Here is a partial list of extreme weather events from 2008. Please email Erik ( with additions/corrections.

Extreme weather 2005

Extreme weather 2006

Extreme weather 2007

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


Tuesday, 12/30/08

‘Two cities dig out from record December snow’ – per AP

SPOKANE, Wash. - Residents of this Northwest city were trying to dig out Tuesday after a record-breaking month of snow collapsed roofs and clogged streets. Bismarck, N.D., also set a snowfall record.

The center of a snow-laden supermarket roof in north Spokane collapsed Monday evening, prompting the evacuation of that store and adjacent businesses. A fire official said only one minor injury was reported.

Two more collapses were reported Tuesday morning, at a church gymnasium and a hardware store. No one was injured.

The collapses came as Spokane set a monthly record for snowfall, at 59.7 inches, after 8.3 inches was recorded in the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ellie Kelch. That's more snow than the area receives in a typical winter.

The weather service said two more storms were headed to Washington state this week with more gusty winds, significant rain and heavy snow in places, including Spokane.

The city's previous record of 56.9 inches was set in January 1950. Snowfall records in the area have been kept since 1893, Kelch said.

In Bismarck, the National Weather Service said an overnight storm brought more than 4 inches, bringing the city's December snow total to 33.3 inches. That tops the record of 31.1 inches set in March 1975.

Parts of Minnesota received 9 inches of new snow by morning, and Tuesday marked the 16th day in December in which measurable snow has fallen at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

In Michigan, meanwhile, flood warnings remained in effect Tuesday for areas along most of the Lower Peninsula's major rivers and streams as crews worked to restore electrical service to thousands left without power since the weekend.

In Spokane, roads were so clogged that police asked tractor-trailer rig drivers to use chains, after several big trucks became stuck in giant snowbanks. Black ice was also causing numerous accidents on Interstate 90, officials said.

All 90 of Spokane's plows, sanders and deicers were working to clear arterial streets, leaving residential streets that were still clogged with snow, officials said. Private contractors have also been hired.

The Washington State Patrol responded to about 50 collisions Monday, Trooper Joe Leibrecht said, but no serious injuries were reported.

Natural gas leaks occurred where snow or ice fell and sheared off gas meters. Southwest Airlines canceled some flights at the Spokane airport, and other airlines reported delays.


Saturday, 12/27/08

‘Midwest Braces for Possible Floods’ – The Huffington Post per AP

CHICAGO — Summerlike storms pounded the Midwest on Saturday with hail, high winds and even funnel clouds, helping to thaw the ice after days of a deep freeze and threatening floods.

Residents braced for an aftermath forecast expected to include overflowing rivers and flooded basements. Flooding was also being fueled by unseasonably high temperatures that climbed into the 60s in Illinois.

In the Chicago suburb of Riverside, authorities encouraged residents along the Des Plaines River to evacuate, saying the river was expected to rise to nearly 10 feet by Sunday morning.

Nature dealt Illinois a mixed bag of weather on Saturday, with flood warnings and advisories in the north and tornado watches in the central and southern parts of the state.

A powerful storm system swept across a wide swath of south and central Illinois during the afternoon, packing wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph, said National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Bak. The storms also produced hail, and the Weather Service office in St. Louis received reports of funnel clouds.


In the Chicago area, power restoration was being slowed by flooding at utility substations, said ComEd spokesman Jeff Burdick.

Winds knocked out power to more than 60,000 ComEd customers Saturday, Burdick said. Most had power restored by Saturday evening, and crews were working to restore service to the rest.

Thousands of people lost power elsewhere in Illinois.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said Saturday that the agency was in "readiness mode" and making sure local officials are aware of the flooding advisories.

In Cook County, authorities began monitoring river levels Friday and offered sandbags to communities in case they needed to fortify low-lying areas.

Winnebago County in northern Illinois was also offering sandbags to residents concerned about the rising Rock River. Water covered parts of Interstate 80 near the Iowa border Saturday afternoon, forcing the Illinois State Police to close portions of the road and detour traffic.

The Weather Service forecast widespread and "potentially significant" flooding. Meteorologists said the melting snow, heavy rains and frozen ground could combine to flood areas where high water is rare.

"The potential exists for serious and potentially life threatening flooding to develop with some areas that typically do not flood, possibly even becoming inundated with water," the Weather Service said in an advisory.

The weather caused 90-minute delays at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and forced the cancelation of more than 150 flights. Sunday is expected to be O'Hare's busiest day of the holiday travel season, aviation officials said.

The National Weather Service also reported Saturday that 2008 has been the wettest year on record for the city of Chicago, with just under 50 inches of precipitation.


Thursday, 12/25/08

‘Christmas  Eve snowfall buries December record – The Spokesman-Review [WA]

Christmas Eve snowfall carved a place in the weather record books as December 2008 became the snowiest on record with nearly a week to go.

As of midnight Thursday, 45.2 inches had fallen at Spokane International Airport, nearly three inches more than the 42.7 inches recorded in 1996, according to the National Weather Service. Records have been kept since 1881.

The heavy snowfall has frazzled nerves, with police reporting a spike in snow-fueled neighbor disputes and outbursts this week, including one man accused of threatening two plow truck drivers with a gun. That was before another five inches fell Wednesday night and early Thursday, followed by an inch or two Thursday afternoon.

“We’re finally having two Northwest winters back to back and people are just absolutely freaking out,” said J.J. Johnson, a plow truck driver with the city of Spokane.

About 24 plow truck drivers worked 12-hour shifts Christmas Day, clearing arterials of the fresh snow that continued to fall.

With another storm expected tonight, Johnson isn’t sure when he’ll get a break. Christmas was his ninth day in a row plowing roads. Last year, he worked 17 days in a row.

Today and Saturday could bring 4 to 6 inches of new snow, said Laurie Nisbet, a meteorologist with the NWS in Spokane.

“It’ll be wetter, heavier snow, so it might not accumulate as much,” Nisbet said.

December’s record snow surprised even the experts. Employees at the NWS office in Spokane have an office pool on total snowfall for the year. None predicted last week’s huge dumping.

Now, Nisbet said, “We’re all way off.”


Wednesday, 12/24/08

‘Washington Governor Declares Statewide Emergency – Fox News per AP,2933,472784,00.html

Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a winter storm emergency Wednesday as many Western Washington residents hoped for a traditional rainy Christmas after a week of heavy snow, jammed airports, closed roads and cabin fever.


"A number of counties and cities are struggling to meet the problems posed by this month's onslaught of snow and winter weather," Gregoire wrote. "Snowfall has reached record or near-record level in 30 of the state's 39 counties."

Her proclamation directed state agencies to support local emergency responses, freeing funds and activating the National Guard, the Washington State Guard and State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray, by Fort Lewis.

States of emergency were previously declared locally in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties, the municipalities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Gig Harbor and the Makah Indian Tribe.


Tuesday, 12/23/08

‘Winter hits with a vengeance from East to West – per AP

The weather outside was frightful from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore., on Monday, with last-minute holiday shoppers shivering and stranded travelers hoping for the best as Christmas rapidly approached.

The little town of Eustis, Maine, got nearly 3½ feet of snow.

In Marysville, Wash., north of Seattle, heavy snow collapsed part of the roof Monday at the Whitley Evergreen factory, which makes modular buildings. No one was injured, but inspectors were dispatched to make sure other buildings in the business park were safe.

The 14.5-inch snowfall Sunday in Portland, Maine, surpassed the old record for Dec. 21 of 12.4 inches, set in 1933. On the other side of the country, a total of 11 to 13 inches in Portland, Ore., was the biggest snowfall since January 1980. Depending on how much more fell Monday as the snow trailed off, the storm could rank as one of the city's 10 worst on record.

"It is amazing," said Dave Thompson, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "You say to yourself: 'That's Portland?' The roads are snowpacked, covered with ice and it's freezing rain."

Kim Osgood, who owns Paloma Clothing in the Hillsdale Shopping Center in southwest Portland, served hot cocoa on Sunday and gave away $24 crampons -- foot gear for ice and snow climbs -- to anyone spending $50 in her store.

"This is the worst Christmas I have ever seen in 33 years," Osgood said. "The good news here is for shoppers. If they can get out, they'll get amazing bargains."

Snowfall was relatively scant in the Midwest and East, but high winds whipped up snow along roadways and, along with ice, made driving hazardous for holiday travelers.

In western New York, a 134-mile stretch of the state Thruway between Rochester and Pennsylvania was closed for six hours overnight because of blowing snow. In Pittsburgh, schools were initially to open two hours late but were closed for the day instead because of below-zero wind chills.

For the mid-Atlantic states, the storm took the form of weekend snow and rain -- followed by a cold snap early Monday. High winds overnight cut off power to 13,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. Baltimore Gas & Electric said on its Web site that all but 1,200 had service restored by midafternoon.

The big snowfall in Maine was the result of a nor'easter. Before the storm even arrived, the National Weather Service issued a rare blizzard warning for eastern and northern Maine. Brooklin, on the coast, recorded a gust of 59 mph.

The town of Eustis in western Maine received a whopping 41.8 inches of snow by Monday morning. Eric Schwibs from the National Weather Service called it "the sweet spot of the storm."

For residents, however, it wasn't so sweet.

"It's beautiful, but it's a little crazy," said Linda Shane, who had to call for help when the snow jammed her car doors shut as she tried to get out of her driveway. Finally at her job at Camden National Bank, she looked out the window and said: "You can't see the gas station across the street."

In New Hampshire, the deep snow added to the misery for nearly 11,000 customers still in the dark from an ice storm more than a week earlier.

Nearly 50,000 customers remain without power across northern Indiana because of an ice storm last week. There were also more than 7,000 customers still out in Illinois on Monday and about 5,000 in northwest Ohio.

The weather was blamed for at least 10 deaths over the weekend, including a collision between a car and a semitrailer truck near New Carlisle, Ind., that killed four Marines based near Detroit.

In the Seattle area, the city remained largely snowbound Monday. Limited service resumed at Sea-Tac Airport, but thousands of people were stranded because of all the flight cancellations over the weekend.

There were long, snaking lines at virtually every ticket counter at the airport Monday morning. Some travelers said they had spent 12 hours waiting for a ticket agent, taking turns sleeping while others held their places in line. The baggage claim area was littered with mounds of unclaimed luggage 6 and 7 feet high.

Hundreds of travelers were marooned even in Los Angeles, where the line to rebook Alaska Airlines flights to the Pacific Northwest stretched out the door.


Thursday, 12/18/08

‘Record snow fall paralyzing Spokane’ – Settle Times per AP

The winter storm that has paralyzed Spokane set a record for the amount of snow dumped in a 24- hour period, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

The weather service recorded 17 inches of snow at Spokane International Airport in the 24 hours that ended at 4 a.m., 4 inches more than the record of 13 inches set in 1984. Records have been kept since 1881.

More than 3 inches of additional snow had fallen on the city since 4 a.m., the weather service said, driving the total to more than 20 inches.

The city has declared a "Condition Red" snow emergency, meaning crews will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week until they complete a full city plow. The city also was hiring private contractors to help clear 967 miles of streets.

"We've deployed all of our snow removal equipment and are calling in more from the private sector to efficiently and effectively open our streets," Mayor Mary Verner said. "This is our priority.

"The city of Spokane is the heart of this region, and we will get the community moving."

Heavy snow was falling across much of Washington and especially in the northeastern part of the state, a region that last year endured one of the snowiest winters in its history. Counties around Spokane had received 7 to 10 inches of snow by Thursday morning. But the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, 30 miles east of Spokane, had received nearly 30 inches.

The town of Dayton, near the Blue Mountains in southeastern Washington, received a record 11 inches of snow in the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. That obliterated the old record of 3.5 inches set in 1978, the weather service said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation was struggling to keep highways open. All state highways in Eastern Washington's Spokane, Whitman, Lincoln, Adams, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties have compact snow and ice, or loose snow on the roadway surface, the agency said.

"Every piece of equipment is out on the road and our maintenance team is working hard to get the deep snow off the highways," said Keith Metcalf, the department's Eastern Region administrator. "We are asking drivers to avoid unnecessary travel."

The agency warned that increasing winds would create blowing and drifting snow in many areas, especially in Adams, Lincoln, Spokane, and Whitman counties. That might lead to more highway closures.

Spokane police on Thursday urged people to stay home because most roads were impassable.


Spokane schools were closed, as were most government offices. The Spokane Transit Authority grounded most of its buses, and garbage pickup was suspended.

Spokane International Airport remained open, but snowfall was so heavy that planes were not departing because runways could not be plowed fast enough and loading and deicing planes was hampered, spokesman Todd Woodard said.


Thursday, 12/11/08

‘Winter easing its grip on Northeast’ – Boston Globe, front page

The quintessential New England winter - frozen ponds, frigid days, and neighborhoods blanketed in white - is quietly fading away, as the season gets warmer and less snowy, according to an exhaustive new study.

Analyzing four decades of winter climate data, beginning in 1965, University of New Hampshire scientists found that regional temperatures are rising at a rate of 0.8 degrees per decade. Meanwhile, the number of days with snow on the ground is decreasing at the rate of 3.6 days per decade, the study found.

Both trends have intensified with time and were strongest in the heart of winter - January and February.

"A lot of people who have lived in the Northeast for 30 to 40 years have witnessed a distinct change in the character of their Northeast winter," said Elizabeth Burakowski, lead author of the study and a climate researcher at UNH. "Climate has changed in the past, and it will change in the future, but what makes this period distinct is we're witnessing this change in a human lifetime."

The study, published in October in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, covered a region that stretches from New Jersey to Maine. Researchers analyzed data from 123 monitoring stations that reported the presence of snow on the ground, 88 stations monitoring snowfall, and 138 stations monitoring temperature.

Other studies have shown that winters in the Northeast are warming faster than other seasons, but this work used a more rigorous analysis and also suggested a possible way in which changes in snow cover may amplify warming effects.

When the Northeast looks as it does on holiday greeting cards, covered in a pristine shell of fresh powder, it changes the way the earth absorbs heat from the sun, because white snow reflects heat away from the earth. But when there isn't snow cover, the ground absorbs the heat, which may contribute to the earth's warming.

The authors found that climate stations in northern Maine reported less warming - and hypothesized that it might be because those northerly areas are more likely to be covered in snow.

If so, that would explain "the enhanced warming we're seeing" with less snow on the ground in other areas, said study coauthor Cameron Wake, a UNH climatologist.

For now, the region is experiencing something of a weather whipsaw. Yesterday was the warmest Dec. 10 ever recorded in Portland, Maine. But with that news came a warning from the Maine Emergency Management Agency about a wintry mix of weather beginning tonight.

"This whipsaw of weather from really warm days to cold days back to warm days may in fact be an indication of the weather we're going to experience in the future, in a world warmed by greenhouse gases," Wake said.

Richard Primack, a Boston University biologist, has watched winter's icy grip loosen as he's watched the ice on skating ponds grow thinner and through his academic work. Using the observations of transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau from more than a century and a half ago, Primack has found the changes in Walden Pond's thaws. Today the pond typically thaws in March, or even late February, Primack said. Thoreau didn't see it thaw until late March or April.

While snow is an emblem of winter in many people's minds, it is not the best way to understand warming; the issue is really about average temperature.

"We still haven't gotten to that magical point where the freezing line is breached, and it's going to be difficult to get it to snow," said David Robinson, a professor of geography at Rutgers University. "Last winter is a wonderful example. . . . New England got clobbered last year, although it was not a cold winter."

The changing weather has variable effects for traditional winter activities.

Jim Batey, director for Somerset Economic Development Corporation in Maine, said that while snowmobiling and other snow-related activities are central to the businesses in his region, many are diversifying, with recreational all-terrain vehicle use growing as fast as snowmobiling did several decades ago.

"We had an abnormal winter three years ago, and it certainly brought home the point that if we don't have snow, that it's going to negatively impact a lot of businesses in this region," Batey said.

Chuck Henderson of North Conway, N.H., can look back over 38 years of selling outdoor apparel and see that "gradually the trend is toward shorter winters, warmer temperatures."

Warming "is definitely something people do keep on their radar; it's something we certainly have in the forefront of our thoughts," said Jen Butson, spokeswoman for the Vermont Ski Areas Association. "A lot of the ski areas are taking measures in green initiatives and trying to do their part to be green conscious."


Wednesday, 12/10/08

‘Violent storms batter Southeast’ – per AP

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A night of unseasonably warm weather generated torrential rains and tornadoes that damaged two schools and dozens of homes in the Southeast, and some states were bracing for snow and sleet as temperatures drop Wednesday.

Sleet was possible in areas of Louisiana and the National Weather Service issued a winter weather watch for parts of Mississippi, warning that a rare snowfall accumulation was possible.

The winter precipitation threatened to hit before many people could clean up the mess left by powerful storms and likely tornadoes that damaged at least two schools and dozens of homes in Alabama and Mississippi a day earlier.

At least one person was injured in south Mississippi when a car struck a downed tree on Intestate 59 in Jones county, authorities said. At least 39 houses and mobile homes were damaged in Mississippi as well as three businesses.

Classes were canceled when an apparent tornado ripped off part of the roof of an elementary school in Walker County, Ala., northwest of Birmingham. The storm also damaged more than a dozen homes there.

There were reports of damaged homes and trees on roadways across Mississippi and reports of large hail.

Heavy rain caused minor flooding in western Tennessee and 3.44 inches had fallen in Jackson by Wednesday morning, with another 3.5 inches in Memphis and 2.21 inches at Dyersburg, the National Weather Service reported. Heavy rain and possible high winds were predicted across north Georgia Wednesday and into the day on Thursday.

Such heavy storms develop about once in the region this time of year, said Mike Leary, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.

"You get a big influx of Gulf moisture that's really quite warm," he said. "That sets up instability in combination with the cold front coming down."


Tuesday, 12/2/08

‘Ten dead, thousands hit as rains lash Panama, Costa Rica’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=AjYEcsone4ppYw8IElsjgoFoWrEF

GENEVA (AFP) – Over 36,000 people have been affected by heavy rains and severe floods in Panama and Costa Rica since late November, the International Red Cross said Tuesday as it launched an appeal for aid funds.

"Many areas are facing blackouts and lack of water. More than 45 indigenous communities in remote coastal areas are surrounded by water and can only be reached by helicopter, which has proved challenging due to the non-stop rains," said the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The United Nations humanitarian affairs bureau said earlier Tuesday that in Panama, ten people were killed and over 23,600 affected by the deluge.

About half or 11,670 of those hit in Panama are in temporary shelters, said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Rains are expected to continue this week, and the victims are in need of "food, water and blankets," said Byrs.

"Many highways and bridges have been destroyed. 1,165 houses were damaged and about 200 destroyed. A number of communities in Bocas del Toro cannot be reached. Transport and distribution of relief items remain a challenge," she added.

Panama's president has declared a state of emergency for the most affected provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui and Colon.

The gravity of the situation prompted the IFRC to seek 572,000 dollars (450,000 euros) in aid for victims in both Panama and Costa Rica.

The aid group said that in Costa Rica rivers have overflown in parts of the country including the capital San Jose.

Floods have also cut off access to over 100 communities and destroyed banana and plantain crops.

"The floods risk exacerbating diseases such as diarrhoea and the common cold, which could pose a risk especially to indigenous communities in the provinces of Limon and Cartago," it added.

An emergency operation carried out in both countries by the Red Cross will provide communities with first aid, food and other relief items such as safe water tablets.


Saturday, 11/29/08

‘Sri Lanka: 7 killed, 98,000 displaced by floods’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=AmBLo7q6iQi7BSNHpL9liE1oWrEF

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Floods caused by days of heavy rains killed at least seven people, left four soldiers missing and displaced tens of thousands in insurgency-ravaged northern Sri Lanka, officials said Saturday.

Keerthi Ekanayake of the Disaster Management Center said the northern Jaffna peninsula and the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts were inundated and nearly 8,000 houses have been destroyed.

Seven people were confirmed dead and more than 88,000 were displaced in the north alone, Ekanayake said.

The military said four soldiers stationed in Jaffna were missing after being caught in the flooding.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the northern region had already been displaced by fighting between government troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and are living in temporary huts.

An additional 10,000 people have become homeless because of the floods in the rest of Sri Lanka, Ekanayake said.

The government plans to send emergency aid and shelter materials, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

Aid agencies were evicted from rebel-held territory in September by the government, which said it could not guarantee their security amid the fighting.


Thursday, 11/27/08

‘Rainfall sets records in Los Angeles’ – LA Times,0,5543846.story

The first significant storm of the season was moving out of Southern California on Wednesday night after dumping record amounts of rain in some areas but causing little further damage in the hillside areas denuded earlier this month by wildfires.


Flash flood warnings for some areas remained in effect throughout much of the day, however.


The Pacific storm that rolled into the area Tuesday, prompting officials to issue mudslide warnings in the burn areas, caused power outages and traffic accidents and further snarled roadways already jammed with early holiday drivers.


Residents of the fire-ravaged neighborhoods of Yorba Linda were roused from their sleep at 2 a.m. Wednesday and ordered to evacuate because of the rain but were allowed to return home later in the day. About 3,400 people were affected.


Evacuation orders for parts of Santa Barbara County, affecting some 2,200 households, were also lifted Wednesday.


In Yorba Linda, officials credited the limited damage to sandbags and concrete water barriers that had been put in place before the rain began.


Rainfall records were set in several areas, including 1.23 inches at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and 1.26 inches in Woodland Hills, the National Weather Service said. More than an inch of rain fell in some mountain areas of northern Santa Barbara County, and, by late afternoon Wednesday, 1.6 inches had been recorded for downtown Los Angeles.


Flooding closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in San Diego for several hours after two vehicles crashed. In San Diego County, health officials closed beaches near the border after rain caused sewage-contaminated water from Mexico to spill into the ocean.


Wednesday, 11/26/08

‘Death toll from Philippine floods rises to 12’ – per AP

MANILA (AP) — Disaster officials say at least 12 people have died and six are missing in nearly two weeks of pounding rains that have submerged villages and rice farms in the northern Philippines.

The national disaster center is reporting more than 330,000 people in about 500 villages have been affected by the floods, with about 600 taking shelter in evacuation centers in northeastern Aurora province.

A statement Thursday says 11 people have drowned and a 3-year-old boy has died of dehydration in Aurora, Isabela and Cagayan provinces.

More than 100 schools are damaged while some road sections are not passable due to landslides.


Tuesday, 11/25/08

‘Eight dead, thousands affected by flooding in Panama’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=An9BSlFMcPVd4vlx.PTNfldoWrEF

PANAMA CITY (AFP) – At least eight people were killed, six are missing and more than 14,000 affected by heavy rains drenching Panama since Saturday, national disaster relief officials have said.

Ruben Arosemena, Panama's second vice president, said Tuesday that two men and a woman were killed Tuesday in flooding in the town of Chanquinola, on the border with Costa Rica, due to overflowing rivers.

"There are also six people missing -- a girl and five adults," in the same region, Arosemena told reporters.

One person drowned in the area on Monday, while four others were killed Saturday, three in a landslide, officials said.

Officials report bridges down and highways split by flooding, as well as millions of dollars worth of crops -- rice, yucca, yams and bananas -- destroyed in different parts of the country.


Tuesday, 11/25/08

‘84 killed, 54,000 evacuated in Brazil flooding’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=AsoRVtqChvSzO.QbQXeHcNxoWrEF

SAO PAULO (AFP) – Flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rain pounding southern Brazil for nearly two months have killed at least 84 people and forced more than 54,000 to flee, regional Civil Defense officials said Tuesday.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by the heavy rains, and eight cities in the state of Santa Catarina remained cut off by water and blocked roads, officials say. The region has been under a state of emergency since Saturday.

The region faces "the worst weather tragedy in history," Santa Catarina Governor Luiz Henrique da Silveira told reporters on Monday, adding that authorities did not know exactly how many people were missing.

Civil Defense officials also said the death toll could rise considerably as casualty reports come in from rural areas.

With the latest figures released Tuesday the death toll climbed from 67 to 84, and the number of evacuees from 52,000 to more than 54,000.

"Nearly 80 percent of the region is under water," said Robert Guimaraes with the Civil Defense office, adding that levels were dropping.

Most people were killed by landslides, said the head of Santa Catarina Civil Defense operations, Marcio Alves. "Most deaths happen when the rain stops and people go out believing that all is well," he said.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has ordered six military helicopters and 350 soldiers to the area to help in relief operations.

More than 160,000 people were without electricity and fresh water supplies were cut to several towns.

Torrential rain hitting the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina actually intensified in recent days, officials said, with a month's amount of precipitation dumped in just five hours on Sunday.

Flood victims looted supermarkets and pharmacies in the port city of Itajai, said Samuel Martins with the local firefighters. The Itajari valley was one of the most heavily affected part of the state.

The most heavily affected towns are Ilhota (population 22,000, 18 dead) and the tourist town of Blumenau (population 297,000, 20 dead) where many German immigrants settled. It is home to an annual Oktoberfest that draws up to one million people.

The level of the Itajai-Acu river that runs through Ilhota swelled 11.5 meters (38 feet) above normal, officials said.

Boats were the only means of transport in many areas, and witnesses spoke of the bodies of dozens of drowned cows littering the road near Blumenau.

Heavy flooding swept away all bridges around Blumenau, said Mayor Joao Paulo Kleinbing. "It will take a year and a half or perhaps two to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure," Kleinbing said.

Heavy rain also damaged one of the lines of the Brazil-Bolivia natural gas line, leaving most of Santa Catarina and the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Sul without gas.


Thursday, 11/20/08

‘Storm dumps 8 inches of rain on east Australia’ – per AP

BRISBANE, Australia — Two strong storms cut power to tens of thousands of homes and flooded streets along Australia's east coast Thursday, sweeping away one woman in her car amid the worst flooding in decades.

The first storm early Thursday dumped almost 8 inches of rain in a matter of hours on Brisbane, Queensland's capital, and surrounding towns. Strong winds lashed coastal areas in the southeast corner of the state.

Power was cut to about 800 homes and businesses, supplier Energex said.


But a second storm swept through the region on Thursday night, cutting power to 45,000 premises, it added.

By late Thursday, most floodwaters had subsided, though more heavy rain was forecast for the coming days.

Nancy Huang said she saw water surge down her street in Brisbane early Thursday and inundate several houses before pouring into her apartment and rising to a height of about 6 feet.

Creeks and drains overflowed into streets and backyards, collapsing bridges, flooding roads and sweeping away everything from backyard toys to cars in the worst flooding in decades, officials said.

Bligh said emergency powers were in place, and troops would be deployed if needed to help clean up.

Part of the same area of the state was declared a disaster zone earlier this week after a storm officials dubbed a mini-cyclone struck on Sunday, tearing roofs off houses, cutting electricity and causing other damage. Troops and other emergency crews were still working in the disaster area when the second storm stuck.


Monday, 11/17/08

‘Storms tear through Australia’s east, killing 1’ – per AP

SYDNEY, Australia — A series of violent storms tore across Australia's east coast, sweeping one man down a storm drain to his death, blowing roofs off houses and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of buildings.

Sunday's storms dumped golf ball-sized hail and torrential rains, causing flash flooding and knocking out power to more than 230,000 homes and businesses along a 112-mile stretch of southeast Queensland state coastline. More than 58,000 customers still had no electricity Monday, energy supplier Energex said.

"It looks like there's been a bomb, a great big bomb go off in all the streets. It's just terrible," Brisbane city resident Davina Thomas told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Monday. "My daughter's had her roof blown off. It's in the pool."


Between 2 and 2 3/4 inches of rain soaked the region, with winds gusting at up to 80 miles per hour, the Bureau of Meteorology reported.

"The only thing that has been anything like it is Cyclone Larry," said Queensland state premier Anna Bligh, referring to the category 5 storm that battered Queensland with 180 mph winds two years ago, devastating farming towns and flattening banana and sugar cane plantations.

The state emergency services department reported it received more than 15,000 calls between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, mainly from people whose roofs were damaged by downed trees or strong winds.

"It was just incredibly terrifying," Brisbane resident Amberlyn Dargrush told ABC radio. "I was scared for my life, my children thought they were going to die."

In the Outback town of Alice Springs, hundreds of tourists were stranded in a separate weekend storm after some areas saw up to 4 1/2 inches of rain, which flooded several main roads. Some roads around Alice Springs remained closed on Monday.


Monday, 11/17/08

‘Flooding in Ethiopia kills 11, maroons hundreds’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A river in Ethiopia's highlands burst its banks after heavy rains, killing 11 people and stranding hundreds more, the state news agency said on Monday.

Flooding from the Wabe Shebelle river in southeast Ethiopia has submerged more than 100 villages, regional relief boss Eremdan Haji was quoted as saying by the Ethiopian News Agency.

"Inhabitants in 116 villages in an area covering a 90-km (56-mile) radius have been stranded on hillocks surrounded by the flood water," he said.

"Efforts to rescue hundreds of marooned people have become impossible due to the extent of land covered by the flood."

Some 6,000 head of livestock and 2,500 hectares of crop were destroyed, the official added, saying the government had sent 18,000 tonnes of food aid to the region near Somalia.

Local officials contacted by Reuters said they had no further information but were on their way to the flood area.


Monday, 11/17/08

‘Heavy lake-effect snow blasts Great Lakes’ – per AP

CONSTABLEVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — A blast of cold wind spread snow along the Great Lakes from Michigan to New York on Monday, dumping 2 feet on this central New York town.

Snow doesn't usually fall this early in Constableville, librarian Dorothy Valenti said.

"Yesterday morning we had none. So it's quite a transition to go from no snow to all this. When you open the door, it's amazing," she said in a telephone interview. "It's strange to have a snow day before Thanksgiving."

Moisture from the lakes produced lake-effect snow on the eastern and southern shores of the lakes.

The deepest was in this snow-prone section of New York, where the National Weather Service said 24 inches had fallen at Constableville, at the east end of Lake Ontario on the Tug Hill Plateau. In western New York, moisture from Lake Erie had turned into 23 inches of snow by midmorning at Ellicottville, south of Buffalo.

In northwest Pennsylvania, Erie reported as much as 14 inches of snow Monday morning and several schools districts in the region closed or delayed classes.

Police reported numerous accidents on slippery roads in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

The weather system producing the snow was moving toward the southeast, and a foot of snow was forecast in parts of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio on Tuesday.

It wasn't the first snowstorm this season in the Northeast. In late October, a storm spread just over a foot of snow over parts of northern New Jersey, northeast Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and New York's Catskill Mountains, and heavy snow also fell at higher elevations of northern New England.


Saturday, 11/15/08

‘Severe storms, tornadoes kill 2 in N.C.’ – per AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A cluster of strong thunderstorms swept across central North Carolina early Saturday and spawned tornadoes, killing two people. A child was also missing.

A woman was found dead in her wrecked home and her son was missing in the community of Kenly, which is about 35 miles southeast of Raleigh, said state police spokeswoman Patty McQuillan. The boy's father was taken to a hospital with injuries.

In neighboring Johnston County, authorities said a child also was killed.


"Tornadoes at night are especially dangerous," said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Blaes. "People are often sleeping and can't be readily notified."

Officials said the severe storm affected a half dozen counties, knocking down tress and power lines. A number of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed.

A Red Cross Shelter was opened at a church in Kenly, and National Weather Service officials were sending crews out to survey the damage.

The storm system moved northeast to the Virginia coast and was expected to weaken, but Blaes warned there was potential for another round of nasty weather along the Carolinas coast Saturday afternoon as a cold front crept across the state.


Thursday, 11/13/08

‘Weather breaks, but rivers still raging’ – Seattle Times

The Puget Sound region will get a break today and, most likely, the rest of the week from the relentless rain that pushed rivers over their banks Wednesday and prompted some areas to declare emergency status.

Flood watches for all Snohomish County rivers were lifted late Wednesday night and the Snoqualmie River was receding this morning. In the Seattle area, the wet weather will take a break today.

In King County, historic flood conditions were reported on the Tolt River, and the Snoqualmie River reached flood stage IV.

In Sumner, the Puyallup River wasn't expected to crest until about 10 p.m. today. In Thurston County, the Nisqually River was not expected to crest until Friday.

No injuries or serious property damage were reported from the wet weather.

Christine Lange, spokeswoman in King County's emergency-management center, said the emergency declaration "allows us to buy resources faster for residents that need immediate help."

Red Cross emergency shelters were opened in Preston in King County, and in Graham and Buckley in Pierce County. Shelters also were set up in Snohomish and Whatcom counties.

Flooding and landslides caused scores of road closures in the region.

The Green River Bridge between Enumclaw and Black Diamond was closed Wednesday after geotechnical experts detected small movements in the soil holding up the bridge. An instrument sent a reading that showed soil movement 40 feet below the bridge, said state transportation department engineer Messay Shiferaw. The bridge could remain closed until Friday.

Residents in flood-threatened areas made hurried preparations Wednesday to escape, loading goods in trucks and cars and piling them in high places.

In downtown Sultan, floodwaters from the Skykomish covered four blocks of Main Street near Highway 2. Sultan High School students were released from classes at about 9 a.m. to help fill sandbags and stack them in front of businesses along Main Street.

Meanwhile, barns at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe have been opened for residents needing shelter for their livestock and large animals. Some 63 horses, 10 cows, four zebras, two mules, 50 chickens and a goat had settled in at the fairground Wednesday, according to Snohomish County officials.

Mount Rainier National Park has closed because of flooding. Heavy rains sent Kautz Creek over its banks and across the Nisqually Road in the park's southwest corner to more than 6 inches.

A small dam has failed at Cosmopolis, Grays Harbor County, flooding several streets and nearby homes with several inches of water. The dam at Mill Creek Park gave way after it was weakened by a falling tree.

There were no injuries, but 12 to 20 homes below the dam ended up with 1 to 2 feet of water, said Mayor Vickie Raines. She said half of the 20-foot-wide, 4-foot-deep partial-concrete dam gave way.


Tuesday, 11/11/08

‘Raul Castro says Cuban storm losses near $10 billion’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has suffered almost $10 billion in damages from the three hurricanes that struck the island this year, President Raul Castro said in a report aired on Tuesday on state-run television.

He made his comments during a visit on Monday to Camaguey province, where officials said 8,000 homes were damaged when Hurricane Paloma struck over the weekend, the report said.

"We're almost getting to $10 billion in losses in the last three months, that's how the economy is," Castro said.

Paloma followed hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which struck 10 days apart in late August and early September and caused destruction across much of the island. Officials said almost 450,000 homes were damaged by the storms.

Initial damage estimates from the first two storms totaled $5 billion but officials have been raising the number in recent days.

Former leader Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for 49 years before his brother Raul replaced him as president in February, wrote in a column on Friday there were $8 billion in damages from Gustav and Ike.

Raul Castro, dressed in military clothes, went to Camaguey a day after Paloma spun itself out over Cuba after coming ashore on Saturday with 120 mile per hour (195 km per hour) winds.

The government has reported no Paloma-related deaths, but a dissident group said Tuesday one person died in the storm.

Castro said 1.2 million people were moved to safety for Paloma and it was "hard to imagine" how bad things would have been had they not been.


Friday 11/07/08

‘Blizzard batters North and South Dakota’ – per AP

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AP) -- A wintry blast of punishing wind and close to 4 feet of snow in places pummeled the Northern Plains on Thursday, stranding unknown numbers of motorists for a day or more and knocking out power to thousands.

State officials said some people could be without power for days, but they had a simple message for anyone thinking of trying to drive in western South Dakota's blizzard: Don't.

"This is a dangerous storm," Gov. Mike Rounds told reporters in a telephone conference call Thursday evening. "Western South Dakota is basically under a no-travel advisory."

A long stretch of Interstate 90 was closed, and Rounds said most of the dozens of vehicles stranded along the stretch of highway had not been moved. Some have been stranded for more than 24 hours, he said, adding that search teams can't get to them because of zero visibility.

"We cannot see a thing in many areas where we're out actually searching for people," said Tom Dravland, state Public Safety secretary, who added that the top speed for some rescue crews was as little as a half-mile per hour.

The storm has dropped 45.7 inches of snow near Deadwood, in the northern Black Hills. Reports of 10 inches to 2 feet of snow were received from many West River counties.

In some towns, residents reported drifts were blocking their doorways, and in the southwestern corner of the state, 20-foot snowdrifts were reported on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Dozens of schools, agencies, businesses and attractions, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, were closed because of the weather, which included wind gusts higher than 50 mph.

The storm also closed Interstate 80 in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

The snow started Wednesday afternoon and was moving east. Greg Harmon of the Sioux Falls National Weather Service office said winds should subside in the west early Friday and in the east later in the day.

The wind and heavy snow caused many power failures, but repair crews can't get to the downed lines because of the blizzard, Rounds said. More than 10,000 customers lost power at some point in Nebraska and South Dakota.


Monday, 11/03/08

‘Floodwaters start to recede in Vietnam capital’ – Yahoo! News per AP

HANOI, Vietnam – The death toll from nearly a week of flooding across northern and central Vietnam stood Monday at 54 and parts of the capital remained under water, but rains were easing and floodwaters receding in many areas.

Hanoi alone recorded 18 deaths since heavy rains started lashing the city Friday, authorities said. Elsewhere, 34 deaths have been reported, authorities said.

More rains were expected in the capital and some northern provinces Monday and Tuesday, but weather forecasters said they would be lighter than the downpours that soaked the capital over the weekend.

That would provide welcome relief to residents of Hanoi, where many streets were under three feet (a meter) of water and scores of businesses remained shuttered.

"I have been stuck in my house for the past three days," said Nguyen Manh Hung, a businessman who lives on a street in southern Hanoi where water reached his waist. "It's unbelievable to see people navigating the street in boats and by horse-drawn carriages."

Vietnamese television on Sunday night quoted Hanoi Mayor Nguyen The Thao as saying it would take the city four or five days to pump excess water into the Red River — longer if heavy rains resume.

More than 20 inches (500 millimeters) of rain have fallen on the city in the past three days, the heaviest rains in more than two decades.

Authorities reported four more deaths Monday morning, with two bodies recovered in northern Vinh Phuc province and two more in Bac Giang province.

Floods have inundated more than 100,000 homes across northern and central Vietnam, the national committee for flood and storm control said on its Web site.

More than 590,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of rice and vegetables have been destroyed and about 100 miles (170 kilometers) of rural roads have been damaged, it said.


Thursday, 10/30/08

‘Thousands without power after winter blast’ – per AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- More snow fell Wednesday in parts of the Northeast as utility crews labored to restore service to thousands of customers blacked out by the region's first big snowstorm of the season.

The wet snow that began falling Tuesday collected on trees still covered with leaves, and its weight combined with gusty wind to send limbs crashing onto power lines.

The National Weather Service reported storm totals of about 14 inches at northern New Jersey's High Point State Park, as much as 15 inches along the northwestern edge of New York's Catskill Mountains, and a foot in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

More wind-blown snow swept through northern Vermont on Wednesday. A lake effect snow warning was in effect for northwestern Pennsylvania, with accumulations of up to 12 inches possible at higher elevations, as wind picked up moisture from Lake Erie. Radar showed new snowfall Wednesday in parts of upstate New York.

More than 40,000 customers remained without power Wednesday in upstate New York, most of them in the Mohawk Valley, Adirondacks and the Catskills, according to utilities National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas.

Crews in New Jersey worked to restore power to more than 41,000 customers, mainly in the northern part of the state. Jersey Central Power and Light said service might not be fully until sometime during the night because fallen trees hampered access to severed power lines.

Snow also fell at higher elevations of the central and southern Appalachians.

School were closed Wednesday in northern West Virginia's mountainous Tucker County, where 6 inches of snow made roads slippery. Two years ago, the county received 6 inches of snow on Oct. 24.

There was even 1 to 3 inches of snow in the mountains of western North Carolina, where one school system closed Wednesday because of slick roads. The earliest recorded snowfall in the Asheville, N.C., area was less than a half inch on Oct. 1, 1952, the weather service said.


Wednesday, 10/29/08

‘Floods kill six in India’s northeast, thousands homeless’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Floods and landslides caused by three days of incessant rain killed six people and left thousands homeless in India's remote northeast, one of the country's most flood-prone regions, officials said on Wednesday.

A sudden wave of flood waters swamped hundreds of villages in the region, destroying houses, farmland and roads, forcing thousands of people to take shelter on high ground, in government buildings and schools.

Three people, including one child, were buried in mudslides and three others were washed away by fast flowing waters in two northeastern mountainous states of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, police said.

In the oil- and tea-rich state of Assam, around 70,000 people have been affected by flash floods, as authorities called rescue workers to evacuate stranded people.

Officials said heavy rains and later the release of excess water from dams by power generating companies in Arunachal Pradesh and neighboring Bhutan caused flooding in the region.

"It all started overnight and we are trying to shift the people to safer places," said Hemkanta Pegu, a local civil servant in Assam's Lakhimpur district.

Though officials set up temporary shelters for the homeless in schools and government buildings, many people have camped on highways under plastic sheets with whatever little they had salvaged of their belongings.

The regional weather office warned of more showers in the next 48 hours in the region.

Floods and landslides are common in the mountainous northeast during the annual monsoon season that normally begins in June and continues through September.

In India, more than 200 people have been killed in rains in this year, 30 of them in the northeast.


Sunday, 10/26/08

‘About 100 dead or missing after floods in Yemen’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

SANAA (Reuters) – About 100 people are dead or missing in Yemen after severe flooding caused by torrential rain affected large areas of the country in the past few days, a government official said Sunday.

Television pictures showed survivors signaling to rescue helicopters in the provinces of Hadramout and Mahra which suffered 30 hours of heavy rain.

"About 7,000 people have been made homeless and there are about 100 dead or missing. We are still trying to gather more exact figures but communications with some of the affected areas have been cut off," the Yemeni official told Reuters.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh called Sunday for parliament to approve 20 billion rials ($100 million) in emergency funding for rescue operations and to help rebuild areas affected by the most serious flooding in decades.

Yemeni authorities have declared the provinces a disaster area and Saleh has toured some of the worst affected regions.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world and its government is grappling with a rebellion in the north, unrest in the south and a resurgence of al Qaeda, while a growing number of Somali refugees stretch its resources to the limit.

Situated at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is prone to flooding during the monsoon season.


Sunday, 10/26/08

‘Britain: Mountain runners stranded by flooding’ – per AP

LONDON, England (AP) -- Hundreds of mountain runners spent the night in tents and hastily organized shelters after a long-distance race in England's Lake District was called off due to heavy rain and flooding, British authorities said Sunday.

By midafternoon Sunday, race organizers said all the participants had been accounted for.

About 2,500 athletes began the Original Mountain Marathon on Saturday before the race was called off, police said. Almost 800 people stayed overnight in shelters, while some 1,700 camped out in the hills.

Competitors were scattered across the 80 kilometer-long (50 miles) course when heavy rain and high winds rolled into much of the Lake District, about 300 miles north of London.

"Most of those unaccounted for will be camping out in their tents and I'm sure they will be fine," said Neil Talbott, who competed in the race. "It was compulsory to bring hypothermia 'space blankets' and camping equipment.

"The event is billed as a tough event and competitors know what they are letting themselves in for. It's held at this time of year annually for a reason because the weather is part of the test," he said.

The area near the race had about 65 millimeters (2.5 inches) of rain over the past 24 hours.


Wednesday, 10/22/08

Data show U.S. riding out worst storms on record’ –

More frequent and powerful hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico since the mid-1990s have created one of the most dangerous and costliest storm eras in recorded history, a USA TODAY analysis of weather data shows.

Since 1995, there have been 207 named storms in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico — a 68% increase from the previous 13 years, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Of those storms, 111 were hurricanes, a 75% increase over the previous period.

This year, with just over one month left in the Atlantic hurricane season, there have been 15 named storms, seven of which have been hurricanes.

The latest to make U.S. landfall were Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which battered the Louisiana and Texas coasts last month, destroyed billions of dollars' worth of homes and businesses, and caused deluges as far inland as Missouri and Chicago.

"We've had quite an intense increase in hurricane activity," said Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "We may be in this cycle for another 20 years."

The increased populations in coastal communities and the loss of wetlands, which serve as a natural buffer against hurricanes, mean the USA is confronting one of the more dangerous and expensive hurricane periods ever, Trenberth said.

Coastal communities enjoyed a relatively calm period for hurricanes from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. Then, in 1995, the Atlantic produced 19 named storms, 11 of them hurricanes, creating the busiest season since 1933, according to NOAA statistics.

The record was shattered in 2005, when 28 named storms formed. More than half were hurricanes. One of them was Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into the Gulf Coast just east of New Orleans and created the costliest disaster in U.S. history.

"It's been busy, without a doubt," Shawn O'Neil, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell, La. "A lot of conversation here has been about the change in philosophy. People are evacuating more than ever before. You can't help but notice it."

