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Climate Change

Rain in Spain leaves two dead, two missing, people stuck on roofs

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(Last Updated On: September 4, 2023)

Two people died and two were missing as torrential rains caused heavy flooding in central Spain on Sunday and early on Monday, shutting roads, subway lines and high-speed train connections, authorities said.

Helicopters were sent to rescue people who sought refuge on the roofs of their homes in the Toledo area some 50 km southwest of Madrid, emergency services said.

The sudden downpour transformed streets into rivers of mud that dragged cars and trash bins in Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia regions. Hail also fell in many areas, Reuters reported.

Two people died in the rural area around the central city of Toledo, a police spokesperson said.

“It just kept raining and we were a little scared, but we were indoors so we were safe,” said Isabella Stewart, a U.S. missionary living in Toledo as she was taking a bus.

Another Toledo resident, Ruben Gonzalez, said: “I live four blocks away and it was very strong. Everything is flooded. This is crazy.”

In the Madrid region, emergency services tackled almost 1,200 incidents overnight and firefighters and police were searching for one man in the rural area of Aldea del Fresno, southwest of Madrid, the emergency services said.

The man went missing with his son when their car was dragged into the Alberche River after an avalanche caused by a sudden spate.

“The minor was rescued after he had climbed up a tree,” the Madrid emergency service said.

An 84-year-old man was missing in Villamanta area west of Madrid after he was dragged off by streams of water and mud.

Several roads in the Madrid region were closed as half a dozen bridges were torn down by water overflowing the riverbanks.

The rainfall, although still heavy in some places, was expected to wane later on Monday. The National Weather Agency on Monday lowered the alert level to yellow from orange and red on Sunday.

Climate Change

Hot weather poses new risk after deadly Houston storms

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2024)

As the Houston area works to clean up and restore power to hundreds of thousands after deadly storms left at least seven people dead, it will do so amid a smog warning and scorching temperatures that could pose health risks.

National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard said on Saturday that highs of around 32.2 C were expected through the start of the coming week, with heat indexes likely approaching 38 C by midweek, Associated Press reported.

“We expect the impact of the heat to gradually increase … we will start to see that heat risk increase Tuesday into Wednesday through Friday,” Chenard said.

The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when humidity is combined with the air temperature, according to the weather service.

Heavy rainfall was possible in eastern Louisiana and central Alabama on Saturday, and parts of Louisiana were also at risk for flooding.

The Houston Health Department said it would distribute 400 free portable air conditioners to area seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers of disabled children to contend with the heat.

The widespread destruction of Thursday’s storms brought much of Houston to a standstill, AP reported.

Thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds tore through the city — decimating the facade of one brick building and leaving trees, debris and shattered glass on the streets. A tornado also touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress.

More than a half-million homes and businesses in Texas remained without electricity by midday Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us.

Another 21,000 customers were also without power in Louisiana, where strong winds and a suspected tornado hit.

CenterPoint Energy said power restoration could take several days or longer in some areas.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Whitmire both signed disaster declarations, paving the way for state and federal storm recovery assistance.

A separate disaster declaration from President Joe Biden makes federal funding available to people in seven Texas counties — including Harris — that have been affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding since April 26.

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Climate Change

Summer 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years, study says

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2024)

The intense northern hemisphere summer heat that drove wildfires across the Mediterranean, buckled roads in Texas and strained power grids in China last year made it not just the warmest summer on record – but the warmest in some 2,000 years, new research suggests.

The stark finding comes from one of two new studies released on Tuesday, as both global temperatures and climate-warming emissions continue to climb, Reuters reported.

Scientists had quickly declared last year’s June to August period as the warmest since record-keeping began in the 1940s.

New work published in the journal Nature suggests the 2023 heat eclipsed temperatures over a far longer timeline – a finding established by looking at meteorological records dating to the mid-1800s and temperature data based on the analysis of tree rings across nine northern sites.

“When you look at the long sweep of history, you can see just how dramatic recent global warming is,” said study co-author Jan Esper, a climate scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.

Last year’s summer season temperatures on lands between 30 and 90 degrees north latitude reached 2.07 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial averages, the study said.

Based on tree ring data, the summer months in 2023 were on average 2.2 C warmer than the estimated average temperature across the years 1 to 1890.

The finding was not entirely a surprise. By January, scientists with the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service were saying the year of 2023 was “very likely” to have been the warmest in some 100,000 years.

However, proving such a long record is unlikely, Esper said. Heatwaves are already taking a toll on people’s health, with more than 150,000 deaths in 43 countries linked to heatwaves for each year between 1990 and 2019, according to the details of a second study published on Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

That would account for about 1% of global deaths – roughly the same toll taken by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

More than half of those heatwave-related excess deaths occurred in populous Asia.

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Climate Change

Afghanistan a victim of climate change, says Muttaqi

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2024)

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met with Edem Wosornu, UNOCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy on Monday in Kabul and said although Afghanistan plays no role in the “destruction of the climate”, the country continues to suffer from this phenomenon.

Muttaqi appealed to countries contributing to the climate change problem to act responsibly as they are not doing anything in terms of compensating countries suffering the effects of climate change.

This comes just days after heavy rains claimed the lives of over 300 people in northern Afghanistan as flash floods hit the area.

Muttaqi meanwhile also said that Afghanistan should be allowed to participate at global climate change meetings and the country should have access to funding.

Wosornu in turn expressed her willingness to send UNOCHA teams to flood affected areas as soon as possible.

She also said they try to keep humanitarian needs and politics separate.

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