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N. HEMISPHERE PLAGUED BY WEATHER EXTREMES

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The Northern Hemisphere is having a summer of unusually extreme weather: widespread drought and blistering heat in Europe and deluging rains in Asia and the Eastern United States.

"This summer hasn't been normal anywhere in the hemisphere," said National Weather Service climatologist Rich Tinker.Summer's most notable weather has occurred in Europe, where blistering temperatures and searing droughts have caused a rash of man-killing forest fires, shriveled rivers, buckled railroad tracks and threatened crops.

"Europe has been unusually hot and dry since mid-June," Tinker said.

Temperatures have been way above normal in the British Isles, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

Thermometer readings this month reached 104 in Madrid, 96 in Prague, 94 in Berlin and Geneva, 93 in Paris and 88 in London. Normally, Europe's summer temperatures range from the 90s in Spain to the 70s in Britain, France and Germany.

And most of Europe has been bone dry. Through July, Madrid measured a tiny .01 inch of rain since June 1; Lisbon a minuscule .03; Nice .09, and Marseilles, a half-inch.

Precipitation since June 1 was only 25 percent of normal in Geneva, 39 percent in Warsaw, 50 percent in London, and 60 percent in Berlin and Krakow.

Europe's heat has been so intense that parts of Poland's rail system had to be shut down after tracks expanded and bent. In Spain, more than a dozen fire-fighters have been killed.

"If Europe doesn't get rain soon, there will be massive crop failures," Tinker said.

Europe's drought is a clone of the hot, dry weather plaguing the western United States from the Central Plains to the Rockies. Temperatures in Arizona and California soared into the 120s and paved the way for scores of forest fires, including the Colorado blazes that killed 14 firefighters.

Japan and Korea also have been parched by hot, dry weather. Seoul recorded 100 degrees in mid-July, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Korean capital. Seoul also has gotten only half of its normal rainfall and southern Korea only 7 percent.

Rice farmers in southern Japan fear their crops will be ruined for the second consecutive year. Last year, the crops were washed out by too much precipitation. This year, Nagasaki has gotten 2 percent of its normal summer rainfall and Hiroshima only 15 percent.

In contrast, most of India, Pakistan, China and the Philippines are being sloshed by unusually heavy rains. Some areas of India, Pakistan and China have been inundated by more than 50 inches and parts of the Philippines have gotten 40 inches.

The eastern third of the United States also has been deluged, mostly by prolonged, heavy thundershowers. Much of Georgia was nearly drowned by Tropical Storm Alberto.

"The hemisphere has been very dry or very wet and nothing in between," Tinker said.