Here is a partial list of extreme weather events from 2007. Please email Erik ( with additions/corrections.

Extreme weather 2005

Extreme weather 2006

Extreme weather 2008

Extreme weather 2009

“The model scenarios used in the National Assessment project that the continuing growth in greenhouse gas emissions is likely to lead to annual average warming over the United States as much as several degrees Celsius (roughly 3-9 degrees F) during the 21st century.  In addition, both precipitation and evaporation are projected to increase, and occurrences of unusual warmth and extreme wet and dry conditions are expected to become more frequent.”

U.S. Climate Action Report 2002

“Intensity of rainfall events increases.  There is a general drying of the mid-continental areas during summer.  There are more frequent extreme high maximum temperatures and less frequent low minimum temperatures.”

Climate Change 2001 – The Scientific Basis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change



Monday, 12/31/07

‘NWS: 2007 driest year on record for central Alabama’ – Birmingham [AL] News per AP

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Central Alabama ended its driest year on record Monday just as it spent most of 2007: Sunny, with hardly any chance of rain.

The National Weather Service said Birmingham received only 28.86 inches of precipitation for the last 12 months, compared to the previous yearly low 29 inches of rain. Other cities in the region didn't fare any better.

The old low-water mark for Birmingham was set in 1895, and a forecaster said the government is missing data from 114 days of that year. That means the '07 rainfall total was even more of an anomaly than it appears at first glance.

"Unofficially it looks like 2007 will be the driest calendar year on record," said Jim Westland, a weather service meteorologist.

By comparison, Atlanta received 31.85 inches of rain for the year. 2007 was the second-driest year on record there.

Other Alabama cities got even less rain for the year than Birmingham, including Anniston with 22.39 inches; Huntsville with 28.65 inches; and Tuscaloosa with 26.05 inches. Westland said the weather service is still compiling records to determine whether those cities had record years, too, but all the totals were well below normal.

Mobile received a comparable deluge of rain with 55.25 inches in 2007, but even that was low.

"It's still more than 10 inches below normal," said Westland.

The lack of rainfall means continued and worsening water restrictions in cities including Sylacauga, where the 12,600 residents are ringing in '08 with new surcharges for any customer who doesn't reduce monthly water use by at least 10 percent.

Sylacauga gets most of its water from creek-fed Lake Howard, and the reservoir is 114 inches below full after rising 11 inches with the last few days of rain, said Mike Richard, general manager of the Sylacauga Utilities Board.

The lake was full this time last year, Richard said.

"We're worried, but the surcharges are meant to give out the signal to our customers that this is something we need help with," he said.

About half of Alabama's acreage is gripped in the government's most severe drought classification, and all but the extreme southern end of the state is considered to be in a drought.

Experts say the Southeast is feeling the effects of a La Nina weather pattern that means drier than normal conditions at least through late winter.

Officials in Sylacauga and elsewhere are encouraging common-sense measures to save water like placing bricks in toilet tanks, running only full washer loads of clothes and dishes, and turning off faucets during teeth brushing.

"The 10 percent savings shouldn't be hard to reach," said Richard.


Wednesday, 12/26/07

‘78 feared dead in Indonesian landslides’ – per AP

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Days of torrential rain triggered landslides that killed up to 78 people in western Indonesian on Wednesday, a rescue official said, while floods inundated thousands of houses elsewhere in the country.

Hundreds of soldiers, police and volunteers were digging for survivors by hand and trying to get heavy-lifting equipment to affected villages on the main island of Java, said search and rescue chief Eko Prayitno.

Sixty-one people were buried in Karanganyar district, he said, and 17 others were feared dead in nearby Wonogiri district.

The deaths occurred in several districts on the main island of Java after more than 12 hours of non-stop rain, local search and rescue chief Eko Prayitno said.

Prayitno said rescue workers were trying to get heavy-lifting equipment to the affected villages but were being hampered by roads blocked by landslides.

The disasters occurred on the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami, which killed some 160,000 people in Indonesia. Those deaths occurred on Sumatra island, far from Java.

The landslides did not disrupt a tsunami warning drill held on Java to coincide with the anniversary.

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused widespread flooding across Indonesia, where millions of people live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains close to rivers.

On Wednesday, floods — some as deep as 6 feet — were reported in numerous locations elsewhere on Java, as well as on Sumatra island and Sulawesi. Thousands of homes were affected, witnesses and media reports said.


Tuesday, 12/25/07

‘NSW floodwaters moving downstream’ – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The New South Wales State Emergency Service (SES) says floodwaters in the Coonamble region are receding, with the next flood peak expected in the town of Nyngan.

More than 170 millimetres of rain [6.69 inches] fell at Coonamble in the 24 hours up to 9:00am AEDT last Saturday.

The Castlereagh River peaked shortly after 11:00pm AEDT last night, but the town escaped major damage.

Other floodwaters are now moving downstream on the Bogan River towards the central NSW town of Nyngan.

SES spokesman Phil Campbell says flooding in this region is expected to be fairly minimal.

"In this particular flood, unlike that in 1990, the effects for Nyngan will be relatively minor," he said.

He says the biggest issue with the floodwaters will be for property owners trying to feed stranded livestock.

The worst reported areas of flood damage are around Lake Cargelligo, along the Bogan River north of Condobolin and along the Castlereagh River.

The SES is urging these affected farmers to call for assistance, with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) counting the cost of the flooding.

A drought hotline is now being used by farmers to report flood damage.

The department's director of emergencies, Graham Eggleston, who is fresh from managing drought relief, says with some farmers reporting floodwaters rising at a rate of an inch per minute, there is extensive damage including drowned stock and hundreds of kilometres of fencing destroyed.

He says the department is preparing an application for possible natural disaster relief.


Tuesday, 12/25/07

‘Snowstorm Sweeps Across the Midwest, Killing 19’ – New York Times, p. A12

CHICAGO — Ice storms, then a thick layer of snow and finally a raging, blinding wind paralyzed parts of the nation’s middle section over the weekend, stranding holiday travelers in roadside motels and shelters and leaving at least 19 people dead.

In eastern Iowa, eight state highways had to be shut down as high winds churned nearly 10 inches of snow that had fallen, said Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Transportation. Two state highways remained closed on Monday.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty authorized workers to open a National Guard armory in Albert Lea for travelers after gusts created whiteout conditions and the State Patrol reported more than 600 cars that had crashed or slid off roads on Saturday and Sunday.

Though the storm had ended by Monday, roads were still slick with layers of ice hidden beneath snow; on Monday morning in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area alone, State Patrol officers responded to more than 80 crashes involving vehicle damage, said Al Smith, a major with the patrol.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, some towns reported more than 15 inches of wet, heavy snow.

And in northern Wisconsin, a pelting ice storm before dawn on Saturday gave way to a long, slow snowfall the rest of the weekend.

In many states, law enforcement authorities urged motorists to slow down and even to stay home if possible. With holiday plans set and suitcases packed, however, people often failed to heed the warnings.

“You’ll never keep people off the roads at this time of the year,” Mike Retzki, a sergeant with the Stevens Point Police Department in Wisconsin, said. “The rural roads are still very slippery. But people are used to this in this neck of the woods; so in a way, this is business as usual around here.”

Law enforcement authorities across the Midwest and the Plains blamed the storm — and icy freeway exit ramps and bridges, in particular — for hundreds of car wrecks.

In many states, the authorities said a tally of fatalities connected to the storm was still being compiled. At least 19 deaths in Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming had been caused by such accidents, The Associated Press reported.

Officials in many cities declared snow emergencies, meaning that cars had to be off streets to allow plowing, which made some last-minute Christmas shoppers unhappy. Many cars were towed, including 19 in Stevens Point.

Some places, like Chicago, missed the brunt of the snow, but still got the wind. Wind gusts as high as 68 miles per hour at Chicago Midway Airport on Sunday led to flying shingles, falling trees and the loss of power to thousands, Chris Gitro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.


Friday, 12/21/07

‘Pelted again’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

No need to dream of a white Christmas.


The third significant storm of December guaranteed a snowy

holiday, but Mainers paid the price for it Thursday with

treacherous morning and evening commutes that saw many cars

slide off the roads.


The National Weather Service in Gray said 5 to 8 inches fell in

Cumberland and York counties by the time the storm ended

Thursday night.


Meteorologist Andrew Pohl said a complex weather system

involving two low-pressure centers made the duration and

intensity of the storm tough to predict.


The storm brought total snowfall for this month to 28.8 inches

in Portland. That's more than six times the amount of snow that

fell in December last year. But it's far short of the record for

December, which was set in 1970 at a whopping 54.8 inches.


Pohl, the weather service meteorologist in Gray, said snowfall

varied widely and was heavier in some areas because of a

phenomenon known as a "Norlan Trough."


That's an area of extremely low pressure, with heavy

precipitation, that formed between two low-pressure systems

that moved into the area from the Great Lakes and the Gulf of



Pohl said the troughs can produce snow at a rate of two inches

an hour. "We've gotten burned by these in the past."


Wednesday, 12/19/07

‘Thousands in Okla. Mark 10th day without power’ – per AP

SKIATOOK, Okla. — Huddled near her fireplace, Marla Carter wondered when Skiatook will be mentioned in news reports about the storm-related power outages that have left her without electricity for the past 10 days.

"It's kind of like we've been forgotten about out here," she said Tuesday. "There is life outside Tulsa."

Carter and thousands of other Oklahomans were still without power early Wednesday, more than a week after a massive storm coated the most populous regions of Oklahoma with ice.

Oklahoma's utility companies expect to restore service to most of their customers Wednesday or Thursday. The company that provides electricity to this town 30 miles north of Tulsa estimated that 99% of its customers would be back on line by Christmas.

President Bush issued a major disaster declaration Tuesday for seven Oklahoma counties battered by the ice storm. Federal funds will now be available to reimburse state and local governments for cleanup and infrastructure repairs.

The two-day storm caused 27 deaths, the state Medical Examiner's office said. Of those, 16 perished in traffic accidents, eight in fires, two from carbon monoxide fumes and one from hypothermia.

Crews working 13-hours shifts have restored power to all but 37,209 homes and businesses. Utility officials said power cannot be restored to some structures until the customers repair damage to connections where electrical service enters a home or business.

The storm broke about 1,700 power poles in the company's service area, initially knocking out electricity to as many as 14,000 customers, Calico said.

"We're not used to telling our members they're going to be out a day, and we're on day 10," she said. "The damage to the system is just huge."

Oklahoma was hardest hit by the storm that struck the Midwest and Northeast last week. In Kansas, where six deaths were blamed on the storm, about 24,000 customers remained without power Tuesday.

While the Plains struggled to put power back on, a swath of the country from the Great Lakes to New England dug out from a weekend storm that dumped 18 inches of snow in some places. At least eight traffic deaths were reported in the region.


Monday, 12/17/07

‘Winter storm blasts Northeast’ –

Crews will be battling strong winds this morning as they work to restore power to thousands in Pennsylvania and finish cleaning up airports and roadways from a deadly winter storm that battered the USA from Chicago to Portland, Maine, over the weekend.

"We had a very raw day today," said Fred Szabo, airport commissioner at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, where about 45% of flights were canceled Sunday.

The storm dumped more than a foot of snow on northern New York state and New England and close to a foot in Indiana and Illinois, said meteorologist Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service.

At least 150 school districts in Michigan, including Detroit, said classes would be canceled today because of the storm.

At least three deaths have been blamed on the storm, and hundreds of flights in Chicago and the Northeast were canceled Sunday. Federal investigators in Providence are looking into why a plane slid off the runway at Theodore Francis Green International Airport.

The storm will drive into Canada overnight, and winds with gusts up to 40 mph could whip up snow squalls over some areas until late today, Sullivan said.

Many churches called off Sunday services because of the hazardous conditions. "I don't want folks to venture out because we're having church and they feel obligated," said Glenn Mortimer, pastor of Wakefield Lynnfield United Methodist Church in Wakefield, Mass.

Crews in Pennsylvania are expected to work through today or early Tuesday to restore electricity to about 75,000 customers who lost power, according to the PPL Electric Utilities website.

Sleet, snow and high winds knocked out power to nearly 8,000 customers in Vermont. About 14,900 Missouri homes and businesses remained without power Sunday morning, and it could be the end of the week before power is restored statewide, said Duane Nichols of the State Emergency Management Agency.

Boston's Logan International Airport was shut down for nearly two hours because of the weather, causing nearly 300 flight cancellations, said airport spokeswoman Lisa Langone. She said further cancellations are not expected today.

In Cleveland, visibility dropped to less than a quarter-mile, causing delays, Szabo said. He expected the airport to be back at full operations today.

Nearly 200 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and 25 flights were canceled at the city's Midway Airport, which received more than 10 inches of snow by Sunday morning, said Karen Pride, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Meteorologist Earl Breon of the Northern Indiana National Weather Service said the area between South Bend and Fort Wayne had more than 16 inches of drifting snow. "Crews haven't been able to keep the roads clear because as soon as they come though, roads get blown back over," Breon said.

Slippery roads were blamed for two traffic deaths in Michigan and one in Wisconsin over the weekend.

Elsewhere, much-needed rain in the Southeast was accompanied by tornadoes in Florida and Georgia, Sullivan said.

An apparent tornado demolished a minimum-security annex building at the Pasco County Jail in central Florida, sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said. No injuries were reported.


Sunday, 12/16/07

‘New winter storm bears down on Northeast’ – Yahoo! News per AP

A winter storm set its sights on the Northeast on Sunday, a day after snarling road and air travel and leaving at least two people dead when up to a foot of snow fell from the Plains across the Midwest.

Winter storm warnings and watches were in effect from the Great Lakes to New England — where the entire region was under a winter storm warning — a day after as much as 15 inches of snow fell in parts of southern Michigan and as much as 10 inches in Detroit.

"We'll have little bit of everything," said Bill Drzal, a Weather Service meteorologist in Pittsburgh.

Areas to the north and east of the city were expected to see as much as 12 inches through Sunday night, according to the Weather Service.

More than 200 flights were canceled because of the weather Saturday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, and all other flights were delayed an hour, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham.

Road travel also became tricky in northeastern Illinois, including Chicago's suburbs, where officials reported spinouts and cars in ditches.

"It's coming down steady," said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Concern about the approaching storm led the University of Connecticut to cancel Sunday's winter commencement ceremony. About 850 undergraduates had expected to receive diplomas Sunday, but school spokesman Richard Veilleux said officials were concerned about the safety of the students and their families and other guests on slippery roads.


Sunday, 12/16/07

‘Cold weather returns to Georgia’ – Atlanta Constitution Journal

Get the coats and scarves back out.

A cold front pushing across Alabama that made its way into Georgia overnight cleared out the rain and was predicted to bring chilly temperatures and a lot of wind.


Highs Sunday are expected to reach the mid 40s, said Dan Darbe of the National Weather Service, with sustained winds of 20 to 25 m.p.h. and gusts of up to 35 m.p.h.

"The wind chills are going to be down there, that's for sure," Darbe said.

So much for Indian summer. One week ago, Atlanta enjoyed a record-breaking high of 76, and temperatures reached the upper 70s through the middle of the week.

"Last week, we were 20 degrees above normal temperature," National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Griesinger said on Saturday. "This Sunday it will be 10 degrees below normal. It's going to feel like December — for a change."

Forecasters expect the temperatures to warm up a bit on Monday, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s at night.

The Weather Service reported that Atlanta this weekend had gotten .84 of an inch of rain as of midnight Saturday; a few more showers were possible early Sunday. Some parts of central Georgia got 2 to 3 inches.

The next chance of rain should come by mid-week, Darbe said.

Despite Saturday's precipitation, the Weather Service said 2007 is still on track to be the driest year on record in Atlanta. With fewer than three weeks left in the year, Atlanta would need 4.55 inches of rain to avoid breaking the record low annual rainfall of 31.80 inches set in 1954.


Friday, 12/14/07

‘2007 among the warmest years on record’ – per AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — 2007 is shaping up to be one of the warmest years on record.

The annual temperature for 2007 across the contiguous USA is expected to be near 54.3 degrees — making the year the 8th-warmest since records were first begun in 1895, according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

Worldwide, temperatures were also in record territory. The global surface temperature for 2007 is on pace to be the fifth-warmest since those records were first started in 1880, the report said.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997.

A separate temperature data set released this week by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies indicates that so far, 2007 is the second-warmest year on record worldwide, behind only 2005.

In the USA, the NOAA data reports that the months of March and August were the second warmest in more than 100 years. Only February and April were cooler than average.

The past year was particularly rough in the Southeast and West, which experienced serious drought conditions. More than three-quarters of the Southeast was in drought from midsummer into December, the report said.

NOAA will update its data in early January to reflect the last few weeks of December.


Friday, 12/14/07

‘Snowy standstill’ – Boston Globe, front page

Boston and its environs seized up at the first sight of snow yesterday, as an unfortunately timed and unusually intense storm sent thousands of commuters racing from their jobs, virtually in unison, only to endure a gridlock of epic frustration.

The storm did what no commuters could: It arrived exactly on time. Major arteries to the south, west, and north were clogged from just after noon until well after dark, with traffic spilling across city and suburban streets.

The mess caused Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to say that state officials seemed unprepared. But state officials countered that they did the best they could, given the rush to the roads.

One driver, Lindsay Groff , said it took 45 minutes to traverse a single block in Boston's Back Bay. "I kept sitting behind the light," she said from her car. "It kept turning from red to green to red again."

Such stories were all too common in a day when 10 inches fell between 2 and 9 p.m., a record for the date in Boston.

Plows were unable to clear roads because by the time the snowfall had become heavy, main arteries were jammed. Rail platforms were overrun by commuters who had ditched their cars, and traffic on interstates slowed to side-street speed.

While dozens of vehicles spun out, no major accidents, deaths, or injuries were reported, in large part because people couldn't drive fast enough to get in serious crashes, city and State Police said.

What made the storm so problematic was the speed of the snowfall and the timing, said Bob Thompson, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton.

About 10.1 inches of snow had fallen at Logan International Airport by 9:11 p.m., breaking the old record for the day of 7 inches in 1902.

Eleven inches fell in Palmer, 10 in Wrentham, and 10 in Kingston. Snowfall was heaviest between 3 and 7 p.m., Thompson said, with Southeastern Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, and northern Rhode Island hit hardest.

"What makes this storm consequential was the timing," he said. "That's what this storm will be remembered for."


Tuesday, 12/11/07

‘Midwest ice storm leaves 22 dead, 800,000 powerless’ – per AP

DES MOINES — A thick glaze of ice brought down power lines and cut electricity to hundreds of thousands of people, closed schools and canceled flights Tuesday as a major ice storm coated the nation's midsection.

At least 22 deaths had been blamed on the storm system since the waves of sleet and freezing rain started during the weekend.

Officials in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma had declared states of emergency. President Bush declared an emergency in Oklahoma on Tuesday, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

Ice as much as an inch thick had accumulated on trees, power lines, streets and car windshields Monday in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri, with thinner layers elsewhere. About an inch of ice was expected Tuesday over parts of Iowa, followed by up to 5 inches of sleet and snow.

"This is a big one. We've got a massive situation here and it's probably going to be a week to 10 days before we get power on to everybody," said Ed Bettinger, a spokesman for Public Service Company of Oklahoma. "It looks like a war zone."

Iowa's largest school district closed for the day in Des Moines, telling its nearly 31,000 students to stay home, and kids across most of Oklahoma and in the Kansas City, Mo., area stayed home for a second day.

Nearly 600,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses still had no electricity Tuesday, most of them since Monday when power lines began snapping under the weight of ice and falling branches — the biggest power outage in state history. Utilities in Missouri reported more than 100,000 homes and business without power and Kansas utilities said more than 100,000 were blacked out Tuesday, with some in the dark since Sunday.

Iowa's two major utilities reported over 17,000 customers without power Tuesday.

The Kansas National Guard was asked to supply generators to several locations, including sewer treatment systems and two nursing homes, said Sharon Watson, Kansas Emergency Management spokeswoman.

Des Moines International Airport closed because of ice late Monday and could be closed most of Tuesday, said spokesman Roy Criss. The airport, which also was shut down by winter weather two weeks ago, has 138 arrivals and departures per day, he said.

"This rain keeps refreezing. We put chemicals down, it melts and the freezes again. We can't stay ahead of it," Criss said. "This is not fun."

Many travelers were grounded at Chicago, where about 250 flights were canceled Tuesday morning at O'Hare International Airport and departure delays averaging 15 to 30 minutes, said Karen Pride of the city's Department of Aviation.

Kansas City International Airport in Missouri canceled more than 90 flights Tuesday morning, but spokesman Joe McBride said that was probably due to problems at other airports.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.

At least 22 deaths — most of them in traffic accidents — had been blamed on the ice and cold since the weekend, including 15 in Oklahoma, four in Kansas, and three in Missouri.


Tuesday, 12/11/07

‘Subtropical Storm Olga lashes Puerto Rico, heads for D.R.’ – per AP

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Subtropical Storm Olga drenched Puerto Rico on Tuesday, while the Dominican Republic braced for a hit by reopening hurricane shelters more than a week after the official end of hurricane season.

The storm skirted Puerto Rico's northern coast overnight with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, blacking out electrical service to 76,000 people.

Forecasters said up to 6 inches of rain is expected to fall over Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

At least 15 provinces in the Dominican Republic opened temporary shelters and residents of low-lying areas were urged to seek higher ground.

Some areas in Puerto Rico received up to 7 inches of rain.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially ended on Nov. 30 but Brown said it is not very unusual to have a storm form in December.

Olga will be included in the tally for the 2007 season, bringing the number of named storms to 15, including six hurricanes. The next season officially begins June 1.

Subtropical storms can form over cooler waters than those needed by tropical storms and they show some characteristics of winter storms, including the potential for the strongest winds to be located a distance from the center.


Sunday, 12/09/07

‘Bush declares disaster in Northwest’ – Yahoo! News per AP

President Bush declared a federal disaster for 11 counties in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, clearing the way for federal aid after severe storms ravaged parts of Oregon and Washington.

The declaration provides recovery assistance to five northwestern Oregon and six southwestern Washington counties. It does not include assistance for individuals.

The disaster declaration says the federal government will reimburse 75 percent of the public cost for disaster response in those designated areas. It also creates a grant program that would provide federal money to take steps to reduce damage from future disasters such as burying utility lines.

FEMA spokeswoman Debbie Wing said more types of assistance could be granted and more counties could be covered as floodwaters recede and officials get a better look at the damage.

Oregon and Washington saw severe flooding, landslides and mudslides as the result of storms that hit the coast Dec. 1-3. Eight deaths were blamed on the disaster: two in Oregon and six in Washington, including a pair of hikers in the Cascade Mountains.


Friday, 12/07/07

‘Kona Low over Hawaii’ – NASA

A persistent low pressure system, known as a “Kona Low,” brought several days of high winds, heavy rains and even blizzard conditions to parts of the Hawaiian Islands during the first week of December 2007. The storm resulted in flooding, downed power lines, and road closures, said news reports. On Oahu, winds gusted to 110 kilometers per hour (70 miles per hour). On Maui, the road to the summit of Haleakala was closed due to debris brought by heavy rains. Locally, up to 180 millimeters (7 inches) of rain were reported. On the Big Island of Hawaii, in addition to areas of heavy rain of up to 280 mm (11 inches), blizzard warnings were issued for the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.


Wednesday, 12/05/07

‘Precipitation Across U.S. Intensifies Over 50 Years’ – New York Times, p. A21

Across the United States, the number of severe rainfalls and heavy snows has grown significantly in the last half-century, with the greatest increases in New England and the Middle Atlantic region, according to a report released yesterday

Environment America, a national group that advocates new laws and policies to mitigate the effects of climate change, issued the report.

The report, on the group’s Web site,, is an independent analysis of precipitation data from 1948 to 2006 that was vetted by two climate scientists.

It shows that the number of downpours and heavy snows has increased by 22 percent to 26 percent across the country since 1948. Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont were among the states in which occurrences of severe precipitation have increased more than 50 percent, according to the report. In Oregon and Florida, however, the incidence of extreme rainfall dropped slightly, though in Florida the drop was not statistically significant.

In some metropolitan areas, like Baton Rouge, La.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Bloomington, Ind.; Jackson, Miss.; Portland, Me.; and Reading and Williamsport, Pa., occurrences of extreme precipitation more than doubled.

“As temperatures rise,” the report notes, “precipitation will become increasingly likely to fall as rain rather than snow, increasing runoff and likely reducing water supplies in areas dependent on snowpack.”

The report’s release happened to coincide with the arrival of a destructive storm in the Pacific Northwest, where high winds and heavy rains flooded highways and left thousands of residents without power, prompting the governors of Oregon and Washington to declare states of emergency.

One scientist who reviewed the report, David Easterling, of the federal National Climatic Data Center, said that it contributed some new information on localized occurrence of extreme weather to the existing scientific literature. The findings of increasingly heavy rainfalls and snowfalls, Mr. Easterling said, are consistent with the prediction that climate change is likely to increase the intensity of storms.

“If you warm up the air, the air can hold more moisture,” he said. “And the amount it increases is not linear; it goes up exponentially.”

Another report released yesterday, by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and posted on its Web site,, detailed predicted impacts of climate change on four parts of the country — the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, Western forests and the Chesapeake Bay.

The authors said the Midwest was likely to endure more prolonged and intense heat waves, while the increase in Western wildfires was likely to accelerate. Climate change is also predicted to put more stress on the Louisiana coastal wetlands and to worsen an existing problem in the Chesapeake Bay of a summer “dead zone,” an area where the oxygen has been depleted.


Tuesday, 12/04/07

‘Rescue work continues in flood-ravaged Southwest Washington’ – Seattle Times

Efforts resumed today to rescue people from flood-stricken homes in Southwest Washington after Monday's regionwide storm killed two, severed major highways, isolated communities and closed scores of roads and businesses.

A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 south of Olympia will remain closed until at least late today, and possibly into Wednesday, according to state transportation officials. The initial detour around the flooded highway, through Yakima, also was changed because of flooding on Highway 97. The detour as of late Monday took drivers through the Tri-Cities, turning the usual 165-mile Seattle-to-Portland drive into a 440-mile journey.

Snowslides also closed highways across Stevens and Snoqualmie passes, although both were reopened Monday evening.

In Seattle, more than 4 inches of rain — enough water to fill Green Lake six times, according to Mayor Greg Nickels — fell in a 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday. It swamped streets, intersections and basements and forced the closure of Nathan Hale High School until Thursday.

The deluge far exceeded the capacity the city's drainage systems were designed to handle, the mayor said.

Firefighters had to use rafts to carry out residents from four Northgate apartment buildings at Midvale Avenue North and North 107th Street because water was as deep as 10 feet, said Helen Fitzpatrick, a Fire Department spokeswoman. She said one of the apartment building's parking garages was completely underwater.

Suburban highways and roads also disappeared under torrents of water. Mudslides halted Amtrak passenger-train service between Portland and Seattle. Slides also cut Sound Transit's Sounder train service between Seattle and Everett; the line will remain closed today.

The rainfall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the 24 hours that ended at midnight fell far short of the one-day 5.02-inch record set Oct. 20, 2003, but other spots were far soggier. In Bremerton, a record 10.78 inches of rain fell in 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Monday, washing out a two-lane bridge on Chico Way Northwest.

Gov. Christine Gregoire, declaring a statewide emergency, said Monday, "We are very concerned about what Mother Nature has in store for us — not just in the next 24 hours, but literally up to Thursday."

Up to 300 National Guard soldiers were being called up to help with relief efforts as officials monitored rising river levels around Western Washington. Shelters were set up to help evacuees in Grays Habor and Lewis counties and in some hard-hit areas of King County.

Aberdeen was virtually isolated by the storm as floodwaters covered all major roadways into the town.

The Chehalis River in Southwest Washington was causing the most serious flooding, but the Skokomish River in Mason County, the Satsop in Grays Harbor County and the Bogachiel and Elwha in Clallam County also are expected to flow higher than ever before.

In King and Snohomish counties, significant flooding was expected on the Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Tolt rivers.

In a 6 a.m. interview today, Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield estimated that 30-40 percent of residential neighborhoods in Centralia and Chehalis experienced flooding. The situation was made worse by a dike near exit 81 near Interstate-5 that either breached or water went over the top.

Local emergencies were declared in Bothell and Kenmore. Evacuations were called at several locations, including the North Creek Business Park because of rapidly rising water. The city of Bothell was asking for volunteers to help with sandbagging.

The damage was similar throughout Oregon, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski also declared a state of emergency as residents there dealt with flooding, power outages, landslides and blocked highways. Abby Kershaw, of Oregon Emergency Management, said communications are so bad it is not certain how many people have been evacuated.


Saturday, 12/01/07

‘Storm brings mud to fire areas’ – Los Angeles Times,1,5146248.story?coll=la-headlines-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Southern California got a break from its dry streak Friday with an unexpectedly powerful rainstorm that clogged the freeway commute, unleashed some small mudslides and forced officials in Orange County to evacuate canyon communities hit by October's brush fires.


The storm produced half an inch to an inch of rain in the Los Angeles Basin and 1 to 2 inches in parts of Orange County, San Diego County and the Inland Empire. That's not unusual for a heavy winter storm, but it felt more like a deluge in a region where the last rainy season was the driest on record.


Officials said that even a modest storm could prompt flooding and mudslides in areas burned in last month's fires. Federal studies released last week warned of a "severe" threat to life, homes and drinking water supplies if sustained rains hit steep slopes charred by the fires.


Just after 1 p.m. Friday, authorities ordered residents to evacuate their homes in Modjeska Canyon, where the Santiago fire left hillsides dangerously denuded and vulnerable to mudslides. Some canyon residents returned to their homes late Friday night when authorities downgraded the order to voluntary.


In the canyon, streets were covered with thick, gooey mud, a foot deep in some spots, running down bare, steep slopes. Cars fish-tailed out as most residents heeded the evacuation order. For many, it was the second time in about a month that they were told to flee their homes. Just as during the fires, some stayed behind.


"When the firefighters leave, then I'll leave," said Ron Everett, as he watched the parade of cars on Modjeska Canyon Road.


Inside Fire Station 16, volunteer firefighter Vickie Scheibel busily answered phones and wrote down ever-changing rainfall totals on a chalkboard.


"Oh, God, we're just overwhelmed, man," Scheibel said.


Williams and part of Silverado Canyon, near Modjeska, were also evacuated, but those orders were downgraded to voluntary at nightfall.


In northern San Diego County, officials also worried about the vast burn areas. The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning --the most serious alert -- in the areas burned by the Poomacha and Rice fires.


By afternoon, nearly 3 inches of rain had fallen on Palomar Mountain, which was besieged by the fires in October.


Officials placed so-called reverse 911 calls to nearly 6,000 homes in and near the areas burned by the Poomacha, Witch and Rice fires. In the Harris fire area to the south, 1,200 such calls were made. Residents were warned of the potential for mudslides and flash floods and told to watch weather reports.


"A lot of the areas out there are highly susceptible to debris flows, mud flows, rocks and debris coming down the steep canyons and hillsides," said Miguel Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Diego County. "The rain just doesn't soak in."


"The criteria for getting the earth to move a little bit in these burn areas is so small," Miller added. "Even a wimpy storm can do it."


The storm Friday was not wimpy, but it was far from a record storm. It came at the close of a month that nearly ended with no rain, and continued throughout the day. It was expected to subside early today.


"We had zero inches of rain until this storm," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "It looked like we had a no-hitter going, but the last hitter at the bottom of the ninth all of a sudden got a hit."


The last time downtown L.A. recorded more than an inch of rain in a single month was in April 2006. Since then, rain has been scarce. In mid-October, a pair of storms dumped 0.95 inches of rain over two days.


Friday's storm dropped half an inch of rain downtown, nearly an inch in Santa Monica, 1.10 inches in Fullerton, 1.51 inches in Ontario, 1.75 inches in Riverside, 2 inches in Vista, 1.64 at Del Mar and nearly an inch at Orange County's John Wayne Airport.


The storm caused havoc on Southland freeways, as rains mixed with oil to make roads slick.


There were 423 accidents from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in L.A. County. During the same period a day before, there were only 98, said California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball. In San Diego, the CHP reported 283 traffic collisions in the first 16 hours of Friday, up from an average of 75.


"I've never seen such a disproportional amount," Kimball said. "I double-checked three times; I couldn't believe it."


The southbound 5 Freeway in Orange County was closed about 2 1/2 hours during the morning commute because of an accident involving a big rig and at least three vehicles. On the 210 Freeway in Pasadena, a big rig overturned, blocking two transition lanes to a tunnel west of Lake Avenue. A motorist in Duarte died when his car went over the side of the rain-slick 605 Freeway into a ditch.


The CHP struggled to keep up. "There's accidents pretty much on every freeway right now," CHP Officer Jose Nunez said in the morning. "It's almost too many" to list.


In Big Bear, the rains caused the closure of California Highway 18. California Department of Transportation officials said there was a significant slide in the Arctic Circle portion of the highway, so it was closed from Big Bear Dam to Snow Valley. But the weather system did not result in major problems related to snow.


Heavy rain in the high desert led to a close call for a 14-year-old girl who tried to cross the Oro Grande wash in Victorville as she walked home from school. She was swept into fast-moving waters filled with lumber and trash. Members of a city grounds and maintenance crew clearing debris from the sides of the wash near the Green Tree Golf Course heard her cries for help.


Sergio Banuelos, the crew's 38-year-old foreman, said he ran into the 3-foot-deep water and caught the girl but was immediately swept away by a current that he said was racing at more than 40 mph. When he tried to grab a rake that fellow crew member Jason MacDowell extended into the wash, MacDowell was also swept into the water.


As the three were carried through a tunnel under a roadway, Banuelos' leg and shoulder hit one of the overpass' concrete supports, slowing the trio down enough that Banuelos could push the girl to safety before he and MacDowell scrambled out, he said.


Hundreds of homes near the Rose Bowl were without power Friday night because of storm-related damage.


In Orange County, Modjeska Canyon had been on edge ever since forecasters predicted rain. On Thursday night, residents listened intently inside Fire Station 16 as fire officials warned that there could be evacuations if the rains proved strong enough.


On Friday, they awoke to the pinging sound of hard rain. As they were told to leave their homes once more, it was too much for some of them.


"I just don't want to leave again," Karen Buller said as she burst into tears, sitting in her car on the shoulder of Santiago Canyon Road. Overhead helicopters buzzed, looking for signs of landslides, and heavy-duty graders and fire equipment rumbled into the neighborhood.


"I know if I go past that sheriff right there, they're not going to let me back in," Buller said. "I'll be out of my home again, for I don't know how long."


Brown, the Orange County firefighter, said he doubted this would be the last time.


"I kind of hesitate to say this to residents," he said, "but this is going to keep happening throughout the winter."


Monday, 11/19/07

‘Survivors grieve for cyclone dead –

PATUAKHALI, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Survivors of a storm that killed more than 3,000 people in the impoverished nation of Bangladesh grieved and buried their loved ones Monday as they waited for aid to arrive.

The number of dead killed from Cyclone Sidr -- now at 3,114 -- is expected to rise yet further as the South Asian nation continues to assess the damage.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent fears the death toll could be 5,000 -- perhaps even reaching as high as 10,000.

The Category 4 cyclone raked Bangladesh's southwest coast on Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 241 km/h (150 mph), destroying fishermen's hamlets and villages.

Thousands are still missing, while an estimated 280,000 others are unable to return to their homes which were wiped out by the storm. Many grieving families are now burying loved ones in single graves as no male members are available to dig them.

Most houses in the region are made of flimsy materials such as bamboo and corrugated iron, and had no chance of withstanding the storm's powerful winds.

In addition, the storm-struck area is criss-crossed by a huge river delta which surged as Sidr pushed through, wiping out many villages and littering the river's shores with debris.

Low-lying Bangladesh is already prone to flooding which has wiped out the country's rice production -- a major food staple for the impoverished country.

Improved warning systems and shelters have kept the number of deaths far lower than the disastrous cyclones in the region of 1970 and 1991, when the tolls were in the hundreds of thousands.

Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed visited the devastated region Sunday, handing out some aid to the crowds of people before members of the international media. It was seen largely a token effort as hundreds were left empty-handed and furious. Security officials struggled to hold back the crowd.

Sidr has already ruined Bangladesh's rice harvest, but the international community is rallying to make sure the country does not suffer as acutely as it has in the past. Nearly a million people died after massive floods wiped out the country's rice production in 1974.

International aid organizations promised initial packages of $25 million during a meeting with Bangladesh agencies Monday, the U.N.'s World Food Program said. The United States has offered more than $2 million as an initial contribution for emergency relief, and sent two U.S. Navy carriers to help in recovery operations.

Bangladesh's government held an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday to assess the disaster and discuss recovery issues, Bangladeshi government spokesman Fahim Munaim told CNN.

Officials fear the scope of the destruction may be much more extensive since there are remote areas where conditions cannot yet be determined.

Munaim said nearly a third of Bangladesh's 64 districts were affected by the cyclone, most of those along the southern coast. The Bangladeshi military is working to provide shelter for the many people who have been displaced.

International aid groups -- including Save the Children, World Vision, and the Red Crescent, which already have offices in Bangladesh -- are deploying resources to the cyclone-stricken region but -- like the government -- they have found it nearly impossible to reach the more remote areas to assess conditions.

Roads to remote areas are either blocked by massive trees fallen by the storm, or so severely damaged that it is impossible for vehicles to use.

Clearing could take weeks in the remote areas because it must be done by hand -- there are no chainsaws and modern machinery to speed up the process.


Thursday, 11/15/07

‘Georgia gets rain, but it may not help’ – per AP

ATLANTA — A storm system crashed through the Southeast and brought up to an inch of rain in parts of drought-stricken Georgia, but forecasters said the storm likely did little to ease the state's historic drought.

The rain late Wednesday and early Thursday brought some precipitation to the parched hills of northern Georgia. The showers began a day after Gov. Sonny Perdue led a prayer service on the steps of the state Capitol to beg the heavens to end the drought.

"Certainly, we're not gloating about it," Perdue said from a trade mission in Canada. "We're thankful for the rain and hopefully it's the beginning of more. ... Frankly, it's great affirmation of what we asked for."

As the drought has worsened, Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle against the release of water from federal reservoirs and appealed to President Bush.

About an inch of rain fell through north Georgia, and Atlanta received about a half an inch. It wasn't enough to ease the ease the drought, forecasters said.

"It puts a little bit of extra water in some of the smaller tributaries and reservoirs, but it doesn't provide any significant long-term benefit," said Matt Sena, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "We need months of above average rainfall to start putting a dent in this," he added.

Storms hit elsewhere in the Southeast, injuring at least nine in Tennessee.

In Kentucky, a tornado hit a rural stretch of the southeastern part of the state Wednesday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

"It was real intense," Laurel County Sheriff Fred Yaden said. "The winds were really strong, and the rain was coming in gushes."

More than a quarter of the Southeast is covered by an "exceptional" drought — the National Weather Service's worst drought category.


Tuesday, 11/13/07

‘Most power restored after intense Northwest storm’ – per AP

SEATTLE (AP) — Utility crews restored power Tuesday to most of the 130,000 Pacific Northwest homes and businesses that were darkened a day earlier by a fierce storm with battering winds.

Most of the electrical outages were repaired by midnight and crews continued to work Tuesday morning.

The worst of the storm damage, including cars and houses hit by falling trees and windows shattered by wind, and the bulk of the power outages Monday were west of the Cascade Range.

Wind gusts blew up to 119 mph at the 10,100-foot level of Mount Ranier, according to the National Weather Service. Closer to sea level, gusts of 97 mph were reported east of Bellingham on State Route 542.

Sustained winds peaked at about 45 mph for most of western Washington state.

The region's largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, had about 77,000 homes and businesses in the dark at various times Monday. By early Tuesday, spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said, the number was down to 11,000 customers.

Blowing dust that cut visibility to near zero resulted in workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation being sent home early Monday afternoon.


Monday, 11/12/07

‘Death toll rises in Vietnamese floods’ – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation per AP

Disaster officials say floods in central Vietnam killed at least 18 people over the weekend, raising the death toll from flooding in November to 69.

The latest floods are the fifth round to strike the central region since early October, submerging large areas.

Six people died in Binh Dinh province, where disaster officials say many telephone and electrical services were knocked out and about 800,000 people were living in flooded areas. Floods killed 12 people in five other central provinces.

