhile, a couple of early-season cold outbreaks are forecast from eastern Siberia into northeastern Mongolia and the northern Heilongjiang province of China, but even these areas will finish the three-month period from March through May with near- to above-average temperatures.
Only in the area from northern Pakistan to northern India and the Tibetan region of China will temperatures be likely to be near normal for the spring.
A frequent storm track across the Middle East will carry clouds and precipitation through these areas during the first half of the spring.
„The pattern would slow the seasonal heating of the Indian subcontinent, similar to last spring,” AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
Increased soil moisture from the storms should mitigate the heat over northern India, including in New Delhi.
„It would still get hot in these areas as it typically does, but the warmup should be lower than average with bouts of extreme heat likely to be more infrequent than usual,” Nicholls stated.
Central and southern India are predicted to warm up much faster than average this spring. Heat waves will be more frequent across these areas due to limited soil moisture to begin with.
|An Indian woman walks carrying a child covered with scarf to shield themselves from sun on a hot summer day in Jammu, India, Monday, June 3, 2019. Many parts of India experienced heat wave conditions with temperature hovering above 45 degree Celsius (113 F). (AP Photo/Channi Anand)|
There is a chance that pre-monsoon rains develop in southern India and Sri Lanka late in the spring. If this materializes, the heat will be limited.
„There is even the chance the southwest monsoon can reach Kerala toward the end of May, which would be sooner than in 2019,” Nicholls said.
Drought conditions, which developed during autumn, are forecast to ease over Indonesia and Malaysia.
„The combination of warmer waters over the western tropical Pacific and and the evening out of water temperatures over the Indian Ocean should allow rainfall to return to near average and may even swing above average as the spring progresses,” Nicholls said.
Farther northwest, drought conditions are expected to worsen over in the area from Russia’s Volga Valley to much of the Ukraine.
This area of Asia and Eurasia has been experiencing very warm and abnormally dry or drought conditions since the autumn with few precipitation events.
|People enjoy warm weather as they walk at Zaryadye Park, with the Kremlin in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Russian capital’s residents experienced an unusually warm winter as temperatures have averaged 8 degrees Celsius (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in Moscow and 6.5 C (11.7 F) above normal in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)|
„Even through a slightly wetter pattern developed from late January to the first part of February, a drier pattern is forecast to return this spring,” Nicholls said. „Some rainfall may occur from late April to early May, but overall, dry conditions are likely to get worse with the potential for severe drought.”
As winter grains emerge from dormancy and the planting of crops follows later this spring, yields may be significantly reduced as a result of the dryness.
Additionally, warm weather which occurred this winter may cause grains to emerge from dormancy a little ahead of average. Any cold shots into the spring could lead to damage.
„Fortunately, the odds of a late Arctic blast this spring look to be minimal at this time,” Nicholls added.
The pattern responsible for some of the dryness in southwestern Russia and the Ukraine may also supply part of the Middle East with spring rainfall.
As a semi-permanent area of high pressure develops near the surface and the jet stream level of the atmosphere, this blocking pattern may force storms to barrel farther south across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Several rounds of rain and mountain snow can fall in these areas as a result, especially during March and April.
The same pattern would tend to produce cool fronts that can bring brief opportunities for some rain as far south as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, northern Oman and part of Saudi Arabia early in the spring.
There is the chance of thunderstorms to erupt on a few occasions in southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen later in the spring.
Farther to the northeast, China’s Yangtze Valley and North Plain are expected to have adequate rainfall.
„Growing conditions should be good as winter grains and rapeseed emerge from dormancy and the spring planting begins for summer crops in the Yangtze Valley,” Nicholls said. „Favorable growing conditions are also in store for northeastern China and much of the Korean Peninsula this spring.”
While Japan can start the spring on a wet note, there is a chance for dryness to evolve in South Korea, Taiwan and southern Japan during May. These areas will be influenced by an area of high pressure at most levels of the atmosphere that is forecast to settle over the western part of the Pacific Ocean.
A sluggish start to the east Asia monsoon is forecast, threatening building drought in some regions.
