Weatherwatch: extreme weather hits Olympics, Brazil and northern Europe

Blizzards hinder Winter Olympic events in China while intense rainfall and storms elsewhere cause fatalities and damage

It might be termed the Winter Olympics, but until last weekend (12 to 13 February) Beijing 2022 had seen no real snow and was relying entirely on artificial snow and snow cannon. Then temperatures plummeted to -22C with heavy snow and blizzard conditions causing poor visibility. Thirty-three out of the 87 competitors in the men’s giant slalom were unable to finish and many other events were postponed.

Meanwhile, in the city of Petrópolis in the Rio de Janeiro state of Brazil, intense and torrential rainfall caused landslides and devastating flooding on Tuesday 15 February. About 25.8cm of rain fell in just three hours, the normal volume for the entire month of February. At least 100 people have died and many are still missing, with 500,000 forced to leave their homes.

Finally, a deep area of low pressure brought damaging winds to northern parts of Europe last week, the second to hit the region in a matter of days. Known as Storm Zeynep in Germany, the strong winds uprooted trees damaged roofs and buildings, and caused significant disruption to transport. The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and northern France experienced the worst of the conditions with wind gusts in excess of 80mph. Three people were killed in the Netherlands, with other fatalities also reported in Germany and Belgium.

• This article was amended on 22 February 2022. Petrópolis is in Rio de Janeiro state, not São Paulo state as an earlier version said.

Alice Fowle (Metdesk)

The GuardianTramp

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