In one area, flooding washed hundreds of crocodiles from a state-owned farm that held 5,000 of them. Soldiers, militiamen and forest rangers are hunting the animals.

Using AK-47 assault rifles, soldiers are reported to have shot and killed 11 crocodiles as they crawled up a river bank toward nearby villages. Crocodiles are farmed in Vietnam and other Asian countries for their skin and meat.

At Monday's count, typhoons and floods have killed 211 people since early October in central and northern Vietnam.


Monday, 11/05/07

‘Workers restoring power after storm’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

Utility crews worked through the day Sunday to restore power to thousands of Mainers who were left in the dark after high winds and heavy rains lashed the state.

A nor'easter resulting from the remnants of Hurricane Noel moved through the Gulf of Maine on Saturday into Sunday after the storm made its way up the East Coast.

Eastern Maine took the brunt of the storm, with Bangor Hydro Electric reporting a peak of nearly 9,000 customers without power as of 7 a.m. Sunday. Most of the outages were in Hancock County.

Outages in the Central Maine Power Co. region peaked at 5,172 at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Many of the outages were in the Rockland area.

The heaviest rains and highest winds were felt in eastern Maine.

Just over 5 inches of rain fell on Cutler, while Bass Harbor got 4.8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Dennysville, Deer Isle, Acadia National Park, Eastport and East Machias all had more than 4 inches of rain.

The top winds came in at 66 mph in Cutler and 64 mph in Brooklin, the weather service said.

Northern Maine got hit with snow, with 6 inches falling in Fort Kent and 4 inches in Allagash, the weather service said.


Monday, 11/05/07

‘Noel takes its toll’ – Cape Cod [MA] Times

A small army of utility crews marched across Cape Cod yesterday trying to restore power to thousands of residents who went without lights, televisions, computers and microwave ovens yesterday after being pummeled by Tropical Storm Noel Saturday.

The storm dumped several inches of rain and sent gusts of up to 85 mph slamming across the Cape and Islands.

At the height of the storm an estimated 50,000 NStar and National Grid customers were without power from the South Shore to the Cape and Islands, and the major question on most people's minds yesterday was, "When will the power come back on?"

For much of the Cape, the answer came last night. By 9 p.m., about 12,000 NStar customers, most of them on Cape Cod, were without power, according to spokeswoman Caroline Allen.

Most of the storm damage came from fallen trees and limbs. In Barnstable three parked cars and an unoccupied house were damaged by fallen trees said Barnstable fire Lt. Richard Ogonowski.

There was no significant erosion along the shore of Eastham or Wellfleet, but yesterday's beautiful weather and post-storm surf brought spectators and surfers to the beaches.

Anticipating good surf, Thomas Kennedy, 17, left Deep River, Ontario, Friday and drove for 12 hours to get to the Cape. With overhead waves pitching steeply, and crashing hard along the shore, Kennedy thought it "pretty good."


Friday, 11/2/07

‘Officials rush aid to flooded Mexican state’ – per AP

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico (AP) — Military trucks hauled bottled water, food and clothing to Mexico's flooded Gulf coast Friday as rescue workers in helicopters and boats worked furiously to retrieve thousands of victims stranded on rooftops.

With flooding across nearly all of the Gulf coast state of Tabasco and food and drinking water scarce, health officials warned against epidemics of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

An estimated 900,000 people had their homes flooded, damaged or cut off, and as of Thursday 300,000 still had not been rescued, Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier said. Police, soldiers and military workers were still trying to reach them.

It was becoming difficult to find a safe place to put refugees. Officials improvised, turning parking garages and any other dry structure into temporary shelters. Dozens of hospitals and medical centers were also flooded, complicating treatment of the sick.

Health officials warned that there could be epidemics of cholera, although none were yet reported.

Tabasco state floods every year around this time, and many poor, low-lying neighborhoods have grown accustomed to spending half a year with the first floor of their home under water. But this year's flooding has taken even flood-weary residents by surprise, inundating the state capital of Villahermosa and leaving the city's famous Olmec statues with water up to their enormous stone chins.

"The situation is extraordinarily grave: This is one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country," President Felipe Calderon said in a televised address Thursday night.

A week of heavy rains caused rivers to overflow, leaving at least 70% of the state — and 80% of the capital — under water. At least one death was reported. Nearly all services, including drinking water and public transportation, were shut down in Villahermosa.

Weather forecasters predicted more rain in the coming days. The flooding was not related to Tropical Storm Noel, which pounded the Caribbean.

The Grijalva River, one of two large waterways ringing Villahermosa, has risen 6 1/2 feet above its "critical" level and gushed into the city's center. Authorities said some of the rivers were continuing to rise.

The state of Chiapas, which borders Tabasco to the south, also reported serious flooding, with officials there estimating that more than 100,000 people had been affected.


Friday, 11/2/07

‘Noel Becomes Hurricane; Toll at 115’ – ABC News per AP

Hurricane Noel, the deadliest storm to hit the Atlantic this year, is not expected to gain strength in the next 24 hours as it tracks northward toward the U.S. but it may grow in size, forecasters said Friday.

Noel slammed the Caribbean earlier this week with heavy rains that caused flooding and mudslides, leaving 115 dead, officials said.

After drenching the Bahamas and Cuba on Thursday, the Category 1 hurricane continued along its path between the southeastern coast of the U.S. and the Bahamas.

Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the center, said Friday that "we don't expect the center to cross the U.S. coast. The track would take the center of the system over Nova Scotia."

But Beven also noted that the storm "is going to increase rather significantly in size" and that its effects could be felt in the U.S. Forecasters say 2 to 4 inches of rain could fall in North Carolina's Outer Banks, while isolated areas of New England might see 6 inches.

The storm brought a record 15 inches of rain to the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said. Flooding killed at least one man in the Bahamas and forced the evacuation of almost 400 people. Ingraham said the majority of the evacuees were from the northeast Bahamian island of Abaco.

Rescuers in Dominican Republic took off in helicopters and boats to reach isolated residents for the first time in three days. Hundreds of volunteers joined Dominican civil defense forces to help stranded residents, as rescue teams left at dawn Thursday many in boats loaned by private owners.

More than three days of heavy rain caused an estimated $30 million in damages to the Dominican Republic's rice, plantain and cacao plantations, said Minister of Economy Juan Temistocles Montas. Government officials will request loans from the Inter-American Development Bank to help with the recovery.

Rescuers in Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, found a rising toll of death and damage: at least 73 dead in the Dominican Republic and 40 in Haiti, where the majority of bodies were found in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince. One person was killed in Jamaica.


Tuesday, 10/23/07

‘California Fires Force 300,000 From Homes’ – New York Times

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 23 — More than a dozen wildfires continued to rage unstopped in southern California for a third day today, forcing an estimated 300,000 people to evacuate their homes and blackening over 400 square miles of brushland and suburbs.

Hot, gusting winds made the advancing flames nearly impossible for firefighters to control, officials said. The winds are expected to keep blowing through the day, and perhaps longer.

The worst conditions continued to be in San Diego County, where large sections were under mandatory evacuation orders. Several hundred houses appeared to have been destroyed or heavily damaged, according to the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and thousands more were in danger.

Officials appealed to residents outside the evacuated areas to stay at home if possible and to limit their use of cellular phones, to keep highways and communication lines clear for emergency use.

Ron Roberts, the chairman of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, said yesterday, “We have a very dangerous. unpredictable situation that is going on. We have, as we’ve noted, we have some of the highest temperatures, some of the driest landscape conditions, some of the most powerful winds; all of the ingredients for a perfect firestorm.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said 800 National Guard troops would be diverted from duty on the southern border to assist with evacuation and ground control in the county. The fires, a Hydra with at least 15 separate burns in seven counties fed by gale-force winds, burned some 267,000 acres from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Engines and firefighters from as far as Nevada and Arizona were summoned as resources were stretched to the limit.

Houses burned with no firefighters in sight as emergency crews on the ground and in the air struggled to keep up with shifting winds that fanned new fires and made others recede and reignite.

Officials marveled that there had been just one death, in a fire in southeastern San Diego County on Sunday that also injured several people, including four firefighters. But thousands of residents remained just one step ahead of the flames.

State emergency officials said they feared that the fires, devouring some of the thickest and driest brush in years, could surpass the destruction of 2003, when California experienced its worst fire season on record.

Gov. Schwarzenegger, who had declared a state of emergency in seven counties on Sunday, said President Bush had called to offer federal assistance with the blazes, which could take several days to extinguish.

In San Diego, some worry the flames will advance from inland mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Thousands of uprooted people in San Diego County descended on Qualcomm Stadium near downtown and the Del Mar Fairgrounds north of the city, both of which opened as emergency shelters. National Guard troops were sent to each location to help, and officials said they expected more evacuees today. Other people jammed freeways or made desperate bids to save their homes with garden hoses.

San Diego is particularly haunted by wildfires. The worst one in state history burned nearly 750,000 acres in 2003, destroyed 3,600 homes and other buildings, and killed 24 people across Southern California, with much of the damage and more than a dozen of the deaths in San Diego County.

Officials there said those memories prompted swift action this time as the latest fire burned in much of the same area and same direction as 2003.

Because of the fires’ erratic nature, state officials had difficulty compiling accurate data on the scope of the damage or progress in controlling them. Just as state officials at a midmorning news conference in Malibu were declaring a fire in suburban Los Angeles the state’s top priority, San Diego officials were issuing sweeping evacuation orders and television showed images of scores of buildings burning in a remote area of Los Angeles.

The hot, gusting winds, not expected to let up until late Tuesday, at times grounded fire-fighting airplanes, which are pivotal for their ability to dump tremendous amounts of water and fire retardant.

“We have to just pray the wind slows down because the wind is the No. 1 enemy in the dry weather,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in Malibu, where a large fire destroyed landmarks Sunday and flared anew after dying down somewhat overnight.

Some of the fires appeared to have been started by downed power lines, but a few were thought to have been caused by arson.

Scenes of residents taking matters into their own hands played out as some fires burned for long periods without a firefighter in sight.

Dozens of men, women and children in Canyon Country, north of Los Angeles, grabbed shovels and garden hoses and fought flames creeping up a canyon within 50 feet of their homes.

About seven children and young teenagers worked in tandem with their parents as the flames approached their back fences.

“That was hot!” said Steven Driedger, 14, as he examined his scratched legs for signs of a burn. “But I’m fine.”

Steven’s mother, Carolyn Driedger, said the family, along with their neighbors, had been battling the blaze since 4 a.m.

“Our neighborhood has really come together,” Ms. Driedger said, as a firefighting crew finally pulled up in the late morning. “We had to. These are the first official firefighters we’ve seen.”


Tuesday, 10/23/07

‘Flooded New Orleans begins to dry out’ – per AP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The deluge of rain that flooded streets eased dramatically Tuesday, a day after downpours disrupted businesses, closed schools and swamped areas still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Only a few more showers were forecast.

After more than 8 inches of rain drenched the city Monday, Mayor Ray Nagin shut City Hall early and schools were closed across the city. Waist-high water in parts of eastern New Orleans soaked businesses, some of which had only recently reopened after being damaged by Katrina in 2005.

The city's drainage pumps all worked, but they couldn't keep up with the intense rainfall, emergency preparedness officials told The Times-Picayune.

The pumps can handle up to 1 inch of rain in the first hour and a half-inch an hour after that, but some areas got more than two inches of rain in an hour, said Robert Jackson, a spokesman for the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board.

Rough rainfall estimates from 3 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday ranged from 5 inches in Kenner and New Orleans East to nearly 9 in central Jefferson Parish, National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Vasilj said.

A few rivers north of Lake Pontchartrain, the 22-mile-wide lake that forms New Orleans' northern border, were brimming, and might flood some low-lying areas in St. Tammany Parish and two counties across the state line in Mississippi, Vasilj said. Showers were predicted through Thursday.

As the storm system moved northeastward, homes and buildings in rural western Alabama were damaged by possible tornadoes and other parts of the state had road flooding and wind damage, according to Alabama emergency management officials and the weather service. No deaths were reported, but two people were injured in Hale County, which had widespread damage.

The heavy rain was produced by moisture streaming north from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a strong cold front.

Despite the flooding, the rain also offered relief to parts of Louisiana that have been abnormally dry. Until Monday, rainfall for New Orleans was about 11 inches below normal for the year.

The scattered showers and thunderstorms also came as a blessing to other drought-stricken areas of the Southeast, but climatologists say it will take more than a few scattered storms to pull the region out of a record drought.

Almost one-third of the Southeast is rated as having an "exceptional" drought — the worst drought category.


Saturday, 10/20/07

‘Drought emergency declared for northern Georgia’ – per AP

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) — With water supplies rapidly shrinking during a drought of historic proportions, Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency Saturday for the northern third of Georgia and asked President Bush to declare it a major disaster area.

Georgia officials warn that Lake Lanier, a 38,000-acre reservoir that supplies more than 3 million residents with water, is less than three months from depletion. Smaller reservoirs are dropping even lower.

On Friday, Perdue's office asked a federal judge to force the Army Corps of Engineers to curb the amount of water it drains from Georgia reservoirs into streams in Alabama and Florida. Georgia's environmental protection director is drafting proposals for more water restrictions.

More than a quarter of the Southeast is covered by an "exceptional" drought — the National Weather Service's worst drought category. The Atlanta area, with a population of 5 million, is smack in the middle of the affected region, which encompasses most of Tennessee, Alabama and the northern half of Georgia, as well as parts of North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

Georgia was placed under statewide water restrictions in April that limited outdoor watering to three days a week. By May Atlanta allowed watering only on weekends, and in September environmental officials banned virtually all outdoor watering through the northern half of the state.

The state of emergency Perdue declared Saturday affects 85 Georgia counties, roughly the northern third of the state.

Conditions were worsened by stifling summer heat and a drier-than-normal hurricane season. State climatologist David Stooksbury said it will take months of above average rainfall to replenish the system.


Friday, 10/19/07

‘6 Die in Storms in Midwest, Wash. State’ – Washington Post per AP

WILLIAMSTON, Mich. -- A couple spending their first night in a new house were among at least six people killed as unusually severe October storms destroyed homes, downed trees and knocked out power in several states, authorities said Friday.

The thunderstorms, some spawning tornadoes and high winds, destroyed homes in Michigan and Indiana and collapsed a trailer in Kentucky as they struck Thursday and early Friday.

In Washington state, where one person died, a floating bridge buffeted by powerful wind was closed, and tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost electricity.

National Weather Service officials in Gaylord [MI] believe as many as four tornadoes, plus a water spout over an area lake, may have touched down in Kalkaska, Cheboygan, Alpena and Mio. Tornadoes were confirmed in eight Michigan counties, and weather service crews were still evaluating the damage in some areas.

"This is extremely rare," said David Lawrence, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Gaylord. "When you're this deep into the month of October, it's a very rare event."

A line of thunderstorms that rumbled through Kentucky produced several tornadoes, smashing mobile homes and injuring at least 11 people in Owensboro. The most serious injury was a broken leg, said Richard Payne, Daviess County director of emergency management.

In Indiana, authorities declared a state of emergency after a tornado hit Nappanee, about 20 miles southeast of South Bend. Police said five people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries and 200 to 250 buildings were damaged, half of them severely. Among the businesses damaged there were three recreation vehicle plants that are among the city's largest employers.

In rural northeastern Missouri, the state Highway Patrol said Kent Ensor, 44, and Kristy Secrease, 25, had sought refuge in Secrease's mobile home in Monroe County as a tornado approached. Their bodies were found about 400 feet from where the home had been.

The mobile home's frame was found three-quarters of a mile away, with debris as far as two miles away. The National Weather Service said the storm traveled a mile and had winds as high as 135 mph.

A tornado in Pensacola, Fla., sent mall shoppers and children at the Greater Little Rock Baptist Church's daycare center running for safety just before the twister hit Thursday morning, said Escambia County sheriff's spokesman Glenn Austin.

In western Washington, where wind gusts reached 66 mph Thursday, a woman was injured when the top of a tree hit her in the head in Kent, fire officials said. A Seattle police patrol boat, responding to an emergency call of a kite boarder being dragged north on Lake Washington, found a 44-year-old man floating face down off Kirkland on the east side of the lake, police said.

The wind resulted in a three-hour precautionary closure of State Route 104 across Hood Canal, which separates the Kitsap and Olympia peninsulas.


Tuesday, 10/16/07

‘Drought-Stricken South Facing Tough Choices’ – New York Times, p. A14

ATLANTA, Oct. 15 — For the first time in more than 100 years, much of the Southeast has reached the most severe category of drought, climatologists said Monday, creating an emergency so serious that some cities are just months away from running out of water.

In North Carolina, Gov. Michael F. Easley asked residents Monday to stop using water for any purpose “not essential to public health and safety.” He warned that he would soon have to declare a state of emergency if voluntary efforts fell short.

“Now I don’t want to have to use these powers,” Mr. Easley told a meeting of mayors and other city officials. “As leaders of your communities, you know what works best at the local level. I am asking for your help.”

Officials in the central North Carolina town of Siler City estimate that without rain, they are 80 days from draining the Lower Rocky River Reservoir, which supplies water for the town’s 8,200 people.

In the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has more than four million people, worst-case analyses show that the city’s main source of water, Lake Lanier, could be drained dry in 90 to 121 days.

The hard numbers have shocked the Southeast into action, even as many people wonder why things seem to have gotten so bad so quickly.

Last week, Mayor Charles L. Turner of Siler City declared a water shortage emergency and ordered each “household, business and industry” to reduce water use by 50 percent. Penalties for not complying range from stiff fines to the termination of water service.

For the better part of 18 months, cloudless blue skies and high temperatures have shriveled crops and bronzed lawns from North Carolina to Alabama, quietly creating what David E. Stooksbury, the state climatologist of Georgia, has dubbed “the Rodney Dangerfield of natural disasters,” a reference to that comedian’s repeated lament that he got “no respect.”

“People pay attention to hurricanes,” Mr. Stooksbury said. “They pay attention to tornadoes and earthquakes. But a drought will sneak up on you.”

The situation has gotten so bad that by all of Mr. Stooksbury’s measures — the percentage of moisture in the soil, the flow rate of rivers, inches of rain — this drought has broken every record in Georgia’s history.

Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta, at a news conference last week, begged people in her city to conserve water. “Please, please, please do not use water unnecessarily,” Ms. Franklin said. “This is not a test.”

Others wondered why the calls to conserve came so late.

“I think there’s been an ostrich-head-in-the-sand syndrome that has been growing,” said Mark Crisp, an Atlanta-based consultant with the engineering firm C. H. Guernsey. “Because we seem to have been very, very slow in our actions to deal with an impending crisis.”

Mr. Crisp is among a chorus of experts who have warned for years that Atlanta is asking too much of Lake Lanier, a situation quickly being compounded by an absence of rain.

Many had hoped that hurricane season, as it has in the past, would bring several soaking storms to the Southeast to replenish reservoirs that are at or near all-time lows. But the longed-for rains never materialized, and now in October, traditionally the driest month, significant rainfall remains out of the picture.

“We’re in a stressful situation now,” Mr. Crisp said, “but come next spring, if we don’t have substantial rainfall this winter, these reservoirs are not going to refill.”

That would leave metro Atlanta dry in the summer, which traditionally has the highest water use of the year.

Others pointed to the Southeast’s inexperience with drought and to explosive growth in population as complicating factors.

“In the West, people expect that it’s dry, and you’re going to have drought situations,” said Michael J. Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “In the Southeast, people think of it as being wet, and I think that mindset makes it tougher to identify worst-case scenarios and plan to that level.”

“Here’s the fly in the ointment,” Mr. Hayes added. “The vulnerability in the Southeast has changed. Population shifts, increased competition and demand for water has increased, so that’s made this drought worse than it might have been.”

Within two weeks, Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, is expected to send Gov. Sonny Perdue recommendations on tightening water restrictions, which may include mandatory cutbacks on commercial and industrial users.

If that happens, experts at the National Drought Mitigation Center said, it would be the first time a major metropolitan area in the United States had been forced to take such drastic action to save its water supply.

“The situation is very dire,” Mr. Hayes said.


Monday, 10/15/07

‘Thunderstorms Break Rainfall Record’ – KOTV [Tulsa, OK] per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A nearly 100-year-old record for rainfall in one year has been broken in Oklahoma City with about two-and-a-half months left in the year.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ty Judd says a line of thunderstorms moved through central Oklahoma before midnight and dropped 1.4 inches of rain at Will Rogers World Airport.

That brings the rainfall total for 2007 to 53.34 inches to break the record of 52.03 inches set in 1908.

Judd says the storms also brought gusty winds of up to 65 miles per hour, which blew out windows at a building in Bethany and a home in northwest Oklahoma City.

No injuries are reported but Oklahoma City firefighters were called to rescue one person from a stalled car.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric reported up to 3,000 power outages in Del City, Enid, Hennessey, Norman and Oklahoma City but power was restored by Monday morning.


Sunday, 10/14/07

‘Torrential rains, floods kill 20 in Central America’ – Yahoo! News Per Reuters;_ylt=AnQqAn_SUm0qARS4TOuBE.loWrEF

Emergency officials across Central America worked to clean up towns inundated by recent deadly floods and landslides, and braced for more bad weather on Sunday.

At least 20 people were killed and thousands evacuated across Central America after days of torrential rain sparked landslides and flooding.

The same weather system that killed 23 people in a Haitian village on Friday triggered a landslide that buried 14 people under mud and debris in Costa Rica.

Red Cross workers had been digging through the debris since Thursday, when about 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of land on a steep slope gave way and fell on the small town of Atenas, about 20 miles west of the Costa Rican capital.

"We found the last body this afternoon," Red Cross spokesman Federico Castillo said on Sunday.

Heavy rains put emergency services on high alert across the region as rivers burst their banks and sodden hillsides collapsed, blocking roads across the region, which is prone to killer storms and flooding.

Forecasters warned the weather could worsen Sunday evening.

"There is some potential for this system to become a tropical depression later today or tonight," said the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center.

In Honduras, three children and their mother drowned on Saturday when an overloaded boat evacuating them capsized in a flooded river, rescue workers said.

Mudslides cut off thousands of villagers in poor rural regions of the coffee exporting nation. No damage to crops was reported.

El Salvador was also hit, with two men swept away by strong currents in two rivers swollen by the rains. Civil protection officials said about 500 people were evacuated because of the risk of rivers overflowing.

In Nicaragua, at least 4,000 people were evacuated when a banana growing region was put on red alert because of the flood risk. At least 10,000 people were considered at risk in Nicaragua.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, was worst hit.

The loss of life in Cabaret, nestled in mountains about 19 miles north of capital Port-au-Prince, brought the toll from floods and mudslides across much of Haiti over the last two weeks to at least 31, civil protection officials said.


Sunday, 10/14/07

‘11 killed, 6 missing after heavy storms in Tunisia’ – per AP

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Rising flood waters caused by devastating rains swept across northern Tunisia, killing at least 11 people and leaving six others missing, the official news agency reported Sunday.

The deaths, which followed an unusual downpour Saturday, prompted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to cancel a planned visit Monday to the town of Bizerte, the TAP agency reported.

Nine people died after their vehicles were swept away by the swelling flood waters, TAP reported. One person was killed outside Tunis and eight others died in the region of Sabbalat Ben Ammar, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the northwest on the road to Bizerte.

Search teams discovered another two victims later Sunday, and the search was continuing, TAP said. Rescuers who rushed to the scenes Saturday pulled out several survivors.

National news broadcasts showed images of several inundated neighborhoods in the capital, Tunis, with floodwaters rising into some homes. Several professional soccer matches were called off.

After a respite Sunday, national weather forecasters predicted further rains on Monday.


Tuesday, 10/09/07

‘October heat breaks records in 4 cities’ – Huntington [WV] Herald Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Temperature records are falling as an October heat wave continues across West Virginia.

The National Weather Service says Beckley, Charleston, Huntington and Parkersburg all saw record temperatures on Monday.

Beckley’s 86 degrees broke the previous record of 81 set in 1997. It was the fourth straight day of record heat in Beckley.

Charleston’s temperature hit 93 degrees, breaking the previous record of 92 set in 1931.
Huntington and Parkersburg both saw records set in 1939 fall. Huntington’s temperature reached 93 degrees, one degree higher than the previous record. In Parkersburg, the temperature hit 91, three degrees higher than the previous record.


Monday, 10/08/07

‘Unseasonable fever across much of the nation easing today’ –

Dozens of cities in the Midwest, East and South set more record highs Monday as an unusual autumn heat wave appeared to crest.

Forecasters said a cool-down will begin today in most of the areas that sweltered through the Columbus Day weekend with high humidity and readings 20 degrees or more above normal.

Temperatures in the 80s and 90s were expected to linger today from Raleigh, N.C., to Philadelphia. Washington's high of 91 and New York's 87 set records Monday.

More than 30 cities across the eastern half of the USA set new marks for the date. For Detroit (90) and Indianapolis (91), it was the latest day in the year for readings in the 90s since record-keeping began in the early 1870s.

On Sunday, more than 70 cities set record highs. Chicago's record high of 88 disrupted the annual marathon, in which one man died and more than 300 competitors went to hospitals or aid stations. It was the 22nd straight day at or above the normal average high.

The unusual readings come just as "snowbird" residents of Northern cities begin to migrate south to warmer winter climates. The thermometer in Saginaw, Mich., reached higher (90) on Monday than in Key West (89).

"Basically we're seeing August temperatures in October," said Buzz Bernard, a senior meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "But it's about to come to an end."

Bernard said a cold front that began moving east from the Plains on Monday will reach farther east and southward today. "Much of the country is actually going to be near or below-average in temperatures in the latter part of the week."

The cooling-off was likely to be a relief in central Ohio. At the annual Apple Butter Festival and craft fair in Holland, outside Toledo, heat baked the attendees; last year, many wore coats to the event.

In Indianapolis, weekend heat and humidity overcame three dozen participants during a high school marching band competition.

Numerous cities set back-to-back records Sunday and Monday. Louisville's 93 on Sunday was an all-time high for October.


Monday, 10/08/07

‘Record Heat Halts Chicago marathon – Washington Post p. A4, per AP

CHICAGO, Oct. 7 -- A Michigan man died Sunday while running the Chicago Marathon as 88-degree heat and smothering humidity forced organizers to shut down the course midway through the race. At least 49 runners were taken to hospitals because of heat-related ailments; hundreds more were treated on site.

Almost 10,000 of the 45,000 registered runners chose not to race in the heat despite the addition of more mist stations, cooling buses and water-soaked sponges. Shortages of water and energy drinks were reported along the 26.2-mile route.

Chad Schieber, 35, of Midland, Mich., collapsed while running on the South Side and was pronounced dead at a Veterans Affairs hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

The temperature was a record for the Chicago Marathon, topping the previous mark of 84 degrees in 1979. Ailing runners were diverted to the starting area, where they were provided with medical attention and cooling misters.

At first, organizers hoped those who passed the halfway mark could complete the run. But eventually even those recreational runners were told to turn back.

"We're seeing a lot of our participants slowing," said race director Carey Pinkowski. "It was a contingency plan we had in place, and we decided to implement as a precautionary measure."

Some runners persevered, although organizers said they did not know how many completed the race. Helicopters hovered over the course while police officers shouted through a bullhorn and warned runners to slow down and walk.

Lori Kaufman, a runner from St. Louis, said she was told to start walking at mile 14. She said the fire department turned on hydrants to hose down people along the course.

Kenya's Patrick Ivuti won the marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes 11 seconds. Competing in only his second major marathon, Ivuti leaned at the finish line to edge Jaouad Gharib of Morocco by 0.05 seconds. Ethiopia's Berhane Adere rallied to successfully defend her women's title with a time of 2 hours 33 minutes 49 seconds.


Saturday, 10/06/07

‘Locals delight in record heat’ – Berkshire [MA] Eagle

PITTSFIELD — If you were dropped into yesterday without any knowledge of the date, would you have guessed Oct. 5?

"No way," said Dick Barber, 65, just seconds after walking off the 18th green at Berkshire Hills Country Club. "Is it October, or July?"

After flirting with record highs all week, Pittsfield passed 1959's all-time high of 80 yesterday, with the thermometer cresting at 83 shortly after 4 p.m.

Meteorologist Joe Villani, with the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., said the unseasonably warm temperatures are the result of a "rare" high pressure system funneling warm air from the Gulf Coast into New England.

"This pattern has persisted for some time," Villani said. "We'll have one more day of it and then we'll get a cool-down."

Just when the calendar switched to fall on Sept. 23, summer

decided to stick around. Since then, we've had four days in the 80s and average highs of 75, more than 11 degrees warmer than normal highs during that period.

The result has been autumn bliss for outdoor enthusiasts, golfers included.

"I'm leaving for Florida in a couple of weeks," Barber said. "But I don't know if I want to go if this keeps up."

Ward 2 Councilor Louis A. Costi finished a group ahead of Barber. He walked off the green and tallied his score: 84, just one shot above the record high yesterday.

"Any time you can get out golfing in October with 80-degree temperatures, you do it," Costi said. "It doesn't get better than that."


Monday, 10/01/07

‘Heat robs U.S. regions of prime fall color’ –

Summerlike temperatures and lack of rain were likely to delay or dull fall foliage displays in the East and Midwest.

In New England, last week's unusual heat — highs in the 80s and 90s, with records set in cities from Maine to Connecticut — was a factor in the slow onset of "leaf-peeping" season.

In northern Maine, peak color was due this week, about five days later than expected, said Gale Ross of Maine's Department of Conservation.

"We're slightly behind because of the warm temperatures at night," Ross said.

The unusual warmth was forecast to linger. Persistent high pressure over the eastern third of the country was likely to block cold fronts and bring more above-normal readings this week, said The Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Ressler. "Definitely not what people consider a classic, going-into-October fall," Ressler said.

In Ohio and Indiana, summer dryness could shorten the foliage season and make the colors less showy in some areas. The color forecast was similar for Georgia, where the season normally peaks in late October. "It's still going to be gorgeous," said ecologist Tom Thake of Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

Another possible autumn casualty of summer weather: pumpkins. Heat and lack of rain in July and August hurt autumn crops from New York state to Illinois, the nation's third- and fourth-largest growers. The heat also pushed the harvest ahead up to three weeks in some places, forcing early shipments to market. "It was all those days that we had that were 105 degrees," said southern Illinois grower Sarah Frey.

In some places, too much rain was the culprit. Standing water in pumpkin fields rotted some crops in parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and Ohio.

Autumn's warm sweep has come less than two months after the August heat wave was blamed for more than 50 deaths nationwide and average temperatures were at least 10 degrees above normal in numerous parts of the country. It was the warmest August in 113 years of record-keeping in eight states: Alabama, the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. Farther west, several cities including Boise, Reno and Missoula, Mont., tied or set records for their warmest July. Reno didn't get measurable rain for more than 12 weeks.

Nationally, it was the sixth-hottest summer on record, the warmest ever for Nevada and Utah, and among the top 10 on record in 11 other states. Only Oklahoma and Texas were cooler than average.

Last week — the first week of autumn — Houlton, Maine, set a record high of 85 on Wednesday, breaking a 70-year record by 9 degrees. In Manchester, N.H., a high of 85 Thursday surpassed the previous record of 79. Records also were broken or tied in 12 other cities in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Friday, 09/28/07

‘Record Event Reports from National Weather Service Data, September 25, 2007’ – Sci.Environment Google Group






BECKLEY, WV 85 81 1986

BLACKSBURG, VA 88 86 1970

BLUEFILED [sic], WV 88 81 1984


BUFFALO, NY 83 82 1908

CARIBOU, ME 83 73 2004

CHARLESTON, WV 93 92 1908

CINCINNATI, OH 93 92 1934

CLEVELAND, OH 88 TIE 88 1907


FINDLAY, OH 89 88 1986

FLINT, MI 83 81 2005

HARTFORD, CN 90 88 1970

HUNTINGTON, WV 96 95 1908

LEXINGTON, KY 93 90 1939

LONDON, KY 90 TIE 90 1961

LOUISVILLE, KY 95 92 1900

MANSFIELD, OH 88 86 1986

MT. MANSFIELD, VT 70 68 1984

MASSENA, NY 90 80 1961

MONTPELIER, VT 85 82 1984


PARKERSBURG, WV 95 91 1908

PINSON, AL 93 92 1998+

ROANOKE, VA 93 92 1970

ROCHESTER, NY 92 90 1891

SYRACUSE, NY 91 85 1961

TRI-CITIES, TN 91 90 1970

WATERTOWN, NY 89 85 1961

YOUNGSTOWN, OH 91 84 1986

ZANESVILLE, OH 90 89 1961


Thursday, 09/27/07

‘Summer’s gone, but heat is still on’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Labor Day weekend is often proclaimed the "last hurrah" at Maine's beaches, but with temperatures reaching 90 degrees in many parts of southern Maine on Wednesday, residents took advantage of a less crowded scene along the shore.

The temperature reached 91 in Sanford and 90 in Portland, a record for Sept. 26 for Maine's biggest city. The previous record, 84 degrees, was set in 1961, said meteorologist Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray.

The soaring mercury fell short of the record high for the month, however. Temperatures reached 95 on Sept. 7, 1945, and Sept. 11, 1983, according to weather service archives.

The unusual streak of summerlike weather was attributed to a strong southerly flow that brought in warm air from the South, Hawley said. Today's outlook is for cooler temperatures and possible thunderstorms, as a cold front approaches and passes through by late Friday.

Amy Luke of Gray said she and her daughter, Hannah, 2, visit Pine Point Beach in Scarborough virtually every weekend during the summer months. Wednesday was their first late September day trip.

"It's never been warm enough in the three years I've been in Maine," said Luke, originally from North Carolina. "We wanted to take advantage of the warm weather."


Sunday, 09/23/07

‘Arctic sea ice refreezing after record seasonal low’ - per AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arctic sea ice may have started its annual fall refreezing after reaching an all-time record low, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic ice now covers 1.61 million square miles, the agency said Thursday, up from 1.59 million on Sept. 16, which appears to be this year's annual minimum, when sea ice is at its lowest.

Following its annual summer thaw, sea ice in the Arctic typically reaches its yearly minimum in mid-September. Its yearly maximum is usually in March.

Some variability could still occur this year, however, the agency cautioned.

The previous record low for Arctic sea ice was 2.05 million square miles set on Sept. 20-21, 2005, and the average low at the end of the summer melt is 2.60 million square miles.

The Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans along the coasts of Canada and Alaska remains open but it starting to refreeze, the center said. The Northeast Passage along the coast of Siberia is closed by ice, according to the center, located in Boulder, Colo.


Thursday, 09/20/07

‘Monsoon flooding kills 63 in India’ – ABC News per AP

Torrential rains and thunderstorms have killed at least 63 people in southern India, and flooded dozens of villages, officials said Thursday.

Worst hit was the state of Andhra Pradesh where 48 people died in the last four days, said Dharmana Prasad Rao, a state government minister. At least 19 were killed by lightning, while the rest drowned or died when buildings collapsed, he said.

Overflowing rivers left about 50 villages under water, and authorities evacuated some 20,000 people from low-lying areas to relief camps.

In the neighboring state of Karnataka, heavy rains killed 15 people, C.N. Seetharam, a senior government official told the Press Trust of India news agency. Dozens of people were evacuated in the state, some by helicopter, PTI reported.

Monsoons usually hit India from June to September. This year they have been particularly deadly, killing more than 2,200 people, most of them in northern India.

More rain was forecast for the next two days.


Wednesday, 09/19/07

‘Deadly floods batter Africa – per AP

SOROTI, Uganda — Fish swam alongside the dugout canoes residents were using to flee their flooded homes, riding the water gushing through the streets of this town in eastern Uganda.

Across Africa, torrential downpours and flash floods have submerged whole towns and washed away bridges, farms and schools. More than a million people have been affected by the rains since the summer, according to the United Nations. At least 200 people have been killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced in 17 countries.

In Uganda, one of the hardest-hit, humanitarian workers were trying to reach villages that have been cut off by water amid warnings of food crises and a rising risk of disease outbreaks.

"I've lost everything," Martha Amongin, 56, told The Associated Press on Wednesday in Magoro, a town in eastern Uganda that is surrounded by floodwater and has become inaccessible by road. "Life is going to be bad."

Driving rain pounded Amongin's hut for days until the structure gave way, disintegrating into a pile of mud and burying everything inside.

The only route out of Magoro to reach a hospital or market is by helicopter, boat or wading through waist-high water for three miles. Earlier this week, the water was chest-deep, and residents said one person drowned trying to make the crossing.

Richard Okello uses his canoe to ferry people across the murky water.

"Some people are scared to get in the boat, they don't know water and they have never used a boat before," he said. "But what choice do they have?"

Indeed, Ugandans haven't seen floodwaters like this in more than 35 years, a disaster Amongin remembers well.

That time, at least, "the floods happened after we harvested our crops," she said from her new home — a mud hut much like her last one, but shared with 20 people instead of four.

This time, Amongin's cassava, potato and groundnut crops were washed away. "Now, we have nothing," the mother of two said.

Other affected countries include Somalia, which is struggling to quell an insurgency and to recover from a seemingly endless cycle of drought and flood.

Interior Minister Mohamed Mohamud Guled said this week that southern Somalia faced a "humanitarian catastrophe," because rivers had burst their banks, flooding farms and destroying crops. The rivers began flooding in late August following heavy rains in neighboring Ethiopia, he said.

On the other side of the continent, Ghana has also been heavily hit. Three regions in the north, the country's traditional breadbasket, have been declared an official disaster zone after whole towns and villages were submerged. Torrential rains between July and August killed at least 32 people and displaced a quarter of a million, the U.N. said.

Humanitarian workers are struggling to reach the neediest.

Tesema Negash, the World Food Program's country director in Uganda, said it was impossible to trust the weather.

"It's a beautiful day today but we don't know what tomorrow brings," Negash said, speaking under a clear, blue sky — just hours before the clouds descended again, sending a deluge of rain onto a drenched landscape.


Thursday, 09/13/07

‘Humberto sneaks up on U.S. Gulf Coast – ABC News per AP

Call it the instant hurricane. Humberto, which grew faster than any storm on record from tropical depression to full-scale hurricane, surprised the Texas-Louisiana coast early Thursday with 85-mph winds and heavy rain that knocked out power to more than 100,000 and left at least one person dead.

Meteorologists were at a loss to explain the rapid, 16-hour genesis of the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since 2005.

"Before Humberto developed, you looked at the satellite imagery the day before, and there was virtually nothing there. This really spun up out of thin air, very, very quickly, said National Hurricane Center specialist James Franklin in Miami. "We've never had any tropical cyclone go from where Humberto was to where Humberto got."

Surprising as Humberto was, forecasters said it may have been a blessing that it didn't linger longer over warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which could have given it time to develop into more than a minimal hurricane.

Texas coastal residents prepared for a tropical storm rainmaker that would quickly flood the ground already saturated from the wettest summer in 60 years. Although forecasts called for up to a foot of rain, Humberto produced no more than half that and generated much more wind. By late afternoon, it had weakened to tropical depression churning across the Deep South.

"It was amazing to go to sleep to a tropical storm and wake up to a hurricane," he said. "What are you going to do? You couldn't get up and drive away. You couldn't run for it. You just have to hunker down."

About 118,000 customers were out of power in Texas and Louisiana at one point, utility officials said.

Along Port Arthur's refinery row, three plants were idled until power was restored. Some of the plants could be off-line for several days, even after power is restored, because they must undergo the full restart process.

Hurricane center forecasters first mentioned what would become Humberto on Saturday, when it was a disorganized system of showers and thunderstorms stretching from Cuba west over the southern Gulf of Mexico.

By 11 a.m. Wednesday, it had organized into a tropical depression with 35 mph winds and by 2 p.m. was a 45-mph tropical storm, centered just 70 miles off shore. At 1:15 a.m. Thursday, it was upgraded to an 80-mph, Category 1 hurricane, only 15 miles from the coast. Less than two hours later, at 3 a.m., its center roared ashore with 85-mph winds just east of High Island.

Only three other storms have pulled off a similar feat, growing from depression to hurricane in 18 hours Blanche in 1969, Harvey in 1981 and Alberto in 1982 but all of them were out at sea at the time, not about to crash ashore like Humberto.

Experts can't draw conclusions on possible trends of faster-forming hurricanes based on just one storm. Franklin said part of the problem was Humberto was a relatively small-sized storm, making it harder for forecasters and computer models to analyze.

One possibility, he said, is that because Humberto was close to landfall, greater friction between air currents and the ground could have forced winds upward into the storm and lended to its intensification.