Some meteorologists say the increased storm activity is caused by a naturally occurring cycle of activity that hatches more storms in the Atlantic.

"These are likely due to a natural climate fluctuation in the Atlantic," said Chris Landsea, a scientist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Kerry Emanuel, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied climate effect on hurricanes, says global warming and human-caused climate change is contributing. But Landsea has said evidence that global warming is affecting hurricanes "is pretty darn tiny."

The intensity and reach of recent storms also pose a new challenge.

"Storms are not just making landfall and going away the way they did in the past," Trenberth said. "Somehow these storms are able to live longer today."

In August, meteorologists across the country watched in amazement as Tropical Storm Fay crisscrossed Florida a record-breaking four times before dispersing, Trenberth said.

Gustav traveled all the way to Baton Rouge, more than 100 miles from the coast, with hurricane-force winds, surprising thousands of evacuees who had fled there from southern Louisiana. Remnants of Gustav and Ike dumped rain more than 1,000 miles inland, Trenberth said.


Monday, 10/20/08

‘Heavy rains leave 11 dead in Honduras’ – Yahoo! News per AP

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – A week of heavy rains in Honduras has caused landslides and flooding that have killed at least 11 people and left two others missing, officials said Monday.

A landslide before dawn Monday buried a home in the capital, Tegucigalpa, killing two adults and three children, said the head of Honduras' firefighters, Carlos Cordero.

Also killed were a man and child who drowned trying to cross a rain-swollen river in northern Honduras. Officials didn't give details on the other deaths.

Flooding has forced evacuations, claimed crops and cut off communities across Honduras, and emergency officials say things could get worse as rains continue.

Two large landslides have blocked the Coyol River in western Honduras, forming a lake 150 meters (nearly 500 feet) deep at some points and threatening towns downstream.

Authorities are carefully removing the accidental dike so that the lake can slowly drain, but they warn that the process is slow-going.

U.S. soldiers stationed in Honduras have plucked dozens of people off the roofs of their homes in flooded communities. The flooding has also killed many pets and livestock.

President Manuel Zelaya appeared on television and radio late Sunday and urged residents in areas at risk to "immediately evacuate homes so that lives can be saved."


Thursday, 10/17/08

‘Report: Arctic temperatures at record highs’ – per AP

WASHINGTON — Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers reported Thursday.

"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter" to the rest of the world, Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card.

The report, compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, looks at a variety of conditions in the Arctic.

The region has long been expected to be among the first areas to show impacts from global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is largely a result of human activities adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere.

"Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions," said James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "It's a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways."

For example, autumn air temperatures in the Arctic are at a record 9 degrees above normal.

The report noted that 2007 was the warmest year on record the Arctic, leading to a record loss of sea ice. This year's sea ice melt was second only to 2007.

Rising temperatures help melt the ice, which in turn allows more solar heating of the ocean. That warming of the air and ocean affects land and marine life, and reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer.

The study also noted a warming trend on Arctic land and increase in greenness as shrubs move north into areas that were formerly permafrost.

While the warming continues, the rate in this century is less than in the 1990s due to natural variability, the researchers said.

In addition to global warming there are natural cycles of warming and cooling, and a warm cycle in the 1990s added to the temperature rise. Now with a cooler cycles in some areas the rise in temperatures has slowed, but Overland said he expects that it will speed up again when the next natural warming cycle comes around.

Asked if an increase in radiation from the sun was having an effect on the Earth's climate, Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, said while it's important, increased solar output only accounts for about 10% of global warming.

"You can't use solar to say that greenhouse gases are not a major factor," Overland added.

Other findings from the report include:

• The Arctic Ocean continued to warm and freshen due to ice melt. This was accompanied by an "unprecedented" rate of sea level rise of nearly 0.1 inch per year.

• Warming has continued around Greenland in 2007 resulting in a record amount of ice melt. The Greenland ice sheet lost 24 cubic miles of ice, making it the largest single contributor to global sea level rise.


Wednesday, 10/15/08

‘2008 tornado season could blow away records’ –

The 2008 tornado season is on track to set a record for the number of tornadoes in the USA, according to National Weather Service data.

Through July, 1,390 tornadoes were officially recorded in the first seven months of a year — the most ever. The annual record for tornadoes in the USA is 1,817, set in 2004.

"This year, every month has been above average for tornadoes," says Greg Forbes, of the Weather Channel.

"The 123 deaths so far this year are the second most in the Doppler-radar era, behind only 1998, when tornadoes killed 130," Forbes says. He adds that the widespread use of Doppler radar to help predict tornadoes and protect lives began in the early 1990s. "We'd have to go back to 1974, the year of the Super Tornado Outbreak, to have a deadlier year."

Official numbers from the weather service's Storm Prediction Center since Aug. 1 aren't available yet, but preliminary reports for the period since then show as many as 300 tornadoes could be added. On top of that, October and November are usually very active for tornadoes, what's known as the nation's "second tornado season" after the main season in spring.

"We tend to see a peak in the central Plains and Midwest in October, and the Southeast USA in November," says meteorologist Gregory Carbin at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. This month, the center says there have been 17 preliminary reports of tornadoes. Preliminary reports must be checked for duplication.

The number of tornadoes this year already is well above the 1,270 tornadoes the nation normally sees in a year, according to the National Weather Service.

"2008 will compete with 2004 as far as total numbers for the year," Carbin says. "There's a good chance that 2008 will see the greatest number of observed tornadoes on record."

February saw 148 tornadoes, by far a record; the February average is 28, Forbes says. May's 460 tornadoes made it the third most active May on record.

"The pattern in May and June was quite active" Carbin says. "We'd have two to three strong storm systems a week."

Although the number of reports has risen sharply since the early 1990s, Forbes says many of the weaker tornadoes probably would not have been recorded in earlier decades. Reliable tornado records in the USA go back to 1950.

An increase in national Doppler radar coverage, population sprawl into previously little-occupied areas and greater attention to reporting have contributed to the rising number of tornado reports, according to a National Climatic Data Center report.

The report goes on to say that during the past 55 years, there has been little trend in the frequency of strong to violent tornadoes, those at EF-3 or higher on the Enhanced Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity. EF-3 tornadoes have estimated wind speeds of 136 mph and higher.

As for future tornado trends in the USA because of climate change, a warning was sounded in 2007, when two separate studies predicted there would be an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the USA due to global warming by the year 2100.


Tuesday, 10/14/08

‘Season’s First Winter Storm Proves to be Record-Breaking’ –

The first major winter storm has ended across the Mountain West, not without leaving behind impressive snowfall totals.

Nearly two feet of snow has fallen in Billings, Mont., 30 inches of the white stuff was reported in Mystic Lake, Mont., while 42 inches of snow has been reported outside of Red Lodge, Mont.

In Wyoming, Homestead Park reported 33 inches, while Marquette reported 22 inches. The heavy snow has also reached into the Dakotas where reports of 2 to 12 inches have come in across western North and South Dakota.

The snowfall also set records in Montana and Wyoming. Glasgow, Mont., set a record snowfall on Sunday of 12.8 inches, shattering the previous record of 11.5 inches set back on October 12, 1924. This is also the most snow to fall in any one day in October for Glasgow. Billings, Mont., set a record snowfall for October 12th as well. A total of 3.5 inches fell, breaking the old record of 1.8 inches in 1981.

The weekend snowstorm will also go down in the record books in Lander, Wyo., as the greatest snow to ever hit during the month of October and the seventh largest snowstorm of all time. 29.7 inches will eclipse the old record set during a snowstorm on October 30th through November 1st of 1920 where 27.6 inches fell.

This powerful storm was due to a complex and highly unusually - - for early October - - western weather pattern. First off, a large trough formed over the Great Basin. This unlocked cold air over west-central Canada, allowing it to stream southward across the Rockies.

If that wasn`t enough, a surface low tracking across the northern Rockies was fed by plenty of moisture streaming from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. This combination of ample moisture and cold air placed the northern Mountain West in the bulls-eye for this heavy wet snow.

The power of this storm was felt across the southern and central Plains in the form of heavy rain. The storm is tapping tropical moisture streaming north from the eastern Pacific and dumping several inches of heavy rain while producing embedded thunderstorms. Localized flash flooding remains possible.

Because of this, a Flash Flood Watch has been extended for the Texas panhandle until Tuesday afternoon. The highest rainfall totals over the weekend were in the range of 1 to 1.50 inches.


Saturday, 10/04/08

‘Death toll from Haiti storms nearly 800’ –

The death toll from a string of hurricanes and tropical storms in Haiti has risen to nearly 800 people, an official with the Haitian Red Cross says.

Jean Pierre Guiteau, the group's executive officer, said they suspected the numbers may climb further because many people were still missing.

Heavy rainfall from four major storms in August and September created fatal flooding and mudslides in Haiti.

Tropical Storm Fay caused flooding and significant damage when it hit the impoverished island nation. Heavy rains from Hurricane Gustav, considered a major hurricane, caused destructive mudslides after it made landfall in Haiti on August 26, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical Storm Hanna passed over northern Haiti in early September, bringing heavy rain and flooding. Ike, another major hurricane, caused flooding and mudslides.

The United States has provided more than $30 million in humanitarian assistance to Haiti in the wake of the storms, the U.S. Agency for International Development said. The United Nations' Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated more than $4 million for post-hurricane humanitarian aid, the agency said.

The U.S. Navy sent the USS Kearsarge to Haiti last month to deliver more than 1,400 metric tons of relief supplies, in support of USAID and the World Food Program. It delivered heavy lift helicopters to carry rice, water, plywood and other supplies to Haitians, and also carried medical and engineering teams to remote parts of the country.

Even before the tropical weather struck Haiti, an estimated 2.3 million Haitians had fallen into food insecurity, with dramatic increases in prices for staple foods, USAID has said.


Thursday, 10/02/08

‘Flooding in Algerian oasis kills 30, damages hundreds of homes’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

Flooding following rare torrential rains on the edge of the Algerian desert have killed at least 30 people and injured 50, while damaging hundreds of homes, officials said Thursday.

Algeria's Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said the floods are the worst for a century and warned of higher casualties in Ghardaia, some 600 kilometres (375 miles) south of Algiers in the M'Zab Valley, a UN World Heritage site.

"Based on the overflight that we made, the toll unfortunately could be greater," Zerhouni told reporters after meeting local authorities in the region, which links the High Plateau area with the Sahara.

Rain had been falling since Monday in the region.

The government previously said 13 people had been killed in the floods, which have damaged some 600 homes, many of them in oasis areas.

A local resident reached by telephone by AFP suggested the toll could indeed be higher in the Algerian region following the first rainfall in four years.

"The population even talks of about a hundred victims and up to one thousand houses flooded," he said, while adding that the rainfall, which began Monday and continued Tuesday, had become "a deluge" by Wednesday.

The resident also said seasonal rivers had filled up and spilled into a larger one, which then flooded, sweeping away everything in its path.

"The authorities spoke of a flow of 900 cubic metres (32,000 cubic feet) per second," he added.

Several areas in Algeria were lashed by heavy rain over two days including Djelfa -- midway between Ghardaia and Algiers -- where two people died.

Meanwhile a journalist for radio station Chaine 3 described the floods as an "incomparable catastrophe."

"It is like nothing I have seen before. There was up to eight metres (26 feet) of water in the town's narrow back streets and residents of Ghardaia palm grove have had to seek refuge on the houses' terraces or anywhere high up," he said.

Algeria is no stranger to bad weather, particularly in the north. Flooding in the Algiers region in 2001 killed more than 800 people and caused considerable damage.


Monday, 09/29/08

‘Maine spared rare hit by hurricane, Kyle in Canada’ – Yahoo! News per AP

It threatened to be the first hurricane in 17 years to make landfall in Maine. Instead, Kyle delivered little more than a glancing blow equivalent to that of a classic nor'easter.

Heavy rain pounded the nation's northeastern tip Sunday night as residents accustomed to winter blizzards hunkered down while the weakening storm moved through the Gulf of Maine and into the Canadian Maritimes.

Maine emergency responders braced for wind gusts as high as 60 mph and waves up to 20 feet, but the Category 1 hurricane took a turn to the east, weakening to a tropical storm as it made landfall in Nova Scotia and pressed northeastward toward New Brunswick.

On Monday, Kyle weakened to a post-tropical storm but 70 mph winds and heavy rains continued to buffet Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, leaving thousands without electricity. The storm moved north of Nova Scotia's Prince Edward Island.

In Canada, the storm arrived on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm that killed two people and caused an estimated $100 million in damage. Canadian officials said Kyle's impact would not be as severe.

In Maine, as much as 7 inches of rain fell in three days along some coastal areas. Flood watches were lifted Sunday in southern Maine and New Hampshire as the rain let up, but remained in effect in eastern Maine.

Down East residents are accustomed to rough weather, but it most often comes in the winter when nor'easters howl along the coast. Maine hasn't had anything like a hurricane since Bob was downgraded as it moved into the state in 1991 after causing problems in southern New England.

Nova Scotia Power was reporting 12,000 outages in communities along the south shore, while New Brunswick Power said about 680 customers lost power in the Sussex area.

The preparations in Canada come exactly five years after hurricane Juan tore through the region as a powerful category 2 force storm, causing millions in damages to homes, boats and parks that lost thousands of trees. Juan killed two people and caused an estimated $100 million in damages.


Monday, 09/29/08

‘At 6.5 inches so far, Cape rains persist’ – Cape Cod Times

And the rain keeps falling, with only a brief respite in sight.

Rains topped out at 6.5 inches as of 5 p.m. yesterday in some areas of the Cape and Islands, thanks to three separate rain-inducing weather systems that have moved through the area since Friday morning, according to officials from the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Despite a brief break in the seemingly never-ending precipitation, starting this afternoon, more showers are expected as early as tomorrow night, sparking concerns over some "urban-type flooding," said Glenn Field, a warning coordination meteorologist from the Weather Service.

Spotters from the Weather Service reported that Sagamore and West Tisbury had received the brunt of the precipitation, with 6.5 and 6.48 inches of rainfall, respectively, the most recorded in four of the six affected New England states, the Weather Service reported last night.

Hyannis had received just under 4 inches of rain since Friday morning, Chatham received 4.43 inches, and East Falmouth, 6.17 inches.


Saturday, 09/27/08

‘Heavy rains leave region waterlogged’ – Boston Globe

Emergency officials last night urged communities across the state to have their emergency response plans ready and plenty of sandbags in place after a day of heavy rain, with precipitation expected to continue through the weekend.

"Basically, all of Massachusetts is under the gun with this one," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for most of Massachusetts yesterday as close to 3 inches of rain drenched southern New England. Heavy rain is expected to continue through tomorrow, according to meteorologists.

Bands of even heavier precipitation were expected to dump up to 3 more inches of water on some communities last night.

"The problem is it's almost impossible to tell where those bands are going to be," Judge said. "There's basically no way to prepare for this."

Despite the wet weather, no serious car crashes were reported by yesterday evening, said Lieutenant Eric Anderson, a State Police spokesman.

"Around rush hour there was a lot of minor stuff, probably because of the volume of traffic, people going home," Anderson said.

Judge said the emergency management agency held two conference calls with meteorologists and emergency responders across the state yesterday. "There's certainly the potential for serious flooding at this point," he said.

Berklee College of Music was forced to cancel today's BeanTown Jazz Festival, which drew 70,000 music lovers to Columbus Avenue near Northeastern University last year.

"We had no other choice," said Nick Balkin, a Berklee spokesman. "The logistics of moving such a big event is too daunting."


Friday, 09/26/08

‘Storm comes ashore in Carolinas, brings rain, wind’ – per AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A storm that never quite gained tropical strength or a name over the Atlantic blew ashore with drenching rain Friday in the Carolinas, knocking out power and sending rain, gusty winds and high surf far up the Atlantic seaboard.

Although the center of the storm was well to the south, forecasters said it was so large that rain and some wind would be felt in the Northeast. Small craft advisories, meaning strong winds or gusts and choppy seas, were issued from Savannah, Ga., to Maine.

"Much of the winds have diminished," said meteorologist Dave Loewenthal at the National Weather Service in Wilmington. "It's a very large system. It goes all up and down the eastern seaboard."

Loewenthal said the system's center would "continue west throughout the day and then make a more northerly track along the Appalachians. You can have a lot of rain on the east side of the mountains, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem."

A dozen houses were condemned in the Outer Banks town of Nags Head when waves exposed septic tanks, WRAL-TV reported. Officials said wind-driven tides flooded NC Highway 12 at times on Hatteras Island.

Forecasters said the storm lacked the ingredients of a tropical system, but had looked enough like one that the National Hurricane Center sent aircraft into it several times to explore.

"This was very close to a tropical system," said Brandon Vincent of the National Weather Service office in Raleigh. "Before it came inland, it had a pretty impressive radar impression that was reminiscent of a tropical storm."

By 9 a.m. Friday, the storm center was about 70 miles inland from Myrtle Beach, S.C., near the North Carolina border and had weakened, said Brandon Vincent of the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

Vincent said the storm would bring up to 2 inches of rain to some parts of the Carolinas after setting a daily record of 4.16 inches in Wilmington on Thursday. Winds would gust up to 30 mph in the western Piedmont area before dying out in the afternoon.


Friday, 09/26/08

’16 dead from heavy rains in southwest China’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Flash floods and landslides unleashed by heavy rains have killed 16 people in one of the areas hit hardest by the massive May earthquake in China's Sichuan province, the local government said Friday.

About 20,000 people affected by the floods were evacuated and have been moved to safer places and given food and water, the city's Communist Party propaganda department said in a statement.

"So far, we have moved 18,000 residents who were threatened with danger to safe areas. We are now relocating the other 2,000," a government official was quoted by official Xinhua News Agency as saying.

The flooding and landslides since Wednesday also have left 48 people missing and 360 people injured in Sichuan's Mianyang city, the agency said. More than 42,000 houses have been destroyed.

Xinhua reported that rescuers were struggling to repair damaged roads and to restore water and electricity supplies.

The bad weather and landslides come as large parts of Sichuan province are still recovering from the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 and left 5 million homeless.

Since then, the government has been rebuilding schools, roads and other infrastructure in the area.

Many of the counties hit by the latest heavy rains had been ravaged by the earthquake, including Beichuan in northern Sichuan, which was almost completely flattened. The quake also left another 18,000 people missing and presumed dead.

Nine died in Beichuan in the flooding. Xinhua said many prefabricated houses put up after the earthquake had been washed away.


Monday, 09/22/08

‘Heavy rains drench Puerto Rico’ – per AP

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Heavy rains drenched Puerto Rico on Monday as a slow-moving tropical disturbance lingered over the U.S. Caribbean territory, killing four people, flooding streets and neighborhoods and forcing public schools to close.

The tempest, which was in no immediate danger of turning into a tropical storm or hurricane, turned hillside streets into torrents of water and low-lying communities into ponds.

Firefighters and rescue crews spent much of the day helping people stranded in deluged towns along the island's southern coast, where scores of residents took refuge in shelters.

The mayor of the south-central town of Penuelas, Walter Torres Maldonado, said burial vaults popped up out of the drenched ground in the municipal cemetery, disgorging a few coffins.

Rivers crested their banks near the southeast town of Yabucoa. Bulldozers on Monday were shoving aside mud that caked city streets and oozed into several homes.

More than 24 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Patillas county in southeastern Puerto Rico, said Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila. At a news conference, he warned that 12 more inches could fall in the next 24 hours.

Damage from the rains will cost the U.S. island's agriculture industry at least $14 million, according to Ramon Gonzalez, president of Puerto Rico's Farmers Association. He said bananas and coffee were the crops hardest hit.

In the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands, the government issued a flash-flood watch for the three-island territory. Authorities also declared a small-craft advisory, warning of waves up to 9 feet high. There were no reports of injuries or major damage.

The rain is expected to slowly move north toward the Bahamas. The storm comes on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Georges, which caused more than $2 billion in damage in Puerto Rico.


Sunday, 09/21/08

‘India floods, rains kill 173, say officials’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

The death toll due to heavy rains and flooding over the weekend across India shot up to 173 with the air force rescuing a revered Tibetan spiritual leader, officials said Sunday.

Most of the casualties were reported from India's most populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh with 110 people dead in rain related accidents, revenue secretary Balwinder Kumar said in state capital Lucknow.

Further north, in the tourist state of Himachal Pradesh, state officials said 46 had died due to heavy rains lashing the state.

In eastern Orissa, 17 people were washed away and 2.4 million people left homeless after four rivers burst their banks and flooded villages, senior official Ajit Kumar Tripathy said Sunday in state capital Bhubaneswar.

In Uttar Pradesh, Kumar said incessant rains and strong winds triggered house collapses which killed many victims.

Further north, rains felled trees and severed power lines in Himachal Pradesh, blocking roads and bridges and cutting off electricity to houses, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said.

Indian air force helicopters, dropping food, medicines and supplies to affected people, also ferried the Karmapa Lama, who heads the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, to safety, Dhumal said.

The Karmapa Lama -- Ugyen Trinley Dorje -- ranks only behind the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in the Tibetan spiritual hierarchy.

Another helicopter dropped food and other essentials to 45 trekkers including 25 foreigners stranded in the high altitude Lahaul valley, he added.

Sudha Devi, a senior Himachal administration official said at least 150 tourists had been evacuated from the snow covered 13,050 feet (3,977 metres) high Rohtang Pass on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in eastern Orissa state, about 266,000 people were evacuated to safer places after heavy rains and water overflowing from brimming dams inundated large parts of the state, Tripathy said.

"According to initial reports, 1,849 villages in coastal Orissa are under water," he said.

Indian Air Force helicopters dropped food packets to people in the worst affected districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara, he added.


Saturday, 09/20/08

‘$6B storm? Ike’s economic impact is felt widely’ – per AP

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Shrimpers and oystermen lost their boats to the muck. Tourist areas on the coast that should be bustling at the start of convention season are flattened. Lingering power outages are keeping offices empty and restaurants closed from Texas through the Midwest.

It will take months or more to tally Hurricane Ike's financial toll, but one thing is clear: Almost nobody in its path escaped unscathed.

"Every industry has been impacted by this storm," said Jeff Sjostrom, president of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership.

The storm carried hurricane-force winds as far north as Kentucky — which suffered its widest power outage in history — and driving rain clear into New England. More than 500,000 people remained without power Friday in Kentucky and Ohio; schools in Louisville, were to open Monday after Ike closed them for a week.

Risk Management Assessment Inc., which quantifies risks for insurance companies, estimated Ike's impact would land in the low end of the $6 billion to $16 billion in insured losses that the firm initially predicted.

In Texas, power has been restored to more than half the customers who lost electricity during the storm. The fuel industry reports that more than 75% of retail stations have resumed operations and nearly 100% of terminals were operating, Gov. Rick Perry said.

"I urge Texans to stay where they are as local leaders work around the clock to bring necessary utilities back online," Perry said.

In Houston, where the booming energy industry has kept the nation's fourth-largest city economically stable in a nationwide slump, the outlook was downright positive. The city's port survived with minimal damage, and the Gulf of Mexico's oil and gas production barely took a dent.

Ike crashed ashore last weekend near the mouth of Galveston Bay, which produces about 15 million pounds of seafood each year. Shrimpers and oystermen there will practically have to start over. Even those who can salvage their trawlers will have to cope with the carpet of debris Ike dumped on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

Seafood wholesalers were hit hard, too. Ike destroyed the docks owned by Prestige Oysters Inc., one of the biggest harvesters in the Gulf, and slid its shrimp houses off their slabs. Owner Lisa Halili is wondering what to do with an arriving flock of immigrant fishermen who hold work visas but not jobs.

More than half the oysters sold in the eastern U.S. come from Louisiana and Texas. But Ike killed oyster reefs with waves of shocking saltwater, and officials say Ike's march through Galveston Bay will be catastrophic to an industry that generates more than $100 million annually.

"This storm, nobody realizes, has totally wiped out the industry," Halili said. "You can't buy an oyster reef."

Representatives of Louisiana's $2.6 billion seafood industry are asking the state's congressional delegation for federal relief. Early estimates indicate the industry sustained up to $300 million in economic losses to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Cattle ranchers lost entire herds in some Texas counties, and animals not among the 4,000 killed right away may still die from eating the grass or drinking water tainted by salt.

More than 11,000 workers have filed unemployment insurance claims in the wake of Ike, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The longer it takes to reopen schools and businesses, the greater the risk that Galveston's best workers will be snapped up by other areas.

In the short term, the area will benefit from the huge influx of government recovery spending and insurance money, said Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough, the county's highest-ranking elected official. But the recovery will be uneven.

"Property values are probably going to take a punch in the stomach," and many people will initially be afraid to rebuild, Yarbrough said.

Most of Galveston's workforce is stuck off the island, which will remain closed to residents for at least another week. The city decided its water, sewer and electrical infrastructure was too badly damaged to support its population of nearly 60,000.

At the same time, out-of-state recovery crews stream onto the island every day, snapping up business that local companies need to stay afloat.

"Why can't we get our own people here?" asked Patricia Bolton-Legg, who runs Competitive Electric with her husband. "We get all of these out-of-towners here. They're going to take our business."

Ike slammed Galveston in the midst of a nearly decade-long economic renaissance. About $2.5 billion of new construction was underway when Ike swamped the narrow island, Sjostrom said. About 80% of the island's structures are still standing, so Galveston will not be starting from scratch.

Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said she is optimistic that crowds could pack the city's downtown again as soon as late October.

"We've had a lot of storms here," she said. "People will come back."


Sunday, 09/14/08

‘Remnants of Hurricane Ike Drench Midwest’ – per AP,8599,1841119,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-topics

The remnants of Ike dumped as much as 6 to 8 inches of rain in parts of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, spawned a tornado Arkansas that damaged several buildings, and delivered hurricane-force winds to Ohio, forcing Cincinnati's main airport to temporarily shut down.

Dozens of residents were rescued by boat down streets with thigh-high water in Chicago and flooding in Missouri closed the street in front of St. Louis' famed Gateway Arch.

In the northwest Indiana town of Munster, 700 homes were evacuated because of flooding. Munster Town Manager Tom DeGuilio said it would likely be several days before they could return home.

Across the state line, Saturday's rainfall of 6.64 inches at O'Hare International Airport set a record for a single calendar day. The previous record was 6.49 inches, recorded on Aug. 14, 1987. Climate records for Chicago date from 1871.

Several Chicago area rivers, including the Des Plaines, Fox, Kankakee and Little Calumet, were at or above flood stage Sunday, threatening homes, businesses and schools, the National Weather Service said.

In Missouri, winds as high as 60 mph and torrential rains of up to 7 inches raised new concerns about swelling rivers. Major flooding was expected along the Mississippi from Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau by late this week, the National Weather Service said.

In Arkansas, storms bands knocked out power to more than 200,000 customers and brewed a tornado in the central region of the state, the National Weather Service said.

The twister damaged the roof of an apartment building, destroyed a self-storage unit, tore up metal buildings, knocked down business signs and took down a number of utility poles, the weather service said.

Strong winds prompted the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to evacuate it's control tower and cancel about 40 flights before resuming air traffic, airport spokesman Ted Bushelman said.

Strong gusts ripped off part of the roof from a Delta Airlines hangar and damaged another airport building, Bushelman said. He said winds were up to 74 mph.


Monday, 09/08/08

‘Ike slams Cuba, Haiti death toll posses 600’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

Hurricane Ike raged over Cuba early Monday, pummeling the island with gale force winds and torrential rain after killing dozens in beleaguered Haiti and worsening its growing humanitarian disaster.

The second hurricane to strike in less than a week prompted more than 800,000 people to evacuate coastal areas of eastern Cuba. More than 9,000 foreign tourists were moved out of the resort of Varadero.

The hurricane made landfall at Punta Lucrecia late Sunday, the head of Cuba's meteorological service, Jose Rubiera, told state television.

Packing 120-mile (195-kilometer) per hour winds, Ike is the second powerful storm in just eight days to strike Cuba, following Hurricane Gustav.

"In all of Cuba's history, we have never had two hurricanes this close together," lamented Rubeira.

Ike plowed across the Turks and Caicos as a powerful Category Four storm late Saturday, causing injuries and extensive damage on the British territory and tourist haven, before weakening.

The hurricane raked the Bahamas island of Great Inagua, toppling trees, blowing off roofs, causing an island-wide power failure and forcing many of its 1,000 to seek emergency refuges.

The main concern is now in Haiti, where four storms in three weeks have killed at least 600 people and left hundreds of thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.

Officials continued aid operations in the flood-stricken town of Gonaives, devastated by flooding from Tropical Storm Hanna. Another 47 people perished in the village of Cabaret, near Port-au-Prince, in flooding caused by Ike, officials said.

"Many homes were destroyed in Cabaret, and we have seen some bodies of children in the water," a journalist for UN radio who spent the night on the roof of his house told AFP.

Hundreds of bodies were found in Gonaives, a town of 350,000 in northwestern Haiti, after a five-meter (16-foot) wall of water and mud engulfed much of the town.

UN peacekeepers on Saturday evacuated several thousand residents from Gonaives, a local official said, but thousands more are still awaiting relief.

Some 650,000 Haitians have been affected by the flooding, including 300,000 children, and the task of delivering crucial aid has been complicated by dismal transport conditions, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Officials said 200,000 people were without food and clean water, many for four days.

"What has happened here is unimaginable," member of parliament Pierre-Gerome Valcine told AFP from Cabaret, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital.

Massive flooding over the past week in the poorest country in the Americas has triggered a humanitarian crisis that was worsening by the day.

Pope Benedict XVI said special prayers for the stricken country.

"I want to remember the dear population of Haiti, greatly distressed in recent days by passing hurricanes," Benedict told pilgrims on the Italian island of Sardinia.

More stormy weather hampered relief efforts Sunday. Heavy rains brought down a key bridge which severed the only viable land route to Gonaives.

The bridge gave way at the town of Mirebalais in central Haiti, forcing three trucks loaded with emergency supplies and bound for Saint-Marc, where thousands of desperate refugees from Gonaives were crowding into shelters, to turn back, according to a World Food Programme official.

Many bridges in other areas of Haiti have also collapsed, homes have been washed away and crops ravaged.


Monday, 09/08/08

‘Hanna’s torrents leave Mass. unscarred’ – Boston Globe, p. B2

While Massachusetts was spared the brunt of Tropical Storm Hanna's fury, Manchester, N.H., was unexpectedly socked with torrential rains flooding streets, homes, and the city's police station, where telephone service was temporarily cut, officials said.

Three to 6 inches of rain fell throughout New England Saturday night into yesterday morning, according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

About 6.5 inches of rain pounded Manchester, quickly causing extensive flooding, Fire Chief Jim Burkush said. Flood waters forced some businesses to close, left three homes uninhabitable, and damaged more than a dozen others. It also stranded drivers and passengers in cars, officials said.

Fire Chief Michael Gemache said preliminary damage estimates are in the millions of dollars.

A "deluge of water" flooded the basement of the Manchester Police Department, causing "huge damage" to a firearms range and garage, Burkush said. At least one police cruiser and two or three motorcycles were damaged, as well as ammunition and gymnasium equipment, he said.

The Police Department's phone lines went down, and 911 calls were rerouted to the fire station next door until the system was fixed yesterday afternoon, Gemache said.

The Crosbie Street area was flooded due to overflow from nearby Goldfish Pond, and several people had to be rescued from flooded homes by fire boats. Officers also rescued people trapped in their cars, as waters rose in the Beech Street area near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Coliseum, he said.

No injuries were reported, Gemache said.

"This really has never happened to this magnitude in this neighborhood, including in the floods we had several years ago," Gemache said. "Once all is said and done, they're going to find out why this happened."

Firefighters responded to almost 200 calls for flooded basements, some of which had residual water 8 feet deep, Burkush said.

Cape Cod residents had prepared for damaging winds from Hanna, but were largely spared, meteorologist Dunham said.

"The winds didn't get up quite as high as we thought they would, but that's because the storm was weakening," Dunham said. "They pretty much lucked out."

The highest wind gust reported was just before midnight Saturday in Falmouth, at 56 miles per hour, according to meteorologist Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, also at the National Weather Service in Taunton.

In New Hampshire, 1,200 customers of Public Service of New Hampshire were without power yesterday afternoon. Spokeswoman Nury Marquez said that Saturday night, 3,800 customers experienced outages. She said the company expected to restore power to all users by last night.


Thursday, 09/04/08

‘Strongest storms linked to global warming’ – International Herald Times

A new study finds that the strongest of hurricanes and typhoons have become even stronger over the past two and a half decades, adding grist to the contentious debate over whether global warming has already made storms more destructive.

"I think we do see a climate signal here," said James Elsner, a professor of geography at Florida State University who is the lead author of the paper, published Thursday in the journal Nature.

The study, which also found that more typical, less powerful tropical storms had not become stronger over the 26-year period studied, is consistent with other researchers' hurricane models, Elsner said.

With oceans expected to continue warming, "one would expect more 4s and 5s," he said of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes, those with maximum sustained winds of at least 131 miles, or 210 kilometers, per hour.

About 90 tropical cyclone storms form each year around the world. In the Atlantic, the stronger ones, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour, are hurricanes; the equivalents in the Pacific and Indian oceans are typhoons. Ten named storms have formed in the Atlantic this hurricane season, which continues to the end of November.

Heat from the warming oceans will provide more energy to spin up hurricanes and typhoons, but the changing climate could also heighten conditions like wind shear - winds blowing at different speeds and different directions at different altitudes - which tend to tear a storm apart.

Because of these environmental factors, most storms fall far short of their maximum possible intensity. But Elsner, along with Thomas Jagger, a postdoctoral researcher at Florida State, and James Kossin, a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reasoned that warmer waters increased the possible intensity and that storms that develop in ideal conditions might have become stronger.

By examining satellite data from 1981 through 2006, a period in which sea surface temperature rose to 83.3 degrees Fahrenheit (28.5 degrees Celsius) from 82.8 degrees (28.2), they concluded that the highest wind speeds of the strongest storms averaged 156 mph in 2006, up from 140 mph in 1981. The increases in cyclone intensity were greatest in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

However, Thomas Knutson of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University said the data involved too short a period to draw long-term conclusions. "One is left with a very suggestive result and a very interesting result," Knutson said, "but it's not a definitive smoking gun for a greenhouse warming signal on hurricanes."


Thursday, 09/04/08

‘Hanna death toll rises to 137 in Haiti’ – per AP

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) — Haiti's government says the death toll from Tropical Storm Hanna has more than doubled to 137, with most of the deaths coming in the flooded port city of Gonaives.

Virtual lakes have formed over every road in the city and officials are attempting to get food and water to residents who were stranded.

Another 22 deaths were confirmed in areas immediately surrounding the coastal city.

"If they don't have food, it can be dangerous," Sen. Youri Latortue said Thursday after arriving from Haiti's capital. "They can't wait."

Half the homes in the low-lying city of 160,000 remain flooded in Hanna's wake, estimated Lt. Sergio Hoj, spokesman for the Argentine battalion.

Some 250,000 people are affected in the Gonaives region, including 70,000 in 150 shelters across the city, according to an international official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Gonaives lies in a flat river plain between the ocean and deforested mountains that run with mud even in light rains. Hanna swirled over Haiti for four days, dumping vast amounts of water, blowing down fruit trees and ruining stores of food as it swamped tin-roofed houses.

Many of the thousands of people who fled to rooftops, balconies and higher ground have gone without food for days, and safe drinking water was in short supply as the fetid carcasses of drowned farm animals bobbed in soupy floodwaters.

Businesses were closed — both because of flooding and for fear of looting.

People in water up to their knees shouted to peacekeepers to give them drinking water, and women on balconies waved empty pots and spoons.

The Argentine soldiers have plucked residents from rooftops that were the only visible parts of their houses, but had little capacity to deliver food and water.

"It is a great movement of panic in the city," Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told the AP from a U.N. speedboat.

The Gonaives area accounted for most of the 2,000 victims of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004. Some residents said the current flooding was at least as bad.

"This is worse than Jeanne," said Carol Jerome, who fled from Gonaives on Tuesday.

Haiti's government has few resources to help. Rescue convoys have been blocked by huge lakes that formed over every road into town. Associated Press journalists rode in with the first group of U.N. troops to reach the city aboard Zodiac boats.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince declared a disaster situation, freeing $100,000 in emergency aid, spokeswoman Mari Tolliver said. She said hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and water jugs for up to 5,000 families were expected to arrive from Miami on Thursday, but the biggest problem is reaching the victims.

Food for the Poor managed to get a shipment of food and water to Gonaives on Thursday, and expects to distribute rice, beans, clothes, boots and generators in the next couple of days.

"The situation in Gonaives is catastrophic," Daniel Rouzier, Haiti chairman of the Florida-based nonprofit, wrote in an e-mail. "We, just like the rest of the victims ... have limited mobility. You can't float a boat, drive a truck or fly anything to the victims."

He said waters have receded in some places, leaving behind an almost a 7-foot high wall of mud.

"Please note that thousands of people have not had a sip of water in 36 hours," he wrote.

That includes about 1,500 people huddled in a shelter nicknamed the "Haiti Hilton," where Jezula Preval was caring for her healthy baby boy, born Tuesday night after floodwaters swallowed her house. "I lost everything, even the baby's clothes," she said.

The situation was dire elsewhere in Haiti as well. Floodwaters swamped a hospital near southwestern Les Cayes, and nurses moved patients to higher floors. At least 5,000 people in Les Cayes were in shelters, said Jean-Renand Valiere, a coordinator for the civil protection department.


Wednesday, 09/03/08

‘Huge ice sheet breaks loose in Canadian arctic’ – MSNBC per AP

TORONTO - A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada's northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday.

Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario, told The Associated Press that the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf separated in early August and the 19-square-mile shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

"The Markham Ice Shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared. We went under cloud for a bit during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf. It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Mueller.

Mueller also said that two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, shrinking that ice feature by 47 square miles — or 60 percent — and that the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has also continued to break up, losing an additional eight square miles.

Mueller reported last month that seven square miles of the 170-square-mile and 130-feet-thick Ward Hunt shelf had broken off.

This comes on the heels of unusual cracks in a northern Greenland glacier, rapid melting of a southern Greenland glacier, and a near record loss for Arctic sea ice this summer. And earlier this year a 160-square mile chunk of an Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated.

"Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer," said Luke Copland, director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. "And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years."

Formed by accumulating snow and freezing meltwater, ice shelves are large platforms of thick, ancient sea ice that float on the ocean's surface but are connected to land.

Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s. All that is left today are the four much smaller shelves that together cover little more than 299 square miles.

Martin Jeffries of the U.S. National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks said in a statement Tuesday that the summer's ice shelf loss is equivalent to over three times the area of Manhattan, totaling 82 square miles — losses that have reduced Arctic Ocean ice cover to its second-biggest retreat since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.

"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," said Mueller.

During the last century, when ice shelves would break off, thick sea ice would eventually reform in their place.

"But today, warmer temperatures and a changing climate means there's no hope for regrowth. A scary scenario," said Mueller.

The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University's Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.

"The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it's disappeared, we're looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction,' said Mueller.

Tuesday, 09/02/08

‘Monsoon misery spreads in India’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

Heavy rains and rising floodwaters forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in northeastern India and sent elephants and rhinos fleeing, as monsoon misery spread in South Asia.

In the eastern Indian state of Bihar, desperate flood victims attacked a warehouse and looted food supplies, while in neighboring Bangladesh major rivers rose to danger levels and fresh parts of the country were submerged.

In the northeastern state of Assam, heavy rains caused water levels to rise on Tuesday, affecting more than a million people and disrupting road networks for the second consecutive day.

Animals fled to higher ground in Kaziranga National Park after the Brahmaputra burst its banks and flooded most of the park, home to more than half of the world's population of one-horned rhinoceros.

At least two rhino calves were drowned and a herd of 100 elephants were swept away by floodwaters, forest officials said.

"We are now worried the poachers will take advantage and kill rhinos and elephants as they are moving out of the protected areas to safer ground," said chief warden S. N. Buragohain.

In Bihar, the floods have already displaced about three million people and killed at least 90.

Hundreds of stick-wielding villagers ransacked a food warehouse in Madhepura district and looted food packets while police guarding the warehouse ran for cover. Government vehicles carrying food were also looted.

"We cannot stop incidents despite our best efforts," Bijendra Prasad Yadav, a state relief official, told Reuters. "These are very common during flood time."

Many villagers in impoverished Bihar have been marooned on rooftops for days with nothing to eat, while some have taken to eating plants and leaves to survive.

The Kosi river burst a dam in Nepal late last month flooding hundreds of villages across the state and destroying 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of farmlands.

Television images showed desperate villagers driving their livestock into the Kosi river because they had no food for them.

Since the monsoon began in South Asia in June, more than 1,000 people have died in floods, with most of the casualties recorded in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh in July.

Some experts have blamed the floods on heavier monsoon rains caused by global warming, while others say authorities have failed to take preventive measures and improve infrastructure.

Although floodwaters are rising in Assam and Bangaldesh, water levels in Bihar are receding and the government aims to evacuate all stranded villagers within the next three days.

Aid agencies have criticized the government's handling of the crisis saying they should have done more to anticipate the disaster and plan relief operations since the region is hit by monsoon flooding every year.

In Bihar, more than 560,000 people have been evacuated so far, and some 200,000 have been moved to government relief camps, officials said.

Local media reported that the first train carrying Bihar flood victims reached New Delhi on Monday, complaining of having received little or no government help.

"The fields are flooded. There's no way I can sustain my family in the next six months," Gopal Punia, a farmer from Madhepura was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

"I will try to find work here in Delhi."

Bihar state officials have also said flood refugees would not be welcomed in Patna, the state capital.

"They should return to their respective places by the same trains," said Raj Kumar Singh, a disaster management official.


Tuesday, 09/02/08

‘Record-setting rains isolate thousands in Chile’ – per AP

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Southern Chile's heaviest rains in four decades have damaged hundreds of houses and left thousands of people isolated.

Rain ceased early Tuesday after more than 40 hours.

Emergency Bureau director Carmen Fernandez says one woman is dead due to a collapsed wall, 2,000 have evacuated their homes and more than 12,000 are isolated by flooding in rural areas.

The emergency Bureau says the rains are the heaviest in about 40 years.

The weather bureau says rainfall topped 5.5 inches in some areas.


Tuesday, 09/02/08

‘Haitians “screaming for help” after storms’ – per AP

SAINT-MARC, Haiti (AP) -- Haitian families scrambled onto rooftops and screamed for help Tuesday in a city flooded by Tropical Storm Hanna, as U.N. peacekeepers and rescue convoys tried in vain to reach them.

Iris Norsil, 20, managed to flee the western coastal city of Gonaives and told The Associated Press that people there were isolated by muddy waters as evening fell, many seeking refuge on rooftops as wind gusts drove horizontal sheets of rain that flooded roads and buildings.

"They are screaming for help," Norsil said, as a U.N. aid convoy tried unsuccessfully to drive into Gonaives, now surrounded by a virtual lake of floodwaters. A team of AP journalists accompanied the convoy.

Floodwaters rose rapidly outside Gonaives, where Norsil and scores of other residents who abandoned the low-lying city shivered violently in soaked clothing, nervously eying the rushing, debris-clogged waters.

"The situation is as bad as it can be," said Vadre Louis, a U.N. official in Gonaives. "The wind is ripping up trees. Houses are flooded with water. Cars can't drive on the street. You can't rescue anyone, wherever they may be."

Haitians clutched mattresses, chairs and other belongings as they slogged through waist-high floodwaters. The known death toll in northern Haiti was 13.

Hanna's maximum sustained winds slipped to 65 mph (100 kph), but the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could regain hurricane strength and turn toward the east coast of Florida, Georgia or South Carolina in two to three days.

Heavy rain from the storm's outer bands fell relentlessly in Haiti, a country still recovering from drenchings by Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Fay in the past two weeks. In all, floods and mudslides from the three storms have killed more than 100 people, as Haiti's deforested hills melted away in the torrential rains.

In Puerto Rico, flooding was blamed for the drowning death of a Colombian university student in a raging river. The man's Brazilian friend was missing despite a desperate search in the water.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Ike was cruising westward across the Atlantic with top winds of 60 mph (95 kph), projected to near the Bahamas by Sunday as a hurricane. Just behind it was Tropical Storm Josephine, with top winds of about 40 mph (65 kph), and forecasters said it could near hurricane force by Wednesday or Thursday.

And in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Karina formed south of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula with sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), on a path leading far out to sea.


Friday, 08/29/08

‘Hurricane-force winds, heavy rain hit Phoenix area’ – per AP

PHOENIX (AP) — A series of fast-moving thunderstorms packing winds of up to 100 mph plowed through the Phoenix area, leaving tens of thousands without power, briefly shutting down the airport and ripping the roof off a brand-new college football facility.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from Thursday's storms.

Arizona Public Service Company said Friday morning it still had 50,000 customers without electricity, while Salt River Project estimated 11,000 of its customers were without power.

