Here is a partial list of extreme weather events from 2009. Please email Erik ( with additions/corrections.

Extreme weather 2005

Extreme weather 2006

Extreme weather 2007

Extreme weather 2008

“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


Sunday, 08/09/09

‘1 Million Chinese Flee Typhoon Morakot’ – CBS News per AP

Typhoon Morakot slammed into China's east coast Sunday just hours after nearly 1 million people evacuated the area. It earlier lashed Taiwan with torrential rains that caused the island's worst flooding in 50 years and left dozens missing and feared dead.


Morakot made landfall on Xiapu, a county in eastern China's Fujian province, carrying heavy rain and winds of up to 74 miles per hour, according to an official at the China Meteorological Administration who refused to give his name or provide other details.


Taiwan, meanwhile, was recovering after the storm dumped more than 80 inches of rain on some southern counties on Friday and Saturday, the worst flooding to hit the area in half a century, the Central Weather Bureau reported.


Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center said a woman was killed when her vehicle plunged into a ditch in Kaohsiung county in heavy rain Friday, and two men drowned in Pingtung and Tainan respectively. It said that 31 were missing and feared dead.


About 1 million people were evacuated from China's eastern coastal provinces by early Sunday - more than 490,000 people in Zhejiang and 480,000 others in neighboring Fujian. Authorities in Fujian called 48,000 boats back to harbor.


Morakot hit Taiwan late Friday but traversed the island Saturday.


Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center reported Sunday that flash flooding had washed away a makeshift home in southern Kaohsiung, leaving 16 people missing. Three were swept away in southeastern Taitung county, including two policemen helping to evacuate villagers.


In southern Pingtung county, 4,000 people were stranded in inundated villages waiting for police boats to rescue them, news media reported.


In Taitung county, a six-story hotel collapsed and plunged into a river after floodwaters eroded its base, but all 300 people in the hotel were evacuated and uninjured, officials said.


Morakot is the first typhoon to hit Taiwan this year. Typhoons frequently move in between July and September, often causing injuries and deaths in mountainous regions prone to landslides and flash floods.


In the northern Philippines, the typhoon and lingering monsoon rains left 21 people dead and seven others missing in landslides and floodwaters, including three European tourists who were swept away Thursday, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said Sunday.


More than 83,000 people in 93 northern villages were affected by floods and landslides, including 22,200 who fled their homes, it said. Displaced people began returning home as the weather cleared, it said.


Meanwhile, officials said rescue helicopters and ships were still searching for about 10 Chinese crew whose ships were caught in Tropical Storm Goni, which made landfall in Guangdong on Wednesday, swept the coastal areas of Hainan Thursday and Friday but weakened into a tropical depression by Sunday.


Friday, 08/07/09

‘Philippine floods kill 12, including 3 Europeans’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=ApWCCAc4ohx753I5hnFaZLloWrEF;_ylu=X3oDMTJzajBvMDdrBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwODA3L2FzX3BoaWxpcHBpbmVzX2Zsb29kcwRwb3MDMTQEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDcGhpbGlwcGluZWZs

MANILA, Philippines – Heavy monsoon rains inundated wide areas of the northern Philippines, triggering flash floods and landslides that killed at least 12 people, including two French citizens and a Belgian who were touring Mount Pinatubo, officials said Friday.

Nine European and three South Korean tourists were traveling on the volcano Thursday when a landslide blocked their path, trapping one of their three vehicles, officials in northern Tarlac province said.

Three of the Europeans and their two Filipino guides were swept away by flash floods and their bodies were recovered Friday, said Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan of Capas township near the volcano. The rest of the tour group was rescued, he said.

Millions of tons of volcanic debris on Pinatubo's slopes pose a constant danger during heavy rains.

Pinatubo's massive eruption in 1991 created a torquoise-colored crater lake that has become a major tourist attraction.

Rains also have battered Zambales province west of Manila in the foothills of Mount Pinatubo since Wednesday.

More than 1,000 residents of Botolan town sheltered overnight at a school after pounding rain opened a 65-foot (20-meter) breach in the Pinatubo dike, sending floodwaters as high as roofs, regional police Chief Leo Nilo dela Cruz said.

A local tribal chief, Carling Dumulot, estimated that 12,000 people had evacuated their homes. He said loosened trees carried by water and mud were slamming against houses and hindering evacuation efforts.

Three villages were under water, he said.

An air force helicopter plucked trapped people from trees and rooftops.

At least two people died in Botolan and surrounding areas, Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso said. The government closed all schools in the province and declared a state of emergency.

"Virtually all areas in the province have experienced flooding," he said.

Police reported two other bodies had been recovered in Tarlac province.

Landslides in the northern Cordillera mountains killed three siblings aged 7 to 13 in Baguio city, said regional disaster agency chief Olive Luces. Their parents escaped, he said.

A landslide crashed Friday onto huts where 14 miners were resting at the foot of a mountain near Baguio. Nine were pulled out alive but five remained missing, including one swept away by a flooded creek, said army Capt. Christian Uy, who was helping in the rescue.

Monsoon rains have saturated the mountainous northern Philippines, the central Visayas islands and the southern Mindanao region since last month.


Tuesday, 08/04/09

‘Storm-fed flash floods hi Kentucky, Indiana’ – Yahoo! News per AP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Heavy thunderstorms fed floods in Kentucky and Indiana on Tuesday, shutting down a university campus in Louisville, closing highways and cutting power to thousands of people.

The storm shut down the University of Louisville, where about a dozen buildings were without power and a dozen more had some flooding on the main campus, said university spokesman Mark Hebert. Dozens of university of employees were evacuated, he said.

Floodwaters gushed over guardrails on Interstate 65, bringing traffic to a standstill in Clark County, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville.

National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Callahan said the Rubbertown area in western Louisville was swamped by more than 6 inches of rain in three hours Tuesday morning. Callahan said the slow-moving storm "went right into Louisville and just sat there."

Craig Buthod, director of Louisville's public library system, said 3 1/2 feet of water inundated the main library's lower level. He said tens of thousands of books were lost and the library was forced to close. He said staff vehicles and bookmobiles were also flooded.

City officials said there had been no reports of significant injuries.

In Indiana, police and state conservation officers rescued several people, mostly stranded motorists caught in high waters, said spokesman John Erickson of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Duke Energy reported more than 24,000 customers without power just after noon, including nearly 14,000 in western Indiana.

A flash flood warning was in effect into the afternoon for Louisville and other parts of the metro area, and forecasters said the region could be hit by more thunderstorms in the afternoon.


Thursday, 07/30/09

‘Northwest to cool off after Seattle’s record heat’ – per AP

SEATTLE - Forecasters are offering the hope of slightly cooler temperatures to Northwest residents after Seattle recorded the hottest day in its history and Portland fell just 1 degree short of its own record-breaker.

The National Weather Service in Seattle recorded 103 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, breaking a previous record of 100 degrees, set in downtown Seattle in 1941 and repeated at the airport in 1994.

Jay Albrecht, a Seattle meteorologist with the service, said it's the hottest it has been in Seattle since records dating to 1891. Wednesday was the fifth consecutive day above 85 degrees for Seattle.

In Oregon, heat records were set in cities across the western half of the state, with Portland topping out at 106 degrees, breaking the old record of 100 for the day but falling 1 degree shy of its all-time record of 107. Portland most recently hit the 107 mark in 1981.

Oregon weather data goes back to the 1850s, although meteorologist Charles Dalton said the 107-degree mark, recorded at the Portland airport, reflects records kept at that site since 1941.

While most of Washington was bone dry, thunderstorms rolling through the Cascade Mountains and foothills dumped as much as 2 inches of rain per hour on scattered spots in the western half of the state, prompting the weather service to issue flash flood warnings.

Rural areas in Oregon and Washington were also told to be on the watch for lightning strikes through the weekend that could turn dry forests into infernos.

The system has also caused some lightning fires, including one in central Washington overnight that forced 140 families to flee.

Conditions along the western Washington corridor, as well as central Washington and Oregon  are "critical for new large fires on through the weekend," according to the Northwest  Interagency Coordination Center. "The probability of large fires will be quite high."

In Washington, the director of the state's public lands office issued a statement saying that "the coming days and weeks could be our biggest test yet" for wildfires this year. Most counties in the state are facing high or very high fire dangers.

Washington state Ecology Department spokesman Larry Altose said his agency had received several reports of dead fish floating in Lake Washington, which separates Seattle from its eastside suburbs. That, too, was due to effects of the hot weather, he said.

In Oregon's Willamette Valley, the thermometer hit 106 at the capital in Salem, and Eugene hit 105, shattering a record 101 for the calendar day in both cities. In southern Oregon, Medford inched past its record of 108 to reach 109 on Wednesday. The previous records for all those cities were from 2003.

At the Tails-A-Wagging doggie day care in Bellingham, Wash., owner Angi Lenz and her staff kept dogs comfortable with special cooling fans, air conditioning, ice toys and water slides. "We have a waiting list to get in this week because of the heat," Lenz said.

Bellingham hit 96, an all-time record, on Wednesday, breaking the old mark of 94, set in 1960. Records there date back to the 1930s.

Not everyone was avoiding the outdoors. Enes Parker, manager of the Lacey Senior Center, said she found indoor air conditioning too cold. Lacey is in Washington, near Olympia.

"I'm one of the few who like the heat," Parker said. "I go outside every so often to warm up. I love the heat. It's always too cold here."


Thursday, 07/30/09

‘Heavy rains flood Shanghai: state media’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

BEIJING (AFP) – The "heaviest rains in 70 years" lashed Shanghai Thursday, flooding 3,000 homes and leaving nearly 2,000 travellers stranded at the city's airports, state media reported.

Between 80 to 140 millimetres (three to 5.5 inches) fell in most areas of China's largest city, official news agency Xinhua reported, adding that vehicles had been damaged by falling branches. No casualties were reported.

More than 500 workers were deployed to clear the water, which was up to 30 centimetres deep on city roads, the report said.

The weather delayed scores of flights to and from Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao airports, Xinhua said, stranding thousands of passengers.

Torrential downpours have struck various parts of China during the annual summer rainy season.

Earlier this month Xinhua reported that the heavy rains had displaced more than 100,000 people in Sichuan province in the southwest.


Wednesday, 07/29/09

‘Possible tornado, severe thunderstorms, rip through New Jersey’ – per the Star Ledger

 Severe thunderstorms pounded New Jersey today with flash floods, fierce winds and a "possible tornado touchdown" in Sussex County, according to weather officials.

The torrential rain caused heavy delays for commuters on major highways and rail lines throughout the state while power was knocked out for at least 16,000 customers.


Officials received multiple reports of funnel cloud sightings and several downed trees along Route 23 in Wantage Township around 2:50 p.m., according to National Weather Service meteorologist Kristen Klein.

An hour later, township mayor Parker Space declared a state of emergency, citing heavy damages to private and public property caused by mid-afternoon storm wind, which State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said included the collapse of two barns. No injuries were reported.

The vicious wind uprooted trees and tossed large branches across several major roadways throughout the area, Sussex County Emergency Management Director Eskil "Skip" Danielson said. The possible tornado also knocked out power in several areas of Wantage and caused damages to several houses, he said.

Today's downpours also turned the lights out on nearly 16,000 PSE&G customers, according to company spokeswoman Deborah Adams, with Woodbridge and Montclair residents making up nearly half of the affected customers. Adams only described the

Jones and State Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Erin Phalon reported numerous instances of roadway flooding and weather damages that caused several detours and roadway closures throughout the evening.

Phalon said flooding closed parts of Routes 1 & 9 near Elizabeth and Kearny for several hours. Heavy rain also caused water to pool on the N.J. Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, the state's two major highways, resulting in slow traffic and diminished visibility. Numerous drivers pulled over to the shoulder in hopes of waiting out the storm, according to Jones and several motorists.


The storms dumped nearly two-and-a-half inches of rain on sections of northeastern New Jersey including parts of Essex and Union counties, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Gigi.

It was the 12th day of measurable rainfall this month in Newark, and the severe storms come just days after a lightning strike killed a 22-year-old city man and injured three others.


Wednesday, 07/29/09

‘Brutal’ heat bakes Pacific Northwest – per AP

PORTLAND, Oregon - "Brutal" temperatures are predicted for the Seattle area on Wednesday as a record heat wave afflicting the Pacific Northwest continues, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

The high temperature could easily tie or break the all-time record temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit set July 20, 1994, at Sea-Tac, the weather service's Jay Albrecht said.

Another day of high heat for the normally temperate region follows a Tuesday that saw the thermometer hit 106 F at Portland International Airport, just short of the 107 F all-time mark for the area set in 1981.

"The thing about a place like Portland is there are some buildings and residences that don't have air conditioning," said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. "You go to Phoenix or Dallas, yes it would be very hot there, too, but they have more of a system in place to deal with it."

A Home Depot store in Portland had to order up air conditioners from one of its stores on the cooler Oregon coast to restock for the week. The units arrived Tuesday morning only to sell out three hours later, Home Depot employee Cliff Baker said.

"Fans are even getting hard to find," he said.

Shaved ice was also in high demand, said Matthew Ho, owner of Portland's Ohana Hawaiian Cafe. Normally the cafe sells about 20 a day, but lately it's at least double that, he said.

Temperatures pushed up to 108 F Tuesday in Medford in southern Oregon, and the 93 degrees F in Hoquiam on Grays Harbor in Washington state crushed the old record of 81 degrees F that dated back to 1965.

Cooling centers for the elderly were open late in Portland, and the city of Seattle extended hours for the International Fountain, where hundreds of people soaked in sprays that were timed to move along with recorded music.


Tuesday, 07/28/09

‘Bangladeshi capital flooded by record monsoon’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

DHAKA (AFP) – Rickshaws and cars ploughed through waist-high water in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Tuesday as the city received its biggest rainfall in a single July day for 60 years.

In the six hours after 01:00 am (1800 GMT Monday), 290 millimetres (11.42 inches) of rain fell, according to officials.

"It's the highest single day of rain in July since 1949," said Dhaka meteorologist Ayesha Khatun, adding that more downpours were forecast.

Six people were killed after standing on powerlines that were under the water, police told AFP.

The flooding brought the city to a standstill, with schools and offices unable to open and many of its 12 million residents stranded in their homes.

Much of Bangladesh has been experiencing drought conditions as the monsoon season, which runs from June to the end of September, has brought little rain.

Last week the government ordered free electricity for farmers to pump underground water after shortages threatened the summer rice crop, which accounts for 40 percent of food grain production.

Farmers had held special prayers this week to bring on rain to irrigate their land so that summer rice can be sown.


Wednesday, 07/22/09

‘8 dead, 9 missing in floods in southern Japan’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=Anc6V.9Se7luFPvAFuP0bIBoWrEF;_ylu=X3oDMTMwOW9pZ29kBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwNzIzL2FzX2phcGFuX2xhbmRzbGlkZV9kZWF0aHMEcG9zAzI3BHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrAzhkZWFkOW1pc3Npbg--

TOKYO – Hundreds of police, soldiers and rescue workers searched Thursday for nine people missing after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides in southern Japan. Eight people, including elderly residents of a nursing home, have been killed.

Most of about 100 residents of the home were brought to the roof and lifted out by helicopter Tuesday after a mudslide hit the building. But five residents were killed before the rescue, and two are still missing.

More than 400 people evacuated in eight cities in Yamaguchi, the prefecture said in a statement. Rivers and canals flooded at more than 100 locations. At least 110 landslides were reported in Hofu, which lies about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo.

A seasonal rain front has brought torrential downpours in southwestern Japan since the weekend. Yamaguchi has seen record rainfall for July.

The Meteorological Agency said the peak of the rain has passed in southern Japan, where more than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rainfall was reported in 24 hours through Tuesday evening, but it warned of a possibility of more landslides.


Friday, 07/17/09

‘Confirmed tornado and record hail’ – Burlington [VT] Free Press Weather Rapport Blog

The National Weather Service in South Burlington has confirmed a tornado hit Williamstown Thursday. It was as weak as a tornado can get, with 55-75 mph winds, but there was a definite circular pattern in the way the trees fell. 

This is the second tornado in Vermont this year. One hit the town of Washington in May, tearing the roof off an apartment building and causing other damage. On average, Vermont gets one tornado every other year, so this year is a bit unusual. 


Also, the National Weather Service says a hailstone that fell in Westford Thursday might have broken a record. (Other hailstones broke windows and caused other damage.) Here's what they have to say:  



Friday, 07/17/09

‘Near-record global warmth recorded in June’ –

June 2009 was the planet's second-warmest June ever recorded, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Friday. Only 2005 was warmer. When just ocean areas are included, it was the warmest June ever. Global records began in 1880.

"Large portions of each inhabited continent were substantially warmer than average during June 2009," NOAA's National Climatic Data Center wrote in an online report "The warmest anomalies were most notable in parts of Africa and most of Eurasia."

The main cause for the warmth was the development of El Niño, a warming of tropical Pacific ocean water that affects weather patterns worldwide. "If El Niño conditions continue to mature as projected by NOAA, global temperatures are likely to continue to threaten previous record highs," noted the report.

Overall, for the first half of the year, 2009 is the fifth-warmest year on record for the Earth, with an average global temperature nearly 1 degree above average. Only 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2007 had a higher average temperature for the first six months of the year. In 2009, warmer-than-average conditions were recorded across much of the world's land areas, with the exception of cooler-than-average temperatures across Canada.

In the USA, the climate center reported earlier this week that the USA is having its 25th-warmest year on record, with only North Dakota experiencing below-average temperatures.


Wednesday, 07/15/09

‘Storms bring heavy rain, large hail to Iowa’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Thunderstorms have brought large hail and heavy rain to Iowa, breaking windows and knocking down large tree branches and power lines.

The storms moved across the state late Tuesday and early Wednesday. In central Iowa, golfball-size hail fell in the Des Moines area, knocking out a window in an apartment complex near Saylorville Lake.

Power lines are down near Knoxville and Bussey, southeast of Des Moines.

In southern Iowa, over 2 inches of rain fell in less than an hour in Bloomfield. In northern Iowa, large tree limbs are down in Mason City and Clear Lake.


Thursday, 07/09/09

‘Record heat blasts Texas, Oklahoma’ – Boston Examiner

Intense heat baked the south/southwestern states on Thursday as upper level high pressure strengthened.

Record highs tied or exceeded include:

Record Highs, July 9, 2009

Wichita Falls






Del Rio








Nation’s High…Buffalo, Oklahoma…115 degrees!

This will be a period of extreme heat through Sunday for north Texas with daily highs of 102-106 and heat index values of over 110 possible.



Wednesday, 07/08/09

‘Mumbai facing water cuts as lakes run dry’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=Ao9Tl6Mda7QDi8TEtZoK6O9oWrEF;_ylu=X3oDMTJvb2dnbXBsBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDA5MDcwOC9pbmRpYXdlYXRoZXJ3YXRlcgRwb3MDMwRzZWMDeW5fcGFnaW5hdGVfc3VtbWFyeV9saXN0BHNsawNtdW1iYWlmYWNpbmc-

MUMBAI (AFP) – India's financial and entertainment capital is facing a 30 percent cut in water supplies, despite an overnight deluge of monsoon rains that left some streets and homes flooded.

The civic authorities in Mumbai introduced the reduction on Tuesday as levels ran "precariously low" at the six lakes that supply the city's 18 million population with 3.3 billion litres (872 million US gallons) of water a day.

Like many Indian cities, Mumbai depends on the annual monsoon to replenish water stocks. The rains had been due to arrive on June 8 but only hit the city at the end of last month.

Since then, they have been intermittent. Heavy rainfall overnight Tuesday-Wednesday left many lower-lying areas under water and forced pedestrians to wade shin-deep through muddy water.

Colaba, in south Mumbai, received 73.7 millimetres (2.9 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 8:30 am (0300 GMT), according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official Anil Diggikar was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency: "We are facing a shortage of 250 million litres of water per day."

He said the one lake with higher levels can only supply the eastern suburbs, hitting the more prosperous southern and western parts of the metropolis.

Deputy municipal commissioner Pramod Charankar told the Times of India that there was currently enough water only for the next 20 days in those areas unless the monsoon picked up.

Owners of swimming pools, clubs and whirlpool baths have been told to reduce consumption, while supply to 32 construction sites has been cut, the daily said. Five-star hotels can expect reductions, it added.

"We hope to save about 200 million litres a day from the drive," Charankar added.

The BMC initially introduced a 10 percent water cut on June 8 then increased that to 20 percent on June 20.

Meanwhile, officials said only 10 percent of water stocks for irrigation projects were left in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, while well below average rainfall had hit agriculture in other parts of the country.

"Paddy, which is the dominant... crop in (the northern states of) Punjab and Haryana will take a hit," professor Ramesh Chand, from the Indian Council for Agriculture, was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Other crops, including pulses, maize cotton and sugarcane will have lower yields, as analysts raised the spectre of drought conditions in northern India, he added.


Wednesday, 07/08/09

‘Snow plows remove hail after N.Y. storm’ – per AP

YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) — Snow plows were used to remove up to 2 inches of sleet and hail after an overnight storm in Westchester County.

Workers were still clearing the mess Wednesday morning near the Consumers Union building in Yonkers, N.Y. Some cars got stuck at an exit ramp of the Saw Mill Parkway.

At a nearby office park, a worker wore shorts as he spread salt in the parking lot. It was 64 degrees.

The metropolitan area also suffered from power outages and flooding. High winds and heavy rains downed trees and utility poles.

Metro-North used different tracks for its Hudson line trains because of a mud slide near the Greystone station.


Police say falling debris damaged at least two homes in Yonkers.

Reported tornado sightings were not immediately confirmed.


Monday, 07/06/09

‘Deadly China floods drive 700,000 from homes’ – per AP

BEIJING - Heavy flooding in southern China killed at least 20 people, while blocked roads left some 300 teenagers stranded at a school with limited supplies of food and water, state media reported.

About 700,000 people have fled their homes in southern China after heavy rains toppled houses, flooded roads and damaged a dam, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Flood waters had blocked the entrances to the Hemu Town Middle School in the Guangxi region and rendered nearby roads impassable. By late Sunday, authorities had managed to restore the power supply and get food and water to the students, an education official, Luo Enwu, told Xinhua.

CCTV said Sunday that floodwaters along a major commercial thoroughfare elsewhere in Rongshui were more than eight feet deep. The report said it was the highest water level the county has seen in a decade.

Flood control officials used boats to deliver food, mineral water and other supplies to the school on Saturday, including pumps to lower the water level, according to a Rongshui County official surnamed Lu.

She said she did not know how long the children, aged from 13 to 15 years, had been stuck in the building.

By Friday, 80 percent of the county was inundated, causing the Rongjiang river to overflow its banks and forcing the relocation of more than 70,000 people, Lu said.

In Hunan province, floods have killed eight people and forced 140,000 to relocate. Five people have died in southeastern Fujian province, two others were missing, and 22,000 people have been evacuated, Xinhua said.

An additional five people were killed in Jiangxi province. Another 230,000 people were forced from their homes, Xinhua said.

In Guangdong, two construction workers were killed when a rain-soaked wall collapsed.

Heavy rains have battered the region since Wednesday, forcing about 310,000 people in Guangxi to relocate, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The rains began to subside in parts of Guangxi on Sunday, but river levels remained high, the report said.

CCTV showed flooded Rongshui streets, where the signboards of restaurants and shops were all that could be seen above the water. Mattresses, household items and other debris drifted in the water, passing residents on wooden rowboats as people peered out from second-floor balconies and windows.

The county government estimated the damage at 210 million yuan ($31 million), Xinhua said.

The rain also destroyed a 44-foot section of a dike near the base of the Kama Reservoir in Guangxi, Xinhua said.


Monday, 07/06/09

‘Floods leave 500,000 homeless in India’ – per AP

GAUHATI, India - Flood waters have inundated scores of villages in India's northeast, leaving nearly 500,000 people homeless, an official said Monday.

At least one person has died in the floods, a 55-year-old man who drowned when his boat capsized in Assam state, said Mantu Thakuria, a police officer. It was the first death reported in the state since the rains began last Wednesday.

Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced by the floods, which have affected 10 of the state's 27 districts, Assam's Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman told The Associated Press. They include nearly 100,000 people marooned on Majuli island in the Brahmaputra River.

On Sunday, the overflowing river washed away five villages, forcing nearly 4,000 residents to flee to makeshift relief camps, said Barman. The area is nearly 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam.

Last week, the Brahmaputra breached a 328-foot (100-meter) stretch of a newly built embankment. At least 300 villages in Lakhimpur district, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Gauhati, have been inundated.

The monsoon rains usually hit India from June to September. Assam, a state of 26 million people, suffers flooding almost every year. Last year, millions of people were forced to temporarily abandon their homes.


Sunday, 07/05/09

‘Vietnam northern floods kill 15, dozens missing’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters;_ylt=Ajxz8si7Z3CXVsYzJWbBCD1oWrEF;_ylu=X3oDMTJ1OTRjaXBzBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMDkwNzA1L3VzX3ZpZXRuYW1fZmxvb2RzX2RlYXRoBHBvcwMxNQRzZWMDeW5fcGFnaW5hdGVfc3VtbWFyeV9saXN0BHNsawN2aWV0bmFtbm9ydGg-

HANOI (Reuters) – Heavy rains triggering floods and landslides in mountainous northern regions of Vietnam have killed at least 15 people, destroyed houses and damaged roads, the government and state-run radio said on Sunday.

Landslides killed 13 people in Bac Kan province and another 11 were missing as of early Sunday, Voice of Vietnam radio said.

Landslides and floods cut off roads, telecommunications and power supply to a district in Bac Kan after heavy rains fell on Friday night, the government said in a disaster report.

Floods killed two people in the neighboring provinces of Cao Bang and Ha Giang while three others, including two children, were carried away and remained missing, the report said.

About 300 people were forced to leave homes destroyed in landslides, provincial roads were eroded and small fields of rice, corn and cassava in the three provinces were damaged, the report said, adding that more rains were forecast on Sunday.

State-run Vietnam Television showed footage of rescuers looking for missing people at a house buried by landslides in Cao Bang while in Ha Giang province a local river swelled and streets were flooded.

Heavy rains were falling on Sunday morning in Ha Giang, Voice of Vietnam radio said.

Vietnam is often struck by floods and storms between July and October but the government has said 47 people were dead or missing from natural disasters in the first half of this year.

The flood-stricken area is far outside Vietnam's main growing region for its key commodities rice and coffee.

The northern Vietnam region lies about 1,200 km (750 miles) north of the Central Highlands coffee belt and the Mekong Delta food basket is even further away.

The casualties and property damage in the Vietnamese area bordering China emerged after torrential rain battered southern China and displaced more than 150,000 people there, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.


