>Tropical Cyclone Claudia
Tropical Cyclone Claudia showing an eye on Dec. 10, 2012. (Navy Research Lab Monterey -- NRLMRY)
Tropical Claudia has been the second strong cyclone of the South Indian Ocean cyclone season. The first was Anais, which played out in mid-October north and northeast of the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Reunion).
Claudia was named on Dec. 7 over the mid-Indian Ocean, southeast of Diego Garcia. Top sustained winds (1-minute average) were reckoned by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) to be 105 knots (about 195 km/h, or 120 mph) Sunday into Monday.
Tuesday, Claudia was weakening as it drifted southward, towards ever cooler waters. Prospects were for Claudia to dissipate and lose tropical character while far from any land.
>Snow in Europe
The last two weeks have had a number of snow outbreaks, some of heavy snow, across central and eastern Europe. Southern Germany, eastern Sweden, western Ukraine, western Russia and parts of the Balkan Peninsula are among the snow hot spots.
Not surprisingly, the cold has coincided with a sharp cold outbreak. A wide area of europe has been 2 to 5 degrees C colder than normal since the start of December. Scandinavia and Finland, however, have been 5 to 10 degrees C colder than usual.
Fresh snow, falling with temperature near the freezing mark, clings to trees and shrubs in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Snow wise, a series of storms has left significant falls over higher ground northward from the Alps. In southern Germany, snow depth reached 32 inches (82 cm) Tuesday at Oberstdorf. Stoetten, another town in the area, now has 22 inches of snow on the ground.
In the Schwarzwald, Freudenstadt registered a 25-inch (63-cm) snow depth Tuesday, and the snow depth atop Feldberg rose to 68 cm following the latest fall of snow. Feldberg is the highest spot in the mountainous Schwarzwald, or Black Forest.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of southern Germany, snow depth Tuesday was 37 inches atop Grosser Arber mountain. This hilly area is part of the Boehmer Wald, or Bohemian Forest.
Zugspitze mountain, Germany's highest, has picked up a hefty dose of snow lately. Since Sunday alone, snow depth has risen from 125 cm (49 inches) to 170 cm (67 inches).
In neighboring Austria, snow depth Tuesday was 19 inches (48 cm) in Bregenz, and a full 2 meters (79 inches) on Sonnblick mountain.
Some other stand-out snow depths:
Italy: Monte Terminillo -- 90 cm/35 inches Serbia: Sjenica -- 41 cm/16 inches Romania: Botosani -- 40 cm/16 inches Czech rep.: Primda -- 36 cm/14 inches Ukraine: Seliatyn and Kamienets Podil'skiy -- 42 cm/17 inches
>Cold and Snow in the Far East
Cold, continental air flowing over the Yellow Sea gave the Korean Peninsula its first widespread snow cover last week.
Snow has also fallen as low as sea level in western and northern Japan, as the first widespread "sea-effect" snows hit the country. By Tuesday, Sapporo had built up a 27-cm (11-inch) snow cover. Also in Hokkaido, but inland, Asahikawa has had as much as 50 cm (20 inches) of snow cover since late last week.
The cold has been significant. Seoul, South Korea, has been an average of 9.6 degrees F/5.3 degrees C colder than normal for the first 10 days of December. Average temperature in Beijing, China, has been 5.6 degrees F/3.1 degrees C below normal.
>Southern Hemisphere Heat
To complement the Northern Hemisphere cold and snow, a mention of Southern Hemisphere heat would be fitting.
Monday, western and northern Argentina through much of Paraguay baked under a nearly overhead sun. Highest temperatures were over the dry inter-mountain basins of the Argentina Cuyo: 43.1 degrees C/110 degrees F at La Rioja and 43.5 degrees C/100 F at Catamarca.
Highs in the Chaco of Paraguay were above 41 degrees C at both Prats-Gil and Mariscal Estigarribia.
Elsewhere, much of Australia was hot for the early week, though less so than it was earlier in the season.
A hot spot Tuesday was the notorious Marble Bar, Western Australia, which reached 42.5 degrees C/109 F. Relentless heat at Marble Bar is the stuff of legend -- and the world climate record books.
A southern Africa hot spot of late was Twee Rivieren, South Africa, which registered 40.9 degrees C/106 F on Sunday.
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