Power for many downtown traffic signals was still out as the morning rush began, but no major traffic delays were reported.

The storm swept into the city at about 9 p.m., dumping up to 1.5 inches of rain and three-quarter-inch hail in some areas.

Sky Harbor International Airport was shut down for about an hour during the height of the storm, which blew out of the area by about midnight. Flight delays continued early Friday as crews worked to remove debris blown onto the runways.

Hundreds of trees in central and uptown Phoenix were downed, and a large section of roofing from a new condominium complex was torn off and thrown hundreds of feet, landing on the lines powering the city's soon-to-open light rail line.


Tuesday, 08/26/08

‘Floods strand millions in India’ – per AP

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian officials appealed to more than 1 million people in flood-ravaged northern India to flee for their lives Tuesday, saying they faced death from a surging river if they remained in their homes.

The death toll from this year's monsoon has already climbed past 800, and now some 1.2 million people have been marooned and about 2 million more affected in northern India's Bihar state, where the Kosi river has burst its banks, breached safety embankments and submerged all roads leading to the region.

Pictures from the region Tuesday, the first images since the remote area was cut off last week from the rest of India by the flooding, showed entire villages submerged and women wading through waist-high muddy waters, sacks of belongings balanced on their heads.

Families perched on the roofs of their houses waiting for aid while others piled into precariously overloaded canoes.

India's monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, brings rain vital for the country's farmers but also massive destruction. Floods, mudslides, collapsing houses and lightning strikes kill hundreds of people every year.

When the swollen river burst its banks in a part of Nepal just north of the border with India, it changed course, now flowing through a fresh channel some 75 miles to the east, which has no levees or protective embankments.

And with the river traditionally swelling to a peak and flooding in October, it threatens the area surrounding its new path with destruction.

"Imagine what will happen to the area," said Nitish Mishra, the state disaster management minister, warning people to "move out at the first opportunity and save their lives."

Mishra said that because people were used to the cycle of the annual floods — temporarily taking shelter and then returning to their lands when the waters recede — they had failed to understand the magnitude of the new threat.

"Mistaking the inundation of their villages as a normal flood, marooned people are unwilling to be evacuated to safe places," Mishra said. Only 50,000 people had been evacuated so far, he said.

Prataya Amrit, a senior official at Bihar's disaster ministry told the CNN-IBN news channel that people would need to evacuate their lands for at least four months while new embankments were built along the river.

The ministry said they had reports of 36 people being killed in the flooding and that some 60,000 hectares of farm land had been destroyed.

Also Tuesday, police said 22 people had been killed as heavy rains brought several buildings crashing down in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. That state has been the worst hit by this year's monsoon, with more than 800 people killed by flooding since the annual rains began in June, Surendra Srivastava, an Uttar Pradesh police official, told Associated Press.

Despite the dramatic flooding in Bihar, the state has had far fewer deaths than Uttar Pradesh — authorities say a few dozen people have perished but don't yet have an exact toll.

In 2007, monsoon floods killed more than 2,200 people across South Asia and left 31 million others homeless, short of food or with other problems. The United Nations called last year's floods the worst in living memory.


Sunday, 08/24/08

‘Downgraded Fay chugs across Gulf’ – per AP

APALACHICOLA, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Fay was downgraded to a tropical depression Saturday night, but cities along the Gulf Coast were still bracing for heavy rain.

As a tropical storm, Fay set a record with four landfalls in Florida and was blamed for at least 11 deaths there and another in Georgia, emergency officials said.

Though the storm weakened as it traveled inland Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of about 35 mph, cities from Pensacola to New Orleans were still preparing for possible flooding.

Forecasters said areas from the Florida panhandle to eastern Louisiana could get 6 to 12 inches of rain before the storm ends. Isolated tornadoes were also possible.

"People automatically assume that if it weakens, the hazards go down with it, but in the case of rainfall, it's not a function of wind speed," said Jamie Rhome of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "Slow moving systems dump a lot of rainfall."

The U.S. Coast Guard in Mobile closed numerous ports and waterways between Panama City in Florida and the Alabama coast to the east.

In Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley declared a state of emergency and officials opened shelters Saturday in the coastal counties of Mobile and Baldwin. Trucks capable of rescuing people from floodwaters were also in place. Utility officials said thousands of people lost power.

In the New Orleans area, which is approaching the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, forecasts called for several inches of rain. In St. Bernard Parish, site of some of the worst post-Katrina flooding, emergency officials were handing out sandbags Saturday.

Sandbags were also distributed in Ocean Springs, Gulfport and Biloxi on the Mississippi coast. The Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing evacuated aircraft Saturday from Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi to locations in South Florida and Texas. The 403rd includes planes known as "hurricane hunters" that officials said would be available to continue to monitor Fay.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore closed a campground area and four barrier islands to the public.

Thousands of homes and businesses in Florida were inundated with flood waters this week as the storm worked its way north from its first landfall in the Florida Keys and zigzagged across the peninsula.

Fay's center made its fourth landfall early Saturday about 15 miles north-northeast of Apalachicola, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Rains and strong wind gusts blitzed Tallahassee, the state capital, for more than 24 hours, knocking down trees and power lines and cutting electricity to more than 12,000 customers, city officials said.

In southwest Georgia, officials said a boy drowned Saturday while playing in a drainage ditch swollen by 10 to 12 inches of rain.

His death, along with the 11 deaths in Florida, bring the toll from Fay to at least 35. A total of 23 died in Haiti and the Dominican Republic from flooding.

Fay's wake caused widespread flooding along Florida's east coast, especially in Jacksonville near the storm's third landfall.

The Office of Insurance Regulation reported Saturday that roughly 6,700 homeowners filed claims, although only some were because of flooding.

Gov. Charlie Crist has asked the federal government to declare the worst-hit areas major disaster areas.

Fay had been an unusual storm since it was named Aug. 15. After hitting the Keys Monday, it crossed open water again before hitting a second time near Naples on the southwest coast. It limped across the state, popped back out into the Atlantic Ocean and struck again near Flagler Beach on the central eastern coast. It was the first storm in almost 50 years to make three landfalls in the state as a tropical storm. Its fourth landfall as such was the first in recorded history.

"This is unprecedented in terms of the slow nature of this storm, the large circulation and the fact that it's impacted probably about 90% of the state with heavy rains and severe weather," state meteorologist Ben Nelson said.


Thursday, 08/21/08

‘Massive floods as Tropical Storm Fay holds still over Florida’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

Tropical Storm Fay began a second slow slog across mainland Florida Thursday, as President George W. Bush declared an emergency in the waterlogged, wind-battered state.

"The president today declared an emergency exists in the state of Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts, due to the emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Fay," spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.

Holding stationary over the northeastern part of Florida for hours, Fay dumped rains of 50 to 75 centimeters (20 to 30 inches) in some parts of the state, and caused widespread flooding.

"This storm is turning into a serious catastrophic flooding event, particularly in southern Brevard County," Crist said on Wednesday as he sought the emergency declaration giving Florida access to US federal disaster assistance funds.

The storm is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of five to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) with isolated amounts of 15 inches (38 centimeters) possible across northern Florida, the center said.

Since it powered up from the Caribbean just short of hurricane strength last weekend, Fay has crisscrossed the southeastern US state, first blasting the tourist-heavy Keys, then plowing up the west coast before making landfall Tuesday and crossing very slowly to the northeast.

The storm has spawned tornadoes, flooded some 50,000 homes and knocked out power to 100,000 people.

Earlier in the Caribbean, Fay left a trail of destruction and at least 40 deaths -- particularly in Haiti, where a truck carrying around 60 passengers plunged into a swollen river during the storm.


Wednesday, 08/20/08

‘Flooded Texas highway reopens’ – per AP

McALLEN, Texas (AP) -- Flooding receded Tuesday in South Texas and main highways reopened after a deluge of as much as 13 inches of rain. The drenching weather shifted to the northern end of the state and Oklahoma.

Torrential rain flooded an estimated 1,400 homes by Tuesday in Starr County, and at least 243 people evacuated, said Natividad Gonzalez of the county Sheriff's Department.

There were no serious injuries, but receding floodwaters revealed damaged roads, sinkholes and overwhelmed sewer systems.

"We're just holding our breath," said Gene Falcon, county emergency management coordinator.

Heavy rain caused flooding in parts of North Texas and Oklahoma.

Firefighters used boats Tuesday morning to rescue some people from homes and vehicles in El Reno, Oklahoma, just west of Oklahoma City, said Canadian County Emergency Management Director Jerry Smith.

The El Reno area had measured 4.8 inches of rain in three days, and 9.65 inches had fallen in southwest Oklahoma's Jefferson County, officials said. High water blocked more than a dozen Oklahoma roads, but no large-scale evacuations had been ordered.

"We could have used a little, but we didn't need a gullywasher," Smith said.

The National Weather Service forecast more rain across Oklahoma during the night, and it issued flood warnings for several counties.

Authorities near Wichita Falls, Texas, used boats and military vehicles to rescue about 150 people from homes or stranded vehicles, said Wichita County's emergency management coordinator, Lee Bourgoin. No injuries were reported, but officials warned residents of low-lying areas to be prepared for possible evacuation.

"The ground is so hard here because we're in a drought, and when the rain came down so fast it just flooded," Bourgoin said.

Wednesday, 08/20/08

‘Floods force thousands to flee homes in India, Nepal’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains left some 50,000 people homeless in India's remote northeast, officials said on Wednesday, warning of more rains in one of the country's most flood-prone regions.

Floodwaters swamped some 100 villages in Assam state, destroying homes and croplands and forcing thousands of people to the safety of high grounds.

Officials set up temporary shelters for the homeless in school and government buildings, and used wooden boats to rescue those marooned. Many camped on highways under plastic sheets with what little they had salvaged of their belongings.

"Water levels of all rivers are rising and hundred villages have been completely submerged," said P. C. Deka, an official at the worst-hit Majuli, a riverine island in Assam's Jorhat district. "Around 50,000 people are badly affected so far."

The regional weather office warned of more showers in the next 24 hours in the region.

In neighboring Nepal, at least 20,000 people were displaced and sheltered in relief camps in the country's southeast after a river broke a dam and flooded six villages, an official said on Wednesday.

Local media reports said three people were killed but an official said he had no information about the deaths.

Television channels showed video clips of people wading waist-deep water to higher ground, carrying babies in their arms and balancing their belongings on their heads.

Nepal's new Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda is scheduled to tour the affected areas on Wednesday, official said. He has already announced $300,000 as immediate relief to the flood victims.

Floods and landslides are common in mountainous Nepal during the annual monsoon season that normally begins in June and continues through September. About 50 people have died since the rains started this year.

In India, more than 200 people have been killed in rains in the past month, some 30 of them in Assam and the northeast. Most of deaths were due to houses collapsing or by drowning. Some people were killed in landslide.

Assam accounts for about 55 percent of India's tea production and also produces oil. Officials said the rains had not affected tea trade or oil exploration.

The monsoon usually hits India on June 1 and retreats in September, and is key to irrigating some 60 percent of farm land. But it leaves in its wake massive destruction, killing hundreds of people, destroying homes, crops, roads and bridges every year.


Tuesday, 08/19/08

‘Flood waters in South Texas recede after torrent’ – Yahoo! News per AP

The Rio Grande Valley's main highway was reopened and flood waters receded after up to 13 inches of rain swamped southern Texas.

"The water's going down; the main highways are open," Natividad Gonzalez, with the Starr County Sheriff's Department, said early Tuesday.

Emergency officials on Monday had to use boats to pluck people from their flooded houses. An estimated 750 homes in Starr County were flooded.

Earlier Monday, the water was as much as 3 or 4 feet deep in neighborhoods east of Roma and north of U.S. Highway 83, the Rio Grande Valley's main artery, at dusk. As families emerged from salvage missions to their homes, it became quickly apparent that the disaster's reach came down to a just a few inches.

U.S. Highway 83 reopened earlier Monday night after being closed all afternoon when Arroyo Quiote flooded its banks, running as much as a foot and a half above the guardrails. Motorists trying to reach Roma from the east were sent on a long traffic-clogged detour to the north.

Jose Garcia, fire and police chief in Roma, said floodwaters had started to recede in the city Monday afternoon, but he was not sure they had seen the last of the rain. Roma received about 8 inches of rain in three hours early Monday and water pooled at depths of 6 inches to 4 feet, he said.

About 60 people were plucked from flooded homes and taken to a local community center. About 10,000 people live in Roma, about 210 miles south of San Antonio.

The impact of so much rain was compounded because the ground was still saturated from Hurricane Dolly, Starr County Emergency Management Coordinator Gene Falcon said. Dolly came ashore in late July.

The worst of the flooding was north of U.S. Highway 83 where a continuous "lake" three miles long and a mile wide ran through neighborhoods in Escobares and Los Saenz, small communities east of Roma.


Monday, 08/18/08

‘Grand Canyon Floods Burst Dam, Force Evacuations’ – per AP,2933,405165,00.html

Days of heavy rains around the Grand Canyon created flooding that breached an earthen dam Sunday and forced helicopters to pluck scores of residents and campers from the gorge. No injuries were immediately reported.


The weather and dam breach caused flooding in a side canyon containing Supai Village where about 400 members of the Havasupai tribe live, said Gerry Blair, a spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff's Department.

Crews airlifted 170 people from the village and nearby campgrounds. Evacuees were subsequently bused to an American Red Cross reception center, officials said.

The dam breaching was only one factor in the flooding, Blair said. The dam isn't a "huge, significant" structure, he said.

Still, a flash flood warning remained in effect, and search and rescue teams planned to stay in the village overnight as a precaution.

Some hiking trails and footbridges were washed out after the dam breach about 45 miles upstream from Supai, said Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge. Trees were uprooted, the National Weather Service said.

As much as 8 inches of rain since Friday caused trouble even before the dam was breached. A private boating party of 16 people was stranded on a ledge at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River on Saturday night after flood waters carried their rafts away, Oltrogge said.

The area got 3 to 6 inches of ran Friday and Saturday and got about 2 more on Sunday, said Daryl Onton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff.

"That's all it took — just a few days of very heavy thunderstorms," he said.

Supai is about 75 west of the Grand Canyon Village, a popular tourist area on the South Rim. Havasu Creek feeds the Colorado, which runs the length of the canyon.

The flooding came on a weekend during the busy summer tourist season, when thousands of visitors a day flock to the canyon for spectacular views, hikes or to raft its whitewater.


Sunday, 08/17/08

‘Destructive flooding puts Southeast Asia at risk’ – International Herald Tribune

HANOI: Torrential rains and overflowing rivers have brought some of the worst flooding in decades to Vietnam and its neighbors, flooding cities and farmlands in five nations.

At least 130 people were killed, dozens were missing and thousands were driven from their homes in northern Vietnam and hundreds of tourists were evacuated near the hill tribe resort area of Sapa.

Flooding has also hit parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos as well as Myanmar, where waters rose in the Irrawaddy Delta, which is still recovering from a cyclone that left 38,000 people dead or missing in May.

According to the official press in Myanmar, the floods affected much of the country, including the main city, Yangon, as well as Mandalay in the center and the Karen and Mon states in the southeast.

In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, officials said the Mekong River had brought the worst flooding in memory, rising to nearly 14 meters, or 45 feet, above its lowest level in the dry season. The high water in Vientiane broke a record set in 1966 and overflowed a levee that was built after that flood.

Mudslides also cut the main road from Vientiane to the ancient capital of Luang Prabang, a city of temples and monasteries where the Mekong waters also rose.

In parts of northeastern Thailand, officials said the Mekong had reached its highest level in 30 years, inundating farmlands and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people in three provinces along the river, which divides Thailand from Laos.

Officials said the high water was caused by heavy downpours in southern China, Laos and Thailand.

As the high waters of the Mekong moved downstream, Cambodia and eastern Thailand prepared for major floods and officials warned residents in some areas to move to higher ground along with their livestock.

In Vietnam's southern Mekong delta, where the 4,345-kilometer, or 2,700-mile, river flows into the sea, forecasters said that rising waters had reached a critical level two weeks earlier than last year and that worse flooding lay ahead.

In northern Vietnam, the government said floodwaters peaked at close to their record levels of 1968. Military helicopters brought instant noodles and other supplies to stranded residents and airlifted hundreds of Vietamese and foreign tourists from Lao Cai, on the border with China.

Several hundred train passengers en route to the popular tourist area, including about 50 foreign tourists, took refuge in hotels before being airlifted out, according to the Vietnamese press.

In the neighboring province of Yen Bai, according to official reports, at least 35 people were killed, many of them buried under landslides that hit at night as they slept.

The government's Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Control said in May that over the past three years, floods and storms had become stronger and more destructive. Last year's floods were followed by a rare prolonged cold spell at the end of 2007. That was followed in turn by unexpected scorching weather and early storms in the first months of 2008, the committee said.

The most destructive flooding in recent years came in late 1999 in the country's central provinces, leaving 750 people dead or missing.


Friday, 08/15/08

‘Heat records broken with 101 in Portland and Hillsboro’ – The Oregonian

What the National Weather Service is calling "a significant heat wave" will peak today and crack the 100-degree mark again in much of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, courtesy of a big ridge of high pressure that has parked over the region.

"Along with high pressure, we have a very warm air mass, with an area of low pressure aligned north and south, and offshore winds," said Michael Goss of the National Weather Service in Portland.

Portland tied the Thursday record of 97 degrees at 3 p.m. and smashed it by 5 p.m. with a high of 101. Medford posted Oregon's hottest figure of the day, 108 degrees. In the Portland area, Aurora topped out at 103, and Hillsboro broke its record high with 101 degrees.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect until 10 p.m. today for a wide swath of Oregon and Washington. The warning could be extended Saturday when highs again will hover around 100 degrees.

Today's 41-year-old record high of 98 degrees is almost certain to fall, too, said Goss. The record high for Saturday is 102 degrees, set in 1977.

Even the usually cool Cascades will see highs well into the 80s and low 90s today and Saturday. Sleeping without air conditioning may be difficult, forecasters said, as low temperatures drop only into the 60s today and Saturday.

The heat wave prompted the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to issue a smog advisory for today and Saturday in the Portland-Vancouver area and the Willamette Valley. Motorists are asked to limit driving and engine idling.

In Vancouver, city officials opened three cooling centers for residents seeking relief from the heat.


Monday, 08/11/08

‘For ninth day in a row, much of N.H. on flood watch’ – per AP

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — With the rain showing no signs of letting up, much of New Hampshire was on a flood watch for the ninth day in a row.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Monday for central Grafton County in northern New Hampshire, saying excessive runoff from heavy rainfall would cause flooding of small creeks, streams, country roads and farmland. It also issued a flash flood watch covering most of the state, saying torrential downpours were expected throughout the afternoon and evening.

Over the last few weeks, heavy rain and flooding has been wreaking havoc throughout the region. And even more rain is expected throughout the next several days, according to Weather Service meteorologist Tom Hawley.

"It's an anomaly," said Hawley of the weather. "It's more like a spring pattern than a summer pattern."

The Weather Service is advising campers and hikers to avoid small streams and creeks. It said heavy rainfall has elevated water levels.

The state Marine Patrol has issued a no wake speed limit on Silver Lake in Belmont and Tilton because of the high water.

On Sunday, Franklin firefighters safely rescued an elderly woman and her grandson from flooding at a home on Webster Lake.

Deputy Fire Chief Royal Smith said the water was knee deep and fast moving.

His department also fished debris out of the lake Monday to prevent additional flooding.

Over the last few days, heavy rains have forced authorities to close roads throughout the state.

Route 113 between Holderness and Sandwich was closed after the highway was submerged by water up to 2-3 feet deep. It was reopened Sunday evening.

"The sponge (the groundwater table) is totally full and there's just no time for the ground to relieve itself" by drying out, Laconia Public Works Director Paul Moynihan told the Citizen of Laconia.


Monday, 08/11/08

‘Line of thunderstorms pounds region’ – Boston Globe

A line of powerful thunderstorms roared through New England yesterday, downing trees, washing out several area roads, and dumping nickel-sized hail in locations from Dorchester to southern New Hampshire.

The heavy downpours sent people scurrying for cover, while emergency and public work crews in places such as Cambridge and Everett closed down streets and cleared clogged drains.

The latest turbulent weather, which is forecast to continue at least through today, was expected to produce about 1 to 2 inches of rain in Massachusetts, although some pockets of the state could see double that - putting those areas at risk for flash floods.

It's been a summer of high rainfall and unusually violent weather.

Last week, a 7-year-old Rhode Island girl drowned in Ashland, N.H., after her family's Ford Explorer was swept into a surging brook during a flash flood, trapping her inside the vehicle for more than two hours. On that same day, another flash flood at Weirs Beach created a 50-foot-wide sinkhole that destroyed a portion of a pier and a set of train tracks.

And last month, a tornado tore through a stretch of central New Hampshire, killing a 57-year-old woman as she tried to save her 3-month-old stepson, who survived, while nine soccer spectators in Dorchester were struck by lightning while standing under a tree.

The possibility of flash floods is the latest fallout from summer rainfall averages in Massachusetts that are much higher than usual. Since June 1, a little more than a foot of rain has fallen at Logan Airport, about 5 inches more than normal, and in Worcester, nearly 16 inches have fallen, nearly double the normal amount.

The rain has so saturated land across Massachusetts while also causing rivers to swell well above normal averages that it would take only 4 inches of rain to fall within 12 hours in most areas to cause a flash flood, said Glenn Field, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton.

The weather service posted flood advisories earlier in the day for many Massachusetts counties, including Berkshire, Essex, Franklin, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester. The heavy rain was expected to cause some creeks and small rivers to overflow, while also causing water to gather in urban areas with poor drainage.


Sunday, 08/10/08

’40 Indian villagers feared drowned in flood waters’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Forty villagers riding on a truck were swept away by a flooded river and feared dead Sunday in southern India, where monsoon rains have claimed at least 59 lives in the past three days, officials said.

The truck was washed away while it was crossing a flooded bridge in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh state, police official Mahesh Chadra Laddha said. The road was under nearly six feet of water, he said.

The area is about 215 miles east of Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, he said.

Parts of Hyderabad and two other districts of Andhra Pradesh state were inundated when 4.7 inches of rain fell in less than five hours on Friday, said Navin Mittal, a government official. He said it was the heaviest downpour there in eight years.

House collapses have killed 14 people in Hyderabad and 13 in the Krishna district since Friday, state Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said Sunday. Another 32 deaths have been reported in neighboring districts lashed by rains overnight, he said.

The state government has opened 85 relief camps for thousands who have been forced to leave their homes, said the state's top elected official, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, brings rains vital for India's farmers but also massive destruction. Floods, mudslides, house collapses and lightning strikes have killed at least 225 people across the country so far this year.


Saturday, 08/09/08

‘All Night Long … Water’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

FREEPORT — Hunched against the driving rain, Laura Smith-Tucker started toward her car at 5:30 a.m. to go to work at Midcoast Hospital, then pulled up short in front of her Summer Street condominium.

"The parking lot was absolutely flooded and both our cars were almost completely under water," she said, lamenting in particular her brand new Nissan Altima. "There wasn't much we could do. We just kind of watched the water rise and hoped it would stop raining."

It was a hope shared across Freeport and much of southern Maine after more rain Thursday night and Friday morning caused flooding and washed out numerous roads.

Freeport had received 3 to 5 inches of rain over the previous 12 hours, Conley said at 11 a.m. The National Weather Service said its nearest monitoring station is in Durham, which recieved just shy of 4 inches.

David Ordway got more at his house on Desert Road.

"We had 7 inches of rain in my rain gauge and I emptied it last night," he said at about 10 a.m. Ordway was hosting a family reunion, with relatives from as far away as Montana and Oregon camping in the yard.

"All night long I listened to water pour down," said John Grasmick, visiting from Nebraska with his son, Jake. "For some weird reason, the one wet spot was right over my clothes. All my clothes were wet."

The gathering lasts through the weekend.

"I think they're going to pour us on a plane on Monday," Grasmick said.

Several roads were closed in the Cumberland County towns of Cumberland, Brunswick, Yarmouth and North Yarmouth, including important thoroughfares such as Route 88 in Portland's northern suburbs and Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick.

There were no reports of injuries, but the Maine Emergency Management Agency issued a warning to motorists to avoid roads with water on them because as little as a foot of running water is enough to wash away a car. Most flooding deaths are vehicle-related, the agency said.

The agency also said that 6 inches of running water can sweep pedestrians off their feet and downstream.

The worst of the damage was in Freeport, which at one time had about a dozen roads closed. Desert Road, even after part of it washed away, was hazardous because onlookers were drawn to the chasm not realizing that the seemingly firm pavement beneath their feet was protruding over the river with no earthen support beneath.

Residents speculated that the usually passive Merrill Brook filled to the point where a large beaver dam upstream gave way, releasing a torrent of water.

Kevin Fowler, a photojournalist with WMTW-TV, was on hand for the road's destruction.

"Before it went, you could actually hear the large rocks grinding out underneath," Fowler said. "You could feel the ground rumble. It was like a movie. You could almost see the road moving.

"The water was sending entire trees down to the hole."

Then, in front of him, the road disintegrated. "The entire road just collapsed and exploded water into the air," he said. "Trees were snapping in the background. The culvert rises up like a whale."

It could take three to four weeks to repair the road, Conley said, forcing residents to take lengthy detours to get to town or the interstate.

The washout occured a few hundred yards northwest of L.L. Bean's Desert Road facility. Although the damage won't cut the facility off from the interstate, the company was coping with its own flood-related problems.

The company closed its massive order-filling facility as a safety precaution after water flooded the floor, spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said. None of the mechandise, which is on racks, got wet, she said.

The facility will reopen Sunday after the floors can be dried and the place cleaned on Saturday, Beem said.

In all, between 400 and 500 L.L. Bean employees were affected, Beem said.

Freeport endured a similar washout in 1998, when water from storms cut through Flying Point Road and left many residents on Flying Point with an eight-mile detour.


Saturday, 08/09/08

‘Disaster officials: At least 62 dead in Vietnam floods’ – per AP

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Landslides and floods killed at least 62 people in northern Vietnam, covering the homes of some victims as they slept in their beds, disaster officials said Saturday.

Dozens more were reported missing and officials feared the death toll would rise as they struggled to reach isolated communities. With heavy rain continuing Saturday, rescue workers were trying to move people to higher ground.

The province of Lao Cai was the hardest hit, with 25 people reported dead and 35 missing, said provincial disaster official Thao A Tua. Tens of thousands were stranded by the floods, which began Friday, Tua said.

"The death toll is likely to increase because heavy rain is still falling and the rivers in the area are rising," Tua said.

In neighboring Yen Bai province, floods and landslides killed 25 people and torrents carried some people miles (kilometers) from their homes, said disaster official Luong Tuan Anh. Four people were still missing, he said.

"The water and walls of mud came at night when everybody was sleeping," he said. "They could not run to safety."

Twelve people were found dead and another was missing in Quang Ninh and Phu Tho provinces, as rampaging waters knocked down trees and electricity pylons and washed away houses, officials said.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms that kill hundreds of people each year.


Friday, 08/08/08

‘Girl dies during flash flood in Ashland’ – Concord [NH] Monitor

Ashland was worst hit in a storm last night that killed a 7-year-old girl, swept away roads and displaced dozens of people.

The girl was in a sport-utility vehicle with her family at the Ames Brook Campground when the rain hit, said Ashland Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober. Her father got out of the vehicle, which was carried 1,000 yards downstream by a flash flood. Her mother and a sibling were rescued. Ober said he did not know whether the family lived in the area.

The rainfall was extreme, and it fell on ground saturated by weeks of above-normal precipitation caused by slow-moving, drenching storms.

"They're very localized, and they're very intense," said Butch Roberts, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "If they don't move a lot, they're going to lay it down."

There were no rainfall meters in Ashland or Holderness, but meteorologists estimated that 5.69 inches fell in three hours at Harper Brook, and 4.5 inches fell at Ames Brook.

The largest recorded rainfall in the region was 3.55 inches in 90 minutes until 8 p.m., at Weirs Beach.

An Ashland firefighter, Kendall Hughes, said he saw a "normally very docile" Ames Brook swell to six times its normal size - "raging whitewater rapids" - in a matter of minutes.

At the Ames Brook Campground, below Dana Hill and the town's former water supply, a torrential downpour washed out roads and brought trees, stumps and other debris through the campground.

Twenty-nine people were evacuated from the campground, taking temporary shelter in the elementary school cafeteria in Ashland.

A section of Route 132 was closed in New Hampton, but it reopened within several hours. At press time, seven roads in that town were closed.

Meredith received 1.3 inches of rain in an hour, Roberts said.


Thursday, 08/07/08

‘Many flee flooding’ – Berkshire [MA] Eagle per AP

RIPTON, Vt. — When Marguerite Searle left her home overlooking the East Middlebury River on Vermont 125 at 3:30 yesterday morning to go to work at Middlebury College, it wasn't raining.

But when she got home at about 1 p.m. the river had covered the roadway and gone back down, the eastbound lane was completely destroyed, a car had been washed into a ditch below her house and she had been forced to follow a 16-mile detour home to get around the closed highway.

"I've lived here for 30 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Searle, who had to park and walk the final several hundred yards to her home, which did not appear to be damaged.

The flash floods that hit parts of southeastern Addison County yesterday morning followed at least 3 to 4 inches of rain that fell onto already saturated soil in about two hours yesterday morning.

"We had some unconfirmed reports of six to seven inches of rain," said Andy Nash, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office at the Burlington International Airport.

No injuries have been reported.

A number of East Middlebury residents were evacuated from their homes for several hours yeterday morning as a precaution. At mid-afternoon, officials were evacuating 60 campers and 30 staff members from the Silver Towers Camp in Ripton, officials said.

Vermont Emergency Management reported that roads were closed in the Addison County towns of Goshen, Ripton, Leicester and Hancock. In Caledonia County, a number of roads were closed in Danville.

There was no damage estimate or any idea when the closed roads will be reopened.

And the flooding danger isn't over, officials said. For parts of Vermont, July was the wettest on record and this year will be among the 10 wettest on record, Nash said.

Nash said that afternoon and evening thunderstorms were being predicated through the end of the week. The thunderstorms aren't likely to move much.

"If a thunderstorm pops up and it's over you there's going to be a lot of rain that's going to fall. We've got a few more days with risk of flooding," Nash said.

Yesterday, Vermont's congressional delegation asked President Bush to declare the state a disaster area because of flooding over the last month. Such a declaration would make the state eligible for special disaster relief funds.


Thursday, 08/07/08

‘When it rains, it pours: Climate change to increase rainfall’ –

Add heavy rainfall to the litany of expected bad news due to climate change. Along with the likelihood of more intense heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes, a new study released today reports that extreme precipitation events are already increasing as the globe warms.

This is the first actual, observed evidence that scientists say confirms the link between global warming and more powerful rainstorms.

"A warmer atmosphere contains larger amounts of moisture, which boosts the intensity of heavy downpours," reports study co-author Brian Soden of the University of Miami.

What's worse, the measured increase in extreme rainfall is much larger than the increase that current climate models predict, which likely means the amount of additional rainfall due to climate change is seriously underestimated.

To understand how rain responds to a warming world, researchers used natural changes associated with the El Niño climate pattern as a laboratory for testing their hypotheses. El Niño is a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the world.

Based on 20 years of satellite observations, the scientists found a direct link between tropical rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods. "When the climate was warmer, there was an increase in the intensity and frequency of precipitation events," says Soden.

And, unfortunately, this additional rainfall won't be welcome news for drought-plagued regions, adds Soden. "The wet regions will get wetter and the dry regions will get drier."

The study was also authored by Richard Allan of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and was published in Thursday's online edition of the journal ScienceXpress.


Tuesday, 08/05/08

‘Violent storms spawn tornadoes in Chicago area’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Crews began cleaning up downed trees and restoring power across northern Illinois on Tuesday after a line of powerful storms ripped through the area, spawning at least two tornadoes.

The National Weather Service confirmed that tornadoes touched down in the Chicago suburbs of Bloomingdale and Bolingbrook late Monday. A third tornado touched down in Griffith, Ind.

A tornado and other high winds damaged 25 homes, including two left uninhabitable when winds ripped off parts of roofs, said Bolingbrook Assistant Fire Chief Robert Mierop. No one was injured.

Strong winds also damaged buildings and flooded streets across the northern part of the state late Monday, and lightning is being blamed for several fires.

Another line of thunderstorms left tens of thousands without power early Tuesday in north-central Illinois.

Parts of central and southern Illinois were under severe thunderstorm warnings Tuesday, and the weather service predicted more strong winds and the possibility of hail. Weather damage — including standing water, downed tree limbs and blinking traffic lights — snarled rush-hour traffic in the Chicago area.

Monday's storm prompted tornado warnings in downtown Chicago. Fans were evacuated from the stands at Chicago's Wrigley Field and travelers from the upper levels of terminals at O'Hare International Airport.


Monday, 08/04/08

‘North Texas records 10th straight 100-degree mark’ – per AP

DALLAS — Texas weather was one of extremes on Sunday.

While North Texans faced another day of dangerously hot weather with temperatures soaring past the 100-degree mark in numerous cities throughout the region, residents in southeastern Texas were dealing with thunderstorms and the promise of a tropical storm.

Dallas had a 10th straight day of triple-digit heat. Sunday's high of 107 was the hottest day of the year and the hottest Aug. 3 on record. Dan Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said the high broke the record of 105 set in 1998.

Excessive heat warnings were issued in several North Texas cities including Sherman, Denton, Fort Worth and Dallas. Temperatures in those cities were at least 104, according to the weather service.

The Dallas area has recorded 24 triple-digit days so far this year — well short of the record of 69 triple-digit days set in 1980, Shoemaker said.

Wichita Falls hit 109 on Sunday, which was three degrees below the record of 112 set in 1943. Fort Worth had a high of 108 at Alliance Airport. Denton recorded a high of 107. Terrell hit 106. Austin and Waco recorded highs of 105.

Meanwhile, state emergency management officials were monitoring Tropical Storm Edouard and getting updates through conference calls with the National Weather Service, said Krista Piferrer, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the coast of western Louisiana and southeastern Texas from Intracoastal City, La., to Port O'Connor, Texas. The fifth named storm of the 2008 hurricane season has sustained maximum winds of about 50 mph.

Rainfall of 1 to 2 inches was expected in coastal Louisiana. About 2 to 4 inches was possible in southeast Texas, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches. Tides of 2 to 4 feet above normal levels were expected in parts of the warning area.

Shoemaker said the tropical storm isn't likely to bring any relief to the drought conditions of North Texas. North Texas is in a moderate drought in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a severe drought from Parker County westward.

"Depending on the track it takes our southern counties will get rain," Shoemaker said. "If it takes a north track, we'll get rain in the Metroplex. Right now, it's iffy."


Monday, 08/04/08

‘Heavy rains hit North Korea’ – per AP

SEOUL (AP) — Heavy rains that battered North Korea in recent weeks have heavily damaged crops, state media said Monday, dealing a further blow to the impoverished country as it struggles to avert a food crisis.

Strong downpours pounded many parts of North Korea between Friday and Sunday, including Kangwon province, which received 12.7 inches of rain, the official Korean Central News Agency reported. The harsh weather came a week after similar rains lashed the country, it said.

The weather "inflicted heavy losses to various sectors of the national economy including agriculture and to the people's living," KCNA reported, without elaborating.

The heavy rains came as North Korea faces its worst food crisis since the late 1990s, when an estimated 2 million people died of hunger. The North has since relied on foreign aid to feed its 23 million people.

The World Food Program, the U.N. food agency, warned last week that millions of North Koreans were at risk of slipping toward precarious hunger levels and that the food shortage also threatened to cause widespread malnutrition.

North Korea's food situation was worsened by devastating floods last year.


Sunday, 08/03/08

‘Two dead, 76,000 flee homes in east China floods: state media’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

Two people have died and more than 76,000 have been forced to flee their homes after torrential rains lashed eastern China causing severe flooding, state media reported.

The flooding hit the Chuhe River valley in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces with water levels in some areas reaching record levels, the Xinhua news agency said late Sunday.

The downpours lashed the region from Thursday until Saturday, with one city, Chuzhou, under half a metre (20 inches) of water, the report said.

The downpours killed two people in Anhui and caused direct economic losses of 1.5 billion yuan (220 million dollars), the Anhui civil affairs department told Xinhua.

In addition, more than 24,000 houses were destroyed in the province, huge areas of crops were flooded and 76,361 people were displaced, the report said citing Anhui provincial flood control headquarters.

Four reservoirs were being used to try and maintain the water levels in the Chuhe River, while 7,900 armed police and military officials were monitoring the situation, the report said.

Torrential rains have affected huge parts of southern and central China this summer, taking a heavy toll in life and material damage.


Sunday, 08/03/08

‘Front Range heat wave continues’ – per AP

DENVER (AP) — Temperatures in Denver and other cities across the state reached 100 degrees as Colorado's heat wave continued Saturday.

The high at Denver International Airport, Denver's officials reporting station, was 101 degrees. LaJunta and Lamar both hit 106 degrees, while Pueblo reached 105 degrees.

As of Saturday, Denver has had a record 21 straight days of highs above 90.

Grand Junction reached 97 degrees Saturday and has had 49 straight days with temperatures of 90 or above and is on track to tie its record of 51.

The National Weather Service says a persistent high pressure ridge over the Southwest is responsible for the record heat. The service issued a heat advisory for northeastern Colorado.


Saturday, 08/02/08

‘At least 9 killed in torrential Togo floods’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=ApZxJD7fDe4LjEGJDEHb9uloWrEF

At least nine people have been killed as torrential floods have submerged entire villages in Togo, the country's Minister for Transport and Highways said Saturday in a televised address.

Nine major bridges have been wiped out, stranding villagers in flooded hamlets, Ekpao Talaki said. As many as 5,000 people have been rendered homeless, according to the government's web site, but aid workers say the number could be much higher.

Ghana, Togo's neighbor, sent in helicopters to rescue villagers trapped in their flooded homes. France sent a disaster crew Friday from its peacekeeping mission in nearby Ivory Coast.

But Togo's main opposition party criticized the government for not doing enough and called for an emergency session of Parliament to address the disaster.

President Faure Gnassingbe is holding an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday — the third this week — to come up with ways to combat the floods. The flooding, which shows no sign of abating, was brought on by heavy monsoon rains.


Tuesday, 07/29/08

‘Typhoon swamps Taiwan, kills two’ – per AP

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Soldiers and Buddhist volunteers helped Taiwanese villagers clean up their homes Tuesday after a powerful typhoon churned through, killing at least two people and leaving a trail of flooded buildings, damaged orchards and caved-in roads.

Typhoon Fung Wong hit Taiwan just before dawn Monday, packing winds of 167kph (105mph). It left the island, heading for the Chinese mainland, about nine hours later.

In the neighboring Philippines at least four people were killed and five were missing, including a 3-year-old girl and her mother, after Fung Wong skirted past the northern provinces on its way to Taiwan, officials said Tuesday. About 10,000 Filipinos were affected by the typhoon.

In Taiwan, soldiers used shovels to remove ankle-deep mud from homes in villages in eastern Hualien county, where the typhoon made landfall.

In a briefing to President Ma Ying-jeou, Hualien County Chief Hsieh Shen-shan said agricultural damage to the county amounted to more than 160 million New Taiwan dollars ($5.3 million).

Elsewhere in the county, he said, workers were repairing caved-in mountain roads that had blocked traffic in both directions.

The storm dumped more than 82cm (33 inches) of rain in Hualien, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

Television stations reported that authorities were closely monitoring several bridges where supports sustained damage from Fung Wong and tropical storm Kalmaegi, which killed 19 people when it struck Taiwan earlier this month.

Typhoons frequently hit Taiwan between July and September, often triggering flash floods and landslides in overly developed mountainous regions.

The typhoon had weakened into a tropical storm when it hit the Chinese mainland.


Monday, 07/28/08

‘Disaster warnings after floods kill 26 in Ukraine and Romania’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

Storms and floods in western Ukraine and neighbouring Romania have killed 26 people, forced the evacuation of tens of thousands and damaged scores of bridges, officials said Monday.

Romanian President Traian Basescu warned the region faced an "ecological disaster" if lakes containing potentially lethal mining waste were allowed to overspill in the north of his country.

Fifteen people were killed in the Ivano-Frankivsk region in southwest Ukraine while seven people were killed in Chernivtsy, the emergency situations ministry said in a statement.

Rescuers evacuated more than 19,800 people from their homes because of the severe storms and floods that also hit northeastern Romania, the ministry said.

More than 40,000 houses and 34,000 hectares of farmland remained partially flooded on Monday in Ukraine, while more than 900 bridges and hundreds of kilometres (miles) of roads were damaged.

One hundred villages were without electricity, the ministry said.

In Romania, the death toll following five days of flooding in the north rose to four on Monday with the discovery of the body of a teenager carried away by the floodwaters. Another person remains missing in northeastern Suceava.

A total of 11,720 Romanians had been evacuated from their homes in the north, the authorities said.

Basescu warned that a totally different kind of disaster could still be to come as waste lakes in the north of the country threatened to burst their banks.

According to local official Mircea Man, more than eight million tonnes of mining waste are stocked in the two containment lakes.

"If these residues were to pass into rivers in the region, they would cause very serious pollution not only to our waters but also to cross-border (rivers) like the Tisza."

Overspill from a waste lake in northern Romania in January 2000 was the origin of serious cyanide pollution in several rivers, including the Danube, which led to a sharp rise in fish deaths, notably in Hungary.


Thursday, 07/24/08

‘Texas Starts Cleanup after Dolly’ – per AP,8599,1826108,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-topics

(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) — Residents and recovery teams began fanning out across south Texas at dawn Thursday and cars crept along roads with darkened stoplights as the region got its first look at the destruction left by Hurricane Dolly.

Hurricane Dolly slammed ashore as a Category 2 hurricane midday Wednesday and then loitered over deep south Texas as a tropical storm, dumping as much as a foot of rain in places and bringing 100 mph winds. Those winds had dropped by half Thursday morning, and forecasters said the tropical storm warning for the Texas coast would likely be canceled later in the morning. The storm was expected to break up by Friday.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared 14 south Texas counties disaster areas and sought federal disaster declarations, and was scheduled to fly over the region Thursday afternoon.

While the rain set records in Brownsville's Cameron County — ranging from six to 12 inches with another three to seven expected overnight — they did not appear to pose the threat to the Rio Grande's levees that had been feared.

The river rose steadily through the day in Brownsville, but did not reach flood stage.

"We're not experiencing any issues with the levees right now," Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, said late Wednesday. "The water is just not high enough."

But the torrential rains and fierce winds that lasted much of the day in south Texas still caught some by surprise.

No deaths were immediately reported in Mexico, but Tamaulipas state Gov. Eugenio Hernandez said 50 neighborhoods were still in danger from flooding. About 13,000 people had taken refuge in 21 shelters, he said.

"Strong winds are no longer the problem. Now we have to worry about intense rain in the next 24 hours," Hernandez said.


Thursday, 07/24/08

‘Deadly storm hits New Hampshire, damages homes’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters;_ylt=AuLfCtQQVaU6bYPwBjdNdUtoWrEF

Severe thunderstorms and a possible tornado tore into New Hampshire on Thursday, killing at least one person, leaving an unidentified number trapped in homes and bringing down trees, residents and local media said.

"We still have live wires and trees down everywhere," said Mary Frambach, a volunteer at the fire department in Epsom, a town in eastern New Hampshire hit hard by the storm that struck central and eastern areas of the state.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency in five counties and opened an emergency operations center.

The area covered by the state of emergency is home to 675,000 people, more than half of the largely rural state's population. It includes the state capital Concord as well as vacation towns around Lake Winnipesaukee.

"The situation is still ongoing. I urge all New Hampshire citizens to take sensible precautions and to heed all warnings from public safety officials," Lynch said in a statement.

At least one person was killed near Northwood Lake in Epsom, New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper reported.

"We have reports of about 100 homes damaged," Colin Manning, a spokesman for the governor, said in a telephone interview, adding that Lynch was in a helicopter inspecting affected areas.

"There clearly were quite a number of houses that were damaged. Some of them appear to be completely flattened or large portions of them flattened," said New Hampshire's State Emergency Management spokesman, Jim Van Dongen.

Todd Gutner, a meteorologist at WBZ-TV, said that based on reports of damage it was likely the area was hit by a tornado, a rare occurrence in the region.

"I have never seen rain come down like that," Mike Hedstrom, a resident in Northwood, New Hampshire, told the television station. "Houses are down, roofs are off, trees are down," he added.


Thursday, 07/24/08

‘Region thrashed by severe storms’ – Providence [RI] Journal

Mother Nature unleashed her power on Rhode Island yesterday, sending a deluge of severe thunderstorms that hammered the state in a fast-moving sweep that knocked out power for thousands, created flash flooding and closures on major roadways and gave one man the shock of his life.