„Because of the slow start to the monsoon, dryness may evolve into drought in some cases over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand,” Nicholls said.
|In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, photo, sightseers play on a sandbar in the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand. Experts say the water levels have also become unusually low, exposing sandbanks in the middle of the river. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)|
Dozens of hydroelectric dams along the Mekong River in southeastern Asia and the lack of rain already have the life-giving waterway at very low levels, the Asia Times reports.
AccuWeather’s early outlook on the 2020 western Pacific typhoon season
Another cause of dryness in southeastern Asia is likely to be related to a slow start to the western Pacific typhoon season.
„While limited tropical activity would lower the number of tropical threats for the Philippines, it would translate to lower rainfall and raise the potential for drought to develop on the islands,” Nicholls said.
Water temperatures over the Indian Ocean play a huge role in the western Pacific typhoon season, and last year, meteorologists say this was a significant factor.
Chilly water over the eastern part of the Indian Ocean resulted in a more rounded shape of high pressure than expected over the western part of the Pacific Ocean last year. Tropical systems, such as typhoons, tend to travel around the edge of high pressure areas, rather than travel straight through them.
„In 2019, very chilly waters on the eastern part of the Indian Ocean overrode some of the routine parameters that we look at to make a call on the upcoming season,” AccuWeather Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Rather than a large number of typhoons slamming into the Asia mainland, like with a flattened oval-shaped high pressure area, there were more storms that took a curved path toward Japan.
„Water temperature anomalies over the Indian Ocean were in record-high territory during 2019,” AccuWeather International Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.
The water temperature anomaly has gone away over the Indian Ocean and is now close to average.
„So for 2020, we expect the high pressure area over the western Pacific, winds high in the atmosphere, wind shear and water temperatures in the western Pacific and the status of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to be the main engines for the outcome and nature of the typhoon season,” Kottlowski said.
The western Pacific typhoon season starts at a slow pace, but this year may be even slower than average with perhaps no organized systems at all through May or June.
„We are basing our forecast on neutral ENSO conditions, above-average water temperatures in the western part of the Pacific, average wind shear, west to east winds aloft and a fairly round area of high pressure over the western Pacific,” Kottlowski said.
AccuWeather is predicting a near- to slightly-above-average number of tropical storms (29), a near-average number of typhoons (17) and a slightly below-average number of super typhoons (five). The average number of tropical storms is 26, whereas there are typically 17 typhoons and six super typhoons.
„We expect more impacts on the Philippines, compared to last year, once the season gets going during the summer and continues into the autumn,” Kottlowski said. „We believe more typhoons are likely to take a curved path, rather than push toward the Asia mainland like in 2019.”
This would mean multiple impacts on Taiwan and Japan, but there could still be a few storms that reach the East Asia mainland.
„We always like to remind people that even though early projections may not indicate that a great number of typhoons can hit an area, one powerful storm alone can define a season and cause significant loss of life and devastation,” Kottlowski cautioned.
|Surging waves hit against the breakwater and a lighthouse as Typhoon Hagibis approached the port town of Kiho, Mie prefecture, central Japan Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Hagibis, a super typhoon, went on to be the costliest typhoon in recorded history with damage topping $15 billion in U.S. dollars. At least 98 people lost their lives as a result of the storm. Winds peaked at 160 mph (260 km/h). (AP Photo/Toru Hanai)|
AccuWeather’s early-season Indian Ocean tropical cyclone outlook for 2020
As is often the case for the weather in India and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, early-season tropical activity over the northern Indian Ocean will be a wildcard.
„This spring, especially during April and May, conditions look to be conducive for a bit more pre-monsoonal tropical activity over the northern Indian Ocean than the two named cyclones from 2019,” Nicholls said.
AccuWeather is projecting two to three named cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean with the potential for several low pressure areas to evolve into deep depressions.
„Forecast steering winds mean that southeastern India, Sri Lanka and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula into Somalia may be targets for impacts somewhat similar to last year,” Nicholls said.
Steering winds are expected to result in more west- or northwest-tracking systems.
In 2019, Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Hikaa traveled westward into Oman during September, while Super Cyclonic Storm Kyarr spun toward the west in late October and weakened just off the coast of Somalia on Nov. 1.
There were 12 depressions, of which, 11 were deep depressions, eight cyclonic storms and one super cyclonic storm in 2019. It was the second-costliest North Indian Ocean cyclone year on record with at least $11 billion in U.S. dollars in damage and more than 170 fatalities.