Saturday, 07/04/09

‘Bangladesh floods maroon thousands, landslides kill 6’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters;_ylt=Ahz1hpy328gEt4JmBs1KqntoWrEF;_ylu=X3oDMTJxbnF2djZsBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMDkwNzA0L3VzX2JhbmdsYWRlc2hfcmFpbnMEcG9zAzE2BHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2JhbmdsYWRlc2hmbA--

DHAKA (Reuters) – Torrential rains triggered landslides and flash floods killing six people and stranding half a million in their homes in Bangladesh, officials said on Saturday.

The landslides occurred near Habiganj district town, some 200 km (125 miles) northeast of the capital Dhaka Saturday, burying all six members of a family.

Officials said the situation had worsened at three other nearby districts, with some 500,000 people stranded at their homes as the rivers Surma and Khusiara, flowing into Bangladesh from northeastern India, burst their banks following incessant rains over the last four days.

"Hundreds of thatched houses were damaged, and standing crops on vast lands and rural infrastructures have been damaged," a senior disaster management official told Reuters without giving details.

The situation is likely to deteriorate as the Bangladesh Meteorological Department forecast more rains in the region including northeastern India.


Thursday, 07/02/09

‘New England Flooding Day #7’ – Weather New England blog of New England Cable News

The latest siege of wet & stormy began last Friday, June 26, 2009. That makes today, Thursday July 2nd, the seventh day in a row with flooding here in New England. The heaviest rain today has been in southern and eastern New England, similar to what happened yesterday. This photo is from about 11 AM in Scituate Massachusetts, where the rain was falling at the rate of 5.1″ per hour. It only rained that intensity for a few minutes, but that is all it takes to put road under water. This same storm crossed Narragansett Bay, where rainfall estimates exceeded 3″ in less than an hour. A separate storm crossed Martha’s Vineyard with 2″ Diameter Hail at Lunch time. This is largest hail I have ever heard of there, resulting many cars needing a trip to The Autobody Shop for repairs due to hail damage. That storm raced across the upper Cape and into Capo Cod Bay, where lightning was reported all the way to Race Point, then on into the open Atlantic Ocean. This is rare due to the cooling effect of the ocean, it shows us how intense this stubborn upper level Low Pressure is.


Thursday, 07/02/09

‘Worst of rain now over, flooding may be of concern’ – [San Francisco, CA]

BAY NEWS 9 -- The worst of this week's rain may be over for now, but the extensive rainfall may cause flooding on some Bay area rivers.

A river flood warning remains in effect for the Little Manatee River at Wimauma, the Manatee River at Myakka Head, and the Manatee River at Rye Bridge.

The flood stage is 11 feet for the Little Manatee River at Wimauma, and the forecast is for 14.7 feet after midnight.

About a dozen homeowners along the Little Manatee River have water in their yards. They have boats on stand-by to leave, but most plan to stay unless the flooding gets worse.

Sveral residents moved their cars up the street to higher ground, and one man moved his trailer home. 

No mandatory evacuations are underway.

Minor flooding is also in the forecast for the Manatee River in Myakka. Levels there are already at flood stage, and are expected to crest at that level by Friday as well.

Rainfall totals around the Bay area for July 1, from midnight to 7 p.m.

Brandon 5.07" (two day total 6.52")
New Port Richey 3.63 (two day total 7.22")
Bay News 9 (Carillon) 2.56"
Largo 2.83"
Tarpon Springs 2.49"
Lakewood Ranch 2.22"
St. Pete Science Center 1.95
Lakeland .24"
Weeki Wachee


Thursday, 06/25/09

‘Houston hits record high with 104 degrees’ –

(CNN) -- Houston, Texas, had a record high temperature Wednesday as a heat wave continues to grip the nation's midsection, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

The city sweltered with a high temperature of 104 degrees Wednesday, a record high for June 24, forecasters said. The previous record high for the date was 99 degrees, set in 1980.

The previous record high measured for the month of June in Houston was 103 degrees, set on June 30, 1980, and June 18, 1934.

Heat indices, a combination of temperature and humidity, are breaking the 110-degree mark in many cities.

Forecasters predicted a high near 100 for Houston on Thursday, but the temperature could rise into the triple digits in outlying areas, said CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.

The weather service posted heat advisories for Houston; Dallas, Texas; and New Orleans, Louisiana, indicating that temperatures in those cities will feel like 100 to 105 degrees because of high humidity.

Other cities also were sweltering.

New Iberia, Louisiana, had a temperature Wednesday of 102, which broke the record of 97 in 2005.

An excessive heat warning was issued for St. Louis, Missouri, on Thursday through 7 p.m. CT Saturday. Forecasters predicted a high near 96.

Cloud cover was expected to make temperatures there a little cooler Thursday, but the weather service warned, "A hot and humid air mass remains over the area which will continue to control weather over the region through Saturday."

Afternoon and early evening heat index readings of 100 to 110 were expected in the Missouri city every day through Saturday.

Young children, the elderly and people with chronic sicknesses were advised to stay inside if possible.

The heat wave that began last week was being fed by a high pressure system north of Texas

Air quality alerts were posted for several cities, indicating pollutants exceed accepted standards. A red alert was issued for Houston, the third most severe alert that indicates unhealthy air quality.


Thursday, 06/25/09

‘Ten dead in Czech floods, central Europe on alert’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

NOVY JICIN, Czech Republic (Reuters) – At least 10 people died in flooding in the eastern Czech Republic, and rising river levels prompted flood warnings across central Europe following heavy rains this week.

The 10 Czechs died near the country's border with Poland and Slovakia, with most of the damage near the town of Novy Jicin, 260 km (160 miles) east of Prague.

Officials said at least six people were drowned late on Wednesday and four more died when medical teams were unable to reach them.

Rescuers evacuated hundreds of people from wrecked houses and buildings threatened by high water, and the government moved to deploy up to 1,000 soldiers to help.

"The situation is bad, although somewhat stabilized," said Tomas Vindis, a council member in Novy Jicin, a town of 27,000.

"The water is not a threat at the moment... but the forecast is not exactly favorable, so everybody is worried a bit that it could come back."

The flooding is the central European country's worst natural disaster since heavy floods in 2002, when 17 people died and water ravaged the historic center of Prague, costing the state around $3 billion in repair costs.

The governor of the hardest hit region, Jaroslav Palas, said the damages now would run into the tens of millions of dollars.

In Austria, the river Danube has risen this week after some of the heaviest rainfalls in 50 years. The water level was expected to peak in Vienna Thursday as rainfalls ebbed.

Vienna's Albertina Museum, home to landmark impressionist works by Monet and Renoir, started evacuating 950,000 artworks Thursday from its leaking underground depot.

Around 13,000 police, firefighters and soldiers worked to stem the floods Wednesday. Some villages along rivers flowing toward the Danube were cut off and cellars and roads were underwater, mainly in the region west of the Austrian capital.

Bratislava declared a second-degree alert in western Slovakia, where the Danube was expected to crest later in the day.

Hungary put first or second degree alerts in place for the upper section of the Danube. Budapest has called the highest alert for the lower section of the northwestern Raba river.

The Polish National Security Center said rivers topped warning levels in 43 places and alarm levels in another 20. Flood alarms were introduced in parts of southern Poland.

Czech meteorologists forecast more rain into the weekend.


Monday, 06/22/09

‘Hundreds of cars stranded at flooded Michigan fair’ – per AP

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of motorists may have to wait till Wednesday to retrieve their cars from the Ionia County fairgrounds, where the flooding Grand River enveloped a parking lot during a music festival.

Western Michigan got up to eight inches of rain during the weekend thunderstorms that spawned three tornadoes and knocked out power to at least 135,000 homes and businesses.

The Grand Rapids Press reports flood waters overran the riverbanks Saturday while 80,000 people were attending WBCT-FM's "B93 Birthday Bash." WOOD-TV says the sudden rise trapped 1,000 to 1,500 cars in the lot, and some people had to be evacuated by boat.

Farther west, Ottawa County officials have been totaling damage and considering seeking state emergency aid.


Friday, 06/19/09

‘Globe simmered in May’ –

The Earth's temperature in May was the fourth-warmest May on record, with a reading almost 1 degree warmer than the long-term average, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C.

Only the Mays in 1998, 2001, and 2005 were warmer. Climate records date back to 1880. The globe's most unusual warmth was measured in the western USA, Alaska, Iceland and much of Europe and Asia, reported the NCDC.

A separate temperature data set, measured from satellites, found that the Earth was about 0.07 degrees above the 20-year average for May. This data set is maintained by scientists at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH).

"Powered largely by an area south of Madagascar where temperatures were as much as 11.7 degrees warmer than seasonal norms, the Antarctic continent had its fifth warmest May in more than 30 years," reported UAH scientists Roy Spencer and John Christy in an e-mail.

For the year to date, the NCDC says the world's temperature was tied with 2003 for the sixth-warmest January-May period on record.

In the USA, the May 2009 temperature for the contiguous 48 states was above the long-term average by 1.4 degrees, according to the NCDC.

California, New Mexico, and Utah respectively had their fourth, sixth, and ninth warmest May, while Nevada and Arizona registered their fifth warmest May on record. Only North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arkansas had an average monthly temperature that was below normal.


Thursday, 06/18/09

‘Heavy rain brings back flooding problems to N.D.’ – per AP

BISMARCK, N.D. — Heavy rain pounded flood-weary North Dakota again, setting records in Bismarck and pushing the Red River above flood stage in Fargo.

The National Weather Service said runoff was expected to put the Red above its 18-foot flood stage in Fargo by Thursday but predicted only minor flooding before the river falls back in its banks next week. Rain that had been falling since Monday had stopped by Wednesday morning, but more storms were possible later in the week, according to the weather service.

Earlier this spring, Fargo residents fought off two crests of the Red River — the first at a record 40.82 feet and the second at 34 feet.

In southeastern North Dakota, the weather service issued a flood warning through Friday for people along the Wild Rice River. Forecasters said there were reports of around 8 inches of rain in the Abercrombie area, about 30 miles south of Fargo, and nearly 4 inches in Wahpeton.

In the Bismarck area, roads were shut down Tuesday, and the roof of a Mandan bowling alley collapsed under the weight of water.

The National Weather Service said its reports ranged from 5.6 inches at the Bismarck airport since Monday to more than 7 inches east of the city, with about an inch falling in an hour Tuesday afternoon. The official total Tuesday for the city itself was a record for the second straight day — 2.58 inches, topping the mark of 1.4 inches set in 1934. It followed the record 3.2 inches Monday.

"I don't remember us getting this much water," said Bismarck public works spokesman Bob Stenehjem. "The rain clouds just keep circling around Bismarck. They aren't going away."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said people with damage from the current storms and flooding might be eligible for aid. FEMA has already provided nearly $7 million in individual aid to North Dakotans who suffered damage from spring flooding this year.


Thursday, 06/18/09

‘Torrential rain halts US Open, soaks Tiger at soggy Bethpage’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

FARMINGDALE, New York (AFP) – Heavy rains brought an early end to first-round play Thursday in the 109th US Open as water-logged Bethpage Black became unplayable and stars such as Tiger Woods battled through a deluge.

Soaked spectators braved intense showers and ankle-deep mud to watch a super group of reigning major champions navigate the 7,426-yard course but rain swamped holes so badly that one green had a flagpole in the center of a pond.

"The volume of rain falling was outpacing our ability to squeegee the greens," said USGA championship committee chairman Jim Hyler. "The greens just became unplayable."

Defending champion Woods salvaged an impressive par at the first after his tee shot went 50 yards left into a concession area. He found a greenside bunker but scrambled up and down on the way to standing one-over through six holes.

"It was pretty tough," Woods said. "There was a lot of standing water. It was pretty wet and windy," Woods said. "It was a slow day. We had to get in as many holes as we could. We probably played more holes than we thought."

With half the 156-man field yet to start, the co-leaders on one-under par were Sweden's Johan Edfors (through four holes), Canada's Andrew Parr (through three) and Americans Ryan Spears (after three) and Jeff Brehaut (after 11).

"They were squeegeeing it off and it was coming straight back up," back-nine starter Brehaut said of the second green. "It just couldn't take any more water. The course was playable and then all of a sudden it wasn't."

Grounds workers lost their battle with Mother Nature on a day better suited for Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps than golf's major champions, Bethpage Black becoming a swampy mess as players and spectators slogged along.

"Where's my canoe?" said England's Ian Poulter, level after seven holes, in a Twitter message posting.

Those yet to start were set to begin at 10 am and start round two at 4 pm but rain is forecast through Tuesday with weekend thunderstorms, making it likely this would become just the second US Open extended beyond Sunday, playoffs excepted.

"We will not determine a national champion until we play 72 holes. If that takes us into Monday or Tuesday, whatever," senior competitions director Mike Davis said.

"It's not to the point where it's going to be so water-logged that we're not going to be able to play golf when it stops raining."

Only once in US Open history has bad weather pushed the finish into Monday, that coming in 1983 at Oakmont when the last five holes were played a day late. This was the first unfinished US Open round since 2004 at nearby Shinnecock.

A major worry was the condition of the 18th fairway, a low-lying swamp in the best of times and real trouble in a near-submerged Bethpage. Taking relief for imbedded balls could require moving 100 yards from landing areas.

"Eighteen is the real issue," Hyler said.


Thursday, 06/18/09

‘Midwest storms spawn possible tornadoes’ – per AP

MINNEAPOLIS — Powerful storms that rolled across the Midwest brought heavy rain, strong winds and spawned several apparent tornadoes, damaging homes and businesses, tossing railcars off their tracks and knocking out power to thousands.

In southeastern Minnesota, daylight Thursday revealed a path of destruction left by an apparent tornado in the town of Austin, where vehicles were thrown about, homes were heavily damaged and power lines were knocked down. At least one man suffered minor injuries.

Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm said it appeared up to five twisters had hit Wednesday night. The National Weather Service was working to confirm what had happened.

"It kind of developed on top of us," Stiehm said. "It just kind of — boom, it was just there and the intensity got real bad."

In southern Nebraska, a tornado leveled a house near Aurora, knocked down power poles and overturned about a dozen railroad cars. High winds damaged a nearby pet products plant, the National Weather Service said.

The National Weather Service said a tornado that struck farther west in Buffalo County damaged a Quonset hut and at least two farms.

In Illinois, storms broke tree limbs, knocked out power for thousands of residents and flooded some streets.

In central Iowa, authorities said a semitrailer was blown off Interstate 35 and roofs were ripped off a house and barn.

In northwest Missouri, a storm damaged buildings and toppled trees and power lines in the small town of Norborne. Mike July, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pleasant Hill, said straight-line winds reached 74 mph.

Storms continued to threaten some central states on Thursday. In southern Indiana, strong winds blew 12 empty railcars off the tracks near the Greene County town of Worthington as thunderstorms moved through the state.


Friday, 06/12/09

‘Texas storms flood, cancel flights, shut off power’ – Yahoo! News per AP

DALLAS – A series of powerful storms packing heavy rains and frequent lightning strikes grounded dozens of flights, left hundreds of thousands without power and caused widespread damage across portions of Texas on Thursday.

No deaths or injuries were reported from the storms that began whipping the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday night with winds up to 70 mph. By the time the storms cleared the city, some areas of Dallas got more than 8 inches of rain.

More than 180,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday night, said Megan Wright, a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

More than 400 flights were canceled Thursday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport before they resumed operating later in the day. Ground workers were brought in from outside part of the day because of lightning in the area, said airport spokesman David Magana.

Southwest Airlines, which flies out of Dallas Love Field, canceled 21 flights Thursday because of the weather — 15 of those were in Dallas. Another 13 planes were diverted in the height of the morning's storms and dozens of flights were delayed across the country, company spokesman Brad Hawkins said.

"They expected the storms to develop and move through, then they just parked," he said. "That's what threw everything for a loop."

The marina at Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth sustained millions of dollars worth of damage and was closed. The storms damaged the marina's roof, smashed docks and turned boats upside down, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Michelle Levitsky, of Frisco, just north of Dallas, says the winds bewildered her farm animals.

"When the storm hit, they started running around, running into each other. The goats were being knocked over and tumbling. The chickens — we had their wings clipped — they were in the air, just being picked up by the wind," she told KDFW-TV of Dallas and Fort Worth. She said all survived.

A second wave of severe weather took aim on Central Texas late Thursday, downing trees and power lines in Burnet County and forcing authorities in Williamson County to reroute 911 calls.


Thursday, 06/11/09

‘Powerful storms pummel Texas and Nebraska’ – per aP

DALLAS - A series of powerful storms packing heavy rains and frequent lightning strikes grounded dozens of flights, left hundreds of thousands without power and caused widespread damage across portions of Texas on Thursday.

No deaths or injuries were reported from the storms that began whipping the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday night with winds up to 70 mph. By the time the storms cleared the city, some areas of Dallas got more than 8 inches of rain.

More than 180,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday night, said Megan Wright, a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

More than 400 flights were canceled Thursday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport before they resumed operating later in the day. Ground workers were brought in from outside part of the day because of lightning in the area, said airport spokesman David Magana.

Dallas workers were trying to repair a pump that moves groundwater from a west Dallas neighborhood into the Trinity River after the pump was struck by lightning. Another pump was still working. city spokeswoman Danielle McClelland said.

"We just hope this rain holds off so we can get this one pump fixed. We're in a wait and see mode," McClelland said.

The marina at Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth sustained millions of dollars worth of damage and was closed. The storms damaged the marina's roof, smashed docks and turned boats upside down, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Michelle Levitsky, of Frisco, just north of Dallas, says the winds bewildered her farm animals.

"When the storm hit, they started running around, running into each other. The goats were being knocked over and tumbling. The chickens — we had their wings clipped — they were in the air, just being picked up by the wind," she told KDFW-TV of Dallas and Fort Worth. She said all survived.

A second wave of severe weather took aim on Central Texas late Thursday, downing trees and power lines in Burnet County and forcing authorities in Williamson County to reroute 911 calls.

Another powerful storm that flew out of Wyoming into Nebraska's Panhandle swamped Scottsbluff with almost 2 inches of rain and left behind piles of hail. No injuries were reported but Western Nebraska Community College canceled classes because of water damage.


Sunday, 6/7/09

‘Five tornadoes slam Colorado; 1 damages mall’ – per AP

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The National Weather Service says at least five tornadoes hit Colorado, and one damaged a mall in Aurora on Sunday.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

The Weather Service says the tornado that damaged Southlands Mall touched down south of Buckley Air Force Base at 1:49 p.m. and may have been on the ground for about 30 minutes, going on an 8- to 10-mile path across southeast Aurora.

Xcel Energy was working with firefighters and the mall to shut down natural gas service there after reports of gas leaks.

Julie Patterson, 36, could see the tornado from the back deck of her house in Aurora. "You could see the debris flying in the funnel cloud," she said.

The other tornadoes were reported 6 miles east of Lafayette; one south of Bennett; one south of Deer Trail; and one north of Byers.

Many spots in the Denver area also were pelted with hail, some as big as baseballs. The National Weather Service received reports of hail as big as 3 inches in Arapahoe County, meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners said.

Xcel Energy said the storm blew down power lines, leaving about 3,000 customers in parts of Aurora and Centennial without power for about an hour and 40 minutes before service was restored.


Thursday, 05/28/09

‘Brazil dam break kills 4, leaves 11 people missing’ – Yahoo! News per AP

SAO PAULO – Raging torrents from a ruptured dam swamped a small rural Brazilian city Thursday, killing four people and destroying at least 120 homes in a region already devastated by more than a month of floods. Eleven people were missing, 80 suffered minor injuries and nearly 3,000 were forced from their homes.

Amateur video footage showed water inundating Cocal, population about 25,000, after a section of the dam gave way under the weight of a reservoir bloated by rains.

Floods from those rains have killed nearly 60 and left hundreds of thousands homeless in a wide swath of northern Brazil.

"It was like a tsunami," Gov. Wellington Dias of northeastern Piaui state said after touring the devastation zone.

Some residents climbed trees and scrambled atop rooftops after the floodwaters suddenly swelled a river.

The dead from the dam rupture included girls ages 10 and 12, a 72-year-old man and a 73-year-old woman, the state government said on its Web site.

Downpours have battered northern and northeastern Brazil since April, causing floods and mudslides in a region extending from the Amazon rain forest to the Atlantic Ocean. Authorities say 59 people have been killed and more than 423,000 were displaced.

Heavy rains in recent days swelled the reservoir behind the dam, increasing pressure that opened a 165-foot (50-meter) tear and eventually led to the rupture, the Piaui state government said in a statement.

"It was a lot of water," resident Antonio Antonino told SBT. "People were desperate, they were crying. I'm 60 years old, and I've never seen anything like this."

The floods also swept away crops and livestock, according to the government statement.

The heavy rains are blamed on an Atlantic Ocean weather system that normally moves away in April but hasn't budged this year. Meanwhile, southern Brazil has been hit by a drought that has severely affected agriculture.


Sunday, 05/24/09

‘Australian flood waters create “inland sea”’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) – Thousands of homeowners remained isolated in Australia's flood-hit northeast Sunday, where authorities said days of torrential rain had created a vast "inland sea".

Swollen rivers peaked overnight, allowing clean-up operations to begin and evacuated residents to return to the northern New South Wales towns of Grafton and Kempsey, the State Emergency Service (SES) said.

But SES spokesman Greg Slater said up to 20,000 people in small communities remained cut off by the floodwaters, which have led to disaster declarations in NSW and neighbouring Queensland.

"We're concentrating our efforts on those communities in terms of resupply and provision of immediate medical assistance and medical supplies, also just the basic necessities, foodstuff and the like," he told Sky News.

Two people have died in the floods, which dumped one-third of southeast Queensland's average annual rainfall in just 24 hours.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees flew over the affected area Sunday and said it was difficult to grasp the extent of the floods, even from the air.

"It's an inland sea, and you see the (animal) stocks that are isolated and the towns that are isolated and you wonder where it's all going to go," he told reporters.

Rees appointed former police commissioner Ken Maroney to coordinate clean-up in the northern NSW region, which has been hit by three major floods since February.

"This will be a large-scale recovery effort to help restore the region," he said.

Floods unleashed by cyclonic rains in February saw much of Queensland declared a disaster area, with more than one million square kilometres (385,000 square miles) deluged and 3,000 homes damaged.

Further floods hammered the region last month, washing a number of motorists to their death and claiming the life of a 12-year-old girl who was swimming in a swollen weir.

The floods follow a once-in-a-century heatwave in southeastern Australia, in which more than 2,000 homes were razed by major wildfires and 173 people died.

Meteorologists have warned the extreme temperatures and downpours -- a common feature of Australian summers -- would only increase as a result of climate change.


Friday, 05/22/09

‘Rain-drenched Florida surveys flood damage’ – per AP

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Parts of the Daytona Beach International Speedway were under water Friday as rains drenched northeast Florida for a fifth straight day, but no significant damage to the motorway was reported.

Preliminary estimates put flood damage at $52 million in Volusia County, the worst-hit county, where some 976 buildings have reportedly suffered some kind of damage.

Parts of Volusia County were under a flash flood warning as another four inches of rain was expected Friday after at least 16 inches of rain earlier in the week. At least 50 residents were staying at a Red Cross shelter in Daytona Beach and two residents were at one in Flagler Beach.

The damage was concentrated in certain neighborhoods rather than being widespread.

"I've never seen this much rain," said Dan Roll, executive director of Florida Coast to Coast chapter of the American Red Cross. "It's really hard to describe how much water there is."

Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday proclaimed a state of emergency for Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Lake, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia counties. The declaration allows the activation of the National Guard, permits agencies to waive some rules in order to respond to the emergency and suspends some toll collections.

The rain took an afternoon break in some parts of Volusia County, allowing some residents to return to daily business.

"Nobody saw this coming since it was a no-name storm," said Tim Harbuck, city manager for Holly Hills, which had 50 buildings flooded. "We'll use this as a learning experience and hopefully not as a rehearsal for the upcoming hurricane season."


Friday, 05/22/09

‘Floods in Haiti fill 11 people, destroy homes’ – per AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Floods have killed at least 11 people this week as heavy rains swamp towns still rebuilding from last year's hurricanes, Haiti's civil protection department said Friday.

Most of the victims were swept away by swollen rivers or died when their flimsy homes collapsed, officials said. Five of the deaths were reported in the rice-growing Artibonite Valley.

Rains that began a week ago have been heaviest on the southern peninsula near Les Cayes and Camp Perrin, where 1,000 homes have been flooded. Some areas received nearly 3 inches  of rain Thursday night, Haiti's meteorological office said.

New flood alerts were issued Friday for all of Haiti's 10 administrative regions.

Even small amounts of rain can swell rivers and overflow fields in this poor Caribbean nation, which is particularly vulnerable to flooding because of erosion from farming and deforestation.

President Rene Preval visited the west-coast town of St. Marc to view flooding Wednesday and urged residents to stop building homes in ravines, Radio Kiskeya reported.

With a new hurricane season officially starting June 1, officials worry new floods could damage Haiti's struggling agriculture and economy. Last year, four tropical storms killed some 800 people and caused $1 billion of damage, aggravating chronic malnutrition in several areas.


Wednesday, 05/20/09

‘Australia’s Queensland declares state of emergency’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian authorities declared a state of emergency in Queensland Wednesday as torrential rain and gale force winds caused extensive flooding and left one man dead.

Almost 30,000 homes were without power in the state's southeast, where some areas recorded 300 millimetres (12 inches) of rain in 24 hours and wind gusts exceeding 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour.

Ambulance officers said a 46-year-old man was killed by flying glass when a freak wind gust smashed in a window on a building on the Gold Coast tourist strip.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh declared a state of emergency including the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast and extending inland to Toowoomba.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the federal government was ready to offer assistance if required.

Rudd said he had received a briefing on the emergency and was told the floods were causing havoc on roads in southeast Queensland.

"There are quite a large number of people who are at this stage isolated in their vehicles and I am further advised there are a number of schools that have been cut off as well," he said.

Police said tables, chairs and barbecues had been blown off the top of high-rise buildings on the Gold Coast and warned people to take extreme care if they ventured outside.

School pupils in the town of Brookfield were stranded in their classrooms unable to get home because of the rising waters.

"The parents are talking to the teachers on their mobiles and they've been assured all the kids are safe," a spokeswoman for local politician Bruce Flegg said.

Meteorologists have warned the wild weather could last for days.


Wednesday, 05/20/09

‘Area deluged for 2 days; no break until Friday’ – per AP

DAYTONA BEACH -- After months of wishing for rain, Volusia and Flagler county residents may be regretting those wishes have come true.

"I complained about the drought, and I am almost ready to start complaining about the rain," said Ormond Beach resident Rita Moore. "It is flooding my pond. My fish are about to start swimming down the street."

Over the past two days, north Central Florida has been deluged by squalls that have dumped as much rain in the past two days as had fallen since the beginning of the year. Estimates have reached 4 to 11 inches of precipitation and it could be Friday before things start to dry out, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists said the peninsula is being squeezed between a low-pressure area to the south and a high-pressure zone to the north. This is funneling moist ocean air across the state, sparking the downpours.