Kerry Emanuel, a meteorology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it is not so much the positive factors like warm Gulf of Mexico waters that help fuel storms like Humberto to intensify quickly. It's the lack of negative factors like wind shear that would weaken a storm.

The most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history, 2005's Hurricane Katrina, also developed quickly before its first landfall near Miami. It went from a tropical depression to a hurricane in just over two days before hitting Florida. It leveled parts of the Gulf Coast a few days later, part of the busiest hurricane season ever recorded with Rita and Wilma.

In Texas, the heaviest rainfall from Humberto was on the Bolivar Peninsula of Galveston Island, which got 6 1/2 inches of rain. In most areas, damage was more nuisance than disaster.

Far off in the open ocean, Tropical Storm Ingrid became the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season Thursday, the Hurricane Center said.


Wednesday, 09/12/07

‘Record-breaking rainfall pounds Oklahoma’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY — Heavy rainfall pounded south Oklahoma City early Monday, causing flash flooding and shattering an 82-year-old daily rainfall record in less than one hour.

By 8:30 a.m. Monday, 6.28 inches of rain had fallen at Will Rogers World Airport since midnight, including 2.73 inches between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The previous record for rainfall in a 24-hour period at the site was 2.4 inches in 1925. The official rainfall total for the day was 6.32 inches.

"The record was actually broken in less than one hour," said weather service meteorologist Ty Judd. "There was a real heavy rain across the south and southwest part of the city. From Mustang over to Tinker, there was a good swath of 2 to 4 inches since midnight."

No injuries or major damage were reported. Some roads were shut down temporarily because of high water that trapped motorists, but all roads were back open by 9 a.m., said Mike Degiacomo, superintendent of street maintenance.

"You pour that much water into the storm sewer system ... it's just not constructed to handle that much volume at one time, but it appears to have caught up," Degiacomo said.

Oklahoma has had an unusually wet summer, with heavy rains that resulted in major flooding in dozens of counties in recent months. For the year, 50.55 inches of rainfall has fallen in Oklahoma City so far, less than 2 inches from the all-time record of 52.03 set in 1908, the weather service reported.

Monday morning's rainfall was caused by a weak front draped from northeast Oklahoma down to southwest sections of the state.

"The showers are developing along this weak front, which is moving slowly to the east and southeast," Judd said.


Tuesday, 09/11/07

“Rain coming? ‘Believe it when you see it’” – Raleigh [NC] News Observer per AP

RALEIGH - North Carolina's first tropical storm of the year did virtually nothing to ease drought in the few coastal counties it touched, so the state's hopes Monday turned to a forecast of scattered storms in the mountains.

But those, too, aren't expected to bring enough rain to ease dangerous dryness across North Carolina.

Life was returning to normal -- sunny, warm normal -- on the Outer Banks as anemic Gabrielle weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression and moved away from the coast.

Rain would be especially good news for the Raleigh area, where temperatures have reached or exceeded 90 degrees for 73 days this year, breaking the record of 72 days set in 1953.

The entire state is in drought, with the driest areas in western and central counties. Agriculture has been particularly hard-hit.

Ten of the state's 13 U.S. House members have signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, asking for help in securing financial assistance to North Carolina farmers affected by the drought.

"Estimates indicate the state would need more than 15 inches of rainfall during the next six months to return to adequate levels," the letter, dated Sept. 7, says.

Gov. Mike Easley has also asked for federal aid.

Gabrielle, the first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season to reach North Carolina, did not provide the relief many sought when it made landfall along the Cape Lookout National Seashore on Sunday morning, then passed back into the Atlantic near Kill Devil Hills less than 12 hours later.

Precipitation reached only a handful of Eastern North Carolina counties, and significant rain fell in only isolated spots.

The storm had "little to any" effect on the drought, Loewenthal said. "None virtually."


Friday, 09/07/07

‘Summer was hot, but August was scorching’ –

If you thought it was unusually hot this summer, you were right: Nationally, the summer of 2007 was the sixth-warmest since records began in 1885, based on preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center. Only 1936, 2006, 1934, 2002 and 1988 were hotter.

The average temperature for the continental USA was 73.8°F, which was 1.7°F above the long-term average.

Specifically, it was the warmest summer ever recorded in Utah and Nevada. And cities such as Washington, D.C. (Dulles Airport), Raleigh, Key West, Boise, Las Vegas, Reno and Salt Lake City, all endured their hottest June-August period on record.

Only two of the lower 48 states – Texas and Oklahoma – were cooler-than-average.

And August 2007 was especially brutal: It was the second-warmest August nationally on record since 1885, behind only August 1983. The average temperature across the USA this August was 75.45°F, which is 2.7°F above average. In 1983, the average was 75.84°F.

Nine states – West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Utah – experienced their hottest August in 113 years of record-keeping.

Many southern cities, including Atlanta, Louisville and Nashville, all sweated through their hottest August ever.

An intense heat wave baked the central and southern USA throughout much of August. More than 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken and more than 2000 new daily high temperature records were set.

Year-to-date, while it's the driest year on record in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida, its the wettest ever in Texas.

All data is preliminary, from the National Climatic Data Center.


Thursday, 09/06/07

‘1 missing as heavy rains fall on much of Texas’ – per AP

DALLAS (AP) — Much of North Central Texas was under a flood warning and authorities were searching for a woman swept away by moving water after torrential rains inundated several areas early Wednesday.

Searchers were combing a creek in the San Antonio suburb of Helotes for a 29-year-old woman. Police say the woman, Christina Marie French, and her 24-year-old male companion escaped early Wednesday morning from a car that was swept from a flooded bridge. They were clinging to branches, waiting for help. The man was rescued, but the woman was swept away by the flood waters.

Lt. Dale Bennett of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said divers were still searching for the woman Wednesday afternoon.

Up to 8 inches of rain fell over spots between Waco and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with the heaviest downpour detected near Jonesboro, a community about 40 miles west of Waco.

Flooding was reported along roadways rural creeks between Dallas and Waxahachie and in rural Johnson County, but no major damage or injuries were reported.


Thursday, 09/06/07

‘Fair weather no friend to parched region’ – Boston Globe, front page

Lawns across the state are turning brown, and pockets of water-deprived foliage are already erupting into bright colors in the late-summer sun. Rivers and streams are running dry. And an increasing number of fires - 59 started on Monday - have ignited woodlands throughout the region.

The near-disappearance of rainfall delivered a span of delightful vacation weather, but has forced a growing number of towns to enforce mandatory water restrictions and has left many farmers praying for relief. Authorities had to close roads and hiking trails in the Blue Hills Reservation yesterday as firefighters struggled to control a brush fire that swept across about 10 acres.

Boston received 0.66 inches of rainfall last month, 2.7 inches be low normal and the second-lowest amount for August since the state began keeping records more than a century ago. The city registered the least amount of rainfall for the month in 1883, when it received 0.39 inches.

Officials said the lack of rainfall hasn't yet amounted to a drought, which requires a sharp drop in average rainfall for three months in a row. But during the past three months, the southeastern part of the state - the area hardest hit by what officials call "abnormally dry" conditions - has had about 5 inches less rain than normal.

"We need rain, and we need it badly," said Doris Mills, who owns Noquochoke Orchards in Westport.

State agricultural officials say they are fielding an increasing number of reports about the impact on recent crops, especially sweet corn, which becomes more vulnerable to earworms in the dry weather.

Yesterday, 61 municipalities across the state had issued mandatory or voluntary water restrictions, most of them taking effect over the summer. Mandatory bans took effect in Dedham, Gloucester, Danvers, and Milford last month.

"We need rainfall," said Michael Duff, executive director of the Dedham-Westwood Water District. "The levels are too low. These restrictions will remain until we have more rain."

The news isn't all bad.

The Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies water to much of the metropolitan area, remains 93.7 percent full - 2.4 percentage points less than in August 2006 but more than the previous three years during that month.

State officials issue a drought warning when the reservoir drops to 72.5 percent and a drought emergency when it hits 57.9 percent, according to Ria Convery, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

The dry conditions have not affected the drinking water, but fires are charring land from the coast to the Connecticut River Valley.

David Celino, chief forest fire warden in the Bureau of Fire Control of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said the shortage of rainfall has been responsible for 35 to 59 new fires every day this week - up from 15 to 20 fires a day last week.

He said firefighters now have to dig deeper to stanch the flames, which ignite roots below the soil.

"The important part is that trend," Celino said. "The dryness of the vegetation and soil fuels the fires."

Fires raged yesterday in Peabody, Ashland, Douglas, and dozens of other municipalities, mainly in the eastern part of the state, Celino said.

Officials in Rhode Island asked residents yesterday to conserve water because the lack of rain has caused river levels to drop.

Ron Kujawski, a plant physiologist at the University of Massachusetts Extension in Amherst, a program that helps monitor the state's plant life, said dry conditions are causing many oaks, elms, and maples to shed leaves and seeds and change color earlier than usual.

"The lack of moisture in the soil means the trees are taking up less moisture and some of their photosynthetic machinery is shutting down," he said. "The premature change usually indicates trees experiencing some kind of stress. The dry conditions just exacerbate it."

But he said the vast majority of trees remain green, and autumn color should peak the same time as usual, around mid-October.

The dry end to Boston's summer is the result of a high-pressure area that has been in place above the region for most of the season, said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist with


Wednesday, 09/05/07

“’07’s Category 5 storms 2 for the record books’ –

The first two hurricanes in the Atlantic this season reached the highest Category 5 level, the first time that's happened since record-keeping began in 1851.

Hurricane experts say conditions in the Atlantic were ripe for back-to-back powerful storms although so far this year the hurricane season is average.

"It's very unusual to have two land falling Category 5 hurricanes in one season," said The Weather Channel's hurricane expert Steve Lyons. "I'm not sure if this is a sign of things to come or if we were just unlucky."

Felix hit Nicaragua on Tuesday as a Category 5, with winds of 160 mph. Hurricane Dean was a Category 5 storm when it hit Mexico on Aug. 21. A Category 5 hurricane has a wind speed of more than 155 mph.

"Both Felix and Dean got into the Caribbean Sea and encountered very low wind shear and very warm sea-surface temperatures, which are both key ingredients for hurricane intensification," according to Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Henriette also made landfall Tuesday from the Pacific Ocean, hitting western Mexico. That is the first time two hurricanes from separate oceans hit North America on the same day, according to records from the National Hurricane Center.

This year, there have been six named storms and two hurricanes in the Atlantic. Typically two hurricanes will form by Aug. 30 and six named storms form by Sept. 12, according to the National Hurricane Center.

There have been 31 Category 5 hurricanes since record-keeping began. Eight of them occurred in the past four years.

Felix's rapid intensification over the steamy Caribbean waters was remarkable, Feltgen said. He said it went from tropical-depression strength of 35 mph Friday to a Category 5 hurricane 51 hours later.

Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said this was the second-fastest Atlantic storm to intensify from a tropical depression to a Category 5. Hurricane Ethel, which hit Mississippi in 1960, intensified faster.

Meanwhile, Colorado State University forecasters lowered their seasonal forecast Tuesday. It now predicts 15 named storms, of which seven will become hurricanes. They originally predicted 17 storms and nine hurricanes.


Wednesday, 09/05/07

‘Western heat wave suspected in 28 deaths’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California and the interior West cooled down Wednesday after a heat wave that lasted more than a week killed as many as 28 people.

Authorities in four California counties were investigating a spike in deaths since temperatures climbed to the 100s eight days ago. The Los Angeles coroner's office said it had as many as 16 heat-related deaths.

"Some appear pretty strongly to be heat-related," said Capt. Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County coroner's department. "Others we just won't know until the toxicology results come back."

Imperial County was investigating seven deaths from heat, San Bernardino County two deaths and Riverside County one death.

Utilities reported small-scale power outages caused by higher air conditioning use: 9,000 Los Angeles customers and 20,500 in outlying cities.

"When L.A. and San Diego are getting up to 100, then I would certainly call it a moderate heat wave," said Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth. "If it had lasted more than seven or eight days, if we hadn't gotten a break now, then it might have crossed over to that major category."

Los Angeles, after a steamy Labor Day weekend including a high of 101 on Sunday, was forecast to return to seasonal mid-80s or lower the rest of the week as a cool front pushed out a high-pressure ridge.

In Phoenix, which has already had a record 32 days above 110 this year, highs were to recede to the 90s. During the heat wave, Death Valley, Calif., had two lows of 100, which is "not that frequent," Roth said. Since the start of record keeping in 1911, Death Valley has had lows of 100 degrees or higher just 10 times, eight of them since 2001.

Palm Springs' low of 88 on Tuesday was its warmest recorded low for a Sept. 4, Roth said. Other record highs in California included 110 in El Cajon and 112 in Riverside on Monday.


Tuesday, 09/04/07

‘Thousands stranded as Hurricane Felix slams Central America’ – per AP

LA CEIBA, Honduras — Hurricane Felix roared ashore early Tuesday as a fearsome Category 5 storm, the first time in recorded history that two top-scale storms have made landfall in the same season. The hurricane hit near the Nicaragua-Honduras border, whipping metal rooftops through the air like razors and forcing thousands to flee coastal swampland.

Felix was the first of two major storms expected to make landfall on Tuesday: Off Mexico's Pacific coast, Hurricane Henriette gained force as it churned toward the upscale resort of Cabo San Lucas, popular with Hollywood stars and sea fishing enthusiasts.

In Nicaragua and Honduras, more than 14,000 people were evacuated just ahead of Felix's landfall, and three boats loaded with a total of 49 people sent out distress calls, civil defense official Rogelio Flores said in Nicaragua. Felix, which blew ashore with 160 mph winds, weakened to a Category 3 within hours.

"The winds are horrible," Red Cross official Claudio Vanegas said by phone from the Nicaraguan town of Puerto Cabezas shortly after Felix struck land. "They send roofs flying through the air, so we aren't going outside because it is too dangerous."

Hurricane Dean struck Mexico two weeks ago as a Category 5 storm, and Felix's landfall marked the first time that two Category 5 hurricanes have hit land in a season since 1886, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Only 31 such storms have been recorded in the Atlantic, including eight in the last five seasons.

"This is an extremely dangerous and potentially catastrophic hurricane. We just hope everybody has taken the precautions necessary to protect life and property," Richard Pasch, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said Tuesday.

Off Mexico's Pacific coast, Henriette strengthened into a hurricane and was on a path to hit the tip of the Baja California Peninsula on Tuesday afternoon. The storm had sustained winds of 75 mph and, at 8 a.m. EDT, was centered about 80 miles south-southeast of the peninsula.

Before dawn Tuesday, strong waves pounded the resort's beaches, rain fell in sheets and strong winds whipped palm trees. More than 100 residents spent the night in makeshift shelters as the storm approached, and more were expected to leave their homes Tuesday.

Henriette has already claimed seven lives. One woman drowned in high surf in Cabo San Lucas on Monday, and the storm caused flooding and landslides that killed six people in Acapulco.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Felix was about 40 miles west of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua and headed over the mountains of Central America. The storm was following the same path as 1998's Hurricane Mitch, a sluggish storm that stalled for a week over the region, killing nearly 11,000 people and leaving more than 8,000 missing, mostly in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Meteorologists agree that it is impossible to determine if any single hurricane is the result of climate change. But they differ on the key question of whether global warming is making hurricanes stronger.

Some scientists say that more intense hurricanes are forming because of human-caused increases of sea-surface temperatures. Others say that newer technology such as satellites and other devices allow better storm strength measurements, and that accounts for the increase in detecting more powerful hurricanes.


Thursday, 08/30/07

‘Nearly a month of 110 plus in Phoenix’ – per AP

PHOENIX (AP) — People here expect it to be hot, but they sure wouldn't mind a cool spell. You know, maybe 107 or so.

Phoenix reached a shoe-melting, spirit-crushing milestone Wednesday: 29 days of 110 degree-plus temperatures in a single year. The previous record of 28 days was set in 1970 and matched in 2002, according to the National Weather Service.

The streak is enough to vaporize any humor left in the phrase "It's a dry heat." The average number of days that top 110 degrees in a given year is 10.

"It's a dry heat because we're in a desert!" Ollie Lewis said as she walked to a bus stop in downtown Phoenix.

Austin Jamison, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said an oven produces dry heat, too. "You can put your head in the oven, but that's not comfortable."

Jamison said the temperature hit 113 degrees Wednesday afternoon, matching the record high for Aug. 29 set in 1948 and 1981. The weather service is forecasting temperatures of 105 degrees for the rest of the week.

The National Weather Service says urbanization and global climate change could be contributing factors to the heat, but Phoenix has not come close this year to its all-time high of 122 degrees, set in 1990. The hottest day of 2007 was July 4, when the mercury hit 116 degrees.

Still, the string of broiling days was tough to deal with, even for lifelong Phoenix residents like Martin Milner, a construction worker who took a break under a rare shade tree.

"People say you'll get used to it, but you never get used to it," said Milner, who wore a bandanna under his black hard hat to stop the sweat from running down his face. "Every year it gets harder and harder and harder. This year it's just skyrocketed."

Marcia Reid, who moved to Phoenix from New York City five months ago, said the heat doesn't bother her.

"I lived in New York for so long, I got tired of the cold," she said. "I like it here.

"It's a dry heat."


Monday, 08/27/07

‘A deluged Wisconsin braces for more rain’ – Yahoo News per AP

Another round of thunderstorms brought more rain and flash-flood warnings to an already deluged southwestern Wisconsin on Monday, forcing residents below four dams to evacuate.

Strong wind knocked out power to parts of Vilas and Oneida counties, and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Vernon County.

President Bush had declared Vernon and four other counties federal disaster areas after last week's flooding forced people out of their homes.

With more storms expected overnight Monday, about 80 people living below the earthen Runge Hallow, Hidden Valley, Yettri-Primmer and Seas Branch dams were told to evacuate beginning at 4 p.m., said Linda Nederlo, a spokeswoman for Vernon County Emergency Management.

A week ago, the same dams filled when torrential rains of up to 12 inches caused flooding. All the dams held, but overflow at the Hidden Valley dam caused some erosion.

Elsewhere, cleanup and recovery were under way in Ohio and the rest of the Great Lakes region hit hard by last week's storms.

The electricity was back on for most of the more than 1 million customers who lost power. In Illinois, 7,700 ComEd customers were still without power Monday morning, down from more than 630,000, and in southern Michigan utility crews had restored power to all but about 4,800 of 427,000 homes and businesses that lost service two days earlier. About 10,000 were still without power in Wisconsin.

The weather service confirmed that tornadoes touched down in six areas of Michigan along an 80-mile line Friday, destroying at least 250 homes and businesses in the town of Fenton. The tornado's path there widened to about one-quarter mile, the weather service said.

Another tornado struck the small town of Northwood, N.D., about 30 miles southwest of Grand Forks, on Sunday, destroying two small mobile home parks and damaging much of the rest of the town. One man was killed.


Thursday, 08/23/07

‘Heat wave death toll rises to 50’ – per AP

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A fire at a power substation Wednesday forced the nation's largest public utility to ask major industrial customers to reduce their electricity use as a heat wave continued to dog the region it serves.

The fire caused a partial shutdown at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant in Kentucky as temperatures were predicted to rise near 100 degrees through Friday in the Knoxville-based utility's seven-state territory.

In Nashville, Tuesday marked the 12th day of 100 degrees or above this month, the most recorded in any month for the city. Nashville set a daily record of 102 on Wednesday, while Memphis matched a 2000 record of 100.

Meanwhile, the regional heat wave's death toll grew Wednesday to at least 50, with one new death reported in Missouri and two in Alabama.

Sweltering heat was also expected to make life even more miserable in Ohio, where heavy rains have flooded towns and forced residents from their homes. The National Weather Service said temperatures are expected in the upper 90s in parts of the state, with heat indexes as high as 104.

The blaze at the power plant was extinguished without injuries but knocked out a high-voltage transmission line to the Paradise plant near Drakesboro, Ky. The TVA had to shut down one of three 1,000-megawatt units at Paradise until the substation can be fixed, officials said.

An instrument transformer that measures the flow of power on transmission lines caught fire, the utility said.

"Extreme heat across the Tennessee Valley and heavy power loads on TVA transmission lines contributed to the device failure," spokesman John Moulton said.

The agency set an all-time high of 33,499 megawatts on Aug. 16. TVA provides electricity to about 8.7 million consumers across Tennessee and to parts of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

A thousand megawatts would power about 550,000 homes in the utility's coverage area.


Thursday, 08/23/07

‘Deluge Continues in Rain-Soaked Midwest’ – New York Times, p. A14

CHICAGO, Aug. 22 — Already soaked from days of rain, a broad region from Minnesota to Ohio endured more flooding on Wednesday, as rainfall shattered records and weather forecasts called for more flood watches and additional rain.

After the latest storms, the governors of Iowa and Ohio declared emergencies in several counties on Wednesday. Similar steps were taken earlier in the week in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

In Iowa, where saturated ground resulted in flash floods and basements filled with water, officials were keeping a close watch on an extensive levee system on the Des Moines River in the north-central part of the state, the area hardest hit by the storms. Though the levees appeared to be stable after being shored up on Wednesday, “the telltale point will be how much more rain we get,” said David Miller, administrator for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

In Ohio, heavy rain that began on Monday and continued through Wednesday morning caused widespread flooding in the northern part of the state, submerging cars and putting entire downtown areas under water, said C. J. Couch, a spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency. The rain and flooding affected 21 counties, 9 of which were declared on Wednesday by Gov. Ted Strickland to be in a state of emergency.

Minnesota and Wisconsin, where residents have been battling rising waters since the weekend, got more rain late Tuesday and into Wednesday. In southeastern Minnesota, an additional inch of rain fell Tuesday night, and more was in the forecast. On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota sought a federal disaster declaration for the counties most affected by the flooding.

In southwestern Wisconsin, where initial damage estimates topped $35 million, another band of storms brought rain and winds up to 60 miles an hour Tuesday night, damaging homes and farm buildings and downing power lines and trees. An additional one to three inches of rain were expected through Thursday.

The National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., said Wednesday that August was already the wettest month in the city’s history, with 12.22 inches of rain so far, breaking a record set in 1900.


Wednesday, 08/22/07

‘Flooding leads to rescues, evacuations, detours, school closings’ – per AP

BUCYRUS, Ohio (AP) — Emergency workers rescued stranded motorists, dozens were evacuated from homes, and schools canceled classes Tuesday as several inches of rain caused floods and overflowed rivers across northern Ohio.

The Upper Sandusky school district in north-central Ohio canceled the first day of school after more than 9 inches of rain surged over river banks, and nearby Mohawk schools, which started the school year Monday, also canceled classes.

The downtown in the village of Carey was under about three feet of water, and the Carey Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was evacuated, said Wyandot County Lt. Neil Riedlinger.

Wyandot County Sheriff Mike Hetzel said as the flood water rescinds it will fill up flood basins, causing further problems. The Wyandot County American Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuees and a local football team was going door to door to see if anyone was stranded, he said.

"This is the worst I've seen in 30 years," Hetzel said.

To the east in Bucyrus, nearly nine inches of rain fell, and firefighters used a boat to rescue families from flooded homes. The Crawford County Emergency Management Agency estimated that about 80 people were evacuated and up to 200 more are expected to leave the area as the flood water approaches the overflowing river in town, Tim Flock, director of the agency, said Tuesday morning.

In Shelby, the Black Fork River overflowed, closing roads and flooding homes and businesses. Police evacuated two roads nearest the river, which runs directly through the center of town, according to dispatcher Renee Seibolt.

In northwest Ohio, the State Highway Patrol said high water on the highway led troopers to divert traffic after shutting down a seven-mile stretch of I-75 between Beaverdam and Bluffton. There was no immediate word on how long the interstate, one of the nation's main north-south thoroughfares, would remain closed.

More than 2 inches of rain fell Monday in Cleveland, pushing the month's total over 8 inches and breaking the August record of 6.36 inches set in 1919.

Parts of northeast Ohio got nearly 5 inches. The downpour left basements and low-lying roads and parking lots swamped.


Tuesday, 08/21/07

‘At Least 20 Dead in Separate Rainstorms’ – New York Times, p. A12

HOUSTON, Aug. 20 — Fierce storms that deluged widely separated parts of the country from the upper Mississippi to Texas have caused at least 20 deaths since last week, the authorities said Monday. New rain threatened further flooding in southeastern Minnesota and adjacent Wisconsin.

But in the weekend storms, at least six people died in Oklahoma, including the wife of the chairman of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and two other relatives, who drowned when their Dodge Caravan was swept away by swirling waters. Eight others died in Texas, including two in the collapse of a supermarket roof outside Houston.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty declared a state of emergency on Sunday for six southeastern counties where heavy rain produced flash flooding and mudslides, washing out roads and bridges and sweeping away houses. Six people were reported dead as of Monday morning and a 37-year-old man was missing.

Eight to 11 inches of rain fell in Minnesota, and at least three towns were evacuated, emergency officials said, with national forecasters warning that showers and isolated thunderstorms “will irritate already high river and stream levels and flooded areas.”

On Monday, Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota also declared a state of emergency after finding that damage from heavy rainfall, flooding and hail was worse than originally thought. No lives were lost but about 50 homes were reported damaged.

In Winona County, Minn., where some county roads remained closed Monday, the Red Cross estimated that 6,375 families were affected by the storms. More than 250 National Guard soldiers were helping with search and rescue operations and checking roads. In Houston County, Minn., officials lifted an evacuation order on Monday morning for the city of Houston, a town of about 1,000 people, 20 miles southwest of La Crosse, Wis., allowing residents to return home. They warned, however, that roads were still treacherous.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency on Sunday for three southwestern counties, where thunderstorms brought 10 to 12 inches of rain and widespread flooding. Some roads and bridges were washed out, and emergency officials said they had rescued many people who had been trapped in vehicles.

At least 25 homes were destroyed and 200 damaged, according to Wisconsin Emergency Management, which put the estimated damage at $19.6 million.

The tempests that savaged the Midwest and Southwest were unrelated to one another —and to Hurricane Dean, weather experts said. Texas and Oklahoma suffered the ravages of Tropical Storm Erin, which re-intensified far inland Sunday.


Tuesday, 08/21/07

‘Dean lashes Mexico’s Yucatan, then weakens’ – per AP

TULUM, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Dean crashed into the Caribbean coast of Mexico on Tuesday as a roaring Category 5 hurricane, the most intense Atlantic storm to make landfall in two decades. It lashed ancient Mayan ruins and headed for the modern oil installations of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The eye of the storm made landfall near Majahual, a port popular with cruise liners and about 40 miles east-northeast of Chetumal and the Belize border, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Dean's path was a stroke of luck for Mexico: It made landfall in a sparsely populated coastline that had already been evacuated, skirting most of the major tourist resorts. It weakened within hours to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, and the hurricane center predicted more weakening as it crosses the Yucatan.

At landfall, Dean had sustained winds near 165 mph and even stronger gusts. It was moving west-northwest near 20 mph across the Yucatan Peninsula, on course for the Bay of Campeche, where the state oil company shut down production on the offshore rigs that extract most of the nation's oil.

The hurricane killed at least 12 people across the Caribbean, picked up strength after brushing Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and became a monstrous Category 5 hurricane Monday.

Only three Category 5 storms, capable of catastrophic damage, have hit the U.S. since 1935. Dean is the first Category 5 to make landfall in the Atlantic region since Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida in 1992.

Meteorologists said a storm surge of 12 to 18 feet was possible at the storm's center, which could push sea water deep inland. Heavy rains threatened to inundate the swampy region.

Petroleos Mexicanos decided Monday to shut down production on the offshore rigs on the Bay of Campeche — resulting in a production loss of 2.7 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

Dean's track would carry it into the central Mexican coast about 400 miles south of the Texas border, by Wednesday.

At the southern tip of Texas, sandbags were distributed in the resort town of South Padre Island, and residents were urged to evacuate.

The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour prepared to land a day early Tuesday because of the threat NASA had once feared Hurricane Dean would pose to Mission Control in Houston.

Cancun, well north of Dean's landfall, saw strong winds since the storm swirled over 75,000 square miles, about the size of Nebraska.

Cancun's tourist strip is still marked with cranes used to repair the damage from 2005's Hurricane Wilma, which caused $3 billion in losses. Dean is expected to be even stronger than Wilma, which stalled over Cancun and pummeled it for a day.

Dean had a minimum central pressure of 906 millibars just before landfall, the third lowest at landfall after the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys and Hurricane Gilbert, which hit Cancun in 1988.

"A very low pressure indicates a very strong storm," said Hurricane Center meteorologist Rebecca Waddington.

The worst storm to hit Latin America in modern times was 1998's Hurricane Mitch, which killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing, most in Honduras and Nicaragua.


Monday, 08/20/07

‘Six reported dead in floods in southeastern Minnesota’ – Minneapolis Star Tribune

WINONA, MINN. -- Flooding of potentially historic proportions swept across the southeastern boot of Minnesota on Sunday, killing at least six people, displacing hundreds and washing away roads, railroad tracks and homes.

More rain was expected overnight, today and into this week, threatening even more destruction and compounding the misery for thousands who fled their ruined and water-logged homes for higher ground.

Some of the preliminary and unofficial rainfall totals reported to the National Weather Service could exceed the Minnesota single-day rainfall record of 10.84 inches set at Fort Ripley on July 22, 1972. One observer near the Winona County town of Witoka reported 17 inches Saturday into Sunday.

"It's been to the point of overwhelming," said Dave Belz, deputy director of emergency management for Winona County.

The rain started about 11 p.m. Saturday and continued through the night, swamping Hwy. 17, just north of Witoka, said Bob Reinert, Winona County administrator.

County officials won't begin assessing damage until today.

By Sunday afternoon, the National Guard had sent 240 soldiers and two helicopters to Winona and the surrounding area to help with security.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty visited the region and declared a state of emergency in six counties: Winona, Wabasha, Fillmore, Houston, Steele, and Olmsted.

Ten state and U.S. highways in the area were closed at times Sunday due to water, mudslides and damage. Drivers should expect to encounter some closures today.

"You can't believe the washouts and the mudslides," said Shirley Van Gundy, 73, who grew up along the Root River and now lives in Houston, a town of about 1,000 residents that was evacuated Sunday afternoon. "It's all over. I know what floods are, and this is the worst."

Because of the topography -- rolling farmland and limestone bluffs -- southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin are particularly prone to flash flooding. Heavy rain from uplands to low areas can convert streams and rivers into thundering torrents.

Van Gundy said the rain started at about 7 a.m. Saturday and continued throughout the day. "And then after midnight it just poured," she said.

Said Glen Jostad of Brownsville: "It never quit ... The thunder and lightning, it just kept on all night long."

Now stationary, the system is expected to drop up to another 3 inches of rain across a wide reach of southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin into today.

Outside the small towns, the devastation was just as complete.

"This is the worst I've seen in my lifetime," said Jerry Heim, a Winona County commissioner. A surge of water washed down a county road in the Whitewater River valley, blowing out campgrounds, flipping RVs into trees and ripping trees from the ground.

In the St. Charles area, residents such as beef farmer Ralph Kaehler said they recall nothing like this since the early 1970s, when flooding killed some residents in nearby Viola.

But even that flooding was not as bad as this, Kaehler said.

Of immediate concern was the forecast for continuing rain. In less than 24 hours, small lakes have sprung up throughout much of the region, forcing cattle to higher ground and swamping acres of farmland. In low-lying areas, only the tops of corn tassels protrude from 6 feet of water. Uncounted acres of corns and soybeans were washed away on the farmland bordering the Whitewater River, Kaehler said.


Saturday, 08/18/07

‘Hundreds of thousands flee typhoon’ – per Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) -- Typhoon Sepat lashed Taiwan with strong winds and torrential rain on Saturday, cutting power supplies to nearly 57,000 homes, injuring 12 people and forcing more than a thousand others to evacuate, before ploughing on toward China.

In China's coastal areas, hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated and flights were cancelled due to the typhoon, which had already caused flooding in the Philippines.

About 33,800 homes in Taiwan were still suffering from power outages, after repairs were done in most of the nearly 590,000 homes that had no electricity, according to the disaster center.

Agriculture losses totaled T$832 million (US$25 million), triggering market worries of increasing inflationary pressures as fruit and vegetable prices are seen rising sharply.

"When sun comes out, all the fruit will be rotten. All these are spoiled," said a papaya farmer in Taitung, one of the hardest hit counties in Taiwan.

Taiwan Premier Chang Chun-hsiung urged Taiwanese to be vigilant of the impact from the typhoon, even though the storm was slowly departing, according to a government statement.

The eye of the storm had already passed over Taiwan's main island and was due to make landfall in China's eastern province of Fujian by early Sunday, China's Xinhua news agency said.

Xinhua said that nearly 300,000 people in Fujian, about 210,000 in Zhejiang province and around 70,000 in Guangdong province were evacuated.

At 1300 GMT, the center of the typhoon was around 90 km (56 miles) north of the offshore Penghu islands located in Taiwan's west, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

It packed sustained winds of 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour and gusts up to 162 km (101 miles) per hour but was gradually losing strength, having been downgraded to a category 3 "medium typhoon" from a category 5 "super typhoon", a bureau official said.


Friday, 08/17/07

‘Texans deal with flooding from Erin; warily watch Hurricane Dean’ – per AP

HOUSTON — Recovery efforts were in full swing Friday morning as water-logged Texas dealt with the rainy remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, which authorities said could be a prelude to Hurricane Dean now tearing through the eastern Caribbean.

At least four people died Thursday in Erin's thunderstorms, which dropped up to 10 inches of rain in parts of San Antonio and Houston, and more was expected Friday. Up to 7 inches of rain was forecast for western Texas on Friday.

"The ground's already saturated, then with the amount of rain we got today it's just running off and causing flash flooding, so if we get additional rain it will be a major concern for us," Orlando Hernandez, emergency management coordinator for Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, said Thursday.

Hurricane Dean, a Category 2 storm, appeared to be days away from the Gulf Coast, but officials were gearing up for the possibility of the season's most severe storm yet.

"It's so far out, but it's not too early to start preparing," said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "We have more notice than with Erin. We're glad for that especially since (Dean) is projected to bring some strength."

Summer storms have poured record rainfall across Texas and parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, with floods killing 20 people since mid-June. One July storm dropped 17 inches of rain in 24 hours and brought Texas out of a more than decade-long drought.

The dangers of a slow-moving storm system are well known in Houston, where Tropical Storm Allison stalled for several days in 2001, soaking the flat, low-lying city. After passing Houston, it returned, dumping about 20 inches of rain in eight hours. About two dozen people died, most of the city was without power and entire neighborhoods were destroyed.

Hurricane specialists expect this year's Atlantic hurricane season — June 1 to Nov. 30 — to be busier than average, with as many as 16 tropical storms, nine of them strengthening into hurricanes. Ten tropical storms developed in the Atlantic last year, but only two made landfall in the United States.


Thursday, 08/16/07

‘Japan swelters in record heat wave’ – ABCNews per AP

Japan sizzled through its hottest day on record Thursday as a heat wave claimed at least 13 lives and threatened power supplies strained by a recent earthquake, authorities and media reports said.

The mercury hit 105.6 degrees in the western city of Tajimi and the central city of Kumagaya, breaking a previous national record of 105.4 degrees set in 1933, the Meteorological Agency said.

In the Hachioji region of Tokyo, temperatures reached 101.7 degrees, breaking the previous record of 101.3 degrees for August.

The average high temperature in central Tokyo for the month of August is 87.4 degrees.

Ten people died Thursday due to the heat, most of them elderly, public broadcaster NHK said.

A 13-year-old boy who collapsed in Tokyo after basketball practice two days ago was also among Thursday's dead, NHK said, adding that nearly 900 people were hospitalized across the nation. At least three people died from heatstroke Wednesday, Kyodo News agency said.

Tokyo Electrical Power Co. warned of a power shortage as people turned up air conditioners.

The company has been firing up old thermal power stations and buying electricity from rivals after a strong earthquake in mid-July ravaged its largest nuclear power reactor, reducing its electricity output by more than 10 percent.

Across the country, vacationers sought refuge indoors at the height of the summer holidays.

Rail tracks were bent out of shape in the sun, and authorities struggled to deal with fire alarms set off by rising temperatures, according to news reports.


Thursday, 08/16/07

‘Blistering heat melts two more weather records’ – Birmingham [AL] News

On the hottest day in Birmingham in 27 years, temperatures soared into triple digits for the ninth day in a row, breaking a record set in 1980.

The mercury topped out at 105 degrees at the Birmingham International Airport about 1:11 p.m. Wednesday. The previous high for the date was 101 degrees, set in 1995.

The last time Birmingham saw a high of 105 was July 17, 1980.

With the National Weather Service predicting highs of at least 100 degrees through Saturday, the record streak could reach 12 days. Today's high is forecast at 101 degrees, with temperatures Friday and Saturday right at the century mark. Sunday may finally provide a slight break, with the high expected to be 96.

Mid-afternoon temperatures varied throughout the metro area Wednesday, climbing beyond the 105-degree official high in some spots.

Across the state, temperatures continue to break records. In Montgomery, a 105-degree high marked the city's 10th day of triple-digit heat. Highs of 106 in Tuscaloosa and 104 in Anniston brought their 100-plus-degree streaks to nine days.

The Alabama Office of Water Resources issued a revised advisory declaring severe drought conditions throughout the state and Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday added 15 counties to the list of those in a drought emergency, bringing the list's total to 53 of Alabama's 67 counties.

Riley urged residents to follow conservation recommendations and to be prepared for conditions that may get worse.


Wednesday, 08/15/07

‘Two more heat wave deaths in Memphis’ – per AP

NASHVILLE — Two more deaths in the Memphis area have been linked to high temperatures, bringing the heat wave death toll there to five, officials said Tuesday.

The temperature in Memphis rose to at least 100 degrees again Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of triple-digit highs, as hot air blanketed the south-central portion of the nation. Monday's top reading in the city was 105.

"This is unusual. Last summer we had two (heat-related deaths) all summer. This is five deaths over a six-day period," Shelby County Medical Examiner Karen E. Chancellor said.

The latest two deaths were a 75-year-old man found in a home with no air conditioning and a 77-year-old woman found in her backyard where she apparently had been gardening, Chancellor said. Both were found Monday.

The National Weather Service predicts Memphis temperatures will rise beyond the century mark through Friday.


Wednesday, 08/15/07

‘North Korea: Floods destroyed 11% of farmland’ – Houston Chronicle per AP

SEOUL, South Korea — Floods caused by the largest rains ever recorded in parts of North Korea have destroyed more than one-tenth of the impoverished country's farmland at the height of the growing season, official media reported today.

"It is hard to expect a high-grain output owing to the uninterrupted rainstorms at the most important time for the growth of crops in the country," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

Precipitation along some areas of the Taedong River are the "largest ever in the history" of measurements taken by the country's weather agency, KCNA said.

The damage has submerged, buried or washed away more than 11 percent of rice and corn fields in the country, KCNA reported, citing Agriculture Ministry official Ri Jae Hyon.

The rain was worse than floods that battered the country 40 years ago, KCNA reported, noting the total rain from Aug. 7-11 averaged 20.6 inches, 2.1 inches more than in the previous disaster in that same month in 1967.

The North is especially susceptible to bad weather because of a vicious circle where people strip hillsides of natural vegetation to create more arable land to grow food — increasing the risk of floods. The country has suffered from food shortages since the mid-1990s, due to natural disasters along with outdated farming methods and the loss of Pyongyang's Soviet benefactor.

Some 113,666 acres of fields in South Phyongan and South Hwanghae provinces were decimated, according to KCNA, noting those areas are the "main granaries of the country."

Another 91,427 acres also were destroyed in North Hwanghae province, the agency said.

The North's state media earlier said the summer storms that battered wide swaths of the country left "hundreds" dead or missing, and other aid officials have said the toll was at least 200.

The U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday that North Korean officials reported 200,000 to 300,000 people were now homeless, with the total number of those affected probably much larger.

Aid workers who visited areas just north of Pyongyang saw extensive erosion and flooding, WFP spokesman Paul Risley said, adding the effects were expected to be especially acute because the weather hit during the pollination period for the crops.

"We're very concerned by the reports of damages to infrastructure, since that may affect our ability to quickly bring in emergency food rations," Risley said.

The North was also devastated by floods last year where South Korean intelligence estimated 800 to 900 people were left dead or missing.


