Wild World of Weather: Dust storms, atmospheric rivers and cherry blossoms

This week in the Wild World of Weather
Cherry blossoms at Oregon State Capitol
Cherry blossoms at Oregon State Capitol(KPTV)
Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:00 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - This week in the wild world of weather, we saw everything from flooding and dust storms to cherry blossoms.

Earthquakes shake Ecuador and Peru

March 18 - A deadly earthquake impacted Ecuador and Peru leaving authorities to comb through the rubble.

The 6.8 magnitude quake struck the coastal province of Guayas in Ecuador around midday. Residents reported shaking across the country as well as in Peru’s nearby northern border towns. Residents were trapped in rubble as buildings crumbled.

The prime minister of Peru confirmed a four year old died after suffering head trauma when her home collapsed. The death toll in Ecuador has climbed to 12 and more than 100 people have been reported injured. At least 15 people in Ecuador and Peru have died.

Earthquake damage in Ecuador
Earthquake damage in Ecuador(Clear)

NASA ends mission to study clouds at the edge of space

March 20 - Nasa has discontinued a 15 - year mission studying clouds at the edge of space.

The spacecraft ‘AIM’ which stands for the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere’ has been collecting data on the middle layer of the atmosphere... but data collection has declined due to battery issues. It has been unable to receive commands or collect data because of these problems.

The mesosphere - ‘meso’ meaning middle - is the highest layer in the atmosphere in which the gases are well-mixed rather than layered by mass. AIM completed its original mission in 2009 to study the physical and chemical processes that give rise to polar mesospheric clouds.

Washington DC cherry blossoms bloom

March 22 - In the nation’s capital, the yearly cherry blossom bloom is on. Peak bloom arrived this week in Washington DC.

The bloom is a signal of springtime... And this year’s aligned well with the start of astronomical spring that started on Monday. The cherry blossoms normally bloom around the last week of March into the first week of April.

The National Park Service announced that they expect peak bloom to occur between March 22 and March 25. The warm start to the year has interfered with the regular development of the buds, keeping them from reaching their normal dormancy in the winter.

Beijing sandstorm

March 22 - A major sandstorm blanketed Beijing and northern China on Wednesday.

The region was covered in thick clouds of orange dust, sending air pollution soaring to hazardous levels. The air quality index was measured to be PM10, indicating pollution particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter were present. These particles can easily enter through the nose and travel to the lungs. The Beijing Ecological Environment Monitoring Center said the levels have exceeded monitoring charts.

Sandstorms are not uncommon for Beijing - the city is regularly hit with sandstorms in the spring. The storm originated in Mongolia on Tuesday, moving towards the central and eastern regions of China according to Chinese forecasters. The lack of rainfall in the area and strong winds along a frontal boundary contributed to the particles blanketing the country.

Beijing sandstorm
Beijing sandstorm(WVUE)

California ski resorts extend their seasons

March 22 - Atmospheric rivers continue to slam California this week, but some areas of the state are benefiting from the mass of snowfall. Ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area are extending their ski and snowboarding season well into May.

Although this is good news for the resorts in terms of snowfall, visitors may have trouble arriving at the resorts to ski or snowboard. Snowpack in California is greater than 200 percent of the average to date and over 200% of the yearly average. This increase in snowfall has caused problems for some business in Lake Tahoe as many are literally buried or unable to operate.

Snow buries a building in Lake Tahoe
Snow buries a building in Lake Tahoe(WVUE)

Arizona floods prompt evacuations

March 22 - Floodwaters in some parts Arizona are forcing residents to leave home.

Northern areas of the state had evacuation orders in place this week due to flash flooding caused by the onslaught of atmospheric rivers impacting the west. People in Rimrock and Lake Montezuma along Wet Beaver Creek were told to move to higher ground.

The State Department of Transportation said on Twitter several roads and highways have been closed due to high water and weather-related crashes.

California atmospheric river chaos

The twelfth atmospheric river system in a row bombarded California this week.

The deadly storm led to torrential rainfall, flooding, high winds and snowfall in the mountains. Around 115,000 homes are without power after falling trees caused outages in the San Fransisco Bay area.

A semi truck was toppled in the strong wind gusts on the Bay Bridge. The driver was luckily able to climb out on his own. At least three commercial barges broke loose and smashed into one of the city’s historic bridges.

Two people were killed in the Bay Area in two separate cases of trees falling onto their vehicles.

Across the state of California many cities have seen up to 200% of their normal rainfall for the winter. The only upside is the dent that the rainfall has put in the long-term drought that left the state looking for water in years past. More than 80% of the state was included in “severe” drought conditions in December, which is now down to just 8%.

Semi truck toppled on the Bay Bridge
Semi truck toppled on the Bay Bridge(WVUE)

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