"From Jan. 1 to March 17, Daytona Beach International Airport recorded 5.52 inches of rain," said Tony Cristaldi of the Weather Service office in Melbourne. "(Monday) the airport reported 4.08 inches had fallen" and it is likely Tuesday's rainfall pushed those levels to equal or greater than that year-to-date figure.

The last time Central Florida saw such downpours was August, when Tropical Storm Fay blew through. While these conditions may put a dent in local deficits, the region needs another 8 inches to reach normal levels for this time of year, Cristaldi said.


Tuesday, 05/19/09

‘Brazil floods leave 45 dead, 478,000 homeless’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

BRASILIA, (AFP) – Severe flooding over the last month brought on by torrential rains has killed 45 people across northern Brazil and forced some 378,000 others to evacuate their homes, mainly to emergency shelters, officials said.

The National Civil Defense Secretariat said deaths have occurred in eight out of the 11 states severely affected by the flooding, including Ceara with 15 deaths, 10 in Maranhao and seven in Bahia in the perennially drought-stricken northeast; and eight deaths in the northern state of Amazonas.

Over one million people in some 407 municipalities have been affected, including several areas placed under a state of emergency, with flooding on roadways leaving many towns and cities cut off from the outside world.

An initial government estimate put the damage at nearly 500 million dollars.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has visited inundated areas and met with flood victims and local authorities, promising government aid.

Southern Brazil, meanwhile, was experiencing its worst drought in 80 years, with authorities declaring a state of emergency in more than 100 municipalities.


Friday, 05/15/09

‘Storms cause flash floods, power outages across Midwest’ – per AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Flash flooding has closed roads all over Illinois, and meteorologists say severe thunderstorms and high winds are causing more problems throughout an already soggy state.

The utility company Ameren reports nearly 13,000 people were without power Friday, with many outages concentrated around Decatur and Champaign.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for more than 10 counties in central Illinois, including Sangamon and Champaign counties. It warns wind damage could be severe.

Flash flood warnings are in effect for about 35 counties, mainly in the central part of the state but also including Chicago and its collar counties. Meteorologists say between 1.5 and 3 inches of rain fell in a short time.

Officials say airlines report delays of 90 minutes or more at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Scattered road closings were reported in dozens of counties in northern Missouri Friday afternoon and evening. Drivers were detoured away from roads covered by anywhere from a few inches to more than a foot of water.

The thunderstorms were part of a system that stretched from western Texas northeastward across Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, northern Missouri and into Illinois and Indiana.

Numerous tornado warnings were posted along the front in Kansas and Missouri. Several funnel clouds were spotted in Kansas, but there were no reports of touchdowns or property damage. The storms also produced hail and high winds that snapped tree limbs in both states.


Thursday, 05/14/09

‘Storm system that killed 3 marches east’ – per AP

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. - A storm front that produced tornadoes, hail and damaging winds across the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley marched eastward Thursday after claiming three lives in Missouri.

The front on Wednesday tore through four Midwestern states, damaging dozens of homes and leaving thousands without power.

Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico interacted with the front on Thursday, generating widespread showers and thunderstorms from parts of the Southern Plains to the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley, mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Wednesday night, at least two tornadoes touched down in Missouri's Adair County, authorities said. In Kirksville, the twister damaged at least 60 buildings and scattered cars and glass across a car dealership. Ten homes were destroyed.

A couple living in a modular home died when their home “just exploded” from the force of the wind, said Adair County coroner Brian Noe. Gustavo Ochoa, a 47-year-old Bank of Kirksville vice president, and Alisha Brune, 29, were newly engaged and had bought the home just two weeks ago, Noe said.

To the west in Sullivan County, a 56-year-old woman died when her mobile home was thrown an estimated 40 feet by the storm, said emergency management director Rick Gardner. The woman’s husband, who was working in his wood shop in an adjacent building, survived.

The Kirksville-area tornado was a half-mile wide and stayed on the ground for about a mile and a half, county officials said Thursday morning.

In Caddo County in southwest Oklahoma, a possible tornado tore roofs off homes and businesses in Gracemont and Anadarko. School officials canceled classes for the day because of widespread power outages.

Anadarko’s downtown was in shambles, with pieces of roof and glass shards littering the streets, said Eddie Ladd, who runs an insurance business there. “I’m looking at my roof on the curb here we’ve been shoveling,” he said.

In northeast Oklahoma, a 100 mph wind gust was recorded west of the Bartlesville airport in Washington County, authorities said. The high winds downed trees and power lines, temporarily cutting power to thousands.

Central Indiana saw wind gusts of up to 60 mph and street flooding was reported in Vincennes, Linton and Rockville, authorities said. Utilities reported 8,000 were without power in and around Indianapolis early Thursday.

In Illinois, a range of storms dumped as much as 3 inches of rain within 50 minutes. National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Shimon called the accumulation “unbelievable,” comparing it to heavy rainfall in the tropics.


School was canceled Thursday in the southern Illinois town of Gillespie because much of the town was without power and some school buildings were damaged.

The latest storms come less than a week after another batch of severe weather, including at least a dozen confirmed tornadoes, ravaged parts of southern Missouri. Those storms killed four people and damaged or destroyed several hundred homes.


Monday, 05/11/09

‘National Guard troops helping flood victims in WVA’ – Yahoo! News per AP

GILBERT, W.Va. – The National Guard is helping residents in West Virginia's southern coalfields recover from weekend flooding that destroyed at least 300 buildings, knocked out power and caused mudslides that flushed trash, debris and at least one mobile home downstream.

Gov. Joe Manchin toured the region and activated 300 Guard troops Sunday on top of the 30 he called up a day before when he declared a state of emergency for six counties, said Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management spokesman Robert Jelacic.

"Since I have been governor, the damage that was caused by the flash floods and rain is as bad as I have seen anywhere," Manchin said in a statement. "The period of bad weather that hit this region did so with tremendous force and devastation."

Emergency crews, residents and business owners — some covered in mud — assessed the damage in Gilbert and used shovels to clean up after downpours dumped several inches of rain Friday and Saturday. On the road leading to the town of about 400 people, a mobile home broke loose Saturday and floated a quarter-mile before it was split in half by a poplar tree.

"I will never feel safe here again anytime it rains," said resident Jo Johnson.

Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood estimated 80 percent of the town's businesses were affected by high water. Donations of money, supplies and food were pouring into the town, Livingood said.

She said residents were advised to boil their tap water first before drinking because mud got into the water system, although the water plant is working.

Boone, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming counties were under the state of emergency. Assessments show Mingo County was the hardest hit by flooding, with about 300 structures destroyed, 1,000 with major damage and 2,000 with minor damage. Wyoming County had 150 structures with major damage.

The National Weather Service in Charleston predicted a 20 percent chance of rain into Monday.

In the Midwest, about 88,000 customers in Illinois and Missouri were still without electricity, days after a wave of deadly storms socked the region. Ameren electric said Sunday evening that 40,200 of its customers remained without power in Illinois, down from the some 68,000 immediately after Friday's storm.

The storms were blamed for at least seven deaths in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Kansas. Governors of Kentucky, West Virginia and Illinois declared emergencies or disasters in several counties.

More than 15,000 customers in eastern Kentucky had no water because lines were broken or washed away and almost 6,000 had no power.


Saturday, 05/09/09

‘Cleanup begins after Midwest storm kills 5’ – per AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Residents of the Midwest cleared away wreckage Saturday following a wave of powerful storms that splintered homes, knocked out power to thousands and killed five people.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed Friday in Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri and 150,000 Missouri utility customers lost power. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency.

"My primary concern is the safety of Missourians and this executive order makes state agency resources available to help communities respond to the storms," Nixon said.

In southern Illinois, more than 63,000 customers of the utility Ameren still had no electricity Saturday, the company said. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday declared three southern counties disaster areas.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared an emergency in central and south-eastern sections of his state Saturday.

On Saturday, a line of thunderstorms stretched from Arkansas and northern Mississippi across Tennessee and Kentucky.

Some homes were evacuated early Saturday in southern West Virginia because of flooding caused by more than 2 inches of rain, said state Homeland Security Operations Director Paul Howard. High water also closed several main roads. No injuries were reported. Appalachian Power reported nearly 10,000 customers without service.

Two people were killed near Poplar Bluff, Mo., when wind knocked a tree onto their sport-utility vehicle. In Dallas County, a man in his 70s had a fatal heart attack after he and his wife were sucked from their home by a tornado and thrown into a field 75 to 100 feet away, said county emergency management director Larry Highfill. The wife was hospitalized in fair condition.

A 54-year-old woman was killed in southeast Kansas in a mobile home that was blown off its foundation. And in central Kentucky, officials blamed a possible tornado for the death of a woman whose body was found in a pond.

Wind in southeast Kansas area reached 120 mph, destroying the New Albany United Methodist Church, the town's post office and at least one home, authorities said. Major damage also was reported to a high school in Cherokee, Kan.

The National Weather Service said it received multiple reports of tornadoes from one end of Missouri to the other, mostly south of Interstate 44.

The weather service confirmed that at least two tornadoes touched down Friday morning in southwest Missouri's Greene County. The county's Office of Emergency Management counted three homes and one business destroyed with 298 homes, 29 businesses and 13 schools damaged.

In southern Illinois, the storm system peeled siding and roofs off homes and other buildings, blowing out car windows and tearing up trailer parks. Wind gusted to 100 mph in the Carbondale area and sustained wind was measured up to 90 mph.

Carbondale Township fire Capt. Mark Black said he wasn't sure if a tornado touched down in his area but the "winds were just amazing. They were howling and the siding on the trailers was flying through the air and there was a pretty hard rain."

In sparsely populated Dallas County, Mo., seven people were hurt as wind — possibly a tornado — destroyed 35 homes and damaged numerous others, state emergency management officials said.

Dozens of houses and other buildings were destroyed or damaged in central Kentucky's Madison County, where the woman's body was found in a pond.

"It sounded like an airplane taking off, but I knew it wasn't," said Richmond, Ky., resident Lonnie Hall, whose four-year-old home was toppled. "The wind start picking up, and I yelled to everyone 'Let's go to the basement.' In 10 or 15 seconds, it was over with."


Thursday, 05/07/09

‘Nearly 270,000 Brazilians flee deadly floods’ – per AP

ACABEL, Brazil - Northern Brazil's worst floods in decades have driven 268,000 people from their homes to seek refuge wherever they can, packing onto flatbed trucks and braving rivers teeming with deadly reptiles in a scramble for higher ground.

As of Friday, 39 people were killed in the flooding, sparked by unusually heavy rains that have been falling for two months on 10 of Brazil's 26 states. Three times the size of Alaska, the affected area stretches from the normally wet rainforest to coastal states known for lengthy droughts.

Meteorologists blame an Atlantic Ocean weather system that typically moves on by April — and they forecast weeks more of the same.

Maria do Remedio Santos, whose fields of rice and manioc lay ruined underwater, said it was time to join those fleeing for safety. Heavy rains had begun seeping into her mud-brick, thatched-roof home, where nine relatives and neighbors were camped out. Outside, the dirt road was a muddy river.

"For now we're all sleeping in the living room, but we're going to have to leave," she said. "There's no other way out."

Some shelters were already packed with people, pets and livestock, and had little food or medical supplies. Even fleeing presented its own perils: In the same newly formed rivers that flood victims waded through or plied with canoes swam anacondas, rattlesnakes and legless, rodent-eating "worm lizards," whose bite is excruciating.

Alligators swam through the city of Santarem, civil defense official Walkiria Coelho said. Scorpions congregated on the same high ground as people escaping the rising water. No injuries were reported.

Rivers were still rising in Maranhao. The surging torrents wrecked bridges and made it too dangerous for relief workers to take boats onto some waterways — and mudslides were stranding trucks, preventing them from delivering food and to places cut off from civilization.

The army evacuated thousands of people from two Maranhao towns where tiled roofs barely poked above swirling waters. Residents packed into gyms and schools and huddled in tents.

The mighty Rio Negro River that feeds the Amazon was just three feet below a record set in 1953 near the jungle city of Manaus, and experts said the record could be broken by June. In the jungle city of Altamira, more rain fell in three hours than normally falls in two months, Mayor Odileida Sampaio told the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency.

"We don't know yet, but this could end up being the worst flooding ever in the region," said Joaquim Godim, a specialist with Brazil's National Water Agency. "It certainly is among the worst ever."

Even as rains pounded the north, parts of southern Brazil are suffering through a two-month drought that has dried up the famed Iguazu falls, one of South America's leading tourist attractions, to less than a third of normal volume.

Some environmentalists said the Amazon wouldn't be hurt by the floods because the rain forest and its inhabitants have endured them for centuries.

But Paulo Barreto, a researcher at the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment, said the flooding comes just four years after a major drought. He blamed climate change and said such events put stress on the environment "that could affect the survival of plant and animal species."


Sunday, 05/03/09

‘At least 11 dead as storm batters Philippines’ – per AP

LEGAZPI, Philippines (AP) — A tropical storm set off landslides and swamped farmland in the northeastern Philippines, leaving at least 11 people dead and nine others missing, officials said Sunday.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of nine people, including two children, from piles of mud and debris that cascaded into a coastal village from a mountain in Magallanes on Saturday, burying 12 houses as residents slept, regional disaster official Bernardo Alejandro said.

Army troops, police and villagers used shovels and hands to search for nine people still missing in the area, Alejandro told The Associated Press by telephone.

The storm, with sustained winds of 59 miles per hour and gusts of up to 75 mph, was about 68 miles off the country's northeastern coast and moving toward the Pacific Ocean, government forecaster Manny Mendoza said.

In nearby Albay province, authorities moved nearly 45,000 villagers Saturday into school shelters from their houses at the foot of the Mayon volcano, fearing possible mudslides, Alejandro said.

More than 3,000 villagers were also moved from their houses in Camarines, but some returned home as the weather began to clear Sunday, he said.

About 20 typhoons lash the country each year, mostly after June. The current storm struck in the middle of the Philippine summer, an unusual occurrence that may have been caused by changing weather patterns caused by global warming, Alejandro said.


Saturday, 05/02/09

‘Brazil: At least 60K homeless, 14 dead from floods’ – Yahoo! News per AP

SAO PAULO – Officials say floods and mudslides from heavy rains in northeastern Brazil have killed at least 14 people in the last month and driven tens of thousands from their homes.

Regional Civil Defense departments report that at least 62,600 people are homeless in five northeastern states.

Maranhao has been the hardest hit, with some 40,700 people living in shelters and six dead.

State Civil Defense official Abner Ferreira said Saturday that meteorologists forecast at least two more weeks of heavy downpours.


Friday, 05/01/09

‘Heat wave claims at least 15 lives in India’ –

A stifling heat wave gripped more than a dozen states across India Friday, pushing the mercury to record levels in some areas.

The India Meteorological Department warned of "severe" heat in the western desert state of Rajasthan and in the northern hill state of Uttrakhand. The bulletin said at least a dozen more states were also in the grip of a heat wave.

The highest temperature of the summer -- 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.5 degrees Celsius) -- was set Thursday in Khandua in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said B.P. Yadav, with the weather service.

The punishing heat has claimed at least 15 lives in the country's east, officials said Friday.

"Fifteen people have been confirmed dead from the heat wave," said Snehalata Bhuyan with Orissa state's disaster management department. The intense heat has scorched the region since March.

Authorities have investigated some 67 suspected heat-wave deaths, Bhuyan said, and found at least 15 of them related to sun stroke.

Forecasters expect the severe heat to continue for at least two more days.


Thursday, 04/30/09

‘Heavy rain causing Missouri flooding’ – per AP

ST. LOUIS — Heavy rain in parts of Missouri caused flooding Thursday along many of the state's rivers, and with more rain forecast, flood watchers were crossing their fingers that things don't get worse.

Parts of northeast and central Missouri received up to 3 inches of rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning, causing rivers ranging from small tributaries to the big ones — the Missouri and the Mississippi — to overtop their banks.

Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in suburban St. Louis, said the forecast for the next five days calls for even more rain. For now, the forecast is for only minor to moderate flooding — nothing comparable to last summer's near-record events — but Fuchs is watching the rainfall amounts closely.

"I'm a little bit nervous about what's going to happen in the next week or so," Fuchs said. "The rivers are up, so if we get any decent rainfall event, we could see some substantial flooding if everything comes together the wrong way."

For now, the worst of it appeared to be along the Missouri River in mid-Missouri. In Jefferson City, the Missouri was at 9.1 feet on Monday. By Thursday morning, it was at 26 feet, 3 feet above flood stage, and causing problems.

A big section of a state employee parking lot near the state Capitol was closed. Flooding closed part of a state highway that traces the river west of town.

Small rivers were proving troublesome, too. The Platte River was nearly 9 feet above flood stage in western Missouri's Platte City, though city administrator Jason Metten said no significant problems were reported. The Grand River at Chillicothe was more than 8 feet above flood stage. And the North River at Palmyra in northeast Missouri was high enough to close some county roads.

The Mississippi was inching above flood stage from Clarksville south. The National Weather Service was predicting only minor flooding in towns like Winfield and Cape Girardeau. The Mississippi was expected to crest just inches below flood stage at St. Louis.


Thursday, 04/30/09

‘Drowning deaths raise toll from Kan. storms to 5’ – Yahoo! News per AP

WICHITA, Kan. – The death toll from days of heavy rain in Kansas rose to five Wednesday when authorities found the bodies of two people in a car submerged in a flooded creek.

A 26-year-old Parsons man and a 22-year-old Springfield, Mo., woman were found by Labette County sheriff's deputies in Pumpkin Creek in southeast Kansas, the state Division of Emergency Management said.

The five storm-related deaths have occurred in northeast, southeast and south-central Kansas since Saturday. More rain was expected Thursday and flood warnings were posted for communities along several eastern Kansas rivers.

In the south-central Texas city of Gainesville, residents in a retirement village and those in low-lying areas near a creek were asked to leave because of flooding. Some 82 people were staying at a shelter set up in a church, Gainesville Municipal Judge Chris Cypert said.

Gainesville fire officers used a swift-water boat to rescue seven people from three vehicles, Cypert said Wednesday night. He estimated 7.5 inches of rain had fallen Wednesday and officials were expecting 2 to 2.5 inches early Thursday.

In Oklahoma, a woman died Wednesday when her car slid during heavy rain and hit an oncoming truck, the state Highway Patrol said. Winds gusting to 70 mph also damaged power and telephone lines and toppled a cell phone tower in Healdton, Carter County Emergency Management Director Ed Reed said.

Storms that have battered parts of the state since Saturday prompted Gov. Brad Henry to issue a state of emergency Wednesday for nine counties hit by tornadoes and flooding.

In severe weather elsewhere, a storm dumped as much as 4 feet of snow on northwest Montana and piled it in drifts 12 feet high, blocking major highways Wednesday and isolating the town of Browning just east of Glacier National Park. Many schools were closed in the area along the Rocky Mountain Front.

The Montana Highway Patrol said icy roads were blamed for two traffic deaths Tuesday.


Wednesday, 04/29/09

‘Fairbanks sees record high temperature’ – Fairbanks [AK] Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — A record high of 74 degrees was set at Fairbanks International Report on Wednesday, breaking the record of 69 set in 2005.

Record high temperatures were set in other Interior towns. In Eagle, the mercury climbed to 71 degrees, breaking the old mark of 67 in 2005. A 70-degree reading in Delta Junction broke the old record of 69 set in 1958.

More record high temperatures are possible Thursday with highs of 65 to 75 forecast. The record for today is 74 degrees set in 1960.

The warm temperatures are the result of a high-pressure system over Southeast Alaska and the Yukon Territory that is pushing warm air into the Tanana Valley. Highs near 70 degrees are forecast through Saturday.


Wednesday, 04/29/09

‘Snowed in: 4 feet cut off Montana town, roads’ – per AP

HELENA, Mont. - A storm dumped as much as 4 feet of snow on northwest Montana and piled it in drifts 12 feet high, blocking major highways Wednesday and isolating an entire town.

Many schools were closed in the area along the Rocky Mountain Front.

Officials said all roads in and out of the town of Browning — just east of Glacier National Park — were closed Wednesday.

A foot of snow fell in Browning during the night, bringing the total since the storm started Monday to 4 feet, the National Weather Service said.

"Getting out of my door to the street, (the snow) was up to my waist," Browning Schools Superintendent Mary Johnson said Wednesday. "This is by far the worst (storm) we've had in several winters and it's still snowing."

Johnny Noe, co-owner of the St. Mary Lodge in Glacier National Park, reported 5 feet of snow with 12-foot drifts.

"We were getting about 2 inches an hour. It was just pounding, pounding, pounding," Noe told the Great Falls Tribune on Wednesday.

Farther east, the National Weather Service said 2 feet of snow had fallen near Cut Bank.

The Montana Department of Transportation said Interstate 15 was closed for about 75 miles from near Great Falls to near Shelby, along with several other highways in the region.

Weather service meteorologist Jonathan Suk said in Great Falls that the heavy snow was produced by moist air coming in from the Oregon coast and colliding with cold air flowing south out of Canada.

The Montana Highway Patrol said icy roads were blamed for two traffic deaths Tuesday.


Tuesday, 04/28/09

‘Day #4 Record Warm New England – April 28, 2009’ – Weather New England Blog from New England Cable News per National Weather Service, Gray, ME









Here is a table of records set in New England Since Saturday April 25, 2009.

New England Cities….. Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th, Tuesday 28th
Boston…………………. 83° (83° 1982), 87° (85°1872), 93° (90° 1990)

Worcester…………….. 86° (83° 1982), 82° (85° 1915), 89° (90° 1990)

Hartford……………….. 91° (87° 1915), 88° (83° 1908), 94° (94° 1990)

Providence…………… 63° (83° 1982), 88° (82° 1925), 89° (91° 1938

Concord NH………….. 90° (85° 1942), 81° (80° 1990), 93° (92° 1990)

Burlington VT………… 86° (84° 1913), 70° (84° 1913), 85° (90° 1990)

Portland ME………….. 69° (79° 1942), 80° (76° 1985), 92° (81° 1990)

Bangor ME…………… 70° (73° 1982), 72° (76° 1991), 90° (80° 1931)

Caribou ME………….. 77° (76° 1942), 56° (74° 1979), 76° (74° 1986)


Monday, 04/27/09

‘Several cities see record highs; heat returns tomorrow’ – Boston Globe

Think of today as the cool calm before the heat storm.

After temperatures in Boston broke records yesterday, a cold front was expected to move in today and keep temperatures in the 70s.

But not to fret: The heat is expected to turn back on tomorrow, said Rebecca Gould, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Boston reached 87 degrees at 4:28 p.m. yesterday, she said, besting by 2 degrees the previous record of 85 set on April 26, 1872.

Gould attributed the record to an unusually warm air mass from California.

She said Boston could see temperatures close to the 90s tomorrow. The previous record for April 28 was 90 degrees in 1990.

Locales throughout New England also saw record-breaking temperatures yesterday, according to the National Weather Service.

Worcester reached 86 degrees, breaking the record of 83 established in 1942. Bridgeport, Conn., hit 83 degrees; the previous record was 80 in 1985. Hartford reached 88 degrees, breaking the record of 83 from 1908. Providence also reached 88; the previous record was 82 degrees in 1925.


Monday, 04/27/09

‘Storms pound Midwest again, damaging buildings’ – per AP

DES MOINES — Strong thunderstorms packing possible tornadoes battered parts of the Midwest on Sunday for a second straight day, damaging at least half a dozen buildings and a campground in Iowa and two Oklahoma homes.

Tornadoes were reported in eastern Iowa, western Oklahoma and south-central Kansas, but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

In Kansas, a possible tornado touched down in the Lake Afton area southwest of Witchita. Two people were injured when the camper they were in was flipped by the storm, said Sgt. Oscar Thomasson of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department.

A possible tornado swept through the northeast part of Linn County, Iowa, destroying campers at a campground near Central City and causing "significant" damage to about a half-dozen homes and buildings in its path, said Mike Goldberg, the county's emergency coordinator.

Strong to severe thunderstorms moved across the southern two-thirds of the state throughout the afternoon, with some areas seeing nickel- to quarter-sized hail.

Power outages were reported Sunday in eastern Iowa and western Oklahoma, while utility crews in southern Michigan worked to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses blacked out by thunderstorms that raked the region a day earlier with wind up to 70 mph.

A mobile home and a frame home were damaged Sunday by a possible twister in Ellis County, Okla., said state Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten.

Numerous roads and bridges were closed because of heavy rainfall that accompanied the storms on back-to-back days.


Sunday, 04/26/09

‘Summer heat invades on last weekend of April’ – [Raleigh, NC]

Summer heat – but not summer humidity – will continue to invade the last weekend of April as North Carolina becomes one of the hottest places on the East Coast.

Saturday's high of 92 degree tied a 49-year-old record at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Sunday saw temperatures close to that. The high of 91 degrees was just short of the 92 degree high set in 1990.

Sunday won't be as humid, though. "It's not going to be all that humid and steamy or anything, just on the hot side of normal," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said.

Temperatures will rise to around 90 degrees again on Monday.

The heat in North Carolina will be more intense than in most East Coast states, because a center of high pressure is sitting off the coast and blowing in hot winds.

"We’ve got the specially warmest core of air from about south-central North Carolina up into the mid-Atlantic region, some of that being enhanced by the fact that the clockwise flow around that high is sinking down off the mountains and warming up more," Moss said.

As the high-pressure system slowly moves north, though, cooler winds coming off the water on the south side of the high-pressure center will start to blow into North Carolina.


Sunday, 04/26/09

‘It’s a heat wave in April! Temperature climbs to record territory in New York’ – New York Daily News

it's a record!

It hit 92 degrees in Central Park Sunday - easily shattering the 1942 record high of 83, according to the National Weather Service. The beaches at Coney Island were packed as sun lovers lolled on the sand but avoided the frigid water.

"It's a relief. It gives me a taste of summer," said Rachel Parsons, 27, a teacher at Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School who was lounging on the beach.

"It makes me think I can hang on until June."

The suddenly sweltering city has lots of company up and down the East Coast, where winds from the Southwest are roasting residents from the Carolinas up into southern New Hampshire.

Sunday's 92-degree scorcher is higher than normal temperatures even for July, when the city usually reaches the mid-80s.

Even steamy Phoenix doesn't usually hit 90 degrees in April.

Winds are expected to shift tomorrow, and highs should reach only the mid-80s.


Saturday, 04/25/09

‘Severe storms and flooding rain’ – Yahoo! News per the Weather Channel

With a storm system anchored over the Rockies, the Plains are in store for some wet and stormy weather into next week. Some severe thunderstorms erupted late Friday, with large hail and strong winds across the northern Plains to Midwest along and ahead of a strong cold front.

Meanwhile localized thunderstorms swamped the southside of Houston with near 5 inches of rain in just 3 hours with localized reports of 6 inches or more from Greentee to Friendswood south of Houston. The impacts from these storms will linger with run-off and flash flood through early morning.