And the rains are not done yet.

According to meteorologist Alan Dunham from the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., Rhode Islanders will see more showers and thunderstorms off and on throughout today.

“What we have is a moist tropical air mass, with a slowly approaching cold front,” Dunham said. “As this front gets closer, we will see more. We have so much water sitting in the atmosphere, that [the clouds] can drop a tremendous amount of water in a short amount of time. You could see 1 to 2 inches of rain fall in an hour.”

The Weather Service said about 1.66 inches of rain fell at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick. Despite many calls, there was no confirmation that a tornado touched down anywhere in the state, Dunham said.

“We have several reports of funnel clouds. We will constantly go over and look at new damage reports. We did get a report of a water spout on Narragansett Bay,” he said.


Monday, 07/21/08

‘Lightning leaves 4 in critical condition’ – Boston Globe, front page

Ten spectators at a soccer game were injured - four of them critically - in Dorchester yesterday when they sought refuge under a gigantic tree that was struck by lightning during a ferocious storm that swept across the region.

"They [the victims] sought the quickest shelter, but unfortunately, lightning strikes the tallest object, and that was the tallest tree in the area," Michael Bosse, an EMS deputy supervisor, said at a press conference at Boston Medical Center last night. Later he added, "I've been on the job 27 years, and I've never had 10 people struck by lightning at once."

The storm tore through the Boston area about 3:30 p.m. and dropped nearly an inch of rain in less than an hour, according to the National Weather Service. Wind speeds in some parts of Greater Boston hit 45 miles an hour. Across the region, the storm downed trees and power lines, washed out streets, and knocked out traffic lights, weather service and police officials said. Several boats in Boston Harbor sent out distress signals.

One person was injured when lightning struck a restaurant in Hingham.

Part of Interstate 93 flooded near Columbia Road, backing up traffic for miles.

A National Grid spokeswoman said fewer than 1,000 customers throughout the state were without power last night. Another 4,000 NStar customers in and around Boston will not have service restored until late this morning, said a spokesman.

Rebecca Gould, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Taunton, said the storm struck quickly.

Yesterday's flash storm followed an earlier wave of storms that hit Western Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday, causing two towns to declare a state of emergency and leaving 300 families in Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire counties without power yesterday afternoon.

More thunderstorms are expected today.


Friday, 07/18/08

‘Heavy rain, flash floods drench Iowa’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Thunderstorms erupted across Iowa late Thursday and early Friday, bringing heavy rain to a state that's trying to recover from record flooding a month ago.

The National Weather Service says most of the rain overnight was in central and southern Iowa. By Friday morning, almost 4.8 inches of rain had fallen near Ames, with over 3 inches in the Des Moines area.

The heavy rain caused some street flooding in Des Moines, and sent small creeks rising.

Meteorologist Roger Vachalek says there wasn't a lot of severe weather, just a lot of rain in a short period of time.

Thunderstorms on Thursday brought heavy rain to northern Iowa, with almost 3 inches of rain in Waterloo and hail and strong winds around Fort Dodge.


Tuesday, 07/15/08

‘Calif. mountain towns clean up mud flows’ – per AP

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) — Bulldozers worked Tuesday to reopen roads and clear tons of mud left by flash floods after thunderstorms unleashed downpours on mountain slopes burned bare by California wildfires.

An evacuation warning remained in effect for about 80 homes in the Erskine Creek area of Lake Isabella, a Kern County near the 57-square-mile Piute Fire about 90 miles north of Los Angeles.

"It's safer if they just stay out til the threat ... is over," said fire spokeswoman Barbara Dougan.

One of the town's main streets was covered by ash and mud Monday afternoon.

Donna Campbell, who works in the town, said the mud covered one block of Lake Isabella Boulevard nearly 3 feet deep, she said, and "has people's belongings in it."

Afternoon thunderstorms over the mountains have dumped about an hour of heavy rain daily as temperatures in the 80s and 90s combined with a high-pressure system east of California that was bringing moisture up from Mexico, said Eric Boldt, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

A flash flood watch was in effect until late Tuesday in the Sierra Nevada and other areas. Wednesday was expected to be drier and the storms might abate, said Gary Sanger, a NWS meteorologist in Hanford.

Cleanup crews were still busy in the Inyo County town of Independence, below the eastern flank of the Sierra, where rain falling on the scars of last year's Inyo Complex wildfires triggered flash floods Saturday, damaging homes and covering U.S. 395 — the major artery of eastern California — with debris.

Cars were being escorted through a single lane of the highway, some 200 miles north of Los Angeles.

"The damage is devastating. It's amazing to me that no lives were lost, truly, because there was no warning," Inyo County sheriff's spokeswoman Carma Roper said.

"In some areas, there's feet of silt and debris that has washed down," she said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, citing an emergency he declared a year ago because of the Inyo Complex fires, declared a new state of emergency in Inyo County due to the flooding.


Tuesday, 07/15/08

‘Bertha becomes longest lived July storm’ – Fox News per AP,4670,BermudaTropicalWeather,00.html

Tropical Storm Bertha headed back out over open ocean and away from the U.S. mainland Tuesday after it battered Bermuda, knocking out electricity to thousands on the Atlantic tourist island.


It is the longest-lived July tropical storm in history, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Bertha became the Atlantic season's first hurricane, before weakening into a tropical storm. It is expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours, forecasters said.

The previous longest-lived storm, known as Storm No. 2, occurred in 1960 and lasted just over 12 days, according to forecaster Daniel Brown. Bertha is entering its 13th day.

The storm was centered 360 miles (580 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda Tuesday night, with sustained winds near 65 mph (100 kph), the center said. It was moving northeast at 6 mph (9 kph).

In Bermuda, the government dispatched cleanup crews and expected to restore power to 200 remaining customers by the end of the day. Bertha's heavy rains flooded roads and its winds felled utility poles, leaving up to 7,500 without electricity on Monday. There were no reports of injuries.

Bertha whipped up dangerous rip currents along the U.S. East Coast from the Carolinas through southern New England, contributing to at least one drowning Saturday along a New Jersey beach, officials said.


Tuesday, 07/08/08

‘Storms dump up to 8 inches of rain in Iowa’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Thunderstorms sweeping across Iowa early Tuesday brought heavy rain and created flash flooding that threatened a trailer park and sent water flowing over city streets.

In Indianola, south of Des Moines, a creek overflowed its banks and threatened a mobile home park shortly before 2 a.m. The Warren County sheriff's office says authorities were trying to get people out when the rain quit and the water quickly receded. No evacuation was needed.

The National Weather Service says a line of storms dumped up to 8 inches of rain on Davis and Van Buren counties, while around 5 inches of rain fell across Warren, Marion and Monroe counties.

In Bloomfield, up to 3 feet of water was covering several streets. Water was also flowing over streets in Melrose.


Wednesday, 07/02/08

‘Floods leave 20 times more mosquitoes in parts of Midwest’ – per AP

CHICAGO (AP) — First came the floods — now the mosquitoes. An explosion of pesky insects are pestering clean-up crews and just about anyone venturing outside in the waterlogged Midwest.

In some parts of Iowa there are 20 times the normal number, and in Chicago up to five times more than usual.

The good news is these are mostly floodwater mosquitoes, not the kind that usually carry West Nile virus and other diseases. But they are very hungry, and sometimes attack in swarms with a stinging bite.

Heavy rain followed by high temperatures creates ideal conditions for these bugs, whose eggs hatch in the soil after heavy rains. Scientists call them nuisance mosquitoes. You could call that an understatement.

"About 3 p.m. the bugs come out pretty bad. They're all over the place," Bill Driscoll, a flood cleanup worker in Palo, Iowa, said this week. "We've been burning through the repellent with the volunteers."

In Lisbon, Iowa, about 20 miles east of flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, biker Larry Crystal said mosquitoes have made his rides miserable.

"Every time I stop to rest at a rest area these buggers just find a way to bite me all over my neck area between my helmet and jacket," he wrote on a bikers' blog.

"They seem to be very aggressive, they're even coming into my helmet, finding any bits of skin," Crystal told The Associated Press. "They're just going at it."

Some mosquito surveillance traps in Iowa have up to 20 times more mosquitoes than in recent years, said Lyric Bartholomay, an Iowa State University insect expert.

For example, last week, 3,674 mosquitoes were counted in Ames-area traps, compared with 182 for the same week last year, Bartholomay said Wednesday. Trap quantities are just a tiny snapshot of the true numbers of mosquitoes flying around.

In Iowa, the main culprit is the Aedes trivittatus, a common nuisance mosquito with "a voracious appetite and they hurt when they feed on you," she said.

A relative called Aedes vexans is doing much of the biting in Chicago's suburbs, hit by recent heavy rains, said Mike Szyska of the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District.

Mosquito numbers in northwestern suburbs peaked last week at about five times higher than normal for this time of year, Szyska said.

Complaints and requests for insecticide spraying have the district "working day and night. We're extremely busy," he said.

Right now there's no evidence of higher than normal numbers of Culex mosquitoes, more commonly associated with West Nile virus. Several states have found evidence of West Nile, but only a few cases, which tend to start occurring later in July.

But health authorities say that could change with drier weather, which Culex mosquitoes prefer, so they're advising people to take precautions.

Culex mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and sludge in protected areas like ditches, storm drains or backyard bird baths and discarded tires, Szyska said.

"One thing that we're warning people with the flooded homes, as they're gutting them and getting rid of debris, make sure you dispose of that kind of stuff correctly," said Howard Pue of Missouri's Department of Public Health.


Saturday, 06/28/08

‘Violent storms rock Greater Boston’ – Boston Globe

A violent thunderstorm tore through Greater Boston yesterday afternoon, causing flash floods, pelting pedestrians with pea-size hail, knocking out power, and uprooting trees with wind gusts exceeding 55 miles per hour.

Lightning strikes set off fires in the penthouse of a seven-story Beacon Street building in the Back Bay and a three-family house on Pearl Street in Cambridge. Flash floods caused the eastbound lanes of Storrow Drive, near Kenmore Square, to be shut down, and a sink hole on Route 9 in Brookline forced a closure there.

About 20,000 NStar customers lost power - mostly in Newton, Watertown, and Waltham - largely because of trees or limbs falling on power lines, said Kate Leonard, a company spokeswoman. Power was restored for most customers by the evening.

Two-thirds of an inch of rain fell at Logan International Airport in roughly 30 minutes, said Bill Simpson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Taunton. He said the low number can be misleading in characterizing the storm's ferocity. Wind gusts at Harvard Bridge topped out at 57 miles per hour.

"It's not how much rain falls," he said, "it's the intensity of the storm."

The two-alarm Beacon Street fire, which was reported at 2:50 p.m., caused $5 million in damage and sent four firefighters to the hospital with minor burns and heat exhaustion, said Steve MacDonald, Fire Department spokesman.

In Cambridge, lightning hit the roof of a Pearl Street house at about 2:20 p.m., and flames were shooting out when firefighters arrived. No one was injured in the two-alarm blaze, which caused about $250,000 in damage, said Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Leonard.

The National Weather Service said Cambridge was also hit by a microburst, which is a localized downdraft that produces very strong, but brief, wind shears.


Saturday, 06/28/08

‘2 dead as severe storms rip Iowa, Neb.’ – per AP

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Severe storms with strong winds swept through the Plains on Friday, forcing swimmers practicing for U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha to flee pools and run for cover, killing two people in Iowa, and knocking out power to thousands.

Officials at the Qwest Center near downtown Omaha closed the building to examine it after superstar swimmer Michael Phelps and hundreds of other athletes were herded into hallways because of a tornado warning.

Water poured into the building, down arena steps and onto the deck of the competition pool during the storm. The storm's winds may have reached 100 mph in some areas, said meteorologist Bryon Miller.

An eight-day meet to decide the U.S. Olympic swimming team opens Sunday. Al Berndt, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said the damage appeared to be reparable and probably wouldn't halt the swim trials.

Across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa, two people died when a tree fell on the car they were in, said Police Sgt. Jason Bailey.

Damage reports in the region included toppled trees and power lines and hail the size of baseballs. Flash flood watches were issued across Iowa, where flooding has been a problem recently.

In Detroit, about 1½ inches of rain were dumped on the downtown area during the evening rush hour. Freeways and some surface streets were made impassable.


Thursday, 06/26/08

‘Warm, humid air fuels drenching rains in parts of Illinois and Missouri’ – Chicago Tribune,0,654508.story

Thunderstorms lambasted northern Missouri and sections of central Illinois producing 6- to 8-inch rain totals in a region still reeling from flooding and wet ground. The stunning rains were part of a complex of thunderstorms—what meteorologists refer to as an "MCS or Mesoscale Convective System." These are the bright clusters of thunderstorms visible on satellite animations that seem to spring from thin air—then linger for hours. A powerful and persistent low-level wind extending from the Gulf of Mexico north to the Plains fueled early Wednesday's storms, supplying them a rich, nearly unlimited supply of hot, humid, moisture-laden air which has dominated the Plains. Thunderstorms with MCSs are prolific lightning producers and can linger for 6 hours or more. Linneus, Mo., was hardest hit with 8.61 inches while nearby Ethel reported 7.88 inches. New storms flared late Wednesday in Iowa and threatened a new round of heavy rainfall. Golf-ball size hail and 60 m.p.h. winds accompanied the storms in Nevada, Iowa—just east of Ames.


Wednesday, 06/25/08

‘Hundreds of fires sparked by rare lightning storm’ – New York Times per AP

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- In less than a day, an electrical storm unleashed nearly 8,000 lightning strikes that set more than 800 wildfires across Northern California -- a rare example of ''dry lightning'' that brought little or no rain but plenty of sparks to the state's parched forests and grasslands.

The weekend storm was unusual not only because it generated so many lightning strikes over a large geographical area, but also because it struck so early in the season and moved in from the Pacific Ocean. Such storms usually don't arrive until late July or August and typically form southeast of California.

''You're looking at a pattern that's climatologically rare. We typically don't see this happen at this time of summer,'' said John Juskie, a science officer with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. ''To see 8,000, that's way up there on the scale.''

Thousands of firefighters battled the blazes Tuesday from the ground and air. The lightning-caused fires have scorched tens of thousands of acres and forced hundreds of residents to flee their homes, though few buildings have been destroyed, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

''It's just extremely, extremely dry,'' Berlant said. ''That means any little spark has the potential to cause a large fire. The public needs to be extra cautious because we don't need any additional wildfires.''

Despite the many lightning strikes that hit the ground on Saturday alone, the weekend thunderstorm brought little precipitation because the rain evaporated in hot, dry layers of the atmosphere before it hit the ground, Juskie said.

The lightning storm struck California when the state was experiencing one of its driest years on record. Earlier this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought and directed agencies to speed up water deliveries to drought-stricken areas. Many communities are have adopted strict conservation measures.

From San Francisco to Los Angeles, cities have only seen a tiny fraction of the rainfall they normally receive in a typical year. In the Central Valley, the cities of Sacramento, Modesto, Stockton and Red Bluff have recorded their driest March-to-May periods since at least the 19th century, according to the weather service.

''A combination of lightning and very dry fuels will spark fires,'' said Mark Strobin, a weather service meteorologist in Monterey. ''It doesn't take much nowadays especially with how dry it is.''

Even before the lightning struck, California had already seen an unusually large number of destructive wildfires with about 140 square miles burned, compared to about 66 square miles during the same period last year, according to state officials. The fire season typically does not peak until late summer or early fall.

''This doesn't bode well for the fire season,'' said Ken Clark, a meteorologist in Southern California with ''We're not even into the meat of the fire season at this point, and the brush is extremely dry. It's not going to get any better, it's going to get worse.''

The weekend's lightning storm combined with extremely dry conditions to spark about 840 separate blazes from the Big Sur area of Monterey County to Del Norte County on the Oregon border.

By contrast, 574 lightning-sparked fires blackened about 86 square miles in Northern California in all of 2007.

One of the state's worst wildfire years occurred in 2001, when more than 2,000 lightning-caused blazes burned about 289 square miles, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.


Wednesday, 06/25/08

‘Storms cause blackouts, car crashes’ – Cape Cod [MA] Times

As much as two inches of rain fell yesterday afternoon on the Mid- to Lower Cape as severe thunder and lightning storms swiftly swept through the region causing power outages and car crashes, according to the National Weather Service and local public safety officials said.

Torrential rain was accompanied by booming thunder and sporadic lightning from Bourne to Provincetown and out to the islands, according to police and fire officials. Mid-Cape residents were the recipients of penny-sized hail.

The rain was heaviest on the Mid-Cape, followed by the Lower Cape, the Upper Cape, and the islands, William Babcock of the National Weather Service in Taunton said. A severe thunder storm warning was posted yesterday afternoon for Barnstable County but was lifted at about 2:30 p.m. By late afternoon, the skies cleared with sunshine and rainbows, despite sporadic showers expected through the evening.

An NStar spokeswoman said there were about 3,000 residences without power at the height of the storm after three or four main power lines were hit by lightning in Yarmouth, Dennis and Barnstable, which bore the brunt of the outages. Sporadic outages were also confirmed in Bourne, Truro and Orleans, public safety officials said.

All but about 130 residences had their power restored as of 8 p.m., the spokeswoman said. NStar expected to have all power restored by the end of last night.

In a bizarre turn of events on Nantucket, a tree was struck by lightning at a home on Old South Road, then the lightning traveled under the road and blew out a window and a sunroof on a vehicle parked in the driveway, fire officials said. The lightning then re-entered the ground on the other side of the vehicle and entered the home, located at 90B Old South Road.

The lightning fried electronic appliances inside the home before exiting the house, a Nantucket fire department spokesman said. The current then proceeded to shatter the windows on a Jeep also parked outside, before continuing into the nearby garage, where more electronics were fried. The lightning made a final exit through a wall in the garage.

The fire department spokesman said the lightning left holes in the ground where it entered and exited, and blew gravel on top of the vehicles.


Monday, 06/23/08

‘Severe Weather Pounds State Sunday’ - WMUR, Manchester, NH

Hail, strong winds and rain battered New Hampshire on Sunday.

It was the first severe weather of summer. At one point, a tornado warning was in effect for parts of the state.


The system didn't produce any funnel clouds, but many residents in the Granite State were cleaning up after frequent lightning strikes and flash floods caused problems and some damage.


The brunt of the system had passed by 5 p.m. The intense storms rolled across the Lakes region at about 1 p.m. Powerful wind and heavy rain pounded towns in the area.


Through the most intense part of the storm, residents in Ashland weren't sure how much damage to expect.


It took only minutes to turn run-off ditches into overflowing rivers.


Storms hit the Lakes region hard, tearing at trees, slowing traffic and sending people running for cover. For nearly 30 minutes, Meredith and nearby towns saw some of the worst conditions.


Water poured toward Lake Winnipesaukee and flooded streets, overwhelming drains and forcing bikers to pull over.


"We figured we could make it to a bar or a tent, but we didn't make it that far," biker Tom Parks said. "We got some good-sized hail. They hurt when they hit your head."


The water dried up almost immediately after the storm finished, and overflowing storm drains returned to normal about five minutes later.


Monday, 06/22/08

‘Three weeks that changed the Midwest’ –

Near-record snowfalls this winter and heavy rains this spring have saturated the ground and swelled rivers across the upper Midwest.

Floods in Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana have forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, caused billions of dollars in damage, drowned vast fields of farmlands and strained the patience of people across the heartland. It will take months — if not years — to recover.

The roots of the Midwest flooding began this past winter, when 16 U.S. states from the Plains to New England endured one of their wettest winters ever recorded. By the end of the winter, seasonal snowfall was among the heaviest in 113 years of record-keeping for several Midwestern states. Cities such as Dubuque, Iowa, and Madison, Wis., set records for snowfall.

The spring continued the wet pattern in the Midwest. Five Midwestern states (Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana) experienced one of their wettest springs in 114 years. While the Midwest counts on frequent spring rains for a successful growing season, this spring's rainfall, on top of melting snow from the winter, proved to be too much of a good thing.

After record and near-record snows hit Iowa over the winter, the Hawkeye State was the bull's-eye for June rainfall. Flooding that started back in March worsened after heavy June rains forced streams and rivers out of their banks.


Sunday, 06/22/08

‘California heat wave forecast to cool down’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Californians exhausted by a nearly weeklong heat wave looked for relief Sunday from the triple-digit temperatures that have strained air conditioners and power companies.

Sunday's temperatures in much of the state were expected to be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the day before, the National Weather Service said.

Thermometers had surged all over the state on Saturday, reaching 95 degrees at San Jose, 105 at San Diego, 107 at Burbank and 107 at San Luis Obispo. Long Beach Airport posted a record high of 100.

A fresh round of power failures sent repair crews back into the field Saturday, just as service was restored to most of the 8,000 customers blacked out the day before.

By late Saturday, about 1,500 customers still lacked power, said Terry Schneider, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Saturday's demand for electricity in the Los Angeles area was a record for a weekend day in June, she said.

"As the heat increased, we were having more and more trouble maintaining the level of customer demand," Schneider said.

Wildfires also have erupted in the hot, dry weather, with the governor's office saying Saturday that lightning had sparked nearly 400 fires in Northern California. Firefighters feared additional blazes because of tinder-dry conditions following the driest spring on record.

At least one death has been linked to the heat, a 77-year-old woman who apparently left her car near the California-Arizona line south of Lake Havasu, Arizona, on Monday in search of her elderly husband.


Monday, 06/16/08

‘Early monsoon rains in India kill at least 23’ – per AP

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Annual monsoon rains swept across India about two weeks early, causing floods that have killed at least 23 people, officials said Monday.

Widespread rainfall cooled northern India, with the region's high temperature for Monday pegged at 93 degrees -- 11 degrees below normal, said Subhash Chander Bhan, the director of the India Meteorological Department.

The monsoon hit New Delhi on Sunday -- the earliest arrival of the rains in the city since record keeping began 108 years ago -- and would soon cover almost the entire country, Bhan said.

He did not think the early monsoon was linked to climate change. The early rains were due to an unusual weather system pulling moisture off the Bay of Bengal and dumping it on India, he said.

The monsoon usually begins sweeping across the subcontinent in early June, but rarely reaches New Delhi and the rest of northern India before the beginning of July.

The annual monsoon rains feed the farms that provide a livelihood for more than 60 percent of India's 1.1 billion people.

But they can also be deadly with some of the first fatalities in this year's monsoon being reported in recent days in India's remote northeast.

At least 23 people have been killed by a series of floods, landslides and building collapses caused by the front edge of the monsoon, officials in the states of Assam and Arunchal Pradesh said.

While reports from affected areas were still trickling in Monday, at least 50,000 people in one district in Assam were taken over the weekend from flooded areas to higher ground by rescuers using motorboats and row boats, said Bhumidhar Barman, the state's revenue minister.


Monday, 06/16/08

‘China flooding kills 57; more rain to come’ – per AP

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Massive flooding across a broad stretch of southern China killed almost 60 people and forced 1.3 million others from their homes, state media reported Monday.

People were forced to flee their homes across nine provinces, including Sichuan, still reeling from last month's earthquake that killed nearly 70,000 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said. At least 57 people died and eight were missing, Xinhua reported.

Heavy rain is expected to pummel the southern region over the next few days, said a spokesman at the China Meteorological Administration who refused to give his name, which is customary.

Water levels on the swollen Wujiang River in Guangdong province rose to nearly 79 feet, far surpassing the "dangerous level" of 20 feet, he said.

Heavy rain in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces will further raise water levels downstream, especially in the coastal manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong, Xinhua reported. Most of those areas are expected to receive more heavy rain over the next 10 days.

The worst-hit province was Guangdong, where 20 people died and eight were missing, and nearly 5.8 million people in 17 cities were affected, Xinhua said.

The North River (Bei Jiang) swallowed up a cluster of brick homes with orange-tile roofs on its banks, where about 100 people lived in the Sanshui district of Foshan, a city about an hour away from the provincial capital, Guangzhou.

Streets and houses along the Xijiang River in Guangdong were submerged in the worst flooding to hit the Pearl River Delta region in 50 years, the official China Daily newspaper said.

"A major flood is feared if rain continues," Huang Boqing, deputy director of the Guangdong flood control and drought relief headquarters, was quoted as saying.

Vegetable prices in Guangdong have risen by 70% in four cities including Guangzhou, the paper said.

Economic losses have reached $1.5 billion because of the floods, it said. More than 45,000 houses collapsed and 140,000 had been damaged.


Sunday, 06/15/08

‘Heavy rains flood downtown Rutland’ – Burlington [VT] Free Press

Some Vermont towns are recovering from flash floods that swept off mountainsides and through the streets Saturday night.

Ripton and Rutland were especially hard hit. Up to 7 inches of rain deluged Ripton, washing out part of Vermont 125 and some other town roads, the National Weather Service in South Burlington said.

In Rutland, as many as 80 properties were damaged, most with basement flooding but some with water in living areas, Vermont Emergency Management reported.

In Ripton, roads were reported washed out by the 7 inches of rain that fell in just a few hours Saturday evening. Billings Farm, Creek, Blake Roy and North Branch roads in Ripton were still closed shortly before noon Sunday, Vermont Emergency Management said.

Downtown Rutland flooded, as did about a dozen homes on Clover Street in Rutland, said Rutland City Police Sgt. John Sly. Some of those homes had water coursing through living rooms. “It is my understanding that some of those homes are unoccupyable for some time,” Sly said. 

“I have been in this community almost 28 years and I saw water last night where I have never seen water before,” Sly said.

The flooding in Rutland quickly developed by around 8 p.m. Fire departments from the city and surrounding towns raced to the flooding to evacuate people, secure floating objects and block streets, Sly said.

Radar estimates and reports showed several areas of central Vermont received 3 to 7 inches of rain. Rutland received 4.2 inches of rain, while other comminutes had just light showers. Burlington reported just 0.38 inches of rain, and Colchester had 0.08.

Slow moving thunderstorms navigating through very humid air caused the local flooding, meteorologists said. Saturday’s storms came just four days after other thunderstorms caused widespread wind damage in Vermont and pelted some communities with hail the size of golf balls.


Friday, 06/13/08

‘Flooding grows in upper Midwest; storms pound Michigan’ – per AP

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- The Cedar River poured over its banks Thursday, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 homes, causing a railroad bridge to collapse and leaving cars underwater on downtown streets.

Officials estimated that 100 blocks were underwater in Cedar Rapids, where several days of preparation could not hold back the rain-swollen river.

Rescuers had to use boats to reach many stranded residents, and people could be seen dragging suitcases up closed highway exit ramps to escape the water.

"We're just kind of at God's mercy right now, so hopefully people that never prayed before this, it might be a good time to start," Linn County Sheriff Don Zeller said. "We're going to need a lot of prayers and people are going to need a lot of patience and understanding."

Officials estimated that 3,200 homes were evacuated and 8,000 residents displaced.

Days of heavy rain across the state have sent nine rivers across Iowa to or over historic flood levels. Residents were already steeling themselves for floods before storms late Wednesday and early Thursday brought up to 5 inches of rain across west central Iowa.

"We are seeing a historic hydrological event taking place with unprecedented river levels occurring," said Brian Pierce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Davenport. "We're in uncharted territory -- this is an event beyond what anybody could even imagine."

Gov. Chet Culver has declared 55 of the state's 99 counties state disaster areas.

In Des Moines, Iowa, officials said they were urging residents to evacuate more than 200 homes north of downtown because of concerns that the Des Moines River would top a nearby levee. Some residents also were ordered to evacuate homes along rivers in Iowa City and Coralville.

In Cedar Rapids, a city of about 124,000, floodwaters downtown neared the top of stop signs and cars were nearly covered in water. It wasn't clear just how high the river had risen because a flood gauge was swept away by the swirling water.

The surging river caused part of a railroad bridge and about 20 hopper cars loaded with rocks to collapse into the river. The cars had been positioned on the bridge in hopes of weighing it down against the rising water.

Several emergency shelters were opened, and the city had closed all but one of its bridges over the Cedar River.

In Austin, Minnesota, the Cedar River crested 7.4 feet above flood stage. The river went about 5 feet higher in a 2004 flood that caused major damage in the city.

"It seems like we're having the hundred-year flood every four years. It's absurd," said Mark Dulitz, who had 4 inches of water in his basement and a ring of sandbags around his house.

Flooding this week also caused damage across southern Wisconsin, as thunderstorms continued pounding the area on Thursday.

Iowa County Emergency Management Director Ken Palzkill said his county saw an "unprecedented" amount of rain Thursday afternoon. He said the village of Cobb got 3 inches of rain in an hour.

The weather service issued flash flood watches for southern Wisconsin with tornado watches in central and eastern areas. Several tornadoes briefly touched down, but no injuries were reported.

Flash flooding in Grant County in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin closed two highways and required rescues, authorities said. Three homes were destroyed and others had major damage from the flooding, which reached several feet deep in spots, said Julie Loeffelholz of Grant County Emergency Management.

Violent thunderstorms Thursday night rattled Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula, where tornado watches and warnings were in effect.

Just southeast of Grand Rapids, Michigan, crews pulled the body of a motorist from a car found drifting in the swollen Thornapple River. State police said they believe the 57-year-old man called on his cell phone but didn't say what happened or where he was; they found him using global positioning equipment.

People in several northern Missouri communities, meanwhile, were piling up sandbags to prepare for flooding in the Missouri River, expected to crest over the weekend, and a more significant rise in the Mississippi River expected Wednesday.


Thursday, 06/12/08

‘East Coast heat wave’s death toll passes 30; 15 in Philly’ – per AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Deaths blamed on the East Coast's recent heat wave climbed past 30 Thursday with various coroner's reports, and 15 of the deaths were in Philadelphia alone.

The Philadelphia medical examiner's office said seven people found dead Wednesday died of heat-related causes. On Wednesday the office had reported eight other heat-related deaths in the four days of scorching temperatures.

Most of the victims in Philadelphia and elsewhere were elderly.

New York City's medical examiner, which attributed six deaths to the heat wave Wednesday, added a seventh Thursday: an 88-year-old man found in his Brooklyn home with hyperthermia, an abnormal elevation of body temperature.

Another seven heat-related deaths have been reported in Virginia. Two have been reported in Maryland, including one man who collapsed after using a push lawnmower in the heat.

The region suffered through temperatures in the high 90s from Saturday through Tuesday.

Philadelphia medical examiner's spokesman Jeff Moran said city's death toll was "a bit high, but I would not call it that unusual."

He noted that some heat waves in the 1990s had been far deadlier, with 118 deaths ruled as heat-related in 1993 and more than 70 in 1995. Also, the fact that this heat wave was the first of 2008 was a factor, he said.

"The first heat wave of the season usually hits a good deal harder," Moran said.


Wednesday, 06/11/08

‘City takes heat records’ – Concord [NH] Monitor

Yesterday brought a record high temperature of 98 degrees to Concord, three degrees higher than the previous high set in 1959. Another daily record high of 94 degrees was set Sunday.

"We had a typical Bermuda-high type setup, with big high pressure off the Atlantic Coast and a steady southwest flow of air just bringing the air in from the Gulf Coast states," said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cempa.


Wednesday, 06/11/08

‘Region anticipates a heat wave goodbye’ – Boston Globe

Temperatures across Massachusetts soared above 90 degrees for the fourth straight day yesterday, breaking records in some areas, but a cold front is expected to help the region cool off today.

While a sea breeze stopped the heat from breaking records yesterday in Boston, National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham said the high of 94 degrees in Worcester was three degrees hotter than a 1984 record. The mercury hit 96 degrees in Providence, two degrees above a 1974 record.

Temperatures should max out in Boston at 88 today, according to the National Weather Service.

But yesterday in Massachusetts, heat forced early dismissal or outright closing of some buildings without air conditioning. All 8,000 public school students in Taunton were dismissed early, something that hasn't happened in more than 20 years, said Superintendent Arthur Stellar. Fall River elementary and middle schools, which do not have air conditioning, were dismissed at 10:30 a.m. Arlington Superintendent Nate Levenson told parents yesterday morning that their children's attendance was optional.

Ozone levels in Boston were higher than normal, said Joe Ferson, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Education. Winds from the southwest brought even more ozone to the region, Ferson said.


Tuesday, 06/10/08

‘New Storms Cause Flooding in Three States’ – New York Times, p. A11

CHICAGO — A stalled storm system poured heavy rain on parts of the Midwest on Monday, setting off severe flooding in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, where already swollen rivers and lakes overflowed their banks, broke through dams and created havoc for thousands of residents.

The stationary storm aggravated a dangerously soggy situation. Thunderstorms that began late last week had brought 6 to 10 inches of rain to parts of the region, meteorologists said, leaving the ground saturated.

There were no new fatalities reported as of late Monday. Over the weekend, however, the storms were responsible for 10 deaths in four states, officials said.

In Wisconsin, at least 90 roads and highways were closed because of flooding, which also caused three dams to fail and four to have water spill over. At least three houses were swept away as gushing lake water cut a new path through Lake Delton, a small town north of Madison.

“The water reached such a level that it found its own channel, took out a highway and the houses around it,” said Mike Goetzman, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center in Madison. “We have many dams at their limits.”

Thousands of residents evacuated flood-ravaged communities in 30 counties across the state. The Red Cross opened shelters, and prison inmates were dispatched to help with sandbagging.

In Iowa, some river levels were exceeding records, and a concentration of heavy flooding hampered the northeastern and central part of the state. In Indiana, residents tried to raise a mile of levee by three feet along the White River at Elnora, southwest of Indianapolis, where the river was expected to crest and flood.

While Tuesday is expected to offer some relief, meteorologists said there was a possibility of rain returning to the central Plains states on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, the most significant rainfall that is expected will fall on the areas already experiencing flooding,” said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Late last week and into the weekend, the storm system also spun off tornadoes. But as moist air from the south became more stable, Mr. Keeney said, thunderstorms became the system’s dominant feature.

Some longtime Wisconsin residents who live on the water were surprised at the extent of the flooding damage.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said Jill Zapp, who lives in Lake Delton, a resort area. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve never seen anything like this destruction. People are doing the best they can.”


Monday, 06/09/08

‘Heat sets records in S.C., knocks out power in N.Y.’ –

GREER, S.C. — It was hotter in the South Carolina Upstate this weekend than it has been for 75 years.

The National Weather Service said Monday that the temperature at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport reached a record high of 100 degrees on Sunday, breaking the old record of 97 degrees set in 1933.

On Saturday, the high temperature was 99 degrees, breaking the old record of 98 also set in 1933.

Forecasters say high pressure along the Atlantic coast coupled with southerly winds and clear skies Monday will continue to stoke temperatures into the upper 90s and low 100s from the Carolinas into New England.

In the Washington, D.C. area, scorching temperatures and stifling humidity are expected to also continue through Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to reach 95 to 100 degrees both days. It could feel more like 105 with the humidity.

More than 2,000 people are still without power following last week's storm.

Storms knocked out power for New York City dwellers, which also must battle record-high temperatures.

Sunday's high temperature in Central Park hit 93 degrees, just shy of the 95-degree record for the date, set in 1933.

The relentless heat comes a day after thunderstorms tossed trees on train tracks, delayed airlines for hours and knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses.

Consolidated Edison reported about 1,300 outages in Brooklyn, mainly in the Boerum Hill section, due to smoking cables underground. There were scattered outages on Staten Island, in Queens and in Westchester County. Crews were working to restore service.

"Our second hot day and they can't even handle it," Christine Rankin said in Monday editions of the Daily News as she sat on the stoop of her Brooklyn home waiting for her power to be restored.

More than 5,740 Long Island Power Authority customers were without electricity Monday morning after the previous night's storms. They are mostly in Rockaway Peninsula, where almost 2,400 customers were without power, and in Brookhaven with 1,500 outages.


Sunday, 06/08/08

‘Floods, storms kill 3 in Midwest’ – per AP

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A possible tornado toppled trees in Nebraska and record flooding chased people from their Indiana homes early Sunday as the Midwest braced for still more violent weather.

At least one person downed in the Indiana flooding and one was missing since more than 10 inches of rain swamped the state this weekend. Twenty-one counties had been declared disasters, said John Erickson, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

In Michigan, two delivery workers for The Grand Rapids Press drowned early Sunday when their car became submerged in a creek that washed out a road, the newspaper said.

The National Weather Service forecast more damaging weather Sunday in the Midwest, and posted severe storm warnings for parts of Illinois and Wisconsin.

"We not out of the woods yet," weather service hydrologist Al Shipe said.

The rising White River led officials in the southern city of Seymour to order a mandatory evacuation of more than 100 homes Sunday morning.

Record flooding also continued along the Wabash and Flatrock rivers, Erickson said. A Johnson County dam was breached by the high water but had not failed, he said.

"It's in bad shape," Erickson said.

Shelters set up in the southern Indiana city of Columbus were filled with people, Erickson said.

More than 250 patients and employees were evacuated from Columbus Regional Hospital in southern Indiana, and 150 residents were taken out of a flooded nursing home in Morgan County, southwest of Indianapolis.

In Omaha, a possible tornado touched down, smashing a tree onto a house. No deaths or major injuries have been reported.

Rain continued falling Sunday in Wisconsin, where a day earlier strong storms with baseball-size hail and high wind blew roofs off homes, toppled trees and power lines, and injured at least six people.

Illinois residents were measuring the damage caused by Saturday's twisters in Chicago's suburbs, where minor injuries were reported.


Saturday, 06/07/08

‘Heavy rains pound Hong Kong, cause floods, landslides’ – per AP

HONG KONG (AP) — Heavy rains unleashed flooding and landslides early Saturday in Hong Kong, shutting down roads and air traffic throughout the territory, officials said.

Rescuers were searching for two people believed trapped after a roadside store that collapsed in torrential rains in the New Territories suburb, authorities said.

"The heavy rainfall has loosened the mud. There's a chance of further landslides. It makes the operation more difficult," fire commander Tam Yiu-kei said.

Flooding disrupted traffic at Hong Kong International Airport, with a highway to the airport covered in muddy water. Several cars were trapped on the highway, Hong Kong Cable TV footage showed.

More than 150 flights were delayed, and one inbound flight was canceled, authorities said.

The storm, fueled by a trough of low pressure over the South China Sea, caused almost 40 landslides and 125 floods across the territory, government spokeswoman Suzanne Lee said.

Nearly 12 inches of rain fell Saturday morning, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which issued rainstorm and landslide warnings.

Hong Kong's rainy season usually takes place between April and September.


Friday, 06/06/08

‘Storms sweep Midwest; tornado in Minnesota’ – per AP

EMMAVILLE, Minnesota (AP) -- Strong storms smashed houses, deluged neighborhoods, toppled trees and left thousands without power across the Midwest on Friday in the latest round of fierce weather. No injuries were reported.

A tornado raked a half-mile-wide path of destruction in northwestern Minnesota, where a house overlooking Pickerel Lake near Emmaville was destroyed, it's contents spilling down the hill. Wooden chairs and tables were floating below. Nearby was a concrete slab the size of a two-car garage, but whatever structure once sat on it was blown away.

Flooding forced the evacuation of about a dozen homes in the central Iowa town of Cambridge, but areas to the southwest saw some of their roads and buildings re-emerge from subsiding waters in a much-needed respite from severe weather.

Heavy rains that began Thursday night seeped into most basements and at least one foundation collapsed, said Lori Morrissey, Story County's emergency management coordinator.

"The ground is just fully saturated," Morrissey said. "The runoff from the community just all comes to that part of town. This is probably the worst it's ever been."

In Illinois, the Chicago Department of Aviation said high winds and storms were causing delays and cancellations at the city's airports.

Delays at O'Hare International Airport were averaging two hours Friday night, and more than 200 flights were canceled. At Midway Airport, some flights were delayed 20 minutes.

In Missouri, the Washington County Sheriff's Department said there were reports of a tornado touching down near Richwoods, about 65 miles southwest of St. Louis. No damage was immediately reported.

Flash flooding forced highways closed in Missouri and Minnesota, where a storm caused widespread damage in Park Rapids and an unincorporated town north of it called Emmaville.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels declared 41 counties disaster areas -- the first step to gain federal aid -- after severe storms and tornadoes. One person was killed and at least 10 injured in the round of storms this week.


Thursday, 06/05/08

‘Severe weather system causes 3 deaths across USA’ – per AP

ANNANDALE, Va. (AP) — A band of storms that moved east from Indiana on Wednesday splintered homes, swept vehicles from flooded roads and dumped a historic covered bridge into a river. Three people were killed.

A woman died Wednesday afternoon when a tree fell on a vehicle in Annandale, a Washington, D.C., suburb, a fire department spokesman said.

Earlier Wednesday, authorities in West Virginia recovered the body of a 20-year-old man swept away while trying to drive his truck through high water. Gov. Joe Manchin declared a state of emergency in at least 15 West Virginia counties after flooding and mudslides closed numerous roads. Some places reported more than 3 inches of rain.

In storm-weary central Indiana, state police said a woman died Wednesday morning when she drove her car into rushing flood waters. A wave of thunderstorms that began Tuesday caused widespread flash flooding, with 5 inches of rain reported overnight in some areas.

A meteorologist in Virginia said storms in the mid-Atlantic were part of the same weather system that moved through the Midwest and Ohio Valley earlier Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, severe weather including high winds and rain hit Iowa, Colorado and Nebraska. In Nebraska, the Weather Service confirmed at least one tornado hit, but no serious injuries were immediately reported.

In the mid-Atlantic, hundreds of thousands of people lost power and train service was disrupted just ahead of rush hour Wednesday.

In Chesapeake Beach, Md., Mayor Gerald Donovan said one person was injured after an apparent tornado touched down and ripped the roofs and siding off several homes.

"It scared a lot of people in our town," Donovan told WRC-TV. "We're all very grateful more damage wasn't done."

Funnel clouds were reported in other parts of the region.

The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., had not confirmed whether any tornadoes touched down, said meteorologist Brandon Peloquin. He said teams would likely go out later to assess the damage.


Wednesday, 06/04/08

‘Central America sees deadly floods after storms’ – per AP

BELIZE CITY - Flash flooding carried away houses and ripped a child from his father's grasp in Belize, while falling trees killed two people in Honduras, raising the death toll from Central America's twin tropical storms this week to at least nine.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow declared a disaster area Tuesday in southern Belize's Stann Creek Valley, and the government rushed food, water and clothing to more than 13,000 people affected by the floods.

Over the weekend, Pacific Tropical Storm Alma swept over Belize hours before Tropical Storm Arthur roared in from the Caribbean at the Mexico-Belize border.

The government confirmed four people died and three were missing.

Nicaragua's navy announced it found the storm-wrecked boat and body of one of three Costa Rican fishermen missing since Thursday, and it was still searching for the two other missing men.

One man was electrocuted earlier by wind-whipped power lines in Nicaragua.

Strong winds knocked down trees in Honduras on Tuesday, killing a man and a woman, said regional emergency chief Carlos Gonzalez. Honduran forecasters blamed the winds and rain on the remnants of Arthur. A 7-year-old girl drowned earlier in Honduras.

In Belize, high waters left dozens stranded on their roofs and damaged highways. Work to repair one important highway proved futile after waters rose overnight and washed away the repaired section.

The destruction of the bridge cut off access to the port at Big Creek, threatening oil and shrimp exports. The government said it would build a provisional single span bridge until it can construct a permanent replacement.

The weather also wiped out papaya plantations, shrimp farms and rice crops.

Several countries offered aid. British helicopters helped rescue stranded people, while Mexico provided a chopper capable of carrying two truckloads of relief supplies.

Officials in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Tabasco reported that thousands of people were forced from their homes by flooding.

Mexico's Communications and Transportation Department said Tuesday that the Gulf oil port of Dos Bocas had reopened while Cayo Arcas still was closed because of strong winds and rough seas. Mexico exports roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, mainly to the U.S. Gulf Coast.


Wednesday, 06/04/08

‘Thunderstorms, tornadoes pound Midwest, head East’ – per AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Thunderstorms streamed across the Ohio Valley on Wednesday after a night of tornadoes that destroyed numerous homes in central Indiana.

No deaths were reported.

The National Weather Service posted flash flood warnings Wednesday for parts of Indiana, saying as much as 4 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours with an additional 1.5 inches possible. It issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

One tornado hit the small Indiana community of Moscow in Rush County, reducing numerous homes to rubble and injuring at least five people, one critically, state police Sgt. John Bowling said.

Another tornado damaged several buildings at the Indiana National Guard's Camp Atterbury, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis. Two soldiers suffered minor injuries as they sought shelter, camp spokesman Capt. Greg Lundeberg said.

In Ohio, weather service meteorologist Andy Hatzos in Wilmington said countless funnel clouds had been reported by early Wednesday, but no tornadoes had been confirmed.

