5th January - Today's News: Freezing Rains Forces Evacuations as Homes Collapse in Southern China

We think we had it bad in Britain, but spare a thought for China where cold front wreaks transport havoc and in the south, homes collapse under weight of ice. Meanwhile, Reuters have a factbox on China winter weather latest developments.

In Queensland, city dodges flood peak but more rain looms whilst more heavy rain poses NSW flood threat as well. Not surprisingly it's been Queensland's wettest year on record.

There's also been a flood warning issued after heavy rains in S Africa

At Eskdalemuir, December was 'coldest in a century'

However, in contrast, South Baffin swelters in winter heatwave with temperatures around 20c above normal - in fact it's even been above freezing - and "it doesn't show any signs of abating".

It was overcast here in Evesham, but some in the country managed to see an early partial solar eclipse for 2011.

China makes gain in battle against desertification but has long fight ahead

Oceanic garbage patch not nearly as big as portrayed in media

Earthquake propels Kirby Malzeard into national spotlight

There's been a load of utter nonsense, tripe and downright lies in the tabloid media and blogosphere about this, but the Guardian version seems to be fairly accurate regarding the fact that the Met Office knew pre-Christmas freeze was coming but held off telling the public. Although exactly what difference it would have made to anyone if they'd known in October that it was likely to be a colder than usual winter remains rather a mystery - it's only at medium and short range that it becomes an issue and we can make plans accordingly. Of course the real problem here is that whilst the Met Office were warning their customers of a possible severe winter, the media had decided to run an entirely fictious 'Met office predict a mild winter' story ....... which just goes to show that the media are as reliable and trustworthy as a shed full of staving bandicoots on heat. This email to the GWPF is also of interest here.

Personally I find the Met Office monthly forecasts, updated daily, to be very useful and much better than the seasonal proability forecasts that they used to issue - and which the media totally failed to even try to understand. Indeed, it was as a result of public consultation that the MetO decided to issue these forecasts and no longer produce seasonal probability forecasts - though of course GloSea4 output would have helped with producing the more detailed long range forecasts they have always produced for their clients. I hope the MetO stick to their guns and ignore the bawling, ignorant, childish morons in 'Fleet Street' who have no more desire for truth than a dead begonia left in a small pot on a window sill in Peckham desires a small yacht off Bimini for a weeks holiday in June. And who, frankly, are just pissed off that the Met Office have taken them out of the loop, so to speak - which really is what this story is all about.

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