The risk of severe weather through tonight will run from northwestern Texas to Lower Michigan. Once again, large hail, damaging winds will be the main concern. However, tornadoes will also be possible in western Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Cities potentially impacted by severe storms include Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Chicago. The tornado threat will be increased Sunday through Tuesday across the Plains.

In addition to the severe weather, rainfall over the same area could result in flooding problems. More than five inches of rain could fall over the next several days from the Red River Valley on the Texas-Oklahoma border into parts of Iowa.


Thursday, 04/23/09

‘Enjoy the record temp today; cooler weather on the way for weekend’ – The Argus Leader [Sioux Falls, SD]

Sioux Falls moved past the 1939 record high of 87 degrees this afternoon, with temps to be in the lower 90s by the afternoon drive home.

The city hit 88 degrees at 2 p.m., and 90 degrees at 3:20 p.m., said Mike Buss, National Weather Service meteorologist. Temps will rise to 91 or 92 by about 5 p.m.

Buss said April 23 is the average date to hit 80 degrees in Sioux Falls.


“It’s just a tad bit warmer than we were expecting,” he said. “Compared what will be (happening) tomorrow and Saturday, it will be a sharp contrast.”

A cool front will move through the Sioux Falls area Friday morning, bringing with it mostly sunny skies and a high of 67, Buss said.


Tuesday, 04/21/09

‘Much of California to broil for third day’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES - Parts of Southern and Northern California braced for a third day of record summer-like heat.

The National Weather Service posted a heat advisory Tuesday for the Santa Clara Valley near San Francisco, including the city of San Jose.

Many Californians headed to beaches Monday as temperatures hit a record 100 degrees in downtown Los Angeles and a very unseasonable 93 in San Francisco. The L.A. temperature broke the previous record of 96 set for the date in 1958. San Francisco also set a new mark for April 20. 

Triple-digit readings also occurred elsewhere across Southern California counties on Monday, including 103 at Santa Ana and Riverside. 

On Sunday, the 94 degree high in downtown Los Angeles also broke a 95-year-old record. And six cities in San Diego County topped 90 degrees, breaking records for the day.

Sea breezes could hold temperatures down on the Southern California coast Tuesday but valleys and mountain areas will stay blazing, National Weather Service forecaster Bonnie Bartling said.

The weather service noted that the heat is speeding the melting of snow in the Sierra Nevada.


Monday, 04/20/09

‘California broils to 100 degrees in record heat’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A record blast of heat is sending crowds of Californians to the beaches as temperatures hit 100 degrees.

Record heat is forecast statewide again Monday with the National Weather Service posting a heat advisory along the coast from San Francisco Bay south to Big Sur.

Thermometers registered record highs Sunday across Southern California.


The weather service said Santa Ana hit 101 degrees, erasing a record that had stood since 1916. A 94-degree reading in downtown Los Angeles broke a 95-year-old record.

Other records Sunday included 100 in Fullerton; 97 in Long Beach; 96 in San Gabriel, Camarillo and Oxnard, and 95 in Paso Robles.

The heat sent an estimated 250,000 people to Los Angeles County's southern beaches Sunday, and other beaches also had huge crowds.


Sunday, 04/19/09

‘Officials: 5 Houston children dead in swamped car’ – per AP

HOUSTON — Five Houston children died Saturday after their sedan slid into a rain-swollen ditch when the driver lost control while trying to answer a cellphone, authorities said.

John Cannon, a Houston police spokesman, told several Houston television stations that the driver of the car was the father of four of the dead children, all 7 or younger. Cannon said the driver was taken for blood-alcohol testing.

The father was among two adults and a 10-year-old girl who escaped the fast-moving current that swept the car 100 feet from where it left the road and made the vehicle inaccessible to emergency workers for hours, Cannon said.

Houston television station KTRK reported that police said the dead children included 1- and 3-year-old girls and three boys, ages 4, 6 and 7.

Cannon said a passenger told police the driver's cellphone rang, and the driver lost control when he tried to answer it.

The children's deaths brought the weekend death toll to six from massive storms that swept across southeast Texas.

A 76-year-old Fayette County man died Friday after his car got stuck in a flooded underpass in Schulenburg, midway between Houston and San Antonio. Frank Floyd, 76, of Hallettsville, drowned after he and his wife became trapped after driving into a flooded railroad underpass on U.S. 77, said Schulenburg Police Chief Randy Mican.

By 5 p.m. Saturday, nearly 5 inches of rain had fallen at Houston's Hobby Airport, a record for April 18.

The initial leg of an annual 150-mile charity bike ride involving more than 13,000 cyclists raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was washed out Saturday by the second consecutive day of heavy rain.

The 25th annual MS 150 had been scheduled for Houston to La Grange. It was scrapped after Friday's torrential downpours flooded the Fayette County Fairgrounds, where tents were set up for overnight accommodations for participants. Saturday's continuing rains made riding treacherous.

It was the wettest April 17 on record in College Station, where 2.94 inches of rain Friday broke a mark set 30 years ago when 1.68 inches fell. Houston also set a record for the most rain for the day, with the 1.9 inches topping the old mark of 1.85 in 1992.

At least 10 inches of rain fell Friday in Colorado County, about 70 miles west of Houston, closing some roads. Hail measuring 1.75 inches in diameter was reported Friday night in Laredo, along with some street flooding in Zapata County in the Rio Grande Valley.

More heavy rain fell Saturday, and nearly all of East Texas and portions of South Texas were under some kind of threatening weather advisory with tornado warnings and watches and flash flood warnings and watches in place.

U.S. 87 south of Cuero, about 80 miles southeast of San Antonio, was closed by a flash flood Saturday. A tornado was spotted in a rural area near Marquez, about 60 miles southeast of Waco. Firefighters reported a barn was toppled by high winds near Rosebud in Milam County, about 35 miles southeast of Waco.

In Robertson County, between College Station and Waco, authorities said a possible tornado during a thunderstorm Saturday morning downed trees and power lines and left some windows broken in Franklin, the county seat.


Saturday, 04/18/09

’36 inches! Colo. Spring snow strands thousands’ – per AP

DENVER - Colorado transportation officials on Saturday reopened a lengthy section of Interstate 70 that was closed overnight, stranding hundreds of travelers, by a storm that dumped more than 3 feet of snow in the region west of Denver.

A winter storm warning remained in effect for parts of the state, the National Weather Service said.

More than 500 people had spent the night at three shelters in Idaho Springs and Georgetown after the closure of the 80-mile stretch of I-70 in the mountains, said Jim Rettew, an American Red Cross spokesman.

The Colorado National Guard delivered two truckloads of cots, blankets and food to the stranded travelers.

Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Wilson said Saturday morning that the highway was reopened but cautioned drivers to expect heavy traffic and sloppy road conditions throughout the day.

"It's not the I-70 you know in a June afternoon," Wilson said.

The heaviest snowfall was in the foothills west of Denver, with 43 inches at Pinecliffe and 36 at Black Hawk, said weather service meteorologist Scott Entrekin. He said April could sometimes be one of the state's snowiest months.

A mixture of rain and snow continued falling across the state Saturday morning, and Entrekin said the southern Denver metro area could see 2 to 5 more inches before the storm tapers off Saturday evening.

Flights were delayed or canceled at Denver International Airport as snow turned to rain Saturday. United Airlines, the airport's dominant carrier, canceled 76 flights on Friday, 14 on Saturday and delayed several others, said spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

Power lines weighed down by snow tripped system circuit breakers and knocked out electricity to more than 18,000 customers in and west of Denver and Boulder. Crews hoped to restore power by nightfall, Xcel Energy spokesman Joe Fuentes said.

Along I-70, the Red Cross had to open a second shelter in Idaho Springs late Friday after its first shelter there filled to capacity with more than 300 people, Rettew said late Friday.

The National Guard escorted a caravan of volunteers and supplies to the shelters after Clear Creek County declared an emergency and asked for state assistance.

Numerous traffic accidents were reported across Colorado, and State Patrol Trooper Gilbert Mares said he knew of one fatality.

U.S. 40 over Berthoud Pass, the main road to the Winter Park ski resort, also was shut down Friday evening because of a pair of avalanches. A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation said no injuries were reported.


Friday, 04/17/09

‘Severe storms, hail pummel Texas’ – per AP

Thunderstorms moved through North Texas on Friday while folks in West Texas were busy assessing the damage from hail damage the previous night.

Hail was so heavy in parts of the that a stretch of Interstate 27 between Lubbock and Amarillo was shut down so snowplows could clear the way. At least four tornadoes touched down in West Texas on Thursday.

No injuries were reported.


Friday afternoon, about 25,000 Oncor Electric Delivery customers were without power in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Oncor spokeswoman Carol Peters said the majority of outages were in Dallas and its suburbs, caused mainly by wind and lightning.

In addition, passengers on flights to and from major airports in the Dallas and Houston experienced delays during the worst of the storms.

Sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph blew across North Texas with occasional gusts up to 55 mph, the National Weather Service reported.

"These storms were moving generally from west to east, but the winds were blowing from east to west," said Gary Woodall, a weather service meteorologist.

Early Friday, one twister touched down briefly north of Kress, about 60 miles south of Amarillo. Another touched down just east of Lubbock, in Crosby County. Two others came down a few hours later near Lake Thomas in Scurry County, about 100 miles southeast of Lubbock.

In Tulia in Swisher County, 3.66 inches of rain fell in about six hours.

After the hail was cleared from I-27, a second storm caused more flooding and the parts of the highway were closed again about 8 p.m.

Storms were forecast for other parts of Texas on Friday, forcing several sporting events to be rescheduled.


Thursday, 04/16/09

‘Mudslide buries 25 homes in 2 Peru towns’ – per AP

LIMA, Peru - A mudslide buried 25 homes in two towns in the northern highlands on Thursday, with as many as 30 people feared dead or missing, Peru's civil defense official says.

The mudslide hit the La Libertad province towns of Chamanacucho and Aricapampa, burying the homes early Thursday morning, said Walter Tapia, a coordinator for Civil Defense special operations.

The region has been battered by heavy rains. Lima's RPP radio reported that Civil Defense and Health Ministry officials were traveling to the region to help in emergency response.


Wednesday, 04/15/09

‘Iraq drought hits marshes in “Garden of Eden”’ – per AP

HOR AL-HAMMAR, Iraq - A severe drought is threatening Iraq's southern marshes — the traditional site of the biblical Garden of Eden — just as the region was recovering from Saddam Hussein's draining of its lakes and swamps to punish a political rebellion.

Marshes that were coming back to life a few years ago with U.N. help are again little more than vast expanses of cracked earth. The area's thousands of inhabitants, known as Marsh Arabs, are victims of the debilitating drought that has ravaged much of Iraq and neighboring countries the last two years.

"I have no work. Our livestock have died, our children have left school because we don't have money to buy them clothes," said fisherman Yasir Razaq. He spoke in front of his wooden boat, which sat on a dried-up lake bed in the Hor al-Hammar marsh near Nasiriyah, 200 miles south of Baghdad.

"Before when there was fishing, we could get money for children's clothes," he said. "Now we have lost everything and our situation is miserable."

Fertile farm lands
The Marsh Arab culture existed for more than 5,000 years in the 8,000 square miles of wetlands fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The marshes boasted hundreds of species of birds and fish, and periodic flooding created fertile farm lands.

The flooded, flat plain is said to have played an important role in the development of an agriculture-based culture that helped raise civilization to new heights. Some biblical scholars identified the vast marshes — the most extensive wetlands in the Middle East — as the site of the fabled Garden of Eden.

But after the 1991 Gulf War, the marshes became a casualty of Iraq's religiously based politics.

Saddam, a Sunni Muslim, considered the thousands of mostly Shiite Marsh Arabs to be disloyal — first in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and more seriously when Shiites in southern Iraq rose up against his regime after a U.S.-led coalition forced the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.

Many Shiite rebels hid among the Marsh Arabs in the forests of reeds and myriad of lakes. To punish them, Saddam built a massive network of dams and earthen walls to divert water and dry the marshes.

The effect was devastating.

By the time Saddam was overthrown in 2003, the marshes had shrunk by 90 percent from their size in the 1970s, when they had covered nearly 3,500 square miles — larger than Delaware.

Many experts direly predicted that the marshes might disappear entirely by 2008.

'Priority' restoration
The United Nations launched an $11 million project to restore the marshes, including removing some of the barriers that were keeping water from flowing into the area.

And by 2006, more than half the original marshlands had successfully flooded.

"Our ministry right from beginning ... started considering the restoration of the marshes area to be our priority," said Iraqi Water Resources Minister Abdul-Latif Jamal Rasheed, adding that the effort had achieved some success.

The marsh restoration programs depend on adequate water flow in the Tigris and the Euphrates, the two rivers that gave Iraq its ancient name of Mesopotamia — Greek for "land between the rivers."

But the recent drought has caused the levels of those two rivers to fall.

Iraq's winter ended without adequate rain for a second year in a row. Overall, the rainfall for the last two years has been only about 30 to 40 percent of normal levels — not only in Iraq but in Syria and southeastern Turkey to the north, where the great rivers begin.

By the time the rivers meander through Iraq down to its southern marshes, much of the water has already been diverted into canals to irrigate parched farm fields.

Last month, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and the Iraqi government announced a new $47 million program last month to restore the marshes, focusing on the southern provinces of Maysan, Dhi Qar and Basra.

But the program's Iraq director, Dr. Fadel el-Zubi, expressed doubt that the marshes can be fully restored without a break in the drought. Also needed are new water-sharing agreements among countries in the region including Syria and Iran to give Iraq more access to water, he said.

"There is much less water coming from neighboring countries," he said. "So the amount of water going to the marshlands will be less."

Much of the program is aimed at improving the lives of Marsh Arabs, who pursue a life of fishing and foraging that has not changed substantially for thousands of years.

Among other things, the program will include restocking the marshes with fish capable of surviving in areas where low water levels have raised the salt content, el-Zubi said.

He said the program would also help people in the region replenish their livestock, mostly sheep and water buffalo.

"The main goal is to restore the maximum that you can within the coming five years and to enable the marshland people to resume farming, livestock production and so on," he said.

Even with the drought, the outlook for the marshes is better than a decade ago.

But that means little to many of the Marsh Arabs.

"We hoped the new government might do something," said a fisherman who gave his name only as Mohammed because he feared criticizing the government publicly. "But it's still the same. This is the second time that the water has been drained away."


Tuesday, 04/14/09

‘Tornado report in Fla. as more storms plague South’ – per AP

HOLIDAY, Fla. (AP) — Forecasters reported a tornado north of the Tampa area as a line of storms Tuesday ripped roof shingles off homes, uprooted trees and forced the evacuation of school children in trailer classrooms on Florida's west coast.

No injuries were immediately reported. It was the latest round of bad weather to hammer the South after heavy rain and strong winds Monday that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and northern Florida, still reeling from storms and tornados last week.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for 20 Florida counties until Tuesday afternoon.

"To our knowledge, there's been no true structure damage and no injuries," said Jim Martin, Emergency Management Director for Pasco County, where at least one twister was spotted Tuesday morning near Holiday, about 30 miles northwest of Tampa.

Forecasters said a band of storms swept through Pasco and northern Hillsborough and Pinellas counties just after 9 a.m.

Students in Hillsborough were evacuated from trailer classrooms in the northern part of the county. The pupils were brought into permanent school buildings for shelter and parents were instructed not to come to pick up their children.

A day after high winds were blamed for toppling trees that killed one person each in Tennessee and Georgia, more blustery conditions were reported across the region.

In northern Florida, spotters reported that a tree fell on a car, injuring two people. Their conditions were not immediately known.

In other parts of Florida, officials were carefully watching to see if Tuesday's rains would cause more flooding on the Santa Fe, lower Suwannee and other rivers across the Panhandle.

Atlanta-area crews were still clearing up fallen trees and working to restore power and traffic lights after squalls Monday pushed through Georgia.

About 43,000 Georgia utility customers were still without power early Tuesday, most in the Atlanta area. That was down from more than 290,000 at the peak.

Darkened traffic lights on some major roads Tuesday morning added to commuting headaches.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Konswello Monroe said power may not be restored to all Atlanta-area customers until Wednesday evening.


Monday, 04/13/09

‘2 killed as severe storms move across South’ – per AP

ATLANTA — A swath of severe weather moved across a storm-weary South on Monday, killing at least two, downing trees and cutting power to thousands of homes.

The storm system that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and northern Florida brought torrential rain, flooding, hail and gusty winds to states still reeling from strong storms and tornadoes last week. And the states braced for more rain expected later Monday.

An 18-year-old was killed in Etowah, Tenn., on Monday when a tree fell on his family's home as he slept. A second person was killed in Atlanta after a tree fell on their car. Names of the victims were not immediately released.

Many areas that were spared from Monday's rain and hail were hit with high winds that blew over trees weakened by several days of soaking rain.

"The ground is so wet that the root system is loose, so it doesn't take a lot to blow the trees over," said Nate Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga.

High winds on the Tennessee River in northern Alabama blew the roof off covered boat slips at the Guntersville Yacht Club, causing floating docks to pull apart and blow onto U.S. 431, said Anita McBurnett, emergency management director for Marshall County.

No one was injured, but four people who live on big sailboats and yachts stored at the marina had to be rescued after their vessels blew into the river during the storm, McBurnett said.

"It's right on the heels of the tornado on Friday, so we've really got our hands full," she said.

Florida emergency crews trying to work on flood recovery and damage assessment Monday in the northern part of the state were halted by the severe weather as high winds, hail and lightning threatened workers. Officials were worried about further flooding to areas damaged by a series of storms three weeks ago that caused river swelling throughout Florida's Panhandle.

U.S. Highway 90 remained closed for a sixth day at the Suwannee River about 65 miles east of Tallahassee. The flooding claimed two lives in late March in the Panhandle's Okaloosa County, and a third person — an elderly man — was still missing after he was swept away by flood waters.


Sunday, 04/12/09

‘Torrential downpour washes out Qatar MotoGP’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

LOSAIL, Qatar (AFP) – Torrential rain caused the season-opening Qatar MotoGP to be cancelled on Sunday, leaving officials and teams in a frenzy over whether to run the event on Monday instead at this floodlit desert venue.

Monsoon-like conditions, accompanied by swirling, high winds, arrived just moments before Australia's Casey Stoner, on pole position, was due to lead defending world champion Valentino Rossi and the other riders away on the warm-up lap.

"It's just unlucky with the weather," said Australian Ducati rider Stoner, the 2007 world champion, who was bidding for a third successive win here.

Earlier, the 250cc race, which was won by Spain's Hector Barbera, on an Aprilia, had been cut from 20 to 13 laps and delayed by 40 minutes.

Italy's Andrea Iannone was declared the winner of the 125cc race which was halted after only four of the scheduled 18 laps as torrential rain flooded the desert circuit.

Ironically, it only rains on an average of eight days a year in Doha, but wet conditions also disrupted Friday's practice sessions.


Saturday, 04/11/09

‘Deadly fires, tornadoes rage across US’ - Yahoo! News per AFP

CHICAGO (AFP) – Rescue workers dug through the rubble left by tornados and firefighters battled deadly wildfires Saturday after a strong storm system cut a swath of destruction across the United States from Texas to Tennessee.

At least eight people were killed, dozens were injured and hundreds of homes and businesses were reduced to ash or rubble.

One of the fires appears to have been started deliberately, officials said.

Oklahoma's governor declared a state of emergency in 31 counties where 62 people were injured and about 200 homes and business were destroyed by the fires and a tornado which touched down on the eastern edge of the state.

"Our firefighters and first responders have done an outstanding job in the face of daunting fires, and these brave men and women have our heartfelt gratitude. They are true heroes," Governor Brad Henry said.

"But there is much more to do, and the State of Oklahoma will do everything in its power to ensure help for those people who need it most."

Three people were killed and 32 homes destroyed in Texas as high winds fueled 49 major fires which burned 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) in the Lone Star state and filled the skies with thick clouds of smoke, the Texas Forest Service said.

Some 161 homes have been destroyed in drought-stricken Texas since January 1 as wildfires swallowed some 240,000 acres (97,000 hectares) and the governor of Texas issued an emergency declaration for 199 counties Friday.

A former television journalist and his wife were among the dead when their home was engulfed in flames Thursday, WFAA news in Dallas reported.

The fires devastated two small towns north of Dallas as high winds and bone dry conditions fueled the flames which raced across parched fields and swallowed homes, the station reported.

The town of Stoneburg in southwestern Montague County, was practically destroyed by fire, officials said.

In Wichita County, a blaze burn and forced the evacuation of 800 homes, including a nursing home, in the town of Electra, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Winds as strong as 112 kilometers (70 miles) per hour fanned the flames that engulfed 12 counties in the northern part of the state, as the governor's office activated Texas Military Forces to provide assistance, including two helicopters, in fighting the blazes, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The winds eased in Texas on Friday, but firefighters continued to battle 20 major blazes.

A mother and her nine-week-old baby were killed and 35 people were hurt when a tornado tore through the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee Friday, officials said.

"There was substantial damage," said Murfreesboro police spokesman Kyle Evans as he described the twisted path the tornado wove through town.

"We are in a search and rescue mode. We're going door to door, house to house looking for any potential people who are trapped in their homes."

Three people were killed and 23 were hurt after a tornado touched down in the town of Mena on Thursday evening, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said.

The storms damaged more than 150 homes and businesses in 11 Arkansas counties.


Friday, 04/10/09

‘2 more killed, dozens hurt in Southeastern tornadoes’ –

(CNN) -- A tornado descended on Murfreesboro, Tennessee Friday, killing two people and injuring another 30, an official said.

Two people were critically injured by the tornado, which hit the city, located about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, around 1:40 p.m., Donnie Smith, public information officer with the Tennessee Department of Emergency Management in Nashville said.

The search-and-rescue effort was continuing into the evening, Smith said, "so it's possible that may not be all."

The bad weather began around noon, when a band of severe thunderstorms swept across the state from the southwest, Smith said.

Elsewhere in the region, the town of Mena, Arkansas, is cleaning up after a tornado roared through, killing three people and damaging or destroying more than 100 homes, an Arkansas official said.

The town looked like a "war zone" as soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard went house to house searching for victims of the twister that hit Thursday night, said Capt. Christopher Heathscott.

About 50 soldiers also helped with security and food distribution.

Gov. Mike Beebe planned to fly over Mena on Friday afternoon.

Mena, population 6,000, took a heavy hit on the west side of town, as the storm swept through downtown before heading up state Highway 71, said Tommy Jackson from the state Department of Emergency Management.

"It looks like a war zone out here," said James Reeves, also from the department.

Two plants at an industrial park were destroyed, said reporter Charles Crowson of CNN affiliate KTHV-TV. He said utility crews were trying to stop a gas leak there.

There were 24 reports of tornadoes in the area Thursday night, said CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano, and wind gusts reached more than 70 mph.

"So a significant severe weather event last night, and we expect similar action later on today, although it's all moving to the east," he said Friday morning. "It went from Oklahoma across the border toward Arkansas."

As the storms moved east, thunderstorms were predicted, and there was a chance for more tornadoes. Large hail and damaging winds were predicted for the Southeast later Friday.

In Mena, officials set up three shelters, but fewer than 50 people had sought refuge in them. In this rural community, most people are staying with friends and family, Reeves said.

All three victims were elderly, officials said. A man and a woman died when houses collapsed, and another woman died after being struck by debris.

Beebe sent 30 National Guard soldiers to the town Thursday, and 20 more are expected Friday.


Thursday, 04/09/09

‘High winds whip up wildfires in Southwest’ –

(CNN) -- Numerous wildfires were roaring Thursday through parts of Oklahoma and Texas, searing buildings and forcing evacuations in a series of small towns. Safety officials nervously eyed high winds expected to kick the flames up even higher.

CNN affiliate television stations in both states showed images of burning structures and large grass fires near Stillwater, Oklahoma, as they were fed by near hurricane-force wind gusts and dry conditions.

The suburbs of Oklahoma City were beginning to come under threat from the flames, and grass fires were being reported west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with the smell of smoke already wafting through the cities.

No serious injuries have been reported, although a firefighter and two other people were injured in a blaze near Lindsay, Oklahoma.

Parts of Velma, Oklahoma, were under mandatory evacuation, said Stephens County Sheriff's spokeswoman Jennifer Snyder. Velma's population is about 700.

Other Oklahoma towns where wildfires were causing evacuations included Sparks, Wellston, Healdton and Midwest City, a suburb of Oklahoma City.

By Thursday afternoon, authorities said they still didn't have a full grasp on how many fires they were facing or how much turf the fires covered. They said the affected area could be measured in miles, not acres.

Oklahoma Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said that while structural damage was limited, his agency didn't yet have all the details.

Ashwood said weather experts fear that heavy winds as night falls could drive the fires into more heavily populated areas.

A spokesman for the Texas Forest Service said fires in the state were burning in numerous counties in areas near Fort Worth, Wichita Falls and Amarillo.

He said there were so many blazes that firefighters were having to ignore some of them, and that winds were so high that most fire-fighting aircraft were unable to fly.


Friday, 04/03/09

‘Study: Arctic sea ice melting faster than expected’ – Yahoo! News per AP

WASHINGTON – Arctic sea ice is melting so fast most of it could be gone in 30 years. A new analysis of changing conditions in the region, using complex computer models of weather and climate, says conditions that had been forecast by the end of the century could occur much sooner.

A change in the amount of ice is important because the white surface reflects sunlight back into space. When ice is replaced by dark ocean water that sunlight can be absorbed, warming the water and increasing the warming of the planet.

The finding adds to concern about climate change caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, a problem that has begun receiving more attention in the Obama administration and is part of the G20 discussions under way in London.

"Due to the recent loss of sea ice, the 2005-2008 autumn central Arctic surface air temperatures were greater than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above" what would be expected, the new study reports.

That amount of temperature increase had been expected by the year 2070.

The new report by Muyin Wang of the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean and James E. Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, appears in Friday's edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

They expect the area covered by summer sea ice to decline from about 2.8 million square miles normally to 620,000 square miles within 30 years.

Last year's summer minimum was 1.8 million square miles in September, second lowest only to 2007 which had a minimum of 1.65 million square miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Center said Arctic sea ice reached its winter maximum for this year at 5.8 million square miles on Feb. 28. That was 278,000 square miles below the 1979-2000 average making it the fifth lowest on record. The six lowest maximums since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years.

Overland and Wang combined sea-ice observations with six complex computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to reach their conclusions. Combining several computer models helps avoid uncertainties caused by natural variability.

Much of the remaining ice would be north of Canada and Greenland, with much less between Alaska and Russia in the Pacific Arctic.

"The Arctic is often called the Earth's refrigerator because the sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting the sun's radiation back into space," Wang said in a statement. "With less ice, the sun's warmth is instead absorbed by the open water, contributing to warmer temperatures in the water and the air."

