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Sao Paulo swelters in record heatwave
by Staff Writers
Sao Paulo, Brazil (AFP) Feb 02, 2014

Residents of Brazil's business hub Sao Paulo are sweltering in record temperatures after a January with the highest average in 70 years, while low rainfall could lead to water rationing.

Meteorologists recorded 35.8 Celsius (96.4 Fahrenheit) Saturday afternoon -- the highest February temperature since records began in 1943. And the Inmet meteorological institute said Sunday the hot spell would continue.

The seething metropolis of 20 million has been laboring under baking conditions since the turn of the year.

Average temperatures of 31.9 Celsius made January the hottest in 71 years.

The unrelenting heat -- along with rainfall at an 80-year low -- has left water levels at the main reservoir serving the city at their lowest levels in a decade, leading water and sewage services company Sabesp to warn it may have to impose rationing.

US groundhog Phil sees shadow, predicts more winter
Washington (AFP) Feb 02, 2014 - In a colorful annual ritual of dubious accuracy, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow Sunday and saw his shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter.

The Pennsylvania rodent is the most famous of the furry weather forecasters for "Groundhog Day," an event with early roots in German folklore -- and rather more in US media showbiz.

According to legend, if Phil had not seen his shadow then spring would soon be on its way, bringing relief to a nation that has survived an especially harsh winter.

But instead, the groundhog purportedly announced: "That's not a football lying beside me,/ It's my shadow you see/ So, six more weeks of winter it shall be!"

The proclamation, posted on the website, referred to Sunday's other big event -- the Super Bowl -- held in New Jersey this year, for the first time in an outdoor arena.

The groundhog said he could not predict whether the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks would win the National Football League championship game.

Groundhog Day falls on February 2 each year, attracting large crowds to the little Pennyslvania town of Punxsutawney.

It started with a German tradition in which farmers closely monitored the animal's behavior to make decisions about when their fields should be planted.

The town, which claims to have held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s, is the undisputed headquarters for the unscientific experiment.

The groundhog, or rather his long line of ancestors and look-alikes bearing the same name, is a national media star and was at the center of the 1993 Bill Murray comedy "Groundhog Day."

Last year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring.


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Australian heatwave set to worsen as fires rage
Sydney (AFP) Jan 16, 2014
Australians sweltering through a severe heatwave were warned Thursday that the worst is yet to come, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs. Most of southeast Australia has been sizzling in a heatwave that triggered a devastating wildfire on the west coast, razing 55 homes and claiming one life on Sunday. The mercury has soared above 40 degr ... read more

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