Climate change and El Niño inundated the United Kingdom with over 200 flood alerts on Sunday afternoon, December 28, 2015, that included some 20 life-threatening “severe warnings.” In the affected areas of England, Wales and Scotland, Pennine towns between Leeds and Manchester took overflow from rivers up to five feet above their previous peak in record levels.
According to The Guardian, the cities of York, Leeds and Manchester were beset by the effects of climate change that led to the unprecedented evacuation of residents in the thousands. Three hundred soldiers conducted rescue operations in the worst-hit areas on Sunday, with a reinforcement of another 200 troops following.
Pumping equipment in York was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of floodwaters from the El Niño driven climate change. Major thoroughfares at the central part of Leeds were reported to be under water. In Greater Manchester, residents of about 7,000 homes had to make do without electricity.
Aside from the British floods, record-high temperatures in the United States and Canada, as well as forest fires in Australia, characterized the unusual Christmas-time weather events attributed to El Niño joining forces with man-made climate change.
According to The Irish Times, the United Nation’s World Meteorolgical Organisation (WMO) forecasted the hottest year on record worldwide for 2015, with Europe wilting under its second hottest year due to climate change. Heat waves in India, Pakistan and surrounding areas were also recorded.
The occurrence of El Niño every seven or eight years comes from an unusually warm Pacific Ocean. While this year’s event has peaked, it is at record-breaking strength, forcing climate change extremes. Adam Scaife, head of the British Met Office’s long-range forecasting, commented on the unusual developments.
“What we are experiencing is typical of an early winter El Niño effect. We expect 2016 to be the warmest year ever, primarily because of climate change but around 25 percent because of El Niño.”
About 35 people have been reportedly killed by a combination of tornadoes, heavy rains and floods in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. The joining of climate change with El Niño has left a trail of disaster across the U.S.
The Lone Star state is taking emergency measures against blizzards, turbulent winds and other manifestations of the climate gone wild. While a deadly blizzard was bearing down on other parts of the state Sunday, Texas emergency crews were stretched thin in the wake of tornadoes that left at least 11 people dead overnight in the Dallas area and east Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation reported blowing snow and poor visibility that closed highways in northwest Texas. According to NBC News, while Amarillo got a mere three inches of snow overnight, the change to high winds has created drifts determined by the National Weather Service as three to four feet high.
Takepart reports that while El Niño takes partial responsibility for the near-balmy winter, climate change shares the blame. During the 1997 winter season, abnormally warm surface water temperatures in the Pacific rose to this year’s level with destructive results.
A decade ago, Canadian high school students were treated to the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth that warned of melting ice caps. The former U.S. vice-president’s Academy Award-winning documentary was received with polite interest, but it came and went with little impact on the “cold country” youths’ detached view of El Niño and climate change.
According to Toronto Star, the almost too-good-to-be-true balmy days from global warming, now seems to have hammered home what Al Gore tried to do 10 years ago. The experience with climate change and its weirdly warm winter for the last month, has resulted in widespread unease among Canadians.
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