Rain fell at a rate of 2 inches an hour in parts of Ohio, the weather service said. Flooding was reported in several communities around Dayton.

About 24,000 Duke Energy customers in the Cincinnati area lost power but most were back on line Wednesday, the company said.

WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, was knocked off the air Tuesday night and couldn't broadcast its night newscast, news director Steve Diorio said.

Parts of Illinois are cleaning up wind damage and flooding. The weather service said central Illinois got more than 3 inches of rain Tuesday, notably around Springfield and Decatur, causing minor flooding in the basements of some University of Illinois buildings.


Monday, 06/02/08

‘Record Heat Sweeps Borderland’ – KFOX News, El Paso, TX

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso has seen record-breaking, triple-digit heat over the past few days and it has firefighters busy.


“During the last few days, the fire department has responded to several heat related emergencies,” said El Paso Fire Department spokesman Lt. Mario Hernandez.


Monday, El Paso reached a high of 101 degrees. The heat didn't stop people strolling through downtown El Paso from enjoying the day.


"We just keep shopping and this is great,” said Elisa Ohnmacht. “We try to stay in the shade."


Other people resorted to using an umbrella to block the sun, while others sipped bottled water. For construction workers who have to bear the heat for at least eight hours, they have methods for survival.


“Basically just got to drink plenty of water, cool down,” said construction worker Victor Beyer. “You know it’s pretty hot.”


The Borderland is expected to stay in the 100s at least until Friday. In Las Cruces, the triple digits should lighten up by Thursday.


Sunday, El Paso hit a recored [sic] breaking high of 103 degrees.


Sunday, 06/01/08

‘Torrential rains cause flooding in several towns in Spain’s northern Basque region’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

GETXO, Spain: Heavy rains have unleashed floods in suburbs surrounding the Basque region's main city of Bilbao, and rescuers were trying to reach several people trapped in their homes and cars, officials said Sunday.

Water levels in some parts of the seaside resort suburb of Getxo has reached the top of cars.

Roads were closed and many over-ground and subway train services were halted, Basque broadcaster etb said.

Getxo and other Bilbao suburbs Algorta, Erandio and Gobela were on alert, with weather forecasts predicting heavy rain through Sunday, the spokeswoman said.

The overnight rains caused three rivers, including the Nervion and Gobela around Bilbao, to overflow, causing the floods, Landa said.

Rivers were already swollen after many days of rain in May. Landa said the flooding was exacerbated at high tide, which occurs around 15:30 p.m. (1330GMT) in the port city.

The Basque meteorological service's Web site said more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain had fallen in 15 hours.


Sunday, 06/01/08

Atlantic season’s 1st tropical storm forms near Belize’ –

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic season, formed Saturday near the coast of Belize, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm made its way over land and was expected to weaken, but the center said the storm could re-emerge in the Gulf of Mexico and regain intensity Sunday.

The government of Belize issued a tropical storm warning for the nation's coast, and the government of Mexico issued a tropical storm warning from Cabo Catoche south to the border with Belize.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area -- in this case, within the next six to 12 hours.

The storm was forecast to dump up to 10 inches of rain over Belize, up to 15 inches in isolated areas, the hurricane center said.

The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season begins Sunday.

On Thursday, Tropical Storm Alma, the first one of the year in the eastern Pacific, formed near the west coast of Central America, according to the National Weather Service. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression and dissipated over the high terrain of Central America.

The federal government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted this month that theAtlantic season would be more active than normal, with up to 16 named storms and up to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or above.

The noted Colorado State University hurricane forecasting team predicted this year that there would be 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

The team calculated a 69 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coast.


Friday, 05/30/08

‘Severe storms batter Nebraska, Iowa’ – per AP

AURORA, Neb. — Flooding concerns linger in the wake of a storm system that spawned tornadoes that hit Kearney, Aurora and hail and high winds that pounded other south-central Nebraska towns before roaring east into Iowa.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for several rivers and creeks in eastern and south-central Nebraska Friday. The service said its radar indicated rainfall totals of more than 4 inches in some areas.

The ground in many parts of central and eastern Nebraska already was saturated by recent storms.

So far Friday, there were no overnight reports of deaths or major injuries.

Tornadoes caused widespread damage in Kearney, where about 90 rail cars were derailed outside the city limits. The weather service confirmed two tornadoes hit the area.

About 65 miles to the east, a tornado struck the southern side of Aurora in south-central Nebraska. Authorities said a few businesses and several houses were damaged there.

There were also reports of a tornado near Fairbury in southeast Nebraska, about 15 miles from the Kansas border.

Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency Thursday night, which allows access to state and federal resources for storm cleanup. He readied the Nebraska National Guard in case its help was needed.

"We won't know the full extent of the damage until tomorrow. However, it appears that Kearney was hardest hit, and that is where our assistance will be focused overnight," Heineman said late Thursday.

He was headed to Kearney Friday, and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy was headed to Aurora to assess damage and talk to local officials.

State officials closed down Interstate 80 from Aurora to York just before 8 p.m. because of downed power lines. It has since reopened.

Flood warnings were issued for several creeks in the eastern third of the state and along the Platte, Big and Little Blue rivers and the Elkhorn River.

Corey King, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Hastings, said Grand Island reported 1.37 inches of rain in the past 24 hours. Other figures included 1.66 inches in Hebron and 1.73 inches in Shelton, which is between Grand Island and Kearney.

The rain-laded storms missed most of Dawson County, which reported more than 11 inches of rain late last week.

In Iowa, weather officials are still assessing damage caused by severe storms and tornadoes that roared into the state overnight into Friday.

"We're still trying to get a handle on exactly everything that occurred," said Jeff Johnson with the weather service.

The severe weather follows a tornado last weekend that tore through Parkersburg and nearby towns in northeastern Iowa killing seven people and destroying hundreds of homes.


Friday, 05/30/08

‘2008 twisters on record-setting path’ –

The 2008 tornado season has been the second most lethal since record-keeping became more reliable 11 years ago, according to National Weather Service data.

There have been 14 deaths per 100 tornadoes so far this year, second only to 1998, which saw a fatality rate of 18 deaths per 100 tornadoes through the same period.

On average, there have been eight deaths per 100 twisters from Jan. 1 to May 31 in the years 1997 through 2007, according to numbers provided by the National Weather Service and analyzed by USA TODAY.

"The tornadoes have been stronger," says Greg Forbes, a severe-weather expert at The Weather Channel. "We've had a lot of strong, wide, long-track tornadoes. There's been lots of opportunities for them to hit people in their path."

Forbes says more of these intense tornadoes have occurred east of the flat and sparsely populated "Tornado Alley" states. They include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, eastern Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. This year's batch has often hit east of the Mississippi, where more wooded and rolling terrain and hazier skies offer less warning time in more densely populated areas.

Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee have each averaged 88.5 twisters this year compared with an average of 41.8 in each of the Tornado Alley states.

Greg Carbin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., estimates that about 800 of the 1,191 tornadoes reported this year were unique events. Before 1997, a lot of lesser tornadoes and tornadoes that didn't hit structures were not reported, so those totals are less reliable, Carbin says.

Forbes says the USA's geography, with a cool jet stream flowing east out of the Rocky Mountains and warm, moist air rushing north from the Gulf of Mexico, creates more large, twisting thunderstorms that spawn tornadoes than anywhere else in the world. This year, warmer-than-usual Gulf temperatures and a colder-than-normal winter in the West made matters worse. When temperatures warm earlier, tornadoes occur earlier, he says. February, for example, was the largest tornado outbreak on record, with at least 79 tornadoes hitting 10 states.

Typically, May has the most tornadoes, followed by June, and fewer people are killed by tornadoes in the year's latter half.

The conditions that led to the devastating storms thus far this year are likely to give way to shorter and more sporadic events, Carbin says. Whether that means fewer deaths is hard to say.

"We've seen fatalities into December," Carbin says. "So I hate to say that the worst is over."


Wednesday, 05/28/08

‘Lander [WY] gets record may rainfall’ – per AP

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) - Parts of central Wyoming received record-breaking amounts of precipitation since last week as a wet weather system stalled over the state, meteorologists said.


Dan Day, A meteorologist with the DayWeather forecasting service, said Tuesday that Lander's 6.08 inches of rain so far this month makes this the town's wettest May on record. Nearly 5 inches fell on the town between Thursday and Tuesday.


This month's rain surpassed Lander's previous record total of 6.03 inches that fell in May 1957. Lander's average for May is 2.4 inches of precipitation.


"What's amazing about this is that Lander, just a couple weeks ago, was on track for one of its driest Mays ever, if not its driest," Day said. "It went from the driest to the wettest in five days."


Day said Platte, Converse, Natrona, Fremont, Hot Springs, Johnson, Sheridan and Campbell counties have all received from 2 to 5 inches of moisture since Thursday.


Jim Fahey, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton, said Riverton received record single-day rainfall totals in two out of the storm's five days.


The stretch of stormy weather was caused by a cold front that moved into Wyoming and then stalled over south-central Wyoming, said Dave Scheibe, of the Weather Service's Riverton office. Damp, upslope winds caused the air to cool off and produce precipitation, he said.


Wednesday, 05/28/08

‘Torrential rain kills 28 in south China’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Torrential rains that killed 28 people in southern China were forecast Wednesday to continue for the next three days.

Eighteen people have died in flooding in southern Guizhou province since Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Tuesday. Twelve were missing.

More than 500,000 people in 17 cities and counties in Guizhou were affected, the news agency said. About 6,700 houses were damaged since rains started to fall.

Meanwhile, three people were killed by thunder and lightning after a storm in central Hubei province, the report said. It did not say when they died.

Seven people were also killed in weather-related incidents in Hunan province Monday, Xinhua said, and heavy precipitation in Jiangxi province, bordering Hunan to the east, stranded 4,000 people.

Torrential rains were forecast for the next three days in central and eastern China, the China Meteorological Administration said in a notice on its Web site on Wednesday.


Monday, 05/26/08

‘Deadly storms shred central U.S. towns, injure dozens’ – per Des Moines Register

PARKERSBURG, Iowa — Residents began returning to this small Iowa community Monday after a mile-wide tornado reduced large sections of four towns to rubble Sunday, killing at least six people and injuring as many as 70.

"We're hopeful in terms of these numbers being final, but it's possible that they will change," said Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.

Powerful storms packing large hail, heavy rain and tornadoes made for a deadly Memorial Day weekend across the nation's midsection, with deaths in Iowa, Minnesota and Kansas.

Of the 70 people injured, four were in critical condition, Culver said.

Mayor Bob Haylock described Parkersburg as "a total disaster."

More than 400 homes were damaged. Of those, 200 were destroyed. Twenty-one businesses were lost to the storm. In some cases, people have not only lost their homes but also their jobs, Culver said.

Four people were killed in Parkersburg and two others in nearby New Hartford, Haylock said.

Haylock said one-third of Parkersburg, which has about 1,900 residents, was destroyed. "I don't think words really cover it," he said.

Parkersburg residents were told to evacuate the town Sunday night, and they began returning early Monday morning. No water, electricity or sanitary sewers were available Monday, and about 5,500 homes and businesses were without power.

In Minnesota, north of St. Paul, the violent storm that struck the town of Hugo on Sunday killed 2-year-old Nathaniel Prindle and injured his young sister, Washington County officials said. The boy's father and his 4-year-old sister were hospitalized in stable condition, and his mother was released after treatment, authorities said.

The storms came after three days of violent weather elsewhere across the nation. Rural Oklahoma was battered Saturday and storms in Kansas a day earlier killed at least two people.


Saturday, 05/24/08

‘Tornadoes tear through Kansas, Oklahoma; Colorado cleans up’ –

Tornadoes formed Saturday over northern Oklahoma, skipping across the rural landscape and vaporizing a hog farm about an hour northwest of Oklahoma City, officials said.

The twisters touched down during the third consecutive day of severe weather in Oklahoma.

A tornado touched down Friday night in Harper County, damaging power lines and bringing a sudden halt to a high school graduation, KMTV reported.

The storms gathered intensity as they traveled into Kansas, where they turned fatal.

Two people were found dead east of Pratt in south central Kansas on Saturday in a car accident caused by a tornado, the Pratt County Sheriff's Office said.

Forecasters said Saturday that at least a dozen tornadoes spun across western and central Kansas a day earlier, destroying numerous homes, downing trees and injuring several people.

The National Weather Service in Dodge City said that at least 10 twisters touched down in central Kansas, and the Goodland office reported seven or eight in the western part of the state.

At least four people were hurt in Stafford County, including one person who was taken to a Wichita hospital with serious injuries, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's Department.

Meanwhile in Colorado, where a large tornado devastated the northern farm town of Windsor, residents were expected to return to their homes in an area of town that officials had deemed unsafe after Thursday's twister.

Natural gas leaks and the threat of explosions had kept hundreds of residents from their homes Friday.

In Kansas, the weather service sent out survey teams Saturday morning to determine the size of the twisters. Ed Berry, science operations officer in the Dodge City office, said many of the twisters appear to be significant in size.

Portions of Kansas also have been hit hard by flooding, with as much as 8 inches of rain falling in a 48-hour period, according to Chris Foltz, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Goodland.


Friday, 05/23/08

‘Tornado Kills One in Northern Colorado’ – New York Times per AP

WINDSOR, Colo. (AP) -- Residents of a devastated neighborhood grabbed what they could from their debris-strewn homes before police imposed an overnight curfew after a tornado swept through northern Colorado, killing one person and injuring 13.

The twister skipped through several towns in Weld County on Thursday, damaging or destroying dozens of homes, businesses, dairies and farms. The storm system pelted the region with golf-ball-size hail, swept vehicles off roads and tipped 15 rail cars off the tracks in Windsor, a farm town about 70 miles north of Denver.

''It sounded like all the doors were being torn off the house,'' said Kelly Keil, who grabbed her 5-year-old daughter and took cover in a closet in her home, which was spared major damage.

Gov. Bill Ritter toured the area and declared a local state of emergency, but an inventory of damaged homes had to wait until daylight Friday. Federal, state and local officials were assembling damage assessment teams overnight.

Severe storms, some including tornadoes, also ripped through parts of Wyoming, Kansas and California on Thursday.

Heavy equipment cleared trees, utility poles, and mangled wood and metal from the streets of the east Windsor neighborhood where the most damage occurred. Police enforced an overnight curfew to deter looting and ensure residents' safety in case of natural gas leaks, while officers with search dogs went door to door to look for anyone missing.

The large storm cloud descended nearly without warning, touching down near Platteville, about 50 miles north of Denver. Over the next hour, it moved northwest past several towns along a 35-mile-long track and into Wyoming.

Jim Kalina, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said two or three major storm cells affected the area and officials were trying to confirm how many tornados touched down.

Weld County is known as a prolific tornado spawning ground, with about seven typically reported there each year, according to the weather service.

In Kansas, early reports indicated that about 10 tornadoes passed through the western part of the state Thursday evening, said Scott Mentzer, a weather service meteorologist in Goodland.

He said a few barely touched down, but a couple moved along 30 to 50 miles on the ground in Sheridan and Decatur counties. Authorities said the tornadoes destroyed one home and damaged several others.

Officials were trying to verify whether a tornado touched down in Laramie, Wyo., where a storm packing strong winds damaged several buildings, overturned vehicles and knocked out power Thursday afternoon.

Later, a tornado touched down in a rural area near the town of Burns, Wyo., about 10 miles east of Cheyenne, said Rob Cleveland, director of Laramie County Emergency Management. The storm did minor damage to two homes and destroyed a barn, but there were no injuries, Cleveland said.

Elsewhere, a storm system that lashed Southern California on Thursday unleashed mudslides in wildfire-scarred canyons, spawned at least two tornados and dusted mountains and even low-lying communities with snow and hail.

About 100 people have died in U.S. twisters so far this year, the worst toll in a decade, according to the weather service, and the danger has not passed yet. Tornado season typically peaks in the spring and early summer, then again in the late fall.


Wednesday, 05/21/08

‘A Busy Year as Tornadoes Wreak Havoc’ – New York Times

ATLANTA — At least one Arkansas family already knows that 2008 has been a devastating year for tornadoes.

John E. Hill, 31, lost his job on Feb. 2 when a huge twister demolished the boat factory in Clinton, Ark., where he worked as a welder. Little more than three months later, Mr. Hill, who was struggling to provide for his family, lost his house, cars and cash savings to another tornado.

“I don’t know what this is,” said Mr. Hill, whose family survived the second tornado with bruises and gashes. “I’ve lived in Arkansas most of my life, and I’ve never see this many tornadoes. They’re all over the place.”

Meteorologists who keep records for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration say that the United States is having its deadliest tornado season in a decade and that this year may be on pace to set a record for the most tornadoes.

At least 100 people have been killed through mid-May, the highest number of fatalities since the same period in 1998. A preliminary tally shows 868 tornadoes were reported through May 18, a pace on par with 2004, which saw an unprecedented 1,819 tornadoes, according to records kept by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

“It will be one of the biggest years when all is said and done,” said Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the center.

The numbers have the attention of Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the federal government’s National Climatic Data Center who is responsible for keeping weather records and putting them in context.

“It’s been very, very active and very unusual,” Mr. Heim said.

This tornado season has been atypical because of its early start. From 1953 to 2005, an average of 19 tornadoes struck in January and 21 in February, Mr. Heim said. In 2008, 136 tornadoes were reported in January and 232 in February.

The South, outside the storm belt where scientists expect to see tornadoes, has been especially hard hit. According to the Storm Prediction Center, Missouri and Mississippi have each had more than 100 twisters this year. Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia have seen more than 80 each.

The increase, the unusual timing and the geographic distribution are tougher questions to tackle, experts said.

The season probably got started earlier this year, Mr. Heim said, because of La Niña, a weather phenomenon that causes warmer winter temperatures in the Southeast. And it is likely that more tornadoes have been reported because meteorologists have gotten better at detecting them.

But several groups of researchers have begun to ask if the country is seeing more severe weather because of climate change.

“Our work suggests that the trend, the sign, is that conditions for severe weather will increase,” said Robert J. Trapp, an associate professor of atmospheric science at Purdue University.

Dr. Trapp found that if human contributions to greenhouse gas emissions raised the global mean temperature by two to six degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the number of days with conditions that could create severe thunderstorms could double in cities in the South and along the Eastern Seaboard, including New York. His study was published in December in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Trapp warned that having the right conditions did not necessarily mean a thunderstorm or a tornado would form, and that his models could not predict when they would occur. So for now, Dr. Trapp and other experts agree, there is not enough good data to say if climate change is causing more tornadoes.

But in Arkansas, Mr. Hill’s wife, Jackie, said she needed no more evidence about the cause of the twisters.

“I think people are just using too much of the resources,” she said. “They’re just messing with the ecosystem too much.”


Tuesday, 05/20/08

‘Triple-digit heat returns to parts of Oklahoma’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Temperatures in parts of Oklahoma reached triple digits on Monday for the first time in 2008.

Mesonet sites in Walters, Grandfield, Altus, Mangum and Hollis, all in southwest Oklahoma, reached 100 degrees, said Scott Curl, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman. According to the official temperature table, the high in Lawton reached 100 degrees.

A ridge of high pressure centered over the central part of the country, combined with southwesterly winds bringing warm, dry air, led to the high temperatures, Curl said.

"Plus, the vegetation in western Oklahoma is pretty dry ... so there's not a lot of help putting moisture in the air," Curl said.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa both approached high-temperature records set in 2006. The high in Oklahoma City reached 96 degrees, one degree shy of the 97-degree record for May 19, according to the weather service. Tulsa's high was 94 degrees, two degrees short of the record of 96 degrees.


Tuesday, 05/20/08

‘Mercury hits 110; will dip to 82 Thursday’ – Arizona Republic

The Arizona seasons are, for the most part, predictable.

A lovely winter followed by a gradually warming spring. Then, we slowly enter the triple digits and prepare for a blazing-hot summer.

Not this year.

Sunday hit 105 degrees. Monday's high was 110. This is the second time in recorded history that the first 100-degree day of the year was followed immediately by the first 110-degree day of the year. The only other time this has happened was May 25 and 26, 1951, when it hit 106 degrees and 112, respectively.

"Yes, it is going to be hot this summer," Tony Haffer, of the National Weather Service, said Monday afternoon. "But these two days do not mean it's going to be a particularly hot summer."

The forecast for today offers no relief, with temperatures expected to again climb near or beyond 110 degrees.

The state has issued a high-pollution advisory for ozone today, meaning that pollutants in the air may exceed the federal health standard.


Monday, 05/19/08

‘SoCal to see fourth straight day of scorching heat’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fourth consecutive day of scorching temperatures is expected from the Central Coast to the Southern California desert, but forecasters say relief is near.

The National Weather Service says highs in the 90s and 100s will again be common Monday before temperatures start heading down toward normal on Tuesday.

Record highs for May 18 were set in a wide area, including 103 degrees in Paso Robles, 95 degrees in Santa Ana, and 110 degrees in Palm Springs.

Los Angeles tied its record of 96 degrees set in 1892.

Brandt Maxwell of the National Weather Service said the weather is more like what would be expected in July.


Saturday, 05/17/08

‘Scorching Heat Baking Southland’ – CBS Ch. 2, Los Angeles

Get ready for some record-breaking heat!


The sweltering hot weather hit 101 degrees in Woodland Hills Friday and expected to continue throughout the weekend.


Saturday's highs are expected to be nice at the beaches, in the mid-70s to lower-80s, but inland and in the valleys, temperatures will range from the mid-90s to over 100 degrees.


A weak-to-moderate offshore flow caused by strong high pressure over the West Coast is the culprit behind this latest heat wave. A cooling trend will start early next week.


Woodland Hills broke records for its hottest May 16, topping the previous record of 100 in 1967.


Saturday, 05/17/08

‘Record heat brings mountain, river rescues in Oregon’ – The Oregonian

Record hot weather created drama from the mountains to the coast Saturday as Oregonians took to the great outdoors to beat the swelter.

Portland hit a record Saturday with a high of 95 degrees, 6 degrees warmer than the previous high for the date, set in 1958, according to the National Weather Service.

The scorch turned mountaintops mushy, boosting the avalanche danger in much of the Northwest, with slides closing at least one highway and injuring a Eugene man on Mount Hood.

Avalanche danger remained high, officials said Saturday.

Washington State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, has been closed by a snowslide near Liberty Bell since Thursday. It isn't expected to reopen until this week, according to a Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman.

While ice caps loosened in the hot May sun, frigid oceans and rivers fed by melting mountain snow caused problems elsewhere.

Fishermen reported seeing three boaters dumped into the frigid Clackamas River about 3 p.m. Saturday when their inflatable yellow raft flipped near High Rocks, a popular swimming hole in Gladstone.

Witnesses saw the small inflatable capsize, sending a young child and two adults into the cold, swiftly flowing river. The fishermen picked up one of the adults and the child, but a 62-year-old man remained missing for more than an hour.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office personnel later found him and said he was safe, Detective Jim Strovink said.

"It's just been crazy down there," he said. "We've been doing river rescues all day."


Wednesday, 05/14/08

‘Flash flood warning for northwest Louisiana’ – Hattiesburg [MS] American per AP

SHREVEPORT, La. – The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for northwest Louisiana.

Additional rainfall amounts of two to three inches were expected across the area today.

Four inches fell between 8 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, causing flash flooding that left dozens of motorists stranded in Shreveport and Bossier City.

That rainfall was part of 6.53 inches that fell between 7 and 10 p.m. as recorded at the National Weather Service office at Shreveport Regional Airport.


Wednesday, 05/14/08

‘Wettest spring ever for St. Louis’ – per AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) — This spring is one for the record books.

Through last weekend, St. Louis has collected more than 22 inches of rainfall since January 1st — 22.34 inches to be exact.

That's more than 9 inches above average for this time of year.

The National Weather Service says it's also enough to top the previous record of just over 21 inches set in the spring of 1927.

Their records go back to 1870.

By comparison, a couple of other notable flood years — 1973 and 1993 — don't even show up in the Top 10 for wettest springs.

What's more, weather observers say this week's rainfall could end up adding another 3 inches or so to those totals, which will cause rivers to rise and could create some localized flooding.


Tuesday, 05/13/08

‘Deluge Washes Away Area’s Drought’ – Washington Post, front page

So much for that drought.

The Washington region appeared to have officially ended its 11-month spell of dry weather yesterday -- but residents and local officials soon found themselves facing the opposite problem. Instead of too little water, they had too much, as a soaking rainstorm flooded roads, battered boats and opened a sinkhole that swallowed back yards in Prince George's County.

About four inches of rain fell on most parts of the region, as the remnants of a furious Great Plains thunderstorm finally drifted toward the Atlantic coast.

There were no tornadoes, such as those that killed 22 people over the weekend as the system crossed Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia. But there was a whopping amount of rain, more than seven inches in one part of Calvert County.

The storm left thousands without power, closed schools, and forced the shutdown of government buildings and courts in Prince George's.

The good news hard to see in yesterday's mess was that the region's troubles with parched soil and thirsty trees finally seemed to be near an end.

"What drought?" said David Miskus, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. He said the combined rainfall from this storm and another late last week meant that in the mid-Atlantic, the drought "is greatly improved, if not alleviated."

The region's problems with dry weather stretched back to June, as a pocket of heavy drought in the Southeast gradually extended north. By late July, part of the area had drought conditions classified as "severe."

Those conditions had begun to improve after rainstorms this spring, and by early April, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments had lifted its official drought watch.

Any lingering doubts were washed away this past week. First came a storm Thursday night and Friday morning that caused a tornado in Stafford County. Then this storm soaked the area again.

At Dulles International Airport, more than six inches of rain has fallen since May 6. That's enough, meteorologists said, to moisten soil, refill groundwater reserves and swell the Potomac River's flow to more than 10 times its median level for this time of year.

That news was cold, damp comfort across the region yesterday. The storm damaged buildings and even threatened lives on a path from Northern Virginia to the Delaware coast.

As of yesterday evening, more than 15,000 customers were without power in the region, mainly in the Maryland suburbs. Maryland officials banned unloaded tractor trailers from crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge because of concerns about high winds.

In Virginia, some of the worst disruptions were in Loudoun County. There, authorities reported 26 road closures and restrictions because of flooding or high water as of 2:15 p.m. yesterday. Among the problem areas, the sheriff's office said, was heavily traveled Route 15 at Goose Creek Bridge. Many secondary roads were also impassable.


Tuesday, 05/13/08

‘Tornado season deadliest in a decade’ –

The USA has been ravaged through mid-May by a near-record number of tornadoes that has pushed the death toll — including 47 killer twisters over the weekend — to a 10-year high.

The deaths of 98 people attributed to tornadoes this year has made 2008 the deadliest year thus far for tornadoes since 1998 and the seventh deadliest since modern recordkeeping began in 1950, The Weather Channel said.

Such a rate could make 2008 the year with the most tornadoes since 1950.

"We are on a pace that continues a record number" of twisters, said Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel.

Violent storms over the weekend that spawned tornadoes left at least 22 people dead from the southern Plains states eastward to Georgia, including seven deaths in the tiny town of Picher, Okla., and 10 deaths in Seneca, Mo.


Storms remained active Sunday night as they swept eastward. The National Weather Service said tornado watches were in effect for southern Georgia into northern Florida, as well as south central Virginia, much of North Carolina and northern South Carolina.

The National Weather Service takes weeks to confirm actual numbers of tornadoes but The Weather Channel said it believes there were 47 separate twisters as of May 11 putting the count for the year at 636. That is second only to the No. 1 year of 1999, when 669 tornadoes hit through the same date, Forbes said.

As for deaths by tornado, this year has seen the most through May 11 since 115 were killed by tornado in 1998, Forbes said. That year ended with 130 total deaths because of tornadoes.

Meteorologists say wind conditions and weather patterns have been ideal for creating twisters this year.

The jet stream, a shifting river of air at high altitudes, has been moving from the southwestern USA toward the Great Lakes and pulling moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

The contrast between the warm southern air and cold air aloft creates winds that can spin turn into twisters.

"We've had a very strong contrast in temperatures with cold air from the north, warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and with that clash of air masses … (it) produces tornado outbreaks," said Andrew Orrison, meteorologist at the National Weather Service's national office at Camp Springs, Md.

Tornado season generally begins late winter and lasts through mid-summer. May is peak tornado period for the Southeast; the season then cranks up through July in the upper Midwest and northern Plains states.

Some southern states have been particularly hard hit this year.

Before this weekend's storms, Forbes said Mississippi already had 49 tornadoes, exceeding the average over the past decade of 39 twisters for the entire year.

Alabama has had 45 twisters, exceeding its yearly average of 42, and Arkansas has had 49, already above its annual average of 48, Forbes said.

"We have quite a few states already above average for the year, and obviously the year is not nearly done," Forbes said.


Sunday, 05/11/08

’22 dead in Mo., Okla., Ga. after new round of storms’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Crews and search dogs hunted Sunday for survivors or bodies in piles of debris after tornados and storms rumbled across the region a day earlier and killed at least 22 people in three states.

Seven people died in Picher, once a bustling mining center of 20,000 that dwindled to about 800 people as families fled lead pollution here, and officials held out hope that they wouldn't find any more bodies.

Residents said the tornado created a surreal scene as it tore through town late Saturday afternoon, injuring 150 people, overturning cars, throwing mattresses and twisted metal high into the canopy of trees.

"I swear I could see cars floating," said Herman Hernandez, 68. "And there was a roar, louder and louder."

The same storm system then moved into southwest Missouri, where tornadoes killed at least 14 others. The storms moved eastward; on Sunday, storms in Georgia killed at least one person.

In Seneca, Mo., about 20 miles southeast of Picher near the Oklahoma state line, crews on Sunday combed farm fields looking for bodies and survivors. Ten of the dead were killed when a twister struck near Seneca.

Nineteen people were hospitalized in Newton County, which includes Seneca, said Keith Stammer, acting spokesman the county emergency operations. He did not know the extent of their injuries.

In Picher, some homes were reduced to their foundations, others lost several walls. In one home, the tornado knocked down a bedroom wall, but left clothes hanging neatly in a closet.

A Best Western hotel sign was blown miles before coming to rest against a post. At one home, a basketball hoop planted in concrete had its metal support twisted so the rim hung only about 3 feet above ground.

The twister was the deadliest in Oklahoma since a May 3, 1999 twister that killed 44 people in the Oklahoma City area.

The National Weather Service estimated that at least eight tornadoes had been spawned in Oklahoma along six storm tracks. Three teams were dispatched to assess damage, meteorologist Steve Amburn said.

On Sunday, storms rumbled across Georgia, killing at least one person in Dublin, about a 121 miles southeast of Atlanta, authorities said. Weather officials had not yet confirmed whether the storms produced any tornadoes.

Georgia Power officials say at least 80,000 residents are without electricity across the state, mostly concentrated in the metro Atlanta area and the Macon area.

In storm-weary Arkansas, a tornado collapsed a home and a business, and there were reports of a few people trapped in buildings, said Weather Service meteorologist John Robinson.

Tornadoes killed 13 people in Arkansas on Feb. 5, and another seven were killed in an outbreak May 2. In between was freezing weather, persistent rain and river flooding that damaged residences and has slowed farmers in their planting.


Saturday, 05/10/08

‘Area in “a Daze” After Tornadoes’ – Washington Post

Tornadoes damaged more than 140 homes in Stafford County and toppled trees and battered houses in Fort Washington early yesterday.

Many residents in the England Run North community woke up yesterday in the homes of neighbors who had taken them in after a tornado cut a four-mile swath through Stafford. The National Weather Service said wind speeds reached 120 mph.

"We're all in a daze. We're all . . . the word is numb. It doesn't sink in that you're not going back to your house. You keep seeing it again, over and over and over," said Stafford resident Sydney McDonald, who stood yesterday with her sleeping 3-year-old son in her arms. He had stayed asleep while she and her husband rushed their children down to their basement late Thursday night and bunched them together for safety. A piece of debris shot through the wall above one child's bed, "just like a knife," she said.

"The entire outside wall is gone. It came right off. It's just open," said her husband, Jim McDonald.

Luis Rosa, a Weather Service meteorologist in Sterling, attributed the storms to an intense low-pressure system and the unpredictability of spring weather. The storm system dumped up to four inches of rain in parts of Prince George's County and 3 1/2 inches in Stafford near the tornado site, he said.

Carl Erickson, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said the storm was so violent because it drew a lot of moisture in from the Atlantic Ocean and wind directions varied at different altitudes, causing the system to begin twisting. He also said it didn't appear to be any worse than violent spring storms in years past.

"We're transitioning. Summer is trying to move up, and winter is trying to hang on. This can happen," he said.

However, it's markedly different than last May, when the Washington area received barely any rain, Rosa said. With this week's storm, many parts of the region have recorded more than the average rainfall for the entire month, Rosa said.

The heavy rains caused a sanitary sewer overflow at the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission's Western Branch Waste Water Treatment Plant in Upper Marlboro. The overflow, which began after 11:15 a.m. and continued last night, was expected to send more than 1 million gallons of untreated, diluted wastewater flowing into Western Branch.

At the WSSC's Broad Creek Pumping Station in Fort Washington, about 968,000 gallons of untreated diluted wastewater overflowed into Broad Creek.

Thousands of residents lost power, including about 12,900 Dominion Virginia customers. About 3,900 remained affected last night, a spokesman said. By 10 a.m. yesterday, 11,800 Pepco customers reported they had lost power, spokesman Robert Dobkin said. Most were in Prince George's. By 5 p.m., power had yet to be restored to 1,500 customers.


Thursday, 05/08/08

‘Is global warming to blame for Burma cyclone?’ – per AP

BANGKOK, Thailand — It was Asia's answer to Hurricane Katrina. Packing winds upwards of 120 mph, Cyclone Nargis became one of Asia's deadliest storms by hitting land at one of the lowest points in Myanmar and setting off a storm surge that reached 25 miles inland.

"When we saw the (storm) track, I said, 'Uh oh, this is not going to be good," said Mark Lander, a meteorology professor at the University of Guam. "It would create a big storm surge. It was like Katrina going into New Orleans."

Forecasters began tracking the cyclone April 28 as it first headed toward India. As projected, it took a sharp turn eastward, but didn't follow the typical cyclone track in that area leading to Bangladesh or Myanmar's mountainous northwest.

Instead, it swept into the low-lying Irrawaddy delta in central Myanmar. The result was the worst disaster ever in the impoverished country.

It was the first time such an intense storm hit the delta, said Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology at the San Francisco-based Weather Underground. He called it "one of those once-in-every-500-years kind of things."


"The easterly component of the path is unusual," Masters said. "It tracked right over the most vulnerable part of the country, where most of the people live."

When the storm made landfall early Saturday at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River, its battering winds pushed a wall of water as high as 12 feet some 25 miles inland, laying waste to villages and killing tens of thousands.

Most of the dead were in the delta, where farm families sleeping in flimsy shacks barely above sea level were swept to their deaths. Almost 95% of the houses and other buildings in seven townships were destroyed, Myanmar's government says. U.N. officials estimate 1.5 million people were left in severe straits.

"When you look at the satellite picture of before and after the storm the effects look eerily similar to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in how it inundated low-lying areas," said Ken Reeves, director of forecasting for

The Irrawaddy delta "is huge and the interaction of water and land lying right at sea level allowed the tidal surge to deliver maximum penetration of sea water over land," Reeves said. "Storms like this do most of their killing through floods, with salt water being even more dangerous than fresh water."

The delta had lost most of its mangrove forests along the coast to shrimp farms and rice paddies over the past decade. That removed what scientists say is one of nature's best defenses against violent storms.

"If you look at the path of the (cyclone) that hit Myanmar, it hit exactly where it was going to do the most damage, and it's doing the most damage because much of the protective vegetation was cleared," said Jeff NcNeely, chief scientist for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"It's an expensive lesson, but it has been one taught repeatedly," he said. "You just wonder why governments don't get on this."

Some environmentalists suggested global warming may have played a role. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that warming oceans could contribute to increasingly severe cyclones with stronger winds and heavier rains.

"While we can never pinpoint one disaster as the result of climate change, there is enough scientific evidence that climate change will lead to intensification of tropical cyclones," said Sunita Narain, director of the Indian environmental group Center for Science and Environment.

"Nargis is a sign of things to come," she said. "The victims of these cyclones are climate change victims and their plight should remind the rich world that it is doing too little to contain its greenhouse gas emissions."

Weather experts, however, are divided over whether global warming is a factor in catastrophic storms. At a January conference of the American Meteorological Society, some postulated warmer ocean temperatures may actually reduce the strength of cyclones and hurricanes.

Masters, at Weather Underground, said Wednesday that in the case of Nargis, the meteorological data in the Indian Ocean region "is too short and too poor in quality to make judgments about whether tropical cyclones have been affected by global warming."


Wednesday, 05/07/08

‘Thunderstorms bring heavy rain, hail to Iowa’ – Chicago Tribune per AP,0,5946606.story

Iowa is drying out again after thunderstorms hit the state with heavy rain and hail. 

The National Weather Service says heavy rain fell across the U.S. Highway 20 corridor late Tuesday and early Wednesday, with up to 5 inches near Alden in Hardin County.

The sheriff's office says a road between Alden and Iowa Falls was under water earlier, and officials were standing by to keep traffic away. Authorities say the water finally drained, and the road is open. 

Heavy rain also fell in Boone, closing several intersections because the storm drains couldn't handle all the water. Authorities say all streets were open Wednesday morning.

Elsewhere, large hail fell twice in Sac City in Sac County, covering the ground. In Geneva in Franklin County, a large tree fell in winds of 60 mph.


Saturday, 05/03/08

‘Central USA pummeled by deadly storms’ – per AP

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — With a pep talk from Gov. Mike Beebe, emergency workers fanned out across Arkansas to help residents cope with another bout of violent weather that pushed the state's storm death toll to 24 for the year.

"You can see the bags under the eyes of the people who consistently over and over again are called on to respond," Beebe said. "That's their job and that's our job and we'll do it, no matter how many hours it takes or how many days it takes."

Eight Arkansans were killed Friday in thunderstorms that tore up parts of four states, while two dozen or more were injured. Forecasters said that, across middle America, more than 25 tornadoes may have touched down late Thursday and early Friday.

In Arkansas, destruction ran from Siloam Springs near the Oklahoma line to tiny communities along the Mississippi River. Powerful tornadoes killed 13 people in the state on Feb. 5 and another person on Jan. 8.

"This year it just seems like we're getting pounded," Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley said.

Storms ripped off roofs and toppled train cars near Kansas City, Mo. Oklahoma endured severe hail, and tents tumbled at an open-air market in eastern Texas. Late Friday, a storm hit Earle in eastern Arkansas, then a line of severe thunderstorms pushed into Kentucky and threatened to dampen the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Nearly 6,000 homes and businesses lost power in the state [of Arkansas].

Beebe said Arkansans would cope with the latest in a string of bad weather that has included a foot of snow, a foot of rain and severe flooding that killed three.

"We will fight through it, we will get through it and we will help our neighbors," he said. "We'll do what's necessary to take care of our people."

Forecasters intended to resume storm surveys Saturday. Beebe said he would visit the hardest-hit counties.

Six of the deaths Friday were in two counties, Conway and Van Buren, hit hard by the February tornado. That storm, with a 122-mile-long track, had winds estimated between 166 and 200 mph. The tornado Friday had winds from 135 to 165 mph.

Beebe said at a news conference Friday in North Little Rock that National Guard troops would provide security for the communities hit by the tornadoes. The governor said R. David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had already called to speak with state officials.

Greg Carbin, a meteorologist for the national Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said as many as 25 tornadoes may have cut through stretches of Oklahoma, Arkansas, eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Other severe weather approached Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, forcing the cancellation of more than 200 flights.


Thursday, 5/01/08

‘A flood for the ages in Fort Kent’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

FORT KENT — Authorities evacuated dozens of homes and businesses Wednesday as rising floodwater spilled into downtowns and threatened dams and bridges in northern Maine.

Scientists called the event a 100-year flood for the St. John River. It was caused by driving rain and the melting of the heaviest snow accumulations in memory.

More than 3 inches of rain sent the St. John to more than 5 feet above flood stage Wednesday night. Much of downtown Fort Kent was underwater by early afternoon.

Authorities expected water to spill over a dike along the river, which runs between Maine and New Brunswick, before it crested at 2 a.m. today.

"We're evacuating all the main streets, going to all the businesses and telling them to close up for safety," said Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud.

Floods also forced evacuations downriver in Van Buren and in the Penobscot County town of Mattawamkeag, where the Penobscot and Mattawamkeag rivers spilled over their banks.

A half-dozen Washburn residents were ordered out of their homes after a culvert in an earthen dam between Salmon Brook and Mill Pond washed away, threatening a concrete dam downstream.

"I've never seen it like this," said Ryan Goodine, a firefighter who was one of the six residents who were forced to leave their homes on Wednesday.

Goodine has lived in the small town west of Caribou for 30 years.

Wardens said the Mill Pond dam had cracked by midafternoon, and the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for the town.

The Mill Pond dam holds back about 12 feet of water, spread out over about 20 acres, firefighters said.

"If this lets go, we would have an issue or two," said Mike Matowitz of the Washburn Fire Department.

Local officials started watching the St. John River in Fort Kent last week, when rising waters caused concern on the Canadian side.

Those waters had been receding until the deluge of rain this week, said Joseph Hewitt of the National Weather Service.

There was still a half-foot of snow on the ground after a winter that dumped around 200 inches of snow in the region, and that melting snow exacerbated the situation.

"In response to that, a lot of these rivers took off," Hewitt said.

He said it was the worst flooding ever seen in Fort Kent, a town of 4,200 residents.

Meteorologists expected the river to crest overnight at just under 31 feet -- nearly 6 feet above flood stage and almost 4 feet higher than the 1979 record.


Wednesday, 04/30/08

‘Northern Maine river levels rising’ – Portland [ME] Press Herald

Southern Maine counties weathered two days of spring rain without major flooding, but rivers in northern Maine, where a dense snowpack is being swiftly melted, could reach record heights.


Officials in northern Maine are anxiously eyeing water levels on the St. John, Fish and Allagash rivers in Aroostook County.


The St. John River was forecast to crest at 29 feet, almost 2 feet higher than the record set in 1979 and within a couple of feet of the floodwall built to protect Fort Kent, said Tom Hawley, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.


The Fish River was forecast to crest at 14 feet, compared to the record of 12 feet set in 1973.


Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency for all of Aroostook County, citing the flooding potential.


Emergency management officials in Cumberland and York counties said they received no reports of serious flooding despite several inches of rain over the two days.


Brunswick received 6 inches of rain, Lisbon Falls 4.2 inches and Wells 3 inches.


Wednesday, 04/29/08

‘Storms leave 200 injured in Virginia, officials say’ –

(CNN) -- At least three tornadoes caused massive damage in Virginia and injured more than 200 people on Monday, officials said.

At least 200 were injured in Suffolk where a twister destroyed several homes and businesses, said Bob Spieldenner of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The storm hit the 138-bed Sentara Obici Hospital, though Spieldenner said the facility was still operational and accepting patients.

A second tornado struck Colonial Heights -- about 60 miles northwest, near Richmond -- injuring at least 18 people, he said.

A third twister damaged several homes near Lawrenceville, about 70 miles south of Richmond, said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, which confirmed all three tornadoes.

Gov. Tim Kaine declared a Virginia-wide state of emergency as hazardous weather continued through the central part of the state.

The Suffolk twister touched down just before 4 p.m. ET and plowed its way east into Norfolk, damaging scores of homes, stores and cars and downing dozens of trees and power lines, Jackson said.

Video footage from the scene showed roofs torn off homes, cars flipped over, trees snapped in two and a caved-in section of a newly constructed shopping center.

Furniture, fences and mounds of other debris were tossed in streets, parking lots and lawns.

A tornado warning over the area remained in effect Monday evening.

Jeff Judkins, the city's emergency management coordinator, said there also were reports of people trapped inside cars. It's the worst damage he's seen in the area, he said.

An emergency shelter will be established by Monday night, Suffolk spokeswoman Dana Woodson said.


Sunday, 04/20/08

‘Idaho ski resort welcomes spring snow’ – per AP

McCALL, Idaho (AP) — Some folks aren't complaining about Idaho's winter-like weather.

Near-record snowfall and cold temperatures have helped extend the ski season at Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall.

The resort is closed on weekdays, but operated this weekend and will be open next weekend for day skiing.

Resort spokeswoman April Russell says there are over 80 inches of snow at the base and all off-trail areas still have plenty of snow. The resort had more than 412 total inches as of Friday, just 18 inches short of the record 430 inches. And more snow fell this weekend.

The mountain normally closes its winter operations after the second Sunday in April.


Saturday, 04/19/08

‘Along lakeshore, all eyes on rising Lake Champlain waters’ – Albany Times Union per AP

SOUTH HERO, Vt. -- On the shoreline at Keeler Bay, spring has sprung.

