JEFFREY BROWN: Around the world today the celebration to welcome 2011 has begun.
From Moscow, where fireworks went off despite a curtain of thick snow, to Tokyo, where revelers released silver balloons. Among the first to celebrate, New Zealand.
MEN: Three, two one. Happy New Year!
JEFFREY BROWN: And Australia, where fireworks lit the midnight sky over Sydney Harbour for a crowd of 1.5 million, one of the largest in the world.
But there was little cause for celebration 800 miles up the Pacific Coast of Australia. Thousands of homes across Queensland State are inundated with water after days of pounding rain caused swollen rivers to overflow.
WOMAN: I think it’s horrendous. I think there’s too much of it, and it’s quite frightening as to where it’s going to go.
JEFFREY BROWN: Nearly 200,000 residents have been evacuated, and an estimated 300,000 square miles have been affected by the flooding.
It was a stormy end to 2010 for much of the United States as well.
A huge weather system — more than 1,500 miles from top to bottom — has pushed its way across the country in recent days. In southern California, residents spent New Year’s Eve digging out from mudslides.
MAN: I don’t even know where to go from here. It’s just one thing after another right now.
JEFFREY BROWN: The northern part of the state suffered wind gusts up to 100 miles an hour and 20 inches of fresh snow.
In Arizona, a rare blizzard dumped a foot of snow 80 miles from the Grand Canyon.
MAN: I thought I was in Arizona. I thought this was going to be the desert today.
JEFFREY BROWN: And in North Dakota, blinding snow led to a massive pileup of 100 cars west of Fargo. The storm also fueled deadly tornadoes in Arkansas and Missouri.
Meanwhile, though, in New York’s Times Square, crews labored to clear the last of the snow from last weekend’s blizzard ahead of tonight’s traditional ball drop.