Monday, 08/13/07

‘Temps hit century mark in South’ – per AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cities simmered with triple-digit temperatures Monday, toppling records in a heat wave blamed for deaths in at least five states.

Thermometers hit over 100 degrees in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas and the western tip of Tennessee, where Memphis hit a record 105 degrees, the National Weather Service said.

Monday was the fourth consecutive day of triple-digit highs in Memphis, where the heat was blamed for at least three deaths since Wednesday, health authorities said.

The brutal temperatures come during one of the city's biggest events: Elvis Week, when thousands of fans from across the world turn out to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.

Missouri and Kentucky have each reported one heat-related death, while across the state line in Illinois, officials blamed three deaths on the heat since Thursday.

In Alabama, Montgomery, broke a record Monday with an eighth straight day of 100-plus heat, hitting 103 degrees. A day earlier, the city's streets steamed at 106. The city had seven-day hot streaks in 1990, 1954 and 1881. Pinson, Ala., hit a record high of 105, according to the weather service.

The average high in August in central Alabama is 92.

"Ninety-two. Hell, the way things have gone this week, 92 is fall weather," Frank Matthews of Millbrook told the Montgomery Advertiser.


Thursday, 08/09/07

‘A Sudden Storm Brings New York to Its Knees’ – New York Times, p. A14

A brief but fierce storm drenched the New York region just before the morning rush yesterday, paralyzing the transit system, flooding major thoroughfares, cutting off electricity to thousands of homes and causing confusion that lingered through a humid, sweaty day.

The storm, which sent water gushing into subway tunnels and swirling over commuter railroad tracks, also unleashed a tornado that brushed Staten Island, then whipped southwestern Brooklyn with winds of up to 135 miles an hour.

That was perhaps the most ominous part of a deluge that left people wondering if they were waking up to a major catastrophe, with streets blocked by the twisted wreckage of cars with broken-out windows that had been battered by debris.

The deluge overwhelmed storm sewers, and one woman was killed after her car became stuck in a flooded underpass on Staten Island. The police said another car struck hers, starting a fire that burned her so badly that her body could not be immediately identified.

City officials said at least a half-dozen people elsewhere had been injured by the storm.

Commuter rail service was interrupted, and hundreds of airline flights were delayed. Stretches of heavily trafficked arteries like Queens Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue were under water.

But the biggest disruption struck the city’s subway system, where most lines were shut down during the morning rush when the water knocked out signals, stranding or delaying millions of riders. Though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority restored most of them during the day, a half-dozen were still out of commission during the evening rush hour and the agency said some problems could last into today.

For New Yorkers, whether they were tied to the subways or not, the rain served as a short and violent prelude to a day of frustration. It was a day of poor communication, of uncertainty about how to get to work and of anger at what 1.7 inches of rain — the amount that fell in Central Park in one hour, between 6 and 7 a.m. — could do to disrupt the city’s daily routines.

As the morning wore on, traffic on many Manhattan streets remained at rush-period density, as some frustrated commuters who could not use mass transit turned to the roads. At noon, one driver spent just under an hour going from 79th Street and Riverside Drive to Times Square.

Forecasters said the storm was unusual for the amount of rain that fell in just an hour, between 6 and 7 a.m. “This is something you don’t typically see,” said John Murray of the National Weather Service. The storm began a few hours earlier. In all, the National Weather Service recorded 2.8 inches in Central Park.

The totals at airports in the area were higher. Kennedy International Airport reported 3.47 inches. Newark Liberty Airport reported 3.12 inches, breaking a record of 1.32 inches that had stood since 1959. The storm also set a record at La Guardia Airport, with 2.54 inches, and at Long Island Islip MacArthur Airport, with 0.46 inches.

The storm was “definitely one of the stronger ones we’ve seen,” said John Christantello, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Upton, N.Y., on Long Island, because the conditions that make for powerful storms came together — a churning system of thunderstorms that rolled east from western Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and the sticky air that had hung over the New York area for the last few days.

Jeff Warner, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, said that when that kind of storm system collides with that kind of moist air, “the potential for rain really goes up.”

Then there was the tornado. After sending meteorologists to look through debris for telltale signs of circular wind patterns, the National Weather Service concluded that that was what had hopscotched through Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, with winds of 111 to 135 miles an hour, after first touching down on Staten Island, where damage was largely limited to trees.

In the tornado’s wake, 20 buildings had to be evacuated, leaving 32 families without shelter, the city’s Buildings Department said. Another 50 buildings were damaged.


Wednesday, 08/08/07

‘Area counties deal with flooding’ – Lincoln [NE] Journal-Star

It was so wet in Butler County on Wednesday that fish were seen swimming over a flooded state highway. The next few days, smart fish will stay in their rivers -- or they might get baked.


A possibility of more rain lingered in the overnight forecast, but heat and humidity dominate the days ahead. Temperatures could make a run at 100 or above by the weekend, with the heat index -- how hot it feels -- reaching 105.


In Richardson County, 2.4 inches of rain fell in less than two hours. Water over the roadway closed Nebraska 73 north of Falls City for a short time, the sheriff's office said. Numerous tree limbs up to 3 inches in diameter were downed by strong wind.


Winds estimated at 60-70 mph flattened corn, blew a 10-inch-diamater limb onto a house and damaged a small shed in Nemaha County, the weather service said.


There were reports of fish swimming in the Big Blue overflow as it crossed Highway 12 in Surprise.


The first storms reached Lincoln just before midnight Tuesday, with new storms passing through until early Wednesday afternoon. The weather service office at the airport reported 1.78 inches of rain from the overnight and daytime storms, but some home rain gauges showed more than 3 inches. Frequent lightning produced by the storms tripped electronic security systems, forcing firefighters to respond to 11 false alarms overnight.


A weather observer near Julian, which straddles the Otoe-Nemaha county line, reported 9.5 inches of rain overnight, said Gregg Goebel, emergency management director in Otoe County.


"We have a couple of our county roads in the southeastern part of the county that did have water over them," Goebel said Wednesday morning.


Wednesday, 08/08/07

‘USA’s punishing heat stretches on’ –

A stifling heat wave that's killing crops in North Carolina, forcing school cancellations in Ohio and causing grown men to faint in Georgia won't break until the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

Excessive heat watches and heat advisories are up from the Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and throughout the Southeast. High temperatures and humidity are creating Baghdad-like heat indexes of 110 and above.

"It feels like sticking your head in an oven," said weather service meteorologist Leonard Vaughan of Charleston, S.C., where the heat index was likely to hit 120 degrees Wednesday.

Atlanta residents sweated through their warmest overnight temperatures Tuesday as the heat dipped only to 82 degrees before dawn Wednesday. Record highs were set in Baltimore; Charlotte; Florence, S.C.; Roanoke, Va.; and Cincinnati.

In Savannah, Ga., the service department at Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning has been inundated by calls from "crazy people freaking out," said dispatcher Tye Munn, 29. He said technicians are working 18-hour days and two repairmen passed out from the heat.

The heat has exacerbated a dry spell in the Southeast. All but six of North Carolina's 100 counties are in a drought, with 27 suffering extreme or severe conditions. In Robeson County, N.C., on the South Carolina border, an Easter freeze and August heat have "devastated" the corn crop. Farmers may be forced to sell off livestock because they don't have enough hay for feed through the winter, said extension service field crops agent Kent Wooten. He said the county's crop income, usually about $80 million, could be slashed by half. "It's the worst that just about anybody can remember," he said.

Wednesday, 08/08/07

‘Warming Threatens Farms In India, U.N. Official Says’ – New York Times, p. A6

NEW DELHI, Aug. 7 — As exceptionally heavy rains continued to cut a wide swath of ruin across northern India, a top United Nations official warned Tuesday that the vagaries of climate change could destroy vast swaths of farmland in this country, ultimately affecting food production and adding to the woes of already desperate peasants who live off of the land.

Even a small increase in temperatures, said Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, could push down crop yields in southern regions of the world, even as agricultural productivity goes up in northern climes like Europe. A greater frequency of droughts and floods, the agency added, could be particularly bad for agriculture.

“Rain-fed agriculture in marginal areas in semiarid and subhumid regions is mostly at risk,” Mr. Diouf said on a visit to the southern Indian city of Chennai. “India could lose 125 million tons of its rain-fed cereal production, equivalent to 18 percent of its total production.”

That is a signal of the steep human and economic impact of extreme weather in India, where a majority of peasants still rely on the rains to irrigate their fields and where a bad flood can be nearly as devastating as a bad drought. The latest floods have affected an estimated 20 million people in India alone, 8 million in neighboring Bangladesh and 300,000 in Nepal, according to the United Nations children’s agency.

The World Meteorological Organization said in a statement on Tuesday that the region experienced double the normal number of monsoon depressions in the first half of the four-month rainy season that started in June, causing heavy rainfall and flooding across South Asia.

Nearly a third of India’s meteorological districts received higher-than-average rains, according to government figures. The latest tally released by the Home Ministry reads like an inventory of ruin: nearly 8,000 square miles of agricultural land inundated since the start of the monsoon two months ago, more than 130,000 houses destroyed, 1,428 people killed.

India stands to bear the brunt of some of the worst effects of climate change, in large measure because it is ill-prepared. When the rivers swell, fragile embankments burst. Mud and thatch houses easily crumble. When the water rises, as it does year after year to varying degrees, Indian peasants are ritually stranded.

“These floods are a curse to us,” Ganesh Acharya, 40, said by telephone from a marooned part of Bihar State. “Our lives comes to a standstill.” In his village, he said, the rice crop had washed away, and people have had to paddle to a nearby village to buy basic goods, at far higher prices than normal.

Shiv Shankar Acharya, 58, a local college lecturer, said he did not recall when so much water had accumulated, and had refused to subside for more than 10 days.


Tuesday, 08/07/07

‘Across Globe, Extremes of Heat and Rain’ – Washington Post. p. A12

A monsoon dropped 14 inches of rain in one day across many parts of South Asia this month. Germany had its wettest May on record, and April was the driest there in a century. Temperatures in Bulgaria reached 113 degrees last month and 90 degrees in Moscow in late May, shattering longtime records.

The year still has almost five months to go, but it has already experienced a range of weather extremes that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization said yesterday is well outside the historical norm and is a precursor of much greater weather variability as global warming transforms the planet.

The warming trend confirmed in February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- based on the finding that 11 of the past 12 years had higher average ground temperatures than any others since formal temperature recording began -- appears to have continued with a vengeance into 2007. The WMO reported that January and April were the warmest worldwide ever recorded.

"Climate change projections indicate it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent," the organization said. The heavy rains in South Asia have resulted in more than 500 deaths and displaced 10 million people, and 13.5 million Chinese have been affected by floods, the report said. In England and Wales, the period from May to July was the wettest since record-keeping began in 1766, resulting in floods that killed nine and caused more than $6 billion in damage. On two days in late June, northeast and then central England had downpours of 5 inches within 24 hours.

"The average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely the highest during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years, and likely the highest in the past 1,300 years," the report said.

The warming of the globe is expected to result in more extreme weather because of changes in atmospheric wind patterns and the ability of warmer air to hold more moisture, according to Martin Manning, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's working group on the physical science of climate change. He said that one year of heavier-than-normal rains and warmer-than-usual temperatures say nothing definitive about climate change, but they are consistent with the long-term predictions of the IPCC.

"What we have projected is an increase in extreme events as the global temperatures rise," Manning said. "Floods, droughts and heat waves are certainly consistent with that."

The IPPC has also predicted that temperate zones, such as Europe and the United States, are likely to become more prone to flooding and areas closer to the equator will experience more drought.

Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said he was at a London airport recently when the torrential rains began and that "it turned so black you couldn't see the plane next to you." The downpour, "unlike anything I've ever seen before," continued for four or five hours, he said.

"What I saw just brought home exactly what the IPCC and this report are saying -- that we will be having more extreme weather," Clapp said. "What's frightening to me is that it's all happening more quickly than the earlier models predicted, which tells us that the effects of the buildup of greenhouse gases is probably more damaging than we've thought."

According to the World Meteorological Organization report, the extreme weather occurred in many parts of the globe.

In May, a series of large waves (estimated at 10 to 12 feet) swamped almost 70 islands in 16 atolls in the Maldive Islands off south India, causing serious flooding and extensive damage. Halfway around the globe, Uruguay was hit during the same month by the worst flooding since 1959 -- floods that affected more than 110,000 people and severely damaged crops and buildings.

Two months later, an unusual winter brought high winds, blizzards and rare snowfall to parts of South America.

Meanwhile, two extreme heat waves affected southeastern Europe in June and July, breaking records with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees. Dozens of people died, and firefighters worked nonstop battling blazes that destroyed thousands of acres. On July 23, temperatures hit the record 113 degrees in Bulgaria.

The WMO is the United Nations' authority on weather, climate and water issues. The report was based on information supplied by WMO members and was done with the collaboration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, Germany's National Meteorological Service and the Met Office in Britain. A more comprehensive report on the world's weather will be released at the end of the year.


Monday, 08/06/07

‘Death toll in South Asian floods tops 360’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

NEW DELHI: Indian air force helicopters swept low over the flooded plains of northern India on Monday, dropping desperately needed aid to some 2 million people marooned by some of the worst flooding to hit the area in 30 years, officials said.

The death toll from the recent flooding surged past 360 even as the waters began to recede across northern India and Bangladesh and aid workers scrambled to prevent an outbreak of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.

At least 15 people died Monday when heavy currents sank their boat on the flood-swollen Ganges River in Bihar state. Another 30 people were still missing, said Manoj Shrivastav, the Bihar state disaster management secretary.

Shrivastav said the monsoon rains were the heaviest to hit the state in 30 years with 880 millimeters (34.5 inches) of rain in 15 days, surpassing the record of more than 600 millimeters (23.6 inches).

Since the start of the monsoon in June, the government says more than 1,200 people have died in India alone, with scores of others killed in Bangladesh and neighboring Nepal, where floods have hit low-lying southern parts of the country.

The South Asian monsoon season runs from June to September as the rains work their way across the subcontinent, a deluge that spreads floods and landslides across the region and kills many people every year.

So far this year, some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced by flooding, according to government figures.

However, officials said the flooding was due to an unusual monsoon pattern and not due to global warming.

"These (floods) were coming 50 years ago and today also," said B. P. Yadav, the director of government-run Northern Hemisphere Analysis Center. "There was nothing all of a sudden. It was well anticipated, well expected and well predicted."


Friday, 08/03/07

‘Overnight rain brings flooding to Midland’ – per AP

Heavy rains fell on parts of West Texas early Thursday, causing flash floods that submerged roads and resulted in the rescue of several motorists in Midland, officials said.

Cody Lindsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Midland, said the city recorded more than 3.5 inches of rain overnight.

"We had some pretty significant flash flooding in both the cities of Midland and Odessa, and there were multiple high water rescues taking place at low intersections in those cities," he said.

Lindsey said the probability of more rain prompted the Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch for West and Southwest Texas through Thursday night.


Tuesday, 07/31/07

‘Waterways, crops gasping in July heat’ –

DENVER — Near-record heat and persistent drought are shrinking lakes, baking crops and taxing water supplies.

The Mississippi River's headwaters in Minnesota are so dry that it is possible to cross on foot in some places, says an Army Corps of Engineers hydrologist.

Several cities in the West are close to setting records today for the warmest July. Boise is on track to break a 133-year-old record for its warmest July ever. Reno is one-tenth of a degree below its July record set in 2005. The Nevada city hasn't had any rain in eight weeks.

Nearly two-thirds of the contiguous USA is abnormally dry or in drought, according to the national Drought Monitor.

Despite recent showers in the Southeast, much of that region remains extraordinarily dry. The worst area in the USA includes most of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Topsoil moisture, critical for crops, is poor in half of Georgia, two-thirds of the Carolinas and Alabama and three-fourths of Tennessee.

Low flows on the Tennessee, Ohio and Cumberland rivers are forcing barge operators to lighten loads to negotiate shallower channels.

"We're now into the severe-drought category," says Jodi Kormanik-Sonterre of the Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul. She says all six reservoirs at the Mississippi's headwaters "are near record lows, approaching the 1988 drought level." Below Coon Rapids Dam a few miles upstream from Minneapolis, "I think I could walk across it because of how low it is right now."

In mid-June, Montana was emerging from eight years of drought. Then summer temperatures spiked. State wildlife authorities and Yellowstone National Park have restricted fishing on numerous streams because high water temperatures can stress and kill fish.

Missoula, which set a record with nine days at 100 degrees or above this month, tied a record Sunday with 20 days of 95 or higher. A record is likely Thursday with a forecast of 99.

Several states from Utah to Maryland are seeking federal disaster aid for farmers. Maryland reports crop losses of up to 60%. Heat is blamed for more than 2,800 cattle deaths in South Dakota.


Monday, 07/30/07

‘Study links more hurricanes, climate change’ –

The number of hurricanes that develop each year has more than doubled over the past century, an increase tied to global warming, according to a study released Sunday.

"We're seeing a quite substantial increase in hurricanes over the last century, very closely related to increases in sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean," says study author Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

Working with hurricane researcher Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology, Holland looked at sea records from 1855 to 2005 in a study published in the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

The researchers found that average hurricane numbers jumped sharply during the 20th century, from 3.5 per year in the first 30 years to 8.4 in the earliest years of the 21st century. Over that time, Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures increased .65 degrees, which experts call a significant increase.

This study also shows that years with more hurricanes didn't coincide with changes in the way storms are measured, says hurricane researcher Kerry Emanuel of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not part of the study. "This makes it very unlikely that these upward jumps are owing to changing measurements and suggests that they are real."

The extent to which this can be blamed on human activities that contribute to global warming has been the subject of scientific debate over the past two years, spurred by Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans and a succession of studies linking the intensity of storms to climate change.

The new study drew criticism from experts who dispute the merits of combining data from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when hurricane-tracking satellites didn't exist, with statistics gleaned from more modern technology.

"Looking for trends in noisy count data is fraught with problems," says researcher James Elsner of Florida State University in Tallahassee. "I agree with the message, but cannot recommend the science."

"They're saying there's a long, upward trend of the last 100 years in tropical storms. All the data I have looked at show that's not the case," says scientist William Gray, head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University.

Gray, a critic of the view that human-induced greenhouse gases drive climate and hurricanes, says 19th-century data "is just not that good."

The study notes that while 2006 was considered a quiet year for hurricanes, with five storms, 100 years ago it would have been considered a very stormy year and 20 years ago, it would have been an average year. "We've seen the average become our bottom number for hurricanes," Holland says.


Thursday, 07/26/07

‘Southern Europe bakes in year’s hottest weather’ – per AP

ATHENS — Southern Europe sweltered through some of the year's hottest weather Wednesday as the second major heat wave in a month sparked yet more forest fires and had power officials scrambling to avert a repeat of Tuesday's widespread blackouts in the western Balkans.

The heat has claimed at least 33 lives in Romania.

Many thousands of acres of forest land have been torched in Italy, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece. The fires ignited in tinderbox conditions worsened by last winter's extended drought. Arson is suspected in many cases and several people have been arrested. Forests in Serbia have also been ravaged.

Argos, Lamia, Serres and Eleusis, near Athens, hit 113 Fahrenheit Wednesday — approaching the 114.8 F measured in late June. High pollution and humidity levels and stagnant air in the capital compounded the discomfort for residents and tourists — some of them newly arrived from flood-plagued Britain.

Greek forests were subject to 24-hour fire patrols. More than 1,000 additional firefighters were being hired quickly in an effort to cope with the seemingly relentless assault of wildfires.

Major fires were ablaze Wednesday around the country, including in Corinth, the southern Peloponnese near Mt. Tayetos, Kozani, Kastoria and Ioannina in north Greece, and on the western island of Cephallonia, where the flames imperiled a nature reserve that is home to ponies native to the island. Tourists and a children's camp were evacuated as a precaution.

Firefighters in Italy managed to subdue blazes in central and southern areas — many of them blamed on arson — after about 3,000 tourists and residents had to be evacuated Tuesday night.

Both Italy and Greece have lost firefighting pilots this week as army helicopters and water-dropping planes have worked overtime.

Late Tuesday the western Balkans suffered widespread power breakdowns, including Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. Northern Greece suffered electricity cuts while many other areas were hit by the power company's policy of rolling power cuts to stave off a general blackout.

Two damaged power plants in Greece were back online Wednesday, but officials again appealed to consumers to restrict peak-hour use, especially of air conditioners.

"The collapse of the electricity system of Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia affected our country, too. However, our country is supplied with automatic mechanisms that protect the system," Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said.

"We ask for citizens' understanding. Only with their cooperation we can cope with extreme weather conditions that have not appeared in our country for decades."

Albania suffered both power and water cuts again Wednesday, as depleted hydroelectric power stations were unable to cope with the increased demand. For over a month Albanians have suffered power cuts of up to 15 hours at a stretch, while residents of Tirana, the capital, had access to water through the city's mains for only two hours a day. Several houses were also burned.

Farmers in Romania estimate losses at over $2 billion. Many communities have been left without drinkable water as wells have dried up.

Water consumption in Greece was also at an all-time high Tuesday, while power cuts disrupted rural irrigation systems.


Thursday, 07/26/07

‘Britain Faces More Rain as Floods Death Toll Rises’ – New York Times

LONDON (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Britons hit by the worst flooding in 60 years faced further misery on Thursday as forecasters predicted more rain in the areas most badly affected.

Up to 350,000 people in central parts of the country remain without running water after the floods damaged power sub-stations and knocked out sewage systems.

In the past two months, Britain has experienced the highest rainfall since records began in 1766, leading rivers to burst their banks and forcing up to 10,000 people from their homes.

Insurers have said the combined cost of the June and July floods could top 3 billion pounds ($6 bln). There is also expected to be a heavy impact on agriculture, with farmers warning that any more rain could affect harvests.

The army is distributing 3 million bottles of water a day to people who no longer have access to drinking water.

While floodwaters may have peaked and were expected to start receding on Thursday, the Met Office, the country's weather forecasting agency, issued a warning for severe rainfall in almost exactly the area already affected.

It said up to 30 mm of rain [1.18 inches] could fall in some areas of Wales and western England in the coming hours.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited some of the worst affected areas of the country on Wednesday and promised to increase financial aid to handle the fall out.

Milk shortages hit some areas with flooded roads making collections from dairy farms impossible. The rain brought harvesting of barley and rapeseed to a halt in many regions.

Economists say the floods will trim back economic growth and are likely to trigger a short-term spike in food prices, but the overall economy is likely to weather the storm in the long run.

In a stark reference to how 21st century weather had changed, Finance Minister Alistair Darling said: "Climate change is not a passing trend.

"It is a reality we must factor into everything we do. If we do not, threats to our everyday life -- like the floods this week -- risk becoming common."


Tuesday, 07/24/07

‘Another temperature record falls in Miles City’ _ Billings [MT] Gazette

Monday marked the second day of record-breaking heat in Miles City.

The mercury topped out at 110 degrees, melting the previous record of 107 set in 2003, the National Weather Service said. On Sunday, the town hit a new high of 107, versus the old high of 105 set in 1985.

Temperatures in Billings climbed to 104, well short of the record 107 set in 2003. High temperatures elsewhere included: Livingston, 100; Columbus, 97; Red Lodge, 93; Hardin, 107; Broadus, 104; Gardner, 99.


Sunday, 07/22/07

‘Texas flooding strands passenger train’ – per AP

KNIPPA, Texas (AP) — Storms dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Texas, stranding more than 170 passengers on an Amtrak train for hours and forcing rescue crews elsewhere to pull at least 50 people to safety.

Water covering the tracks in Knippa, about 75 miles west of San Antonio, stopped a westbound Amtrak train carrying 176 passengers at around 9 a.m. Saturday, authorities said. Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said buses were driving the passengers to El Paso, where they were expected to board another train early Sunday.

The train never lost power, but buses could not reach it until early Saturday evening because of flooded roads, Graham said.

No serious injuries were reported in the state's latest round of flooding, which closed many roads and forced evacuations.

In southern Guadalupe County overnight, a possible tornado damaged four businesses and at least one house, said Sheriff's Department Cpl. John Batey.

Parts of northern Uvalde and Medina counties got as much as 17 inches of rain between 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, said Pat McDonald, a National Weather Service forecaster.

Seco Creek overflowed, inundating the town of D'Hanis near San Antonio, said Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown. Many businesses were flooded with 3 to 4 feet of water.

Boats, fire trucks and helicopters rescued stranded residents, but only one minor injury was reported, Brown said. A shelter was opened in nearby Hondo, but Brown said he didn't know how many residents would stay there.

"The water is going down. Things are getting better," Brown said.

In Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, rescuers had responded to more than two dozen calls for high-water rescue by Saturday afternoon, officials said. Campgrounds along the Medina River in Bandera County were being evacuated.

In San Antonio, there were 20 to 30 road closures, said Orlando Hernandez, county emergency management coordinator.

"Other than a couple of days, we've had rain for the last three to four weeks," he said. "The ground is saturated. Any rain we get is resulting in flooding."


Saturday, 07/21/07

‘Flooding Throughout Britain Traps Hundreds’ – per AP,2933,290267,00.html

LONDON — Helicopter and boat crews rescued hundreds trapped Saturday after storms whipped through Britain, flooding towns and villages, including William Shakespeare's picturesque birthplace where waters gushed into a theater.

Motorists slept overnight in cars on rain-lashed highways, while others were attempting to find vehicles abandoned on major roads Friday after the downpours caused long delays.

Meteorologists said many areas of Britain had more than a month's worth of rain in a few hours Friday and predicted more downpours across the weekend.

"These are the sorts of rainfalls that we experienced in the past every 100 years, every 150 years, sometimes every 200 years -- they're very extreme, Baroness Barbara Young, chief executive of Britain's Environment Agency, told Sky News.

Weather forecaster MeteoGroup UK, said that Pershore, a town around 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of London, was worst hit, drenched by 145.4 millimeters (5.72 inches) of rain in 25 hours, between Thursday and Friday. Usual levels are 50-60 millimeters (2 to 2.3 inches) in a month, the center said.

Royal air force helicopters rescued more the 100 people from rooftops of flooded villages and around 2,000 people spent Friday night in emergency shelters in Gloucestershire, a county in southwest England.

"I've never seen torrential rain like this, the weather has been freakish across the whole of the country," said Parmjit Dhanda, a lawmaker who represents the city of Gloucester in parliament.

Dozens of train journeys and flights were canceled Friday -- but services were operating as normal on Saturday.


Saturday, 07/21/07

‘Killer heat bakes Europe’ – per AP

VIENNA — A heat wave sweeping central and southeastern Europe has killed at least 13 people this week, with soaring temperatures causing forest fires and damaging crops, officials said Friday.

In Romania, where temperatures reached about 104°F Friday, the Health Ministry said at least nine people have died since Monday due to the heat wave.

In Austria, where highs in most parts of the Alpine country have hovered near or above 95°F for days, the health ministry said the deaths of three people in the country's south on Thursday were likely heat-related.

Also Thursday, a 56-year-old woman collapsed and died in downtown Zagreb, Croatia, of what doctors believed was a heat-related heart attack. Temperatures in the Balkan country reached about 104°F on Friday.

In the eastern Hungarian town of Kiskunhalas, temperatures reached a record 107.4°F, according to the country's national weather center.

Firefighters in Greece, where the country's fire service on Thursday reported 115 fires in a 24-hour period, struggled to contain a blaze at an old army base near the capital Athens, where temperatures reached 105.8°F.

The heat has also sparked forest fires in parts of Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, where a state of emergency has been declared in the southern districts of Haskovo and Stara Zagora.

Strong winds and high temperatures are complicating efforts to contain the blazes and Bulgarian authorities have called on army and police units for help.

The extreme heat and lack of rain is also causing concern among farmers in the area.

In Romania, for example, an industry group estimates the agriculture sector has suffered damage worth over $2 billion due to a severe drought.

The League of Agricultural Producers called on the government to pay compensation for their losses and provide them with seed to help replant crops in the fall.

The government has so far declared a state of disaster in 34 out of 42 counties and has offered to pay compensation of up to $320 per affected hectare or about $140 per acre.

In Austria, the steady sunshine and lack of rain has also taken its toll on grapes in Burgenland, one of Austria's wine growing regions.

"In the vineyards, there are first signs of 'sunburn' damage," Franz Stefan Hautzinger, president of the region's agriculture chamber, was quoted as saying by the Austria Press Agency.

In contrast to the sweltering conditions in central and southeastern Europe, Britain experienced extreme weather of another sort on Friday, with more than a month's worth of rain falling in some areas.

Residents across the south of England reported flooded neighborhoods and London's Underground closed subway lines and stations across the city because of excess water.


Thursday, 07/19/07

‘Thunderstorms, strong winds batter Iowa’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Heavy rain flooded parts of eastern Iowa on Wednesday, accompanied by strong winds that flattened corn fields and damaged trees and power lines.

The severe weather covered much of the region, with most flooding occurring near Dubuque in the towns of Marquette and McGregor.

Most roads in the area were closed due to high water and debris after receiving about 9.4 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Rains resumed later Wednesday across central, northern and eastern Iowa, and were expected to become heavier during the overnight, with a flood watch issued into Thursday morning for much of the eastern state. High winds were also predicted in some areas.

"It's a zoo," said Linda Engebretson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Davenport.

The severe weather followed about two days of scattered rain, hail and high winds in northern and eastern Iowa.

Bill Nichols, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Davenport, said it's normal for thunderstorms to develop during the summer in Iowa, but it is unusual for them to continue for several days.

"It's either feast or famine," he said.

He said this year has been marked by a lot of rain.

"Many places have had 15 inches or more in the past 45 days," he said. "That's over twice the rainfall, maybe even three times in some places."


Wednesday, 07/18/07

‘2007 global temperature the 2nd-warmest ever recorded’ –

The Earth's temperature for the first six months of the year was the second-warmest ever recorded, government scientists reported today.

The average temperature of the planet was 1.13 degrees above average, which trails only 1998 for the warmest January-June period on record. January-June 1998 was 1.15 degrees above average.

For two separate data sets — the Northern Hemisphere and for the Earth's land surface — it was the warmest January-June on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The Northern Hemisphere was 2.48 degrees above the long-term average, while the land temperature was 2.12 degrees above average. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

The climate center notes that anomalously warm temperatures have covered much of the globe throughout the year. The January-June 2007 temperature anomalies were warmer than average across all land areas, with the exception of Argentina.

Extreme heat in Asia in late May and early June killed 37 people in India and 110 in Pakistan, as temperatures soared to as high as 126 degrees. In late June, a heat wave in Europe killed about 40 people and contributed to scores of wildfires.

Earlier, a May heat wave in western and central Russia broke several temperature records. In Moscow, temperatures on the 28th reached 91.2°F, the highest temperature recorded in May since 1891.


Wednesday, 07/18/07

‘China storms kill at least 37 amid record rainfall and swelling rivers’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

SHANGHAI, China: Lightning strikes and mud flows sparked by record-breaking torrential rains killed at least 37 people in western China, state media reported Wednesday.

Water levels on the Yangtze River's midsection were at dangerous levels, prompting warnings, with more rain forecast upstream in coming days, reports said.

Mudslides left 32 people dead, five missing and 128 injured on the outskirts of Chongqing city, an independent municipality, where 266.6 millimeters (10.5 inches) of rain fell between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon — the largest volume since records began in 1892, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The previous record of 206.1 millimeters (8.11 inches) was set on July 21, 1996, Xinhua said.

Landslides and lightning killed five others in neighboring Sichuan province, it said.

The storms closed Chongqing's airport Tuesday, leaving 5,000 passengers stranded. It reopened Wednesday.

Traffic was at a standstill on the narrow streets of the hilly city that sits astride the Yangtze, 1,750 kilometers (1,090 miles) west of where China's mightiest river flows into the Pacific Ocean near Shanghai. Rain continued to fall on the city on Wednesday and photographs showed cars and buses mired in flood waters up to their windshields.

Deadly flooding is a perennial problem in China, with floods killing more than 233 people, destroying 118,500 homes and affecting more than 42 million people so far this year, according to the national flood control office.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people last year, according to the China Meteorological Administration. That was the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer flooding claimed 4,150 lives.


Thursday, 07/12/07

‘Torrential rains trigger flooding in central Vermont’ – per AP

BARRE, Vt. — Torrential rains pelted central Vermont on Wednesday, triggering flash flooding that washed out roads and inundated the city of Barre, where water ran up to 6 feet deep for a time.

Between 3 and 4 inches fell in the area Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, which estimated it based on radar but had no precise rain gauge readings. The deluge caused rivers, streams and storm sewers to overflow, sending water coursing down streets, into basements and up around cars.

By about 8:30 p.m., waters had receded enough in Barre to allow residents and shopkeepers to appear downtown, using brooms and shovels to clear mud from the fronts of stores and properties.

Street flooding was reported in Hardwick, Woodbury, Randolph and Bethel. The Town of Berlin opened a shelter at the Berlin Town School, and two mobile home parks were evacuated, according to Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

In Williamstown, up to 75 people were moved to the Williamstown High School by authorities fearing a dam breach.

But the worst of it was in Barre, where the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River overflowed its banks, forcing the closing of portions of Route 302.

Two sections of Route 302 linking Barre and state capital Montpelier were completely washed out and will have to be rebuilt, according to emergency personnel at the scene.

"There were cars that were completely underwater," said firefighter Doug Crowningshield.

The Stevens Branch feeds the Winooski River, a normally placid and shallow waterway in summer, which became a roiling brown torrent choked with tree branches Wednesday as it flowed through Montpelier. No flooding was reported in the capital.

The highest rain totals for the day were reported in Brookfield (3.74 inches), North Calais (4.4) and Randolph Center (3.79), according to the National Weather Service.

To the east, heavy rains washed out three highways between Maine and New Hampshire, creating headaches for motorists Thursday morning and bringing to mind the old saying, "You can't get there from here."

It was no joke for travelers following the closing of U.S. 2 in Gilead, Route 26 in Grafton Notch and Route 113 in Evans Notch, all important highways for Mainers trying to get to New Hampshire's White Mountains.

The problem was heavy rain Wednesday that stretched from Vermont to western Maine, said George Wiseman of the National Weather Service in Maine.


Wednesday, 07/11/07

‘Latest round of storms bring more flooding to Oklahoma’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY — A line of strong thunderstorms that passed through Oklahoma late Monday and early Tuesday brought more flooding to an already soaked state, causing some damage and prompting officials to close several highways.

Forecasters warned the potential for storms exists through the rest of the week in a state still trying to recover from widespread flooding that occurred over the last two weeks.

At least one family and numerous animals in the McClain County town of Newcastle, southwest of Oklahoma City, had to be evacuated Tuesday morning because of high waters caused by about 4 inches of overnight rain. A state of emergency had been declared in the town, deputy emergency manager Jon Tankersley said.

"We've got a lot of bridge damage and street damage," Tankersley said.

Further south in McClain County, State Highway 24 — the main road in and out of Washington, Okla. — was closed because waters from flooded Walnut Creek had covered the road. State Highway 59 was closed 2½ miles south of Criner.

U.S. Highway 75 was closed Tuesday morning because of high water just south of Coalgate in Coal County, the Department of Public Safety reported. In Ottawa County in northeastern Oklahoma — an area particularly hard-hit by last week's flooding — parts of state highways 125, 28 and 10 remained closed.

Over the past 24 hours ending at 1:30 p.m., Broken Bow in McCurtain County received the most rain in the state with 5.69 inches, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet. Washington received 5.23 inches, with almost 3 inches coming in a one-hour stretch early Tuesday. Hugo received 4.66 inches and Norman received 4.01 inches.

Oklahoma City received 2.31 inches in a 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m., the weather service reported.


Sunday, 07/08/07

‘Wildfires Race Across the West, Fed by a Fierce Heat Wave’ – New York Times per AP

SALT LAKE CITY, July 7 (AP) — A scorching heat wave coupled with tinder-dry conditions sent wildfires throughout the West on Saturday, forcing the authorities to evacuate homes and close highways and wilderness areas.

In Utah, a 160,000-acre wildfire jumped a freeway, leading to the closure of Interstate 15 for a 100-mile stretch in the center of the state, fire officials said. The fire, about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City, also forced the evacuations of Cove Fort and the Blundell Geothermal Power Plant, where it was threatening railroad lines, bridges and several homes, said the information officer for Color County, LaCee Bartholomew.

The fire, which has burned about 250 square miles, was set off by lightning Friday afternoon and was pushed north and west Saturday by high winds, officials said. Fire crews had help from air tankers, but the heavy smoke was increasing the risk to those on the ground.

Lightning also sparked about a dozen fires that have charred about 55 square miles in remote northern Nevada, where temperatures in Elko soared near 100 degrees Saturday. One fire had burned 36 square miles, or 23,000 acres, along the Idaho border, said Mike Brown, a spokesman for the United States Bureau of Land Management. It was 10 percent contained Saturday, officials said.

Another fire blackened 11 square miles, or 7,000 acres, about five miles southwest of Carlin. It burned two mobile homes and several smaller structures, and shut down a section of Interstate 80 for six hours overnight, said Tracie Winfrey, a fire information officer. The fire was reported to be 40 percent contained.

In California, more than 400 firefighters battled a blaze that has consumed 17,000 acres of the two-million-acre Inyo National Forest, east of Yosemite National Park, said a forest spokeswoman, Nancy Upham. Firefighters were searching for hikers and backpackers and evacuating them.

Wildfires also burned in Southern California, western Colorado, northern Arizona, eastern Oregon and northeastern Washington.

In Montana, it was even too hot to fish.

Yellowstone National Park and state fisheries managers asked anglers not to fish on some rivers between noon and 6 p.m. because of drought and scorching weather. Water temperatures in some lower-elevation rivers have reached 73 degrees in recent days, conditions that can stress and even kill fish, the National Park Service said Friday.


Saturday, 07/07/07

‘Texans flee floods’ – Dallas Morning News

POTTSBORO, Texas – As the water at Lake Texoma rose this week, Rick Park went out and bought $5,000 worth of Styrofoam and fastened it to the undercarriage of his mobile home, which sits just a few feet from the lake.

Now, after water laid waste to nearby neighbors' homes, Mr. Park's 50,000-pound double-wide is the only one left floating. Amid a sea of mobile homes under 6 feet of water at the Lighthouse Resort and Marina, Mr. Park's home is reachable only by boat.

Mr. Park is one of the thousands of residents across Texas resorting to whatever means they can to save their properties from flooding caused by incessant rains over the past 45 days.

The state's river basins are all at flood capacity, something that hasn't been seen in 50 years. And 49 counties have been seriously affected by flood conditions. At Lake Tyler in East Texas, the water level rose 21 inches overnight and was 31 inches over its spillway. And Lake Palestine was 29 inches over its spillway, officials said.

Joe Sellers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, said some areas of North Texas stretching from Sherman to Texoma got nearly 2 inches of rain late Thursday and early Friday. But officials are forecasting rainfalls to drop off significantly through the weekend and into next week. Heavier showers are expected downstream, near Paris, Texas.

In East Texas, a storm system dumped between 4 and 8 inches of rain Thursday night, swamping roads and flooding area lakes.

Water levels at Lake Tyler, already swollen from days of rainfall, rose 21 inches overnight and were running 31 inches over its spillway. The high water swamped boathouses and prompted the lake's closure to boating and fishing, according to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife's law enforcement office in Tyler.

Lake Palestine remained open but was running 29 inches over its spillway, and a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife game warden said much of the lake was inaccessible because rising water covered most boat ramps.

"I've been here since 1970, and in 37 years, I've never seen this kind of rainfall," said Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith. "We've got literally 30 to 40 county roads that have been flooded out or have bridges out."

High water temporarily closed several lanes of U.S. Highway 69 south of Tyler, State Highway 110 between Whitehouse and Troop, and two sections of U.S. Highway 271 between Tyler and Gladewater, Sheriff Smith said.

"It's supposed to rain again tonight," he said. "The ground can't hold any more moisture."

Bob Peters, station observer in Tyler for the National Weather Service, said the city got 4.68 inches between 7 p.m. Thursday and mid-day Friday – a record rainfall for the day that easily beat the previous record of 1.29 inches set in 1950. Rainfall for the two-day storm totaled 5.74 inches in Tyler, he said.

"We had an area of about 4 to 8 inches of rain that extended from Upshur County south to Cherokee County and from western Henderson County over to Harrison County," Mr. Peters said.


