Those of us who are still knee deep in the slush left behind by Winter Storm Nika — or skidding across its icy remains — can count ourselves lucky. (Well, those of us who have power, at least.) As unpleasant as the winter weather across eastern and central portions of the United States and Canada has been, it’s nothing compared to the meteorological crises currently being faced in other parts of the world.
Image via Flickr
In Brazil, for instance, a historic drought is threatening the Sao Paulo’s water supply. The Cantareira water system, which serves over 10 million people, is usually flush at this time of year, as January is generally the height of the region’s rainy season. However, this year has seen so little rain that the city’s water could dry up in as little as six weeks; companies that depend on water for manufacturing have already had to close shop until rain comes. Worse, in addition to being dry, this past January was also the hottest on record for the city, ratcheting up energy consumption. With any luck, the rains will return in force soon, and continue through March, averting a crisis. If not, the city will have to make some tough decisions in advance of June’s World Cup.
Image via NOAA
Sao Paulo isn’t the only place that’s dangerously dry right now. California just experienced the driest year in its history, leaving the snow pack in some of California’s Sierras is at as little as 4% of its normal levels. For the first time in half a century, areas that depend on the mountains for moisture will have to do without — including rural regions of central California, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, which stands to reason, as the problem has gotten so bad that it’s visible from space. The above photo shows what the Sierras looked like around this time last year, compared with today.
Image via AP
In Australia, January's blistering heat wave has resulted in similarly dry conditions, leading to a spate of wildfires. Fire officers in the state of Victoria are urging residents to be prepared to evacuate, stressing that they should "leave and live." Since the beginning of the year, record temperatures have caused large-scale conflagrations throughout the country, from Western Australia, to South Australia, to New South Wales. Meanwhile, a town of 3,000 is considering evacuating in Queensland after all but going without rainfall for two years.
And as goes winter weather? We could have it a lot worse. Between blizzards and an ice storm, the central European country of Slovenia has been glazed over entirely. Trees, buildings, and cars have been encased within a thick layer of ice, leading to some stunning pictures, but also perilous conditions, as power lines and trees have come tumbling to the ground. In fact, according to the government’s estimates, 40% of the country’s forests have been damaged by the past week’s weather.
So take heart. Things could be worse. Like, Australia worse. Plus, if all else fails, there’s always breakdancing.
Image via Reddit