Swollen by runoff from snowmelt, the blue water of Lake Champlain laps at the boulders and brick pavers, washes up under the house and covers the boat launch at Art and Laurie Huse's waterfront home.

It hasn't washed over the road yet, but it's still rising. Like others who live along low-lying parts of the lake's coastline, the Huses have been through this before. They're not worrying -- yet.

"It's the dues we pay to live in a place like this," said Laurie Huse, 58, looking out a picture window at the water. "It's what we talk about in the spring, `I wonder if it's coming,' `Are we going under?' But once you make the decision to live here, you have to accept it."

The 120-mile long lake, which is bordered by Vermont, New York and Quebec, is brimming over following a winter of record snow across Vermont and northern New England. It surpassed its 100-foot flood stage April 13 and stood at 100.54 as of Saturday, high enough that the Route 2 causeway leading onto the island has lake waters up to the edge of the road on both sides.

With much snow still to melt and weather patterns uncertain, those who live closest to it are engaged in their annual rites of spring -- monitoring lake levels online, moving belongings to higher ground and waiting.

Historically, the lake level reaches flood stage about every other year. It's the prospect of a 101-foot or 102-foot level that sparks abject fear along the waterline. In 1993, it hit 101.88 -- the highest level ever recorded -- flooding cottages and turning residential propane tanks into big, floating buoys.

"We're still seeing some snowmelt from higher elevations, but the majority of the lower elevations have seen their snow gone," said Conor Lahiff, a National Weather Service meteorologist in South Burlington. "There's still water from tributaries getting into the lake. We still could see continued rises, but we're not looking for it to reach a stage where it would affect property."

"It's a beautiful and a frightening place," said Huse, who keeps tabs on the water level even when he's at work, tuning into a webcam set up in a windowsill of his living room. "All winter long, we watch the snow levels and how much snow is on Mt. Mansfield, with the idea that when spring comes, that snow has to go somewhere.

"We like to see some early warm days that whittle away (snow), followed by cold, a start again, a stop, with no rain. What we dread are a sudden warm front and a slow-moving heavy rainstorm, because that means everything comes down at once," he said.

Sometimes, the ebb and flow of the water makes for strange discoveries on low-lying properties. Like fish out of water.

Arlene Jerry, 87, who has owned property down Wallys Point Road for 60 year, says one of her neighbors was mowing his lawn one day when he found a perch.

"He didn't know if a bird dropped it, or it was just left there (by receding lake water)," she said.

"There's good things about high water, too," said Art Huse. "Ducks swimming on your lawn. Herons stalking fish on your lawn. Schools of fish on your lawn. I've gone out to mow and seen baby sunfish, baby pike, baby perch. It's a nursery. These shallow areas act as nurseries because big fish don't come up to them and they're warm this time of year."


Saturday, 04/19/08

‘Bolivia struggles with floods’ –

EL BENI, Bolivia (CNN) -- Floodwaters have destroyed more than 1.2 million houses, according to Bolivian officials, with the northeastern department of Beni seeing the worst flooding in 50 years.

"There are still about 29,000 to 30,000 families that will need food for the next four or five months," said Victoria Ginja, director of the World Food Programme in Bolivia.

Bolivia needs nearly $10 million to ease the hunger of the thousands of displaced people and more than $800 million to recover from the disaster, officials said.

In the entire area, much of it low-lying areas, more than 19,000 families remain in a critical condition after having lost their means of subsistence, officials said. Of those, 16,000 families are living in shelters.

For some, this is the third consecutive year that flood waters have sent them fleeing their homes.

"Everything's lost, even my children's birth certificates," said Virginia Salvatierra, one of the displaced.


Saturday, 04/19/08

‘Typhoon Neoguri hits China’s Hainan’ – per AP

GUANGZHOU, China — Typhoon Neoguri weakened into a tropical storm Friday after hitting China's southern island province of Hainan, where 120,000 people fled low-lying areas and thousands more were stranded at an airport, state-run media reported.

The typhoon — the first to threaten China this year — began lashing the city of Wenchang on Hainan's northeast coast late Friday night. Xinhua News Agency reported it blacked out the city but Neoguri, which means "raccoon" in Korean, had been packing winds of 75 mph before weakening to tropical storm strength at 67 mph.

The storm was on course to hit southern Guangdong province with a weakening force and heavy rains Saturday afternoon, Xinhua said.

The last time China faced a typhoon so early in the season was before 1949, Chen Lei, a flood relief official, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.


Friday, 04/11/08

‘More storms sack South, blizzard hits Wisconsin’ – per AP

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Another round of severe weather raked the storm-weary South with rain, hail and high winds Friday, damaging homes and injuring at least five people in Tennessee and Kentucky.

A mother and two children were hurt when strong thunderstorms moved through southern Kentucky in the early morning, knocking over their trailer near Bowling Green. Tara Duvall, a spokeswoman for Warren County Emergency Management, said that all three were hospitalized.

"Apparently, the trailer rolled twice and fell apart," Duvall said.

Homes were also reported destroyed in Kentucky's Wayne county. In Tennessee's Lawrence County, a possible tornado damaged 56 homes, felled trees and littered yards with debris.

In northern Giles County, power lines were knocked down, a dozen homes were damaged, and three people were injured when trees fell on an ambulance, emergency management officials said.

Wind or rain damage apparently caused a roof to collapse at an apartment complex in Hoover, Alabama, on Friday evening, forcing the evacuation of about 20 units, said Mark Kelly of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency. No injuries were reported.

The damaging storms come in the same week as heavy rains that flooded parts of Tennessee and two months after tornadoes killed 33 people in the state.

In northern Wisconsin, schools closed, thousands lost power because of trees falling on power lines, and snow plows were back at work Friday as blizzard-like conditions hit.

Keith Kesler, Douglas County's emergency management coordinator, said that as much as 9 inches of snow had fallen near Superior, with wind gusting to 62 mph.

"Tree limbs are flying through the air," he said. "It is a little unusual for April to get hit like this. Winter is winter. It is getting awfully long this year."

The record for April snowfall in the area near Duluth, Minnesota, occurred a year ago, when 12.1 inches fell April 7.

Recent heavy rains have swelled the Mississippi River so much that workers in Louisiana began opening a major spillway Friday to divert river water through Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bonnet Carre spillway, about 30 miles above New Orleans, was being opened to guard communities against flooding, ease pressure on levees and make for safer navigation conditions for ships and barges.

In Missouri, where heavy rain fell Wednesday and Thursday, authorities reported the death of a 14-year-old boy in Shannon County. Kenneth Davidson was swept away by rushing water Thursday while trying to cross a normally shallow arm of Loggers Lake, officials said. Emergency crews found his body tangled in roots.

In Oklahoma, which has been beset in recent days by tornadoes, severe storms and flooding, Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency Friday -- the first step toward seeking federal assistance.


Thursday, 04/10/08

‘Strong storms, tornadoes hit Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma’ – per AP

BENTON, Ark. (AP) — A band of hail, heavy rain and twisters pounded Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma Thursday, damaging hundreds of homes, flooding roads and leaving thousands without power.

Arkansas already was contending with three weeks of flooding and the aftermath of 10 tornadoes that struck last week when the latest storm hit.

"It's just getting worse," sheriff's dispatcher Nola Massey said. "We're just trying to get everybody to stay home and not get out in it."

About 1,000 customers of Entergy Arkansas lost power and tornado sirens blared around midday in parts of central Arkansas, including Little Rock. Flooding also was reported in southwest Missouri as storms crossed the region.

Flights at the Little Rock airport were stopped for nearly an hour while people, including some sitting on planes, were moved to safer areas.

The severe weather began in the region Wednesday. An apparent tornado with winds of up to 70 mph moved through west Texas, tearing shingles from roofs, shattering glass and flipping vehicles. Roughly 100 homes reported damage, mainly in Breckenridge, DeSoto and Hurst.

In far east-central Oklahoma, Muldrow was particularly hard hit, with state officials reporting damage to more than 200 homes and businesses from straight-line winds. The city was pounded with heavy rains, marble-sized hail and sustained winds of more than 60 mph, said Officer Jose Flores.

"We've got flooding like you wouldn't believe," Flores said.

At least 180,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and more than 11,000 customers were without power in Oklahoma Thursday morning. Flooding in Oklahoma forced about a dozen state highways to close, and some schools called off classes for the day.

In Oklahoma, where some parts of the state had more than 4 inches of rain, two rain-related traffic deaths were reported. Three people were treated for minor injuries in Texas.

Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster said no injuries were reported from the high winds and heavy rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Two shelters were set up for residents who may need them, she said.

One hangar at Addison Airport, in the Dallas area, lost part of its roof.

The storm pelted the city with quarter-sized hail just after midnight with winds of up to 70 mph, said Hector Guerrero, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The service received reports of cars and a tractor trailer flipped over.

In DeSoto, just south of Dallas, about a dozen homes had roof damage and there was severe roof damage at a senior apartment complex and at a hotel with about 50 people in it at the time, said Kathy Jones, a spokeswoman for the city of DeSoto.

Stephens County Sheriff James Reeves said about 20 homes in the Breckenridge area sustained major damage, including some roofs and top stories torn away.

Six mobile homes were destroyed and two businesses were damaged, Reeves said.

In Arkansas' Saline County, residents spent a week picking up blown-off shingles and cleaning culverts after the 10 tornadoes roared through central Arkansas the night of April 3. Forecasters said Thursday's storm could be on scale with those last week, with up to 2 inches of rain possible in Saline County, and gusts up to 30 mph.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates at least 47 homes were destroyed by last week's tornadoes in Saline County. More could be affected as rainwater hits already saturated fields and lawns Thursday.

"It's just overwhelming — a flood on top of a tornado," Saline County Judge Lanny Fite, the county's top administrator, said Wednesday. "People have been working night and day trying to prepare, but there's not a whole lot we can do to prepare for rain in the magnitude they're talking about."


Wednesday, 04/09/08

‘Spokane slogs through snowy winter’ – Yahoo! News per AP

Steve Bodnar and his colleagues hear plenty of begging these days.

They're not lottery winners. They're meteorologists for the National Weather Service.

"We get a lot of, 'Make it stop. No more snow, please,'" Bodnar said Tuesday.

The Inland Northwest remains locked in the grip of the second snowiest winter in its history, with more snow on the way.

The city's golf courses remain closed. The deadline to remove studded snow tires was pushed back a week. Area ski hills are still open.

About the only people happy with the snow are Spokane police, who were able to follow footprints in the snow last week to arrest a man accused of abandoning a stolen car after a chase.

So far, 89.5 inches of snow have fallen on Spokane during the winter of 2007-08. That includes 1.7 inches last weekend, after city schools were closed for "spring" break.

The only winter with more snow was in 1949-50, when 93.5 inches were recorded.

Last weekend's snowfall pushed this winter past the 89 inches recorded in 1974-75.

Snow fell on Spokane starting around Thanksgiving and has stuck around since, except for an occasional short thaw. The city of 200,000 was walloped by 13.7 inches during a 30-hour storm over the weekend of Jan. 26-27.

This winter, Spokane schools closed for four snow days, which is very rare. U.S. 195 from Spokane to Pullman was closed for the first time in decades. So much snow fell in the mountains that hungry moose showed up in large numbers in people's backyards, prompting the state to warn residents to stay away from the big animals.

Winter isn't exactly dwindling away.

March was the second snowiest on record, with 15.8 inches.

Below normal temperatures are expected to creep into the more seasonable 60s by this weekend. But Bodnar said more snow is forecast for next week.

"We will have another trough of cooler air and a storm system from the northwest, possibly by next week," Bodnar said. "I couldn't count (winter) out yet."

Forecasters say all the snow was caused by La Nina, a condition in which sea surface temperatures near the Equator are cooler than normal, which can push Pacific storms down from the cooler Gulf of Alaska.


Wednesday, 04/09/08

‘High water, rains continue in Arkansas’ – per AP

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Rains continued Wednesday in Arkansas keeping river levels high as the state contended with its third week of flooding.

The National Weather Service reported flash flooding at Casscoe and Clarendon in east Arkansas, where water was flowing over parts of Arkansas 302. The agency issued flash flood warnings in the Wednesday morning hours for parts of Arkansas, Hempstead, Lee, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Nevada, Phillips and Prairie counties.

A flood warning was in effect for Hot Spring County into Wednesday afternoon, and forecasters said more rain was on the way.

The weather service said conditions will deteriorate Thursday, with severe storms across the state and isolated tornadoes. The outbreak could be on a scale with the system that spawned 10 tornadoes last Thursday in central Arkansas.

Flooding continued to be a problem, particularly in east Arkansas.

Georgetown Fire Chief Eddie Stephenson said he expects it will be at least a few days before he can drive out of his small town on the White River. The northeast Arkansas city has been surrounded by water for about three weeks.

The White River at Georgetown has a flood stage of 21 feet. The river was at 26.8 feet Tuesday.

"The other day it got to 30.1 feet," Stephenson said. "It got in four houses and two trailers. They were down in the low spot."

He said homeowners in the low area were told of the flood risk before they located there.

Because boats can get in and out, Stephenson said the community was not as cut off as circumstances would suggest. But trying to drive out in a truck most days would put water at least up to the floorboards.

"I just run the river. It's a whole lot easier and safer," he said.

Norfork Lake in north Arkansas reached a record high 579.32 feet above sea level Tuesday morning, according to online data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The previous record was 579 feet in 1973. Flood pool for Norfork lake is 580 feet. Bull Shoals Lake, which was at 687.22 on Tuesday, has a flood pool of 695 feet above sea level.


Monday 04/07/08

‘Snowfall exceeds 600 inches at Jackson ski resort’ – Wyoming Tribune Eagle per AP

JACKSON (AP) -- Total snowfall has exceeded 600 inches at one of the measuring stations at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It's the first time in 42 winters that a measuring station there has recorded that much snow.

Sunday was closing day at the resort. Total snowfall measured at the Raymer study station at more than 9,300 feet was 605 inches since last October.

Avalanche forecaster Bob Comey at the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center says snowfall totals on the upper mountain snowfall totals were regularly underreported during the resort's early years. He says forecasters wouldn't regularly visit the upper mountain to measure snowfall.

Comey says this winter has been one of the top-five seasons in terms of snowfall.


Monday, 04/07/08

‘Storm dumps more than 2 feet of snow in northern Minn.’ –

Residents of the Iron Range and other parts of northern Minnesota can look forward to digging out from under 2 feet of fresh snow.

A spring snowstorm caused slippery roads, forced school officials to delay or cancel classes in more than a dozen school districts in northern Minnesota.

Interstate 94 west of Alexandria was closed for a time, but reopened Monday morning.

Although the worst of the storm hit over the weekend, the National Weather Service predicts another 1 to 2 inches of snow will fall Monday.

The weather service says that as of Monday morning, Chisholm received 26 inches of snow, Marcell had 26 inches, Grand Rapids got 23 inches and Embarrass got 22 inches.


Snow also blanketed parts of neighboring North Dakota.

The Bismarck and Dickinson areas never got the snow that was expected, but areas to the southeast got enough to shovel and create hassles on the roads.

More than 30 vehicles slid into the ditches on interstates within 35 miles of Fargo-Moorhead by Sunday night, said Sgt. David Wolf of the North Dakota Highway Patrol. No injuries were reported, he said.

Snow plows were trying to keep the roads clear, but they were was slick under the slush, Wolf said.

The storm stretched along a narrow band from Wahpeton to Park Rapids, Minn., said Brad Hopkins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

"It's a slow mover," he said "That's why there's a lot of heavy stuff piling up over a small area."

In North Dakota, the snowfall amounts Sunday included about 6 inches in Dickey County and about 5 inches near Lisbon, the weather service said. About 3 inches fell in a path from Trotters to Halliday to Beulah, and in the Fargo area.


Saturday, 04/05/08

‘This time, severe storms soak Louisville’ – Louisville [KY] Courier Journal

At 3 a.m. yesterday, Pattie Waggoner conceded defeat.

Despite her efforts and three pumps, the water continued to rise, turning the basement of her Tyne Road into a swamp.

Four inches covered the floor early yesterday afternoon.

"I realized I'd lost the battle at 3, and I finally went to bed," the Beechwood Village resident said. "Now we just have to wait until it comes down and then clean everything out."

Waggoner wasn't the only one left struggling after more than 4 inches of rainfall drenched the Louisville area the past two days.

Water covered parts of roadways across Jefferson and neighboring counties, creating hazards for motorists and prompting several water rescues. The rain had trickled off by yesterday evening, but the flood warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect until 9:45 a.m. today.

While the flooding was significant, it was not expected to push the Ohio River past flood stage, said Bud Schardein, executive director of the Metropolitan Sewer District. The river is expected to crest by tomorrow at 21 feet, 2 feet below flood stage, he said.

The rain was heavier south of Louisville, where counties along the Western Kentucky Parkway saw as much 5 inches, said Mike Callahan of the National Weather Service in Louisville.

No storm-related deaths were reported in Louisville, but a 2-year-old died after police say her mother drove into a flooded roadway in Western Kentucky.

The weather service reported that Southern Indiana got about half as much rain as Louisville, enough to delay school two hours for the North and South Harrison Community districts.


Friday, 04/04/08

‘Deadly floods leave thousands homeless in Brazil’ – per AP

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Floods triggered by two weeks of torrential downpours have killed at least 10 people and forced more than 30,000 people to flee their homes in Brazil's normally arid northeast, officials said Friday.

Marcos Alfredo Alves, a spokesman for the Paraiba state government, said 14,000 people had to leave their homes there to escape waters that invaded the streets in 13 towns and cities. He said 10 people had drowned.

The Paraiba River that cuts through the state overflowed its banks and a medium-sized dam broke "flooding several rural regions inhabited mostly by poor farmers," Alves added.

In the nearby state of Piaui, the Civil Defense Department said the floods drove close to 19,000 people from their homes and destroyed corn and bean crops. About 30 cities and towns were isolated by washed out roads.


Wednesday, 04/02/08

‘Oregon boasts a record and county of snowpack’ – The Oregonian

The cumulative snowfall at Mt. Hood Meadows ski area from Nov. 1 through Monday -- 650 inches -- is the most ever recorded there.

That's a bit over 54 feet of snow, or the width of the roadway on Michigan's Mackinac Bridge, the third-longest suspension bridge in the world; the circumference of the Abraham Lincoln giant sequoia in the Yosemite Valley; and the crest level of the Mississippi River at Cairo, Ill., on March 25.

It was snowy at the ski resort on Mount Hood during the same period in 1982-83, when the previous record of 623 inches fell. But this past winter's snowfall -- and last week's in particular -- had one advantage over the "Cascade cement" that typically falls in March, said Dave Tragethon, the ski resort's marketing director.

"Everybody I talked to agrees that there has never been better powder than we had last week," he said. "The snowpack is very airy."

Even compressed over time, the base depth of the snow at Meadows on Tuesday was 199 inches; 225 inches at Timberline Ski Area; and 207 inches deep at Mt. Hood Skibowl.

This year's statewide snowpack is looking a lot like the snowpack of 1999, when Oregon basins clocked in with a mantle of snow 170 percent of average on April 1, the date when snowpacks usually reach their peak in Oregon. It's also more than twice what was on the ground April 1, 2007, when the statewide snowpack was 68 percent of average.

As of Friday, Oregon's statewide snowpack was 154 percent of average, said Jon Lea, a hydrologist with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last weekend's below-average temperatures -- which brought snow to the Willamette Valley -- helped that number grow as of Tuesday to 159 percent of average.

"There's a ton of snow up there," Lea said. "But spring will eventually come to the mountains."

And when it does, Lea said, water supplies for fish that swim, farmers who irrigate and hydroelectric turbines that spin will be more than adequate -- they'll be abundant. About three-fourths of the state's water -- for drinking, hydroelectric power, irrigation, recreation -- comes from winter snows that melt during the warmer, drier months, recharging streams, rivers and reservoirs.

George Taylor of the Oregon Climate Service said that though snowpack is a big factor in determining summertime water supplies, it's not the only factor.

In March 2005, a dismal snowpack prompted Gov. Ted Kulongoski to issue a statewide drought emergency. But heavy spring rains soaked the state for weeks, erasing the emergency and recharging reservoirs many thought would never fill in time for summer.


Tuesday, 04/01/08

‘Thunderstorms Cause Flooding, Wind Damage, Power Failures in Central U.S.’ – Fox News per AP,2933,344191,00.html

BUFFALO, Mo. — A strong storm system rolled across the nation's midsection on Monday with tornadoes and high winds that smashed several buildings, while snow was blamed for a massive traffic pileup that killed one person.

In southwest Missouri, three people were treated for minor injuries after a possible tornado flattened an antique store and gutted a gas station in Buffalo.

Terry Lane, emergency management director for Missouri's Dallas County, said the damage may have been caused by a sudden "downburst" from the thunderstorm.

"There was no warning. We had nothing on radar" to indicate a funnel cloud, Lane said.

Emergency officials said a tornado touched down briefly in rural Lawrence County. It damaged a large barn and some utility poles south of Miller.

In Oklahoma, residents in northern Oklahoma County were cleaning up from a twister that touched down before dawn and tore a roof off a house and damaged other buildings. No injuries were reported.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Smith said an investigation showed the damage was caused by a short-lived tornado.

Several roads in northwest Oklahoma County were closed by high water. Pawhuska in far northern Oklahoma received 3.88 inches of rain.

Heavy snow also fell across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. St. Paul, Minn., got almost 8 inches.

Rain showers moving across Illinois canceled or delayed hundreds of flights.

More than 400 flights at O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, had been canceled, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham.

The downpours also brought flood warnings to Illinois. The Weather Service issued a warning for the Fox River at Algonquin and said moderate flooding occurred at the Rock River in Rockton.


Monday, 03/31/08

‘Tons of Snow Test a Place Where Cold Is No Stranger’ – New York Times p. A11

OTTAWA — People here are divided between those longing for a few more inches of snow to set a record and others who think the 14 feet that has already landed, and mostly lingered, is more than enough.

No one needs to ask Luc Guertin his view. His front yard on a suburban street here features his personal monument to eastern Canada’s unusually prolonged, relentless and snowy winter. A snow wall, about 18 ½ feet high, 6 to 10 feet wide and 30 feet long, rises along one edge of the driveway. Standing next to a flagpole at the top, a balaclava-clad mannequin holds a snow shovel aloft in “Rocky”-style triumph. A sign, decorated with fuzzy chickens, offers outdated Easter greetings to the steady stream of sightseers who make their way to Toulouse Crescent.

Mr. Guertin, it should be noted, occasionally slips into an elaborate, homemade robot costume before picking up his extra-long snow shovel.

“Once I got going, I figured, why stop?” Mr. Guertin, a carpenter, said of his snow creation, which was mostly shoveled by hand rather than raised with a snowblower. “This year was such a record year for snow, so who knows, next year I might not be able to do it. A moment like this doesn’t come very often. I’m hoping for a snow record.”

The children wandering by one late March evening to poke and gaze at Ottawa’s newest attraction, as well as the drivers stopping for photographs, said that they, like Mr. Guertin, were hoping for another seven inches of snow. That would break the record from the winter of 1970-71, which meteorologists have called a thousand-year event.

But the season of heavy snowfall, which started in November and is still not over, has brought costs beyond the usual inconveniences. Roofs collapsing under the weight of snow have killed four people in Quebec, destroyed homes and forced sometimes panicked school and business evacuations.

Municipal budgets are facing multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls from snow removal costs, and road crews are rationing their remaining supplies of salt and sand. Weary shovelers face a world that slowly seems to have been buried in snow.

One of the more prominent personalities in Canada this winter has been David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada’s weather service whose duties include producing an annual weather trivia calendar. For those who hope the end of March means the end of snow, Mr. Phillips offers little consolation.

“What surprises me are Canadians who ask, ‘Is this it?’ ” he said. “About 12 percent of annual snowfall comes after the first day of spring. It’s never really over until well into April.”

Mr. Phillips, who displays an undisguised enthusiasm for this winter, is among those cheering on the record’s demise. “Breaking the record would justify the complaining people are doing a little,” he said. “Ottawa gets more snowfall than any other national capital in the world, and they’re kind of proud of it.”

Well, maybe. Mr. Phillips lives in Toronto, which is a five-hour drive southwest of Ottawa. While Toronto has endured an unusually severe winter, its snowfall has been about half that of Ottawa’s and most points east to Atlantic Canada.

It is a region well acquainted with, and prepared for, snow. When snowbanks begin narrowing streets, a common occurrence this winter, a carefully choreographed movement of snow augers and dump trucks moves in, transporting the snow to dumps that now resemble small mountain ranges.

But this year, the system has been breaking down. Like many people in Ottawa, Mr. Guertin and his neighbors have to contend with snowbanks that loom over all but the tallest S.U.V.’s. That makes emerging into traffic something of an exercise in faith.

Perhaps the most extreme reaction to the burdens of winter have been repeated incidents of what the police call snow rage. Most are territorial disputes that erupt when homeowners who have run out of space on their property begin tossing snow onto neighboring properties.

A defining moment occurred in Quebec City, where a 63-year-old man confronted a 25-year-old woman from a commercial clearing service who was blowing snow onto his yard. After banging on her tractor and shouting at her, the man rushed back into his house and returned with a shotgun to reinforce his complaint. The police have charged him with negligent use of a firearm and seized his collection of 13 guns.

There has been no doubt about breaking snowfall records in Quebec City. Its snowfall level, 460 centimeters, or 15 feet, long ago surpassed a 45-year record.

Mr. Phillips, at the weather service, believes it is the ubiquity of the snowfall that accounts for the depth of people’s distress. A visible amount of snow has fallen two of every three days here since Dec. 1, he said.

The snow has been, of course, a bonanza for any business connected to winter sports. At Camp Fortune, a ski resort in Chelsea, Quebec, about 20 minutes north of Ottawa, the snow was plentiful and in good shape for the final days of March.

But even Peter Sudermann, who operates the resort and two others with his brother, is tiring of the drill. “I don’t care if it falls on the slopes,” he said, “but I’m just really sick of shoveling my driveway and my porch and my deck.”

The March sun has caused Mr. Guertin’s snow wall to list slightly toward his neighbor’s pickup truck, which bears a license plate reading “LOONYBIN.” Concerns that the wall might topple recently prompted a call from a city official. Mr. Guertin said he received no orders but was warned that he might not be allowed to repeat his creation next winter, even if it is snowy.

In any case, Mr. Guertin decided during the last major snowstorm, which dumped nearly two feet, that the wall had reached its limit. He is now concentrating on its decorations, which will include a shift to an Ottawa Senators hockey team motif. “I didn’t want to overdo it,” he said.


Sunday, 03/30/08

‘Non-stop flooding in Arkansas enters 3rd week’ – per AP

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas was spared widespread storms Saturday but remained waterlogged from non-stop flooding that began nearly two weeks ago.

Storms hit isolated areas and residents along the White River in east Arkansas and the Black River in the northeast contended for another day with rising water and muck.

In northwest Arkansas, authorities reported Saturday that they had found a body believed to be that of a man whose pickup was found submerged in a creek after heavy rains 10 days ago.

The National Weather Service issued a 24-hour flood watch Saturday morning for Lawrence and Randolph counties, while predicting more rain through at least Monday.

Saturday, Margaret Walker stayed dry at her tobacco shop in Clarendon during a heavy rain. Storms and rising water two weeks ago chased her and her husband Gary from their home in the small community of East Lake. They set up house temporarily at a duck hunting club and have traveled by boat to check on their house.

"I had to go down there yesterday and take the food out of my refrigerator and freezer because a house had floated into a power pole or power lines and it knocked the electricity out," Walker said. "I just stepped out of the house into the boat."

Walker said the water was three feet from the front door of her home and many of the houses on the lake were under water.

"Nobody in their right minds would still be down there on the lower end," she said. "I just pray and say 'God, please take care of my home.' But if it happens, it happens — we'll survive."

The Monroe County community of Maddox Bay along the White River, where at least one resident was sandbagging his home a few days ago, was under water and only a flock of birds seemed to be watching over the small community on the White River.

The March flooding was the most severe in Arkansas since 1982, and places along the White, Spring, Eleven Point and Black rivers reached 100-year flood stages, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A 100-year flood is defined as having a 1% chance of happening in any given year.

President Bush declared nearly half of Arkansas — 35 counties in north-central and eastern Arkansas — federal disaster areas for immediate emergency assistance. Friday, he designated 19 of those counties eligible for disaster relief for either individual residents or for community public assistance.


Monday, 03/24/08

‘After year of rain, Texas drought tough on farmers’ – per AP

LA PRYOR, Texas — Hal Jessee looks at a shovelful of dirt and assesses it as only a lifelong farmer can.

"It's not looking good," says Jessee, 83, who farms 400 acres about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio. "If you go down, you get dry dirt. ... It should be wet all the way down."

With his land consumed by drought, Jessee probably isn't going to plant milo on three-quarters of his farm acreage this year. As a dry land farmer, he relies on rainfall to keep the ground moist enough to support his crops.

Jessee said the .7 inches of rain he got earlier this month was the first measurable moisture in six months. His land is visibly dry and dust devils spring up with the wind.

For farmers in a large swath of land west and south of San Antonio, the downpours of last summer that in some cases threatened to ruin crops have all but disappeared, leaving them to make hard decisions about whether to plant and hope for rain or cut their losses now.

Last July, the state was declared drought-free for the first time in at least a decade. No more.

"It was so wet, then when it quit, it quit," Jessee said.

Gene Corrigan, who lives not more than a few miles up the road from Jessee, got a full inch of rain earlier this month. He's taking the gamble and planting at least 200 acres of milo — out of 600 acres he farms.

"You just never know. It's just like going to Las Vegas," Corrigan said. "If we don't get a shower, it might ruin it."

Except for east Texas, the state ranges from "abnormally dry" to some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Much of Zavala County, where Jessee and Corrigan live, is in an extreme drought — the second-worst category. All or pieces of 10 other nearby counties, including the one home to the border city of Eagle Pass and those referred to as Texas' "wintergarden" region, are also reporting extreme drought.

"In this case it was weird because 2007 started out great as far as rainfall. We were on pace to have the wettest year in Texas on record for the state as a whole" until rainfall dropped off around September, said Texas State Climatologist and Texas A&M University professor John Nielsen-Gammon. "If it were evenly distributed through the year we'd be fine but it wasn't. Unfortunately, Texas weather has this nasty habit of alternating between too much rain and too little rain."

The state averaged about 37 inches of rain for 2007, nearly 10 inches above normal, said Victor Murphy, of the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. It was the seventh wettest year on record going back to 1895.

Jessee plans to plant on 100 acres of irrigated land. Other growers who have irrigation systems may not skip the planting season entirely, but that creates another problem.

Without a natural source of water, growers will run irrigation systems and pumps overtime, a move that will increase their energy costs and eventually draw down reservoirs replenished by last year's rain.

The drought also is creating wildfire dangers across the state. According to A&M's Texas Forest Service, more than 160 counties have burn bans. Some areas have been under National Weather Service red flag warnings, meaning conditions are ripe for difficult-to-control fires.

While a couple of good rainfalls could get Texas back on track for a normal year, Nielsen-Gammon said the outlook doesn't offer much hope.

"At least for the foreseeable future — the next couple of months — we still have La Nina, so continued dry conditions are likely," he said.


Sunday, 03/23/08

‘Snowstorm’s effects linger at airport’ – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

About 200 people trying to escape Wisconsin weather were trapped by it and spent the night curled up in chairs and on the floor throughout Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

Early Friday, the airport closed for the storm, which officially dropped 12.4 inches of snow in Milwaukee. The airport reopened at 10 a.m. Saturday, but the cancellations and delays continued as airlines tried to get planes in place. Operations aren't expected to return to normal until today, airport spokeswoman Patricia Rowe said.

The storm hit on one of the airport's heaviest travel days. Usually colleges' spring breaks don't come around Easter, Rowe said, but they are back-to-back this year, leading to larger-than-usual crowds.

Early Friday, it was clear most of the airport's 235 daily departures would be canceled. But since Saturday was heavily booked already, many of those bumped by the storm were out of luck, Rowe said. Tuesday is the next day to get out for some people, she said.

Still, people spent the night at the airport, many apparently hoping to get on a Saturday morning flight. Airport workers handed out blankets, pillows and water.

"We turned down the lights and music and tried to make it comfortable for everyone," Rowe said.

With the new foot of snow, Milwaukee's total for the winter hit 96.9 inches, which is 12.9 inches shy of the record set in 1885-'86, according to the National Weather Service.


Saturday, 03/22/08

‘Big Storms Continue to Strike Midwest’ – New York Times, p. A7

Floodwaters continued to rise Friday in parts of the Midwest as rivers and streams from Texas to Pennsylvania surged past their banks, causing the evacuation of hundreds of houses.

At the same time, another weather system snowed on Illinois and Wisconsin, creating treacherous driving conditions and grounding hundreds of airplane flights.

At least 16 deaths have been connected to weather in recent days.

Some of the worst flooding on Friday occurred near St. Louis, where the Meramec River submerged houses and businesses and lapped at Interstate 44. Crews fought to keep the water at bay with concrete barricades and sandbags.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Warren Imhos of Pacific, 30 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Mr. Imhos’s house, 200 yards from the river, is flooded to the top of the door frame. Mr. Imhos, his wife and two young children have been staying at his father-in-law’s house since Wednesday.

“We just put in a new wood floor and trim,” Mr. Imhos said. “We were just about to put carpet in. I’m glad we didn’t do it.”

Although the rain had stopped, the river was still rising and was expected to crest this weekend. Forecasters predicted that the Meramec would reach a near-record 42 feet in Eureka and a record 40 feet in Valley Park.

Hundreds of houses have been evacuated in Missouri and Arkansas.

This week President Bush approved federal disaster aid for St. Louis and 70 Missouri counties.

In Ohio, floodwater closed two Interstate highways before starting to recede Friday.

In the Chicago metropolitan region, forecasters expected up to nine inches of snow, and more than 400 flights were grounded.

“We’re challenged, we’re sick of it, and we’re fed up,” said Mike Claffey, a spokesman with the Illinois Transportation Department.

Mr. Claffey said that since November, his agency had used 300,000 tons of rock salt on roads in the Chicago area, more than twice the amount used in a typical winter.

In addition to the snow, Mr. Claffey said, Chicago’s weather this winter — sometimes jumping between freezing temperatures and days that felt like spring — has wreaked havoc on pavement, causing a spike in the number of potholes.

“We’ve used twice as much asphalt as we did last year to fill all the potholes this winter,” Mr. Claffey said.

The flooding farther south followed moisture-rich air from the Gulf of Mexico crashing into a stationary front. That led to heavy rains in the Mississippi Valley and the lower Ohio Valley, said Todd Miner, a meteorologist at Penn State University.

The weather system was then swept northeast, Mr. Miner said, where blizzards in Maine broke the record for seasonal snowfall in Caribou, a city in the northern tip. The last record was set in the 1954-5 season.

Rescue workers in Missouri worked to help communities surrounded by water, said Susie Stonner, a spokeswoman for the State Emergency Management Agency.

“We have people who’ve been plucked out of cars, and now we’re having to evacuate new areas,” Ms. Stonner said. “It’s been pretty much continuous.”

The entire population of Dutchtown, in southeast Missouri, was evacuated, Ms. Stonner said, and the town was “completely under water.”

Mr. Imhos, whose house was inundated, was grateful that he had insurance.

“It’s going to be a hard row to hoe,” he said. “But we’ll get through it.”


Saturday, 03/22/08

‘A near-blizzard breaks record for snowfall in Caribou, Maine’ – Boston Globe, p. B3 per AP

CARIBOU, Maine - A blizzard warning remained in effect yesterday in northern Maine as fierce winds scattered a foot or more of snow that broke Caribou's 53-year-old seasonal snowfall record.

The National Weather Service in the northern Maine city said the latest storm brought the seasonal total to 182.5 inches, breaking the old record of 181 inches, set in 1955.

"Even though it was spring yesterday, we still have winter on our doorstep," spokeswoman Ginny Joles of Maine Public Service Co., northern Maine's major electric company, said yesterday.

Wind was gusting up to 50 miles per hour, and a couple more inches of snow were expected by last night, though total accumulations would vary widely, the weather service said. Near-blizzard conditions were reported above 1,500 feet in the state's western mountains.

The powerful wind gusts threatened to bring down tree limbs and damage buildings already stressed by the winter's heavy accumulations of snow.

Several travelers who checked out of the Caribou Inn and Convention Center had to return because whiteout conditions made it nearly impossible to drive.

"It's better to be stuck here where it's safe and warm than to be out in a snowdrift somewhere," said Denise Yenidogan, who was working at the front desk. "We're having a blizzard, but, hey, we got the record."

The city was running out of places to put the snow. Yenidogan said she watched out the window as a gazebo in front of the hotel disappeared from view as the snow fell. Eventually, she could no longer see the weather vane.

"As much as we love the winter and everything, we're done," she said. "We just don't have any other place to put it."

Snowdrifts ranged from about 5 feet to 10 feet in some areas, said meteorologist Mark Bloomer. Drifts along the sides of northern Maine roads, already several feet high, were even higher with the latest storm.

"The snowdrifts that come over the top pile up on the lower side in the street," said Bloomer. "It's going to be a lot of work for the plows."


Thursday, 03/20/08

‘Heavy rains swamp Midwest on their way east’ – per AP

CINCINNATI (AP) — Storms that dumped as much of a foot of rain on the Midwest took aim at the Ohio Valley and Northeast on Thursday, leaving behind submerged roads, swamped homes and more than a dozen deaths.

Flooding was reported Wednesday in parts of Arkansas, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and southwestern Ohio, and schools were closed in western Kentucky because of flooded roads.

The rain stopped falling late Wednesday as the storms moved east, targeting the Ohio Valley and spreading snow over northern New England. A parallel band of heavy rain stretched from Alabama and Georgia to the Mid-Atlantic.

Days of rain turned the Midwest into a soggy mess, flooding roads, stranding motorists and displacing residents — with a cleanup bill likely to run in the millions.

President Bush declared a major disaster in Missouri on Wednesday night and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by flooding. Seventy counties and the city of St. Louis also are eligible for federal funding for emergency protective measures.

Much of Ohio was under a flood warning Thursday, with some areas cautioned to watch for flash floods. Most of southwest Ohio had received more than 4 inches of rain, and officials in Butler County declared a state of emergency because of the rising waters.

Flooding along the Scioto River in Pickaway, Ross and Pike counties was expected to be the worst since January 2005. The river near Circleville was expected to remain over the 14-foot flood stage through Sunday, and Pickaway County authorities asked the Red Cross to prepare shelters for possible flood victims.

In Findlay in northwest Ohio, authorities closed off streets Wednesday after the Blanchard River had once again gone over the 11-foot flood level — the 10th time it has done so in the last 15 months. The National Weather Service predicted the river would crest Thursday afternoon at 12.3 feet.

"It is going to take some time to dry out with this type of rain put down on saturated ground," said Beverly Poole, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky. "It's going to take a few days for the rivers and the creeks to recover."

The Ohio River at Cincinnati was expected to rise about 2 feet above flood stage by Friday. In nearby Whitewater Township, rescue workers with boats helped 16 people to safety and urged 40 to 45 more families to leave their homes.

Retired truck driver George Slayton, 65, said he just wasn't sure how much water from the Black River flowed into his home in Piedmont, Mo. He only had time to grab some medication and a change of clothes.

"I believe in God and everything, but he does things sometimes that make you wonder," said Slayton, who found shelter at a church and slept on a padded pew.

At least 13 deaths have been linked to the weather over the past few days, and three people were missing.

Five deaths were blamed to the flooding in Missouri, five people were killed in a highway wreck in heavy rain in Kentucky and a 65-year-old Ohio woman appeared to have drowned while checking on a sump pump in her home. In southern Illinois, two bodies were found hours after floodwaters swept a pickup off a rural road.

Searches were underway in Texas for a teenager washed down a drainage pipe, and two people were missing in Arkansas after their vehicles were swept away by rushing water.

In the northern Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, water as high as 4 feet stood outside some businesses, and police contacted owners and warned them not to open for the day.

"The biggest problem has been people driving into floodwater," said Frank Young, emergency management director in Warren County, Ohio. "There are a lot of stupid people. When that sign says, 'Road closed, high water,' that's what it means."

The town of Fenton, Mo., put out a call asking volunteers to help put down sandbags against the floodwaters Thursday. Gov. Matt Blunt said state workers was [sic] checking on nursing homes and hospitals, mobilizing rescues, opening shelters, closing highways and working to ensure safe drinking water.


Thursday, 03/20/08

’13 Die as More Than 12 Inches of Rain Fall on Midwest’ – New York Times, p. A15

ST. LOUIS — At least 13 people died and hundreds were evacuated on Wednesday as steady rains delivered more than a foot of water across large areas of the Midwest, flooding rivers and roadways.

The rain began on Monday. By Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued flood and flash-flood warnings from Texas to Pennsylvania.

Missouri was the hardest hit, with at least five deaths linked to the storm and more than 500 houses evacuated in Wayne and Bollinger Counties, in the southeastern part of the state.

“Right now we’re in flash flood response mode — water rescues, evacuations,” a spokeswoman for the Missouri Emergency Management Agency, Suzie Stonner, said. “It’s been ongoing almost continuously since yesterday. The ground is so soaked that the water just runs off. We’re going to go into a massive flooding situation soon.”

In Kentucky, five people were killed on Wednesday when a tractor-trailer rammed a pickup and van in heavy rain on Interstate 65 about 60 miles south of Louisville. The trucker and a person in the van were injured.

The storms closed sections of hundreds of roads. More than 300 sections were closed in Missouri, more than 60 in Kentucky and more than 30 in Arkansas.

Gov. Matt Blunt of Missouri, a Republican, mobilized National Guard units on Tuesday and requested federal assistance for 70 counties and St. Louis.

Joshua L. Slatten of the Missouri Transportation Department was killed on Tuesday when a tractor-trailer hit his truck while he was barricading a flooded highway near Springfield. Also on Tuesday, Thurman L. Shelton drowned when water inundated his truck in Bollinger County, and Walter Baker drowned after being swept from a bridge in nearby Reynolds County.

Greene County officials said Ronald B. Rudd died when a flood pushed his car off the road one mile east of Springfield, and in Monett, about 40 miles southwest of Springfield, Mark G. Speir drowned in Kelly Creek.

In Hamilton County, Ohio, a 65-year-old woman apparently drowned after checking her sump pump. Two bodies were also found in southern Illinois.

The authorities in Arkansas and Illinois reported extensive voluntary evacuations. Neither state reported fatalities, though the authorities in Arkansas reported several missing persons.

By Wednesday evening, rain had stopped in much of the area as the storm system headed toward the Northeast. Many downstream areas braced for expected record levels.

“The majority of the rivers across southeast Missouri and southern Illinois are forecast to be in a major flooding stage within the next 48 hours,” said Rick Shanklin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky. “The rivers and even the small streams are backed up. The water has nowhere to go. So it’s going to be a somewhat slow process to recover from all the flooding.”

In Pacific, 30 miles west of here on the Meramec River, residents voluntarily evacuated as they braced for the river to crest at 31.5 feet, 2 feet lower than its historic 33.64 feet in 1982.

“Right now, we think there are about 50 homes and businesses that might be affected,” City Administrator Harold Selby said. “These are people we know will have water in their homes or businesses.

“We have had floods here before, but one of the things we’re concerned about is that there’s been a lot more development in the flood plain, and we just don’t know how that’s going to be affected.”


Wednesday, 03/19/08

‘2 dead, 2 missing in central USA floods’ – per AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Airlines faced passenger backlogs Wednesday from hundreds of flights grounded by storms that chased people from flooded homes and deluged roads in the nation's midsection, killing at least two people in Missouri and sweeping a teen down a drainage pipe in Texas.

The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings from Texas to Ohio, with tornado watches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Heavy rain began falling Monday and just kept coming. Forecasters said parts of Missouri could get 10 inches or more. The storms were expected to finally stop Wednesday.

Cape Girardeau County had received nearly 8 inches of rain by Tuesday afternoon, trapping some residents in their homes. About 50 roads were closed in Christian County after 7 inches of rain fell.

More than 6 inches of rain drenched areas around Dallas, including record rainfall at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where more than half of the 950 scheduled flights Tuesday were canceled.

Winds of more than 100 mph were briefly reported at the airport, which received a single-day record of 2.35 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. The previous high of 1.52 inches was set in 1984, the weather service said.

At least 11 more cancellations were expected Wednesday morning, and airport officials warned passengers to brace for more delays and cancellations as airlines rebuild their schedules.

"This is one of the most vicious thunderstorms DFW has seen in quite some time, especially its ongoing intensity," airport spokesman Ken Capps said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials evacuated the airport's west tower for about 15 minutes Tuesday morning after seeing a funnel cloud. By Tuesday night, the airport was accepting about 50 arrivals and departures an hour — less than half the usual 120 flights that use the airport's seven runways every hour, officials said.

