Weekly wrap-up: Fierce winds interrupt Olympic events in PyeongChang; Cyclone destroys Tonga's Parliament House

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
February 16, 2018, 2:03:48 PM EST


Intense winds in PyeongChang postponed several events at the winter Olympics this week.

Wednesday was the third time in four days that an Alpine skiing race was postponed due to strong winds, according to the Associated Press.

Winds also postponed both the women’s and men’s biathlon.

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Members of the course crew dismantle it after the women's slalom was canceled for the day due to weather at Yongpyong alpine center at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)


Spectators were forced to evacuate the Gangneung Olympic Park as winds gusted up to 60 km/h (37 mph). Winds were so strong that concession stand refrigerators toppled over, as well as tents and signs.

A plane crashed outside of Moscow on Sunday amid snowy conditions, killing 71.

"It was cloudy with light snow falling across the area at the time of the crash. Visibility was generally between 1 and 3 miles," AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty said.

It is unclear if weather played a role in the crash. Officials found the plane's flight data recorder, however, which is crucial for determining cause. The aircraft was headed for Orsk, which lies near the Russia-Kazakhstan border, over 1,700 km (1,050 miles) farther to the southeast.

Snow covered parts of Germany late this week, causing numerous accidents across the western part of the country.

While not an intense amount of snow fell, it caused "significantly more accidents than on normal days,” a spokesman for the Bonn police told the German Weather Service.

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Dozens of flights were also delayed at Dusseldorf Airport.

Powerful Cyclone Gita caused widespread damage to parts of Samoa and American Samoa last week before targeting Tonga on Monday night into Tuesday.

An emergency declaration was ordered for American Samoa.

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In this Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 photo, first responders with a backhoe work amid strong winds and heavy rain from Tropical Storm Gita to clear part of the main road at Fagaalu village in American Samoa. (AP Photo/Fili Sagapolutele)


Flooding and power outages were widespread across Tutuila, including the capital of Pago Pago where rainfall in excess of 150 mm (6 inches) was reported.

More than 350 mm (14 inches) of rain fell in Samoa's capital city of Apia from Friday into Saturday. Widespread flooding was reported along with damage to buildings from strong winds.

At its closest approach to Tonga, Gita was equal to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic and east Pacific oceans with sustained winds of 232 km/h (144 mph). The storm destroyed Tonga's Parliament House, according to the AP.

A massive sinkhole opened in Rome this week, forcing evacuations of 22 families. The sinkhole was about 10 meters (32 feet) deep and opened in the city's Balduina district.

No injuries were reported, according to CNN.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh has confirmed that an EF1 tornado caused damage near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. This is the first recorded tornado in the NWS Pittsburgh area of responsibility during the month of February since 1950.

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