Friday, 07/05/07

‘Record heat wave sears West’ –

The record heat wave searing much of the West for a second week will begin easing slightly Friday in the Southwest, but with temperatures hovering well above 100 degrees, these "cooler" temperatures will likely pass unnoticed in a large swath of Arizona, Nevada and California.

Highs in the lower 100s will be felt as far north as Billings, Mont., and Boise through Reno and Salt Lake City, forecasters said.

In Boise, forecasters expect a high Friday of 107 degrees, 6 degrees more than the record set for this date in 1985.

According to Weather Channel meteorologist Wayne Verno, an upper-level ridge responsible for the extreme heat will remain in place through Friday, even if temperatures drop a couple of degrees.

In any case, the scorching heat and dry weather in the Southwest will continue through the weekend, with temperatures in the desert areas approaching 120 degrees.

In Reno, Thursday's high of 108 degrees smashed the city's previous record for July 5, of 100 degrees set in 1970. Northern Nevada's hottest temperature Thursday was recorded in Lovelock at 112 degrees, surpassing the community's previous high of 104 degrees in 1991.

In Las Vegas, temperatures spiked Thursday at 116, one degree shy of the city's all-time high in 2005 and 1942.

Among other hot spots: Baker, Calif., posted 125 degrees; Spokane, Wash., had a record 101 degrees, Phoenix hit 115 degrees, and Pendleton, Ore., registered 108 degrees.

St. George, Utah, hit 115 degrees by 5 p.m. Thursday, a day after a nearby weather sensor recorded an unofficial reading of 118, which would top the state's all-time record of 117 set in St. George in 1985. Summer temperatures across Utah are running 10 to 15 degrees above normal, meteorologist Brandon Smith said.

"To be honest, as far as temperatures, for as far out as we can see there's no relief," he said.

Even Stanley, Idaho, which at 6,000 feet elevation is routinely the coldest place in the lower 48 states, is seeing record highs, the weather service said. The remote town in the Sawtooth Mountains is expected to reach 93 degrees Friday.

Hardly anyone in the tiny town has air conditioning, said Nancy Anderson, Stanley deputy city clerk. "They're all going to the lakes and the rivers and trying to find the shade," she said.


Tuesday, 07/03/07

‘Pakistan floods leave 1.3 million homeless’ – Canadian Broadcasting Company per AP

Pakistani troops and rescue workers continued their struggle on Sunday to help more than one million victims of monsoon-triggered floods in the country's southwest.

At least 50 people were feared dead in the latest flooding in Baluchistan province, the BBC reported.

A Pakistani navy ship rescued 265 people from Ormara and other coastal areas of Baluchistan, a navy official said.

In total the floods have left as many as 100 people dead in southwestern Pakistan, a senior relief official said on Sunday, as the government appealed for donations of tents to shelter about 1.3 million people left homeless by the flooding.

The deaths have occurred in the southwestern province of Baluchistan since Tuesday, when Cyclone Yemyin and rains triggered floods across a vast area, said Tariq Ayub, Baluchistan's home secretary, who is overseeing the flood relief operation.

Authorities said many of the casualties occurred due to drowning and people getting trapped under the debris of their collapsing homes.

With roads washed away by the flood waters, leaving hundreds of villages cut off by swollen rivers, army helicopters have been flying over the affected areas and dropping tents, food and clean water to stranded villagers.

But more heavy rains are expected in the normally arid areas around the coastal town of Turbat, about 650 kilometres southeast of Quetta, leaving rescue workers in a race against time to get as much aid to victims as possible before they are cut off by floods once again.

According to Pakistan's Meteorological Department, a fresh spell of rain which began in the flood-affected areas is expected to continue for two or three days.

Floods last week also killed more than two dozen people in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.

On June 23, storms left 228 people dead in Karachi, the capital of neighbouring Sindh province.


Tuesday, 07/03/07

‘Lake Okeechobee Drops to Another Record Low’ – WPBF Ch. 25 [West Palm Beach, FL]

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. -- Lake Okeechobee has reached another record low after months of little rain over the area, water managers said Monday.


The 730-square-mile lake, which serves as a primary backup water supply to 5 million South Floridians, dropped to a record low of 8.83 feet above sea level Monday morning, South Florida Water Management officials said.


On average, Lake Okeechobee and the District as a whole receive about eight inches of rain during the month of June; in June 2007, the Lake received less than half that.

By far the largest body of water in South Florida’s water management system, Lake Okeechobee provides as much as 70 percent of the dry season recharge for the District's Lower East Coast Service Area, which comprises Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and eastern Palm Beach counties.


"The irony of the current water shortage is that the Lower East Coast has been experiencing almost daily rain, and now the District is working to balance the very dry conditions and lack of rainfall over Lake Okeechobee with the risks of local flooding in coastal areas," said Chip Merriam, the SFWMD’s deputy executive director of water resources. "Unless more rain falls over the critically dry areas of Central Florida and water levels in Lake Okeechobee climb appreciably over the remainder of the wet season, it is likely that residents in Southeastern Florida will continue to face water shortage conditions through early 2008. Our water management system is intricately connected and water conditions in one geographic area may affect those in another."

Water managers said South Florida has enough water to last through the current wet season, but if the lake's level stays low or drops further, residents could be starting the dry season with all-time low water levels.


Monday, 07/02/07

‘Flooding forces hundreds from homes in Kansas and Missouri’ – per AP

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Even after sunshine returned to southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri, rivers swollen by days of heavy rain continued to rise as flood surges moved downstream.

While the rain had mostly stopped Monday morning, the National Weather Service extended a flash flood watch for six southeast Kansas counties — Allen, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson — because major flooding continued in area rivers.

The state was providing water to several communities where flooding had overwhelmed water treatment plants, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Emergency Management Agency. Fourteen shelters had been opened and were housing about 340 people early Monday.

In addition, more than 42,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Verdigris River from the Coffeyville Resources refinery Sunday, Watson said. The river flows south into Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality was assessing the situation and didn't know the extent of the problem, DEQ spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney said.

Forecasters said it could be days before area rivers begin returning to normal.

In Independence and Coffeyville, officials were preparing for additional flooding along the Verdigris River, which already has set record levels, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened floodgates at the Elk City and Fall River Toronto Lake reservoirs father upstream to alleviate pressure.

Andy Kmetz, with the corps' office in Tulsa, said officials tried to hold back floodwaters as long as possible.

"When you get up to the point where it's full, for the safety of the structure and the dam you have to release what's coming in," Kmetz said.

The Verdigris River at Independence set a record of 52.4 feet Sunday morning, shattering the old mark of 47.6 feet and more than 20 feet above flood stage. In Coffeyville, the old record of 26.6 feet fell Saturday night as the river surged past 29 feet, more than 10 feet above flood stage.

The Neosho River crested at 40.5 feet at Erie in Neosho County, where some evacuations occurred during the weekend.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday added six more counties to her declaration of a state of emergency, including Allen, Cherokee, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood and Miami and said she planned to survey the damage Monday.

In Missouri, officials said that while high waters in Cass, Jackson and Johnson counties are on the way down, they're now focused on parts of Vernon and Bates counties, where the Marais des Cygnes and Marmaton River were expected to continue rising over the next few days.

In Nevada, the Marmaton was at 29.5 feet, almost 10 feet above flood stage, while the Marais des Cygnes was expected to crest at 12 feet above flood stage on Tuesday, said John Campbell, an operations manager for the State Emergency Management.


Saturday, 06/30/07

‘L.A. Set to Log Driest Year in More Than a Century’ – Washiington Post per AP, p. A9

LOS ANGELES, June 29 -- Barring a surprise arrival of the kind of gully washers Texas is getting these days, Los Angeles's driest year in 130 years of recordkeeping will go into the books this weekend.

The nation's second-largest city is short nearly a foot of rain for the year from July 1, 2006, to June 30. Just 3.21 inches has fallen downtown in those 12 months, closer to Death Valley's numbers than the normal average of 15.14 inches.

It is much the same all over the West, from the measly snowpack and fire-scarred Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada to Arizona's shrinking Lake Powell and the shriveling Colorado River watershed.

The weather that is withering Los Angeles and drowning Texas are connected, said Bill Patzert, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist who researches the ocean's role in climate variations and has watched a Western drought grow for seven years.

Stationary high pressure has pushed the moisture-bringing jet stream to the north, which has also allowed moist air to linger over Texas, he said.

"This last year, it's definitely like the nail in the coffin," Patzert said of California's drought. "This is where the pain really comes home. One of these droughts -- you kind of creep into it slowly -- and it then takes a long time to get out of it."

Los Angeles has already called for a voluntary 10 percent cut in water use, and in recent months, its fire department has faced wildfires more typical of fall.

While the West is parched, Texas has experienced one of its wettest springs after back-to-back years of record drought.

As of Friday morning, 10.97 inches of rain had fallen for the month at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. That is half an inch short of what fell in June 1928, the rainiest month on record.

The weather extremes have a common thread, Patzert said: the jet stream.

"Although we had a lot of storms in the Gulf of Alaska this winter, we had just a big, stationary high-pressure system either offshore or to the east of us, and really what it did was it just drove that rain-delivery jet stream into the Pacific Northwest and just totally bypassed us," he said.

The circulation of high pressure also tends to cause Southern California's Santa Anas, the dry, warm winds that descend out of the high desert north of Los Angeles and are often linked to terrible fires in fall and winter. In the past year, there have been three times the normal number of Santa Ana days, Patzert said, and a "more-or-less continuous fire season."

The shift in the jet stream to the north has also kept rain over Texas, he said.

The central Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio have received nearly twice as much rain as usual for June. And earlier this week, about 18 inches of rain fell overnight near Marble Falls, about 40 miles northwest of Austin. Boats and helicopters rescued people who scrambled atop buildings and vehicles.

Even typically parched West Texas is getting drenched. So far this year, Lubbock had received 17.39 inches of rain -- just over an inch shy of the amount it usually gets during the entire year.


Friday, 06/29/07

‘Riley says pray for rain to fall from heavens’ – Birmingham [AL] News

With the state's weather forecasters not delivering much-needed rain, Gov. Bob Riley on Thursday turned to a higher power. The governor issued a proclamation calling for a week of prayer for rain, beginning Saturday.

Riley encouraged Alabamians to pray "individually and in their houses of worship."

"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for his blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty," Riley said. "This drought is without question a time of great difficulty."

A prepared statement included endorsements from the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

Alabama is likely to see more rain in the days after the governor's prayer vigil begins, according to weather forecasters.

Roger McNeil, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said a weak summer front will push its way into Alabama from the northwest, triggering scattered showers Saturday and Sunday. But the showers won't be enough to put a dent in the drought, he said.

McNeil declined to say whether he thinks prayer can make it rain.

"I don't think it's ever hurt," he said.

State proclamations for the national day of prayer and other broad, nondenominational religious observances are fairly common, said the Rev. Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. But government calls for intercessory type prayer are rare, he said.

"He shouldn't do these things that raise the specter of government promoting a particular religion," Lynn said. "It's just a bad idea."


Thursday, 06/28/07

‘Flooding Sweeps Central Texas After Record-Breaking Rains’ – New York Times, p. A15

DALLAS, June 27 — More than a foot and a half of rain flooded broad swaths of Central Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a 13-year-old boy drowned in a Dallas suburb after he was swept away in a creek.

In the Central Texas town of Marble Falls, bridges and mobile homes were washed away, taps went dry in about two-thirds of the city and dozens of people were stranded on the roofs of cars and homes, the authorities said.

Roads were blocked by overturned cars and propane tanks. Rain and wind stymied rescue crews in helicopters and boats, and officials urged residents to boil tap water and stock reserves.

The record rains that have saturated Texas and Oklahoma in the last two weeks have claimed at least 11 lives, including a family of three who died June 18 in Gainesville, Tex., near the state line.

One person remained missing Wednesday in the Marble Falls area, 48 miles west of Austin, but no deaths in that area had been confirmed. The National Weather Service flood watch for Wednesday night stretched across much of Central Texas and northeast to Illinois. Thunderstorms and scattered rains could continue for the next 7 to 10 days, said Mark Lenz, a National Weather Service meteorologist in New Braunfels, Tex.

This is already the wettest year to date recorded at the Austin airport. The area, which was in a drought since late 2004, has received twice as much rain this year than it did last year.

The Rev. Neil Norman said about 50 people registered for shelter at the First United Methodist Church in Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth.

“We have gone from one extreme to another,” Mr. Norman said. “We were extremely dry the last few years, so a lot of these people have never seen rain like this. They talk about a 100-year flood, maybe this is one of them.”


Tuesday, 06/26/07

‘Storms, floods kill 3 in northern England’ – per AP

LONDON - Residents across England were mopping up Tuesday after flash floods killed three people and forced hundreds from their homes. Rainstorms that had battered the country eased, but authorities warned of more damage amid fears a leaking reservoir could burst.

Officials in Rotherham, 170 miles north of London, urged residents living near Ulley Dam to leave their houses after warning the walls of the dam at the 35-acre reservoir could break.

"We have taken professional advice from an engineer, who said there is a significant risk that the dam could fail," said Rotherham Council spokeswoman Tracy Holmes.

Hundreds of people spent the night in temporary shelters in nearby Sheffield, where a 14-year-old boy and a 68-year-old man died after being swept away by floodwaters. Large tracts of the city were left without power, and officials said damage would run into millions of dollars.

"We have seen the most intense rain since records began," said Bob Kerslake, chief executive of Sheffield City Council. "This has been quite unparalleled and extraordinary. People who have lived all their lives in Sheffield would say this is the most severe flooding they've ever seen."

In Hull, northeast England, a 28-year-old man died after he became trapped in a storm drain.

Rainstorms on Monday dumped as much as three inches of rain on a country already soggy from an exceptionally wet June, Britain's weather office said. At one point on Monday afternoon, the country's Environment Agency had issued 38 flood warnings.

Royal Air Force helicopters were scrambled to help people trapped in their cars, and in northern England, to rescue people trapped on a roof.


Tuesday, 06/26/07

‘Five more die as southeast Europe sizzles’ – Reuters

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Four more Romanians have died from a heatwave gripping parts of southeast Europe, health officials said on Tuesday, raising the region's death toll from the past few days to a least 30.

All four were elderly people who died of breathing or heart problems brought on by the heat, the health ministry said.

In western Turkey, a 60-year-old man collapsed on a beach and later died in hospital as temperatures there hit 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit).

Turkey's western regions reduced working hours for state officials and authorities urged the elderly and children to stay at home, out of the heat.

In Greece, where the scorching weather has killed five people in the past two days, air conditioning systems working flat out pushed energy consumption towards an all-time high, and state offices closed early at noon to conserve power supplies.

Temperatures soared to 46 Celsius (115 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country on Monday, and authorities expected the heatwave to continue for at least another three days, making this Greece's hottest June ever.

In Romania, where temperatures on Tuesday hit 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit), high schools scheduled athletics exams in early morning or evening to avoid the midday heat.

Southeastern Europe was already suffering a drought, even before the latest heatwave.

Bulgarian farm ministry sources said a week ago that the wheat crop might be down 30 percent from last year.

Grain producers say Romania might have to import a million tonnes of wheat this year to cover a domestic shortfall.

And in Ukraine, the government has imposed stringent limits on grain exports for three months in an attempt to keep down bread prices.

Sunday, 06/24/07

‘Rare powerful tornado slams Manitoba town’ – London [Ontario] Free Press

ELIE, MAN. -- Environment Canada says a severe storm that destroyed four homes and a flour mill and caused considerable damage in southwestern Manitoba on Friday evening was more than likely a violent F4 tornado.

A preliminary assessment yesterday by meteorologists at Elie, the town 35 kilometres west of Winnipeg hardest hit by the twister, shows that wind speeds would have reached up to 400 kilometres an hour.

Tornadoes are categorized on what is known as the Fujita scale, which rates their severity based on the damage they cause. F4 and F5 tornadoes are the most violent. Winds in the F4 range can level well-constructed houses and structures, and hurl cars and large objects some distance.

Witness accounts of the tornado suggest it was on the ground for about 30 to 40 minutes and travelled about 5.5 kilometres.

No injuries were reported.


Friday, 06/22/07

‘Heat Wave Blamed for Deaths in Europe’ – per AP

ATHENS, Greece -- Southeastern Europe baked under soaring temperatures Friday, with nearly 30 deaths across the region blamed on the year's first major heat wave. Electricity supplies, particularly in Greece and Albania, were strained as air conditioning use spiked.

Temperatures reached 104 degrees in Athens on Friday, with a top recorded temperature of 113 degrees on the island of Rhodes, according to state NET television.

Romania was particularly hard hit. Nineteen people have died of heat-related causes in the past few days, including 14 in the capital, Bucharest, the country's Health Ministry said.

In Serbia, doctors said at least seven people had died in recent days of heat-related causes. In neighboring Macedonia, officials said they had fielded numerous calls from elderly people suffering cardiac and asthma problems.

To the south in Albania, at least three people died due to heat, including a 43-year-old mother of four who collapsed while tending her fields. Hundreds of children in Kucove, 70 miles south of the capital, Tirana, were taken to health care units, while the Health Ministry ordered air conditioned emergency rooms to be set up around the country.

Parts of Tirana have also suffered nine-hour power cuts this week, as hydroelectric reservoir levels remain low after a parched winter. Evangelos Lekatsas, who oversees Greece's electrical grid, said Greece had increased electricity exports to Albania to help it cope.

But Greece itself faced power problems, with parts of the country suffering blackouts for the fourth day running. The state power company appealed to the public to limit electricity use.

Temperatures in parts of the country are expected to reach 109.4 degrees this weekend, some of the highest temperatures since the record-breaking summer of 1987, when hundreds of people died due to the heat.


Wednesday, 06/20/07

‘1 dead, 4 missing in N.Y. floods’ – per AP

ROSCOE, N.Y. (AP) — Police were searching Wednesday for four people reported missing after a flash flood in the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains

Up to eight inches of rain fell in two hours late Tuesday night, washing out roads and homes and slamming trees into bridges in this rural area.

While two people initially unaccounted for after the deluge were found, troopers on Wednesday afternoon were still searching for four people, according to state police Sgt. Keith Hocker. He said witnesses saw two of the missing people being swept away by flood waters.

The downpour came as a series of storms tore through New York state on Tuesday, killing at least one person and leaving more than 3,000 electricity customers still without power Wednesday.

Sustained winds of nearly 50 miles an hour, with gusts of 60 mph to 65 mph, were recorded at the city's airport, the National Weather Service said.

Dozens of oak trees upwards of 100 feet tall were snapped in half by the gusts, McBride said.


Tuesday, 06/19/07

‘Rainfall Floods Texas Towns, Killing 4 People’ – New York Times per AP, p. A14

GAINESVILLE, Tex., June 18 (AP) — Torrential overnight rainfall flooded several towns in North Texas on Monday, killing four people and stranding people and their pets on the roofs of their homes awaiting rescue.

Creeks swollen by as much as eight inches of rain inundated parts of Gainesville and Sherman, near the Oklahoma state line.

Aerial video showed dozens of people seeking refuge from the high water on a railroad crossing. Families awaited rescue on their roofs, some having hacked their way to the outside from their attics. Some were joined by their dogs.

About 100 mobile homes in Haltom City were inundated, and many were washed off their foundations, emergency officials said.

“When I looked out the window, water was up to the bottom of the window and the current was so fast houses were washing away, said Rachel Hawkes, a Haltom City resident. “You could hear people screaming, but we couldn’t get out to help.”

The National Weather Service said rain fell at a rate of an inch every 15 minutes in some places.


Sunday, 06/17/07

‘Flash floods leaves [sic] at least 22 dead. 60 injured in northwestern Pakistan’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Flash flooding caused by torrential rain and thunderstorms struck several villages in mountainous northwestern Pakistan, leaving at least 22 people dead, a senior government official said Sunday.

Some 120 homes have been washed away in the flooding that hit seven villages Saturday in Swat, a hill resort district in North West Frontier Province, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, said Qari Mahmood, the province's minister for agriculture and livestock.

At least 20 people, many of them children, died in the village of Bedara and another two people were killed in the nearby Barinjal village. Many of the victims were crushed to death when their homes collapsed in the rain and floods, Mahmood said.

More than 100 homes have been destroyed and 300 more were partially damaged in the seven affected villages. Police and paramilitary troops have been deployed to the villages to remove debris and distribute tents, medicines and food, he said.

"This is a big tragedy," he said, adding that apple orchards, maize and onion fields were also washed away in the flooding.


Saturday, 06/16/07

‘Nowhere to go and no way to get there as the June monsoon causes chaos’ – The London [UK] Times

Torrential rain caused severe flooding across many parts of Britain yesterday. Thousands of people were affected as homes, workplaces and schools were evacuated.

Trains were cancelled and motorists were stranded when railway lines and roads were submerged, causing rush-hour chaos.

The worst-affected areas were the Midlands, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. The Environment Agency issued 42 flood warnings, including three severe ones — the most serious category, which indicates extreme danger to life and property — for Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

The Met Office said that the wet weather would continue into the beginning of next week, with some very heavy and thundery outbreaks likely again today.

Emergency crews throughout the Midlands and Yorkshire were stretched to the limit throughout much of Thursday night and yesterday.

Rail commuters were also brought to a standstill. Rail services in Yorkshire and the Midlands were particularly affected, with the Birmingham to Euston service subject to delays.

Thousands of schoolchildren were sent home after their buildings flooded, including children at Langley Secondary school in Solihull and several schools in Sheffield.

One of the areas most heavily affected was Edgbaston, Birmingham, where more than 3.4in (86mm) of rain fell in 24 hours. The average for the entire month is usually 60mm.

Firefighters in the city had to pump water out of 200 homes after the River Tame burst its banks. West Midlands fire service said water levels reached five feet in the Brookvale area of Aston, West Midlands.

Bingley, near Bradford, was deluged with 2.8in of rain in 24 hours. Coleshill in Warwickshire also suffered 1.9in of rain in the same space of time.


Friday, 06/15/07

‘Exceptional drought spreading from Alabama into Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia’ – per AP

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The choking drought that's killing crops and turning streams into dusty trails across the Southeast is expanding. Previously limited to the northern half of Alabama, the drought classified as exceptional has grown like an ink blot to extend from eastern Mississippi across Alabama into southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia, government meteorologists said Thursday.

They classify conditions in the region as being worse than even those in southern Florida, where Lake Okeechobee is drying up, and the perennially dry West.

Overall, the entire Southeast is in at least a moderate drought, except for the southern tips of Florida and Louisiana, the northern reaches of North Carolina and Virginia and parts of Arkansas and West Virginia, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

"Seeing the effects this early in the year shows we are in a really unprecedented situation," said John Christy, the state climatologist and a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The arid conditions mean the atmosphere will heat up more than normal as summer approaches, making triple-digit temperatures more common across the region, he said.

The combined effects on agriculture could be devastating.

In Alabama — where conditions are the worst and about 38% of the state is experiencing an exceptional drought — Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the state's northern tier of counties a disaster area.

The Drought Monitor said 78% of Alabama's pastures are in poor or very poor condition, as are 48% of peanuts and 68% of the cotton crop.

Conditions are better in Georgia and other states where rainfall from tropical storm Barry doused fields long enough that cotton farmers who delayed planting because of the dry weather finally were able to get seeds in the ground.

"Things look a lot better than they did, but our crop is certainly going to be behind because of the late plantings," said Richey Seaton, executive director of the Georgia Cotton Commission.

Many parts of the South have rainfall deficits in double digits for the year, and areas with the most extreme conditions are 20 inches or more below normal.

Dozens of water districts are urging voluntary conservation, and some have imposed bans on watering lawns and car washing.

In suburban Birmingham, the Cahaba River is down about 80% from its normal flow, exposing red-dirt banks and litter to recreational boaters.

"People are still going down the river, but it's pretty low," said Gavin Rains of Alabama Small Boats, which sells kayaks and canoes along the stream in Helena. "We're in a dire drought right now, but it's not the end of the world."

Long-term forecasts show little chance for substantial rain unless a tropical system moves north across the Gulf of Mexico to displace a high-pressure system that is blocking moisture from entering the Southeast.

"Rainfall patterns by their nature are variable. This is just where (the drought) happens to be this time," Christy said.


Thursday, 06/14/07

‘The case of the disappearing Great Lake’ –

BARAGA, Mich. — "Where did the water go?" asks Ted Shalifor, manager of a marina and campground on Lake Superior's Chippewa Indian Reservation.

The water on Lake Superior is so low that he couldn't put his docks in the water this year. Where he used to see water, he now sees sandbars.

Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, has dropped to its lowest level in 81 years. The water is 20 inches below average and a foot lower than just a year ago.

The dropping levels have had serious environmental and economic consequences. Wetlands have dried up. Power plants run at half capacity. Cargo ships carry partial loads. Boaters struggle to find a place to dock.

The changes can be seen all along the 2,800-mile shore of Lake Superior, the coldest and deepest of the Great Lakes. The water has receded, sometimes 50 feet or more, from its normal shoreline.

Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are at low levels, as well, although not quite as extreme.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere study whether Lake Superior's low water levels are a result of global warming. The average water temperature of Lake Superior has risen 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1979.

A drought and warm weather are the immediate cause of the drop in water levels. In the past year, precipitation was 6 inches less than the average of 31 inches. The lake's southern shore had a green Christmas in 2006. The ice and snow pack that usually cover the lake arrived late, allowing water to evaporate.

"It's been a long time since we've been this low, but it has happened," says Tim Calappi, a hydraulic engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, which tracks water levels. "We still think this is within the range of what's normal, but we have to wait and see."

Superior isn't the only prominent North American lake or reservoir at a severely low level. Lake Mead near Las Vegas and Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border are about half full. Florida's Lake Okeechobee recently set a record low.


Tuesday, 06/12/07

‘Flooding forces evacuations in Oklahoma’ – per AP

DEWEY, Okla. (AP) — More than two-dozen people were evacuated Monday after a rain-swollen creek jumped its banks and surged into several neighborhoods.

One firefighter was injured while battling a blaze inside one of the partly flooded homes, Dewey Fire Chief Tom Smith said.

"The water's still coming up," he said.

The flooding of Coon Creek caused the evacuations of a trailer park and several neighborhoods in Dewey, six miles north of Bartlesville. Damage was worst on the south side of town, said Gordon Higbee, operations officer for the Washington County Emergency Management Agency.

Several rounds of thunderstorms that dumped up to 6 inches of rain on the area in 12 hours caused area lakes and streams to swell.

In Bartlesville, residents along the Caney River were bracing for possible flooding. The Caney River was expected to crest to 17.7 feet by Monday evening, according to a bulletin from the National Weather Service in Tulsa. Flood stage is 13 feet.

Flooding could occur in Johnston Park and in residential areas. The old Highway 75 crossing was expected to become impassable, the weather service said.

The weather service also said the Verdigris River near Lenapah would rise above flood stage later in the day, causing moderate flooding mainly affecting farmland and rural roads.

Both rivers were expected to fall below flood stage by Tuesday morning.


Thursday, 06/07/07

‘Severe storms slam Upper Midwest’ -

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore through the Upper Midwest on Thursday, damaging homes and a resort, producing baseball-sized hail and dropping more than 6 inches of rain in some areas.

A twister devastated the Bear Paw Resort near Langlade in northern Wisconsin, and nearby homes might also have been damaged, the Langlade County Sheriff's Department said. No injuries were reported.

The rustic resort, which runs along the Wolf River, allows camping and includes cabins and a kayaking business. There was a report of a kayak slicing through a pine tree.

"The resort was leveled," said Gina Panzica of Langlade County Rural Fire Control.

At least one person suffered minor glass cuts from an apparent tornado farther south, near Bevent, that wrecked homes and other buildings, said Jackie Seliger, a dispatch supervisor for the Marathon County Sheriff's Department.

Baseball-size hail fell in Wisconsin Rapids, knocking out the windshield of a police car, said Karen Ryun, a dispatcher.

A tornado damaged several lake homes near Elizabeth, in western Minnesota, said Judy Siggerud, dispatch supervisor for Otter Tail County. No injuries were reported.

Hail the size of golf balls was reported in parts of Minnesota.

In North Dakota, where the storms began late Wednesday, heavy rain washed out roads. Bowman County emergency manager Dean Pearson said he had reports of 1 1/2 to 6 1/4 inches of rain overnight.

"We've got some roads that are washed out and some areas that are still running over the roadway," Pearson said. "It's been slow getting started (to assess the damage) because it's so muddy that it's hard to get around."


Tuesday, 06/05/07

‘Oil prices rise as cyclone hits Persian Gulf’ – per AP

MUSCAT, Oman (AP) — Oman evacuated tens of thousands Wednesday, suspended oil exports and closed the major port of Sohar as a weakening Cyclone Gonu roared toward the Strait of Hormuz — the world's major transport artery for Persian Gulf oil.

Oil prices rose amid forecasts that the strongest storm to threaten the Arabian Peninsula in 60 years was barreling toward Iran.

As heavy rains lashed coastal areas, authorities closed all operations at the port of Sohar and evacuated the 11,000 workers, port spokesman Dirk Jan De Vink said.

Sohar's oil refinery and petrochemical plant remained running at very low levels, with authorities considering a total shutdown, he said.

De Vink said he and the other beachfront residents of the city of 60,000 were leaving their homes, all threatened by rising tides and large waves pushed by the approaching storm.

Electricity went out in Muscat by noon Wednesday, as winds of 62 mph hit the capital. Oman television broadcast footage of streets and buildings flooded with water. Health ministry official Ali bin Gaafar bin Mohammed said rescue workers had difficulties reaching affected areas.

Flights in and out of Oman's Seeb International Airport were canceled Wednesday, according to an official Hamad bin Ali al Abri. Flights that were en route to Muscat were diverted to other airports in the region, he said.

Maximum sustained winds of about 86 miles per hour were reported with gusts to nearly 104 miles per hour, regional weather services said.

As of 0900 GMT, the storm was reported about 60 nautical miles southeast of Muscat, moving in a northwesterly direction, the services said. A tracking map posted on the website of the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted the center of the storm would skirt the capital Muscat in mid-afternoon.

Oman's eastern provinces were cut off, with heavy rains making the roads unusable and communication lines severed. "We have no communication with them, nothing," said a senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity as is customary habit for security and police officials in Oman.

On Masirah, authorities said a state of emergency had been declared. Troops and police were mobilized to help provide shelter and medical services.

Even with the weaker wind speeds, Gonu is believed to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula since record keeping started in 1945. A cyclone is the term used for hurricanes in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.


Sunday, 06/03/07

‘Barry Brought Relief And Close Calls’ – Tampa Bay [FL] Tribune

TAMPA - Tropical Storm Barry's brief visit Saturday brought much-needed rain and a few headaches.

Six inches fell in Largo on Friday and Saturday, and most of the rest of the drought-parched Tampa Bay area received 3 to 4 inches. The two-day rainfall of 3.19 inches at Tampa International Airport equaled the 3.19 inches that had fallen in Tampa during the past three months combined.

One storm gust was estimated at 60 mph in Carrollwood, but winds in the area were generally 30 to 40 mph, said Ernie Jillson of the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

Soon after Barry made landfall in the Tampa Bay area about 10 a.m., the storm was downgraded to a depression, canceling the tropical storm warning that had stretched from Bonita Beach near Fort Myers to Keaton Beach in Taylor County.

Rain fell throughout Florida early Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Atlantic coast cities also reaped the benefits of the statewide soaking, with Melbourne registering 6 inches of rain and West Palm Beach getting 7.

The 2 inches reported near the Georgia border didn't end drought conditions but may aid the weekslong effort to control a stubborn wildfire there, according to the Florida Division of Forestry.


Thursday, 05/31/07

‘Lake Okeechobee Hits Record Low Due to Drought’ – WPBF Ch. 25 [West Palm Beach, FL]

MIAMI -- Residents, firefighters and water managers are all wishing for rain while Lake Okeechobee's water levels drop to a record low.


The South Florida Water Management District reported today a record low of just under nine feet, surpassing the previous mark set during a 2001 drought and tied Wednesday. Meanwhile, a fire burning part of the parched lake bed has grown, but no structures are in danger.


The region's drought is leading water managers to assess how to best protect drinking water supplies, meet needs of the important agriculture industry and protect natural resources. The average water level should be around 13 feet this time of year in the second-largest freshwater lake in the contiguous United States.

The lake is the main backup water supply for 5 million South Florida residents.


The dry conditions have exposed vegetation that normally sits on the lake bottom. It's also forced stringent water restrictions on homes and businesses in 13 counties.


Monday, 05/28/07

‘Moscow breaks 120-year temperature record’ – RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency)

MOSCOW, May 28 (RIA Novosti) - Monday has become the hottest May 28th in the 120-year history of temperature record-keeping in Moscow, the city's meteorological service said.

With thermometers near bursting at 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and the record shattered by about 2:00 p.m. Moscow time (10:00 a.m. GMT), the service said that temperatures will continue to rise and will reach at least 34 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by late afternoon.

Unseasonably hot May weather has already seen last year's energy consumption for this time of year surpassed by about 8% in Moscow and 12% in St. Petersburg, a spokeswoman for the UES electricity monopoly said.

The meteorological center said that scorching heat will persist over the next few days, and that several more records may well be broken.


Monday, 05/28/07

‘Two men swept away in storms remain missing’ – per AP

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (AP) — Firefighters rescued more than two dozen people and deputies patrolled campgrounds warning people to evacuate Sunday as the Guadalupe River spilled out of its banks and rains continued to soak Central Texas.

Mark Reynolds, a public information officer with the Comal County Sheriff's Office, said 17 people rescued from beneath the bridge at Farm to Market Road 306 had taken refuge from the rain but then had to be rescued as the river rose.

Meanwhile two men whose vehicles were swept away by rising flood waters Thursday night remained missing and were presumed dead. At least five people have been killed in flooding since Thursday. Authorities said the search for the men shifted from a rescue to recovery effort.

After storms dumped more than 10 inches of rain in some areas, much of Central Texas remained under a flash flood warning through Sunday night. Parts of North Texas were under a flash flood watch until Monday afternoon.

Among the five people who died in storm-related incidents since Thursday were two brothers, ages 5 and 6, who were found in a submerged sport-utility vehicle in Killeen. Rescuers were able to save their mother and two siblings.

In the past few days dozens of people were plucked from surging water that caused rivers and creeks to swell. In Fort Worth, two teenage girls whose canoe was swept away in a raging creek were rescued from a tree Saturday.

Gov. Rick Perry activated National Guard troops to several Central Texas cities for the holiday weekend.


Friday, 05/25/07

‘Hot weather sets record high for the day’ –

Temperatures rose into the 90s across most of New England Friday, setting record daily highs at many of the region's National Weather Service weather stations.

The NWS reported Friday's new record for Boston at 1:59 p.m., when the mercury hit 92, eclipsing the old mark of 91 set in 1932.

The record had been tied about an hour earlier, and the temperature stuck at 92 well into the afternoon.

At its regional center in Taunton, the NWS recorded a temperature of 95, which at one point in the afternoon was the warmest temperature reported across the country.

But Massachusetts wasn't alone in its record-breaking heat. Bulletins posted on the NWS website during the afternoon acknowledged new temperature milestones at T.F. Green airport in Warwick, R.I., Portland Jetport in Maine, Concord, N.H. and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn.

The T.F. Green reading of 93 at 4:15 p.m. broke the previous mark of 92 set in 1981. The high of 91 at Portland exceeded the 88 posted in 1977. The NWS also reported it was the first 90-degree reading there in May since 2001.

Concord broke a record that had stood for more than 100 years when thermometers hit 93 at 2 p.m. Friday. The old record of 92 had been set back in 1888. On Thursday, the city had posted a 91 reading, which tied the daily high mark for May 24 set in 1991.

Meanwhile, at Bradley International the new record of 92 was noted at 12:57 p.m. The previous high of 91 took place in 1981.

Although Vermont was the only state that didn't set a new record Friday, residents of the Green Mountain state were hardly bundling up. At one point, the temperature in Burlington -- about four hours northwest of Boston -- reached 89 degrees.


Friday, 05/25/07

‘Floods wreak havoc in Spain’ – per AP

MADRID (AP) — Hailstones the size of walnuts pummeled villages in central Spain and torrential storms wreaked havoc in much of the country, damaging crops, disrupting rail services and killing one person, officials said Thursday.

A string of intense downpours has also flooded tunnels and streets in Madrid and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people since the bad weather started early this week.

A man died in Pontevedra in northwest Galicia province when a wall collapsed on him.

The rain has been most intense in Madrid and the surrounding area, and in the regions of Castilla-Leon to the north and Castilla-La Mancha to the south.

The regional president of Castilla-La Mancha, Jose Maria Barreda, said one million acres of crops have been damaged, mainly vineyards and grain.

In the town of Campo de Criptana in Castilla-La Mancha, huge hailstones damaged roofs and clogged drains in the streets, and 20 people were evacuated from their homes, said local police officer Manuel Manjavacas.

Train service has been disrupted from Madrid to eastern areas including Valencia and Murcia.

National Meteorology Institute spokesman Angel Rivera has described the weather as "a rosary of storms."


Friday, 05/25/07

‘Rain floods parts of Midwest, Plains’ – per AP

HUTCHINSON (AP) — Torrential rainfall hit parts of the Plains and Midwest, flooding towns in Kansas and Texas on Thursday, toppling trees and power lines and pelting the countryside with hail.

Some central Kansas towns recorded as much as 7 inches of rain — in some places up to 2 inches per hour — starting Wednesday.

The deluge closed dozens of roads, some flooded for the second time in three weeks, said Dean Speaks, deputy emergency management director for Saline County.

"It's taken out the roads that we fixed (after the first flooding)," Speaks said. Numerous government facilities, homes and businesses in the Salina area were flooded.

In central Texas, showers and thunderstorms caused street flooding. In the Dallas suburb of Garland, rescuers pulled a man from swift waters after he was swept downstream while trying to check the water level with a stick.

The storms also spawned tornadoes and funnel clouds, but no significant tornado damage was reported. Toppled trees and power lines were reported in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Thursday, 05/24/07

‘Flooding causes road closures in the [Texas] Panhandle’ – per AP

Flooding caused road closures throughout the northern Texas Panhandle early Thursday.

Rising water prompted numerous road closures in largely rural areas of Hansford, Lipscomb, Ochiltree and Roberts counties, where flood warnings were issued.

U.S. Highway 83 was closed between Perryton and Canadian with up to 6 feet of water over the South Wolf Creek Bridge, the National Weather Service reported. Rainfall estimates exceeded 8 inches in the Wolf Creek Park area.


Thursday, 05/24/07

‘Soggy weather – More rain hits state’ – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Our dry May has suddenly turned soggy, and another round of storms will bring more rain and the potential for low-level flooding on streets and along rivers and creeks to the Twin Cities and southern and western Minnesota today, the National Weather Service said.

The rain is helping wipe out a precipitation deficit for the month.

Until Wednesday, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was more than 1.5 inches below average for the month. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the airport had recorded .15 inches, but official totals will not be availabe (sic) until later this morning, Trammell said.

The storms dropped more than an inch of rain in several places, including 1.20 inches at the St. Paul Downtown Airport, 1.19 inches in Forest Lake, 1.17 inches in Lino Lakes, 1.01 inches in Stillwater, 1.28 inches in Fridley, 1.53 inches in Zumbrota, Minn. and 1.74 inches in Faribault. More than 2 inches fell in Baldwin, Wis., the weather service said.

As much as one-half inch of rain could pelt the area today, the weather service said.

Today's high temperature will be about 61, with a west northwest wind between 5 and 15 miles per hour.

Tennis-ball-sized hail pelted the northwest suburbs and power failures caused major traffic tieups in Plymouth at the start of the afternoon rush hour. There were reports of car windows broken by hail in Minnetonka.

Heavy rain was another key feature of the storms. St. Paul Downtown Airport reported 1.19 inches between 1 and 7 p.m. and Owatonna received 1.12 inches. Osceola, Wis., reported 0.97 of an inch, South St. Paul 0.93 and Faribault 0.71. But St. Cloud received only 0.15 of an inch and Brainerd a trace.


Monday, 05/21/07

‘Downpour makes a mess but doesn’t end the drought’ – Miami Herald

Five inches of rain flooded parts of North Miami-Dade Sunday, stalling cars at downtown Miami intersections and leaving Miami Beach tourists to slog through standing water on their way to hotels.

The bone-dry ground was so parched that it was unable to absorb so much moisture so quickly.

''It's not even June yet,'' said Michael Stewart, who lives in the 300 block of Northeast 141st Street in North Miami-Dade. ``What will it be like when it rains for a whole day?''