Hundreds of people in Lancaster, south of Dallas, were advised to evacuate their homes as the Ten Mile Creek rose. By evening, the creek waters had receded. One woman was rescued from her yard and four people were rescued from their vehicles, city spokeswoman Ciciely Hickmon said.

In Arkansas, residents in parts of Baxter, Madison, and Sharp counties were evacuated because of rising floodwaters, said Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The Spring River was rising at a rate of 6 inches per hour Tuesday, and debris flowing in it included full-size trees. Officials said dangerous flows were occurring in Mammoth Spring and Salem, where the river was out of its banks.

To the north, Gov. Matt Blunt activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday as high water closed hundreds of roads.

About 300 of the 900 homes in Piedmont, Mo., were evacuated when the McKenzie Creek flowed over its banks and caused flooding 2 to 3 feet deep in the center of the town, about 125 miles south of St. Louis. Dozens of people were rescued in about 15 to 20 boat trips.

Up to 30 homes were evacuated in Winona, and some residents of Cape Girardeau were trapped in their homes, according to the State Emergency Management Agency. In Ellington, as many as 50 homes and half the businesses were evacuated, officials said.

The body of an 81-year-old man was found in the water at Ellington, said Missouri State Water Patrol Lt. Nicholas Humphrey. A 21-year-old state Department of Transportation worker was killed near Springfield when his dump truck was hit by a tractor-trailer as he helped out in a flooded area, officials said.

Scott and Marilyne Peterson and their 25-year-old son, Scott Jr., scurried out of their mobile home in Piedmont after watching the water rise 3 feet in five minutes. The family had just enough time to grab some essentials, a few clothes and the family dog.

"You didn't have time to worry," Scott Peterson Sr. said. "You just grab what you can and go and you're glad the people are OK."


Saturday, 03/15/08

‘Storms kill two in Georgia before pushing east’ –

(CNN) -- Storms that killed two people in northern Georgia spread Saturday night into South Carolina, where possible tornadoes downed trees, blew roofs off homes and broke power lines, weather forecasters said.

There was heavy damage in Prosperity, South Carolina, where residents reported seeing a tornado touch down, said Newberry County sheriff's Capt. Todd Johnson. Prosperity is 40 miles northwest of Columbia.

About 56,000 customers remained without power Sunday morning after storms swept through Savannah knocking out power while the coastal Georgia city was in the midst of its St. Patrick's Day celebrations, said Carol Boatwright of Georgia Power.

Damage was reported Saturday night in the counties of Newberry, McCormick, Edgefield, Lexington, Aiken and Kershaw.

"We have numerous reports of tornadoes touching down. There is a lot of damage, and we are unable to respond to all of the calls," a dispatcher for the Aiken County Sheriff's Department said.

Meanwhile, the storm danger passed in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. A Friday night tornado packing winds of up to 135 miles per hour cut a path 6 miles long and 200 yards wide through downtown in less than 30 minutes.

There was heavy damage to many structures, including the CNN world headquarters. On Saturday, windows were still popping out from a high-rise nearby. Heavy rain and hail passed through in the afternoon.

Two people died in northern Georgia on Saturday as waves of dangerous thunderstorms pounded the area, and storms continued into Saturday night. A possible tornado destroyed mobile homes in Jefferson County, and another possible tornado was reported in Clarke County, where Athens is located, the weather service reported.

A woman died and her husband was seriously injured when a tornado leveled their home in the Live Oak community, just north of Aragon, Polk County officials said. Aragon is about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Aragon police were assessing damage when they found the house about 12:30 p.m., Polk County Police Chief Kenneth Dodd said. The part-brick, part-frame home was reduced to rubble.

The second fatality was in Floyd County, about 7 miles southeast of Lindale in the Wax community, where a possible tornado struck about 4:30 p.m., said Scotty Hancock, the county emergency management director.

The National Weather Service estimated that 20 homes were destroyed in the area.

Damage was also reported in Taylorsville and Cartersville, about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta, and suspected tornado touchdowns were reported in Gainesville in Hall County, near Homer in Banks County and near Maysville in Jackson County.

A tornado was also reported in northern Forsyth County, sheriff's Capt. Michael Honiker said. At least one structure fire was reported, he said.

Hail nearly 3 inches in diameter was reported in Dawsonville, the National Weather Service said.

There were 41,000 people without power statewide Saturday evening, according to Georgia Power.

Saturday's severe weather followed an EF-2 tornado, with top winds of up to 135 mph that ripped through downtown Atlanta on Friday night. There were no fatalities, and only one serious injury was reported.

Rain, wind and hail caused additional power outages Saturday in the Atlanta area and triggered delays of more than an hour for flights leaving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to an airport spokesman.


Friday, 03/14/08

‘Wildfires scorch areas in southern, northern Oklahoma’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Above-average temperatures, low humidity and high winds fueled wildfires in parts of Oklahoma.

At least four structures in northern Carter County were destroyed on Wednesday but no injuries were reported, authorities said. Another blaze charred dozens of acres near Carney, but firefighters were able to protect 12 homes.

In southern Oklahoma, 30-mph winds helped drive a fire near Ratliff City.

Carter County assistant emergency management director Chester Agan said three homes and a shop building were among the structures that were destroyed in the blaze.

No evacuations were ordered, but Oklahoma Highway 76 was closed in both directions north of Ratliff City for about five hours because of heavy smoke.

Fixed-wing aircraft from a nearby airport dropped water on the blaze, which burned an area about three-quarters of a mile wide and four miles long, Agan said.

Firefighters from more than a dozen agencies helped bring the fire under control by about 10 p.m.

"We must have had, gosh, 18 different fire departments out of our county on this fire," Agan said. "There were probably about 250 firemen coming in to help."

Firefighters also dealt with another hotspot near Hennepin in southern Garvin County, he said. Crews extinguished that blaze as well, Agan said.

In Lincoln County, firefighters from nine rural fire departments worked to extinguish a wildfire near Carney, saving a dozen mobile homes.

"We have some homes with warped siding right now, but we didn't lose any structures," said Joey Wakefield, Lincoln County's emergency management director. "I'll tell you what, you can't say enough with how quickly those rural fire departments responded. These guys don't get paid. You have to give them props."

Fire crews received the emergency call about 1:35 p.m., according to Wakefield. The fire, which was contained after more than two hours began five miles north of Carney and jumped U.S. Highway 177 at one point.


Wednesday, 03/12/08

‘Record snows bring Quebec “snow rage”’ –

MONTREAL, March 12 (UPI) -- Quebec City Police have responded to more than 12 calls of "snow rage" fighting and weapons threats related to this winter's record 15 feet of snow.


The provincial capital was last hit Sunday with 15 inches of new snow and, as residents began digging out, police were called to a home where a commercial snow blower operator said a 63-year-old man at a neighboring house threatened her with a shotgun, police said.


The man was arrested and charged with negligent use of a firearm after telling officers the woman had been blowing snow onto his property, the Globe and Mail reported.


"People's position is: 'Not in my backyard'," police spokeswoman Sandra Dion said.


In January, another man in the city was arrested for allegedly choking an elderly neighbor after she blew snow on his lawn, CTV News reported.


Similar tensions exist further west in Montreal, where old narrow streets are piled high with snow and fights break out over parking spaces, police there said.


Luc Tremblay, a psychologist near Quebec City, told the Globe and Mail he, too, is feeling the effects of snow rage.


"I like winter and even I'm completely fed up," he said.


Tuesday, 03/11/08

‘Severe UK weather causes travel chaos’ –

LONDON, England -- Severe weather caused travel chaos across Britain on Monday as strong winds and rain led to dozens of cancellations and delays at airports, ports and railway stations.

The weather led to 41 flight cancellations at London's Heathrow Airport and 13 at Gatwick, according to a spokeswoman for BAA, the authority that operates the airports, and a spokeswoman for budget carrier Flybe.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency reported it had sent tugboats and a lifeboat to help a tanker in trouble in the English Channel, The Associated Press reported.

The Swedish vessel was reportedly dragging anchor with 13 crew members on board.

The tugboats hoped to stabilize the Astral to stop it sinking, while the lifeboat was standing by to evacuate the crew if necessary.

On the other side of the Channel, a Dutch cargo ship grounded off the French coast.

Maritime officials told AP the ship was forced off course by high winds it encountered when approaching the port.

Britain's weather service, the Met Office, issued severe weather warnings for England, Wales, northern Scotland and Northern Ireland as a low pressure system moved east across the UK.

It said western and southern England and Wales were most at risk.

"Gusts of 60 to 70 mph (96 to 110 kmh) are likely with the possibility of 80 mph (130 kmh) gusts on exposed coasts and hills," the Met Office warned on its Web site.

"Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. In addition, high waves and flooding may affect coastal areas in the south."

P&O Ferries said it canceled its service between Dover, England's busiest ferry terminal, and the French port of Calais.

The company also canceled Tuesday's scheduled service between Bilbao, Spain, and the southern English port of Portsmouth.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel, which runs under the English Channel, said the service would remain open but it expected increased traffic because of the Dover port shutdown.

National Rail reported "major disruption" on Britain's trains.

The Met Office also warned of blizzards and heavy snow for Scotland.

Bristol International Airport, in western England, briefly suspended flights Monday morning. It posted a message warning of further delays throughout the day.


Monday, 03/10/08

‘Ohio buried in as much as 20 inches of snow’ – per AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Highway and utility crews worked overtime Sunday to recover from the huge storm that buried Ohio and other parts of the Midwest in snow and tore down power lines elsewhere.

More than 20 inches of snow fell from Friday through Saturday at Columbus, eclipsing the city's previous record of 15.3 inches set in February 1910, the National Weather Service said. Elsewhere on Saturday, 14 inches fell at Milan, Ind.; and up to a foot fell at Louisville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and parts of Tennessee. Arkansas collected a foot of snow Friday.

Many churches in the Columbus area canceled Sunday services because roads were still slippery.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which shut down Saturday, reopened Sunday but flight delays and cancelations were expected as airlines tried to get their schedules back on track, spokesman Todd Payne said.

Delays also were expected at Port Columbus International Airport, where 90% of flights were canceled Saturday.

"We will get through this," Gov. Ted Strickland said Saturday. "The snow will stop, the wind will cease, and the sun will shine. But until that happens we need to be smart, take care of ourselves and attempt to be helpful to others."

Ohio had one traffic death linked to the weather, and four men died while shoveling snow. Two traffic deaths were blamed on the storm in western New York state and one in Tennessee. Two people were killed Friday as tornadoes spun out of the eastern edge of the weather system in Florida.

The storm also made roads slippery and snow-covered in western New York and caused flooding that closed roads in other parts of the state. On Sunday, high wind and falling temperatures created brisk wind chills in much of the state.

Utility companies in southeastern Pennsylvania said Sunday they had restored power to most of the 80,000 customers who were blacked out Saturday by power lines snapped by wind and falling tree limbs.

More than 100,000 New Jersey homes and businesses lost power at the height of thunderstorms that boiled up along the eastern part of the weather system, and some commuter train routes into New York City were blocked by fallen trees, authorities said. Wind gusted to 65 mph in New Jersey, the weather service said.

In Maryland, the storm system's wind blew a ship away from its pier Saturday in Baltimore. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Ayla Stevens said no one was injured when the car-carrier's mooring lines broke and the ship was pushed out into the city's harbor.


Monday, 03/10/08

‘Cyclone Jokwe lashes northern Mozambique, leaves 7 people dead’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique: A powerful cyclone left a trail of destruction across northern Mozambique, killing at least seven people, officials said Monday.

Cyclone Jokwe — with winds blowing up to 200 kph (125 mph) — made landfall Saturday on Mozambique Island and Nampula province in the north, as well as the central province of Zambezia.

North and central areas had been hit by their worst flooding since 2001, when 800 people died. Flood waters were subsiding, but there were now fears the cyclone would bring new devastation.

Four people were killed in the coastal town of Quinga, and another three died when a mosque collapsed in the town of Namige, said Joao Ribeiro, director of the National Disasters Management Institute.

More than 2,000 houses and 119 fishing boats were destroyed, Ribeiro said, while roofs have been blown off schools and other public buildings and many towns were without power.

Three mosques were destroyed on Mozambique Island, where Islam is the dominant religion.

Ribeiro said food and water supplies had been sent to affected areas.

The Nampula coast and Zambezia province were put under red alert — the highest alert level.

The National Institute of Meteorology said the cyclone was heading south, across the bay of Sofala, bringing rain to the coast of Sofala province, worst hit by the flooding that killed 20 people.

However, the cyclone has lost some of its strength over land, falling from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm. But it was expected to speed up and intensify over the warm waters of the Mozambique Channel.

Meteorologists expect it to fizzle out by Tuesday or Wednesday, before reaching land again.


Friday, 03/07/08

‘Massive storm system dumps snow, spawns tornadoes’ – per AP

DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- Snow started falling in a band that stretched from central Texas to southern Ohio on Friday, while severe storms rolling through Florida spawned two tornadoes in the northern part of the state.

The tornadoes touched down in the tiny coastal town of Keaton Beach in Taylor County and Capitola in Leon County, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tallahassee, state emergency officials said. Power lines were brought down, but there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Up to a foot of snow was possible in several areas in the nation's midsection.

"It could get real nasty," said Dusty Harbage, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Jackson in eastern Kentucky, a region expected to be on the tail end of the wintry blast.

The snow in Texas came on top of a storm system Thursday that left as much as 9 inches of snow on northern parts of the state and brought a tornado to the south part of the state.

No one was injured by a twister packing 95 to 105 mph winds in Corpus Christi on Thursday afternoon, but trees were snapped and several homes were damaged, said Roger Gass, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Corpus Christi.

On Friday, about 20 homes in northern Lake City, Florida, were damaged, with a handful of homes destroyed in Capitola, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tallahassee.

The weather service said the Louisville, Kentucky, area could expect 8 to 12 inches of snow, starting Friday morning. The heaviest snow is expected Friday night and early Saturday, when 4 to 5 inches could fall within six or seven hours, said Joe Ammerman, a weather service meteorologist in Louisville.

"It's not uncommon to get big snows in March," he said. "The one good thing about that is it tends to warm up fairly fast and the snow doesn't stay around very long."

In Arkansas, Weather Service forecaster John Lewis said conditions in Little Rock could be particularly hazardous by Friday evening.


Wednesday, 03/05/08

‘Snow, ice, floods hit several states’ – per AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Snow, ice and flooding closed roads and schools across Ohio on Wednesday and left tens of thousands of customers without electricity in the aftermath of a storm system that had pummeled wide sections of the eastern half of the nation.

Scattered school closings were reported Wednesday from Indiana to Maine. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and advisories for streams from eastern Oklahoma to North Carolina and as far to the northeast as Massachusetts.

In northern Maine, Caribou received 1.4 inches of snow overnight, giving the city a total of more than 160 inches so far this season, making this the second-snowiest winter on record there, the weather service said.

More than a dozen homes were evacuated overnight because of flooding in eastern Ohio's Jefferson County.

A school was set up as an emergency shelter, said Rob Herrington, assistant director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.

"Mostly, we've had more nuisance flooding than anything, just some water on the roads," he said.

At least three Ohio counties declared driving emergencies, meaning only essential vehicles should be on the roads, and traffic in some other parts of the state was slowed by accidents on icy roads and detours around fallen trees and power lines.

Traffic in northern Indiana was at a near standstill Wednesday morning on Interstate 74 near Batesville because of ice and snow, state police Sgt. Noel Houze said. Motorists were unable to make it up a hill on the highway about 60 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Several inches of snow had fallen overnight in northeastern Indiana.

The edge of the storm also hit southeastern Michigan, dumping as much as 10 inches of snow during the night and closing hundreds of schools in the Detroit area.

Sleet changing to light snow during the night in western New York state created an ice layer about a half-inch thick around Buffalo and Rochester, the weather service said. Buffalo Niagara International Airport shut down for about an hour Wednesday morning so crews could clear runways and a handful of flights were canceled.

The storm blacked out thousands of homes and businesses in parts of Indiana, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina,

Farther south, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency Wednesday because of power outages and preliminary reports that high wind had destroyed nine buildings and damaged more than 50 others.

On Tuesday, the same storm system dumped as much as 13 inches of snow in west-central Arkansas, with up to 8 inches in Missouri and 9 around Alton, Ill., the weather service said.

Four inches of rain fell in southwestern Kentucky, and up to 5 inches fell in southwest North Carolina. Alabama had two small tornadoes Tuesday that destroyed at least two homes and damaged others, the weather service said.

Two people were killed Tuesday in Illinois when their car slid on a sleet-covered road into the path of a truck.


Monday, 03/03/08

‘Heavy snow follows tornadoes, giant hail’ – per AP

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) -- Snow fell across parts of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle on Monday, part of a storm system that produced at least two weekend tornadoes and hail as big as softballs.

The National Weather Service posted a snow and blowing snow advisory for parts of Oklahoma, with 3 to 6 inches possible in eastern sections Monday.

In the Texas Panhandle, ice and snow covered local roads in western areas of the Panhandle but no problems were reported.

Up to 4 inches of rain had fallen by midday Monday in parts of Arkansas, the weather service said.

On Sunday, two tornadoes were spotted in rural areas of northwestern Oklahoma. Television footage showed one twister passing the communities of Carleton and Southard in northern Blaine County.

No fatalities or severe damage were reported, but downed power lines caused scattered blackouts. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said one highway near the Kansas state line that was closed because of fallen power lines had been reopened early Monday.

"It was just more of a scare than anything else, really," said Blaine County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Austin.

The storm system also produced wind gusting up to 70 mph, lightning and hail as large as softballs that caused scattered damage, said weather service meteorologist Chris Sohl in Norman, Oklahoma.

Such a storm system "is not all that odd, but this early in March sometimes it's a trick to get enough moisture up here for [atmospheric] instability," Sohl said.

The stormy weather formed along a cold front stretching across the middle of the nation. Radar showed rain falling along the front from Texas to Michigan on Monday morning with snow in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Elsewhere, blizzard conditions and accidents in Colorado on Sunday closed Interstate 70 from Limon to the Kansas line for part of the day, with similar conditions reported on Interstate 25 south of Denver. Blowing snow hit most of Colorado, with the weather service reporting 15 inches of snow in the mountains west of Denver.


Saturday, 03/01/08

‘Deadly storm ‘Emma’ slams Europe’ –

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A storm dubbed "Emma" slammed into Europe Saturday packing high winds and heavy rain, killing at least one person, authorities said.

A man died near the western German town of Wissen early Saturday when a tree toppled by the storm fell on the car he was riding in, Wissen police told CNN.

The man was in a group of four people driving home from work when they encountered a tree in the road. As they were turning around, the other tree fell on the car. None of the other men were injured.

Also in Germany, a train conductor was injured when a high-speed train, the Inter City Express, struck a toppled tree, according to Martin Walden, spokesman for Deutsche Bahn rail service.

None of the train's passengers were injured, and they were bused to their final destination. The train was headed from Dortmund, Germany, to Vienna, Austria, Walden said.

Toppled trees on train tracks were triggering massive delays in railway service all across Germany, with rail lines closed in many locations, Walden said.

Europe began feeling the effects of Emma late Friday night, according to Deutchscher Wetter Dienst (DWD), Germany's national weather service.

The continent was raked by wind gusts of up to 95 km/h (59 mph). The storm was expected to reach its peak during the late afternoon Saturday, with winds of up to 120 km/h (74 mph) -- the strength of a Category 1 hurricane.

German authorities were urging residents to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed, especially in the northwest part of the country and the southern Alps. Forecasters said the winds and rain should decrease by early Sunday.

The Meteorological Institute of the University of Berlin names high- and low-pressure systems. This year, the high-pressure systems receive male names and the low pressure systems, female names.


Friday, 02/29/08

‘Snow record in sight’ – Concord [NH] Monitor, front page

Since November, 102.2 inches of snow have fallen on Concord. It could be worse, but not much. Twenty more inches and we'll beat the all-time record of 122 inches, set in the winter of 1873-1874. At least we have snowblowers.

"I like snow and all, but this . . ." said Nathan Pickett of Barnstead yesterday. "I'm just not used to 10-foot high snowbanks."

Nicole McAlister of Loudon is no less fed up with shoveling her driveway and traversing icy walks. There is just one thing she likes about so much snow. "When my 8 a.m. classes (at NHTI in Concord) are cancelled," she said.

Yes, spring is just three weeks away, but that's little comfort given that forecasters say another storm will arrive tonight and dump 6 inches of snow before it ends tomorrow. And the long-term forecast calls for snow again in the middle of the month.

In fact, James Mansfield, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Concord gets nearly 15 inches of snow in March and April alone in an average year. Since this year is far from average, Mansfield predicts we'll break the all-time record.

He sounded excited just thinking about it. "Records are meant to be broken," he said.

It's not enough, apparently, that Concord has already "smashed" one snowfall record, as Mansfield put it. The weather service also tracks snowfall in "meteorological" terms, which means the snow that falls in December, January and February.

Concord had 100.1 inches in that time this season. Before that, the record was 78 inches in the winter of 1886-1887.

Record snowfalls are good news for some. Peter Bitt of Lincoln works at a New Hampshire ski resort and said, most years, the place has 120 inches of snow cover by now. This year, it's at 180 inches, he said.

"I'm not sick of (snow) yet," he said. "We live in New Hampshire. If you don't like so much snow, move south."

And don't forget the snowmobilers. Chris Gamache of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development said the North Country can usually count on 14 weeks of good riding in a typical year. This year, riding is still good throughout the state.

The last time New Hampshire offered such a good winter for snowmobiling was 2002-2003, Gamache said, when 65,000 people registered the snow machines in

the state. That season, snowmobile riders contributed $1.2 billion to the state's economy, he said. It's looking like it could be a repeat this year.

And it's good for the snow plow operators, right? Maybe not.

"I mean, we are making money off it, but enough is enough," said Bob McKechnie, operations manager for Jungle Jims in Epsom. In the winter, McKechnie oversees the snow plowing and removal operation; in the spring it's landscaping.

The snow has been an even bigger hassle for cities and towns trying to keep up with plowing, sanding and salting on too-small budgets. It's a downright danger for flat roofs and other structures retaining the year's dumping.

And it hasn't been a picnic for the city's firefighters, who, with help from general services employees, shovel out all the city's hydrants after each storm. The department has put out pleas in the local media asking residents, if able, to help by shoveling out hydrants near their homes.


Thursday, 02/28/08

‘Floods, Landslides Death Toll Reaches 45 in Philippines’ – China Radio International per Xinhua

The death toll in floods and landslides caused by continuous downpour in eastern Philippines has risen to 45, the country's disaster relief agency said on Thursday.

The deaths were mostly located in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and parts of Mindanao, said the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said in a statement.

The number of injured also increased to 31 as the number of persons missing went down from ten to eight, said the disaster relief agency.

It also said that as of Wednesday night, the floods and landslides had affected 180,809 families or 873,009 persons.

Damage to property was estimated at 1.312 billion pesos (32.56 million U.S. dollars) for infrastructure and agriculture.

The social welfare department said 134,147 families or 646.045 persons had been served in 109 evacuation centers.

At least 2,001 houses were destroyed and 3,740 more damaged.

Eastern Philippines are the most vulnerable part to typhoons and heavy rains in the archipelago. A 2006 mud flow in Bicol killed nearly 100 people and left thousands homeless.


Monday, 02/25/08

‘Deadly cyclone batters Madagascar’ – per AP

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — The toll from Cyclone Ivan has risen to 44 dead and 145,000 homeless in Madagascar, the government said Monday.

Eastern parts of the Indian Ocean island remain cut off by flood waters, more than a week after the cyclone hit Feb. 17 carrying winds of more than 140 mph and torrential rains.

According to a government statement, the worst affected is Fenerive Este district, where out of a population of 281,000, more than 80,000 have lost their homes and up to 70% of buildings have been destroyed.

The cyclone first struck the island of Sainte Marie, a popular tourist resort that is home to 19,000 — nearly half of whom lost their homes. Emergency medical supplies have been exhausted on Sainte Marie.

According to the Ministry of Transport, seven major roads remain cut, hampering attempts to deliver relief. Bridges also have been destroyed.

In the premier rice-growing region of Alaotra Mangoro, which provides 30% of the island's staple food, 37,000 acres of fields have been flooded, threatening serious food shortages.

A relief effort is underway led by President Marc Ravalomanana, who is also the richest businessman in the country, providing rice, yoghurt, cheese and money to some of the hardest hit areas on the east coast. The U.S. government has donated $100,000.

The government said 211,000 people, more than 1% of the population of the island, have been affected in some way by the cyclone.

Madagascar, the world's fourth-largest island, is regularly struck by cyclones and there are fears that global warming may exacerbate the cyclone season. An earlier storm, Cyclone Fame, killed 13 people. Last season was the worst on record — six cyclones killed about 150 people.


Wednesday, 02/20/08

‘Floods and landslides kill 13 in eastern Philippines, 3 missing, 148,000 displaced’ – AOL News per AP

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Weeklong rains have triggered landslides and floods across the eastern Philippines, leaving at least 13 people dead, three missing and tens of thousands displaced, officials said Wednesday.


Most of the deaths occurred from drowning in Eastern Samar province since Feb. 15, when a low pressure area dumped heavy rains that caused flash floods and cut off major roads and damaged bridges, officials said.


The Office of Civil Defense in Manila said the entire province was under a state of emergency to enable officials to draw emergency funds for relief operations.


Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone said 10 people drown [sic] and one was accidentally electrocuted. Three others were missing, he added. The civil defense office said two people died in nearby Leyte province.


Evardone said about 148,000 people have been displaced and two towns - Jitapad and Maslog - remained submerged, although flood waters were subsiding in some areas.


"We could not deliver relief goods to far-flung villages because of the strong flood currents, and the bad weather was preventing helicopters from flying," he said.


He said the rains, normal at this time of the year, were "extraordinarily super strong."


The civil defense office said the floods destroyed crops and infrastructure worth 305 million pesos (US$7.4 million, euro5 million), mostly in Eastern Samar.


The Red Cross said at least 23 people were injured when four rivers burst their banks.


The island of Samar, which is prone to flooding and natural disasters, is about 570 kilometers (350 miles) southeast of Manila.


Monday, 02/18/08

‘Severe storms, tornadoes batter Southeast’ – per AP

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — Homeowners, utility crews and others worked Monday to clear away wreckage and restore services after the latest round of winter tornadoes that have slashed the Southeast.

At least 29 people were injured in Prattville on Sunday, and Mayor Jim Byard said about 200 homes and 50 to 100 businesses were damaged. No deaths were reported.

The tornado was part of a storm system that swept across the Southeast on Sunday, damaging homes elsewhere in Alabama and in parts of Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.

The violent weather continued into early Monday, when a tornado ripped apart a house in Hookerton, N.C., causing minor injuries to three people.

"It sounded like a train came through my window," said Shannon Edwards, 19, who was trapped under debris for about an hour at her family's Hookerton home. "My whole bed just flipped up. I didn't know where I was going to end up. I didn't know what was going on."

Scattered damage to buildings and trees was reported elsewhere in North Carolina.

The tornado that struck Prattville tore up a path about a quarter-mile wide, and was rated as an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale of tornado severity, meaning it had wind speeds of 140 mph to 150 mph, said meteorologist Jim Stefkovich at the National Weather Service's Birmingham office.

Repair crews also were at work Monday in western and central Georgia, where the storms destroyed or damaged more than 50 homes Sunday, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Ten people were injured, two of them critically, the agency said.

The weather service said there was no official confirmation yet of tornadoes in Georgia, but it said some of the damage could have been caused by a tornado.

In the Florida Panhandle, a tornado destroyed four homes in Escambia County and damaged about 60 other buildings, county spokeswoman Sonya Daniel said. At least two buildings were damaged in neighboring Santa Rosa County.

A tornado outbreak earlier this month killed more than 50 people in several states, including Alabama.

While tornadoes were battering the Southeast on Sunday, parts of the Upper Midwest had to deal with blizzard conditions.

Dozens of schools in central and eastern Iowa were closed or had delayed openings Monday and travel was not recommended on some highways because Sunday's storm dumped as much as 6 inches of snow, accompanied by wind gusting to 50 mph.

According to the weather service, a total of 18.5 inches of snow has fallen so far this month at the Des Moines International Airport, compared to the average 5 inches. So far this season, Iowa has gotten 48 inches compared to the normal 26 inches.


Thursday, 02/14/08

‘Up to 3 ½ inches of rain prompts flood watch’ – Boston Globe, p. B4

It could have been worse - much worse.

Nearly 2 1/2 inches of rain fell yesterday in Boston, at times torrentially, flooding highways and streets.

Many areas saw even greater rainfall, including more than 3 1/2 inches in Ashburnham, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flood watch warning through last night for most of the state.

But it wasn't snow.

"We had a copious amount of warm air flowing in off the Atlantic Ocean, causing the wintry mix to turn to rain," National Weather Service meteorologist Neal Strauss said last night.

"Snowfall amounts could have been much higher, but this was still significant, as far as causing drainage problems and flooding."

Temperatures during the day crept up to nearly 50 degrees in some areas.

Sergeant Robert Bousquet, a State Police spokesman, said that portions of Interstate 91 near Northampton flooded when snow clogged runoff drains, leading officials to close the highway between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. while highway workers fixed the problem.

Rail commuters might have experienced the biggest nuisance. MBTA officials closed Wollaston Station in Quincy during peak hours of 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. when the station lobby flooded. Red Line trains passed through, but did not stop, said spokesman Joe Pesaturo. Strauss said that today should be "much more tranquil," with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 30s.


Tuesday, 02/12/08

‘Madison breaks its record for winter snowfall’ – per AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Madison has set a record for snowfall with more than 77 inches so far this winter.

The state's second-largest city broke its old seasonal record when 1.8 inches of snow fell overnight Monday into Tuesday, bringing the total for this season to 77.3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's no official word yet but we have enough on the ground to say the seasonal snowfall record is broken," Weather Central meteorologist Brian Olson said.

The old record of 76.6 inches was set in 1978-79.

Snow was expected to continue falling in the state capital through Tuesday afternoon with an inch or two more of accumulation.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz appeared live on The Weather Channel on Monday in anticipation of a new snowfall record. It's some consolation for a cold and snowy winter, he said.

"When you're in this far, you might as well break the record," Cieslewicz said. "It's been a tough winter. We haven't had one of those in a long time."

The city is looking into having "I plowed through the winter of 07-08" T-shirts made for workers in its streets, engineering and parks divisions and Metro Transit employees, he said.

Normally, they plow about five times per winter, but crews have been on the roads 12 times so far this season.

"It's really stressful work," Cieslewicz said.


Monday, 02/11/08

‘Wildfires threaten homes in drought-ravaged South’ –

Fire crews scrambled on Monday to control scores of wildfires that flared up in drought-stricken Virginia and the Carolinas over the weekend.

At least 100 brush fires erupted on Sunday across Virginia, prompting Gov. Tim Kaine to declare a state of emergency.

About half of Virginia's counties reported wildfires burning on Monday, an official said.

In South Carolina, a similar wildfire outbreak destroyed at least 10 homes, state forestry officials said.

No deaths have been reported.

Lewis Cooper, who evacuated his home near Conway, South Carolina, told The Associated Press he could feel the intense heat from half a mile away.

Cooper told AP the smoke made it hard to breathe, and he told another neighbor, "Get your dogs, get in your car and get out of here!"

Worshippers at Willow Spring Free Will Baptist Church near Raleigh, North Carolina, had to cut services short and evacuate the church Sunday when a wildfire approached, the fire chief in Cleveland, North Carolina, told AP.

The church wasn't damaged, but two empty barns burned down and 20 homes were threatened, Fire Chief Chris Ellington told AP.

CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano said winds gusting to 50 or 60 mph on Sunday helped spread the fires.

John Campbell, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Forestry, said about half of Virginia's 95 counties reported "significant" wildfires early Monday, but he had no estimate of the total acreage. The largest, about 400 to 500 acres, was in Bedford County, near Roanoke, where county officials reported at least 10 fires burning.

Campbell said the flames had damaged at least three homes, and he expected the number to grow.

Kaine's emergency declaration lets him organize people, equipment and resources to respond to the fires. Campbell said about 100 National Guard troops have been mobilized to help fight the fires, and his agency had five aircraft available to help.

In Moyock, in the northeast corner of North Carolina near the Virginia line, fire officials told about 1,000 residents Sunday night to evacuate their homes and go to a shelter in a middle school, CNN affiliate WVEC reported.

Ann Sawyer refused, the station reported. "They were going to send us to the school, but the animals would have gone to the SPCA, and mine's not going," she said.

By 1:00 a.m. Monday, residents were allowed to return home, WVEC reported.

State forestry personnel battled the fires all day Sunday. State police and transport officials coordinated road closures made necessary by thick smoke and debris.

In South Carolina, the state Forestry Commission reported 10 homes destroyed by wildfires that ranged up to several hundred acres. Firefighters were fighting more than 90 blazes statewide, but most were considered minor.

The worst was along a state highway in Horry County, near the state's Atlantic coast, and covered about 250 acres. A 60-acre fire in Spartanburg County, in the state's Piedmont region, was threatening a subdivision, the Forestry Commission said.

In Pickens County, South Carolina, residents used garden hoses to battle a fire that jumped across a street pushed by high winds, CNN affiliate WYFF reported.

Firefighters told the station they were able to control the fire quickly because of the residents' fast response.


Friday, 02/08/08

‘Snow, winds wreak havoc in Wash. State’ – per AP

YAKIMA, Wash. — Heavy snow and avalanche danger forced Washington state transportation officials to close all three of the major highways through the Cascade Range on Friday. To the east, high winds and blowing snow forced the closure of roads near the Idaho border.

A winter storm warning remained in effect until 4 p.m. Friday for the Cascades, with accumulation of up to 16 inches of snow expected.

State Department of Transportation workers were on Interstate 90 through Snoqualmie Pass conducting routine avalanche control at midday Friday, but the snow was falling so hard they decided to close the pass instead, department spokeswoman Summer Derrey said.

Both directions of the freeway were expected to be closed between Ellensburg and North Bend until at least mid-evening Friday.

"The snow just kept coming down and coming down, and then it came down so hard we just closed it," Derrey said.

U.S. Highway 2 through Stevens Pass reopened before dawn Friday following avalanche control work, but strong winds and blowing snow reduced visibility, prompting officials to close the highway again early Friday afternoon. Further south, crews suspended work on U.S. Highway 12 through White Pass due to continuing high winds and avalanche threats.

An estimated opening time for either of those two passes had not yet been determined.

Blowing snow periodically closed several Eastern Washington highways in the Palouse area between Pullman and Spokane. Four, including U.S. 195 between Rosalia and Spangle, remained closed Friday afternoon.

Late Thursday afternoon, an avalanche swept through an area northwest of Leavenworth, demolishing a large vacation home beside the Kahler Glen Golf Course. Chelan County Sheriff Michael T. Harum said no one was in the house and there were no injuries.

Harum said the owners rented the home to vacationers. Another home in the area was damaged and about 15 other homes were evacuated as a precaution, the sheriff's office said.

At Mount Rainier National Park, rangers closed the road from Longmire to 5,400-foot Paradise after more than 13 feet of snowfall in 11 days.


Thursday, 02/07/08

‘Toll of  Deadly Tornadoes in South Climbs Past 50’ – New York Times, front page

ATKINS, Ark. — Residents in five Southern states rose Wednesday to widespread clusters of destruction caused by an unusually ferocious winter tornado system. At least 55 people were killed, and scores more were injured.

Many had spent a harrowing Tuesday night punctuated by breaking glass and warning sirens as the tornadoes tossed trailer homes into the air, collapsed the roof of a Sears store in Memphis, whittled away half a Caterpillar plant near Oxford, Miss., and shredded dorms at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where crews rescued nine students trapped in the rubble.

Arkansas and Tennessee were the hardest hit, with Arkansas reporting 13 dead and Tennessee 31.

Here in Atkins, 50 miles northwest of Little Rock, a middle-age couple and their 11-year-old daughter were killed when their house was wiped out by a direct hit, and in northwestern Alabama the bodies of another family of three were found 50 yards from the foundation of their ruined home.

In Macon County, Tenn., a 74-year-old man whose trailer was destroyed was killed as his family waited for an ambulance to navigate debris-strewn roads.

Thirty-five injuries were reported in Gassville, a small community in Baxter County, Ark., that was almost totally leveled by the storm.

“The wrath of God is the only way I can describe it,” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee said after a helicopter flight to survey the damage. “I’m used to seeing roofs off houses, houses blown over. These houses were down to their foundations, stripped clean.”

The governor said 1,000 houses in Tennessee were destroyed. President Bush announced that he would visit the state on Friday.

Much of the havoc was wreaked by rare “long-track” tornadoes, which stay on the ground for distances of 30 to 50 miles. One tornado in Arkansas seems to have burned a path through five counties, said Renee Preslar, the public education coordinator for the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management.

“Normally tornadoes touch down and they’re on the ground for 20 minutes and they pop back up,” Ms. Preslar said. “There’s no signs yet of this having ever come off the ground.”

On Wednesday, the storm, a bit tamer, moved toward the East Coast.

Tornado experts said there was no evidence that the deadly storms were related to global warming or anything other than the clash of contrasting cold and warm air masses that usually precedes such events.

Harold Brooks, a meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said there had been a long history of midwinter storms exacting a deadly toll. The most lethal February was in 1971, when tornadoes ripped across Louisiana and Mississippi. According to the laboratory’s archives, 134 people died in tornadoes in February that year.

The number of deaths is as much a function of luck and location as the number of tornadoes, Dr. Brooks added. He said the biggest midwinter outbreak of tornadoes on record, 134 on Jan. 21 and 22, 1999, left nine dead.

The destruction began in Arkansas late Tuesday afternoon. A tornado residents described as a massive black wall of wind and debris tore a six-mile swath through Atkins, a rural, agricultural town of about 3,300, killing four people and injuring at least eight others.

Maj. Dillard W. Bradley, chief deputy of the Pope County Sheriff’s department, said 60 to 80 buildings “were completely blown away.”

Several one-story, wooden houses along Highway 64, one of the town’s main streets, were torn off their foundations and reduced to rubble. The few trees left standing looked as if they had been run though a wood chipper, limbs whittled to bare spikes, trunks stripped of bark.

From Arkansas, the storms moved east, spewing rain and hail as it swept parts of northern Mississippi and Alabama, virtually all of Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. Four people died in Alabama, and seven in Kentucky.

“We’re talking about winds in excess of 150 miles an hour,” said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The center recorded 73 reports of tornadoes but has not determined how many were duplicates, he said.

In Macon County, near the Kentucky state line, boats and cars were strewn like jackstraws and neat brick homes were reduced to rubble. “It went from one county line to the other,” said Randall Kirby, director of emergency services for the county.


Wednesday, 02/06/08

‘Waters rise anew in flood-ravaged Ohio’ – per AP

FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) — Shandale Collins spent the past five months renovating his home after floodwaters destroyed nearly everything. Now he's wondering whether he'll have to do it all over again.

Rising waters lapped at his garage Wednesday and crept closer to his home and others in Findlay, a city of about 40,000 about 50 miles south of Toledo, along the Blanchard River.

It was another blow to residents and business owners who were just getting over August flooding that displaced hundreds and caused millions of dollars in damage.

"We had the place completely gutted," said Scott Adams, who was loading musical equipment from his downtown music store into a trailer to try to keep it dry. "I don't see fixing the place again."

The flooding wasn't expected to be as bad as the flooding in August — the city's worst since 1913 — but firefighters told several residents to get out Wednesday, while others opted to move their belongings to higher ground.

Water started spilling into downtown Wednesday afternoon, forcing the city's main thoroughfare to close where several storefronts remained empty from the last flood. Within a few hours, the entire street was covered by water.

The Blanchard River was 4 feet above flood stage Wednesday afternoon and was expected to keep rising until Thursday afternoon, when could eclipse 5 feet above flood stage, putting a substantial number of homes in danger, Barker said.

In Wapakoneta, about 50 miles north of Dayton, firefighters removed about 30 people from their homes and businesses because of high water, following three days of rain and snow. A foot of water surrounded one trailer park, fire chief Kendall Krites said.

High school students in Pemberville, near Toledo, helped build a sandbag wall to try to protect the downtown business district from the rising Portage River.

In southern Ohio, emergency officials monitored the Ohio River's rising waters.

"People in the low-lying areas are getting household stuff, getting it out of the basements, or possibly just getting it out of the house," said Dave Ivan, interim director for the Emergency Management Agency in Belmont County.

Officials in Indiana, where at least one tornado caused damage as part of fatal storms that scoured the South, were especially concerned with flooding, as the National Weather Service warned Wednesday that the Wabash, Tippecanoe and other major rivers had spilled their banks.

Fountain County emergency management officials went door to door warning residents along the Wabash River that they may have to evacuate. Officials in Carroll and White counties in northern Indiana also urged people along the Tippecanoe to voluntarily evacuate their homes.

In Newton County, in northwestern Indiana, divers spotted at least one body in a vehicle submerged underwater in a quarry. The car may have plunged into the icy water overnight, Indiana Conservation officers said. A diver was unable to open the car doors, and the recovery effort was postponed until water could be pumped from the quarry, they said.

In Illinois, residents of Mattoon began cleaning up Wednesday after storms dropped more than 2 inches of rain a day earlier, flooding streets and basements and drenching cornfields.

As some southern counties dealt with flooding, some up north braced for a storm that was expected to dump as much as a foot of snow on some areas and up to 9 inches on Chicago. Hundreds of flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, officials said.


Friday, 02/01/08

‘Giant storm pounds Midwest, barrels toward Northeast’ – per AP

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Heavy, wet snow made for treacherous roads and delayed commutes Friday as a huge winter storm that stretched from Texas to the Great Lakes blanketed the nation's midsection.

Just more than 5 inches was reported at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport by Friday morning. About 500 flights were canceled at the airport.

To the south, at least 12 inches of snow was reported in Springfield by Friday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez.

The storm headed for the Northeast, where ice and rain caused numerous accidents in parts of New Jersey early Friday and led to delays of two hours on arriving flights at Newark Liberty International Airport.

A mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet was coating trees, cars and roads across western New York.

The snow fell at the rate of an inch an hour at times in some locations [in the Midwest], the National Weather Service said.

The St. Louis, Missouri, area received 8 inches of snow Friday, snarling travel and shutting down most schools.

Hundreds of schools in Michigan canceled classes and roads were snow-covered and slick. The weather service said 1 to 5 inches had fallen in parts of southern and southeast Michigan by early Friday.

Authorities blamed the storm for two deaths in southern Illinois, where a man and woman were killed Thursday when their car slid into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

Billowing snow in the Texas Panhandle caused a 40-car pileup on Interstate 40 on Thursday that killed at least one person. Three other deaths were blamed on the storm, two in Texas and one in Oklahoma.

The storm pounded areas of the Midwest still rebounding from storms earlier in the week that spawned a mix of snow, brutal cold, tornadoes and hail.

Severe weather wasn't expected to let up anytime soon in Idaho, which has been besieged by snow in recent days.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Livingston said a snowstorm was expected to blow through on Saturday and Sunday, with cold predicted to stretch at least through the middle of next week.

Officials in Kootenai County in northern Idaho declared a state of emergency Thursday as roofs collapsed, roads became impassable and senior citizens were stranded because of the repeated snowstorms.

"You can only stack the snow so high, and we're running out of places to put it," said Rick Carrie, county commissioner.


Friday, 02/01/08

‘Snow freezes eastern Wash.’ – The Daily News Online

SPOKANE - Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency Thursday for 15 counties, mostly in snowbound Eastern Washington, which has been nearly cut off from the state's west side by mountain avalanches and paralyzed by inability to get all the snow off streets and highways.

"The snowfall this month has been relentless and this proclamation will help counties with response efforts," Gregoire said in a statement.

A lengthy shutdown of Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, the main east-west route across the Cascade Mountains, was causing major disruption to the state's economy, the governor said. Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said 7,000 trucks cross the pass each day, about one quarter of total traffic on the pass.

The pass was closed Wednesday afternoon after an avalanche and relentless snowfall. Department of Transportation officials said it would remain closed at least until this morning. Crews were working to remove as much as 5 feet of snow that accumulated over the last five days.

The pass was also closed for 28 hours earlier this week by heavy snowfall and a different avalanche.

U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass was closed for more than eight hours Thursday as crews cleared the wreckage of several tractor-trailer rigs. The other main winter route across the Cascades, White Pass, remained open Thursday with traction tires required on cars and chains on trucks.

Windblown snow closed more roads and schools Thursday in Eastern Washington.

