Strong Storms Around the World

Cyclone Yasa Slams into Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Yasa slammed into the island nation of Fiji on Thursday with winds of over 150 mph (240 kph). Yasa, the strongest cyclone in the Pacific so far this year, made landfall at Vanua Levu, home to 140,000 people.

Over 95% of Fiji’s 900,000 people live within the path that the storm was expected to take. The nation declared a state of disaster, setting up over 1,000 emergency shelters, and encouraging people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

A satellite view of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa nearing landfall on December 17, 2020.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa slammed into the island nation of Fiji on Thursday with winds of over 150 mph (240 kph). Yasa made landfall at Vanua Levu, home to 140,000 people. Above, a satellite image of Yasa just before it made landfall.
(Source: Japan Meteorological Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

It’s still unclear how much damage has been done, but experts were expecting the effects to be quite serious. A strong storm surge of up to 33 feet (10 meters) was expected. The surge would have been extremely dangerous for anyone who remained by the shore.

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Fiji declared a state of disaster on Thursday, setting up over 1,000 emergency shelters, and encouraging people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground. Above, people in Fiji prepare for Cyclone Yasa.

Fiji is a fairly small area in the middle of the large Pacific Ocean. For many people there, Cyclone Yasa reminds them of 2016’s Cyclone Winston – the only other strong hurricane to hit the islands directly.

Huge Snowstorm Blankets Northeastern US

A massive snowstorm has blanketed the Northeast in up to 44 inches (1.1 meters) of snow. The storm system covered a huge area, from as far south as Virginia to as far north as Maine.

Heavy snow and ice on power lines left around 50,000 people in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York without power. The severe weather brought winds as fast as 65 mph (105 kph) in places, piling up snow and making it hard to see. In Pennsylvania, difficult driving highway conditions led to a large crash involving up to 60 cars.

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A massive snowstorm has blanketed the Northeast in up to 44 inches (1.1 meters) of snow. In some places, the snow fell extremely quickly. Above, clearing snow in Boston.

In some places, the snow fell extremely quickly. Binghamton, New York, for example, got 20.5 inches in just six hours. New York City got less snow than expected, but, like many places, it still got more snow in this one storm than during all of last winter.

All through the Northeast, people were left digging out from the storm, and road and highway crews were kept busy clearing the roads.

MTA Responds to Winter Storm: Operations during winter storm on Wed., December 16, 2020.
New York City got less snow than expected, but, like many places, it still got more snow in this one storm than during all of last winter. Above, a bus running in New York as the storm begins.
(Source: MTA, State of New Yor, via Flickr.com.)

In the past, a storm like this would have meant a day off for many students, with schools canceled because of the snow. But because of the coronavirus,  many school districts are already doing remote schooling, meaning classes could go ahead anyway.

Long, Heavy Snows In Japan Leave Many Stuck

Heavy snow left around 1,100 cars stuck on a highway in Japan on Thursday, after a trailer truck got stuck in the snow, blocking the road. In a separate event, around 300 cars were stuck on a different highway when heavy snow made it impossible to drive.

Echigo-Nakazato Station platform on 5 January 2020
Several areas in Japan have been having extremely heavy snowfall since earlier in the week. The snow has interfered with travel on roads and rails. The train station above is in Niigata. The picture is from January.
(Source: あばさー (Abasaa) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Several areas in Japan have been having extremely heavy snowfall since earlier in the week. The snow has interfered with travel on roads and rails. Around 10,000 homes were left without power, many in the Niigata prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Gunma prefecture is another area that has been buried in snow. The town of Minakami in Gunma got over 7 feet (2.15 meters) of snow in the three days leading up to Thursday morning.

A map showing the depth of the recent snow in Japan.
Several areas in Japan have been having extremely heavy snowfall since earlier in the week. The snow has interfered with travel on roads and rails. The map above shows the depth of the recent snow in Japan. Areas with heavy snowfall are marked in dark red.
(Source: Japan Meteorological Agency .)

The government has sent in soldiers to help out in the affected areas. Japan’s weather service is warning that there’s more snow on the way.

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