Severe weather slams the USA

The country endures the extremes of weather from record breaking snowfall to raging wildfires.

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    Hundreds of residents have been forced to leave their homes as strong winds fan the flames of the wildfires [AFP]
    Hundreds of residents have been forced to leave their homes as strong winds fan the flames of the wildfires [AFP]

    The start of May has been a strange one for the USA. It seems that nature can’t decide if it’s winter or summer.

    Heavy rain has flooded parts of Key West in southern Florida. Two days of torrential downpours have led to flooding and in the last 24 hours, 109mm more rain fell across the island.

    The rain has flooded homes and businesses and forced the closure of a number of roads.

    Whilst rain is the problem in Florida, elsewhere winter is still winning. Heavy snow has smothered parts of the Plains and the Midwest.

    Some of the worst weather was in the state of Minnesota, where the snow set new records.

    20cm blanketed Rochester, Minnesota, four times the previous May snowfall, and in Owatonna, just 65 kilometres away, unofficial reports suggest that 40cm of snow fell from the system.

    This snowfall is just the latest in a series of wintry weather systems which have brought late snow to the region.

    However, while the Plains and the Midwest are enduring an elongated spell of wintry weather, in the west, winter has given way to an early start to the summer fire season.

    Three separate wildfires have threatened hundreds of homes, forcing residents to evacuate as strong winds fanned the flames.

    When the winds come from the northeast, they are very dry, having lost all their moisture passing over the enormous Rocky mountains.

    These dry, brisk winds, known as the Santa Ana winds, have been gusting up to 80 kph in recent days, fanning and spreading the fires.

    Wildfires are more common in the summer months. This year the flames have started early, and the fear is that California could be in for a long and disastrous fire season this year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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