Washington State University in Pullman joined a long list of colleges, universities and school districts in the eastern half of the state that suspended operations and canceled classes because of treacherous driving conditions.

Near Fairchild Air Force Base in northeast Washington, a 20-mile section of U.S. 2 was reopened Thursday afternoon after being closed for about 10 hours by blowing and drifting snow, the Transportation Department said.

The National Weather Service issued a heavy snow warning for the west slopes of the Cascades, North Cascades and the Olympic Mountains until Friday morning with as much as 3 more feet of snow expected.

Winter storm warnings for accumulations of 8 to 14 inches of new snow through Friday afternoon were issued for the Palouse area south of Spokane.

A new storm that passed through the region early Thursday dumped as much as 7 inches of new snow on Spokane, with outlying areas reporting as much as a foot.

In the southeast corner of the state, heavily traveled U.S. 195 was closed for more than six hours Thursday from south of Pullman, home of WSU, to the Idaho border.

Schools in Spokane were closed for a fourth consecutive day Thursday and will not reopen this week, as icy roads made travel too hazardous. The snow days in Spokane, which has one of the largest public school systems in the state with 30,000 students, were the first since 1996.


Thursday, 01/31/08

‘Wild weather battered USA in January’ – per Gannett

WASHINGTON — Rare winter tornadoes in the Midwest. Powerful Pacific storms with hurricane force winds. More than 1,000 daily high temperature records. And that's just in the first month of 2008.

Is January the new March?

Weather extremes are nothing new for this country. It's a big place that experiences lots of variability — more so than most other places, according to weather and climate experts.

But are the extremes becoming more extreme?

Some government researchers tracking Earth's climate say yes.

"We're seeing an increasing trend in the frequency of extremes," said Karin Gleason, a meteorologist who compiles the U.S. Climate Extremes Index maintained by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The index is a nationwide composite of indicators that includes extreme temperatures, drought, one-day precipitation events and number of days with or without precipitation.

"When you combine all the individual indicators, we're seeing a steady increase from the early 1970s to present," said Gleason.

In 2007, nearly 42% of the contiguous U.S. experienced extreme weather events, the second highest for the index, which incorporates records dating back to 1910.

Last year was one of the 10 warmest on record. It was marked by deadly and costly wildfires that led to the largest evacuation in California history, spring storms that unleashed 600 tornadoes across the Great Plains and South, severe flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, and extreme drought across much of the Southeast, according to a preliminary report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate center.

"It certainly seems like something ominous is going on when you experience these extremes," said Gregory Berg, an assistant professor of music at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

Among the most extreme of all weather events are tornadoes, violent columns of rotating air that have cut a long and tragic path of death and destruction through U.S. history.

Tornadoes raked northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in early January, a rare event in midwinter.

But it's too soon to know whether these unusual storms represent a significant shift, said John T. Snow, a tornado expert and Dean of the College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

"Are we seeing more tornadoes than we did, say, 50 years ago? The way we see things, you really can't tell," said Snow.

Population growth, 24-hour cable TV and Internet weather reports and advances in weather radar have contributed to an increase in the number of reported tornadoes. But that doesn't prove an increase in their actual occurrence, Snow said.

Early January was unusually warm, breaking or tying daily maximum temperature records in more than 1,000 locations during the first days of the month.

The inevitable clash between cold, arctic air and warm, moist southern air helped spawn the unusual midwinter storms, according to meteorologists.

By the end of the month, extreme weather had returned to the nation's midsection. On Jan. 28, daytime temperatures in Wisconsin, for example, plummeted in a matter of hours from the mid-40s to near zero, with overnight wind chill temperatures at 25 degrees below zero.

Are these extremes evidence of global warming?

"January tornadoes and more heat records is something you would expect in a warming climate," said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, a popular meteorology website.

But many scientists aren't ready to say the weather has turned more extreme because the planet is warming.

"There is a lot of natural variability in our weather systems," Masters said. "Climate change is only just now barely beginning to be evident in the observations. That's why there is so much controversy."


Tuesday, 01/29/08

‘Winter Storm Chaos Grips China’ –The Guardian [UK] per AP,,-7264579,00.html

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) - Deadly winter storms - the worst in five decades - showed no signs of letting up Tuesday in China, where cities were blacked out, transport systems were paralyzed and a bus crash on an icy road killed at least 25 people during the nation's busiest travel season.

The extreme weather - blamed for 54 deaths in the past two weeks - was walloping China as the country began one of the world's biggest annual mass movements of humanity: the Chinese New Year festival. Before the storms, railway officials estimated that a record 178.6 million people - more than the population of Russia - would travel by train for the holiday, which begins Feb. 7.

But hundreds of thousands of those travelers spent another day shivering outside railroad stations as they learned that their trains were canceled. Most were migrant workers trying to leave booming southern Guangdong province - often called the world's factory floor because it makes everything from Honda sedans to Apple iPods and Nike sneakers.

Those traveling by bus or car took big risks on the frozen roads in southern provinces, which have been suffering their heaviest snowfalls since the 1950s. Expressways were shut down in the nation's financial capital, Shanghai, because snow and sleet made them a slushy treacherous mess.

The worst accident since the blizzards began happened Tuesday when a 35-seat bus slid off an icy mountain road and plunged 40 yards into a valley. The crash in Guizhou province killed 25 people, the State Administration of Work Safety said.

Several cities suffered blackouts as heavy snowfalls snapped power lines and hampered the delivery of coal, used to generate most of China's electricity.

In industrial Guangdong, huge red banners were hanging around the train station in the provincial capital of Guangzhou, urging migrant workers to scuttle their plans to return home, cash in their tickets and return to their factory dormitories. About 200,000 people took the advice and got ticket refunds, railway officials said, while about 200,000 continued to linger at the station in a bone-chilling drizzle.

Thousands stood under umbrellas that formed a huge canopy in the train station's plaza, while a larger crowd huddled beneath a highway overpass in front of the station hoping to catch a train. But the busy Beijing-Guangzhou line may not return to normal for three to five days, Xinhua said.

Just blocks away from the station, migrants were finding emergency shelter in the China Import and Export Fair exhibition center - a complex with enough space for three or four football fields. The place was packed with travelers sitting on their luggage. Free water bottles were being passed around, and lunch boxes of rice, chicken legs and cabbage were being sold for about US$1 (euro0.68).

The general mood seemed calm and stoic - in line with the traditional Chinese trait of ``chi ku'' or ``eating bitterness,'' enduring hardship without complaint. But legions of police and soldiers were ready for any disorder, and the nation's leaders scrambled to show the public that they were on the case.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Premier Wen Jiabao meeting officials telling stranded travelers at the Changsha train station in central Hunan province that the trains would start again soon.

``Let me express my apologies for you all having been stuck here,'' Wen said through a megaphone to a huddled crowd that cheered and applauded.

But the nation's top leader, President Hu Jintao, warned of more bad weather and urged officials ``be aware of the seriousness of the situation and be fully prepared to prevent and fight disasters.''

So far, the central government has given a total 126 million yuan ($17 million) in aid to six provinces and one region battered by the winter weather, Xinhua said.


Tuesday, 01/29/08

‘Storms Hammer West With Heavy Snow’ – CBS News per AP

Heavy snow pummeled Western states from Washington to Arizona, closing schools and government offices, causing widespread havoc on roads and even shutting down one ski resort.


A search was under way Tuesday for three snowmobilers missing in the Colorado mountains.


The roofs of several businesses collapsed under the weight of snow Monday in northern Idaho, while avalanches forced the evacuations of dozens of homes. There were no injuries.


The Navajo Nation declared an emergency on its sprawling reservation.


About 20 inches of snow fell Monday around Coeur d'Alene. "They got clobbered," John Livingston, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said of residents of that northern Idaho city.


The storm system arrived from hard-hit California and combined with another emerging from the Gulf of Alaska, stalling over eastern Washington and northern Idaho, said Livingston.


Forecasters predicted a new storm could roll in on Tuesday, bringing 1 to 3 more inches of snow in low-lying areas of Idaho and 2 to 4 inches in the mountains. The weather service posted heavy snow warnings for parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.


The San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado were socked with 30 inches of snow Monday and wind gusts as high as 100 mph. At Durango, about 340 miles southwest of Denver, even sledding hills were at risk of avalanches after 18 inches of snow fell.


The snow closed Coeur d'Alene schools on Monday, the first time since November 1996 that a winter storm closed the city's schools, officials said.


City Hall was closed Monday at Spokane, Wash., which got a record 13.7 inches of snow. Officials urged residents to stay home Monday to give snowplows a chance to catch up.


Avalanches in Idaho damaged four houses and a garage northwest of Ketchum and police evacuated 71 homes in the area as a precaution for much of Monday, said police spokeswoman Kim Rogers.


The storm caused hundreds of wrecks all over Utah and Idaho, and multiple road closures, including Interstate 84 at the Idaho-Utah line.


Skiers were stuck at Utah's Snowbird resort because Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed to traffic for avalanche control, spokeswoman Laura Schaffer.


The threat of flooding as heavy snow melted brought an emergency declaration on the Navajo reservation _ sprawling across parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.


"Protecting life, limb and property is always our first priority," said Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. "Real dangers exists in our remote areas miles from paved roads."


At lower elevations of Arizona, heavy rain flooded some creeks and rivers. Some residents of the town of Carrizo fled for a time because of fear that two dams might fail. The evacuations were canceled after water levels lowered and an inspection found no apparent damage to the dams.


California finally saw clearing weather Monday after a week of downpours and heavy snowfall, but the reprieve might not last long. There was a 20 percent chance of rain Wednesday, and two more storms, weaker than the storms that hit during the past weekend, were forecast to reach the region on Friday.


Monday, 01/28/08

‘Storm closes many roadways across Calif.’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several major roadways across the state were closed early Monday after the latest in a week's worth of storms, and experts warned that the risk of mudslides has not eased even as wet weather begins moving out of the region.

Snow forced the closure of the main artery between Sacramento and Reno, California Department of Transportation said Sunday night. Eastbound Interstate 80 was closed at Colfax about 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, and westbound traffic was being held at the Nevada state line.

Officials also closed a nearly 130-mile stretch of Interstate 395, from just north of Bishop to the Nevada line.

Highway 92 was reopened Sunday after being shut down for a few hours between Skyline Boulevard and Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco after the storms knocked down trees and power lines.

Experts say hillsides in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties charred by last year's wildfires remain at risk for landslides.

Near San Diego, mud and minor rockslides prompted California Highway Patrol officials to shut Route 78 through a burn area between Ramona and Escondido.

Downtown Los Angeles recorded 5.3 inches of rain in the past seven days, National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kitrell said.

Additional snowfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches was expected for the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties before precipitation tails off by mid-morning Monday as a clearing trend takes hold.

The wet weather has pushed the seasonal total for Los Angeles to more than 10 inches — well ahead of the norm of 6.5 inches for this time of year.

Sue Cannon of the U.S. Geological Survey's landslide hazards program said the ground has not been able to dry out because of the back-to-back storms.

"It still is a very hazardous situation," she said.

More than 7,000 customers were without power in southern California on Sunday evening, and the utilities said most of the outages were weather-related. Department of Water and Power officials said about 3,600 Los Angeles customers were in the dark, most of them in North Hollywood.

The Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, meanwhile, canceled horse races for the sixth day this month because of wet conditions on the synthetic track.

About 2,700 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in the Bay Area still lacked power Sunday due to earlier storms, a spokesman for the utility said.

To avoid overflow, the flood gates at the Big Tujunga Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains were opened Sunday, releasing 500 cubic feet of water a second.

An estimated 4,000 people in eastern Washington and northern Idaho were without electricity because of the storms, which left more than a foot of new snow in some areas and was expected to bring more in the coming days.

Three skiers were killed Friday by a trio of avalanches that swept through canyons outside the trails of Mountain High ski resort at Wrightwood, northeast of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains.


Monday, 01/28/08

‘Cape digging out after intense snow storm’ – Cape Cod [MA] Times

Heavy snow fall from an intense winter storm canceled school across the Cape and dumped more than a foot of snow in some towns.

The intensity of the storm and high snow accumulations seemed to surprise many on the Cape yesterday, as towns on both the Upper and Lower Cape were walloped. According to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Plymouth topped the list with 14 inches followed by Wellfleet with 13.5 inches of snow.

Coupled with winds that gusted up to 60 miles per hour at times, the storm created near white-out conditions last night for drivers as police responded to dozens of spin-outs and minor accidents yesterday afternoon and into the evening.

Many Cape roads are still packed with snow this morning, according to several reports. Even Route 6 – especially between exits 4 and 5 – had both lanes covered with snow around 7 a.m.

Reports from the Orleans area indicate snow drifts as high as 20 feet. A driver in the Marstons Mills area said side roads are still completely covered with snow. Route 28 is slow going but traffic is flowing.

Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Taunton, said the storm was a result of a large low pressure system that formed 150 miles southeast of Nantucket.

Furthermore, a “huge snow band” formed near the Cape Cod Canal yesterday evening creating blizzard conditions. As a result, state police had to briefly shut down the Sagamore Bridge at one point last night when 10 cars became stuck due to unplowed roads.

Although roughly 500 homes were without power at times last night, NStar is reporting only a half dozen outages this morning.


Sunday, 01/27/08

‘Tropical Cyclone Fame threatens to worsen flooding in Mozambique’ – per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique — A tropical cyclone swirling off the coast of Mozambique is threatening to worsen flooding that has killed several people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands, meteorologists said Sunday.

Torrential rains have flooded large sections of southern Africa just as the cyclone season is beginning. Rains in Zambia and Zimbabwe have swollen the Zambezi river — Africa's fourth longest — to well above the flood limit, and valleys in Malawi and Mozambique have borne the brunt as the waters hurtle down toward the Indian Ocean.

"We are still on alert and people must watch the event closely because these are months for cyclones in our country," said Mozambican meteorologist Musa Mustafa.

He said rains from the cyclone were expected to hit the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa as well as the central provinces of Zambezia, Sofala, Tete and Manica.

"It will certainly worsen the current floods in Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia," he said.

Mozambican authorities have evacuated at least 60,000 people but have managed to keep loss of life to a minimum — 16 flood-related deaths have been reported so far — thanks to their disaster prevention strategy.

Altogether, there have been 44 flood-related deaths across the region. Most of them — 27 — were in Zimbabwe.

Mozambique has been bracing itself for the start of the cyclone season, which can cause massive devastation.

Last year, Cyclone Favio struck tourist destinations in the south, destroying crops and affecting thousands of people. In 2000 and 2001, floods caused by two cyclones left 800 dead.

Cyclone Fame developed Friday from a tropical storm that formed in the extreme north of the Mozambique Channel a day earlier.

Information from the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which tracks storms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, shows Cyclone Fame veering toward Madagascar, and away from the Mozambican coast.


Friday, 01/25/08

‘Snow, heavy rain dumped on Southern Calif.’ – per AP

POINT MUGU Calif. (AP) - A powerful winter storm that unleashed a thick blanket of mountain snow, at least one tornado and heavy rains pounded Southern California for a second day early Friday.

Some areas Thursday received more rain than they did the entire year before, National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Meier said, though experts said the moisture would do little to improve local water supplies.

By Friday morning, Long Beach had received 2.43 inches of rain, compared to 2.1 over the previous 12 months, Meier said. Downtown Los Angeles had received 2.25 inches and Santa Barbara was drenched with 5.4 inches.

Higher up, Mountain High ski resort received 18 inches of snow, but was forced to close its slopes Thursday due to high winds. The resort said on its Web site it would reopen Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Santa Barbara County mountains through 10 p.m. Friday. The snow level was expected to drop to between 2,000 and 3,000 feet Thursday night, and down to 1,500 feet during heavier showers or thunderstorms.

At least one waterspout from the Pacific made landfall Thursday night, the National Weather Service said. The tornado tore the roof off of a building at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, meteorologist Curt Kaplan said.

The storm had forced the closure of Interstate 5 late Wednesday on each side of the Grapevine section of Tejon Pass, which soars to an elevation of more than 4,000 feet between the Los Angeles Basin and the San Joaquin Valley. Hundreds of trucks and cars were stuck along a 40-mile stretch of the major north-south artery but most had been guided out by Thursday morning, the California Highway Patrol said.

A roughly 40-mile stretch of the icy interstate remained closed Thursday evening and more snow was expected in the area early Friday. There was no estimate as to when it would reopen.

Authorities are concerned about another storm forecast to hit the area over the weekend. Forecasters are predicting 4-6 inches to hit south and southwest facing mountain slopes between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The storm was not expected to improve local water supplies. One of the driest rain seasons on record left reservoirs so low last year that several cities called for voluntary water conservation.


Tuesday, 01/22/08

‘Lake-effect snowstorm buries Oswego County in 3 feet of snow’ – per AP

FULTON, N.Y. (AP) — A state of emergency was declared in this central New York city on Monday after lake-effect storms dumped up to 3 feet of snow on the region and collapsed the roof of the public works garage.

Mayor Ron Woodward said the city was working out arrangements for mutual aid with the Oswego County Highway Department. Motorists were advised to stay off the roads in Fulton.

The lake-effect storms that began Sunday dumped 2 to 3 feet of snow across the county on Lake Ontario's eastern end. The National Weather service reported 37 inches in Fulton, 36 in the town of Mexico and 34 in the lakeside city of Oswego.

"We're digging out," said Sgt. Edwin Croucher, a state police trooper in Fulton who reported multiple accidents caused by the storm but no serious injuries.

Schools, government offices and some businesses were closed because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

"It's not as bad as it would have been with a regular business day," Croucher said of the traffic conditions.

Interstate 81 north of Syracuse was open on Monday, a day after being shut down for 9 hours because of whiteouts caused by blowing snow.

Meteorologists said parts of Oswego County would get another 3 to 6 inches before the lake-effect bands moved north into neighboring Jefferson County during the afternoon.


Tuesday, 01/15/08

‘2007 was the warmest on record for Earth’s land areas’ – per AP

2007 was another sizzling year for the planet — the warmest year ever recorded for the Earth's land areas, federal scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported Tuesday, with an average temperature about 1.84 degrees above the long-term average. Global weather records began in 1880.

For the entire Earth's surface, including the oceans, scientists report that the global temperature was the 5th-warmest on record.

"2007 was very warm in large parts of Asia and the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, including the Arctic," says climatologist Jay Lawrimore of the NCDC. The unusual Arctic warmth led to the lowest amount of sea ice ever recorded.

Highlights of 2007 included an intense heat wave that engulfed western and central Russia in May, the climate center reports. For the first time in 128 years, Moscow experienced sustained May temperatures of 86 degrees or higher. A scorching heat wave in southeastern Europe in June and July prompted record levels of electricity demand and more than 130 wildfires.

In the USA, an August heat wave set more than 2,000 new daily high temperature records. Eight states experienced their warmest August on record. Overall, 2007 was the 10th-warmest year in the USA since records began in 1895, with an annual average temperature of 54.2 degrees, the climate center reported last week.

Lawrimore says that seven of the Earth's eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, and 10 of the warmest years have occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen more than 1 degree since the start of the 20th century.

Most scientists say the release of man-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is to blame for the warming trend. "There's no denying that climate change is occurring, and warmer winters and warmer years are more common for that reason," Lawrimore said last year.

The only land area to see cooler-than-average conditions in 2007 was western and southern South America, says Lawrimore. Ocean temperatures around the world were the ninth-warmest on record, primarily due to the cooling influence of the La Nina climate pattern.

Last week, NASA scientists announced that 2007 was the Earth's second-warmest on record. NASA researchers analyze global temperature data differently than does NOAA, which accounts for the different ranking.


Tuesday, 01/15/08

‘Another snowy day for New England’ – per AP

BOSTON — Residents of New England woke Tuesday to more than a foot of snow in some areas and hazardous roads following a major winter storm that caused power outages, canceled flights and gave thousands of school children a day off.

The National Weather Service reported as much as 20 inches of snow fell from the fast-moving storm Monday, which snarled the morning commute but had mostly cleared out by late afternoon.

Another round of scattered snow showers were anticipated across New England on Tuesday, with additional accumulations of up to 6 inches possible. Cold temperatures filled in behind the front sweeping through the region.

As the main storm approached Monday, hundreds of public and private schools canceled classes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and eastern New York.

Tisha Whitmore, a daycare worker, said her employer told staff to take a day off. She was happy the snow allowed her to spend a weekday with her 7-year-old daughter in downtown Boston.

All New Hampshire Legislature events and some Maine legislative hearings were canceled. Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino ordered only essential city employees to report to work.

More than 100 flights were canceled at Boston's Logan International. In Maine, the Portland International Jetport reported numerous flight cancelations. It was socked with 10.5 inches of snow — surpassing the old record for the date of 9 inches in 1982.

As much as 14 inches fell in Massachusetts' northern Worcester County near the New Hampshire line, and about half as much fell in the Boston area, the National Weather Service reported.

Utility companies reported up to 45,000 customers lost power across Massachusetts. Power outages peaked at 36,000 customers in Connecticut.

Maine had 20 inches in Gardiner, 16 inches in Denmark and Acton, 14 inches in Auburn and Bridgton, and a foot in Sanford, said Tom Berman of the weather service.

New Hampshire had 13 inches in Wolfeboro, 11.6 inches in Laconia, 11 inches in Concord and 10 inches in Hampton and Rochester.

Major highways were slick early in the day, leading to accidents and spinouts. But with hundreds of schools and many businesses closed, traffic was lighter than usual.

"A lot of people didn't come out and stayed at home and most of the schools were closed, so that, certainly, took a lot of pressure off the traffic situation," said State Police Lt. Eric Anderson. "But it was busy out there for a while, that's for sure."

The snowfall was lighter than expected in some areas. The Connecticut measurements fell short of the predicted 14 inches, and initial forecasts for New York City's northern suburbs were for as much as a foot, but the metro area got mostly rain.


Friday, 01/11/08

‘Storms tear through Alabama and Mississippi’ – per AP

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) -- Powerful thunderstorms packing heavy rain and high winds pushed across Alabama and Mississippi on Thursday, causing scattered property damage and some injuries.

Several tornado watches or warnings were issued Thursday in both states, but no touchdowns were immediately confirmed.

In Alabama's Lamar County near the Mississippi line, at least two houses were destroyed in Sulligent, the National Weather Service said.

The severe weather shut down many schools, including the University of Alabama and the University of North Alabama.

In east-central Illinois, meanwhile, days of springlike weather that brought heavy rainfall and melting snow caused severe flooding that forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

Floodwaters were as deep as 6 feet in Watseka, were residents left about 235 homes. Fire Chief David Mayotte said officials used a dozen boats to rescue about 535 residents, plus 75 pets, starting shortly after midnight Wednesday and continuing into Thursday morning.

"Most of the people who have lived here a long time say it's the worst flooding they've seen," said Carl Gerdovich, director of the Iroquois County Emergency Service Disaster Agency. Floodwaters in the area were dropping Thursday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared state disaster areas in Iroquois County and Livingston County, where about 200 homes were evacuated when the Vermilion River went over its banks.

In Vancouver, Washington, a rare tornado touched down Thursday in a residential area, downing power lines, uprooting trees and tossing shopping carts into cars. There were no reports of injuries, fire department spokesman Jim Flaherty said.

Connie Storey of Vancouver told KGW-TV she was walking her dog when the wind came up and "blew me across the street into my neighbor's cyclone fence, where I hung on for dear life." The high winds lasted about 30 seconds, she said.


Wednesday, 01/09/08

‘Unusual January Storms Strike Midwest, Killing at Least 6’ – New York Times, p. A12

Record-breaking temperatures in the midsection of the country gave way to rare January tornadoes and flooding on Monday and Tuesday. The storms killed at least six people, including two young children, and shattered houses and submerged roads.

Tornadoes swept through Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, which recorded its first January twister since 1967, the National Weather Service said.

Winter tornadoes, in this case set off by a major system coming from the Pacific, rarely appear so far north.

“To see this in the middle of winter is absolutely mind boggling,” said Sheriff David G. Beth of Kenosha County, who was surprised to hear tornado sirens from his office building on Monday. “Usually, our primary concerns would be a blizzard rolling through Wisconsin.”

Damage in Wisconsin centered on Wheatland, 35 miles south of Milwaukee, where a tornado with winds about 150 miles an hour left a 200-yard-wide path of destruction 11 miles long, the National Weather Service said.

In Indiana, torrential rain combined with about a foot of melting snow to flood the northern areas of the state, said B. J. Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The authorities used trucks and boats to evacuate parts of Carroll and White Counties, moving about 450 peopel to safety because of fears of nearby dams might be overwhelmed.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in January,” Tony Slocum of the state police said. “We’re expecting the water to keep rising.”

The state police activated dive teams to help the evacuations. The Kankakee River was forecast to reach its highest level ever, the Weather Service said.

Shay Leininger, 5, and Ashley Pruitt, 2, both of rural Fulton County, Ind., died after their mother, Megihann K. Leininger, drove her sport utility vehicle into a flooded road. The vehicle stalled before Ms. Leininger could back out, and it floated into deeper water, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department said.

Ms. Leininger, 29, rescued three children, ages 4, 1 and 3 months, but could not reach the other two and was stranded on the roof when help arrived.

There was also a flooding fatality in Jasper County, the state’s Department of Homeland Security said.

The storm killed two women on Monday in Missouri. In Arkansas, Billy Carter, 61, of Pope County, was killed on Tuesday when a tornado picked up his mobile home as he slept.

The system accompanied record high temperatures on Monday. Chicago reached 65 degrees, the highest temperature ever for Jan. 7. Other records included Madison, Wis., 50; and Grand Rapids, Mich., 63.


Tuesday, 01/08/08

‘Record high temperature in Boston, Worcester’ – WHDH Ch. 7 in Boston per AP

BOSTON -- Weather records have been broken around the state as the mercury soars into the 60s.

The National Weather Service says a record high of 67 degrees was reported in Boston Tuesday, while a record of 61 degrees was reached in Worcester.

Boston's old record of 64 degrees for this date, set in 1950, fell at 2:15 p.m.

Worcester's old record of 58 degrees, set in 1930, was broken at 12:20 p.m.

The weather service says the all-time high temperature in Boston for the month of January is 72 degrees, set in 1950.

Forecasters say high pressure off the East Coast is bringing warm air into the region from the Southwest.

Record temperatures were also recorded Tuesday in Providence, Rhode Island and in Connecticut in Bridgeport and Hartford.


Tuesday, 01/08/08

‘2 dead as tornadoes roar across Midwest’ – per AP

POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (AP) — A freak cluster of tornadoes raked across an unseasonably warm Midwest, demolishing houses, knocking railroad cars off their tracks and even temporarily halting justice in one courthouse.

Record temperatures were reported across much of the country Monday, and storms continued to pummel the nation's midsection as darkness fell. More warmth and storms were in store for Tuesday.

Tornadoes were reported or suspected Monday in southwest Missouri, southeastern Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. Two people were killed in Missouri.

Eleven houses in Wisconsin's Kenosha County were destroyed, five others had heavy damage and four had moderate damage, authorities said. About 13 people were injured, none seriously.

"I have never seen damage like this in the summertime when we have potential for tornadoes," Sheriff David Beth said. "To see something like this in January is mind-boggling to me. This is just unimaginable to me."

Meteorologists said the unusual weather was the result of warm, moist air moving from the south. It brought temperatures hovering near 70 degrees on Sunday and Monday.

"It's very unseasonable for this time of year," said National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell. "The atmosphere is just right."

Elsewhere, the heat was making history. By about noon Monday, Chicago's temperature already had hit 64 degrees, breaking a previous record-high of 59 degrees set on Jan. 7, 1907, according to the weather service.

The high in Buffalo, of 59 degrees beat the old record for the date by 5 degrees. The high was 66 in Toledo, Ohio, a record that led some University of Toledo students to stroll to class in T-shirts, flip-flops and shorts. In New Jersey, the Atlantic City International Airport recorded a high of 68 degrees, breaking a 10-year-old record by 10 degrees.


Monday, 01/07/08

‘Iran’s heaviest snowstorm in a decade kills 21 across country’s north and west’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

TEHRAN, Iran: The heaviest snowfall in more than a decade has left at least 21 people dead in Iran — some buried under avalanches, some frozen to death and others killed in traffic accidents, state media reported Monday.

As much as 22 inches of snow has fallen in areas of northern and central Iran since Saturday, said meteorologist Ali Abedini. The storm has forced schools and government offices to close, blocking major roads and leading to the cancellation of all domestic and international flights.

"At least 21 people have been killed and 88 others injured ... as a result of heavy snow," state-run radio reported. "Some died of the severe cold, some were buried under avalanches and others died after their cars overturned on snow-covered roads."

The cold weather has caused problems for residents in western Iran, with about a dozen towns suffering from gas cuts due to a surge in demand and a cut in gas exports from Turkmenistan.

Government officials have urged citizens to reduce their notoriously high consumption of gas to ensure there are no further cuts or shortages.

Authorities have also urged Iranians to cancel unnecessary travel and warned that the snowfall would continue in the coming days.


Monday, 01/07/08

‘The calm between the storms gives PG&E chance to restore power’ – San Francisco Chronicle

The chance of scattered residual showers Monday is likely to continue a slight reprieve for the soggy Bay Area before another winter storm is expected to hit Tuesday, carrying with it the possibility of up to 2 inches of rain and more than a foot of snow in the mountains, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

"The upcoming storm is a decent-sized storm, but compared to this last monster, it's not much," said Rhett Milne, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Reno. "It will pale in comparison."

Crews raced Sunday to restore power to tens of thousands of Bay Area homes and businesses still dark from a storm that knocked out power to 987,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers in the area after it hit Friday morning, a spokeswoman for the utility said. As of late Sunday night, 18,900 around the Bay Area were still without power, some of whom are not expected to get their electricity back until midweek.

Crews from as far as Montana and San Diego were being brought in to the help in an effort that has been stymied by extensive damage and treacherous conditions in remote areas, PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans said. Portions of Highway 17 south of Los Gatos and Highway 1 in Mendocino County were closed Sunday due to downed power lines.

About 2 million PG&E customers from the Oregon border to Bakersfield lost power in the storm, Romans said. About 119,000 of those were still waiting Sunday night for their lights and refrigerators to come back on, even as another storm loomed to cause havoc on the power grid.

Some customers may not have their power restored until after Tuesday, Romans said.

"As we restore power, we're continually receiving reports of new outages," she said. "It all depends on the weather. If the weather continues the way it is, we can expect new outages."

Bad weather also was causing delays at the San Francisco International Airport on Sunday night. Arriving flights were delayed up to two hours and departing flights were delayed up to an hour. Delays are possible today, and airport officials recommend that travelers contact their airline before heading to the airport.

The approaching storm system is expected to drop up to 2 inches of rain in the North Bay and about a half-inch around most of the Bay Area before heading into the Sierra Nevada, where it could produce 8 to 16 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

That's a far cry from Friday's deluge, which dropped nearly 8 inches of rain on the wettest locations and dumped at least 2 inches on many Bay Area cities.

Friday's storm also dumped from 5 to 11 feet of snow in the Sierra, with the highest totals around Kirkwood Ski Resort south of Lake Tahoe, Milne said.

The U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche warning Sunday for backcountry areas in the Sierra from Yuba Pass in the north to Sonora Pass to the south.

Besides creating a new blanket of powder at ski resorts, the recent storms may allay drought fears.

The snowpack, at 40 percent to 50 percent of seasonal averages across the Sierra before the storms, is now at or near the average for this time of year, Milne said. Some areas, including in Mono County, now had above-average snowpack, he said.

"We had some incredible gains in just the past three or four days," Milne said.


Sunday, 01/06/08

‘Mozambique floods worsen, hinder transport to neighboring countries’ – International Herald Tribune per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique: Severe flooding in Mozambique worsened Sunday, cutting the main road to Zimbabwe from the port of Beira and disrupting traffic to the landlocked neighboring countries of Zambia and Malawi.

Authorities warned that the situation might become more acute if rain continues to fall in Zimbabwe — where rains are reported to be the heaviest since colonial era records began a century ago.

The Mozambique government last week declared it highest level of alert and said the Zambezi, the Pungue, the Buzi and the Save rivers were all above critical level.

In Zimbabwe, at least 27 people have died and health authorities reported treating more than 400 cases of severe diarrhea blamed on collapsing sanitation worsened by torrential rain in Harare's impoverished eastern townships.

No loss of life has been reported in Mozambique, which has improved its disaster management in recent years. Authorities said they have so far rescued 13,000 people from the rising waters, with the help of two helicopters and 350 army staff.

On the north bank of the Zambezi River, government officials said they were considering forcibly evacuating 10,000 people from flood-prone areas after they refused appeals to leave voluntarily.


Sunday, 01/06/08

‘Levee breaks as storms pummel West Coast’ – per AP

FERNLEY, Nev. — A ruptured levee sent a frigid "wall of water" from a rain-swollen canal into this high desert town early Saturday, flooding hundreds of homes and forcing the rescue of dozens of people by helicopter and boat.

To the west, a dangerous layer of heavy snow covered the Northern California mountains as rain and wind from the third storm in as many days hit the West Coast. The storms have been blamed for at least three deaths, and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in California, Oregon and Washington were without power Saturday.

No injuries were reported in the flood in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno, after a section of the Truckee Canal levee up to 150 feet long broke soon after 4 a.m.

As many as 3,500 people were temporarily stranded and an estimated 1,500 ended up being displaced from their homes, Huntley said Saturday night. About 25 people remained at a shelter set up at a high school after a peak of about 150 earlier in the day.

"In some places folks had to deal with 8 feet of water," he said. "Firefighters were in chest-deep water making rescues."

The National Weather Service recorded 1.91 inches of rain at Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Friday, a record. Reno averages only 8 inches of rainfall annually and Fernley only about 5 inches.

Gov. Jim Gibbons, who visited the shelter and toured the area by helicopter on Saturday, declared the county an emergency area. Federal Emergency Management Agency planned to conduct a damage assessment on Monday.

Avalanche warnings were posted for the backcountry of the central Sierra Nevada and flash flood warnings were in effect for many areas of Southern California, where large swaths of hillsides had been denuded by the fall's wildfires.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared emergencies in three counties hit hard by the storms.

Remote sensors and ski areas in the high Sierra Nevada had recorded up to 5 feet of snow since Friday morning, and the west side of the Lake Tahoe Basin already had 4 to 5 feet by Friday night, the National Weather Service office in Reno, said Saturday.

As much as 9 feet of snow was possible in the Sierra by Sunday.

An 80-mile stretch of U.S. Interstate 80 from Reno to Applegate, Calif., was closed Saturday night as the fresh wave of snow moved in.

The weather also was blamed for a 17-car pileup that closed the westbound lanes of I-80 near Patrick just east of the Reno-Sparks area Saturday afternoon.

U.S. 50 in California from Pollack Pines to Meyers had been shut down because of the risk of avalanche.

"That essentially shuts down every pass in the Sierra," said Ken Gosting, executive director of Transportation Involves Everyone in Yosemite Valley. "All the passes being closed is very unusual. It happens once every 15 years."

The National Weather Service recorded wind gusts up to 165 mph on mountaintops northwest of Lake Tahoe on Friday.

"If you take the wind gusts, the snowfall and all of it together, it's definitely one of the biggest storms we've experienced in a number of years," said weather service meteorologist Scott McGuire.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared a state of emergency for Umatilla County because of wind damage.

More than 450,000 homes and businesses from the Bay Area to the Central Valley were in the dark Saturday, down from more than 1.6 million the day before. It could be days before all the lights are back on, Pacific Gas & Electric officials said.

In Colorado, Interstate 25 was briefly closed in Colorado Springs when wind apparently blew a semitrailer over, authorites said. Several highways, including U.S. 550 over Red Mountain Pass and U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass, were also closed due to avalanches or avalanche danger, said Ted Hill of the state Department of Transportation.

Near the Wyoming state line, northbound Interstate 25 at Wellington was closed because of snow and ice.

In the south, residents of Orange County canyons that were stripped by wildfires last fall — making them susceptible to mudslides — had been told to leave their homes by Friday evening. However, there was no indication how many obeyed, and mandatory evacuation orders were later lifted.

In one of the four canyons, Modjeska, thick mud coated roads Saturday as Gene Corona, 72, wore hip boots and a raincoat as he used a shovel to repair erosion in a channel he had dug to carry water away from his home.

"I made the rounds last night, every hour on the hour, whenever stuff started breaking through," he said. "I saved my house. It's my home, and insurance doesn't cover mudslides."


Sunday, 01/06/08

‘Record high temperature set’ – The Oklahoman

A record high temperature of 75 degrees was set today in Oklahoma City.

The record high temperature for January 6 was last set at 71 degrees in 1927, said National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams.

A record was also set in Oklahoma City Saturday at 72 degrees. The record high for January 5 was set at 71 degrees in 1927.

Weather records for Oklahoma City date back to 1890.

Williams said a warm front pushing in from the southwest brought warm temperatures with it. The warm, dry air from the southwest also brought with it high winds, which is a cause for wildfire concerns.

The highest risk of wildfires is in far western Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service in Norman.


Thursday, 01/03/08

‘Heavy snow paralyzes parts of Eastern Europe’ – MSNBC per AP

SOFIA, Bulgaria - A bitterly cold winter storm pummeled parts of Europe on Thursday, killing at least three sailors when a ship sank in rough seas, and piling up snow that stranded thousands at airports, on mountain roads and in remote villages.

Authorities in northeastern Bulgaria declared a state of emergency, with the army called in to help civil defense officials clear roads and reach stranded motorists.

A cold spell also caused problems in neighboring Romania, where Bucharest's two main airports were closed. Parts of Turkey and Greece, as well as Western Europe, were also affected.

Some 311 Bulgarian villages were left without electricity and dozens were cut off without food supplies or fresh water, authorities said.

The northern Danube municipality of Ruse declared a state of emergency after heavy snow blocked many roads, said Andrei Ivanov, chief of the Balkan country's civil defense service.

Temperatures fell to 5 below zero, while snow drifts reached more than 6 feet in parts of the country and hundreds of motorists were trapped on mountain roads.

At least three crewmen were killed when a Bulgarian ship carrying scrap metal sank during a storm on the Azov Sea between Ukraine and Russia, officials said.

The Vanessa was carrying a crew of 10 and a Ukrainian pilot who was guiding the ship as it approached the Kerch Strait, which connects the Azov Sea to the Black Sea, said Sergei Petrov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry for southern Russia.

Rescuers pulled one survivor and three bodies from the sea, where waves were as high as 10 feet, Petrov said.

Thousands of passengers were stranded in Romania after Bucharest's two main airports were closed due to heavy snowfall. The snow also blocked many roads in the south, forcing the closure of at least one border crossing with Bulgaria and prompting train delays.

In Turkey's capital of Ankara, snow caused traffic jams and accidents, but no injuries were reported.

Temperatures in Greece fell to 1 below zero in the north of the country, where snow blanketed roads.


Wednesday, 01/02/08

‘Relentless snow continues in Northeast’ – per AP

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Snow fell across parts of New England for the third day in a row Wednesday, adding to last month's record accumulations and closing schools.

Flurries also extended into the Ohio Valley, and some children had an extra holiday as classes were canceled in parts of West Virginia and Ohio.

Temperatures fell to freezing levels as far south as the Florida Panhandle, and wind chill readings were below zero in parts of northern Kentucky.

Following the snowiest December on record, many areas of New Hampshire got about a foot of snow on New Year's Day, with a couple of inches added during the night and a couple more likely Wednesday. Storm totals could reach 18 inches in parts of Maine and New Hampshire and up to a foot in Vermont.

The latest snowfall in New England followed a storm on Monday that made for the area's snowiest December in decades. December's snowfall at Concord, N.H., totaled 44.5 inches, toppling a record of 43 inches that had stood since 1876. Burlington, Vt., got 45.7 inches, far above its 17.2-inch December average, and Portland, Maine, amassed 37.7 inches for its third-snowiest December on record.

"It's been unbelievable. It just keeps coming," said Bill Swain, spokesman for Maine's Sugarloaf USA ski area, which got 70 inches of snow in December.

On the southern fringes of the storm on Wednesday, show was scattered from Ohio through eastern Kentucky and West Virginia into parts of Virginia and Maryland.

The heaviest snowfall was in West Virginia's rugged Randolph County, with 13 inches at Kumbrabow State Forest, the weather service said. Up to 6 inches of snow was possible at higher elevations of eastern Kentucky, although 1- to 2-inch accumulations were likely in most areas, the weather service said.

At least 40 of West Virginia's 55 counties closed all public schools Wednesday because of snow-covered roads and freezing temperatures.

Dozens of schools also were closed Wednesday in southeastern Michigan, where a six-hour burst of snow early Tuesday dumped as much as 16 inches in a three-county area north of Detroit, the weather service said.

The storm blacked out 10,000 customers Tuesday in northeast Ohio, where 15 inches of snow fell at in Pierpont, east of Cleveland. About 4,000 more lost power Tuesday evening in southwest Ohio when circuit breakers failed because of the cold. Service had been restored to nearly everyone Wednesday morning, utility officials said.

Tuesday, 01/01/08

‘Record snow hits Michigan; New England braces’ – CNN per AP

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- A fast-moving New Year's Day storm dumped more than a foot of snow on southeastern Michigan, a record blast that made driving hazardous, snarled the flight home for holiday travelers and threatened to do the same in New England.

Thousands of people in Michigan and Ohio lost power. Authorities reported no deaths or serious injuries from the six-hour burst of snow in Michigan that started around midnight, but they said there were many spinouts and minor accidents.

The storm left 10 to 16 inches of snow across parts of Oakland, Lapeer and St. Clair counties north of Detroit, the National Weather Service said. The western St. Clair County community of Capac, Michigan, reported 16 inches.

"This storm most definitely packed quite a wallop," said Weather Service meteorologist David Shuler in Oakland County. "This will be a memorable storm for the amount of snow it dumped in such a short amount of time."

He said it was the region's heaviest New Year's Day snowstorm on record and was unusual for its intensity. In the heart of the storm, snow fell at a rate of at least 2 inches an hour, with periods of 4 inches an hour.

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, canceled about 150 flights Tuesday and reported delays of around 45 minutes because of blowing snow. Passengers also experienced morning delays at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, but operations were back to normal by the afternoon, spokesman Michael Conway said.

Utility officials reported scattered power failures affecting more than 36,000 homes and businesses at one time or another.

The storm also blacked out 10,000 customers in northeast Ohio, mainly in areas east of Cleveland, said Chris Eck, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp. Wind gusted to 51 mph at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, the Weather Service said.

FirstEnergy repair crews had difficulty keeping up with the storm, Eck said. "As they're getting lights on, lights are going off. They're just fighting it as it happens," he said.

Farther east, the weather system spread snow across upstate New York and northern New England, where it was expected to last into Wednesday and drop as much as a foot of snow on parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

That followed a storm in the Northeast on Monday that made it the snowiest December in the region in decades. December's snowfall at Concord, New Hampshire, totaled 44.5 inches, toppling a record of 43 inches that had stood since 1876. Burlington, Vermont, got 45.7 inches, far above its 17.2-inch December average, and Portland, Maine, amassed 37.7 inches for its third-snowiest December on record.

New Hampshire has already spent $30 million on snow removal out of the $75 million budgeted for the entire winter, said highway department spokesman Bill Boynton.

However, New England ski resorts enjoyed the flurry of storms after last year's lack of snow early in the season.

In Maine, it provided a fresh layer on top of the roughly 6 feet that the state's two biggest ski resorts, Sugarloaf USA and Sunday River, each got last month.

"It's been unbelievable," Sugarloaf spokesman Bill Swain said. "It just keeps coming."


Tuesday, 01/01/08

‘One for the record books’ – Concord [NH] Monitor, front page

The year went out with a record-breaking storm yesterday that brought the month's cumulative snowfall to 44.5 inches in Concord, making it the snowiest December in more than 130 years.

And there won't be any rest for the snow-shoveling weary.

The 2008 snowfall tally is expected to start today with 6 to 10 inches falling across the state. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from this afternoon until tomorrow morning for Merrimack, Belknap, Strafford, Rockingham and southern Carroll counties.

New Hampshire residents battled yesterday with a storm that dumped 10.1 inches in Concord and covered some parts of the state with up to a foot of snow. The snow started late Sunday night, and by morning it had tied the December snowfall record set in 1876 at 43 inches.

A few hours and 1.5 inches later, the December record was broken, said James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. Brown said forecasters didn't see it coming.

"I don't think you can anticipate anything like that, for an entire month," Brown said.

Yesterday's storm also shattered the snowfall record for New Year's Eve, set in 1879 by a storm that dropped 6 inches in Concord.

The city has exhausted its $42,000 budget for downtown snowplowing, although it still has money left for the rest of the city. Aspell said he plans to ask the councilors this month for permission to use about $40,000 from a contingency fund set aside to cover cost overruns on plowing, welfare and fuel.