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Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #195 on: November 13, 2008, 10:22:32 PM »

Quote
no one is reporting

That sounds just like Reuters. Google news search shows 7 pages of news agencies that have been reporting on the floods in Central America of which Honduras is just one of the nations that is affected.

Flooding in Central America

 Honduras and Guatemala are experiencing an intense rainy season, surpassing the precipitation levels generated by Hurricane Mitch ten years ago.

- The Flash Appeal for Honduras is only 10% funded and urgent support is required as some 322,000 persons are still in need of humanitarian assistance.

- In Guatemala, the number of affected persons has reached 180,000. Donors are encouraged to respond to the appeal for assistance by the Government of Guatemala launched on 3 November.

Tropical Depression No. 16 made landfall in northern Honduras on 16 October and has been slowly crossing over Central America causing heavy rains from northern Costa Rica to south-eastern Mexico. The system affected the countries of Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with heavy rains which led to flooding and mudslides. In addition to a cold front over the region, tropical depression 17, then Paloma, has formed last week and has further affected Honduras.

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« Reply #196 on: November 15, 2008, 01:34:21 PM »

Fast-Moving Wildfires Destroy Homes, Send Residents Fleeing in Southern California
Saturday , November 15, 2008

LOS ANGELES —
A wind-blasted wildfire tore through the city's northern foothills early Saturday, sending thousands of residents fleeing in the dark, forcing a hospital to evacuate and destroying an untold number of homes.

The fire broke out late Friday in the foothill community of Sylmar on the edge of the Angeles National Forest and quickly spread across 2,600 acres — more than 4 square miles — as it was driven by Santa Ana wind gusting as high as 76 mph.

Dozens of homes were destroyed, officials said, and aerial footage from television helicopters showed rows of houses gutted in just in one subdivision.

Fire crews had to abandon a mobile home park that was burning out of control. The park had 600 spaces for homes.

"We have almost total devastation here in the mobile park," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Steve Ruda said. "I can't even read the street names because the street signs are melting."

Part of the area's network of highways was shut down.

Officials ordered huge evacuations in the Sylmar, Knollwood and Porter Ranch communities as the fire jumped two freeways, closing the highways and forcing evacuees to take surface streets.

"Near hurricane winds made it very difficult for firefighters," Los Angeles Fire deputy chief Mario Rueda said.

To the west, firefighters were still battling a separate wildfire that destroyed more than 110 homes in Santa Barbara.

The Los Angeles blaze threatened at least 1,000 buildings, fire spokeswoman Melissa Kelley said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the fire brought down some power lines and could cause rolling blackouts. He urged residents throughout the city to conserve power.

One resident was hospitalized in serious condition with burns over 60 percent of his body, Kelley said. Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Flames struck the edge of the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center campus shortly after midnight, causing an electricity outage that forced officials to evacuate two dozen critical patients. About 200 other patients stayed behind.

Several administrative buildings were damaged.

The hospital's power and backup generators failed, and emergency room staff had to keep critical patients alive with hand powered ventilators. Twenty-eight people, including 10 neonatal babies, were rushed out by ambulance to another hospital.

"It was totally dark." said hospital spokeswoman Carla Nino. "There was dense smoke."

Power was restored at the hospital after three hours.

Some people refused to leave their homes, grabbing water hoses to defend their homes, but others left even before mandatory evacuation orders were issued.

"I can see the smoke. It's terrible. I'm going to take my dog and go," Dorothy Boyer told The Associated Press from her home late Friday.

More than 600 firefighters struggled to protect homes threatened by flying embers. Because of the rough terrain in the forest, they were relying on water-dropping helicopters to tackle flames. Authorities said some aircraft were grounded during the night by the savage wind, but they expected six airplanes and a dozen helicopters to attack the fire during the day.

The shifting wind pushed the fire uphill toward the San Gabriel Mountains and downhill toward homes, sometimes skipping across canyons. It also jumped Interstate 5 and the 210 Freeway, forcing the California Highway Patrol to shut down sections of both freeways and some connecting roads.

Flying embers ignited sporadic spot fires and firefighters were patrolling the evacuated neighborhoods "making sure these small fires don't turn into big fires," Rueda said.

If the fire continues marching west, it could be slowed by a fire break that resulted from a wildfire which burned about 14,000-acres near Porter Ranch last month, authorities said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. One resident suffered serious burns, Kelley said.

The blaze also charred habitat for the endangered California condor and several hiking trails, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea said.

About 80 miles to the west, an uncontained blaze in the Santa Barbara community of Montecito had forced the evacuation of more than 5,400 homes since it started Thursday night, exploding through dry brush and vast stands of oil-rich eucalyptus trees. About 800 firefighters were battling the fire at the wealthy, celebrity-studded enclave, and they were expected to make significant progress through Saturday morning, said Santa Barbara city fire spokesman John Ahlman.

