As the south of England continues to avoid most of the drizzly, windy weather caused by the conflicting cold and warm fronts further north, the rest of the world is having one of its worst periods of severe weather for years.


Hurricane Linda has mercifully given California a miss and is now sulkily drifting off into the Pacific, having been downgraded to a tropical storm. As a parting shot, it swept five men into the sea at Newport beach, but all were safely rescued. Its high winds (gusts of 300 kph were recorded) have turned southern California into a surfers' paradise, but left tourists in some Mexican resorts barricaded in their hotel rooms against winds, rain and waves.


Papua New Guinea is suffering its worst drought for 50 years. A famine is feared if weather conditions do not improve, as some villagers are reported to have sold their prize pigs in order to buy food, "a desperate move in a ... nation where a man's status is measured by the number of pigs he owns", according to Reuters.


Muslim religious leaders have called on followers to pray for God's help in lifting the smog which has reached hazardous levels in Kuala Lumpur. Indonesian forest and scrub fires are blamed for the smog, which is led to people wearing surgical masks for protection.