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Luhman 16B is the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, and the third nearest star system to our solar system

Queensland devastation draws comparisons to catastrophes of 1974 and 1955

Australia Day fell on a Saturday at the end of an already unusually wet summer in late January 1974. Brisbane's 900,000 inhabitants were dancing to Helen Reddy and the Rolling Stones. In the skies above them a moving monsoonal trough producing heavy rain was drifting further south than usual. Over the Queensland capital, it met the weakening Cyclone Wanda.

Woman killed as floods return to Australia

Flash floods swept through a north-eastern Australian community today, killing one woman, trapping others in cars and leaving some clinging to trees as relentless rains brought more misery to a region battling its worst flooding in decades.

2010 showed coldest December on record

Last month was the chilliest December in records stretching back 100 years and one of the coldest months ever recorded in the UK, the Met Office said today.

Steve Connor: East Australia forewarned by the experts who watch La Niña

A combination of heavy monsoon rain falling on already saturated ground, which has caused many rivers to burst their banks, is the straightforward explanation for the catastrophic flooding seen across vast areas of Queensland. Just before Christmas, the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology warned Queenslanders to prepare for heavy flooding during the holiday period, due to the heavily saturated ground and rainfall that was predicted in a range of 300mm to 600mm.

Woman swept away drowns in Australian floodwaters

A woman drowned after trying to cross a flooded causeway in Australia, becoming the first victim of relentless flooding that one official has described as reaching "biblical proportions," police said.

Coldest December for 120 years

The past month was Britain's coldest December for 120 years, meteorologists said yesterday.

Weather apps: Cool and clear (but rather windy in places)

The British obsession with the weather means there are now hundreds of apps that promise to deliver the forecast straight to our phones. But how many are just hot air?

Court move to halt Boxing Day Tube strike

London Underground is taking legal action in a bid to prevent a Boxing Day strike by Tube drivers going ahead, it was announced today.

Leading article: The cold offers no comfort on climate change

Climate scientists frequently point out that the weather and the climate are not the same thing. Indeed, they often sum up the difference by saying that the climate is what we expect and the weather it what we get. The climate operates over long periods, often too long for us to remember with any accuracy without the help of good-quality records. The weather, meanwhile, is very much the here and now and is, as a result, at the forefront of our minds, which is the case now.

Around world, thermometers point to 2010 being hottest year yet

It may be snowing hard in Britain, but 2010 is on course to be the hottest year ever recorded for the world, figures released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) indicated yesterday.

Whatever the weather: Why the seasons always blow hot and cold in Delhi

If there's one aspect of the Indian weather that most people have heard about, it's the monsoon rains that drench parts of southern Asia between June and September.

Clean-up under way in flood-hit Cornwall

A major clean-up was under way today as flood-battered Cornwall recovered from devastating torrential rain.

Cameron pledges aid for flood-hit Cornwall

David Cameron today promised flood-battered Cornwall as much help as it needs getting back on its feet.

Book of Clouds, By Chloe Aridjis

Chloe Aridjis's novel opens with a haunting vignette. The narrator, Tatiana, a young Mexican woman living in contemporary Berlin, describes the time she saw Hitler riding the U-Bahn. He was, she recalls, disguised as an old lady, an "incognito hag" travelling the city with a coterie of plain clothes guards. Her story, with its air of absurdity and quiet menace, seems deliberately to echo the moment in WG Sebald's great novel Vertigo, when the peripatetic protagonist, on a bus in central Europe, encounters a pair of identical twins who bear an uncanny resemblance to Franz Kafka.

Why the Big Apple blows hot and cold

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?