"There's plenty of hot material still left out there," he said. "But things could change in a hurry if the winds pick up."

Several multimillion-dollar homes and a small college suffered major damage in Montecito, a quaint and secluded area that has attracted celebrities such as Rob Lowe, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas and Oprah Winfrey.

The fire quickly consumed rows of luxury homes and parts of Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts school, where students spent the night in a gymnasium shelter.

"That whole mountain over there went up at once. Boom," said Bob McNall, 70, who with his son and grandson saved their home by hosing it down. "The whole sky was full of embers. There was nothing that they could do. It was just too much."

Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said up to 200 homes may have been destroyed or damaged.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

At least 13 people were injured in Montecito. A 98-year-old man with multiple medical problems died after being evacuated, but it was unclear if his death was directly related to the blaze, Santa Barbara County Sheriff-Coroner Bill Brown said.

Montecito, known for its balmy climate and charming Spanish colonial homes, has long attracted celebrities. The landmark Montecito Inn was built in the 1920s by Charlie Chaplin, and the nearby San Ysidro Ranch was the honeymoon site of John F. Kennedy in 1953.

Montecito suffered a major fire in 1977, when more than 200 homes burned. A fire in 1964 burned about 67,000 acres and damaged 150 houses and buildings.

Fast-Moving Wildfires Destroy Homes, Send Residents Fleeing in Southern California
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« Reply #197 on: November 19, 2008, 01:35:52 AM »

Australia's storm-hit city like a 'war zone', says PM
Tue Nov 18, 3:26 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – The city of Brisbane on Australia's east coast was like a "war zone", Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Tuesday as troops led recovery efforts after a deadly storm.

Rudd had his flight home from the United States -- where he attended the G20 summit on the global financial crisis -- diverted to Brisbane to assess the damage to his home town caused by Sunday night's storm.

"It looks like a war zone, and it feels like a war zone, and what's good about it is the people pulling together and neighbours looking after each other," Rudd told reporters.

"If we need more troops to clean this mess up they will be provided immediately and we'll respond immediately to the requests of the disaster management coordination authorities."

The storm damaged about 4,000 homes, destroying at least 30, flattened cars and felled power lines, plunging large swathes of the city into darkness, emergency service officials said.

A 20-year-old man died when he was swept away while photographing the dramatic weather -- described as the worst to hit the area in 25 years -- from a stormwater drain north of Brisbane.

More than 8,000 homes were still without power in Brisbane and on the nearby tourist destinations of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts as some 370 troops joined fire-fighters, police and volunteers in clean-up operations Tuesday.

"This is just the beginning of what's going to be a long-term clean-up and I think the important thing for us all is to keep faith with the people who have been horribly affected by this," Rudd said.

The prime minister announced financial assistance for families whose homes had been damaged by the storm, saying the government would work to make sure they could enjoy a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible.

Australia's storm-hit city like a 'war zone', says PM
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« Reply #198 on: November 20, 2008, 12:20:21 AM »

50,000 Ethiopians displaced by floods
Wed Nov 19,

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Dramatic floods in the eastern Somali region of Ethiopia have killed at least three people and displaced more than 50,000 since the start of the month, aid sources said Wednesday.

"At least 52,000 people have abandoned their homes in Ethiopia's Somali region after the Wade Shabelle and Genale rivers burst their banks following heavy rains," the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN reported.

The agency said heavy rains fell on the region for six days from November 2.

The report said that "36,888 people were displaced and three killed in the worst-affected woreda (a small district), Kelafo, in Gode."

Government officials said assessment teams had been sent to the affected areas.

"The flooding is there, we have sent an assessment team to this area. Such things are said, but we need to confirm. We are waiting for the report and confirmation," agriculture ministry spokesman Taregne Tsigie told AFP.

Ethiopia, home to 80 million people, is chronically hit by floods and droughts and is currently experiencing what UN and other relief organisations have described as a critical humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in northern Uganda have been displaced from their homes because of floods caused by heavy rains.

The precise number of people displaced by flooding is difficult to estimate because a large territory is affected, but the situation is undoubtedly urgent, Minister for Disaster Preparedness Tarsis Kabwegyere told AFP.

"We need information so we can get assistance to them quickly," he said.

Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper on Tuesday put the number of displaced at 15,000, based on reports from local leaders around Uganda's northern ring.

50,000 Ethiopians displaced by floods
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« Reply #199 on: November 20, 2008, 09:51:31 PM »

Hunger Plagues Haiti After Storm Wipes Out Crops, Livestock

Thursday , November 20, 2008

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti —
The 5-year-old teetered on broomstick legs — he weighed less than 20 pounds, even after days of drinking enriched milk. Nearby, a 4-year-old girl hung from a strap attached to a scale, her wide eyes lifeless, her emaciated arms dangling weakly.