The study was supported by the NOAA Climate Change Program Office, the Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Friday, 04/03/09

‘Drought continues in parched Texas’ – per AP

LUBBOCK, Texas — East Texas rancher James Kolek is among the fortunate — he's been rained on.

Precipitation fell Thursday morning and a couple of times the past week on land Kolek manages in San Jacinto County, one of nearly two dozen counties in the eastern part of the state no longer in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

"We really are blessed," the ranch manager at Trinity River Land & Cattle Co. in Shepherd said. "It's not very wet in too many places right now."

Parched conditions elsewhere have deteriorated and dim prospects for rain in April don't bode well for Central Texas and the Hill Country, where the worst drought categories — extreme and exceptional — persist.

Parts of deep South Texas, which hasn't seen ample rains for about six months, slipped from moderate to severe in the Brownsville area since last week.

In the Panhandle, even a snowstorm that dropped nearly a foot of snow this past weekend didn't improve conditions.

"Snow is really the best moisture you can have," said Travis Miller, a drought specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. "But a foot of powdery snow is equivalent to only about an inch of rain."

Burn bans continue in 161 of the state's 254 counties, with most of those without prohibitions in the eastern third of Texas.

April, May and June are the wettest three months in Texas but ranchers and farmers will have to hang on a while longer, officials with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said.

"We're looking at short-term pessimism — a dry April — but more optimism in the long run with increased chances for normal to above normal precip in May and June," meteorologist Victor Murphy wrote in an e-mail. "The reason for this is that the La Nina conditions in the Central Pacific along the equator — which bring colder than normal sea surface temperatures — continue to weaken."

In mid-March state agriculture officials estimated ranchers in the nation's largest cattle-producing state had already lost nearly $1 billion because of Texas' ongoing drought.

Officials said then cattle raisers had lost $829 million since last summer, $569 million of that since November. Those losses will rise, Miller said.

State officials are awaiting approval of drought designation for all 254 counties from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Texas Gov. Rick Perry requested the designation March 6.

It's too late for crops already planted along the Gulf Coast to mature, Miller said.

"I can't imagine rain setting in and making a normal crop," he said.

South Texas cotton producers have planted but because of drought "there's not a whole lot of hope of it coming up or a making a stand because they haven't had any rain," said Steve Verett, vice president of the Plains Cotton Growers, which serves a 41-county region on the South Plains.

Producers on the South Plains are in a little bit better shape. Rains about six weeks ago gave growers enough soil moisture to prepare fields but there's not enough now for seedlings to germinate after planting.

There's deep moisture but it's needed 4 inches to 5 inches below the surface to give seedlings a chance.

"This is pretty typical," Verett said. "We don't typically get a lot of rain in January, February and March. It's from this point forward that we need the thunderstorms."

Kolek's father ranches in Colorado County, just west of Houston, where two-tenths of an inch fell Thursday morning.

"That's a tease," he said, adding that ranchers he knows in Lavaca and Gonzales counties are facing severe financial struggles. "Those people there are really in desperate shape. They're at the end of their ropes."

Livestock producers continue to make supplemental feed purchases or sell cattle and calves in a declining market, officials have said.

In 2006, drought-related crop and livestock losses were the state's worst for a single year, totaling $4.1 billion.


Thursday, 04/02/09

‘New storm barrage causes train to hit fallen tree’ – Yahoo! News per AP

JACKSON, Miss. – Another barrage of storms hit the Southeast on Thursday, spawning possible tornadoes, causing a passenger train to hit a fallen tree and sending at least one person to the hospital after lightning struck a home.

Flood warnings as well as tornado watches and warnings were in effect around the region.

In south Mississippi, an Amtrak train hit a tree the storm knocked onto the tracks Thursday afternoon south of McComb in Pike County, injuring the conductor, said Carlene Statham, assistant director of Pike County Civil Defense.

The lightning strike happened in Desoto County in north Mississippi and gave the person inside "a pretty good jolt" but the injuries were not life threatening, said Bob Storey, director of the county's emergency management agency. The resident was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Also, what may have been a funnel cloud was spotted in Pike County and several homes, trees and power lines in the area were damaged, Statham said. There were no immediate reports of injuries, Statham said.

Waves of storms pelted west Alabama with hail and rain, and a suspected tornado damaged a north Alabama trailer park. Morgan County Emergency Management Agency assistant Rita Weeks said the mobile home park at Lacey's Springs was struck by violent winds Thursday evening, damaging 20 to 30 trailers. She said there were reports of minor injuries but none life-threatening.

Trees and power lines were down and there were reports of scattered damage in several parts of west and north Alabama. The National Weather Service said radar indicated several possible funnel clouds as the storm front moved across much of the state.

School officials in Enterprise, Ala., canceled classes Thursday as a precaution, mindful of a tornado that killed eight students at a high school there two years ago.

Meanwhile, a line of violent thunderstorms moved through the western Florida Panhandle leaving about foot of water on some low-lying streets in the downtown Pensacola business district. Flooding was reported elsewhere in the Panhandle including in Panama City where officials blocked streets and limited other streets to one lane.

"Our primary concern today is more flash flooding," said public safety director Dino Villani of Okaloosa County, which includes Fort Walton Beach. "Very little rain can cause a lot of problems."

A river in soggy southeastern Louisiana crested a bit lower than predicted, putting water into streets in a suburban New Orleans parish, but sparing almost all low-lying homes. But officials said the crest would not pass entirely through St. Tammany Parish until early Friday and authorities were patrolling several subdivisions.

Strong storms also moved across Middle Tennessee, producing heavy rain, flooding and a possible tornado. National Weather Service meteorologist John Cohen in Nashville said the agency received a report of a possible tornado at 4:06 p.m. Thursday about seven miles east of downtown Nashville.

The Federal Aviation Administration evacuated the tower at Nashville International Airport and all flight activity was stopped temporarily.

Two tractor trailers overturned on Interstate 40 east of downtown Nashville at about 4:20 p.m., Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Julie Oaks said. The drivers were unhurt.

At Centennial Park near downtown Nashville, water was over the wheel wells of cars. Elsewhere, manhole covers popped off because of the water and police closed off a few streets because of flooding.

Heavy rain led to the closing of part of Interstate 75 in south Georgia, officials said. Small creeks and streams, along with numerous streets and underpasses also flooded Thursday.

Ken Davis of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency said traffic on I-75 northbound at Cordele, about 60 miles south of Macon, was being rerouted because of water over the roadway.


Wednesday, 04/01/08

‘Flooded, soggy Southeast braces for more rain’ – per AP

GENEVA, Ala. (AP) — Residents of the rain-soaked Southeast braced for more storms even as they tried to dry out from a weekend deluge that flooded hundreds of homes, washed out roads and forced evacuations.

The National Weather Service predicted thunderstorms in the region Wednesday and Thursday, and some areas could get a foot of rain by the end of the week.

The strongest storms early Wednesday were in north Florida, moving away from south Alabama's swollen rivers.

At least 10 school districts in south Georgia closed Wednesday because of concerns about flooded roadways, and some schools in south Alabama were opening later in the morning.

Southern Mississippi residents were still cleaning up from last week's tornadoes and flooding as disaster officials warned them to prepare for another round of potentially severe storms that could fill already-swollen rivers. In southeast Alabama, volunteers and Houston County jail inmates filled more than 2,500 sandbags for people to place in front of their homes to keep out water.

"We've had more than 300 houses flooded countywide," said Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Carlisle. "It's everywhere, even in places where it's never flooded before. Every low-lying area in the county is flooded."

Schools were closed in one Mississippi county and more than a dozen residents in Alabama were staying at a motel. The problems could worsen.

Parts of the Southeast have seen rainfall between five and 11 inches in recent days, and some isolated areas had upward of 17 inches.

At least 30 people were forced from their homes over the weekend in Houston County, Ala. Dothan Red Cross executive director Susan Holmes said 14 evacuees remained in city motels Tuesday.

In Mobile, Red Cross executive director Leisle Mims said her agency helped find temporary shelter for 29 families, or about 60 people, displaced by flooding in Mobile and Baldwin counties, but most had returned to their homes by Tuesday.

The weekend thunderstorms caused an estimated $1.25 million in flood damage in Houston County, one of 11 counties Gov. Bob Riley declared in a state of emergency.

The severe weather has killed one person in Florida and injured 30 in Mississippi. In Florida, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office reported the death of an Alabama man whose pickup washed off a roadway and sank in floodwaters on Sunday.


Tuesday, 03/31/08

‘More blizzard woes in Dakotas; hailstorm in Texas’ – Yahoo! News per AP

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A huge weather system stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico piled more deep snow on parts of the Dakotas on Tuesday and battered parts of Texas with damaging hail.

The second major storm in a week dumped more than a foot of snow on sections of South Dakota.

By early afternoon, the state Department of Public Safety had reopened Interstate 90 from the Wyoming border to Murdo. But the route remained closed from Murdo to Mitchell. A small section of I-90 remained closed in Wyoming. Parts of Interstate 29, which runs north-south along the eastern edge of the Dakotas, also were closed because of ice and blowing snow.

In North Dakota, 17 inches of new snow fell in Bismarck. That puts the central North Dakota city an inch shy of its record season total of 101.6 inches set in 1996-1997.

Blowing snow created whiteout conditions in the Nebraska Panhandle, and some roads and schools closed across the northern part of the state.

The storm's stiff wind threatened to create high waves that could batter levees along the swollen Red River at Fargo, N.D. The dikes were holding but authorities were concerned about runoff that will result when the latest snowfall melts in the weeks ahead.

On the southern Plains, hail damaged roofs and cars in suburbs of Dallas late Monday. No injuries were reported. The National Weather Service warned of the potential for severe storms later in the day Tuesday in southern Mississippi, which was struck by tornadoes last week.


Saturday, 03/28/08

‘Plains buried by snow; Gulf Coast inundated with rain’ –

(CNN) -- Heavy rains swamped the Gulf Coast and a blizzard dumped more than 2 feet of snow in parts of the Plains on Saturday.


The blizzard cut power, stranding drivers and prompting governors in Kansas and Oklahoma to issue disaster declarations.


At least two deaths were blamed on the storm.


The death of a person in a traffic accident in Marion County, Kansas, was blamed on icy roads Friday. One traffic death was reported in the snow near El Reno on I-40 Friday, Oklahoma Emergency Management officials confirmed.


The heaviest snow and ice accumulated in south central and southwest Kansas. In Pratt County, 28 inches of snow fell, with snow drifts reported up to 6 feet. At least nine other counties reported 2 feet of snow, the Kansas Adjutant General's office said.


About 17,000 customers in Kansas lost electricity, more than half of those in Sedgwick County.


The Adjutant General's office said whiteout conditions and blowing snow made driving hazardous. The Kansas Department of Transportation shut down several roads in the western and south central part of the state. National Guard Humvees were used to move medical personal and patients to a hospital in Seward County.


In Oklahoma, where more than a foot of snow fell, Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency in 50 counties.


More than 3,000 Oklahoma households were without power, state officials said.


The State Department of Transportation had several roads blocked in the state and others remained impassible.


Officials in Harper County, in the northern part of the state, reported a partial roof collapse at a nursing home and collapses at a home, two businesses and a school gym. Another partial roof collapse was reported at a furniture warehouse in northern Woodward County. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.


In Missouri, the Kansas City International Airport was temporarily closed because of winter weather conditions.


Meanwhile, rain along the Gulf Coast battered areas around Mobile, Alabama, and Biloxi, Mississippi. VideoWatch how the rain is blocking roads in Mobile, Alabama »


Mobile County Emergency Management Director Walter Dickerson said 4 to 6 inches of rain fell on already saturated ground.


Fifteen to 20 roads around Mobile were closed, and several people had to be rescued after flash flooding trapped their cars.


In Mobile, heavy rains caused a section of roadway to collapse. Three cars ended up in a large sinkhole, including one vehicle that landed on top of another. No serious injuries were reported.


In nearby Baldwin County, Alabama, an apartment complex was evacuated and some main roads were closed.


The main roadway leading into Biloxi, the Interstate 10 loop, was closed for several hours early Saturday before waters receded and allowed traffic to resume. But more than a dozen other roads around Harrison County remain blocked.


Harrison County, Mississippi, Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said water entered some homes in his area.


Teams were out assessing the damage. Lacy said waters of three rivers were rising, including the Biloxi and Wolf rivers. There were no mandatory evacuations, but Lacy said some residents chose to leave on their own.


Roads were also impassable in some parts of the Florida Panhandle. Officials in the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area, which is under flood watches and warnings, were keeping an eye on surging rivers and creeks.


Saturday, 03/28/09

‘Southeast storm floods parts of Miss., Ala.’ – Yahoo! News per AP

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A spring storm dumped heavy rains, baseball-sized hail and whipped up winds across the Southeast on Saturday, flooding homes and cars in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.


About 100 roads in southern Mississippi were impassable because of the flooding, including the main route into Biloxi, Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said. Some residents had to be rescued from their stalled and stranded cars, and others were helped from their flooded homes, Lacy said.


Tornado warnings were being issued across the region, which is still reeling from twisters over the past two days. On Thursday, nearly 30 people were hurt when a tornado destroyed dozens of homes and businesses across south-central Mississippi. On Friday, tornadoes struck Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina.


No injuries were immediately reported Saturday. At least three people in southern Mississippi were at a shelter opened by officials.


"We've still got water standing in a lot of areas," Lacy said. "Some of the rivers are still coming up, that's our biggest concern right now, protecting life and property."


Up to 17 inches had fallen over three days in isolated areas in Alabama and Mississippi, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kirk Caceras.


In Mississippi, Lacy said officials were still trying to determine how many homes had been flooded and the extent of the damage.


"We have springtime storms," Lacy said. "But this is a very unusual springtime storm."


Saturday, 03/28/09

‘Scores missing as Indonesia dam bursts; 77 dead’ – Yahoo! News per AP

CIRENDEU, Indonesia – Soldiers and police dug through piles of mud and debris Saturday in a desperate search for survivors after a flood from a burst dam killed at least 77 people outside Indonesia's capital. But they were losing hope the 100 still missing would be found alive.


Days of torrential downpours filled a large lake bordering the low-lying residential area of Cirendeu to flood level. A huge section of the Dutch colonial-era dike tore away before dawn Friday, sending more than 70 million cubic feet (2 million cubic meters) of water gushing through the gaping hole.


Some residents said it felt like they'd been hit by a tsunami.


They accused authorities of ignoring warning signs and failing to repair damage to the dam, claiming it had been weakened in several places over the years because of prior flooding caused by blocked spillways.


Hundreds gathered at nearby Muhammadiyah University, pressed into service as a makeshift morgue, with bodies lined up in a row under batik sheets. Mothers wailed as they identified their dead children.


Four field hospitals were set up to accommodate more than 180 wounded, some with broken bones, head wounds and severe cuts, said Rustam Pakaya, an official with the government crisis center.


The death toll kept climbing as soldiers, police and volunteers dug in with excavators, hoes or their bare hands, reaching 77 by nightfall.


Most of the water had receded Saturday, leaving behind streets covered in mud and debris. Cars that had been parked in driveways were swept hundreds of feet (meters) away, landing in parks. Sidewalks were strewn with sandals, cooking pans and old photographs.


It was not immediately clear what caused the accident.


But many alleged the 76-year-old dam, like much Indonesian infrastructure, was poorly maintained.


The Ministry of Public Works promised to investigate.


But 30-year-old Rohmat, mopping the muddy floor of his house, said he wasn't expecting much.


"Whenever these thing happens, officials throw around blame," he said. "But really, what can we do about it? Nothing. We just have to accept it."


Seasonal downpours cause dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, a nation of 235 million.


Friday, 03/27/09

‘Fierce storms, tornado lash South’ – per AP

JACKSON, Miss. — Potent thunderstorms rumbled across the South on Friday for a second day, kicking up a tornado in Alabama that overturned a mobile home.


Heavy rain, high winds and possible tornadoes also toppled trees and damaged several homes in southern Louisiana, the National Weather Service said.


Forecasters warned that the storms would continue into the weekend, raising the threat of flooding from torrential rains in some areas.


In Alabama, the tornado struck near the Gulf Coast around 4:30 a.m. Friday, slightly injuring the occupants of a mobile home rolled by strong winds, authorities said. Several other people also had minor injuries, said Maj. Anthony Lower with the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department.


Southwest of New Orleans on Louisiana's coast, officials reported more than a dozen homes flooded in Terrebonne Parish. Several streets also were swamped in and around New Orleans.


Authorities believe a small tornado in Ascension Parish, south of Baton Rouge, destroyed a woman's home, trapping the 49-year-old victim in debris late Thursday. Ascension Parish emergency director Rick Webre said the woman was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released. Other homes were heavily damaged.


Flash flood watches for all of southeastern Louisiana were to last through Saturday morning. Also, the National Weather Service said light to moderate flooding along rivers in low-lying areas north of Lake Pontchartrain was expected.


In southern Louisiana, thousands of utility customers had no power Friday as drenching rains flooded several roads along low-lying coasts, authorities said.


The soggy weather also threatened flash floods in parts of central Mississippi.


The lingering storms made for a difficult and soggy cleanup in Magee, a small Mississippi community where a twister early Thursday injured 28 people.


Victims of the tornado hurriedly cleared debris from dozens of flattened homes and businesses. Among them, members of Goshen Baptist Church struggled through mud Friday to clear trees that heavily damaged the building's roof, covering the holes in hopes of keeping out more rain.


"They're out there with tractors and chain saws trying to remove those trees," Pastor Mitch McWilliams said.


Elsewhere in southern Mississippi, two mobile home parks were evacuated early Friday when a creek began flooding, said Katherine Gunby, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.


Thursday, 03/26/09

‘Crashes injure 15 as blizzard blasts Colo., Wyo.’ – per AP

A major spring snowstorm dumped more than a foot of snow across the Colorado-Wyoming state line on Thursday, canceling hundreds of flights, shutting down schools and making roads treacherous.


At least 15 people were treated at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for injuries from three pileups involving about 50 vehicles on Interstate 25 just south of the state line, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Cook said. Authorities initially reported at least 33 were injured, but hospital officials said some turned out to be uninjured or refused treatment.


The crashes led Colorado officials to close more than 40 miles of the road south of Cheyenne and a 45-mile stretch between Pueblo and Walsenburg. The highway is the main north-south thoroughfare in Colorado.


Officials also closed 20 miles of U.S. 50 between Pueblo and Penrose.


Aaron Fowler, chief of Laramie County Fire District 1 in Wyoming, said many other vehicles also slid off the road while trying to avoid the wrecks.


"Visibility when I arrived on the scene was, I would say, 100 yards — very high winds and blizzard conditions," Fowler said.


Winds were gusting to nearly 40 mph in Denver, about 100 miles south of Cheyenne. The Regional Transportation District, the Denver-area mass-transit service, pulled its buses off the roads in Longmont, Colo., 30 miles north of Denver because of whiteout conditions.


"I saw three flipped cars," said Zachary Whitaker, who spent four hours driving his grandmother to the Denver airport from Gering, Neb. "Five more run off the road. Cars in ditches all over."


The Red Cross opened six shelters for stranded motorists.


The state's eastern half remained under a blizzard warning Thursday while Denver and most of the state was under a winter storm warning. Gov. Bill Ritter declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, though its mission was not immediately disclosed.


Forecasters predicted up to 2 feet of snow south and east of Denver by Friday and up to 15 inches in the city itself. More than a foot of snow was expected in the foothills west of Denver.


At Denver International Airport, Frontier Airlines canceled 54 flights and its Lynx commuter affiliate canceled 33, spokesman Steve Snyder said. Southwest Airlines canceled at least 82 flights and American Airlines canceled 26.


Dozens of school districts called off classes Thursday, although many already were closed for spring break. The University of Colorado in Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins shut down early.


At the state Capitol, both the House and the Senate shut down early, as did state and federal courts and the Denver Zoo.


The storm was welcome news to some after a dry winter marked by repeated brush fires and fire warnings.


"It may disrupt some guys who were in the field planting," said Shawn Martini, a spokesman for the Colorado Farm Bureau. "But at this point, they can delay that because the water is more important."


Tuesday, 03/24/09

‘Heavy snow piles up during blizzard’ – per AP

Snow totals from a spring blizzard that began leaving western South Dakota on Tuesday generally ranged from 5 inches to 15 inches across the area — but almost 2 feet in the northern Black Hills.


One report to the National Weather Service's Rapid City office early Tuesday was 23.6 inches of snow two miles northeast of Deadwood.


Other reported snowfall totals include 13.5 inches at Lead, 10 inches at Camp Crook, 6 inches in downtown Sturgis and 5 inches at Hill City and Spearfish.


The blizzard produced a wind gust clocked at 80 mph in downtown Rapid City shortly after midnight.


Forecasters said the strong winds and the blowing and drifting snow would continue to make travel virtually impossible but that blizzard conditions would gradually improve Tuesday as the storm system moves east.


Much of western South Dakota remained shut down by the blizzard on Tuesday as a blizzard warning remained posted for western and south central South Dakota until early evening.


Interstate 90 was closed from the Wyoming line to Chamberlain, and U.S. Highway 212 was closed from the Wyoming border to Newell.


The South Dakota Transportation Department advised no travel in most of the region.


The visibility got so bad that the state Department of Transportation pulled its snowplows off the roads. "It's a safety concern primarily," the DOT's Gary Engel said. "In the November blizzard we didn't do our closure quite as soon in that one, and we had trucks stopped right on the road. We had trucks stuck in the ditch because they couldn't seen where they were going."


Rapid City police investigated more than a dozen crashes Monday — seven of them with injuries.


State offices were closed until at least 1 p.m. Tuesday in Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Sturgis, Rapid City, Lead-Deadwood, Eagle Butte, Dupree, Martin and Wall because of the blizzard.


Mount Rushmore National Memorial remained closed Tuesday. Superintendent Gerard Baker said a decision on operations for the rest of the week will be announced later.


The storm also was too much for mail delivery. Service in Rapid City and western South Dakota was stopped because of the storm.


Rapid City Regional Airport closed Monday afternoon. The American Red Cross dropped off sleeping bags at gas stations on interstate exits for travelers who get stranded.


One traveler, Kevin Hayes, drives a large SUV, but strong wind gusts threw it around on Monday.


"Stay in where it's warm," he said. "Just stay out of it if you can."


Blizzard winds and snow whipped northwest Nebraska Tuesday as a massive early spring storm stalled over the area and western South Dakota to the north.


The National Weather Service said Tuesday that at least 8 inches of snow had fallen on Rushville and Chadron in Nebraska's Panhandle.


"We have wind gusts to 62 mph at Valentine this morning," said meteorologist Clifford Cole, whose office is in North Platte, Neb.


Several state and national highways that lace the Panhandle were closed because of icy pavement and near whiteout conditions, including a portion of Interstate 80 into Wyoming.


Tuesday, 03/24/09

‘North Dakota braces for record floods’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

FARGO, North Dakota (AFP) – Hundreds of volunteers built temporary dikes out of sandbags and clay amid a light drizzle of rain Tuesday as the flat prairie state of North Dakota braced for record spring flooding.


Army trucks filled with sandbags drove down a normally quiet residential street lining the Red River in Fargo where fresh volunteers poured out of buses to join a line of people tossing bags onto an ever-increasing dike.


"People are starting to realize how serious this situation is," said Kyle Lunke, a student at North Dakota State University.


The entire state was under a major flood warning as an unusually heavy snowpack began to melt on top of saturated land that has not yet fully thawed.


Floodwaters have already shut down a number of roads and bridges across North Dakota, where the governor has called in the national guard to help with flood protection and rescue efforts.


Several people caught in the rising waters were evacuated by air after roads became impassable and dozens more were forced to abandon their homes.


A heavy blizzard expected to dump six to nine inches of snow was forecast to move eastward across the state on Tuesday, further complicating flood preparations.


The neighboring state of Minnesota was also under threat as the mighty Red River, which borders the two midwestern states, began to overtop its banks as it flowed slowly northwards to Canada.


The extreme flatness of the Red River Valley means the floods will go wide, move slowly and take days or even weeks to recede, said Pat Slattery of the National Weather Service.


"You will have an extremely wide river," said Slattery, who said a stretch of waterway that now measures 100 yards wide "might turn into a mile to a mile-and-a-half."


"It's very hard to get this stuff to run off," he added. "Your soil up there is totally saturated."


Any rain or snowfall in the coming weeks will raise flood levels even further, warned Slattery.


The region was the site of devastating flooding in 1997, which caused more than two billion dollars in damage and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes after about 2,200 square miles (3,540 square kilometers) of land were swamped.


Since then, flood protections have been reinforced and officials say they are determined not to lose another home or business to the river.


"I don't think any homes are doomed to be lost," said Karena Lunday, the city of Fargo's communication manager.


Volunteers have poured into the city of 100,000 people to help with sandbagging efforts, and had filled a million by Tuesday morning.


A million more will be needed to protect the city from a flood forecast to crest at a near-record 40 feet on Friday, Lunday said.


Several miles of dikes need to be built and reinforced to protect against the river that runs through the east side of town.


"Everyone is so determined to get the job done," Lundy told AFP. "With so many volunteers stepping up to help I think we'll make it."


Jennifer Paulsrud fell asleep to the sound of trucks dropping off sandbags outside her Fargo home, which survived the 1997 flood thanks to a barrier built in the backyard.


That plywood barrier has been elevated this time around with the help of sandbags dropped off by volunteers.


"I woke up in the morning and there were sandbags everywhere," said Paulsrud as she handed out sandwiches and pizza to volunteers.


"It's a deja vu kind of thing ... I didn't think it would happen again."


Tuesday, 03/24/09

‘Severe storms damage homes, topple vehicles in Plains’ – per AP

Several tornadoes reportedly touched down in north-central and eastern Nebraska on Monday while the western end of the state reeled from a late wintry blast.


The tornado-laden storm system moved northeast through the eastern quarter of the state, hitting Lincoln and Omaha about rush hour before moving into Iowa.


Television station KPTM in Omaha reported that the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency had confirmed five people were hurt and several buildings were damaged near Eagle, east of Lincoln.


Doug Ahlberg, the emergency manager for Lancaster County, said his office was surveying damage at 11 locations in the greater Lincoln area.


Meanwhile, Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Valley, said late Monday that it appeared tornadoes touched down in western Cass County, near Eagle, and just across the state line in Harrison County, Iowa.


The weather service was continuing to monitor storm activity in the Omaha area late Monday.


The weather service's North Platte office reported Monday afternoon that two tornadoes had touched down in north-central Nebraska.


Steve Carmel said the first was at 1:45 p.m. about nine miles south of Brownlee, in Brown County. It was on the ground for about two minutes.


The second, he said, was reported eight miles north of O'Neill, in Holt County, just before 3:30 p.m. Downed power lines were reported in the area.


The weather service on Monday posted a tornado watch that covered central and northeastern portions of the state, including the heavily populated counties that include Omaha and its suburbs.


Forecasters said hail up to 2 inches in diameter was possible, as well as wind gusts up to 70 mph.


