Climate emergency: the most extreme weather events of 2021 | Climate crisis News

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A wide range of natural disasters hit many parts of the world this year.

Deadly floods and wildfires with record high rainfall and temperatures, countries like the United States, Greece, Indonesia and China – among others – have all been affected.

Extreme weather events are major indications of climate change, a problem scientists say requires urgent action from world leaders currently attending the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow.

Here is a recap of the main environmental events of 2021.

Spain

Snowstorms across much of Spain killed at least four people in the first week of January. The blizzard trapped motorists and shut down air and rail links to the capital Madrid.

Madrid experienced its heaviest snowfall since 1971 after what Spain’s meteorological agency described as “exceptional and most likely historic” conditions caused by Storm Filomena.

At the time, extreme conditions put four other regions in the center of the country on high alert for days.

According to the New York Times, the snowstorm caused damage estimated at around 1.4 billion euros ($ 1.6 billion).

Firefighters shovel snow during heavy snowfall in Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain [File: Manu Fernandez/AP Photo]

UK

On January 18, the UK experienced some of its heaviest rainfall in decades. For three consecutive days, Storm Christoph brought heavy rains and widespread flooding across the country.

Residents evacuated their homes in parts of England, while the ensuing snowfall resulted in travel disruptions and road closures.

Fiji

Cyclone Ana was hit in Fiji in late January, killing one person. At least five people – including a three-year-old child – are missing.

The strength and intensity of the Category 2 storm took many by surprise, although it came just two months after a previous cyclone devastated parts of the archipelago.

Some 10,000 people sought refuge in emergency evacuation centers as floods and rain destroyed homes, as well as farmland and other infrastructure.

Texas, United States

In February, temperatures fell to -13 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of Texas, causing widespread power cuts.

The unprecedented deep freeze has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Texans and left millions in the dark for days.

In Midland, in the heart of the West Texas shale region, record snowfall and temperatures reaching a low of 32 years have closed offices and businesses.

China

In March, China experienced its worst sandstorm in a decade, halting flights and closing schools. The storm has further worsened air quality and pollution levels across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The sandstorms spread from Inner Mongolia to Gansu, Shanxi and Hubei provinces, which surround Beijing.

Townspeople used goggles, masks, and hairnets to shield themselves from the sweltering air, with landmarks such as the Forbidden City and the distinctive headquarters of state broadcaster CCTV masked by yellow smog.

Person walks with broom and dustpan during morning rush hour as Beijing, China is hit by sandstorm [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Indonesia

More than 150 people were killed when Cyclone Seroja hit Indonesia and East Timor in April, triggering flash floods and landslides that uprooted trees, blocked roads and turned small communities into wasteland. mud.

Dozens of people went missing and thousands became homeless as a result of the cyclone, while around 10,000 people fled to shelters in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Canada

A sweltering heat wave in June killed 569 people in Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, in five days.

The deaths represent a 195% increase from the 165 deaths that would normally occur in the province over a five-day period, authorities said.

At the time, temperatures soared in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces and territories as a so-called “heat dome” – a weather system that traps hot air – descended on the west coast of the country.

Experts said climate change contributed to the record heat.

A man cools off at a misting station during the scorching heatwave in Vancouver, Canada [File: Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters]

Germany

Sections of western Germany and Belgium drowned in July as floods devastated low-lying towns in the region for the first time in 60 years.

In Germany, at least 170 people have died in the worst natural disaster to hit the European country in decades.

The floods caused serious damage to infrastructure, telephone networks and left more than 100,000 people without electricity.

Italy

In Italy, firefighters fought more than 500 fires in Sicily and southern Calabria in August. At least two people lost their lives.

A monitoring station in Sicily reported temperatures of 48.8 ° C (119.8 ° F) – levels some scientists believed may have been the highest in European history.

Greece

As forest fires ravaged parts of southern Europe in August, Greece was one of the worst-hit countries. The country’s second largest island, Euboea, was evacuated as more than 580 fires swept through the region.

Forests have been burned by forest fires in Evia as well as the Peloponnese and Attica, including around the capital Athens. Two people were reportedly killed and at least 20 others injured.

Farms and livestock burned as Greece experienced one of the worst heat waves on record, with temperatures reaching 47 ° C (117 ° F) for more than a week.

Firefighters and volunteers try to put out a forest fire in the village of Markati, near Athens, Greece [File: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]

Turkey

At least eight people were killed when forest fires ravaged parts of Turkey in July and August, namely the coastal provinces of Antalya and Mugla and Tunceli in southeastern Turkey.

Many villagers lost property and farm animals, while locals and tourists fled the seaside resorts by boat.

Forest fires were the worst of their kind in at least 10 years, with nearly 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) burned, compared to an average of 13,516 at the same time between 2008 and 2020.

United States

Hurricane Ida hit the east coast of the United States in August with record-breaking days of rain after hitting the Gulf Coast as one of the strongest hurricanes on record in the United States.

The storm killed at least 45 people from Maryland to New York City as basement apartments filled with water, rivers and streams swelled to record levels, and roads turned into canals swallowing cars.

More than a million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi went without power after Ida knocked down a large transmission tower. New Orleans was plunged into total darkness before the power returned to parts of the city a few days later.

Hurricane Ida floods homes in Lafitte, Louisiana, United States [File: David J Phillip/AP Photo]

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