Flooded streets forced police to shut down roads and contributed to car crashes throughout the day, including several on Interstate 95 in Miami-Dade.

''Everyone has been spinning out and hitting the wall,'' Florida Highway Patrol Duty Officer Tania Clark said. ``We've had so many calls.''

Rain totals were highest around North Miami Beach, Golden Beach and North Miami. The heavy rains missed most of Broward County, which reported a few evening showers.

''One area got all the rain,'' National Weather Service meteorologist Roberto Garcia said.

The rain fell mostly along the coast, not inland or near Lake Okeechobee, South Florida's major water reservoir, the weather service reported.

Translation: There is still a drought.


Saturday, 05/12/07

‘Wildfire smoke closes interstates in Florida’ –

(CNN) -- Dense smoke that closed parts of two major interstate highways was expected to keep choking Floridians and traffic until at least midmorning Sunday.

The smoke was generated by huge wildfires burning in northern Florida and southern Georgia.

Interstate 75 remained closed from Valdosta, Georgia, south to Lake City, Florida, said Col. Chris Knight, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. Interstate 10 was closed from Sanderson, Florida, eastward to Live Oak.

"If you don't have to travel, we simply ask that you don't," Knight advised. "It is gridlock. You will be sitting on the interstate."

Several crashes involving injuries occurred before the freeways were shut down, he said.

The Florida Highway Patrol intermittently reopened sections Saturday afternoon to relieve traffic snarls as some of the smoke cleared. However, the roads remained officially closed.

The fires have scorched at least 212,000 acres, according to the joint information center, a coalition of state and federal agencies. Of those acres, 101,000 were in Florida and about 111,000 were in Georgia.

Officials said Saturday afternoon that although the fires grew some during the day, fire lines were established.

"We'll start showing a little bit more containment tonight," said Mike Quesinberry of Southern Area Incident Management. He predicted the fires would be 10 percent to 15 percent contained by Sunday morning. The Georgia fires were at zero percent containment.

"With time and rain ... we can get these fires suppressed," said Ira Jolley of the Florida Division of Forestry.


Wednesday, 05/09/07

‘Atlantic’s first named storm forms early’ – per AP

MIAMI — The first named storm of the year formed Wednesday off the southeastern U.S. coast, more than three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters said.

Subtropical Storm Andrea had top sustained winds around 45 mph Wednesday morning and didn't appear to be much of a threat, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Still, a tropical storm watch was issued for parts of Georgia and Florida, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.

"We're not looking at this system strengthening significantly," said Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist at the center. "We're not viewing this as a major threat."

He said it wasn't unusual for the storm to form in May, outside the hurricane season that starts June 1 and end Nov. 30.

"What we call the hurricane season is a totally manmade creation. Nature doesn't always pay attention to that," Beven said.

Eighteen tropical storms and four hurricanes have been recorded in that month since 1851, and none of the hurricanes made landfall in the USA. The earliest hurricane to strike the USA was Alma in northwest Florida on June 9, 1966.

The Atlantic basin has been in a busy period for hurricanes since 1995. Some federal forecasters believe this is part of a natural cycle. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-sponsored group, says global warming caused by humans has led to an increase in stronger hurricanes.


Wednesday, 05/09/07

‘Floods ravage Plains towns’ –

AGENCY, Mo. — The record-setting flooding that has forced thousands of people along the Missouri River and other waterways to evacuate in recent days is expected to reach its peak today near Kansas City.

The thunderstorms responsible for a tornado that flattened Greensburg, Kan., pounded the central Plains with as much as 8 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Cities downstream from southwest Kansas watched Tuesday as waters rose to heights that are close to levels not seen since flooding 14 years ago destroyed at least 10,000 homes and left 48 people dead.

Unrelenting downpours caused five levees to burst in Big Lake, Mo., sending river water rushing into the town of 127 people. The inundated town was largely empty of people. Most residents had gotten out Monday, but some who did not were being rescued by boat.

"The town is a loss," said Mark Sitherwood, presiding commissioner of Holt County. "At this time, we don't know, but it looks like that's what's going to happen."

The Fishing River flooded northeast of Kansas City, leaving two-thirds of the town of Mosby under 4 feet of water in some spots, said D.C. Rogers, Clay County director of emergency services.

About 40 miles away in Agency, a town of about 100 people surrounded on three sides by the Platte River, may have broken a record for the highest flood height but the town water gauge was washed away.

"The latest indications are that the whole town is underwater," said Suzanne Fortin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Kansas City.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency and mobilized National Guard troops to help. His office issued voluntary evacuation orders in several western Missouri counties and a mandatory evacuation was imposed in Parkville, just across the Missouri River from Kansas City.

Levees broke near Willow Creek in the western Iowa town of Missouri Valley, and some residents had to be evacuated by boat Monday, Mayor Randy McHugh said.

"Appliances are just floating around," he said.


Wednesday, 05/09/07

‘Hundreds flee as wind drives flames through Griffin Park’ – Los Angeles Times, front page,0,532284.story?coll=la-home-center

Firefighters struggled Tuesday night to contain wind-whipped flames that scorched hundreds of acres in Griffith Park, forced the evacuation of some of Los Angeles' best-known landmarks and raced toward hillside homes in Los Feliz, prompting a hasty evacuation.

The fire was the park's worst in at least three decades and was the latest of several to strike the Hollywood Hills in what has been the driest year on record.

The Observatory, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles Zoo, Travel Town and Museum of the American West, as well as nearby golf courses, a magnet school and boys camp were evacuated Tuesday afternoon as firefighters dealt with erratic winds and bone-dry brush that has received less than 4 inches of rain in the last year.

The fire prompted Los Angeles Zoo officials to activate their emergency plan. The fire also threatened the park's historic merry-go-round and sent scores of visitors fleeing.

"It was red as hell," Councilman Tom LaBonge said of the blaze. Before leaving the fire command center Tuesday night, LaBonge called it probably the park's worst fire since 1961. "It's bad," he said. "Nothing is stopping it."

Late Tuesday, LaBonge said that Dante's View, a popular hiking destination in the park, was destroyed.

The fire was the fifth in the 4,200-acre park since December and one of a string of blazes to hit the Hollywood Hills. In March, a fire crept up the hills on the San Fernando Valley side and burned near the Hollywood sign. Earlier this year, brush fires destroyed homes in Malibu and Beverly Hills.

Downtown Los Angeles is close to setting a record for lack of rainfall. County officials issued a report earlier this week that found the moisture level of hillside brush was 50% lower this May than a year earlier. The brush is expected to dry considerably more during the summer and early fall.


Monday, 05/07/07

‘Weekend storms signal deadly year’ – USAToday, front page

The weekend blitz of tornadoes in Kansas and the Plains puts 2007 on track to be one of the busiest and deadliest tornado years in a decade, severe-storms meteorologists said Sunday.

"Even if the year stopped right now, it would be the deadliest year we've had since 1999," said Greg Forbes, severe-weather expert for The Weather Channel.

The huge twister that leveled the south-central Kansas town of Greensburg late Friday, killing at least eight people, is the first tornado of the year rated at the top scale of a new rating system adopted in February to measure intensity.

The tornado, which carved a 22-mile path and reached 1.7 miles wide, had winds estimated up to 205 mph, the National Weather Service reported.

The last one to reach such intensity was May 3, 1999, when an F-5 tornado — considered the most powerful under the old rating system — slammed an Oklahoma City suburb, killing 36 people.

Forecasters predicted more intense storms in the nation's heartland today and through the week. A slow-moving system from the West continues to draw warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, triggering violent thunderstorms from Oklahoma and Kansas up to the Dakotas and Minnesota.

"Considering that we're probably going to be close to 600 (tornado) reports already this year, this season is probably going to be one of the busier we've had since 1998-99," said Dan McCarthy, severe-weather meteorologist at the federal Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

The annual average for the past 10 years is 1,272 tornadoes.

This year's 69 fatalities are more than twice the usual number by this date and the worst of the season may just be starting. The prediction center says May averages the most tornadoes each year, followed by June and April.

Ten people died in this weekend's storms: eight in the Greensburg area and two others in Kansas.

The deadliest tornado day on record was April 3, 1974, when 330 people died on the first day of a "super outbreak" of 148 tornadoes in 13 states.


Monday, 05/07/07

‘Rain, wind, tornadoes hit Iowa’ – Des Moines Register

Heavy rains, winds of up to 50 mph, hail and several tornadoes struck western Iowa early Sunday in what the National Weather Service says was the first of a series of rainy days that will extend through the middle of the week.

Up to 6 inches of rain fell in western Iowa, and the greater Des Moines area received up to 3 inches in an early-morning thunderstorm. About 4,200 Mid-American Energy customers lost their power for about 90 minutes beginning at 5 a.m. because of the storm. Most of the lost power service was restored by 7 a.m., according to Mid-American spokesman Alan Urlis.

Floodwaters caused the closing of U.S. Highway 34 in Mills and Montgomery counties because there was more than a foot of water over the roadway, members of the Iowa Highway Patrol said.

Eighteen counties are under a flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. The majority of the counties are along the Missouri River bordering Nebraska and Missouri. The area affected stretches as far east as Storm Lake and Atlantic.

Several communities in Pottawattamie County were put on evacuation notice because of rising creeks and streams, but the plans didn't have to be carried out.


Sunday, 05/06/07

‘President Declares Disaster Area in Parts of Kansas’ –

CHICAGO -- President Bush declared parts of Kansas a disaster area early Sunday morning after more than a dozen tornadoes roared through southwestern Kansas Saturday evening and a powerful tornado nearly leveled the prairie town of Greensburg on Friday, leaving at least nine people dead and more than 60 others injured.

The National Weather Service said it had received reports "well into the double digits" of tornadoes touching down in six counties, spawned by a slow-moving storm system. Tornadoes were also reported from South Dakota south into Oklahoma. The reports prompted emergency crews to halt their search for survivors from Friday night's storm.

The president's declaration, which came shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, opens up federal funds to help in the recovery, according to a news pool report. Bush expressed his confidence that the community will rebuild.

Bush said he had talked with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and Sen. Pat Roberts (D-Kans.) who told him "it's hard to describe how bad this community was hit."

The Kansas Adjutant General's Department said it had confirmed reports of eight tornadoes touching down, including one that injured 11 people when it struck a pair of restaurants in the central Kansas town of Osborne, according to the Associated Press.

The Friday tornado, described by meteorologists as a particularly potent variety called a "wedge," raced through Greensburg, 110 miles west of Wichita. Strong winds lifted trucks and raked rooftops, plowing through houses and businesses.

"All my downtown is gone," City Administrator Steve Hewitt told reporters. "My home is gone. My staff's homes are gone, and we've got to find a way to get this to work and come to work every day and get this thing back on its feet. It's going to be tough."

"This was a huge catastrophe that has happened to our small town," Hewitt said.

The tornado knocked out power and communications, leaving residents of the town of 1,500 to search in darkness for neighbors and friends. Emergency vehicles lay tangled, and key buildings were badly damaged, including the elementary school, high school, city hall and emergency operations center.

"Everything's gone," Gov. Sebelius told CNN. "We haven't seen anything like this in a long, long time. . . . There is no school, no hospital, no grocery store. Everything you can think of that makes up a town is gone -- except for the people."

National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Ruthi told the AP that the path of damage was 1.4 miles wide, and he estimated that the tornado would be classified as an "upper F4 or an F5," the strongest intensity on the Fujita scale.

Thursday, 05/02/07

‘300,000 lost power in storms’ – Dallas [TX] Morning News

Violent thunderstorms packing hurricane-force winds tore through North Texas on Wednesday evening, slamming trees into homes, toppling tractor-trailers and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

The winds – gusting as high as 100 mph – caused widely scattered property and tree damage but no apparent serious injuries.

And after a brutal month of severe weather in the region, emergency officials were again left scrambling to assess damage and provide assistance.

"I'm a native Texan, and I'm 40, and I don't remember a spring like this in my entire life," said Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster. "It takes a lot of effort to do a major disaster relief operation for four weeks in a row."

Fort Worth and other cities remained on alert with more rain forecast for early today and some creeks already over their banks. Most areas received 1 to 2 inches of rain Wednesday, but some locations reported nearly 4 inches and motorists stranded by flash floods.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, about 40 flights were canceled and a dozen others diverted during the storms. Other flights were experiencing 90-minute delays, according to airport spokesman Ken Capps. American Airlines tied down all ground equipment to protect it from the wind and took passengers off aircraft that were on the ramp.

"This is the third time in three weeks we have experienced winds well over tropical storm force, and we've been able to effectively deal with [it] every time," Mr. Capps said. "Things slow down or stop for a while, but everyone stays safe."

Wednesday's storms also hit areas still recovering from an unusually violent spring. Last week, a series of tornadoes touched down while floods forced high-water rescues across North Texas. An April 13 tornado killed a man in Haltom City, and powerful winds March 30 damaged 51 homes in Wylie.

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth received numerous reports of wind damage Wednesday across the area – mostly from downed trees and power lines. Meteorologist Jennifer Dunn said the wind strengths were unusual for a spring storm.

"I don't remember any other event of this nature since I've been here," said Ms. Dunn, who has been in the area for almost three years.


Tuesday, 05/01/07

‘Overheating Britain: April temperatures break all records’ – The Independent Online

The possibility is growing that Britain in 2007 may experience a summer of unheard-of high temperatures, with the thermometer even reaching 40C, or 104F, a level never recorded in history.

The likelihood of such a "forty degree summer" is being underlined by the tumbling over the past year of a whole series of British temperature records, strongly suggesting that the British Isles have begun to experience a period of rapid, not to say alarming, warming. This would be quite outside all historical experience, but entirely consistent with predictions of climate change.

The Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, in a joint forecast with the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, has already suggested that 2007 will be the hottest year ever recorded globally.

Its long-term forecast for this summer in Britain is much more cautious, merely predicting that temperatures this year will be "above average". However, the suite of new records for the UK established in the past 12 months, culminating in an April of unprecedented high temperatures, is pointing to something new happening to the British climate.

The incredibly warm April days we have been experiencing are not just wonderful, they are downright weird when seen in their seasonal context. Some of them have been 10C hotter, or more, than they should be at this time of the year.

Average maximum temperatures at the end of April in southern England are traditionally about 13C or 14C. This weekend in London and the South-east, the thermometer may hit 26C or even 27C - 79F to 80F.

An air temperature of 80 in April seems to belong to fantasy land. In the childhood of anyone aged over 40, it was a rare enough temperature in August.

Even with its end not yet here, this month is certain to be the hottest April ever recorded. But that's just one of a cascade of British temperature records which are now falling.

Spring 2007 (defined as March, April and May) will probably be Britain's hottest spring. It has followed the second-warmest winter in the UK record (December, January and February) and the warmest-ever autumn (September, October and November 2006).

Before that, we had Britain's hottest-ever month (July last year), which included the hottest-ever July day (19 July, when the temperature at Wisley, Surrey, reached 36.5C, or 97.7F, beating a record that had lasted since 1911).

To crown it all, yesterday the Met Office announced that the past 12 months, taken together, have been the hottest 12 months ever to have occurred in Britain, with a provisional mean temperature of 10.4C. The previous record (March 1997 to April 1998) was 9.7C.

This leap of nearly three-quarters of a degree is huge and should make everybody consider whether a major shift in Britain's climate is becoming visible. To answer Yes to that question is by no means unreasonable.

It raises the possibility that in 2007 Britain may experience for the first time the sort of "extreme event" heatwave that supercomputer models of climate predict will hit Britain as global warming takes hold.

A heatwave of this nature hit northern and central France in the first two weeks of August 2003 and caused 18,000 excess deaths (part of a total of 35,000 excess deaths in a wider area including Switzerland, northern Italy and southern Germany). Many of the dead were old people with breathing difficulties who collapsed when night-time temperatures never dropped below the 80s Fahrenheit.

The temperatures recorded during this episode were so far above the statistical record that it is accepted by meteorological scientists as having been caused by climate change - and is regarded as one of its first manifestations in Europe.


Sunday, 04/29/07

‘Ga. Wildfire approaches 100 square miles’ – per AP

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Several rural homes were evacuated after spot fires ignited across a highway from a massive wildfire, and firefighters fought the smaller blazes before they could spread to the tinder-dry forest beyond, authorities said.

About 30 miles from Waycross, another fire broke out late Saturday in Atkinson County and burned at least 700 acres, said Buzz Weiss, spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. It posed no immediate threat to people living in the area.

The larger fire has consumed nearly 100 square miles of forest and swampland in southeast Georgia since it ignited April 16.

Firefighters were patrolling a 16-mile stretch of U.S. 1, which links Waycross with Jacksonville, Fla., and set controlled burns to prevent the blaze from spreading into acres of forest beyond the road. The highway remained closed Saturday.

"We are still in the throes of a very, very difficult effort and we anticipate this fire burning intensely for at least another week — and maybe another month," Weiss said.

Weary residents welcomed the shifting wind, which blew the smoke from the towns and into the swampland.

"Right now we just have a bad situation where we have no rain, extremely low humidity and we're dealing on a day-to-day basis with wind gusts and shifts," Weiss said. "Those are the real recipes for a fire disaster — and that's what we're coping with."


Sunday, 04/29/07

‘Why is Florida so dry?’ – Miami Herald

In the past month, nearly double the normal rainfall dumped on Miami-Dade County.

The Biscayne Aquifer, the limestone sponge that supplies most of Southeast Florida's drinking water, brims from Florida City to coastal Broward County.

Some Everglades airboat trails off the Tamiami Trail gleam with standing water, atypical for the dry season.

So this is a drought?

Some people in South Florida may have a hard time believing it, but state water managers insist that, yes, things really are serious. And they could turn dire if the 17-month dry spell extends into the region's rainy season, normally just a month away.

''Droughts are slow-simmering water emergencies, not sudden flares like floods or hurricanes,'' said Carol Ann Wehle, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. ``But they can be just as dangerous, because they impact our drinking-water supplies, the environment and our regional economy.''

Aside from the Biscayne Aquifer, water levels in every other source the region taps have declined dramatically -- lakes, rivers, canals, other aquifers and the Everglades.

The effects have been compounded by sprawling development and by hurricane concerns that led to water management agencies lowering Lake Okeechobee last year because of its aging, leaky dike.

Weather in the coming months and over the next year, of course, will determine whether this drought proves as damaging as the most severe ones in the 1950s, 1970s and 2000-01.

But water managers are especially worried because of what they call an unprecedented condition: Almost all of South Florida is running well below average on rainfall. For the Water Management District, which oversees the elaborate plumbing system that links 16 counties, that has sharply limited the usual options of moving water around to revive parched areas.

''We've always had some place we can turn for a backup,'' said district Deputy Executive Director Chip Merriam. ``This time we don't.''

Outside of Miami-Dade and parts of south Broward, the rest of the region has received half as much rain as usual since January, including critical northern areas that recharge the whole system -- the Kissimmee River basin and Lake Okeechobee. And that follows an exceptionally dry 2006 from Orlando to Key West.

Because the area's water supply depends primarily on rain, that's a serious problem. There is no disputing water gauges across the region. The deficit is deep, trending toward a record-buster in the month left before the rains are supposed to arrive.

Lake Okeechobee, called the liquid heart of Florida, sat at 9.74 feet above sea level on Saturday -- about a foot from an all-time low.

Nearly two-thirds of 36 groundwater sites across South Florida monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey over the past quarter-century have hit record lows for the date and are tracking toward historic bottoms.


Friday, 04/27/07

‘Heavy Rain causes flooding north of New York City’ – per AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Heavy rain stranded cars on a flooded parkway north of New York City Friday morning, less than two weeks after a massive nor'easter deluged some areas that were still cleaning up.

Downpours and scattered thunderstorms were expected to drop a total of more than two inches through much of the metropolitan area, with more than three inches possible in some places, the National Weather Service said. A flood watch was in effect for the region until 2 p.m.

The heavy rain also caused delays at La Guardia Airport Friday morning. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said flight arrivals there were delayed an average of 90 minutes. No delays were reported at Newark International or Kennedy airports.

Wet weather also caused some problems in New Jersey. There were some evacuations in Bridgewater Township, and flooding was reported along the Stony Brook.

The nor'easter that swept through the area April 15 caused major flooding in parts of Westchester and New Jersey, among other places.

In Westchester, the storm left basements flooded and businesses with flooding almost five feet high.

The storm caused at least $10 million in damage to Suffolk County property, said County Executive Steve Levy. He said most of the losses stemmed from beach erosion and damage to dunes.

In New Jersey, about 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes and at the storm's peak, about 40,000 were without power, acting Gov. Richard Codey said. About 1,400 sought refuge in shelters. He said last week that New Jersey had incurred $180 million in damage to public and private property across the state.

President Bush approved emergency disaster aid Thursday for individuals in six New Jersey counties.


Thursday, 04/26/07

‘Heavy rain causes flooding in Iowa’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — The weather began to let up on Thursday after about three days of rain that soaked the state, causing major flooding of some rivers.

The heavy spring storm pounded some parts of central Iowa with up to 6 inches of rain and caused moderate to major flooding at a handful of rivers, said Craig Cogil, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Des Moines.

"It's not unusual to have big spring storms, but when you have these amounts. .. it's quite unusual," he said Thursday morning.

The rains caused a mudslide near Sioux City, and some residents in western Iowa reported flooded basements and streets.

In Des Moines, flooding threatens to continue through Saturday, with an expected 17-foot crest of the Raccoon River. Police asked some residents to voluntarily evacuate their homes. A water treatment plant closed its floodgates and some parks also shut down.

Eighteen counties were forced to dump partially treated or untreated sewage into nearby creeks, rivers and streams to avoid backup into homes.

Even though flood warnings had been lifted by Thursday, major river flooding will continue along main stem creeks and rivers within Sac, Carroll, Audubon, Webster, Hamilton and Polk counties.

Many roads had to be closed as water levels rose, several sheriff and transportation departments reported.


Wednesday, 04/25/07

‘Now the sun will dry things out’ – Denver Post

Tuesday's storm brought record rainfall to the metro area, along with very significant amounts of snow in the lower mountains and on the plains east of Colorado Springs.

Hardest hit by the storm were Douglas, Jefferson and El Paso counties. The metro area received very little, if any, snow.

Denver International Airport recorded 1.46 inches of rain, a new record, which would have translated into about 15 inches of snow had it been colder.

Following the storm, Crestone recorded the deepest snow of 24 inches, followed by Evergreen with 20 inches, Conifer with 19 inches, Parker with 15 inches, Castle Rock with 13 inches, Morrison with 8 inches and Golden with 5 inches.


Wednesday, 04/25/07

‘Rain, winds batter D-FW’ – Dallas Morning News

Flash floods, funnel clouds and small hail whipped across North Texas on Tuesday, stranding motorists in rushing water while causing scattered property damage and power outages.

There were unconfirmed sightings of tornadoes across Denton, Tarrant and Johnson counties but no serious injuries reported. On U.S. Highway 380 near the Denton County town of Cross Roads, a possible twister ripped into the Villa Grande Mexican restaurant and flipped a nearby trailer.

Earlier Tuesday, members of the Texas National Guard were activated to respond to severe weather across northern and Central Texas. But damage appeared less intense than that generated by the tornado-spawning storms that lashed the area less than two weeks ago.

As quarter-size hail fell and winds gusted to nearly 60 mph, more than 50 aircraft were diverted. By Tuesday evening, flight delays were lasting one to three hours and were expected to continue into the morning.

"Over the past couple of severe weather outbreaks, we have experienced winds that are of tropical storm strength, and the FAA and our airport operations staff have done a great job of keeping everyone in the air and in the terminals safe," Mr. Capps said by e-mail. "We will certainly be keeping an eye on the weather all night."

The storms largely skirted Dallas to the north and west, dropping more than four inches of rain in parts of Denton and Tarrant counties, where streets turned into creeks and creeks overflowed onto streets. Rainfall totals were reported between six and 10 inches in parts of Denton and Collin counties.

The drenching, meanwhile, continued a wetter-than-usual spring, putting rainfall totals about 2.8 inches above normal for the year at D/FW Airport and continuing to lift the area from long-term drought conditions.


Tuesday, 04/24/07

‘Temperature soars, breaks 65-year old record’ – Moncton [New Brunswick] Times and Transcript, front page

This time last week, residents of New Brunswick and most of eastern Canada were wondering if the brisk north winds, cold temperatures, snow and rain would ever end.

Yesterday, they were basking under sunny skies and record-breaking temperatures that would normally not surface until mid-summer.

In Moncton, the thermometer climbed to a steamy 26C (79F), shattering the city's previous April 23 high of 20.6C (69.1F), set in 1942. The last time the temperature reached the 26C (79F) mark in Moncton was eight months ago on Aug. 30, 2006.

It was not far behind Moncton's all-time April high of 28.5C (83.3F) established on April 30, 2004, said David Phillips of Toronto, senior climatologist for Environment Canada.

"With temperatures like there were yesterday, Parlee Beach and golfing must have been on a lot of people's minds," he said.

However, Moncton had a lot of company yesterday in setting new April 23 records.

With a high of 28C (82F), Fredericton broke its former record of 22.6C (72.7F) set in 1984. Temperatures in Miramichi and Montreal climbed to 26C (79F) yesterday, breaking their former record highs of 18.9C (66F) and 24.4C (75.9F) set in 2006 and 1957, respectively; record highs of 24C (75F) were recorded in Bathurst and Edmundston, breaking previous marks of 18.5C (65.3F) and 19.7C (67.5F), both set in 2006; and 23C (73F) in Campbellton and Halifax breaking their former records of 15.4C (59.7F) and 18.5C (65.3F) set in 2005 and 1984, respectively.


Tuesday, 04/24/07

‘Summerlike weather brings brush fires’ – Boston Globe, p. B4

Record summer-like weather yesterday contributed to a rash of brush fires around Massachusetts that were stoked by gusting winds.

Just after 2 p.m., the thermometer at Logan International Airport hit 86 degrees, exceeding the high of 85 set in 1908. But the blissful weather that drew people out to the region's parks, cafes, and sidewalks also left much of the state under a "red flag" fire warning from the National Weather Service. The warning said conditions "will create explosive fire-growth potential."

Brush fires broke out yesterday in Fitchburg, Westminster, Shelburne, Templeton, Abington, Reading, Southbridge, Princeton, Westford, Bellingham, and in the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton.

The largest fire flared on about 30 acres in Fitchburg and Westminster, where several dozen firefighters spent hours battling the blaze as smoke, visible for miles, billowed into the sky and helicopters dropped water on the flames.

"It stretched out 3 or 4 miles, maybe more," said Fitchburg's deputy fire chief, Michael Spano of the fire. "It was in long narrow strips in some place, in 25-acre blotches in other places."

The sudden spring weather that brought welcome sunny skies, dry air, and warm temperatures, also left the state vulnerable to fires just a week after a lingering northeaster dumped up to 6 inches of rain and caused flooding in some parts.

"This time of year, there are brush fires every day, but we're just warning that they could get serious given the conditions," said Hayden Frank, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The red-flag warnings that covered nearly all of Massachusetts, as well as parts of Connecticut and New Hampshire, meant that fires could be particularly dangerous.

The warning was triggered by the combination of less than .25-inch of rain the past three days, relative humidity below 30 percent, and gusts topping 25 miles per hour.


Monday, 04/23/07

‘Lack of late snow raises risk of fires’ –

DENVER — Unexpected dryness and near-record warmth in March have melted much of the West's mountain snows early, worsening the potential for wildfires and extending the region's drought, federal water agencies reported Monday.

Late-season snow in March and April is a critical addition to the West's winter snowpack. Gradual meltoff in late spring and summer supplies water to most of the region.

The snowpack has shrunk by more than 30% in some places because of the warm, dry spring, according to the National Water and Climate Center. Many sites were at 25% to 50% of normal accumulation before the unseasonable warm temperatures hit.

"Mother Nature's been dealing some interesting cards," says Phil Pasteris, head physical scientist at the center, a branch of the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service. "For almost every basin in the West, we have lost snowpack."

In a water update due out this week, the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation notes that "all states in the West are gearing up for a potentially early and long fire season as a result of the drought and early snowmelt combination."

Two giant reservoirs on the Colorado River, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are about 100 feet below normal level. Spring runoff of melting snow from the Rockies into Powell is expected to be 53% of normal. The river supplies much of the Southwest, including Southern California.

The worst snowpack losses are in the Southwest and central Oregon. The Reclamation Bureau says accumulations are "extremely low" in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California and eastern Oregon. Snow has entirely melted at locations in central Arizona, Utah, northern Nevada and eastern Oregon weeks earlier than normal, the bureau says.

Conditions aren't expected to improve. No more snow is likely this season, and the National Weather Service foresees above-normal temperatures through midsummer in much of the region.

The outlook comes as drought worsens in Southern California, where Los Angeles is on track for its driest rain season on record. A half-inch fell downtown Friday, the most since last May. The city is still nearly 1 foot below normal rainfall since July 1.

Drinking-water supplies could be stressed as the needs of cities, farms and the natural landscape combine in "a triple whammy" of demand, says climatologist Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska.

He says about 55% of the West is in drought, more than twice as much as a year ago.


Friday, 4/20/07

‘Season’s heaviest rain won’t ease dry spell’ – Los Angeles Times,1,874948.story?coll=la-headlines-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

A late-season rainstorm that swept through Southern California on Friday provided some respite from what has been a parched spring.

But the area's heaviest rain in 11 months didn't budge this season from its distinction as the driest on record.

The storm hit Ventura County in the morning and swept east through the Southland, bringing half an inch of rain to downtown by late afternoon. That bumped the total rainfall since July 1 to 3.16 inches — 21% of where it should be at this time of year: 14.65 inches.

"From the national forests to the coasts, we needed this," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "This doesn't put a ding in the drought, but it's sure going to look nice this weekend. Everybody's garden is going to be greened up."

March, typically one of the wettest months, was bone dry this year. Downtown Los Angeles saw a paltry 0.05 inches.

Rainfall typically starts to drop off in April, making this storm a bit of a surprise to meteorologists.

"It's a little late to get the heavy storm of the season," said Jamie Meier, meteorologist with the Los Angeles/Oxnard office of the National Weather Service. "April storms are very unpredictable. It seems more unusual than it is because we've gotten so little so far this year."

The lack of rainfall was a factor in early-season wildfires that swept through hillsides in the last month, including one near Burbank and another that damaged homes in Beverly Hills.

Fire officials said the rains would do little to prevent more fires.

"Even if there is a little bit of growth with these rains, it's not going to do too much good in the long run because so much dead vegetation has accumulated from the dry spell," said d'Lisa Davies, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. "We've been lucky that we haven't experienced any mudslides."


Thursday, 04/19/07

‘Australians warned of water cuts’ –

Australian PM John Howard has warned that irrigation of much of the nation's farmland will be banned unless there is heavy rainfall in the next month.

Mr. Howard said there would only be enough water in the huge Murray-Darling river system for drinking purposes.

He acknowledged that this would have a "potentially devastating" impact on many horticultural, crop and dairy industries around the river basin.

But he said there was no choice, and he described the situation as "grim".

Irrigators are already warning that if they cannot water their land, there will be huge crop losses and Australian consumers will face large price rises.

Australia is suffering from its worst drought on record, and the lack of rainfall has already severely reduced the production of major irrigated crops in the Murray-Darling river basin.

The basin, which covers an area the size of France and Spain combined, accounts for 41% of Australian agriculture and usually provides about 85% of the nation's irrigation supply.

"If it doesn't rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes in the basin" until May 2008, Mr Howard told reporters in Canberra.

"It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise," he said. "We must all hope and pray there is rain."


Tuesday, 04/17/07

‘Stubborn northeaster pummels area for 2d day’ – Boston Globe, front page

A fierce northeaster battered Massachusetts for a second day yesterday, sending trees spinning into homes, ripping a chunk of roof from a historic Boston building, and pushing angry waves across the shoreline.

Fears of flooding continue for today, as swollen rivers and lakes in the region could crest.

The storm dumped 3 to 5 inches of rain on the area, with heavier amounts west of Interstate 495. Logan Airport recorded 2.35 inches of rain, and wind gusts there topped 52 miles an hour. The windiest spot in the region was at the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, with a gust of 72 miles per hour recorded at 5 a.m.

Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said springlike weather is still days away.

"We've seen the worst that this thing can throw at us," he said. "This storm is going to be very reluctant to leave the area. We're still going to have rain showers, intermittent, with plenty of clouds, below-average temperatures, and the winds will still be somewhat robust."

Because of the severe storm, the Internal Revenue Service granted a two-day tax reprieve to residents of Massachusetts and other Northeastern states who lost power or sustained flooding. Those affected now have until midnight Thursday to file. It was unclear whether the state would also extend its deadline past today.

In Greater Boston, flooding along the coast and rain-swollen rivers and lakes prompted road closings in Revere, Winthrop, Arlington, Melrose, Nahant, Watertown, and Dorchester, officials said.

The northeaster also packed a wallop elsewhere across New England. Governor John Lynch declared a state of emergency in New Hampshire. He said that 5,000 people were evacuated from 13 communities and that more than 400 state and local roads were closed because of flood damage.

In Maine, a woman and a 4-year-old girl died when they were swept into fast-moving floodwaters as they tried to cross a washed-out section of road in Lebanon, near the New Hampshire line, the Maine Warden Service reported. They were identified as Donna Dube, 50, of Lebanon, and Saphire Perro of Manchester, N.H.

And in Vermont, 17 inches of snow fell in the town of Warren.


Monday, 04/16/07

‘Emergency declaration made as nor’ easter pounds Maine’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald per AP

PORTLAND, Maine — A powerful nor´easter lashed the coast Monday with wind-driven rain that flooded roads and sank boats at piers while leaving nearly 135,000 homes and businesses without electricity. Mountain areas, meanwhile, got walloped with snow.

Nearly 7 inches of rain fell on York County, Maine´s southernmost, causing flash flooding and sending some residents to shelters.

Gusts that topped 80 mph toppled trees, making roads impassable.

Forecasters said the slow-moving storm resulted in a coastal storm surge, river and urban flooding, and wind damage. "It´s a triple header," said Tom Berman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

The storm arrived Sunday and dumped 6 to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow across the higher elevations of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Warren, Vt., reported 17 inches.

As snow and rain swept across the state, Gov. John Baldacci signed an emergency declaration Sunday night to speed repairs by allowing crews from other areas to travel to Maine, said David Farmer, the governor´s spokesman.

As predicted, the powerful gusts caused massive power outages. As of Monday afternoon, wind gusts included 81 mph in Cape Elizabeth, 61 mph in Freeport, 57 mph in Portland and 53 mph in Wiscasset, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service also warned about likely flooding on Portland´s Commercial Street, where astronomical tides combined with a 2-foot storm surge were expected to result in 13-foot tides.

The storm tide reached 13.3 feet in Portland Harbor, making it the highest tide since Dec. 4, 1990. The weather service said Portland gets 13-foot tides about every 10 years.

To the north, the storm started as snow and Jackman recorded 8 inches of snow. But the bigger concern quickly became heavy rain on and near the coast that fueled concerns about coastal flooding and overflows from small rivers and streams.

By Monday noon, nearly 7 inches had fallen in Eliot, while South Berwick got more than 6 iches and Portland, Saco, Windham and York had received more than 4 inches.

All that water caused dozens of roads to be closed in York County, which got the heaviest rainfall amounts, said Steve Harding of the York County Emergency Management Agency.

"There´s just nowhere for the water to go," Harding said. "It´s a mess everywhere."

Central Maine Power was reporting 125,300 power outages Monday afternoon, while Bangor Hydro Electric reported about 8,700.

Utility crews were busy dealing with downed power lines that posed public safety threats, delaying power restoration efforts, CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice said.

It was bad enough that CMP already was predicting that it would take some time before electricity was restored for all customers. "We´re talking multiple days," Rice said.

Earlier this month, more than 100,000 homes and businesses in Maine and more than 80,000 in New Hampshire were left in the dark after an onslaught of heavy, wet snow.


Monday, 04/16/07

‘East Coast Storm Breaks Rainfall Records, Unleashing Flooding and Snarling Travel’ – New York Times, p. A16

A rare spring northeaster masquerading as a classic winter storm roared up the coast and across the New York region and the Northeast yesterday with bullying winds and torrential rains that flooded shorelines and rivers, disrupted travel, brought down power lines and washed out Sunday plans for millions of people.

The storm — a globular nebula 800 miles across that reached from the Carolinas to New England — inundated many low-lying roads, set rainfall records, canceled flights, closed businesses and ballparks and prompted evacuations, National Guard patrols and warnings to ships at sea. By midnight, 7.46 inches had fallen in Central Park, making yesterday the second wettest day there since recordkeeping began in 1869.

Invading the New York area before dawn with pounding wind and rain, the storm sent tides surging against coastal beaches and riverfront communities, forced the cancellation of more than 500 flights at the three major airports, closed 20 roads in New Jersey and others in New York, cut off power to 18,500 customers in three states and tore off a roof at an apartment complex on Long Island.

By late afternoon, rainfall records were toppling all over the region. The Central Park total was second only to the 8.28 inches that fell there on Sept. 23, 1882. The previous record for the date — 1.82 inches — was erased early in the day. At La Guardia Airport, 6.5 inches fell, surpassing the 1.64 inches of 1990, and at Kennedy International Airport, 2.2 inches was recorded, topping the previous record of 1.84.

Other records that fell by 5 p.m. were in Philadelphia, with 3.36 inches (1 inch in 1906); Trenton, with 3.08 (1.3 in 1906); and Reagan National Airport in Washington, with 2.53 (1.94 in 1983).

Wind gusts of up to 48 miles an hour were clocked at Kennedy. The highest wind hit 71 miles an hour at Charleston, S.C., the National Weather Service said. Before tapering off today, the storm was expected to have dropped more than 4 inches of rain across the region, as well as a foot or more of snow in parts of upstate New York and northern New England.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer put 3,200 National Guard members on alert for deployment into areas of New York that were affected by the storm. State crews west of Albany were getting snowplows out of storage.

It might have been worse, one meteorologist noted. “Thankfully, it’s not in the winter,” said Jim DeCarufel, a National Weather Service spokesman in Sterling, Va., who said more than 3 inches of rain fell in the Baltimore area between midnight and 1 p.m. “If this was snow, we’d be in trouble. It would be a blizzard.”

All along the East Coast, boats were secured against pounding tidal surges, and the Coast Guard warned mariners at sea to head for port because wind-driven waves were soaring to 18 to 26 feet — as tall as a two-story house. New York Harbor was a vast field of whitecaps, and on the coasts of New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut, the waves thundered on the beaches.


Monday, 04/16/07

‘Water recedes, not misery’ – Charleston [WV] Daily Mail

Gov. Joe Manchin traveled to the state’s southern counties today to survey flood damage that resulted from torrential weekend rains.

Dozens of people were rescued from homes and vehicles in Boone, Logan and Wyoming counties. At least two people were injured.

“It’s about as bad as it can get,’’ said Scott Beckett, chief of the Logan Fire Department, told The Associated Press. “This thing came down at 2 or 3 in the morning, when people were sleeping in their beds. They just didn’t know what was happening.’’

Up to 3.5 inches of rain fell Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, prompting Manchin to declare a state of emergency.

The state’s Emergency Operations Center was activated Sunday night, and damage assessment teams were heading to Logan, Boone and Mingo counties earlier today. Teams also were to be sent to other counties, including Barbour, Lincoln, McDowell, Pendleton, Pocahontas and Wyoming.

In Kanawha County, the Coal River near Tornado was expected to crest at 30 feet later today. Flood stage for the river is 25 feet.

“The biggest problem right now is in Tornado,” said Rusty Brown, supervisor at the county’s 911 Center.

The Kanawha River crested at 32.4 feet earlier today. Flood stage in Charleston is 30 feet.

Ron Evaldi, assistant director for the U.S. Geological Survey and Water Resources Division in Charleston, said the last time the river exceeded flood stage was in November 2003. It reached 37.6 feet at that time.


Sunday, 04/15/07

‘Flash floods in Thailand’ –

Rescue workers searched for survivors on Sunday, after a flash flood killed at least 35 holidaymakers bathing in waterfalls in the southern Thai province of Trang yesterday. 

A torrent of water poured over the waterfalls on a southern Thai mountain, packed with picnickers and swimmers celebrating the country’s New Year. 