Earlier, forecasters posted blizzard and winter storm warnings for most of the Panhandle through Tuesday morning.


In central Kansas, strong wind toppled 13 vehicles as the storm system swept across the state Monday.


Lt. Mike Murphy of the Kansas Highway Patrol said most of the vehicles were tractor-trailers that overturned on a stretch of Interstate 70 from Ellsworth to Riley counties. Several people were taken to hospitals with injuries, and several others refused treatment.


Murphy said in his more than two decades in law enforcement, "I have never seen this many semis blow over."


The National Weather Service said a deep, low-pressure system to the west was generating strong winds and forming thunderstorms.


Wind gusts of more than 60 mph were recorded in Salina, while gusts of more than 90 mph were reported at a prairie research site about five miles south of Manhattan.


The strong winds snapped multiple power poles and tree limbs around Salina. Sporadic power outages and grass fires also were reported in areas including Hutchinson, Russell and Great Bend.


Westar spokesman Nick Bundy told The Hutchinson News that at one point as many as 8,000 Westar customers, from Johnson County to Kingman County were without power, with most of the outages caused by wind damage. By 5 p.m., the number of outages already had shrunk to about 4,590 customers.


Hail also was recorded in Salina as well as several other central-Kansas communities.


In south-central Kansas, the system also spawned an apparent tornado in Cowley County. Undersheriff Bill Mueller said a trained spotter reported seeing the funnel cloud touch down in a pasture several miles southeast of Winfield. Tree damage was reported along the Arkansas River.


Heavy rains also were causing street flooding in cities including Arkansas City and Winfield.


In Oklahoma, severe thunderstorms dropped much-needed rain and damaged several homes in the southwest part of the state, authorities said.


Parts of northern, central and southwestern Oklahoma were under a tornado watch for Monday afternoon into Monday night. Only one tornado warning was issued, for Logan County in north-central Oklahoma, but there was no confirmation that anything touched down.


Other high wind gusts reported were 58 mph in Chickasha and 60 mph in Lawton and west of Cyril, the weather service said.


According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, rainfall totals included 2.9 inches in Fort Cobb; 1.91 inches in Medicine Park and 1.17 inches in Altus and Minco.


The weather service allowed the tornado watch to expire at midnight and replaced it with a severe thunderstorm watch.


In Iowa, a tornado struck a house in Missouri Valley, causing major damage, but no one was home at the time.


Monday, 03/23/09

‘Scientists: Winter ice decline seen in Great Lakes’ – per AP

CLEVELAND (AP) — Scientists at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory say there has been more than a 30% ice decline on the lakes since the 1970s.


The drop attributed to global climate change leaves the largest system of freshwater lakes on Earth open to evaporation that can lead to lower lake levels.


Ice also protects the shoreline from erosion and protects underwater fish eggs.


Scientists who have studied the lakes at the lab in Ann Arbor, Mich., say the waters also are influenced by natural cycles that counter global warming.


Researcher Jia Wang says natural variability is at least as large a factor as global warming. He says regional climate patterns and global climate change are competing over the Great Lakes.


Friday, 03/13/09

‘Drought a $1 billion disaster in Texas’ – per AP

LUBBOCK, Texas — Agriculture officials said Friday that ranchers in the nation's largest cattle-producing state have already lost nearly $1 billion because of Texas' ongoing drought.


Officials said cattle raisers have lost $829 million since last summer, $569 million of that since November.


Recent rains across much of the state, though welcome, came too late. Ranchers have spent substantial money on hay and supplemental feed, the cost of trucking in additional hay. The drought losses also include failed wheat crops usually used for grazing.


All of Texas is in some stage of drought for the second straight week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.


Worst hit is Central Texas and the Hill Country, where exceptional drought, the most severe designation, has persisted for months and is the driest area in the U.S.


Texas just had its driest December-February stretch on record.


More than 60% of the state's beef cows are in counties with severe to exceptional drought — the three worst stages.


Losses will likely grow past $1 billion in the next two months as livestock producers continue to make supplemental feed purchases or sell cattle and calves in a declining market, said David Anderson, an agriculture marketing economist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service.


In 2006, drought-related crop and livestock losses were the state's worst for a single year, totaling $4.1 billion.


The effects of the drought on livestock aren't short-term, Anderson said.


"Drought results in reduced conception rates and calf crops the next year," he said. "The lack of feed results in lower cattle sale weights. Range and pasture recovery from drought can take multiple years and can result in reduced stocking rates while ranges recover."


No crop loss estimates are possible now, though South Texas farmers have probably planted some and Central Texas producers would just now be planting, he said.


Thursday, 03/12/08

‘Record dry start to 2009 worries farmers, firefighters’ - per AP

The first two months of 2009 are the driest start of any year since the USA began keeping records over a century ago, leading to severe drought in Texas, dipping reservoir levels in Florida and a surge in wildfires across the nation.


Farmers, cattlemen, firefighters and others worry that the dry start may be a harbinger of a bleak summer that could lead to increasing risk of fire and poor crop conditions.


Cattle rancher Jim Selman of Gonzales, Texas, has sold all but 30 of his 300 to 400 breeding cows because his pasture is too dry to feed them. "It might take me 10 years or more to get back where I was," he says. "It's so dry."


Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, said the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.


So far this year, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has logged 11,814 wildfires, the most for any two-month period in a decade and almost 3,700 more than the average.


The dry spell extends a drought that has hammered Central Texas since 2007 and California and the Southeast since 2006.


• In Texas, planting season for cotton, corn and sorghum should be well underway, but in much of the state it's been too dry to plant, says state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. Even with 2 inches of rain forecast for the next few days, crops will be at risk, Nielsen-Gammon said.


"Winter rain is like putting money in the bank for plants to withdraw," he said. "That supply of water isn't there, so plants will be very vulnerable to dry spells."


• In South Florida, Lake Okeechobee is at 12.54 feet, which is about 2 feet below its average for much of the past 45 years. The South Florida Water Management District is holding public meetings starting today to discuss water restrictions, spokesperson Gabe Margasak said.


• In California, NOAA reports the snowpack is at 80% of normal and much of the state is under severe drought. State officials are using prison inmate crews to clear away brush and create fire breaks around communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


The dry winter could mean a longer fire season in the summer because the grasses will dry out sooner and the trees will have less moisture in them, Berlant said.


Despite the current severity, the latest conditions pale in comparison to the drought of the 1930s, known as the Dust Bowl. At its height in July 1934, nearly two-thirds of the nation was in a severe to extreme drought. Today, 7% is. Hundreds of heat records from the 1930s still stand across the Plains.


Wednesday, 03/11/09

‘Flooding swamps Midwest homes, roads’ –

Flooding is again causing trouble in northwest Ohio where heavy rains in the last 24 hours have forced people out of their homes and led to dozens of road closing.


One of the hardest hit areas is the town of Defiance where the Mauamee and Auglaize Rivers join together.


Officials say about 60 homes in Defiance County have been swamped, forcing people in those neighborhoods to seek higher ground.


The Maumee River is expected to top out Wednesday afternoon at eight feet above flood level.


Meteorologist Mark Adams with the weather service says about an inch of rain fell across those communities through Tuesday night, much less than the nearly two and a-half inches that soaked the Toledo area, to the north. The Lucas County Sheriff's office said several roads were still closed around Toledo Wednesday morning because of high water.


In neighboring Indiana, some residents along rain-swollen rivers have evacuated their homes for higher ground.


White County Emergency Management Director Rose Brady was urging residents of flood-prone areas along the Tippecanoe River near Delphi to leave their homes if the water appears to be rising. Both the Norway and Oakdale dams were above flood stage Wednesday morning.


Farther to the west, the Mississippi River is now expected to crest 5 feet to 6 feet above flood stage later this week from southern Iowa through St. Louis, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.


Other rivers like the Grand, Chariton and Fabius are also flooding. And a few spots on the Missouri River are expected to reach flood level, though no significant problems are expected.


The latest round of high water is the result of heavy rain over the weekend in Missouri and to the north, and additional rain Monday and Tuesday. It comes about nine months after the 2008 flood that fell just short of 1993 records at several Mississippi River communities.


Experts don't believe this year's flood will be nearly as serious. The National Weather Service expects little or no rain through the weekend, so the water isn't expected to stay high for long.


Still, flood watchers are preparing as river levels rise rapidly. And there will be inconveniences, especially along the Mississippi — several roads will close, possibly including short stretches of U.S. 61 in far northeast Missouri and Route 79 at Louisiana, Mo. Rail lines will be under water and river navigation will be limited. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland will flood.


Wednesday, 03/11/09

‘Crews busy clearing roads after Midwest blizzard’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=Avbw2nLlGQ1C7F8qtz4kkRJoWrEF

FARGO, N.D. – Highway crews labored Wednesday to carve through snowdrifts that a blizzard piled up 10 feet high as hundreds of stalled motorists waited in bitter cold.


The storm was linked to at least four deaths and shut down numerous schools and businesses Tuesday.


Interstate 29 was reopened Wednesday from the Canadian border across North Dakota to Watertown, S.D., a distance of about 280 miles, highway officials said. Authorities believe as many as 10 truckers formed a convoy and drove on the closed road early Wednesday, but the state highway patrol said troopers were too busy to pursue the rogue drivers.


"It's been a trying 48 hours but to totally disregard something like that and put everybody's safety at risk is discouraging," Highway Patrol Capt. Jim Prockniak said.


Interstate 94 was reopened in both directions after hundreds of vehicles lined up Wednesday to be allowed on the highway west of Fargo.


Prockniak had said the road had "drifts as high as 10 feet in some areas."


The temperature at Fargo was 1 degree below zero Wednesday afternoon, with a wind chill factor of 21 below, the National Weather Service said.


Schools, clinics and businesses in Fargo were gradually reopening after being snowbound Tuesday.


Snow accumulations included 13.5 inches at Red Lake Falls, Minn., according to the weather service.


Slippery roads were blamed for two deaths in North Dakota and one each in Minnesota and South Dakota.


Sunday, 03/08/09

‘Tornadoes, severe storms rattle Midwest’ – per AP

Strong storms including at least three tornadoes damaged or destroyed homes in parts of the Midwest, and rainfall brought fears of more misery to areas hard-hit by flooding last year.


The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that damage in Illinois and Indiana on Sunday was the result of tornadoes.


One struck Sunday in Columbia City, Ind., where three trailers were destroyed and about 20 others damaged at a mobile home park.


"I looked outside and saw a bunch of milk cartons go flying by," Don Hart said. "Then a great big sheet, about eight foot, of aluminum siding flew right next to my window."


The weather service said two tornadoes struck in central Illinois on Sunday. One damaged or destroyed about 30 structures in Laomi, Sangamon County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Berker told The (Springfield) Journal-Register. Three people suffered minor injuries.


Another tornado destroyed a church and a farm house near Greenfield, Ill., about 60 miles north of St. Louis, the weather service said. And thousands of people lost power Sunday across central Illinois, including most of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus.


In northwest Ohio, high winds tore a roof off of one house, blew the windows out of another and damaged a barn near Defiance. The weather service was working to confirm whether a tornado had struck, meteorologist John Taylor said Monday.


Findlay, Ohio, was bracing for a possible rerun of last year's devastating flooding. The Blanchard River, which runs through downtown, rose from 7 feet Sunday to more than 15 feet by midday Monday.


The rising river closed dozens of roads and was expected to crest Monday afternoon at around 15.7 feet — more than 4 feet above flood stage. And what's worse, conditions forecast for the rest of the week are similar to February 2008, when the Blanchard crested at 16.5 feet at Findlay, city engineer Brian Hurt said.


Weekend rain prompted authorities in central and eastern Iowa, still rebuilding from disastrous floods last year, to warn people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground. Water poured through a broken levee Monday along the Iowa River near Wapello, but the town itself is on high ground and not in danger. The levee had broken during last summer's flooding and was never repaired, Louisa County Sheriff Curt Braby said.


In Wellman, Iowa, a man was treated for hypothermia after his pickup ended up in a flooded ditch Sunday. A firefighter who rescued the man also required treatment.


With more rain in the forecast across the region, officials were preparing for the possibility of further problems later in the week.


Sunday, 03/08/09

‘Days of rain precipitates major flooding in Iowa – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — More than a day of rain on saturated or frozen ground has led to major flooding along two eastern Iowa rivers.


The National Weather Service forecasts major flooding along the Iowa River in Wapello, Lone Tree and Columbus Junction, as well as at the English River near Kalona.


The weather service say the floodwaters will rise about five feet above flood stage until late next week.


John Hinsberger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says a low-pressure system "pumped up a lot of moisture" and hung over the area during the weekend before it was forecast to push northeast to Chicago and Michigan late Sunday.


"Once it's over Lake Michigan the system should be significantly diminished," Hinsberger said.


Major and moderate flooding has also closed several state highways and county roads, including state Highway 30 in Scott County west of Plainview and state Highway 92 west of Oskaloosa.


The weather service says the English River will be five feet above flood stage until Tuesday, and the Iowa River will be between four and five feet above flood stage until late next week.


In Wapello, the weather service predicted floodwaters to reach 25.7 feet, above the 20-foot flood stage. The floodwaters aren't predicted to recede until next weekend.


In Lone Tree, the river was predicted to reach 19 feet, above the 15-foot flood stage, and stay there until Wednesday night.


The Iowa River near Columbus Junction was predicted to reach 23.9 feet by Tuesday morning, above the 19-foot flood stage. The weather service predicts the water will fall back by Thursday night.


The English River near Kalona was predicted to reach 19.7 feet by Tuesday morning, above the 14-foot flood stage, before falling back below flood stage on Wednesday morning.


The weather service said widespread rain of between 1.5 inches and 2.5 inches have fallen since early Saturday morning on saturated or frozen ground. Moderate to heavy rain will drench parts of eastern Iowa before the system pushes through the state late Sunday afternoon.


Monday, 03/02/09

‘Winter strikes back in late eastern US storm’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=Anwg1X2HgA6S8ngo8TazVs1oWrEF

NEW YORK (AFP) – Late-season snow and high winds punched through the eastern United States Monday, killing at least five people as the freeze snapped power lines, closed schools and snarled air and road traffic.


More than one foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of the northeastern states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the National Weather Service said, as the storm swept toward Canada after paralyzing traffic in southern states during the weekend.


Five people died in storm-related traffic accidents in the northeast, including a pregnant woman in Boston, news site reported.


Flights to LaGuardia in New York, as well as to Philadelphia airport, were delayed by at least 45 minutes, and many were cancelled early Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.


Schools were closed in Boston and New York and delayed in Washington.


In Massachusetts, the state government told non-emergency employees to take the morning off and to avoid using private cars.


Christopher Vaccaro at the National Weather Service told AFP the storm had taken an "ideal" track to cause maximum havoc along the densely populated Atlantic coast.


"It was just close enough to the coast to bring heavy snow along the urban corridor -- not too far inland where it would change the snow and mix it with rain and sleet, while not too far off the coast to fall into the water," he said.


Southern states looked forward to more typical weather following Sunday's freak battering. Temperatures on Monday crept back above freezing in Atlanta, Georgia, and were forecast to hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) by Wednesday.


For northeastern states used to harsh weather the surprise storm was relatively easily handled.


New Yorkers, who only last week were starting to store away winter coats, saw more than seven inches (18 cm) of snow by early Monday, with about twice that amount forecast, accompanied by icy 20 miles an hour (32 kmh) winds.


However, an army of workers manning 1,500 snowplows, with hundreds of salt spreaders, fought successfully to keep Manhattan's busy streets clear.


In the usually temperate south, the impact was more dramatic.


The storm stunned southerners, provoking a rash of traffic accidents, huge jams along the freeways, and hundreds of flight cancellations.


Between four and eight inches (10-20 cm) fell in the Washington area, while a hefty 11.8 inches (30 cm) blanketed one part of Virginia, the National Weather Service said. North Carolina saw similar amounts and South Carolina a little less.


States far better known for their sultry summers like Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia all had a significant snowfall. One spot in Tennessee even got a huge 1.5 foot (46 cm) of snow, the National Weather Service said.


In Washington, Mayor Adrian Fenty declared a snow emergency on Sunday. More than 23,200 homes and businesses in the area were without electricity, local WTOP radio reported.


Wednesday, 02/25/09

‘Study: Antarctic glaciers slipping swiftly seaward’ – per AP

GENEVA (AP) — Antarctic glaciers are melting faster across a much wider area than previously thought, scientists said Wednesday — a development that could lead to an unprecedented rise in sea levels.

A report by thousands of scientists for the 2007-2008 International Polar Year concluded that the western part of the continent is warming up, not just the Antarctic Peninsula.

Previously most of the warming was thought to occur on the narrow stretch pointing toward South America, said Colin Summerhayes, executive director of the Britain-based Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and a member of International Polar Year's steering committee.

But satellite data and automated weather stations indicate otherwise.

"The warming we see in the peninsula also extends all the way down to what is called west Antarctica," Summerhayes told The Associated Press. "That's unusual and unexpected."

For the International Polar Year, scientists from more than 60 countries have been conducting intense Arctic and Antarctic research over the past two southern summer seasons — on the ice, at sea, and via icebreaker, submarine and surveillance satellite.

The biggest west Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier, is moving 40% faster than it was in the 1970s, discharging water and ice more rapidly into the ocean, Summerhayes said.

The Smith Glacier, also in west Antarctica, is moving 83% faster than it did in 1992, he said.

All the glaciers in the area together are losing a total of around 103 billion tons (114 billion U.S. tons) per year because the discharge is much greater than the new snowfall, he said.

"That's equivalent to the current mass loss from the whole of the Greenland ice sheet," Summerhayes said, adding that the glaciers' discharge was making a significant contribution to the rise in sea levels. "We didn't realize it was moving that fast."

The glaciers are slipping into the sea faster because the floating ice shelf that would normally stop them — usually 650 to 980 feet thick — is melting.

The warming of western Antarctica is a real concern.

"There's some people who fear that this is the first signs of an incipient collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet," Summerhayes said.

Antarctica's average annual temperature has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1957, but is still 50 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, according to a recent study by Eric Steig of the University of Washington.

Summerhayes said sea levels will rise faster than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group set up by the United Nations.

A 2007 IPCC report predicted a sea level rise of 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century, which could flood low-lying areas and force millions to flee. The group said an additional 3.9 to 7.8 inches rise was possible if the recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.

Summerhayes said the rise could be much higher.

"If the west Antarctica sheet collapses, then we're looking at a sea level rise of between 1 meter and 1.5 meters (3 feet, 4 inches to nearly 5 feet)," Summerhayes said.

Ian Allison, co-chair of the International Polar Year's steering committee, said many scientists now say the upper limit for sea level rise should be higher than predicted by IPCC.

"That has a very large impact," Allison said, adding that extremely large storms which might previously have occurred once in a year would start to occur on a weekly basis.

The IPY researchers found the southern ocean around Antarctica has warmed about 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit in the past decade, double the average warming of the rest of the Earth's oceans over the past 30 years.


Monday, 02/23/09

‘Snowstorm cuts power to more than 140K in New England’ – per AP

PORTLAND, Maine — More than 140,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday after a winter storm dumped wet, heavy snow on northern New England, canceling classes at hundreds of schools and creating a mess of the morning commute.

In Maine and New Hampshire, the storm arrived late Sunday and dumped heavy wet snow overnight, snapping tree limbs, utility lines and utility poles. The deepest totals were recorded in western Maine, where several towns reported getting 2 feet or more.

Maine utilities said at least 142,200 homes and businesses were without power Monday morning. About 18,500 Public Service Company of New Hampshire customers lost power, but it had been restored to all but about 3,200 homes and businesses by early morning.

The numbers are expected to increase as the storm makes its way across Maine.

"With the winds picking up later today, things could get worse before they get better," said Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice.

Heavy snow was still falling across most of Maine on Monday morning, with some places reporting rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour.

The deepest amount, 25 inches, was recorded in Bridgton in western Maine, according to the National Weather Service. Other impressive amounts included 24 inches in South Paris and Fryeburg, 23 inches in Wellington, 22 inches in Jay and 21 inches in Hartford, all in Maine. New Durham, N.H., reported 17 inches of snowfall.

The snow resulted in hundreds of schools canceling classes for the day in Maine, which was supposed to be the first day back after a week-long winter vacation. In New Hampshire, the storm prompted some school closings, but many already were closed for February vacation.

The National Weather Service says Dighton, Mich., near Cadillac, got 1 foot as of late Sunday. Roads and expressways remain slippery and snow-clogged Sunday in southeastern Michigan, where Armada got 5 inches of snow.


Thursday, 02/19/09

‘1 dead. 16 injured as severe storms hammer South’ – Yahoo! per  AP

ATLANTA – One person was killed and at least 16 were injured when fierce thunderstorms swept Georgia and Alabama, bringing tornadoes, hail and lightning and downing trees and power lines, authorities said Thursday.

At least three tornadoes touched down in central Georgia when the storms swept through overnight, according to National Weather Service teams who rolled out after daylight to determine if twisters had hit based on the damage. The storms gutted homes, and destroyed a nightclub and damaged schools.

"It looks like a B-52 bomber went over," Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said. "The buildings are completely disintegrated."

In the Hancock County town of Sparta, Johnny Frank Baker was killed when his home was destroyed by the storm, county coroner Alexander Ingram said.

Most of the 143-year-old Hickory Grove Missionary Baptist Church, which is across the street from Baker's home, was leveled and nearby graves were uprooted by toppled trees.

Kent McMullen, a meteorologist with the weather service in Peachtree City, said one confirmed tornado cut a 7-mile swath through rural Jasper County with winds of up to 100 mph. At least 10 people were injured and as many as 100 structures were damaged in Jasper County, emergency managers said.

Two other twisters touched down in Taylor County and at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, south of Macon, McMullen said.

In Alabama, an apparent tornado uprooted trees in Geneva near the Florida line. No injuries were reported.

Across Georgia, roughly 13,400 homes and businesses lost power during the height of the storm. Much of it was restored by Thursday morning.

The storms might just be a preview of the spring tornado season. A record outbreak of 21 tornadoes struck the state on March 1, 2007, wrecking a hospital in Americus and killing nine people. A tornado struck downtown Atlanta on March 14 last year, causing millions of dollars in damage, and some buildings still have broken windows.


Tuesday, 02/17/09

‘Winter storm slams Calif. with rain, snow, wind’ – per AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A huge midwinter storm left much of California rain-soaked and snowbound and caused plenty of traffic havoc, but the state appeared to have dodged the major mudslides and flooding that had been feared.

The storm that closed major arteries in and out of Los Angeles and forced the cancellation of an often rain-plagued PGA tournament was not quite finished with the region Tuesday, with lingering showers expected to make trouble for morning commuters returning to work after the holiday weekend.

The storm stretched from the Mexican border up to Oregon and was expected to last through Tuesday afternoon, said Stan Wasowski, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in San Diego.

He said the clouds extended several hundred miles off the Pacific coast.

"This one here is hitting the entire state," Wasowski said.

Heavy snow temporarily forced the closure of the Grapevine section of Interstate 5 in the mountains north of Los Angeles, and a section of Interstate 15 in the mountains to the east, both major highways for holiday travelers.

Wind gusts caused dangerous surf conditions off the coasts in San Diego and Orange counties, the National Weather Service said.

In Northern California, a flood advisory was issued for the San Francisco Bay area and a flash flood watch was in effect for much of California's Central Coast, where flooded greens forced the cancellation of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am's final round.

The PGA Tour declared Dustin Johnson the winner after he built a four-shot lead early in the weekend.

The rain brought renewed fears of mudslides in areas ravaged by wildfires last year. Some mud flowed over sandbags and seeped into about 20 homes in a burn area in Yorba Linda, the Orange County Register said.

Before the storm passes through, Los Angeles County could get between 1 and 3 inches of rain along the coast and 3 to 5 inches in the mountains. Up to several feet of snow were expected above the 6,000-foot level in area mountains, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The storm came amid what has been an unseasonably dry winter in the Los Angeles. In January, downtown Los Angeles typically gets about 3.3 inches of rainfall but received only 0.34 inches last month, Seto said.

"We were several inches below normal but this is really catching us up," he said.

In the Sierra Nevada, heavy snows forced motorists to don tire chains to navigate steep mountain passes. The weather was a boon for Lake Tahoe resorts, where skiers and snowboarders were enjoying heaps of fresh powder.


Friday, 02/13/09

‘Heavy snow wallops Nebraska’ – per AP

OMAHA (AP) — Some parts of Nebraska saw 10 inches of snow and drifts up to 3 feet as a winter storm moved east across the state on Friday.

Becky Griffis, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Valley, said the storm was still dumping snow on southeast Nebraska by late afternoon as the storm headed into Iowa and Missouri. She expected it to taper off this evening.

At its peak, Griffis said, the storm was dropping 1 to 1 1/2 inches of snow per hour on eastern Nebraska.

By mid-afternoon, 8.3 inches of snow had fallen in Lincoln and 6 inches in parts of Omaha, with up to an inch more in the city's outlying communities. There were reports of 8 inches in Eustis and 6 inches in Columbus, in central Nebraska.

Farther west, there were two reports of 10-inch-deep snow.

Drifts to 3 feet were reported in Arnold, which is on the west edge of Custer County.

Jacobs said the snow started before 3 a.m. in North Platte and had reached nearly 8 inches in only 8 hours.

Travel on Interstate 80 eastbound near Kearney was limited to one lane for part of Friday afternoon due to a crash.

Winds gusting to 30 mph were in the storm forecast, but Jacobs said he hadn't seen any such reports yet Friday.

Another storm was expected Saturday, Jacobs said, but it will carry less snow: 1-3 inches over most of the state.


Thursday, 02/12/09

‘Weak tornado touches down at golf course in Hawaii’ – per AP

HONOLULU (AP) — A weak tornado briefly touched down Wednesday on Oahu.

An administrator at the Kapolei Golf Course, Illona Ioli, says the twister ripped up some trees as it went straight through the golf Course.

Minor damage was reported to roofs and yard equipment.

The rare weather occurance for Hawaii was accompanied by heavy rains.


Emergency Medical Services spokesman Bryan Cheplic says a man identified as a golf course employee suffered injuries when he went out onto the course to warn people of the inclement weather. Cheplic says the man apparently got caught in a strong gust of wind.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital and later released.

Wednesday, 02/11/09

‘Rescue workers search rubble after tornado kills 8 in Oklahoma’ – Yahoo! News per AFP;_ylt=AgwXlySfJ7SR4CirHfxbiv9oWrEF

CHICAGO (AFP) – Rescue workers on Wednesday dug through the wreckage left by a powerful tornado that killed at least eight people as it tore through a small town in Oklahoma.

Several survivors were found trapped in homes flattened by the out-of-season twister which was almost half a mile (a kilometer) across, local media reported.

"There's nothing left ... twisted metal, cars turned upside down, cars in trees," Oklahoma highway patrol trooper Bryant Harris, who lives in the devastated hamlet of Lone Grove, told the Tulsa World newspaper.

