Lessons in the "Weather" Category

Spring

Today, we are going to talk about spring. It is one of the four seasons. Spring follows on from winter and precedes summer. The other season being autumn. Spring starts when the equinox is 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. In the UK, and Europe, spring is when the clocks go forward one hour.

Originally, spring was called Lent. In the 14th century that time of year was called springing time. This being a reference to plants springing from the ground. In the 15th century, it got shortened to spring-time. In the 16th century, it got further shortened to spring.

Autumn

Today, let’s talk about autumn. What exactly is autumn? It is a season that follows summer and is before winter. Autumn starts in Britain on the 23rd September. It is on this day that daylight and night are the same length of time. The nights now get longer and the days shorter.

Autumn is probably the most colourful time of year. It is when the leaves change colour. Many leaves turn into vivid autumn red, yellow and brown colours that so many people love to see. Autumn is also conker season when the conkers fall from Horse Chestnut trees.

Autumn is the time of falling leaves. Many leaves are blown off the trees. Often they form a magnificent carpet of different coloured leaves on the ground. It is a sign that winter is on its way!

Is the sun going to sleep?

Is the sun going to sleep? It’s an interesting question. Scientists have said that the sun is in a phase of a “solar lull” – meaning it has fallen asleep. This is baffling them as right now the sun is actually at its solar maximum – the point where it is at a peak of its 11-year cycle. The giant ball of plasma should be spewing out more flares and sunspots than normal. Instead it is relatively quiet.

Analyses of ice-cores, which hold a long-term record of solar activity, suggest the decline in activity is the fastest that has been seen in 10,000 years. In the near future Europe could see ‘a cold snap’ forming more often; with cold air coming in from Russia and the Arctic.

Category: Science / The Sun / Temperature Change

The Philippines typhoon disaster

Today, we will talk about Typhoon Haiyan that recently caused severe devastation right across the Central Philippines. At the time of writing more than 10,000 people have been killed by the typhoon. The race is on to help survivors. Meanwhile more than a million people in Vietnam have fled their homes ahead of the storms arrival there.

Category: Philippines / Typhoon Haiyan / Weather

Europe freezes – coldest spell in 30 years

Sunday – The big ‘Siberian like’ freeze continues to tighten its grip on Europe. Most of the continent remains under a huge blanket of snow. The result is chaos in many places.

Ukraine has seen the brunt of the bad weather where more than 160 people have now died because of the cold weather. Nearly 1,600 have been hospitalised with hypothermia. Hundreds of heated tents have been set up across Ukraine to help the country’s homeless keep warm, with hot meals being handed out at the shelters.

Temperatures in Ukraine have dropped to minus 33ºC. Huge areas of Poland and Slovakia have also been affected by the bad weather with temperatures there dropping as low as -35ºC. So far 20 people have perished in Poland because of the cold snap. There have been further deaths in Russia and right across Eastern Europe.

Category: Europe / Weather - Snow / Disruption

Skiers stranded in Austria by too much snow!

Skiers in Western Austria recently got a bit too much snow for their liking. It was reported that more than 15,000 tourists were stuck in various ski resorts after too much of the white fluffy stuff fell last week. Dozens were reported to have been airlifted out of ski resorts by helicopters after roads became blocked by 5m of snow - though the cost was around £1,800 (€2,017) per person.

On Saturday an Austrian army military helicopter was brought in to pick up 52 people who had been stranded at a mountain refuge in Vorarlberg. Skiers had been unable to make the descent from the Lindauer Huette refuge, which is 1,744m (5,720 ft) above sea level, by any other means because of the avalanche risk.

The snow has caused chaos on the roads and railways. Villages and some tourist resorts have been cut off. The most heavily hit areas were Austria’s western Tirol and Vorarlberg regions that received 1-2 meters of snow (3-7ft) of snow in just four days.

Category: Tourism / Skiing Holidays / Austria

Bangkok floods – possible disease

Bangkok - Floodwater continues to pour into the Thai capital flooding outlying areas of the city, forcing many of its two million residents to evacuate. This has provoked intense anger from those living in the deluged districts. Residents in some suburbs feel their districts have been sacrificed to save the city centre.

The government says efforts to protect the centre from the rising floodwaters have been largely successful. The threat of disease now looms for those having to wade through these floodwaters. The water in the outlying areas now has sewage, rubbish and dead animals in it.

Charities working in the country warn about diarrhoea, dengue fever and malaria in the coming weeks. Immediate threats include mosquitoes that are breeding rapidly, and people are afraid of snakes and crocodiles in the waist high waters. Accumulated flood water caused by weeks of monsoon rain is still draining from the central provinces through channels in and around Bangkok to the sea. Officials are warning it will be many weeks before the situation stabilises.

Category: Thailand / Bangkok / Flooding

Icelandic volcanic ash creates travel chaos

Spectacular scenes emerged from southern Iceland recently as its Eyjafjallajoekull volcano began erupting. On April 14th it suddenly began sending a plume of ash 8.5 km (5.3 miles) high into the air. The volcanic ash spewed out gradually spreading across Europe, causing travel chaos, not only in Europe but worldwide.

Within days, the ash had crossed many parts of Europe, forcing closure of most of Europe’s air routes. The Met Office in Britain warned the disruption could go on for another week, causing flight misery to passengers. Geologists warned the travel chaos could last months.

Meanwhile airports remained closed across much of Europe. Travellers instead opted for any means possible to get home. Cross channel ferry services were rapidly booked up, as was Eurostar, who raised prices and was accused of profiteering.

Philippines calamity following tropical storm

Torrential rains in the Philippines caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana caused utter devastation across the country recently. One of the worst places to be affected was the capital Manila. It suffered its worst ever flooding with more than 80% of the city submerged. More than 246 people were killed. Another 450,000 people were displaced. A further 380,000 people ended up in makeshift shelters. Telephone and power services to the capital were cut.

The government declared a “state of calamity” in Manila and 25 provinces on the weekend it struck. This allowed access to emergency funds. Soldiers, police, medics and a huge number of volunteers were involved in the effort to help rescue over 7,900 flood victims. Local government officials said survivors in makeshift evacuation camps were desperately short of food, water and clothes.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo visited the devastated areas. She appealed for calm and for donations to aid rescue efforts. She described the storm as an “extreme event”...