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A weather map of Storm Malik as it was pulling in over Scotland at the end of January, 2022.
04 Feb 2022

Powerful storms hit Europe and the Americas - Storm Malik killed at least 4

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November and December of last year were unusually stormy months in many parts of the world. The last week of January continued that trend: Storm Malik killed 4 people in Europe. In Ecuador, 24 people were killed by a mudslide, and in the eastern US, a difficult winter storm affected 10 states.

The same weekend, in the state of Florida a somewhat "bizarre" weather warning was issued in the form of a caution against iguanas falling from trees due to cold temperatures. 

 

Blizzard warnings were issued by authorities from the state of Virginia in the south to the state of Maine in the north. The city of Boston had a record snowfall of 60 centimeters (23,6 inches) in a single day. In the state of Massachusetts, the town of Sharon had even more snowfall , 76 centimeters in one single day.  The town of Islip, State of New York, had 61 centimeters in one day. New York City received 19 centimeters of snow.  

Winds were gusting as high as 134 km/h ( 83,3 miles per hour / 37,2 meters per second) on Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts.   

Saturday the 29th of January more than 4500 flights were cancelled throughout the US, with a high number in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. More than 120,000 homes and businesses lost power in Massachusetts, but no other states reported widespread outages.

 

Even higher wind speeds killed four people in Europe

In Europe, Storm Malik killed at least 4 people during the last weekend of January as it swept through Europe. Storm Malik reached the Nordic region and northern Germany late Saturday after moving in from Britain, where it caused material damage and transportation problems, especially in Scotland, where a young boy and a 60-year-old woman also were killed on Saturday by falling trees. 

Wind gusts temporarily reached more than 160 km/h  ( 99.2 miles per hour / 44 meters per second) in parts of Scotland, causing disruption to transport and power outages to tens of thousands of homes.

In Denmark,  strong winds with heavy rain caused authorities to close several important bridges on Saturday, including the important Öresund Bridge, which is the only practical rail and road connection between the Danish capital of Copenhagen and Malmö in Sweden.

Since the opening of the Öresund Bridge in the summer of 2000, the south of Sweden and Greater Copenhagen has more and more become one unified economic region. This also includes shared labour resources, so any disruption to the bridge can have devastating economic consequences for businesses in both countries.  
 

 

2 dead in Germany - heavy material damage in Scandinavia

In Germany, local media reported a man was killed on Saturday when he was struck by a flying  billboard that had come loose in the storm.

In Denmark, local media reported that a 78-year-old woman died from severe injuries when she fell fell during strong winds.

Flooding in several  parts of Denmark caused substantial material damage and several traffic accidents were caused by falling trees and flying debris, according to local police.

The south of Sweden were was also severely affected, with many thousands of households without electric power by Sunday afternoon. Ferries to the Baltic island of Gotland were cancelled because of strong winds.

Damage to houses, cars and boats were reported in Norway. Heavy snowfall throughout Finland caused road accidents and disrupted buses and trains.

 

24 dead in mudslides in Ecuador 

Heavy rainfalls in Ecuador caused severe mudslides in the capital city of Quito on the Monday following the stormy weekend. A hillside weakened by the rain collapsed on Monday January 31st, killing 24 people of more, according to an official statement on February 1st. 

According to the Quito Security Department, at least 48 more people were injured and eight houses collapsed in Monday's landslide, and many more buildings were damaged. 

The Mayor of Quito, Santiago Guarderas,  said the intense rains had weakened the the soil in the hillside, which set set the landslide in motion. 

 

Cold temperatures caused danger of falling iguanas in Florida 

During the same stormy weekend in late January, the Florida Weather Service issued a warning of a different weather phenomenon: falling iguanas.

The Florida Weather Service has warned residents that iguanas could fall from the trees due to unusually cold temperatures in the area.

Green iguanas are an invasive species in Florida. They can weigh up to 7.5 kilos / 16,5 pounds and can be more than 1.5 meters / 4,9 feet in length. An iguana hitting a person from sufficient height could cause serious injury or death.  

Although unusual, this is not the first time iguanas have fallen to the ground due to cold.

According to zoologist Stacey Cohen, iguanas sleep on branches up in the trees, but when they are cooled down, they lose their ability to hold on to the branch. 

"Iguanas are cold-blooded. They become immobile when the temperature drops. They can fall from trees, but they are not dead ", the authorities wrote on Twitter.

When temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius / 50 degrees Fahrenheit  iguanas become stiff and can fall down. Reptiles can survive a period of the coma-like condition, however freezing temperatures (below 0 C / 32 F)  are more serious, according to zoologist Stacey Cohen, referring to a cold snap in 2010 that killed a large number of iguanas.