The twister ripped through the town of 5,200 shortly before 7:30 pm Tuesday (0130 GMT Wednesday), one of at least five that touched down in Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, officials said.

Hail the size of baseballs also was dumped by the massive storm, which was moving east on Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued tornado watches in eight states.

Reports initially said 15 people were killed, but the Oklahoma governor's office told AFP only eight fatalities had been confirmed.

The national guard was called in to assist with search and rescue operations early Wednesday, the spokesman added.

Forecasters said the twisters barreling through the famed "Tornado Alley" have come earlier than usual this year, fueled by unusually warm, wet weather.

"It's February, but we're going to treat it like May," said Mike Foster, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Norman, Oklahoma office, speaking to local media.

Television networks showed images of roofs torn off homes and buildings reduced to rubble by the storms' devastating winds which knocked down trees and snapped power lines, leaving 29,000 people in the dark.

Rescue workers in Lone Grove were forced to suspend their search for survivors shortly after 1:00 am (0700 GMT) Wednesday because they did not have enough lights or manpower to safely work through the jagged metal and livewires hidden in rubble and debris.

"It's just too dangerous," Sheriff Ken Grace told The Oklahoman newspaper. "We don't need to be adding any more injuries to what we already have."

Another tornado struck near the state's main city of Oklahoma City, forcing diners and employees of a Mexican restaurant to huddle in the walk-in freezer as the building around them rattled.

"It was just unbelievable that something could come that quick," said Andrea Stephens, who emerged to find her van dented and shards of glass wedged into her seats.

In the town of Edmond, a tornado destroyed an auto body shop shortly after the manager left for the day. "It's just surreal," Michael Jerry told the daily. "The steel girders are in a ball."


Sunday, 02/08/09

‘More Temperature Records Set in Carolinas, West Virginia’ – Capital Climate Blog

Some daily temperature records for Feb. 8 reported by the National Weather Service:









SET IN 1965.








Washington's high of 67° missed the record set in 1900 by 1°.

Total U.S. daily temperature records so far this month:

Lowest minimum: 59

Highest maximum: 316 (includes 115 on the 7th alone, across 11 states)


Sunday, 02/08/09

‘Record high temperature Saturday at Dulles’ –

The high temperature of 65 degrees Saturday at Dulles International Airport set a new record for the date, topping the old record of 59 degrees, set in 2005.

At BWI, the Saturday high of 62 degrees fell just short of the record - 64 degrees, set in 1904.

Today's record high temperature at BWI is 70 degrees, set on this date in 1965. The forecast high for this afternoon is 67 degrees. It was 64 degrees at noon.


Friday, 02/06/09

‘Fires to follow floods as wild weather hits Australia’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) – Eastern Australia braced for more fires and floods Friday as the south faced extreme heat and heavy rain threatened to swell floodwaters ravaging the north.

A once-in-a-century heatwave was forecast to intensify over the weekend with high temperatures and dry winds producing the worst wildfire conditions in 25 years, authorities said.

"We're talking about fire danger that hasn't been seen since Ash Wednesday coming up on Saturday," said Ron Patterson, an environment department spokesman from Victoria state.

The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 killed 75 people and devastated large areas of Australia's southeast, wiping out some 2,500 homes.

The mercury is expected to top 44 degrees in Sydney, Australia's largest city, on Sunday, with temperatures in excess of 46 degrees forecast for inland areas.

Much of the southeast has sweltered under record temperatures this summer, with wildfires destroying at least 29 homes last week and dozens of mainly elderly people dying of heat-related stress.

The temperature in the South Australian capital Adelaide soared to above 42 degrees on Friday and authorities warned of worse to come.

"The fire danger forecast for Saturday may be as extreme as we've seen in South Australia for a number of years," said fire service spokesman Euan Ferguson.

A 120-hectare blaze was Friday threatening to break containment lines and threaten property in Victoria's Gippsland region, with the state's premier John Brumby describing conditions as "tinder-dry".

Almost 40 separate fires raged in the neighbouring state of New South Wales, where 70,000 volunteer firefighters will be on standby throughout the weekend.

Adding to the fear is the knowledge that many of Australia's wildfires are lit by arsonists.

Police are hunting fire starters believed to have sparked last week's fire that destroyed nearly 30 homes in Victoria state.

The government's Australian Institute of Criminology released a report on Sunday which said half of the nation's 20,000 to 30,000 bushfires each year are deliberately lit.

But in the northeast, floodwaters have devastated more than one million square kilometres (385,000 square miles), inundating homes, destroying at least a fifth of the region's sugar cane fields and stranding tens of thousands of cattle.

"There are cattle suffering pretty seriously," said Cattle Council of Australia president Greg Brown.

Farmers unable to move produce due to the floods were facing millions of dollars in losses, while the army was preparing to drop food into some towns that have been cut off for up to a week.

The deluge, which followed two recent cyclones, hit almost 3,000 homes, forcing dozens of evacuations and leaving scores of people stranded.

Some towns in the Gulf of Carpentaria region could remain inaccessible by road for another six weeks, authorities have warned.

Further heavy rains are expected, as a tropical low hovers off the coast, the weather bureau said.

Meteorologists have warned the extreme temperatures and downpours -- a common feature of Australian summers -- would only increase as a result of climate change.


Friday, 02/06/09

‘China suffering worst drought in 50 years’ –

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China is suffering another natural disaster -- this time, the worst drought in half a century. The land is parched and the irrigation dams have dried up. Crops and livestock are dying.

China on Thursday raised the drought-emergency-alert level from orange to red and allocated an additional $44 million dollars on top of the $13 million in emergency aid already released.

Since November northern and central China has had little rain. Many places have not had rainfall for more than 100 days.

"The extent of drought is quite extensive, the impact is quite great," forecaster Zhang Peiqun said in an interview with state television CCTV. "Rainfall on average has been 50 to 80 percent less than that of last year."

China has been hit by a string of natural disasters in the last year. In addition to the drought, Chinese officials have had to battle back against a brutal winter that stranded millions and a deadly earthquake that killed tens of thousands.

In the drought, more than 4.3 million residents face a shortage of drinking water, as do 2 million livestock.

The drought has hit 12 provinces, including the wheat-producing areas in Henan, Anhui, and Shandong provinces. Chinese media says the total area affected has reached 1,370 million hectares (3,385 million acres).

Reached by telephone, a spokesman of the Henan Drought Relief Headquarters told CNN that the worst affected areas were north of the Yellow River, including the cities of Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Jiaozuo and Luoyang.

"The water level of the Yellow River is very low at this moment and the government is doing relief operations," he said. The water level at the Xiao Langdi reservoir is only half of last year's.

With the emergency funding, teams of specialists have been dispatched to deliver technical expertise and relief supplies. The Anhui Agriculture Department is telling farmers in drought-hit villages to irrigate more efficiently, while other provinces have resorted to cloud seeding to induce rainfall.

Some relief may be on the way. Xinhua reported Thursday that meteorologists expect light to moderate rainfall or snow in some drought-hit areas over the next couple of days.


Wednesday, 02/04/09

‘Rain-battered Australia state on snake alert’ – Yahoo! News per AP

SYDNEY – Rain-battered residents in northeastern Australia were on alert Wednesday for snakes in their bathrooms and crocodiles in the road following repeated storms that have sent local wildlife in search of dry land or a safe haven.

More than half of Queensland state was declared a disaster area Tuesday because of the rains that started in late December and are expected to continue.

In Queensland's hardest-hit town of Ingham, David Harkin was preparing Wednesday to evacuate after watching floods wash through his two-level home. He said he's seen several snakes around his home since the latest storm hit Sunday.

"That's why I keep the broom here (at the front door) to chase the snakes away," he told reporters. Some 2,900 homes have been damaged in Ingham and hundreds of people evacuated to a temporary shelter.

In the coastal city of Townsville, floods were blamed for washing a freshwater crocodile into the street — where it got run over.

The 5.25-foot-long (1.6-meter-long) crocodile survived and was being treated for an injured eye and several broken teeth, the Townsville Bulletin newspaper reported Wednesday.

Wildlife Carers volunteer Lana Allcroft said the service had been overwhelmed with injured and displaced animals since the floods began.

After weeks of storms that have submerged parts of Queensland, the area was battered again Sunday when a tropical storm landed. More rain is forecast this week, including a possible cyclone.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas, who visited Ingham on Wednesday, said he didn't believe the ground could cope with more rain.

"It's like pouring water over a wet towel," Lucas said.

Ingham had received 14.41 inches (366 millimeters) of rain in 24 hours Wednesday morning, on top of more than 15.75 inches (400 millimeters) dumped in the previous days.

The state government said Tuesday that the storms had caused an estimated 109 million Australian dollars ($69.5 million) in damage since late December and that more than 56 percent of the state — 376,755 square miles (975,794 square kilometers) — is eligible for disaster relief. About 17 rivers are flooded and dams are overflowing.

Some coastal areas are completely cut off by flooding and authorities fear the stagnant water could worsen an outbreak of dengue fever.


Tuesday, 02/03/09

‘Sudden snowfall snarls central Indiana traffic’ – per AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — More than three inches of snow fell during the morning drive to work in central Indiana, snarling traffic and causing accidents.

The National Weather Service says 3.7 inches of snow fell at Indianapolis International Airport in about three hours before 10 a.m. Tuesday.

State Police say highways are snow covered and slippery. A section of Interstate 70 was closed because of a crash near Greenfield, about 15 miles east of Indianapolis. Several crashes were reported on other highways.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works says it had all 75 of its snow plows on the city's streets. The department says salt that was placed on roads overnight didn't work because the snow fell too fast and at the wrong time.


Monday, 02/02/09

‘Heavy snow brings travel chaos to Britain’ –

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain experienced its heaviest snowfall in 18 years Monday, as adverse weather brought disruption to the transport network.

London -- one of the world's leading financial centers -- was brought to a standstill as heavy snow shut down the city's bus network, partially paralyzing the city. Tens of thousands of commuters were advised not to make the journey into work in the British capital and hundreds of schools were closed across the country.

Ryanair staff used loudhailers to tell passengers waiting at London's Stansted airport that no seats were available, as flights to and from the UK were badly hit, Britain's Press Association said. The airline asked travellers to be patient and said "abuse" of staff would not be tolerated.

On the trains, the extent of delays and cancellations to train services was not clear as the Web site of the National Rail Enquiries service "crashed" due to the huge volume of traffic it was experiencing.

Eurostar services from London to Europe were experiencing severe delays due to heavy snow in both England and northern France.

On Monday, Britain's Highways Agency warned drivers in the south east of England to consider whether their journeys were completely necessary.

According to the UK Met Office, heavy snow showers will continue to affect many parts of England with the east, south east and trans-Pennine routes likely to be the worst affected. More persistent and heavier snow will spread north across central and eastern areas during the afternoon and evening.


Friday, 01/30/09

‘Calif. facing worst drought in modern history’ – per AP

ECHO SUMMIT, Calif. (AP) — State officials reported a Sierra Nevada snowpack smaller than normal on Thursday and said California may be at the beginning of its worst drought in modern history. Residents were immediately urged to conserve water.

The snowpack was about 61% of its usual depth across the 400-mile-long mountain range, according to the state Department of Water Resources, which released the findings as part of the second snow survey of the season.

Department Director Lester Snow said the results indicate California could be heading for a third dry year.

"We may be at the start of the worst California drought in modern history," Snow said in a statement. "It's imperative for Californians to conserve water immediately at home and in their businesses."

Measurements of snow depth and snow water content in the Sierra are important because they help hydrologists forecast how much water California can expect to get in the coming year.

Levels were 49% of normal in the northern Sierra and about 63% of normal in the central region and 68% of normal in the southern region.

California's largest reservoirs — Shasta and Oroville — are less than half as full as they should be for this time of year. The snowpack water content needs to be roughly double what it is today by April to replenish the reservoirs, said Don Strickland, a spokesman for the water agency.

It's doubtful Mother Nature will grow the snowpack by that much. Felix Garcia, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said a La Nina weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean is pushing most of this year's winter storms past California.

"The rain is happening but it's happening way north in Washington and in Canada," Garcia said. "It is expected to remain about the same for the next two to three months."

The state has said it will deliver just 15% of its water contracts this year because of the low reservoir levels and court-ordered restrictions not to pump water to protect a threatened fish that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last week warned farmers that water deliveries would be low this year. The agency intends to release its annual delivery estimates next month.

And in neighboring Nevada, the U.S. Agriculture Department has declared almost all of the state a natural disaster area because of losses caused by drought over the past year.


Wednesday, 01/28/09

‘Worst heatwave in a century hits’ – Special Broadcasting Service [Australia]

With south-eastern Australia in the grip of a brutal heatwave, fire authorities went on full alert, the Australian Open went undercover and commuters went troppo.

In Adelaide the mercury soared to 45.7 degrees celsius at 3.31pm (1601 AEDT) on Wednesday, the hottest it's been in at least 31 years and just shy of the all-time record of 46.1 degrees.

Melbourne also sweltered through the heatwave, and in the city a top temperature of 41.9 was reached shortly after 2pm (AEDT).

The maximum forecast for Melbourne tomorrow is 43 degrees.

WorkSafe Victoria urged bosses and employers in all types of businesses to take the extreme heat into consideration.

"As the hot days and nights continue, employers and supervisors will need to consider this to be an added hazard to build into their planning," said WorkSafe chief John Merritt.
"There are clear safety issues with people working outdoors, but people who are working under cover or in confined spaces are also at risk from indirect heat or fatigue," he said.

At Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, the Extreme Heat Policy was invoked at the Australian Open tennis championships on Wednesday.

As the temperature topped 40 degrees the roof was closed at the conclusion of the first set of the women's quarter-final between American Serena Williams and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.

There were also extended breaks between sets in all matches.

Meanwhile, across the entire region, temperatures were even hotter than in the capital cities.

In Ceduna, north-west of Adelaide, the temperature was 47.4 degrees at 2.20pm (1450 AEDT), making it the hottest recorded temperature in the state, while in Mildura, in Victoria's north-west, it reached 43.7 degrees at 3.38pm (AEDT).

Victoria's Country Fire Authority battled a grass fire in the Mornington Peninsula that threatened homes in the area before it was contained.

A number of other small blazes also broke out, but low wind speeds assisted firefighters.

There is a total fire ban in Victoria for Thursday.

Melbourne's beleaguered train commuters were suffering with a stream of cancellations due to the heat.

By mid-afternoon 56 train services had been cancelled, and the website of train operator Connex had crashed due to high demand for information.

Connex spokeswoman Lanie Harris said that, as well as the cancellations, the heat meant the trains would be running slower than normal.

"We have got all of our maintenance crews on standby, and they are also working around the clock," Ms Harris said.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said that as the hot weather continued power supplies would be stretched to the limit, with the reserve in place decreased from 10 per cent to five per cent.

"The reserve margin yesterday was very large, tomorrow that will be much tighter," he said.

The National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) said demand for electricity in Victoria and South Australia had surged to well above normal limits, but there should be enough energy in reserve to cope.

About 1,200 CitiPower customers lost power in South Melbourne, although the company was not certain of the reason for the outage.

Ambulance authorities in Victoria and South Australia warned people to take it easy in the heat, and to keep well hydrated.


Wednesday, 01/28/09

‘Deadly ice and snow storm cut swath across US’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

CHICAGO (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people were left shivering in the dark after a massive ice and snow storm cut a swath across the United States Wednesday, knocking down power lines, snarling traffic, grounding flights and forcing schools to close.

Freezing rain on the southern end of the storm covered trees and bridges with brilliant ice crystals but made roads incredibly slick and dangerous from Texas to Pennsylvania.

At least a dozen deaths were reported.

The northern side of the snow dumped as much as a foot (30 centimeters) of snow in some areas of Ohio and the US east coast.

And with a cold front moving in behind the storm it could be days before the ice melts and weeks before all the damage is repaired, officials warned.

"It's a pretty big storm," said meteorologist Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service.

"We won't know the full scope of this until people get their power back on."

The storm formed Monday over the southern plain states and Texas and moved steadily east and north, Sullivan said. Some areas got ice on top of snow.

"It looks as though with this accelerating so fast by tomorrow morning it will move into eastern Canada," Sullivan said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol responded to more than 1,000 weather related collisions on Monday and Tuesday, 130 of them involving injury. Two people were killed.

More than a hundred accidents were reported from midnight to 9 am Wednesday in the city of Dallas alone and a two people died in Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Heavy ice brought down tree limbs and power lines, blew out transformers and caused a number of fires in Kentucky, where several cities were completely without power.

"There are some areas of the state that have been very hard hit and some utilities that lack backup generators so that is affecting water service," Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, told AFP.

Three people were killed in Arkansas, where emergency shelters were opened after power and phone lines were knocked down by the ice, officials said. Five storm-related deaths were reported in Missouri.


Wednesday, 01/28/09

‘Swiss scientists say world’s glaciers melting fast’ – per AP

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) — The world's glaciers thinned by an average of almost 29 inches in 2007, indicating that they are melting twice as fast this decade as during the 1980s and 1990s, Swiss scientists said Thursday.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich regularly measures 80 glaciers around the globe.

It found that some Alpine glaciers lost as much as 10 feet of ice cover, while coastal glaciers in Norway actually thickened in 2007.

The rate of decline was less than in 2006, according to Michael Zemp, one of the scientists involved.

But 2007 was the sixth year this decade that the glaciers lost on average more than 20 inches thickness.

"This means that the rate of melting during the 1980s and 1990s has more than doubled," Zemp said.

The 30 glaciers that have been measured the longest have thinned by an average of 40 feet since 1980, he said.

Glacial thickness is directly influenced by the weather during the previous year, while glacier length is considered by scientists to be an indication of long-term climate trends.


Tuesday, 01/27/09

‘Thousands blacked out as ice storm wreaks havoc’ – Yahoo! News per AP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Tree limbs snapped with a sound like gunshots, blacking out thousands of homes and businesses, and schools and government offices were closed Tuesday as a major storm spread a glaze of ice and snow from the southern Plains to the East Coast.

At least 13 deaths had been blamed on the weather.

Highway crews fought to keep up with slippery roads and in some places were blocked by fallen tree limbs and power lines. Ice had built up 3 inches thick in sections of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service posted ice storm and winter storm warnings Tuesday along a broad swath from Texas and Oklahoma through the Mississippi and Ohio valleys all the way into northern New England. Radar showed smears of snow and freezing rain stretching from Texas to Virginia during the afternoon.

Broken tree limbs weighted down by ice crashed onto power lines, cutting service to at least 165,000 homes and businesses in hard-hit Arkansas, utilities said.

"I think we are about to go over the cliff," said Mel Coleman, CEO of the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative in Salem.

Arkansas utilities warned customers that their power could be out for at least three days.

"We fully expect this to be one of the largest outages we've ever had," said Coleman. "Right now, we're just hoping it's days and not weeks."

Kentucky state officials reported more than 60,000 customers with no electricity as ice up to 1.5 inches thick broke tree limbs.

"It's a serious situation," said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Joe Prather. "Our crews are working nonstop, but the snow in many areas is falling faster than we can clear, so it will take time to make headway."

About 6,000 customers were blacked out in Oklahoma as temperatures hovered in the teens and 20s. About 4,700 outages were reported in the southeast tip of Missouri.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency Tuesday; Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry did the same on Monday.

Hundreds of public schools, colleges and universities called off classes Tuesday in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland.

"Playing in the snow is pretty much the thing to do today," said student Sarah Bonham at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.

Every county reported school closings in West Virginia, where snow on hilly roads changed to sleet and rain in places. As much as 6 inches of snow fell in some areas.

"The roads are still a little bit slimy," said Paul Howard, director of operations for West Virginia's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "The Division of Highways is knocking their socks off trying to keep the roads sort of clear."

And as the storm threatened to barrel into New England, utility companies and road crews in several states prepared for the worst.

The New Hampshire Legislature canceled Wednesday's sessions. Up to 15 inches of snow was forecast Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Since the storm began building on Monday, the weather had been blamed for three deaths in Arkansas, three in Virginia, three in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, one in Indiana and one in Texas.


Sunday, 01/25/08

‘Four boys killed in roof collapse as storms batter Spain, France’ –

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Hurricane-force winds have swept across Spain and France, leaving 16 people dead, authorities and media have reported.

Four boys were killed and nine other people, including two adults, were injured Saturday when the roof collapsed at a sports center outside Barcelona, authorities said.

Eight other people were killed in separate incidents elsewhere in Spain and four in France

The sports complex collapsed shortly after 11 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) in Sant Boi de Llobregat, a suburb just west of the city, near the Prat airport.

The boys who died, who were aged nine- to 12-years old, were among 17 youngsters playing baseball outside when strong winds began blowing. The adults took 11 of the children into the building, authorities said. Six boys remained outside.

The winds caused the metal roof and part of the building's concrete siding to collapse on those inside, where the deaths and injuries occurred, a spokeswoman for the Catalan regional government's fire brigade told CNN.

The six boys who stayed outside were not hurt. Earlier official reports that said they had been injured were wrong.

Spanish media have reported winds of up to 99 mph in parts of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona. Strong winds have also had much of northern Spain on alert.

The winds would signify a Category 2 hurricane, which has wind speeds that range from 96 to 110 mph, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The strong winds led officials to put much of northern Spain on alert. Residents were advised to stay inside.

Various airports in northern Spain suffered delays, as did the high-speed train service between Madrid and Barcelona, authorities said.

The severe weather, which began Friday night, has also pummeled southwestern France, knocking out power for about 1.2 million homes, according to Electricite de France.

Regions hit included Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrenees, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne, Aude and Pyrenees-Orientales, officials said, with fallen trees and damaged roads hindering access.

On Saturday, two drivers in the city of Les Landes were killed when heavy winds downed trees that fell on their cars. A 78-year-old man also died after being struck by debris near his home, police said.

In Gironde, a 73-year-old woman who was on a respiratory machine died after her home lost power.


Friday, 01/23/09

‘Historic drought grips Argentina’ – per AP

STROEDER, Argentina — Skeletons of livestock are piling up in the scorching sun of the Southern Hemisphere's summer as the worst drought in a generation turns much of Argentina's breadbasket into a dust bowl.

The nation's farm sector stands to lose $5 billion this year alone — a huge blow to the economy of Argentina, a top world exporter of soy, corn, wheat and beef — as well as to the government of President Cristina Fernandez, which faces billions of dollars in debt payments this year.

Wheat fields that once supplied flour for pasta-loving Argentines now resemble deserts, and spiny thistles are all that survive on cattle ranches in southern Buenos Aires province.

Nothing edible grows, said Hilda Schneider, a 65-year-old rancher who has lost nearly 500 cows to starvation.

"With the situation we're in now, without any harvest, there's nothing to do," said Schneider, one of 2,000 residents in Stroeder, a farming village suffering its worst drought since the 1930s. "We try to save the animals, which is the only thing we have left."

Nationally, there hasn't been this little rain in Argentina since 1971, according to Liliana Nunez of the National Weather Service.

She said ocean temperatures in the Southern Atlantic have fueled wind currents that have prevented colder, wetter Pacific fronts from moving in and forming rain clouds over much of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southwestern Brazil.

Soy growing areas across the region are expecting crop losses. Uruguay has declared a farming emergency. But Argentina seems hardest-hit, with the Agriculture Secretariat projecting a 44% drop in the 2008-2009 wheat harvest, and a 27% drop in corn. Argentine harvests of more resilient soy are expected to increase by just 7% after rising an average of 10% per year since 2003.

The farming sector could lose $5 billion this year, and the government could lose $4.3 billion in tax revenue from the agricultural sector, said Milagros Gismondi, an analyst with the economic consultancy Orlando Ferreres y Asociados in Buenos Aires.

Now some Argentine provinces have declared agricultural emergencies — a move Fernandez has resisted nationally because it would mean canceling or suspending more taxes. But her government has reduced export taxes on wheat, corn, fruits and vegetables in recent weeks to compensate for slumping commodity prices, and temporarily suspended the minimum weight for slaughtering livestock so that ranchers can sell cattle before they starve.

The government also released $66 million in subsidies to small agricultural producers, which translates to about $4,500 each for qualifying farmers in Stroeder. Many said that wouldn't even cover diesel for their tractors.

Elbio Madarieta's once-fertile 12,000 acre ranch outside Stroeder is now an arid plain, scattered with the remains of the 900 cattle he lost last year — 25% of his herd. The wind kicks up of clouds of dust, and not a stalk of wheat can be seen, let alone anything green for grazing.

The 56-year-old farmer and agronomist figures it will take five years after rains return for the soil to recuperate lost moisture and nutrients. Until then, he'll have to sell the cows he's managed to keep alive on costly feed, and restoring the herd won't be easy, since malnourished cows are less likely to reproduce.

Vittorio Vavrin, 78, said the last harvest on his medium-sized wheat farm was a bust, and he's already given up on the next one.

"You can't keep working with the lack of rain and the price of seed," said Vavrin, his eyes trained on the dry ground. "I went into debt, the harvests shrank, costs increased. I took out loans and I couldn't pay them."


Thursday, 01/22/09

‘Tree deaths soar in Western U.S.’ – per Reuters

Tree deaths, spurred by global warming, have more than doubled in older forests across Western states, federal scientists reported Thursday.

Droughts and pests brought on by warmer temperatures have killed firs, hemlocks, pines and other large trees in particular over the past 30 years without allowing replacements to sprout, the study published in the journal Science finds.

"Very likely the mortality rate will continue to rise," says lead author Phillip van Mantgem of the U.S. Geologic Survey.

In 2007, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found it "very likely" that average temperatures have increased more than 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century and probably will rise 3 to 7 degrees in this one. In the American West, temperature increases have led to longer summers, drought and the survival of tree-killing beetles at higher elevations. These beetles are widespread in outbreaks reaching to Alaska.

A research team analyzed unmanaged, old-growth forest records at 76 sites across Western states from 1955 to 2006. Tree death rates increased at 87% of the sites. Pacific Northwest forests were particularly hard-hit, with death rates doubling in the past 17 years. Forest fires played no role, the study found; rates were similar across fire-prone and fire-resistant locales.

"Climate change is not just affecting the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean — it's closer to home," says climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who was not part of the study. "Climate changes in mountain regions of the world are occurring at a much faster pace than has generally been recognized."

Though some people blame inadequate thinning of older trees by state forest managers, the study makes a "convincing case" that drought and pests are responsible, says entomologist Kenneth Raffa of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Because the data do not include recent bark beetle outbreaks in the Rockies, it may understate tree death rates, says study co-author Thomas Veblen of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"Our society needs to discuss policies that will help us adapt to changes well underway," he says, particularly stopping residential construction near forests decimated by drought and pests. "With continued warming, fire risk is going to continue."


Wednesday, 01/21/09

‘Antarctica not immune to warming’ –

WASHINGTON — The Earth's lone holdout to climate change, Antarctica, is actually warming, says a new study in today's edition of the journal Nature.