The flash floods, triggered by heavy rains, swept over the two waterfalls in the Bantad Hill Range, south of Bangkok. Most of those who died were hit by rocks after they fell in the force of the water and dozens of people are still missing, according to officials. 

The area was particularly crowded because of the five-day Songkran holiday weekend celebrating Buddhist New Year, when Thais traditionally head home or into the countryside for some of the hottest days of the year. 

The floods were caused by three consecutive days of rain that raced down the steep Bantad mountain range. The Meteorological Department issued a warning for more possible flash floods in the area on Sunday, due to continuing rain.


Sunday, 04/15/07

‘Violent Storm Heads Toward East Coast’ – Washington Post per AP, p. A17

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 14 -- A severe weather system blamed for five deaths plowed eastward out of the Plains on Saturday, leaving snow piled more than a foot deep and rattling the Gulf states with violent thunderstorms.

The Northeast prepared for possible coastal flooding.

The storm blew across the Plains on Friday, leaving snow in Kansas and raking Texas with high wind, including at least two tornadoes.

Three people were killed in Kansas in traffic accidents on highways covered with ice and slush, police said. Up to 15 inches of snow fell in southwestern Kansas.

By Saturday afternoon, the system was spreading rain from Louisiana to Virginia and across much of the Ohio Valley. Lines of strong thunderstorms rolled across Louisiana and Mississippi into northern Alabama, and the National Weather Service posted tornado warnings for wide areas of Mississippi and some parts of Alabama.

The weather system was forecast to strengthen when it reaches the East Coast on Sunday and form a nor'easter, a storm that follows the coast northward, with northeasterly wind driving waves and heavy rain.

"This is very odd for this time of year," National Weather Service meteorologist John Koch said Saturday in New York. "This is something that you would expect to see more in the middle of winter."

A flood watch was posted for the New York City region as the weather service forecast two to four inches of rain Sunday with wind gusting to 50 mph. Snow and sleet are possible inland, Koch said.


Wednesday, 04/11/07

‘S.F. warned to cut water use by 10%’ –

 SAN FRANCISCO — One of the driest winters on record prompted water officials on Wednesday to ask Bay Area residents to cut consumption or face mandatory restrictions this summer.

The utility that provides water to 2.4 million people here and in three other counties, including Silicon Valley, asked customers to immediately cut water use by 10% by June to avoid rationing.

"It's premature to call it a crisis, but if we have another year like we had this winter, we'd be in drought conditions," says Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Meager rain and snow — 27% of normal and the fourth-driest winter since 1919 — have left the city's main water supply, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, just 75% full.

Melting snow from the Sierra Nevada usually keeps the reservoir full through the summer. But the Sierra snowpack stands at 46% of normal as California's rainy season draws to a close. Water storage is also compromised by earthquake-proofing work on Calaveras Reservoir, which has been drained to a third of its capacity until 2011.

Despite the dry winter, some California areas are better off than others. To the south, Santa Cruz will begin mandatory water restrictions May 1, including a ban on lawn watering during the day. Other agencies, including the East Bay Municipal Water District, which supplies Oakland, are considering voluntary cuts.

The state's last severe drought, in 1987-92, led to draconian measures such as irrigation bans, penalties for plumbing leaks and tight rationing. A concern now is that Californians have wrung about as much water savings as they can out of conservation and that few potential savings are left to help in another drought.


Sunday, 04/08/07

‘Storms destroy more than 1,000 homes in northern Bangladesh; at least 45 hurt’ – per AP

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Tropical storms have lashed villages in northern Bangladesh, destroying more than 1,000 homes and injuring at least 45 people, a news report said.

A tornado hit five farming villages in Tangail district at midnight Friday, while storms coupled with hail battered neighboring Jamalpur district four times between Friday night and Saturday morning, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported late Saturday.

The storms also knocked down trees and electricity poles, it said.

Tangail is 45 miles north of the capital, Dhaka, while Jamalpur is 90 miles north of Dhaka.

The injured were taken to local hospitals, the agency said.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment, and no further details were available.

Tropical storms are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 144 million people.


Friday, 04/06/07

‘Large April storm fells trees, leaves thousands in cold’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

Thousands of southern Maine residents face another day of cold breakfast and no shower as utility workers struggle to restore electrical service knocked out by a 24-hour blast of heavy, wet snow.

Even with out-of-state line crews augmenting the efforts of Central Maine Power Co.'s 250 workers in the field, some customers could remain without power into Saturday night, officials said.

The company had restored power to 37,000 customers by 9 p.m. Thursday, but more than 80,000 were still without power, mostly in York County, western Oxford County and coastal areas from Freeport to Waldoboro.

And more snow could be on the way.

The storm that started Wednesday morning dumped almost 2 feet of snow in some areas of the state, according to the National Weather Service. It was Maine's fifth-biggest, 24-hour April snowstorm in the 126 years of record-keeping.

The wet, sticky snow pushed tree branches onto power lines, leaving vast stretches of southern Maine in the dark. At it's [sic] height, 117,000 customers -- individual homes and businesses -- were without electricity, leaving more than a quarter-million people without power.

Gov. John Baldacci signed an emergency declaration Thursday afternoon to allow power crews from other states to come in and help. The declaration also waived federal rules to allow power crews to work longer hours, which should help restore power more quickly.

Snowfall tallies ranged from as little as 3 inches along the coast at Kittery Point, to 18 inches in Wilton and Hartford in western Maine, to 23 inches in Eustis farther north. Portland International Jetport received 11.6 inches.

"Some of the mountains will get three feet for the week," said John Cannon, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray. "They are just getting hammered up there."

The snow arrived Wednesday morning and built up strength during the night, falling at a rate of an inch or two an hour.

The spring storm seemed to be payback for the mild December and January, when the ground was bare and green.

"I have been telling everyone we had Easter Dec. 25 and now we are going to have Christmas on Easter," said Butch Roberts, another National Weather Service meteorologist.

In Portland, a snowfall of 10 or so inches in April happens only once every 20 years, said meteorologist Steve Capriola.

Nor is a snowfall in May unknown. On May 11, 1945, 5 inches of snow fell in Portland.


Thursday, 04/05/07

‘Record snowfall in Marquette, winter-like conditions elsewhere’ – per AP

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — It's looking more like Christmas than Easter in parts of Michigan.

Marquette County residents were forced to put their springtime plans on hold due to high wind gusts and record snowfall. The National Weather Service in Negaunee Township measured 24 inches of snowfall Wednesday, breaking a 1974 record of 12 inches.

"The extended winds we've had have been pretty incredible in this storm," meteorologist Jason Alumbaugh told The Mining Journal.

The snowfall total was the second-largest 24-hour total in the office's history, he said. The spring storm initially came out of the northern Rockies into the Great Lakes region. However, as that storm left, northern winds blew across Lake Superior, combined with the relatively warm lake waters and resulted in heavy lake-effect snow.

Alumbaugh said residents should expect the snow to continue Thursday with another 1 to 5 inches falling, with the heavier snow accumulations in the higher terrain. Up to 8 inches was expected into Friday.

Spring storms are not uncommon, but Alumbaugh said an April storm with these winds and snowfall accumulation is unusual.

"It's really deceiving because we had those last few days that were nice," he said. "We've had spring storms like this, but this is rare for April."


Wednesday, 04/04/07

‘No Longer Waiting for Rain, an Arid West Takes Action’ – New York Times, front page

A Western drought that began in 1999 has continued after the respite of a couple of wet years that now feel like a cruel tease. But this time people in the driest states are not just scanning the skies and hoping for rescue.

Some $2.5 billion in water projects are planned or under way in four states, the biggest expansion in the West’s quest for water in decades. Among them is a proposed 280-mile pipeline that would direct water to Las Vegas from northern Nevada. A proposed reservoir just north of the California-Mexico border would correct an inefficient water delivery system that allows excess water to pass to Mexico.

In Yuma, Ariz., federal officials have restarted an idled desalination plant, long seen as a white elephant from a bygone era, partly in the hope of purifying salty underground water for neighboring towns.

The scramble for water is driven by the realities of population growth, political pressure and the hard truth that the Colorado River, a 1,400-mile-long silver thread of snowmelt and a lifeline for more than 20 million people in seven states, is providing much less water than it had.

According to some long-term projections, the mountain snows that feed the Colorado River will melt faster and evaporate in greater amounts with rising global temperatures, providing stress to the waterway even without drought. This year, the spring runoff is expected to be about half its long-term average. In only one year of the last seven, 2005, has the runoff been above average.

New scientific evidence suggests that periodic long, severe droughts have become the norm in the Colorado River basin, undermining calculations of how much water the river can be expected to provide and intensifying pressures to find new solutions or sources.

The effects of the drought can be seen at Lake Mead in Nevada, where a drop in the water level left docks hanging from newly formed cliffs, and a marina surrounded by dry land. Upriver at Lake Powell, which is at its lowest level since spring 1973, receding waters have exposed miles of mud in the side canyons leading to the Glen Canyon Dam.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has sounded alarm bells by pushing for a ballot measure in 2008 that would allocate $4.5 billion in bonds for new water storage in the state. The water content in the Sierra Nevada snowpack has reached the lowest level in about two decades, state hydrologists have reported, putting additional pressure on the nation’s most populous state to find and store more water.

“Scientists say that global warming will eliminate 25 percent of our snowpack by the half of this century,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said recently in Fresno, Calif., “which will mean less snow stored in the mountains, which will mean more flooding in the winter and less drinking water in the summer.”

What unites the Western states is a growing consensus among scientists that future climate change and warmer temperatures, if they continue, could hit harder here than elsewhere in the continental United States.

“The Western mountain states are by far more vulnerable to the kinds of change we’ve been talking about compared to the rest of the country, with the New England states coming in a relatively distant second,” said Michael Dettinger, a research hydrologist at the United States Geological Survey who studies the relationships between water and climate.

Mr. Dettinger said higher temperatures had pushed the spring snowmelt and runoff to about 10 days earlier on average than in the past. Higher temperatures would mean more rain falling rather than snow, compounding issues of water storage and potentially affecting flooding.


Monday, 04/02/07

‘88 dead in spring floods, avalanches across Afghanistan’ – per AP

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Avalanches and floods triggered by heavy rains and spring snow melt have killed another 37 people in Afghanistan, the U.N. said Monday, bringing the weather-related death toll across the country to 88.

Nineteen of the country's 34 provinces have been inundated, according to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, which has distributed tents, blankets and sandbags for assistance.

The once trickling Kabul river breached its embankments around 2 a.m. Monday, destroying 170 homes in the capital, said Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Families were promptly evacuated and no casualties were immediately reported.

In central Bamiyan province, 60 homes were reportedly destroyed by an avalanche Sunday night, Siddique said. The area is difficult to access because of flooding, which has reportedly killed about 28, he said.

In Panjshir, north of Kabul, six districts have suffered avalanches and floods, killing nine people and destroying 40 homes.

Aid agencies are trying to reach an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 families — approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people — affected by the floods and avalanches, Siddique said.

In Parwan province, 350 people were airlifted to safety over the weekend, and the World Food Program is delivering food supplies for about 1,000 families, Siddique said.

Afghan soldiers safely evacuated 350 families from Sayed Khel district in Parwan when swollen rivers forced their evacuation, while another 33 families were given assistance in the Shin Wari district, said Maj. Christopher Belcher, a U.S. military spokesman.

In central Daykundi, about 2,500 people in eight districts have been badly affected by flooding, and "it is anticipated that more flooding is to come as the snow continues to melt," Siddique said.

The government distributed 73,000 sandbags to shore up the river banks in Kabul, and another 400,000 sandbags to Kunduz, Panjshir, Parwan, Jawzjan and Takhar provinces, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development said.

Afghanistan has endured about a decade of drought, and Afghans say that this year's spring rains are heavier than they've seen in years.


Monday, 04/02/07

‘Hailstones assault east China province, leaving 10,000 homeless’ – Sina English per Xinhua

FUZHOU, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of villagers in Fujian Province, on the east China seaboard, are homeless after hail the size of eggs pelted the area punching holes in their homes on Sunday

The provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said five counties were hit by hail storms and numerous others were damaged by thunder storms and torrential rains.

The hail storm destroyed the roofs of many houses in Youxi, Yongtai, Changle and Minqing.

In Shenghuang Township of Minqing County, one of the worst hit areas, the roofs of 7,800 rooms were destroyed by hail, affecting 10,000 residents from 4,000 households. The storm caused direct economic losses of 11.7 million yuan (about 1.47 million U.S. dollars).

Hail also destroyed power supply facilities in Lingkou, a village in Jian'ou, a county-level city in northern Fujian. About 1,000 people from 400 households in the village were left homeless.

Between 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday, 18 counties in the province experienced rainfall of between 50 mm to 99 mm [1.97 inches to 3.90 inches]. Ninghua county had the most rain with 175 mm [6.89 inches] falling during the 24-hour period, said sources from the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters

The rains caused the water level in two local rivers to surge above the danger line.


Sunday, 04/01/07

‘Argentina floods claim 7 lives’ – per AP

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Rising rivers in three rain-soaked provinces have forced some 38,000 people to flee their homes and floodwaters have claimed seven lives, authorities said Saturday.

Civil defense officials said Santa Fe province in Argentina's northeast remained the hardest-hit, with about 30,000 evacuees in and around the provincial capital of Santa Fe, 250 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, and the cities of Rosario and Canada de Gomez.

Rain has lashed the region for five days, forcing evacuees to struggle through waist-deep waters with laundry baskets containing only a few possessions. Some tried to load refrigerators and TV sets on trucks and escape to higher ground, while others tried to cross flooded highways in small boats.

Jose Salim Jodor, mayor of the Entre Rios city of Gualeguay, said about 8,000 people had to leave their water-filled homes in that low-lying province on Argentina's eastern border with Uruguay. Meanwhile, some 400 flood victims were reported in central Cordoba province on the border with Santa Fe province.

President Nestor Kirchner pledged federal assistance for the victims and residents of Buenos Aires have begun organizing charity drives of food and other emergency assistance for the hardest-hit areas.

Uruguayan authorities reported some 380 people had to be evacuated from regions near the Argentine border because of flooding of small rivers and streams.


Sunday, 04/01/07

‘Storm boosts snowpack’ – Casper [WY] Star Tribune

A massive spring snowstorm that closed many Wyoming highways and schools during midweek slowly moved out of the state Friday, not before dumping huge amounts of heavy, wet snow across much of Wyoming.

The powerful spring storm began Wednesday and continued into Friday morning. By late Friday, the storm had laid down more than 70 inches of snow on the Wind River Mountains' eastern slopes. Casper Mountain got over 54 inches of new snow, and 53 inches was reported at Cloud Peak Reservoir in the Big Horns.

National Weather Service officials said the storm ranked pretty high as far as spring storms in Wyoming go and added significantly to snowpack levels.

"This has 100 percent really helped us with the snowpack, because we really needed this storm to help those levels ... This snow really had a lot of moisture to it," said meteorologist Bill Murrell with the National Weather Service in Riverton.

Other snow accumulations around the state as of early Friday afternoon included 27 inches at the Lander airport, a foot in Casper, 11 inches in Gillette, a foot in Kaycee, and 11 inches in Kemmerer.


Saturday, 03/31/07

‘Storms pour it on across D-FW’ – Dallas Morning News

A storm system pushed through North Texas on Friday, stranding motorists in floodwaters, causing power outages and forcing some evacuations.

In Wylie, vicious winds damaged dozens of homes, moved parked cars and scattered debris on streets. Tornado sirens were activated, but no injuries were reported.

While rain doused the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area, surrounding counties received much heavier downpours.

Flooding was reported in Ellis County, where up to 8 inches of rain had fallen by Friday evening, Ellis County communications director Diana Buckley said. Emergency crews carried out three flood-related rescues in the county.

Hill County reported up to 6 inches of rain and washed-out roads in areas. In Whitney, 11 people were evacuated from a flooded apartment building near a creek, Hill County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Lyon said.

Navarro County Judge H.M. Davenport issued a disaster declaration for the county Friday after 6 inches of rain fell in some areas. In Corsicana, 58 residents of an assisted-living center were moved to a temporary shelter when their facility flooded.

High water also was reported in areas west and northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth. More than 5 inches of rain was reported in Mineral Wells in Parker County and Bowie in Montague County, National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan said.

By 9 p.m. Friday, more than 1.5 inches of rain had fallen at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Dallas Love Field reported 1.27 inches, and 2.28 inches had fallen at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport.


Thursday, 03/29/07

‘Tornado outbreak kills four in Plains’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY — A tornado as wide as two football fields carved a devastating path through an eastern Colorado town as a massive spring storm swept from the Rockies into the Plains, killing at least four people in three states, authorities said Thursday.

Sixty-five tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

One twister killed an Oklahoma couple as it blew their home to pieces. A Texas man was found dead in the tangled debris of his trailer, and a woman died of her injuries early Thursday after the Colorado tornado threw her into a tree.

The massive storm system stretched from South Dakota to Texas on Thursday morning, threatening flash flooding in central Nebraska and Kansas and more severe weather farther south.

Winter storm warnings were still posted for most of Wyoming, where heavy snow was blamed for interstate pileups, forecasters said. In central Wyoming's Wind River Mountains, 58 inches of snow from the storm was recorded by Thursday morning.

Some of the worst devastation was in Holly, Colo., where at least seven people were injured when the tornado plowed through the town late Wednesday. Dozens of homes were damaged and the streets and yards were littered with broken power lines, tree limbs and debris.

The Colorado storms also killed dozens of cattle in the same area devastated by back-to-back blizzards three months earlier, rancher Bill Lowe said.

"It's just too much," he said. "You ought to see the town."

At least 11 tornadoes were reported throughout western Nebraska, destroying or damaging three homes and 10-12 miles of power lines, emergency management officials said. Two tornadoes touched down in far northwest Kansas, severely damaging three homes, the Cheyenne County sheriff's department said.

The Texas Panhandle was hit with baseball-sized hail, rain and tornadoes that uprooted trees, overturned trucks and injured at least three people. Monte Ford, 53, was killed near Amarillo when he was thrown about 15 feet from his oilfield trailer, which was rolled by the wind, Department of Public Safety spokesman Dan Hawthorne said.

The same storm system dumped snow on Wyoming, where a school bus carrying 36 students from Tongue River High School to a competition in Cheyenne collided with two minivans on Interstate 90 Wednesday, school officials said.

The wintry weather closed a 250-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming. Large parts of Interstate 25 and more than 80 miles of I-90 were also closed.


Tuesday, 03/27/07

‘Heat Invades Cool Heights Over Arizona Desert’ – New York Times, front page

High above the desert floor, this little alpine town has long served as a natural air-conditioned retreat for people in Tucson, one of the so-called sky islands of southern Arizona. When it is 105 degrees in the city, it is at least 20 degrees cooler up here near the 9,157-foot summit of Mount Lemmon.

But for the past 10 years or so, things have been unraveling. Winter snows melt away earlier, longtime residents say, making for an erratic season at the nearby ski resort, the most southern in the nation.

Legions of predatory insects have taken to the forest that mantles the upper mountain, killing trees weakened by record heat. And in 2003, a fire burned for a month, destroying much of the town and scarring more than 87,000 acres. The next year [sic, actually it was 2002], another fire swept over 32,000 acres.

''Nature is confused,'' said Debbie Fagan, who moved here 25 years ago after crossing the country in pursuit of the perfect place to live. ''We used to have four seasons. Now we have two. I love this place dearly, and this is very hard for me to watch.''

The American Southwest has been warming for nearly 30 years, according to records that date to the late 19th century. And the region is in the midst of an eight-year drought. Both developments could be within the range of natural events.

But what has convinced many scientists that the current spate of higher temperatures is not just another swing in the weather has been the near collapse of the sky islands and other high, formerly green havens that poke above the desert.

Fire has always been a part of Western ecology, particularly when the land is parched. But since the late 1980s, the size and reach of the fires have far exceeded times of earlier droughts. And the culprit, according to several recent studies, is higher temperatures tearing at a fabric of life that dates to the last ice age.

''A lot of people think climate change and the ecological repercussions are 50 years away,'' said Thomas W. Swetnam, director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. ''But it's happening now in the West. The data is telling us that we are in the middle of one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States.''

Others say the projections are overly alarmist, and note that fuel buildup is a legacy of fire repression, not necessarily higher temperatures. They also say the higher reaches of the West may simply be evolving into less alpine settings, and could resemble life that exists at lower elevations.

Still, there is a broad consensus that much of the West is warmer than it has been since record keeping began, and that changes are happening quickly, particularly in places like the sky islands.

''The West has warmed more than any other place in the United States outside Alaska,'' said Jonathan T. Overpeck, a University of Arizona scientist and co-author of the recent draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last month in Paris.

A trip up to any one of the 27 sky islands shows the ravages of heat on the land. The forests are splotched with a rusty tinge, as trees die from beetle infestation. Frogs with a 10,000-year-old pedigree have all but disappeared. One of the sky islands is the world's only habitat for the Mount Graham red squirrel, an endangered species down to its last 100 or so animals.

For the squirrel, the frog and other species that have retreated ever higher, there may be no place left to go.

''As the climate warms, these species on top of the sky islands are literally getting pushed off into space,'' Dr. Overpeck said.

The Coronado National Forest, which includes Mount Lemmon and Mount Graham, lists 28 threatened or endangered species. Heat has greatly diminished the web of life that these creatures depend on, and they ''have not evolved to tolerate these new conditions,'' Forest Service officials wrote in a report on the declining health of the sky islands.

For people moving to the breezy pines to escape desert heat, the fires that swept through places like Summerhaven can be terrifying. Fire comes much earlier, and much later, in the season.

''You can tell the weather is changing,'' said Michael Stanley, head of the water district here, which lost two-thirds of its customers after the fire. ''The snow melts earlier. The fires are big. It makes life very interesting.''

On her regular hikes around Mount Lemmon, Ms. Fagan has noticed many changes. She recently saw a type of rattlesnake that usually lives in the lowlands, and -- while hiking over snow -- was surrounded by gnats.

''I'm standing on snow while swatting away gnats,'' she said. ''I said, 'Oh my God, what are these guys doing out in the winter?' ''

Last year, wildfires burned nearly 10 million acres in the United States -- a record, surpassing the previous year. The Forest Service has become the fire service, devoting 42 percent of its budget to fire suppression last year -- more than triple what it was in 1991.

The current drought is not nearly as bad as the one in the 1950s, or one in the mid-16th century, but it has caused a huge forest die-off.

The only difference this time around is higher temperatures, said David D. Breshears, co-author of a study published by the National Academy of Sciences on the subject.

The increased heat, Dr. Breshears believes, is the tipping point -- stressing ecosystems in the Southwest so quickly that they are vulnerable to prolonged beetle infestation and catastrophic fires.

''The changes are so big, and happening so fast,'' Dr. Breshears said. ''We saw it happen all the way up the elevation grade and across the region.''

Dr. Swetnam, who said he used to be skeptical about some of the projections on Western landscape changes, came to a different conclusion after studying fires. Since the mid-1980s, about seven times more federal land has burned than in the previous time frame, he found, and the fire season has been extended by more than two months.

''The sky islands have existed since the Pleistocene,'' he said, ''and now with these huge fires you stand to lose some unique species.''

All of which should be a caution to people moving to reaches of the desert prone to dramatic change.

''The Chamber of Commerce doesn't like people like me saying things like this, but large parts of the arid Southwest are not going to be very nice places to live,'' Dr. Swetnam said.


Monday, 03/26/07

‘Madisonians, muskies enjoy record warmth’ – Wisconsin State Journal

Just as many people spent Sunday basking in the record- setting heat, so did the muskies.

With the sun setting on Vilas Park, a number of people gathered around a railed dock above Wingra Creek to watch the dark shadows of the large fish drift in murky water.

The temperature reached 77 at 1:58 p.m., surpassing by four degrees the previous record high for the date, which had stood since 1939, said National Weather Service meteorologist Darrin Hansing.

It's early for the 30- to 40- inch-long fish to be trying to spawn. But the recent rains and warmth brought them en masse to just below the small dam at the east end of Lake Wingra, said Dan Reim, treasurer of Capital City Muskies, who was watching the ritual.


Monday, 03/26/07

‘City may bask in a second day of record warmth’ – Chicago Tribune,1,802257.column?coll=chi-news-hed

Spring exploded in the Chicago area Sunday as highs surged into the upper 70s, aided by abundant sunshine and gusty southwest winds. The warmth covered the entire metropolitan region, including the lakefront where Northerly Island peaked at 77(degrees).


The mercury officially reached 79(degrees) at O'Hare, shattering the old 1967 record of 75(degrees) and falling just one degree shy of the 80(degrees) plateau-- a rare Chicago temperature benchmark in March, reached on only 10 days since 1871 (most recently on March 12, 1990, when it hit 81(degrees)). If highs on Monday top 77(degrees), the city could break its third record high this month, capping a dramatic temperature reversal after March's chilly opening.


The early season warmth helped fuel severe thunderstorms across the upper Midwest, where hail and high winds battered parts of western and central Wisconsin. One-inch-diameter hail pelted areas north of Madison near Portage while strong winds downed trees east of Minneapolis.


Sunday, 03/25/07

‘Temperatures break record highs’ – Asheville [NC] Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE – Temperatures broke record highs over the weekend, reaching 78 degrees on Saturday and 81 degrees today in Asheville.

Saturday’s temperatures broke the record 76 degrees from 1982, while today's temperature broke the record 76 degrees from 1989, National Weather Service forecaster Neil Dixon said.

Today's record high temperature was almost double what it was last year on the same date, Dixon said, which was 42 degrees.

Typical temperatures for this time of the year are lows in the mid- to upper-30s and highs in the mid-60s, Dixon said.


Saturday, 03/24/07

‘New Mexico tornadoes destroy homes, injure 16’ – per AP

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Storms that produced at least 13 tornadoes swept along New Mexico's border with Texas on Friday, destroying homes and other buildings and injuring at least 16 people, several critically, authorities said.

The worst damage was reported in the towns of Logan and Clovis, which are about 80 miles apart, police said.

The tornadoes damaged several buildings, toppled power lines and sparked fires that were later extinguished in Clovis, police Lt. James Schoeffel said.

Thirteen people from the area were hospitalized at the Plains Regional Medical Center. Five were in critical condition with head trauma, said Liz Crouch, the center's chief operating officer.

"They have been coming one after another, after another, after another," said Tim Shy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Tornadoes are common in eastern New Mexico along the Texas border, but Shy said they might have hit a little early this year.

"We normally would get the first one no later than the middle of April — tax day," he said.

Downed power lines and debris forced authorities to shut down part of a highway near Clovis, said Roosevelt County Emergency Management official Lonnie Berry.

"There's a lot of flooding; we have a lot of water," he said. "There's a lot of debris that scattered from the winds."


Wednesday, 03/21/07

‘More than 5 inches of rain falls in north-central Oklahoma’ – per AP

NEWKIRK, Okla. (AP) — As much of 5 inches of rain deluged parts of north-central Oklahoma, forcing the closure of water-logged roads but not causing major flooding, authorities said.

According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Foraker in Osage County received the most rain, 5.3 inches, by Tuesday afternoon as thunderstorms along a stalled warm front trained over the area.

Several county roads were closed for a time after 4.7 inches of precipitation fell on Newkirk in Kay County, officials said. Burbank received 3.3 inches of precipitation.

Oklahoma Highway 11 was closed temporarily east of U.S. Highway 77, where workers were installing a new bridge, officials said.

"I think the ground was so dry it soaked most of it up," said Howard Pattison, Osage County emergency management director. "None of the creeks are flooding but it's just nice to see a little bit of water in them."


Tuesday, 03/20/07

‘Torrential rain disrupts normal life country-wide’ – Associated Press of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Mar 20 (APP): Torrential rain has disrupted normal life in most parts of the country and a number of deaths have been reported due to rain-related accidents.

Private television channels reported that nine people were killed in Nowshera and Mardan in NWFP after the roofs of their houses collapsed due to rain.

The heavy downpour has multiplied the miseries of the people in the earthquake affected areas.

In Azad Kashmir, Muzaffarabad-Neelum road is blocked due to landslides and there are a number of landslides on Muzaffarabad-Kohala road which has severely disrupted the regular flow of traffic.

Traffic on Karakoram highway remained disrupted due to land and mud slides at various places.

The rain-bearing weather system entered Pakistan on March 17 and after causing rain in Sindh and Balochistan’s coastal areas has moved northward.

The met office spokesman said that after every four to five years, change in weather pattern results in extended winter rains.

The present rains, agriculture experts say, are not beneficial for the crops particularly that of wheat.

Mir Khani in District Chitral received the highest amount of rainfall and the met office recorded 130 millimeters [5.11 inches] of rain there.

Islamabad has so far received 80 millimeters [3.15 inches] of rain while in Rawalpindi it was recorded at 90 mm [3.54 in] by the met office.

The chief amount of rainfall in major cities is:

Attock 115 mm [4.53 in], Chitral 106 mm [4.17 in], Dir 103 mm [4.05 in], Rawalakot 102 mm [4.02 in], Muzaffarabad 77 mm [3.03 in], Murree 69 mm [2.72 in] and Pattan 64 mm [2.52 in].



Sunday, 03/18/07

‘Airports, residents across Northeast dig out from storm’ – Boston Globe, p. A9 per AP

The late winter storm dumped as much as 2 feet of snow, as well as sleet and freezing rain on the Northeast, but the precipitation tailed off yesterday as the weather system moved northward.

At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, hundreds of passengers were stranded for hours overnight because of the storm. The number of planes affected was unclear, but passengers were told the delays were linked to shortages of deicing fluid.

The weather was blamed for at least six traffic deaths in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania, and one in Maryland, authorities said.

"We got the whole gamut there," Nelson Vaz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said early yesterday. He called it "a pretty impressive late-winter storm."

Up to 2 feet of snow fell in the northern Catskills and a foot or more fell in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Six inches of snow was reported in New York City.

A record 2.13 inches of rain fell at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. A winter storm warning remained in effect yesterday as the changeover to rain fueled concerns about possible river and coastal flooding, particularly around high tide.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said more than 1,400 flights were canceled Friday at the region's three major airports because of the storm. Delays also were reported at airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore-Washington.

Winter officially ends at the vernal equinox Tuesday evening, but climatologists said it is not unusual for storms to arrive well into March.

"Usually you have the biggest storms in March," said Kevin Lipton, a meteorologist in Albany, N.Y.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that this winter was the warmest worldwide since record keeping began in 1880.

Globally, the 10 warmest winters have occurred in the past 12 years, according to the NOAA report. The 2006 winter ranked ninth. The second-warmest was in 2004, followed by 1998, 2002, and 1999.

Last year's ocean-surface temperature tied for second-warmest in 128 years of observation.


Thursday, 03/15/07

‘Scientists: Winter of 2006-07 was Earth’s warmest ever recorded’ – per AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — This winter was the warmest on record worldwide, the U.S. government said Thursday in the latest worrisome report focusing on changing climate.

The report comes just over a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said global warming is very likely caused by human actions and is so severe it will continue for centuries.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the combined land and ocean temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for December through February were 1.3°F above average for the period since record keeping began in 1880.

The report said that during the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11°F per decade. But that increase has been three times larger since 1976, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported.

Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to so-called greenhouse gases which are produced by industrial activities, automobiles and other processes. These gases build up in the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun somewhat like a greenhouse.

Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It was particularly strong in January — the warmest January ever — but the ocean surface has since begun to cool.

The report noted that in the Northern Hemisphere the combined land and water temperature was the warmest ever at 1.64°F above average. In the Southern Hemisphere, where it was summer, the temperature was 0.88°F above average and the fourth warmest.

The late March date of the vernal equinox noted on most calendars notwithstanding, for weather and climate purposes northern winter is December, January and February.

For the United States, meanwhile, the winter temperature was near average. The season got off to a late start and spring-like temperatures covered most of the eastern half of the country in January, but cold conditions set in in February, which was the third coldest on record.


Wednesday, 03/14/07

‘Rescuers, police kept busy’ - San Antonio [TX] Express

Strong thunderstorms swept through San Antonio on Tuesday afternoon, bringing high winds and flooding rains that set off emergency rescues.

Emergency responders said there were at least a dozen calls for rescues of motorists or pedestrians stranded by rising water. No injuries were reported.

The weather-maker was a large upper-level low-pressure system that tracked east across Texas on Tuesday, setting off widespread heavy rain as bands of energy rotated around it.

Heavy rains settled over the San Antonio area during the lunch hour and continued throughout the day as the system generated waves of instability.

In San Antonio, rain fell at rates of half an inch to 2 inches per hour, and wind gusts of 35 mph were common in the storms, National Weather Service forecaster Mark Lenz said.

Flash flood warnings were to continue until 7 a.m. today.

With the ground saturated from two days of steady rain, any additional rain will run off quickly and accumulate in low-lying areas.

Weather service forecasters were closely watching the Guadalupe River, especially around Cuero, where the river was projected to crest at 39 feet today. At 38 feet, the neighborhoods closest to the river begin to flood.

Areas with about 4 inches of rain included Somerset, Leon Valley, Gonzales, Devine, Stockdale and Falls City. An area between Stockdale and Floresville got the area's highest rainfall totals Tuesday, with 6 to 8 inches reported.


Tuesday, 03/13/07

‘Big storms possible for region again’ – San Antonio [TX] Express

Central Texas got a brief respite from heavy rains Monday afternoon, but chances of additional severe thunderstorms and rainfall amounts of up to 5 inches return to the forecast for today and Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Strong thunderstorms Sunday generated tornado warnings and caused two deaths but also brought beneficial rains to a wide swath of the drought-stricken region, including the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The level in a key index well in San Antonio jumped by more than a foot overnight; however, the rains do not end the drought or the threat of water restrictions later in the year, the Edwards Aquifer Authority cautioned.

"The timing is good for us because we are getting to that point of the year when water becomes more of an issue for us," authority spokesman Roland Ruiz said.

The weather-maker is an upper-level disturbance that moved across the region Sunday evening, spawning thunderstorms and downpours across the Hill Country and parts of Bexar County. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches were common across San Antonio.

Some locations north of the city had much more rain — 8 inches fell at Kingsbury in Guadalupe County, and 7 fell in Cedar Creek, northwest of Austin.


Tuesday, 03/13/07

‘Record High Temperature Broken for March 13’ - Record Event Report, National Weather Service, Indianapolis

The temperature rose to 80 degrees shortly after 300 pm EDT at the Indianapolis International Airport.

This reading of 80 degrees breaks the record for March 13 at Indianapolis … which was 78 degrees set in 1990.

Temperature records at Indianapolis began in 1871.


Tuesday, 03/13/07

‘March heat wave hits North Dakota’ – per AP

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota was having a heat wave Monday, with record temperatures in the 70s in the central and western parts of the state.

Williston's record high of 76 was more than 10 degrees warmer than the mark for the date in 1910. Bismarck reached a high of 75, topping the 69-degree mark it set in 1934.

Dickinson reported a record 71 degrees, also higher than in 1934, and Minot climbed to 70, a reading 2 degrees warmer than the 1910 record.


Wednesday, 03/07/07

‘Los Angeles on pace for driest rain year ever’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With little moisture in usually wet February, meteorologists said Los Angeles is facing its driest year ever with less than 2½ inches of rain so far.

Prolonged dry weather, which extended the wildfire season, comes just two years after the region was awash with a near-record 37 inches of rain. Eleven inches fell that February, usually the region's rainiest month.

But more than eight months into the rain year starting July 1, 2006, and ending June 30, the downtown/University of Southern California rain gauge only measured 2.42 inches — 0.92 inch of it falling in February.

Normal annual rainfall in Los Angeles is 11.43 inches and there's no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days, meteorologist Eric Boldt said from the National Weather Service regional office in Oxnard.

The last time it was this dry was in 1923-1924 season when 2.50 inches of rain was recorded through March 22, 1924.

"We've never had a drier year on record so far," Boldt said Tuesday. "If nothing significant happens in March, then we've pretty much run out of time. March to early April is about the end of our wet season.

"It would take several very intense storms one after the other to get us to normal and that's very unlikely."

The 2005 soaking replenished reservoirs and aquifers, helping the region avoid more severe drought conditions this year. A heavy snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is also helping with water supplies.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather models suggest that an emerging La Nina pattern of cold water in the tropical Pacific will keep the area dry.

"We've had more windstorms than rainstorms. This has been a really unusual winter," said Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief John Todd, noting Santa Ana winds that normally die out in February have persisted into March.


Saturday, 03/03/07

‘Warm Winters Upset Rhythms of Maple Sugar’ – New York Times, front page

MONTPELIER, Vt. — One might expect Burr Morse to have maple sugaring down to a science.

For more than 200 years, Mr. Morse’s family has been culling sweet sap from maple trees, a passion that has manifested itself not only in jug upon jug of maple syrup, but also in maple-cured bacon, maple cream and maple soap, not to mention the display of a suggestively curved tree trunk Mr. Morse calls the Venus de Maple.

But lately nature seems to be playing havoc with Mr. Morse and other maple mavens.

Warmer-than-usual winters are throwing things out of kilter, causing confusion among maple syrup producers, called sugar makers, and stoking fears for the survival of New England’s maple forests.

“We can’t rely on tradition like we used to,” said Mr. Morse, 58, who once routinely began the sugaring season by inserting taps into trees around Town Meeting Day, the first Tuesday in March, and collecting sap to boil into syrup up until about six weeks later. The maple’s biological clock is set by the timing of cold weather.

For at least 10 years some farmers have been starting sooner. But last year Mr. Morse tapped his trees in February and still missed out on so much sap that instead of producing his usual 1,000 gallons of syrup, he made only 700.

While some farmers and other Vermonters suggest the recent warm years could be just a cyclical hiccup of nature or the result of El Niño, many maple researchers now say it seems more like a long-term trend. Since 1971, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, winter temperatures in the Northeast have increased by 2.8 degrees.

“It appears to be a rather dire situation for the maple industry in the Northeast if conditions continue to go toward the predictions that have been made for global warming,” said Tim Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont.

Dr. Perkins studied the records of maple syrup production over the last 40 years and found a fairly steady progression of the maple sugaring season moving earlier and earlier, and also getting shorter.

“We had this long list of factors we started with that could possibly explain it,” Dr. Perkins said. “We have eliminated all of those various factors. We are at this point convinced that it is climatic influence.”

Over the long haul, the industry in New England may face an even more profound challenge, the disappearance of sugar maples altogether as the climate zone they have evolved for moves across the Canadian border.

“One hundred to 200 years from now,” Dr. Perkins said, “there may be very few maples here, mainly oak, hickory and pine. There are projections that say over about 110 years our climate will be similar to that of Virginia.”

Maple trees are so iconic here that a good deal of tourism revolves around leaf peeping of the maples’ fall tapestry, maple syrup festivals and visits to maple sugar bushes, the name for sugar maple orchards.

While there have always been some weather fluctuations, certain conditions are critical to syrup production. To make sap, trees require what Professor Rock called a “cold recharge period,” several weeks of below-freezing temperatures that traditionally fell in December and January, followed by a span of very cold nights and warmer days.

Not every sugar maker believes global warming is responsible or that the weather changes are part of a long-term trend. Don Harlow, 75, of Putney, said there were some warm years in the 1950s, and he blames El Niño for the current weather pattern.

Still, he said, “I think what we’re experiencing is a tragic, disastrous change.” He added that he tapped too late last year and made only 1,800 gallons of syrup, instead of his usual 2,500. This year, he said, “in the first week of January, heaven sakes, it was 60 degrees in Vermont.”

Global warming is such a concern to Arthur Berndt, one of Vermont’s largest sugar makers, that he became a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by environmentalists and four cities against the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The suit says the agencies contribute to carbon dioxide emissions by financing overseas fossil fuel projects like oil fields and pipelines, and seeks to compel them to abide by American restrictions.

December was so warm, Mr. Berndt said, “I was seeding my asparagus bed on Christmas day.”


Saturday, 03/03/07

‘Rain, melting snow create flooding problems’ – Hartford [CT] Courant per AP,0,2698306.story

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Heavy rain combined with melting snow Friday to flood intersections and small streams throughout Connecticut, prompting some evacuations and road closures in low-lying areas.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell activated the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response, but a Rell spokesman said Friday they had not been informed of any deaths or injuries directly attributed to the weather. Up to 4 inches of rain fell in parts of the state over a 12-hour period. The shoreline was the hardest hit with rain.

"Most of the flooding today is not because of snow or ice blocking catch basins," John Carey, a storm monitor for the state Department of Transportation, said Friday.

"It's just that the ground is frozen and it doesn't absorb the water," he said. "So all the water that falls on the ground goes onto the road."

Southbound lanes of Interstate 91 in Wallingford were closed Friday morning between exits 14 and 15 due to flooding. Two housing complexes in Norwich had to be evacuated because of high water.


Saturday, 03/03/07

‘Downpours deliver woes across the region’ – Boston Globe p. B4

PEABODY -- If it had been snow, Boston would have been buried. Instead, heavy rain lashed the region yesterday, causing dozens of accidents and scattered flooding, and forcing a handful of residents to evacuate in Peabody.

Two men died in separate accidents when they lost control of their vehicles in Boxborough and New Bedford yesterday during a sloppy winter storm that washed away an early dusting of snow with up to 3 inches of rain. State Trooper Kara England said investigators have not yet determined if weather played a role in the fatal crashes.

Two inches of rain fell in much of the Boston area, while Providence was drenched with almost 3 inches, a record for the date, according to the National Weather Service. Some of the heaviest rain fell in southeastern Massachusetts, but the worst flooding was north, in Peabody, where waters rose as high as 4 feet in parts of the same downtown neighborhoods hit hard by flooding last May.

Some Peabody residents said they were frustrated to see the flooding recur, and fearful that spring will bring another onslaught of water like the one that swamped hundreds of homes and businesses nine months ago.

"I've lived here three years, and this is my fourth [flood] already," said Frank Sabino as he prepared to retrieve his pet dog and cat from his home on Fountain Street. "When are they going to start doing something about this?"

In Boxborough, organizers canceled the Winterfest event that had been scheduled for tomorrow, because the snow needed for sledding had been washed away. The event had already been postponed because there was no snow in February. It will not be rescheduled again.

Just 6.4 inches of snow have fallen on Boston this winter -- 28 inches below normal, said National Weather Service meteorologist Walter Drag. Last year, the city had seen 40 inches by this time.


Friday, 03/02/07

‘Violent storm sweeps Midwest, Southern states killing 20’ – Los Angeles Times per AP,0,5684824,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

ENTERPRISE, Ala. -- A violent storm system ripped apart an Alabama high school as students hunkered inside and later tore through Georgia, hitting a hospital and raising the death toll to at least 20 across the Midwest and Southeast.

Eight students died when a tornado struck Enterprise High School, Mayor Kenneth Boswell said today. The teenage victims were all in a wing of the school that took a direct hit as the tornado blew out the walls and roof.

As the massive storm system swept into Georgia, another tornado apparently touched down near the Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus, 117 miles south of Atlanta, blowing out the windows, tossing cars into trees and killing at least two people, said Buzz Weiss of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Doctors, nurses and volunteers had worked into the night to evacuate dozens of patients.

"It was controlled chaos," said Dr. Tim Powell, an anesthesiologist.

Six more people were killed in the town of Newton, Ga., including a child, and several homes were destroyed, Fire Chief Andy Belinc said early today. "We're still tying to assess everything," Belinc said. Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency.

The burst of tornadoes was part of a larger line of thunderstorms and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. Authorities blamed tornadoes for the deaths of a 7-year-old girl in Missouri, 10 people in Alabama and nine in Georgia, and twisters also damaged homes in Kansas.

President Bush planned to visit two of the storm-damaged areas on Saturday, the White House said. The destinations were still being worked out today with governors in the affected states.

In all, the National Weather Service received 31 reports of tornadoes Thursday from Missouri, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, plus a report today of a waterspout near Cartaret, N.C.

The normal peak tornado season is April and May, but weather service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said tornadoes can occur at any time.

Between 40 and 60 homes were also damaged in nearby [to Newton, GA] Clay County, on the Alabama line, Weiss said. Another tornado killed a man in a mobile home in Taylor County, north of Americus, county Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Lowe said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue flew by helicopter to damaged areas today and issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Baker, Clay, McDuffie, Stewart, Sumter and Taylor counties, clearing the way for state aid.


Thursday, 03/01/07

‘Blizzard piles on in Plains, Midwest’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Heavy, wet snow and blizzard conditions hit the Plains and Midwest on Thursday, shutting down hundreds of miles of interstate highways as snowplows were pulled off roads in white-out conditions.

Schools closed in several states, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Two people were killed when their car overturned on a slick road in North Dakota, and snowplows were pulled off the roads in Iowa and western Minnesota because of strong wind and heavy snow.

The storm moved into Iowa with rain and sleet but changed to snow around dawn.

The western part of the state was hit with a blizzard that dropped visibility to a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours. By midday, as much as a foot of snow covered the town of Atlantic.

The blizzard also hit eastern Nebraska, with a foot of snow in the Omaha area and up to 15 inches of snow expected in some areas before it dies off Friday.

With up to 18 inches of snow expected in parts of Iowa, Gov. Chet Culver issued a disaster declaration, clearing the way for state aid, and authorities warned people to stay off the roads.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher advised against using back roads to get around closed interstates.

Snowplows had been pulled off the roads in western Iowa because of deteriorating conditions, Gray-Fisher said.

"There are so many cars in the road and semis jackknifed and whiteout conditions that it's just not safe, and they are unable to make any progress," she said.

Minnesota plows were also pulled off roads in the western part of the state.

As much as 22 inches of snow could fall in … northwestern Wisconsin through Friday morning, while 6 to 12 inches was expected in some central areas, the National Weather Service said.

The storm was part of a larger line of thunderstorms and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. Tornadoes killed several people in Missouri and Alabama, including many at a high school, authorities said.

More than 140 school districts canceled classes Thursday in Minnesota even before the heavy snow arrived.

By Friday, snowfall totals were expected to be a foot or more in southern and central Minnesota, where up to 2 feet fell last week. In northeastern Minnesota, the totals could hit 2 feet. The weather service warned of blowing snow and possible blizzard conditions in the countryside.

"We're going to get pummeled," National Weather Service meteorologist Byron Paulson said.

Flights were canceled around the region. At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, airport officials were preparing for serious disruptions after airlines nixed about 400 flights, a number that was expected to grow.


Monday, 02/26/07

“Acting governor: Tornado acted like 'high explosives'” – per AP

DUMAS, Ark. (AP) — Dozens of homes and businesses looked like they were shredded by "high explosives," Lt. Gov. Bill Halter said Sunday as he surveyed the damage a day after a powerful storm injured 40 people.

The storms in Arkansas were part of a massive system that also caused blizzard conditions in the Midwest. Snyder said weather forecasters told him the storm packed winds estimated between 158 and 207 mph.

Damage was reported along a five-mile-long, half-mile-wide swath south and east of Dumas, which is about 90 miles southeast of Little Rock.

In all, 43 houses and 50 mobile homes were destroyed or damaged around Dumas; and nine had major damage, the Department of Emergency Management said.

"Some of these homes looked like they had high explosives in them," the lieutenant governor said. "All that's left is the foundation."

Halter, acting governor while Gov. Mike Beebe is out of state, said the county would be declared a disaster area. He estimated damage in the millions of dollars.

The sheriff said it may be three to five days before power could be restored. The storms also polluted the town's drinking water, which residents were told to boil.


Monday, 02/26/07

‘Storm Grounds Flights and Cuts Power’ – New York Times per AP

DETROIT, Feb. 25 (AP) — The remnants of a huge winter storm plowed East on Sunday after dropping as much as two feet of snow in the upper Midwest, grounding hundreds of airline flights and closing major highways.

The storm was blamed for eight traffic deaths, seven in Wisconsin and one in Kansas.

Snow, sleet and freezing rain led airlines to cancel hundreds of flights on Sunday at O’Hare International Airport and dozens more at Midway Airport, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation said.

Utility crews worked Sunday to restore power after the storm blacked out hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio.

“It could be at least three days, if not more than one week, before we get all the customers back on,” said Ryan Stensland, a spokesman for Alliant Energy in Iowa, where more than 162,000 customers were without electricity on Sunday.

Moist air pulled by the storm system from the Gulf of Mexico fueled violent thunderstorms in the South, sweeping cars off roads, destroying businesses and sending mobile homes flying. Tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.


Friday, 02/23/07

‘Deadly floods swamp Bolivia’ – per AP

TRINIDAD, Bolivia — Floodwaters lapped at the outskirts of this remote state capital after weeks of disastrous flooding in Bolivia's eastern, tropical lowlands that have affected some 69,000 families, cut highways across the country and left 35 people dead.

President Evo Morales on Thursday surveyed the damage in Trinidad, 240 miles northeast of the Bolivian capital of La Paz, as residents paddled canoes through the outlying neighborhoods in an attempt to rescue their belongings.

Meanwhile, Bolivia's highway administration struggled to patch 17 separate mudslides and washouts throughout the country, including a collapse on the key Cochabamba-Santa Cruz road which earlier in the week left hundreds of trucks and buses stranded for days.

Floods have drowned an estimated 22,000 head of cattle in the surrounding state of Beni and wiped out about 480,000 acres of farmland in neighboring Santa Cruz state, according to local agricultural officials.

The United Nations has issued an international call for $9.2 million in emergency assistance to care for flood victims and fight waterborne diseases.

Beni, in the center of Bolivia's eastern plains, is the Andean nation's lowest state, and in recent months has suffered not only its own heavy rains but the considerable runoff from the Andean foothills to the west and south.

The Rio Mamore, one of Bolivia's largest rivers, bisects the state flowing north from the Andes and eventually into Brazil's Amazon River. Its swollen banks now threaten Trinidad, though floodwaters were expected to recede slightly on Friday.

The floods appear to be related to the warming of Pacific Ocean surface temperatures known as El Niño, according to Felix Trujillo, a meteorologist with Bolivia's National Weather Service.


Thursday, 02/22/07

‘Powerful cyclone makes landfall in Mozambique’ – per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Cyclone Favio swept ashore Thursday in central Mozambique with sustained winds of 125 mph, bringing heavy rain and new misery to tens of thousands of people already forced from their homes by flooding. A second storm, Cyclone Gamede, churned in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar and threatened to make landfall in the same area before dawn Friday, officials said.

As Favio moved ashore at Vilankulo south of Beira, it destroyed some homes and ripped the roofs off of others.

The government had evacuated many of the residents further inland.

The cyclone hit an area already flooded by torrential rains that have drenched central Mozambique since January. Forecasters said Favio would bring damaging winds and heavy rain to Sofala, Inhambane and Gaza provinces.

About 30 people were killed in Mozambique and nearly 90,000 forced from their homes by the earlier floods. The government said 37,000 people were being housed in tented camps before Favio struck.


Thursday, 02/15/07

‘Winter storm leaves freezing temperatures, mounds of snow behind’ – per AP

NORTHFIELD, Ohio (AP) — The monster snow and ice storm that hit the Midwest and Northeast blew out to sea, leaving behind huge snow piles, frigid temperatures, highway logjams Thursday. The storm was blamed for at least 15 deaths.

In Pennsylvania, National Guard vehicles loaded with food, water, baby supplies and fuel delivered help to hundreds of motorists stranded on Interstate 78 Wednesday night and Thursday morning while crews try clear up a 50-mile backup on the icy, hilly highway.

Utilities reported more than 95,000 homes and businesses without electricity early Thursday in Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and Delaware because of high wind and iced-up power lines.

The storm hit Wednesday, leaving up to 12 inches of snow across Pennsylvania, 15 inches in Cleveland, 19 inches in western Massachusetts and 42 inches in the southern Adirondacks in New York. Three feet of snow fell on parts of Vermont, good news for the state's beleaguered ski industry. Nearly 2 feet fell on parts of New Hampshire.

In parts of the Northeast, the snow was followed by up to several inches of ice, leaving motorists with a slippery commute Thursday morning. That is, if they could free their ice-entombed cars. And with gusty wind, some areas had morning wind chills below zero.

"You can't even shovel it," said Wes Velker, an electrician who had to dig out from a foot of snow so he could go to work fixing busted water pipes and furnaces in Toledo, Ohio. "You have to take it off in layers."

Upstate New Yorkers woke up Thursday to sunny but frigid conditions a day after the big storm. Temperatures near or below zero combined with brisk wind drove the wind chill down to minus 10 to 20 degrees across the upstate region.

Amtrak canceled some service west of Albany on Thursday because blowing snow was interfering with switching and signals.

At least 15 deaths were blamed on the huge storm system: three in Nebraska; two each in Indiana, New Jersey and Delaware; and one each in Missouri, New York, Ohio and Virginia. A tornado on the southern side of the weather system killed one person in Louisiana. A motorist in New Hampshire was killed Thursday morning on icy I-93, the site of numerous accidents.

There were hundreds of accidents across the East on Wednesday. The Ohio State Highway Patrol alone handled more than 1,200, but injuries were few because most vehicle [sic] were moving slowly.

Hundreds of flights were canceled Wednesday at the New York City area's three major airports, with some passengers trapped on grounded planes for as many as 11 hours. Cancelations [sic] also were reported in Albany, N.Y.; Portland, Maine; Boston; Washington; Chicago; Philadelphia; Cincinnati; and Indianapolis. By Wednesday evening, all had reopened, though some Thursday flights were canceled.

The winter blast was good news for outdoor enthusiasts and businesses who have felt cheated by Mother Nature for most of the until-now mild winter.

In Vermont, 25.7 inches fell Wednesday at Burlington International Airport, the second-highest total ever.


Monday, 02/12/07

‘8 Days, 10 Feet and the Snow Isn’t Done Yet’ – New York Times, front page

OSWEGO, N.Y., Feb. 11 — First the fire hydrants vanished. Then the tombstones. Then went the mailboxes, parked cars, front doors, stop signs and the bottoms of roadside billboards.

By the time the snow stopped falling this weekend over Oswego County in upstate New York, the streets were lined with snowbanks that obscured anyone walking behind them, shoveling crews were charging upward of $200 an hour to clear the tops of houses, and gawkers were driving in from hours away.

“This is the roof, right?” Mark Fahnestock, 27, asked his companion, Jessica Stiffler, 26, both of Lancaster, Pa., Sunday after he climbed a snowbank so tall that it merged with the roof of a church in Scriba. She took a photograph of him holding their 2-year-old daughter, Jazmine.

They had left home at 5:30 a.m. “We don’t get this kind of snow,” Ms. Stiffler said.

Oswego County, a rustic string of towns and villages on the southeastern rim of Lake Ontario, received 5 to 10 feet of snow over eight days. In one town, Redfield, the National Weather Service reported an unofficial total of 11 feet 8 inches, which would be a state record for snowfall from a single storm event. And the Weather Service said more snow was on the way.

By contrast, the New York City record, set exactly one year ago today, was 26.9 inches as measured in Central Park.

Last week, Gov. Eliot Spitzer declared a state of emergency for the area, sending in extra road-clearing crews and other help, and most of the major thoroughfares had been cleared by Sunday. The authorities said there had been some injuries related to snow removal in the county, but no deaths.

“We have, up to this point, considered ourselves very fortunate that the human-needs aspect has been minimal,” said Patricia Egan, Oswego County’s director of emergency management.

Some residents shrugged off the snow the way San Franciscans shrug off earthquakes. They recited inch totals of previous lake-effect storms with pride, often recalling some time when it snowed harder.

Kevin Dwyer of Parish, who spent six hours carving a pathway to his back door out of five feet of snow, said he was not overly impressed by the storm. “This is the second-worst one,” he said, comparing it unfavorably to one a few years ago.

Still, the sheer quantity seemed to catch many others off guard. The State University of New York at Oswego, the alma mater of the television weatherman Al Roker and typically one of the last to give in to conditions, was forced to cancel classes for three days last week. “We don’t know that we have ever done that,” said Tim Nekritz, a college spokesman.

Despite a reprieve for most of Sunday, forecasters said they expected more snow late last night as well as Monday and Tuesday.

A lake-effect snowstorm, in which cold, dry winds sweep across bodies of warmer lake water, was the cause of the powerful blast of snow, forecasters said, and is the usual cause of some of the area’s heaviest snowfall.

The official state record for snowfall from a single event is 10 feet 7 inches in Montague, in Lewis County, northeast of Oswego, from Dec. 26, 2001, to Jan. 1, 2002, said John Rozbicki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo. He said that on Monday the Weather Service would begin a check of snowfall data from Redfield, including a review of radar results, before deciding whether the record had been broken.


Thursday, 02/08/07

‘Floods Leave Trail of Destruction, Disease’ – Inter Press Service News Agency

Torrential rains across Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi since January, have left a trail of destruction and disease, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which is helping thousands of people in the region.

"More than 120,000 people have been affected; of which some 52,700 have been temporarily displaced (approximately 27,400 in Mozambique, 13,800 in Madagascar, 6,000 in Angola and 5,500 in Malawi), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported last month.

OCHA estimated that 84 people had been killed, most of them in Angola, and many more were missing. The floods destroyed hundreds of hectares of crop and damaged schools, public buildings, road networks, bridges and communication infrastructure, said the report.

Mozambique in particular has suffered from deteriorated conditions. "Mozambique has not yet declared a state of emergency. But the authorities there have asked the people in the affected areas to move to higher ground to avoid the floods," Tamuka Chitemere, in charge of disaster management at the IFRC, told IPS by phone from the organisation’s regional headquarters in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.

As many as 46,500 Mozambicans could be affected by the rising waters, said National Disasters Management Institute director Paulo Zucula, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Thursday. At least 29 people had died, and 4,600 houses, 100 classrooms and four health centres were destroyed by the storms and flooding, the BBC reported.

The situation in Angola, which is emerging from decades of bloody armed conflict, is no better. "In the Cacuaco region of Angola at least 71 people have died and 184 families have lost all their personal belongings. Roads were submerged and bridges were damaged. The heavy rains also worsened the cholera outbreak that began last year. Since Jan. 1, a total of 3,868 new cases have been reported in 15 out of 18 provinces, with Luanda, Cabinda and Benguela the most severely hit," the IFRC said in a statement made available to IPS Thursday.

In general, the rains start in November and end in March in most of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC). Apart from cholera -- which has affected Mozambique, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, claiming at least 143 lives --, malaria is also causing havoc in parts of the region. Malaria is carried by mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant waters.

In Mozambique, McIvor says they have donated mosquito nets and blankets to help prevent the disease, which is endemic particularly in Malawi, Mozambique, Angola and Zambia.

This year's flooding, which meteorologists and aid agencies say began earlier than normal, is far from over. "Major rivers in the region, such as the Pungwe, Lucite, Licungo, Mutumba, Shire and Zambezi, are swollen and, specifically in the Zambezi River and surrounding tributaries, water levels have reached their alert threshold. Further flooding is to be expected," OCHA said.


Thursday, 02/08/07

‘Rains bring fresh floods to Indonesia’ – per AP

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Residents working in waist-high mud salvaged family photos from washed-out neighborhoods as fresh rains Thursday triggered more flooding, compounding the misery for hundreds of thousands forced from their homes.

A week after the Indonesian capital was struck by the worst floods in recent memory, waters had receded in many middle-class districts, but conditions remained grim in narrow riverside alleys where the city's poor live.

At least 50 people were killed in the floods, while 57,000 others have since complained of itchy skin, coughs or common colds resulting from contact with dirty water or exposure, said Rustam Pakaya, chief of the Health Ministry's crisis center.

In cramped and damp emergency shelters, mothers breast-fed babies close to piles of rotting garbage. Food and medicine appeared to be sufficient in several places visited Thursday, but authorities warned the spread of disease was possible.

"The rain comes in, the wind comes in, but we are stuck," said Muhammad Nahrowi, one of 5,000 people crammed into a school close to the hardest-hit districts.

Nearly half of the city's 12 million people were still submerged in muddy water, Pakaya said, citing data from aerial surveillance.

The government said between 240,000 and 420,000 people were still unable to return home.

"City officials have to start cleaning the debris if they want to prevent the spread of diseases," Pakaya said.

Overnight rain sent waters up to more than 3 feet coursing back into some areas, underscoring the challenges facing city authorities as they try to clean its streets and restore basic services.

More downpours were forecast for the capital in coming days, and authorities warned flooding was possible until the rainy season ends at the end of next month.

Floods also occurred outside the capital, with some 106,000 acres of rice paddies and several villages, farms and businesses in west Java province in knee-high water, said a meteorologist who uses the single name Kiki.

The floods in Jakarta hit hardest in tightly packed riverside districts in Jakarta accessible only by foot and where whole families often live in a single room. Many houses were washed away or badly damaged.

Large areas of one such district, Kampung Pulo, remained under water Wednesday.

Residents trudged through filthy waters to the main road to pick up food and water. Where floods had receded, thick mud several feet deep in places meant homes were still unlivable.

Indonesia is hit by deadly floods each year, and Jakarta is not immune. But this year's have been the worst in recent memory, with some 100,000 homes, shops and businesses swamped in rich and poor areas alike.


Tuesday, 02/06/07

‘China sweats in warmest temperatures on record’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Skating has been banned on the melting ice of Beijing's lakes, trees are blossoming early and people are shedding their heavy clothes as China experiences its warmest winter on record.

The temperature in the capital hit 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, far above the historical average of just below freezing for this time of year and the highest since records were first compiled in 1840.

The head of the Beijing Municipal Observatory, Guo Hu, said the record high was part of a consistent trend this winter, while state-run media reported similar phenomena across the country.

"In January and February, Beijing experienced its highest temperatures in 167 years," Guo told AFP on Tuesday.

"Beijing has basically seen warmer winters from the late 1980s. This is due to the influence of global warming."

Aside from the early [skating] ban, the China Daily newspaper said magnolia trees in Beijing had already started blossoming as conditions in the city resembled a balmy day more commonly seen in April.

Other reports flooded in on Tuesday showing the impact of global warming across the nation.

January-December average temperatures were the highest in 56 years in both the eastern province of Jiangsu and the remote western region of Xinjiang, 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) apart, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The mercury in the normally frigid far northeastern province of Heilongjiang had also hit 40-year highs and 300,000 people were suffering from a drought in Shaanxi province after January rainfall was 90 percent below average, it said.

The accounts of an overheated China came less than a week after a stark

United Nations report was released warning that climate-changing gases were having a significant impact on global warming.

The report said Earth's average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees by 2100.

China's top meteorologist and one of the main authors of the report, Qin Dahe, told a press conference on Tuesday that China's unusually warm winter and other extreme recent weather bore the hallmarks of global warming.

Qin, the head of the China Meteorological Association, said China would experience more years like 2006, when it was hit by some of the worst typhoons and droughts in decades.


Sunday, 02/04/07

‘Floridians staggered by 160-mph wind’ –

LADY LAKE, Florida (CNN) -- Stunned residents, working in the rain Saturday, poked through debris for pieces of their lives deposited the day before by central Florida storms and a tornado whose winds reached 160-165 mph.

"We survived Hurricane Andrew in Homestead and it looked just like this," Bryan McKiness told The Associated Press amid the rubble of the home in Paisley where his mother, Jamie Wright, died with her boyfriend, Donald Lamond.

There were 20 deaths, all in northeast Lake County -- 13 of them near Lake Mack and the town of Paisley and six in or near Lady Lake, officials said.

At least 14 of the fatalities occurred during a two-minute period, the National Weather Service said Saturday after an initial damage survey.

It was the first time the weather service has used the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale for rating tornado damage, which went into effect Thursday. It classified the tornado as a "high-end EF-3."

President Bush on Saturday declared federal disasters in the four counties hit by the storms -- Lake, Volusia, Sumter and Seminole -- making federal aid available.

At least 1,500 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed in the four counties affected, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, told reporters.

Nelson described the area of Lake County where the 14 died as "absolutely pulverized."

"It's about a 500-feet- to 600-feet-wide area, and it is just literally a moonscape. ... There were a few little sticks of trees sticking up left," Nelson said. He said the destruction was about 100 miles long.

Nelson appeared at a news conference with Gov. Charlie Crist, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison and other officials.

Crist toured the devastation by helicopter with Paulison, who told reporters: "It's just a devastating area. It makes you sick to your stomach about what we saw ... the people who lost their lives and those who lost their homes, and in some cases everything they owned."


Monday, 01/29/07

‘Persistent storms bury snow removal crews’ – Anchorage [AK] Daily News

Snow piles squeezing your neighborhood streets down to one lane? Berms blocking visibility from your car? Mail withheld because the mailman can't reach your mailbox?

Help is coming. Unless it snows again.

Successive storms and an exceptional amount of snow this winter have kept city street crews focused on plowing. Usually after plowing, crews widen streets and haul away snow. But this year, every time cleaning starts, another storm dumps snow on the streets and the cycle starts all over again.

City Manager Denis LeBlanc says the city expects to spend $2 million more than was budgeted for snow removal this winter.

Anchorage has gotten more than 74 inches of snow already this winter, which is more than the seasonal average of 69.5 inches.

"I don't remember ever having this much problem before," said Niki Burrows, a 35-year resident of Mountain View, where roads are now one lane wide and a 6-foot wall of snow lines her front yard.

"Try to get out of your driveway and not get hit," she said. "Visibility is a major problem."

"So far this season we have double the typical snow fall and already more than an average year," wrote LeBlanc in an e-mail. The city has budgeted $13.4 million for snow removal personnel, supplies and contract work. The biggest expense has been contracted snow hauling costs, he said.


Sunday, 01/21/07

‘Heavy rains ease Australian bushfire threat’ –  Reuters AlertNet

SYDNEY, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Heavy rain from a huge outback storm has eased Australia's bushfire threat after more than 50 days, but caused floods which left towns cut off and air patrols looking for tourists stranded in the now water-logged interior.

Fires have been burning in six Australian states since November 2005, blackening more than 1.2 million hectares (4,600 square miles) of bushland, killing one, gutting dozens of homes and killing native animals and livestock.

Rain across the worst-affected state, Victoria, had dampened many blazes in the southeast, giving weary firefighters relief, but three bushfires in mountains in the northeast continue to burn out of control.

"It's significantly helped us downgrade the fire status," Pauline Clancy, spokeswoman for Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment, told reporters on Sunday.

Rain is forecast over the mountain bushfires in coming days, but not enough to douse the big blazes. Fire experts have described some of them as "megafires", created in part by global warming and a drought which has provided an abundance of fuel, stretching thousands of kilometres.

But while the rain, sometimes in record falls, eased the bushfire threat it caused flash flooding in three states, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, as well as in the outback Northern Territory.

Major roads throughout South Australia's outback north have been closed due to flooding and some towns in the area will be cut off for days until floodwaters recede.

The flooded town of Hawker received a downpour of 150 mm [5.91 inches] in 48 hours, seven times its January average. Residents were using a bulldozer and grader to try to reach the local airstrip.

Authorities in South Australia launched aerial patrols to ensure no tourists were stranded by the flash flooding, with reports of motorists being bogged as the normally dry, flat outback turned to a sea of mud.

But many outback residents and farmers, who have been battling the worst drought in a century, welcomed the rain.

"We've got a dam on the back of my place that hasn't seen water in it for five years. I think everybody's smiling," John Sitters, owner of the Flinders Ranges Caravan Park at Hawker, told Australian Associated Press.

The national weather bureau said this month that Australia appeared to be suffering from an accelerated climate change brought about by global warming.

While the heavily populated southeast experiences its worst drought for a generation, the tropics and remote northwest are receiving unseasonally heavy rains accounting for more than Australia's yearly total average.


Friday, 01/19/07

‘Europe surveys deadly billion-dollar storm’ – MSNBC

BERLIN - Workers across Europe hauled away fallen trees and repaired power lines Friday after the deadliest storm to strike the continent in eight years killed at least 47 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Trains started rolling again after a near-total shutdown during Thursday night’s hurricane-force winds. Airports from London to Frankfurt reported some delays and cancellations, but were returning to normal.

The disruption hit countries from Britain to Ukraine, where the flow of Russian oil through a key pipeline to Europe was temporarily halted after power to a pumping station was knocked out.

The storm knocked out electricity to more than 1 million home in the Czech Republic, which was hit by winds of up to 112 mph. Ladislav Kriz, spokesman for the main Czech CEZ utility, said Friday night that power was restored to most of the homes affected by the storm, although about 170,000 customers were still without electricity.

One million households in Germany and tens of thousands of homes in Poland and Austria also lost power.

The storm killed 14 people in Britain, 12 in Germany, six each in the Netherlands and Poland, four in the Czech Republic, three in France and two in Belgium.

Most of those killed were motorists. However, the victims also included two German firefighters; an 18-month-old child in Munich hit by a terrace door ripped from its hinges; a toddler killed in London when a brick wall collapsed on him; and a Polish crane operator killed when his crane broke in half.

It was the highest death toll from a European storm since 1999, when gales downed trees and driving snow brought on avalanches, killing more than 120 people.

Germany’s GDV insurance association put insured losses at $1.3 billion in that country alone, and the Union of Insurers in the Netherlands estimated damage there at $207 million.

Association of British Insurers spokesman Malcolm Tarling said initial estimates suggested damage from the storm there could be hundreds of millions of dollars.

The head of Germany’s national railroad, Deutsche Bahn, said the company would start assessing the cost of the damage after an unprecedented near-total shutdown. After thousands of travelers were stranded, Hartmut Mehdorn said that “we can’t compensate everyone.”


Wednesday, 01/17/07

'Savage winter storm leaves 54 dead, thousands powerless across USA’ – per AP

McALESTER, Okla. — Hundreds of people hunkered down in emergency shelters and thousands stuck it out in darkened homes after a winter storm that left 54 dead in nine states.

About 320,000 homes and businesses in several states were still without electricity late Tuesday after a storm that brought ice, snow, flooding and high winds to a swath of the country from Texas to Maine.

In the town of Buffalo [MO] — population 2,800 — nearly all stores, gas stations and restaurants were closed Tuesday.

"There are no services," Mayor Jerry Hardesty said. "I've talked to residents who have lived here 50 years and nobody can remember it ever being this bad."

The town lost all its power by Saturday. Water towers ran dry Sunday, and water service was restored only late Monday, after the National Guard hooked a generator up to a pumping station.

On Tuesday, ice, sleet and snow forced Texas officials to move the governor's inauguration ceremony indoors for the first time in five decades. Gov. Rick Perry's inaugural parade was canceled and part of Interstate 35 near the University of Texas campus was shut down.

Numerous schools and universities, as well as some local and state government offices, were also closed across the region.

Waves of freezing rain, sleet and snow since Friday have been blamed for at least 20 deaths in Oklahoma, nine in Missouri, eight in Iowa, four in New York, five in Texas, three in Michigan, three in Arkansas and one each in Maine and Indiana.


Monday, 01/15/07

‘Southern Malaysia hit by severe flooding’ –

In the state of Johor, situated in southern Malaysia, 95,000 people have been evacuated from their homes after a second wave of flooding hit the state in as many months.

Johor, which borders Singapore, has already experienced severe flooding in the last month, killing 17 people after torrential rains flooded many towns and villages in late December.

People were just staring [sic] to return to their homes after having stayed in relief shelters since the last lot of flooding when the latest wave hit. Four days of continuous rain has lashed Johor, with many of the major rivers in the area bursting their banks and cutting off a number of towns. Some villages are said to have been completely submerged.


Saturday, 01/13/07

‘Not wild about mild on the slopes’ – Boston Globe, front page

CHARLEMONT -- The sign outside Stillwaters Restaurant, a roadside steak and seafood place a few miles from the Berkshire East ski resort, says it all: "No Snow, No Dough."

The mild, snowless winter that has plagued Western Massachusetts has depressed sales of more than lift tickets on the little ski mountain. Jody Nadreau has pumped only half the gas he normally would at the Charlemont Mini-Service gas station on Saturdays. Melody Whelden has struggled to keep the three rooms in her Melody's Place bed-and-breakfast booked on weekends.

And Chris Carcio, manager of the Cold River Package Store across the Deerfield River from Berkshire East, says his sales are down about 60 percent from a normal January, when he could count on doing a brisk business in the half-pints of whiskey and schnapps that skiers slip into their parkas to help them keep warm on chairlift rides.

"I've never seen it so pathetic over there," Carcio said, pointing toward the ski hill during an interview earlier this week, when most of the mountain was mud. "It is definitely not a good season for us at all."

"Just about every ski area in New England has to be down from last year, and last year wasn't good," said Arthur Woolf, an economist at the University of Vermont who follows the regional economy. "They've got to be really hurting. They could wind up even with last year if we get some snow and it stays through March and April, but I don't think this is going to be a year they have any fond memories of."

The way the snow woes at Berkshire East have sapped other businesses in town, Woolf said, mirrors what dozens of other New England communities have contended with this winter. Last month was the warmest December on record in Boston and many other parts of New England. The National Weather Service center in Albany, N.Y., just over the Western Massachusetts border, recorded just 0.3 inches of snow fall in the region last month, compared with 12.8 inches in a normal December.

Todd Gerry -- a Charlemont resident who makes his living through a combination of carpentry, farming, snowplowing, and other jobs -- said, "I need the snow. I need the money." If snow finally comes, Gerry said, "I think you could make up a portion of it, but not all of it. You've lost two months." The only upside: He's burned at least one fewer tank of heating oil this winter.

After 41 years in the skiing business, the last 30 as owner and operator of Berkshire East, Roy Schaefer said he's learned how to get through a bad winter like this, and he holds out hope it could still turn colder.

It is difficult to determine how much revenue he has lost because a portion of his business is from prepaid lift tickets from schools and season pass owners, not daily visitors. Schaefer keeps his operation frugal and unmortgaged and pays cash, from profits, for adding new trails and amenities.

"You've got to start out every year like it's not going to be a good year," Schaefer said. "After 41 years, I'm a survivor, and I'll survive another year."

But he added: "I've never seen a beginning of a season like this one."


Thursday, 01/11/07

‘Central Russia experiences unprecedented warmth’ – Novosti [Russian News and Information Agency]

MOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow and the rest of Central Russia are experiencing unusually warm weather, with temperatures well above zero and an absence of snow.

The warm spell, which is more typical for the October-November period in this part of the country, began in December and continued into January, with the mercury climbing to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 Fahrenheit), a 50-year high, January 10.

"January 10, with a temperature of plus 8, was the warmest in the first 10 days of January in the entire history of meteorological monitoring in Moscow," the hydro-meteorological bureau for Moscow and the Moscow Region said.

Another record has been registered in Nizhny Novgorod in the Volga Region, beating the 1971 high with the temperature climbing to 3.9 degrees Celsius (38 Fahrenheit).

"At that time [in 1971], the temperature during the day rose to plus 3.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 Fahrenheit), but this year it reached plus 3.9 degrees, beating the previous record by 0.4 degrees," a local meteorology official said, adding that January is considered the coldest month of the year in the region.

The current high temperatures in some cities of European Russia have led to never-before-seen phenomena, including blossoming flowers and swelling buds in the city of Kursk, 370 miles southwest of Moscow.

"Such a winter was only registered in the Kursk Region about 50 years ago when the average December temperature was 0.5 degrees Celsius (32.9 Fahrenheit)," Maria Polyokhina, deputy head of the hydro-monitoring center in Central Russia, said, adding that, unlike Moscow, Kursk had had no snow this winter whatsoever.

Warm weather and strong winds contributed to a new flood in St. Petersburg yesterday, with water in the Neva River, which flows through the city founded in 1703 by Emperor Peter the Great, rising 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) above the control mark.


Sunday, 01/07/07

‘Unseasonable weather jolts Northeast’ – per AP

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — As Marie Goff drove up the muddy access road to the top of the bobsled track at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Saturday, the thermometer on the dashboard caught her eye. "Unbelievable, 51 degrees," said Goff, a driver for the Olympic Regional Development Authority. "Thank goodness it stopped raining and thank goodness the track is refrigerated."

The balmy winter, which has sap running, tree buds sprouting and dogs shedding their winter coats, has been unlike any other in Goff's memory, and she's 83.

The National Weather Service reported record or near-record temperatures across the region Saturday after a long warm spell.

Albany International Airport hit 71 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature at Boston's Logan International Airport was 69 degrees at about 2:30 p.m. In New Jersey, records set in 1950 were broken in Newark, Trenton and Atlantic City. And in New York City's Central Park, the thermometer hit 72, tying January's all-time high. The city, and much of the region, has seen no snow this winter.

Eight of the 12 warmest years on record have happened since 1990, and the big culprit for the overall trend has been global warming, said David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University.

"You can't explain this without including the enhancement of greenhouse gases," Robinson said.


Saturday, 01/06/07

‘Floods after torrential rains kill 9 in Mozambique, affect 7,000’ – per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Storms and torrential rains over the past 10 days in southern and central Mozambique have killed nine people and made about 7,000 homeless, the National Disasters Management Institute said Saturday.

It said that the crops of about 240 households had been destroyed.

In the port city of Beira, many areas have been flooded, and people have been trying to reach safer areas. Roads are under water, causing traffic problems. The authorities are mobilizing emergency aid for the affected individuals, it said.

It said that moderate to heavy rainfall in central Mozambique and in neighboring countries is continuing to raise the level of the Zambezi river, from the Zimbabwean border all the way to the Indian Ocean.

At Caia, in Sofala province, the Zambezi is rising rapidly and approaching flood alert level. But in other parts of the country the threat of floods has receded slightly, the institute said.


Saturday, 01/06/07

‘Colorado, Still Recovering from 2 Storms, Is Hit With a 3rd– New York Times, p. A8

Another winter storm bore down on snow-weary Colorado on Friday, complicating the recovery from back-to-back blizzards in December and raising fears that livestock losses would continue to mount.

At least 1,000 head of cattle were confirmed dead, most of them smothered by drifts when they bunched together along fence lines.

''This is far from over,'' said Don Ament, the state's agriculture commissioner.

The latest storm was a pallid reflection of the two holiday-week behemoths that brought as much as four feet of snow between them to parts of the Denver area and shut down Denver International Airport for two days during the peak travel period just before Christmas.

But even an additional six to eight inches of snow, predicted through early Saturday, was a reminder of how wildly divergent the nation's weather has become this winter, with East Coast residents in shirtsleeves and sandals while people here and across the Plains and Southwest are overwhelmed by reminders of the season's potential for havoc.

But the pictures on television of buried cars, collapsed roofs, disgruntled travelers and worried farmers also belie the mixed impact of the weather.

The snow cost Denver's airport as much as $11 million, according to preliminary estimates by airport administrators, mainly for cleanup and lost revenue from canceled flights. But many Denver hotels had their best December in years as stranded travelers and downtown office workers took shelter.

Cattle losses could rise into the tens of millions of dollars, farm experts said, perhaps even approaching the estimated $28 million in farm-animal deaths in a blizzard in 1997. But winter wheat farmers, whose lands have been parched by years of drought, were exulting. The deep snows, they say, will almost certainly produce the best crop in years.

Ski resort operators said that thousands of visitors were kept away from the slopes during the storms by the closed airport and the bad roads, but that news coverage of Denver's plight during those same snowbound hours had also proved to be the kind of advertising money cannot buy, prompting a surge of reservations and telephone calls.

The Aspen Skiing Company, which operates four resorts around Aspen in central Colorado, had 3,000 to 4,000 fewer skier-days through the Christmas week than expected, with each skier-day worth $50 to $75, said Jeff Hanle, a company spokesman.

''But the reservation center had some of the busiest days ever,'' Mr. Hanle added. ''It gave us a real blip for February and March bookings.''


Saturday, 01/06/07

‘63 Degrees’ – Boston Globe, front page

Boston set a record high temperature yesterday, and seemed likely to set another one today, as the entire region did an unsettling impression of springtime in January, complete with blooming trees and people picnicking on the Public Garden's emerald green grass.

Boston hit 63 degrees yesterday, breaking the record of 62 set in 1993, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters predicted the mercury could hit the mid-60 s again today, breaking a record that dates back to 1913.

Cameron Wake, a climate change researcher at the University of New Hampshire, said this winter's warm, snow less weather is part of a 30-year warming trend in New England. Models that predict what will happen as the earth warms suggest that there will be more extreme weather events like what the region is experiencing now. But no one can say whether current conditions are a fluke or linked to global warming caused by pollution.


Friday, 01/05/07

‘Tornado kills 2 in southern Louisiana’ – per AP

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) — At least two people were killed and 15 others were taken to hospitals after reports of tornadoes touching down during a strong cluster of storms in southern Louisiana.

While stormy weather this time of year isn't unusual, this latest system comes after two storms that helped bring December's rainfall total in New Orleans to more than 10 inches, nearly twice the normal average.

One of the storms, just before Christmas, caused widespread flooding in parts of the city and neighboring Jefferson Parish, and raised concerns about how well the area, hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, would fare in another hurricane.