Scientists had long thought that while some isolated parts of Antarctica had been warming, much of the continent had been cooling over the past 50 years. But the new analysis found that since 1957, when measured as a whole, the continent's temperature has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit .

"The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling — and that's not the case," says study lead author Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. "If anything, it's the reverse, but it's more complex than that. Antarctica isn't warming at the same rate everywhere."

Perhaps most troubling is that "a fairly large part of West Antarctica is warming more than we realized," says study co-author Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University.Scientists say West Antarctica is the ice sheet most susceptible to a possible collapse in the future due to warming global temperatures. If the ice sheet collapsed, it would cause cataclysmic sea-level rise around the world.

Researchers in this study developed a new technique that combined data from satellites and automated weather stations in Antarctica to make what they say is the best estimate of the continent's temperature so far. However, there are very few weather stations on Antarctica, and the satellite data have been available for only the past 25 years.

This troubles some scientists.

"One must be very cautious with such results because they have no real way to be validated," says atmospheric scientist John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville, who was not part of the study. "In other words, we will never know what the temperature was over the very large missing areas that this technique attempts to fill in so that it can be tested back through time."

Researchers had thought Antarctica was getting cooler in part because of the ozone hole over the South Pole. This break in the protective ozone layer brings cooling weather patterns across parts of Antarctica. Steig agrees that the ozone hole has contributed to cooling in East Antarctica.

"However, it seems to have been assumed that the ozone hole was affecting the entire continent, when there wasn't any evidence to support that idea, or even any theory to support it," he adds.


Wednesday, 01/21/09

‘Cyclone Fanele hits west coast of Madagascar’ – per AP

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Officials say a cyclone has hit the west coast of Madagascar two days after another powerful storm left hundreds of people homeless on the Indian Ocean island.

Dia Styvanley Soa of the National Office for Disasters Preparedness says Cyclone Fanele made landfall at dawn Wednesday in Morondava district with rain and winds of up to 130 miles an hour.

She says authorities are still waiting for full regional damage reports.

She says a less powerful cyclone skirted Madagascar's eastern coast Monday and killed one person while leaving 27 injured and 992 homeless.

Forecasters warn that a warmer-than-average summer in the southern hemisphere could mean stronger storms.


Tuesday, 01/20/09

‘Australia state declares massive monsoon disaster’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia's tropical Queensland state Thursday declared a flood disaster over an area the size of France and Germany after recent monsoon storms.

Thirty Queensland communities covering 969,000 square km (374,000 sq miles) were declared disaster zones by the state's emergency services minister, Neil Roberts, including many outback and rural communities.

Queensland residents affected by storms would be able to apply for government assistance payments if they were "unable to recover via their own means," Roberts said.

Eight major rivers remain in flood after monsoonal rains and a cyclone moved across the state, cutting roads and forcing many small communities to rely on air drops of food and fresh water.

The floods are eventually expected to move inland, helping fill lakes and relieving a long-running drought in parts of Australia's desert interior and tropical north.

Queensland is Australia's second biggest state by area and the third most populous, with a A$187 billion ($125.8 billion US) economy reliant on tourism, coal mining and agriculture.


Monday, 01/19/09

‘Up to 20 inches of snow reported in Maine’ – per AP

GRAY, Maine (AP) — Mainers were digging out Monday from a day-long storm that dumped more than a foot and a half of snow in some areas of the state.

The National Weather Service said Robbinston in far eastern Maine got the deepest amount, with 20.3 inches, while Orono received 19.8 inches.

Nineteen inches were reported in Columbia, while 18 inches fell in Calais, Gorham and Ellsworth.

Portland got 16 inches from the storm, while setting a record for snowfall on Jan. 18 with 11.5 inches for the date, breaking the previous mark of 11.2 inches in 1979.


Wednesday, 01/14/09

‘Nine dead, 200,000 displaced by floods in Philippines’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AFP) – Nine people have died and nearly 200,000 have been displaced in flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains across the Philippines, relief agency officials said Wednesday.

Nine other people were missing, while two others have been injured, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

The tail-end of a cold front sweeping through the country's eastern seaboard had brought heavy rains across 11 provinces from northern Luzon to the eastern section of southern Mindanao island since last week, it said.

The agency said 37,889 families or about 191,586 people have been affected.

Parts of Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental provinces in the south remain submerged, while continuing heavy rains have forced a cancellation of air services by small domestic carriers.

Schools also remain closed, while in swollen rivers in Agusan del Norte province led to flooding. Storm surges were also reported in many coastal areas.

There were reports of landslides and flooding in the eastern Bicol region, while small motorised fishing vessels capsized near Capiz in the central Visayan region.

"What have I done wrong that this happened to my family," asked Edwin Sumahan, whose family was among hundreds evacuated from Isla Delta, a small island straddling the swollen Cagayan de Oro river.

Zenaida Emiliano meanwhile said her family had to flee to higher ground for the second time in a week due to the floods.

"We just returned home. We did not sleep last night due to incessant rains," she sighed as the rising water crept into her home.


Wednesday, 01/14/09

‘Fiji faces more rains after floods killed 11 – Yahoo! News per AP

SUVA, Fiji – Rain-soaked Fiji faces at least three more days of storms after its worst flooding in a generation killed 11 people, forced thousands to flee swamped homes and stranded foreign tourists, officials said Wednesday.

Tourists in dozens of resorts on the western edge of the South Pacific nation were warned to stay inside, and at least one major airline scheduled an extra flight to get people out.

"Stay where you are, and take extra care. That's what we're telling everyone," said Patiliai Dobui, the head of Fiji's Disaster Management Office.

Meteorological Service director Rajendra Prasad said gale force winds are forecast to batter the main islands and coastal seas later Wednesday, with fresh active rain bands expected across the main island of Viti Levu, then spreading across the entire country.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime rainfall situation," Prasad told The Associated Press.

In the town of Monasavu on Viti Levu, more than 41 inches (1,044 millimeters) of rain had fallen in the past five days, he said.

In the international tourism center of Nadi, which is on the island of Viti Levu, 38 inches (950 millimeters) of rain was recorded. Shops have been flooded and many will likely be forced out of business, local officials said.

A state of emergency continued in western Viti Levu, where the tourism industry is based. Australia's national carrier Qantas scheduled a special flight to airlift stranded tourists from Nadi to Sydney on Wednesday.

Disaster Management Office spokesman Isireli Narawa said nearly 9,000 residents were now in shelters, with thousands of homes submerged by brown floodwaters, bridges washed out and many roads cut off by water and mud.


Tuesday, 01/13/09

‘Bay sees record heat and maybe driest January’ – San Francisco Chronicle

High-temperature records fell like imaginary raindrops in the Bay Area on Monday, among the warmest mid-January days ever.

It's also shaping up to be one of the driest Januarys ever - if not the driest. There's been almost no rain this month, and none is in sight, the National Weather Service says.

The thermometer hit 74 in downtown San Francisco, breaking the old record for Jan. 12 of 67, set in 1948.

"We broke the records pretty much everywhere," said weather service meteorologist Brian Tentinger. "Breaking them wasn't hard. This wasn't extreme heat, but it was very abnormal for January."

The heat marks got their biggest thumping in Santa Rosa, where it was 84 degrees. The old mark was 66, set in 1967.

The 77 degrees recorded at Oakland International Airport made it the warmest January day ever at that location. The old mark was 75, set on Jan. 8, 1962. Downtown Oakland merely set a record for the date at 76 degrees, 11 degrees better than the old mark from 1980.

In San Rafael, it was 75, breaking the mark of 68, set in 1948. In San Jose, it was 77, six degrees warmer than 1948's record.

Heat records also fell in Kentfield (74, besting the 66 recorded in 1918), Moffett Field (72, beating the 65 set in 1980) and Gilroy (73, nudging out the 72 set in 1959).

Bob Benjamin of the National Weather Service said the main reason it's so warm is "the wind component" - strong gusts coming off the land, the reverse of the Bay Area's normal, cooler onshore flow. The strongest gust atop Mount Diablo on Monday morning was 78 mph, and winds elsewhere in the North and East Bay hills exceeded 50 mph.

The warm weather is the result of a fairly strong high-pressure system that is bumping storms far to the north, Benjamin said. It's a pattern that has been entrenched most of the fall and winter, an unwelcome development for a state coming off two consecutive years of below-average rainfall.

Since the start of the rain year July 1, rainfall in San Francisco has totaled just 56 percent of average. It's been so dry since New Year's Day that the National Weather Service is starting to keep an eye on whether this will be the driest January ever in the Bay Area.

The warm weather is not doing the Sierra snowpack any favors. To state water officials, good weather is bad and bad weather is good.

The snowpack is about 67 percent of normal, said Matt Notley, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources. That figure will go down in light of the next several days of predicted clear skies.

"We're very concerned we're experiencing another dry winter," Notley said. "Even an average year this year would not bring us out of drought."

The driest January on record in San Francisco was in 1920, when 0.26 of an inch of rain fell. So far this January, the city is 0.02 of an inch short of that.

In Oakland, the driest January was in 1976, during the first of two straight bone-dry years when mandatory rationing was the norm in Northern California and lawns by the thousands went unwatered.

The January total that year was 0.31 of an inch; so far this January, Oakland has gotten 0.28.


Tuesday, 01/13/09

‘Unseasonably warm weather expected to continue’ – Los Angeles Times,0,4525559.story

Southern California's unseasonable January heat wave shows no signs of letting up.


Temperatures in downtown L.A. reached 88 degrees, edging out the recorded high of 87 degrees and rising 20 degrees above normal levels, said Todd Hall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.


Records were also set in Long Beach and Burbank at 87 degrees; San Gabriel at 88; and UCLA at 86 degrees. A 54-year-old record was broken in Oxnard, where temperatures inched up to 86 degrees, passing the 1955 record of 85. Parts of Orange and San Diego counties also saw record temperatures.


Weather experts said January in L.A. usually starts with wet weather followed by the type of dry warm spell the region is now experiencing. This year, the wet days never came.


"There's no chance of rain, though we're entering the rainiest part of our season," meteorologist Dave Bruno said. "The moisture is not at terribly critical levels yet, but with so much wind, any fire could cause major problems."


The warm weather combined with Santa Ana winds had officials on high alert for possible fires. Some mountain areas saw gusts reaching 50 to 60 mph, and winds in the valley and coastal areas were about 40 to 45 mph.


Red-flag fire warnings for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, which have been in effect since Friday afternoon, were extended until 6 p.m. today. Fire officials said extra strike teams were standing by in fire-prone areas.


Officials said the continued high-temperature, low-humidity spell would dry out the hillsides, increasing risk of brush fires.


Monday, 01/12/09

‘Mozambique floods kill 19; worse may lie ahead’ – Yahoo! News per AP

MAPUTO, Mozambique – Authorities in Mozambique say torrential rains have killed 19 people in the past few days and worse flooding may lie ahead.

Jose Domingos, a disaster management official, says most of the victims died trying to cross a raging river in the central province of Manica. He says hundreds have been given shelter in emergency centers and roads in the area are impassable.

Mozambican television showed pictures Monday of people trying to cross the Mweri river with their belongings and domestic animals.

Four more people have been killed and 1,000 displaced in the coastal region of Inhambane in the past two weeks.

Authorities fear that, as the rainy season in the southern African nation continues, the flooding will worsen.


Sunday, 01/11/09

‘Winter storm wallops Midwest, Northeast’ – per AP

CLEVELAND — A powerful winter storm blasted large swaths of the Midwest and Northeast with snow and freezing rain on Saturday, grounding flights and stranding vehicles along icy roads.

Nearly a foot of snow fell in some Midwest states, and more than half of the morning flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were canceled or delayed. Ten inches at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport forced the cancellation of about 100 flights, Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department reported.

"This is the biggest one of the season," said Brian Mitchell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland. "We didn't have this kind of snow in the last couple of months."

Motorists in Youngstown and Warren, in northeast Ohio, slowed to a crawl to avoid spinouts or wrecks. Road crews were put on 12-hour shifts, and were doing all they could to keep pace with the new snow, said Theresa Pollick, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

"Now it becomes a plow and salt game," Pollick said. "It's basically keeping up with the precipitation."

Freezing rain in Indiana caused five salt trucks to slide into ditches Saturday as they worked to deice roads. Tow trucks stopped responding to accidents because they were sliding off icy roads when they tried to pull vehicles from ditches, the Star Press of Muncie reported.

"It's bad. You can't even stand up on the roads," said Duke Campbell, the highway manager for Indiana's Delaware County.

In Ohio's Sandusky Bay, a freighter heading to coal docks became trapped and had to wait for a Coast Guard cutter to clear a path through the ice.

In the Chicago suburb of Darien, a woman was killed when her vehicle spun out of control in the heavy snow, struck a dividing wall and then was hit by another vehicle. A motorist was also killed in a fiery crash on a snow- and ice-covered stretch of U.S. 20 in northern Indiana, police said.

In Michigan, at least 8 inches of snow fell on the southern Lower Peninsula by Saturday afternoon. AAA said it had responded to about 2,500 calls for road service by 4 p.m., spokeswoman Nancy Cain said. Many calls were for vehicles stuck in snowdrifts, she said.

Light snow started falling in New England Saturday night, with 4 to 8 inches forecast to fall overnight in Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. A wintry mix was making travel treacherous in most of northern New Jersey Saturday night.


Sunday, 01/11/09

‘Emergency declared in Fiji as six feared dead in severe storm, flood’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

SUVA (AFP) – A state of emergency has been declared in Fiji as severe storms brought widespread flooding with at least six people feared dead.

Thousands were evacuated from their homes and those living in low-lying areas were advised to move to higher ground as rivers burst their banks.

Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama declared the state of emergency on the recommendation of the National Disaster Management Office (Dismac), Interim National Security Minister Epeli Ganilau said.

The suspected death toll was six and police warned of the risk of more fatalities as they pleaded with parents to prevent children swimming in the flooded rivers and creeks.

Police imposed curfews in the flood-ravaged towns of Nadi, Ba and Sigatoka to curb looting and ensure public safety after heavy rain and flooding over the past four days.

"There is no power in the main town's business district and other areas like Narewa Village where 15 to 20 houses are under water," Nadi mayor Timoci Koroiqica told FijiLive.

The mayor of Ba, Pravin Bala, said the town was under more than a metre (three feet) of water at high tide.

Dismac officials said more than 2,340 people were sheltering in evacuation centres on Sunday evening.

The Fiji Meteorological Service warned of further heavy rain and strong winds for the northern parts of the country.


Saturday, 01/10/09

‘Snowstorm brings chaos to Madrid’ –

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A heavy snowstorm caused chaos Friday at Madrid's Barajas Airport, where flights were suspended for hours before Europe's fourth-busiest airport reopened in the late afternoon.

"It's a huge snowstorm. You don't see this in Madrid often," an airport spokeswoman said.

The airport has 1,205 daily inbound and outbound flights. But for the first time, the airport halted operations due to a weather problem, the spokeswoman said.

The temporary shutdown began about noon (6 a.m. ET). Visibility was low, and the storm was so intense that the airport's snow clearing and de-icing equipment couldn't keep up, said the spokeswoman, who by custom is not identified.

The delays from the storm affected hundreds of travelers at the airport. Many others could not even reach the airport because of poor road conditions.

Madrid is one of the highest capitals in Europe, at an elevation of 646 meters or 2,120 feet, but it does not often snow in the city itself, especially with the ferocity seen Friday.

As children and even some adults gleefully tossed snowballs, city officials urged motorists to stay off the roads and use public transportation.

Large traffic jams formed on the major highways leading from Madrid to Barcelona and other cities, and numerous vehicles ran off the roads and got stuck in the snow.

Bus service was suspended in many areas, although subways and commuter trains were operating, with delays in some cases.

Weather forecasters said the snow was expected to continue through Saturday morning, although diminishing in intensity.


Thursday, 01/08/09

‘Rain and melting snow bring floods to Washington’ – Yahoo! News per AP;_ylt=AjVGM9v6Oz2ddkA2SikB0T5oWrEF

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. – More than 30,000 people were urged to leave their flood-endangered western Washington homes as snowmelt and rain swelled rivers and caused mudslides and avalanches that engulfed neighborhoods and roadways.

Warmer temperatures and heavy rains were rapidly melting the deep snow that dumped on the Cascade mountains over the weekend. Ten inches of snow melted in a 12-hour period at Snoqualmie Pass, according to Andy Haner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Nearly 7 inches of rain fell in one 24-hour period at Marblemount in the Cascade foothills. A record 2.29 inches of rain fell Wednesday at Sea-Tac Airport and a record 4.82 inches at Olympia.

Rising waters led state highway crews to close a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 around Chehalis on Wednesday evening. The state's three major east-west routes across the Cascade mountains also were closed by avalanches and the threat of more slides.

Authorities feared Interstate 5, which carries 10,000 trucks a day, could be closed for days, just as it was in a similar flood in December 2007. But they hoped to reopen one of the east-west routes sometime Thursday "to get people moving and freight moving," said Transportation Department spokeswoman Alice Fiman.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for about two dozen rivers in western Washington, and Amtrak passenger train service out of Seattle was suspended because of mudslides.

"It's right up there with some of our most memorable flood events," National Weather Service forecaster Doug McDonnal said Thursday.

Rain tapered down to showers Thursday and drier weather is due Friday, but flooding will remain a problem as overflowing rivers drain. The storm also produced heavy rain and strong wind in northwest Oregon, but by early Thursday, the area managed to avoid the mudslides and severe flooding that battered Washington.

Fire trucks rolled through Orting, about 10 miles southeast of Tacoma, with loudspeakers Wednesday, advising everyone to leave the town and surrounding valley, home to about 26,000 people. Sandbags were placed around many downtown homes and businesses as the Puyallup River neared record levels.

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma declared a civil emergency for his city of about 200,000, south of Seattle, largely because of Puyallup River flooding could create problems for the city's wastewater treatment plant.

State emergency officials said voluntary evacuations were recommended for Snoqualmie, a riverside town 25 miles east of Seattle, and for the southwest Washington cities of Naselle, Packwood and Randle.

The Snoqualmie River at Carnation, in the rural Snoqualmie Valley, was measured at 61.3 feet Wednesday night, 7.3 feet above flood stage and a record for measurements kept since 1932, weather service meteorologist Jay Albrecht said.

Chris Caviezel, who has lived at Snoqualmie Pass for about seven years, said conditions were the worst he has seen. "We're getting avalanches and we're being flooded," Caviezel said.

In the east, Spokane, already beset by more than 6 feet of snow in the past three weeks, was hit with rain and temperatures in the mid-40s, triggering a flood warning for the area. The city's schools were closed Thursday, giving its 29,000 students a third unscheduled day off this week.

In Oregon, high wind toppled trees along U.S. 26, forcing the highway's closure and stranding some motorists while crews worked to clear the road. The weather service posted flood warnings for areas along several rivers and a flood watch for all of northwest Oregon.


Thursday, 01/08/09

‘Temperatures in the Mid-60s, and Warm to the Task’ – New York Times

New Yorkers cast aside their hats and mittens today and relished a taste of spring in January.

As of 2 p.m., the temperature in Central Park was 63 degrees, according to Fred Gadomski, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University. “There’s still time for the temperature to edge up,” he said. “You’re going to be very close — within one degree of the record or tying it.” The record for today, 65 degrees, was set in 1998.

In Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the playgrounds were filled with children. In the financial district in Manhattan, men in suits loosened their ties. And near Astor Place on the East Side, bus drivers basked in the warm sun as they waited to start their routes.

“There are so many kids out, usually the park is deserted on a January day,” said Anna Tokmakoff, 35, as she pointed out the legions of strollers that filled Prospect Park. She said she was glad not to have to bundle up her 21-month-old son, Alexi, who beamed in his stroller, dressed lightly in a blue hooded sweater.

“It feels like spring, it even smells like spring,” Ms. Tokmakoff said.

The benches in City Hall Park were filled with lunching office workers.

“This is unusual for this time of year and it won’t last forever, so I’m savoring the moment,” said Richard Gordon, 42, who works in maritime claims for an insurance company and lives in Prospect Heights. “I’m half expecting the tulip bulbs to pop up any second.”

But not all New Yorkers were pleased. “I think it’s global warming at its finest, unfortunately,” said Linda Tran, 30, a medical student who lives in Park Slope. “You’re happy because you enjoy the day, but the underlying cause is a bit worrying.”

Her Siberian Husky, Mrs. Brown, panted lightly. “Actually, I think she prefers the colder January weather,” Ms. Tran said of her dog.


Wednesday, 01/07/09

‘Heavy rain causing flooding across South’ – Yahoo! News per AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Heavy rain across the South on Wednesday caused flooding, school and road closures and a landslide that destroyed a home in North Carolina.

Thousands of people lost power across the Carolinas as a cold front swept the region with wind and rain, and a landslide destroyed a home in the mountains of western North Carolina.

One home in Haywood County was destroyed, but its occupants escaped with only minor injuries, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. Emergency crews evacuated eight other homes in the Maggie Valley area.

Progress Energy reported more than 52,000 customers lost power as the storm swept through North Carolina and South Carolina. That number was down to 1,670 by 3 p.m., but utility spokesman Drew Elliot said more outages could occur as the front continued through the region.

Around lunchtime, Duke Energy had reduced the number of its customers in the Carolinas without power to about 5,700. But as winds began to gust in the afternoon, the number climbed to 65,000 by 5 p.m. Many of the outages were in the Charlotte, N.C., area, as well as in the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina.

People in about 25 homes in eastern Tennessee were encouraged to evacuate in the face of rising waters. The rain also closed roads and caused two small rock slides.

In Mississippi, dozens of roads were closed, some homes evacuated Wednesday and at least two homes flooded following two days of heavy rain earlier in the week, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.

"At this time, 34 roads in Lowndes County are closed, at least two homes are flooded and as many as 25 families are affected by the conditions," MEMA said in a statement.

The weather was blamed for an oil truck overturning in southeastern Kentucky. Leslie County Director of Emergency Management James Couch said the oil tanker truck spilled "a couple of hundred gallons" in the Coon Creek area of the county just after 8 a.m. Wednesday. The spill was quickly contained and workers spent much of Wednesday cleaning it up, Couch said.

Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia were also experiencing flooding. In addition to rain, a wind advisory issued for most of Georgia called for gusts ranging from 20 mph to 30 mph.

In West Virginia, the state's major electric utilities, Allegheny Energy and Appalachian Power, reported there were thousands without power. Roads and bridges were closed in West Virginia because of high water and downed power lines, the state Division of Highways said.

Heavy rain flooded more than 30 roads in far southwest Virginia. Twenty secondary roads in Scott County were closed, as well as 12 in Lee County, Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Earl said.

As skies cleared in Alabama, parts of the state still struggled with scattered flooding from a lengthy deluge that led to rescue operations earlier in the week when cars were engulfed in water.


Saturday, 01/03/09

‘Thousands displaced by floods in Philippines’ – Yahoo! News per AFP

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AFP) – About 5,000 families in the southern Philippines have been displaced by flash floods and large waves spawned by heavy rains, officials said Saturday.

Over a hundred houses have been destroyed and many people are fleeing their homes in the face of rising waters in the northern part of the southern island of Mindanao, civil defence officials said.

Regional civil defence director Carmelito Lupo said that most of those whose homes were destroyed were from Cagayan de Oro city but officials were still trying to get information on the situation in the surrounding areas.

Local officials in Cagayan de Oro said that over 2,000 families had to be evacuated to basketball courts due to rising waters on river banks.

Evacuations were also under way in nearby Ginoog City and other areas where flash floods have been reported, said provincial officials.


Friday, 01/02/09

‘2008 Iowa tornadoes deadliest since 1968’ – per AP

DES MOINES (AP) — Last year in Iowa, tornadoes claimed the lives of a dozen people and injured at least 130.

State records say the dozen deaths in 2008 are the highest total since 1968. The 2008 tornado season also matched 2001 for the second-most twisters in a year at 105.

Among the tornadoes was an EF5 storm that tore through Parkersburg on May 25, spinning a 43-mile path through three counties and killing eight people.

Less than a month later there was an EF3 tornado that struck the Little Sioux Boy Scout camp in western Iowa, killing four Scouts and injuring 48 others from Iowa and Nebraska. Three of the four dead Scouts were from Omaha.

The National Weather Service said the two storms accounted for more than $100 million in damage.


Friday, 01/02/09

‘Floods kill five in central Vietnam’ – Yahoo! News per Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) – Unseasonable floods brought by rains this week have killed at least five people in central Vietnam while 10 others remained missing, the government and state-run media said Saturday.

Waters were now receding in main rivers in the region but three including a woman drowned in Quang Nam province and another 44-year-old man died in floods in the neighboring province of Quang Ngai, the government said in a disaster report.

A 22-year-old man died in Binh Dinh province while nine fishermen were among the missing after their boats sank, Saturday's Thanh Nien newspaper quoted provincial disaster reports as saying.

Floods and storms often strike central Vietnam between August and November but heavy rains since Monday caused by a cold spell hit the region widely exposed to the sea and raised river waters.

The government said more than 5,000 homes were submerged and floods also inundated a combined 74,400 hectares of rice in five provinces. The affected area is not the key growing region for rice and coffee, Vietnam's main agro-products for exports.


Friday, 01/02/09

‘Winter storm lashes Washington State’ – per AP

SEATTLE — Falling snow and a high threat of avalanches prompted officials to close three main east-west mountain passes in Washington state on New Year's Day and at least two of the highways were expected to remain shut down into Friday.

Another storm was expected to dump as much as 18 inches of new snow on the Cascade Mountains overnight, keeping avalanche danger high.

While Stevens and White passes were expected to remain closed into Friday, highway crews managed at 8:30 p.m. Thursday to reopen Snoqualmie Pass, which carries Interstate 90 across the Cascades.

Earlier, Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said officials would assess the pass situation Friday morning and proceed from there.

When all three passes were closed, travelers between Eastern and Western Washington were directed to detour south through Portland, Ore.

Washington has seen at least two weather-related deaths in the past week, while 10 people have been killed in recent British Columbia avalanches.

The next storm is forecast to bring snow and possibly high winds to large areas of winter-weary Eastern Washington from Yakima to Spokane.

In hard-hit Spokane, 2.4 inches of new snow fell Thursday, but more snow was expected in the evening, National Weather Service technician Bob Bonner said.

Spokane finished December with 61.5 inches of snow, far eclipsing the previous one-month record of 56.9 inches set in January 1950. Snowfall records in the area have been kept since 1893. The heavy snow has been blamed for more than a dozen roof collapses, including those at a church, grocery store, health club and building supply company.

The Weather Service also issued a high wind warning for the south Washington coast and south Washington Cascades and foothills through Thursday night.

Meanwhile, up to 7 inches of rain is expected in the mountains in Oregon, threatening to flood rivers already running high from last week's storms. Higher temperatures are also turning more snow into water, the weather service said.

State geologists warned that such conditions could be ripe for landslides.