In pockets of Haiti accessible only by donkey or foot, children are dying of malnutrition — their already meager food supply cut by a series of devastating storms that destroyed crops, wiped out livestock and sent food prices spiraling.

At least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the past four weeks in the remote region of Baie d'Orange in Haiti's southeast, aid workers said Thursday, and there are fears the toll will rise much higher if help does not come quickly to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Another 65 severely malnourished children are being treated in makeshift tent clinics in the mountainous area, or at hospitals where they were evacuated in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, said Max Cosci, who heads the Belgian contingent of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

One evacuee, a 7-year-old girl, died while being treated, Cosci said, adding: "The situation is extremely, extremely fragile and dangerous."

At a makeshift malnutrition ward at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the capital, 10 emaciated children were under emergency care Thursday, their stomachs swollen and hair faded by pigmentation loss caused by malnutrition. Several had the puffy faces typical of kwashiorkor, a protein-deficiency disorder.

Five-year-old Mackenson Duclair, his ribs protruding and his legs little more than skin stretched over bones, weighed in at 19.8 pounds, even after days of drinking milk enriched with potassium and salt. Doctors said he needed to gain another five pounds before he could go home.

Dangling from a scale mounted from the ceiling, 4-year-old Venecia Lonis looked as limp as a rag doll as doctors weighed her, her huge brown eyes expressionless, her hair tied with bright yellow bows.

Mackenson's grandmother, who has raised him since his mother died, said she barely has a can of corn grits to feed herself, the boy and her 8-year-old granddaughter each day.

"These things did not happen when I was growing up," 72-year-old Ticouloute Fortune said.

Rural families already struggling with soaring food prices in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, lost their safety nets when fields were destroyed and livestock wiped out by the storms, which killed nearly 800 people and caused $1 billion worth of damage in August and September.

U.N. World Food Program country director Myrta Kaulard said she fears more deaths from malnutrition in other isolated parts of Haiti, and search and medical teams were fanning out in the northwest and along the southwestern peninsula to check.

The World Food Program has sent more than 30 tons of food aid — enough to feed 5,800 people for two weeks — into the remote southeastern region since September, and other groups funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development have sent food as well, she said.

But the steep, narrow paths and poor visibility make it difficult to deliver the food to the mountain communities where hunger is worsening. In one case, a WFP truck flipped over while struggling up a hill and slid into a ravine, killing an aid worker.

"There is always a bottleneck. The same situation that the people are facing is the same situation we're also facing," Kaulard told The Associated Press Thursday.

The mountain villages have long suffered from chronic hunger, growing only enough staples to feed themselves less than seven months out of the year, she said.

But families normally have enough to last through December. This year, Haiti's agriculture ministry estimates 60 percent of the harvest was lost in the storms nationwide. Land quality is already poor and farmers lost seeds for next year when the storms hit, Kaulard said.

Effects of the storms vary widely from village to village and even family to family. In some places, food supplies seem intact. In others, Doctors Without Borders has found rates of severe malnutrition as high as 5 percent.

Aid shortages may soon compound the problem. Donor countries have funded only a third of the U.N.'s $105 million aid appeal for Haiti following the storms, and resources could run out in January, Kaulard said.

At the hospital Thursday, Enock Augustin sat beside the bed where his 5-year-old daughter Bertha was sleeping. The fragile-looking child was evacuated by helicopter Nov. 8 with vomiting and diarrhea. When she arrived, nearly a quarter of her body weight was due to fluid retention, a sign of severe protein deficiency.

The swelling gradually receded as she was fed nutrient-enriched milk and treated with antibiotics and anti-worm medicine; she shrank to just 21 pounds.

She has since gained about two pounds but can't go home until she reaches 26 pounds, doctors said.

For months, the Augustin family had gotten by despite the soaring prices of corn grits and imported rice because they grew potatoes, which they could eat or barter for plantains, yams and breadfruit that did not fluctuate with the world market.

But then, in August, Tropical Storm Fay hit, followed by Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike.

"Every time a hurricane came through, it killed our animals and plants," said Augustin, a father of six. The road was washed out, markets became unreachable and "the price of everything went sky high."

The entire family subsisted on two cups of corn grits, and Bertha began shrinking — and then swelling — before his eyes.

"She was really bad. We put her in the helicopter and they brought her here," Augustin said. "I hope the government will hear about us and bring more support."

Hunger Plagues Haiti After Storm Wipes Out Crops, Livestock
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« Reply #200 on: December 12, 2008, 12:49:50 PM »

Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California.

Joshua Young
Monday, December 8, 2008

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - December 8, 2008 (OWSweather.com) Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California.

With a week away, and a sure sign of things to come, OWSweather.com is making preparations on the server to handle the traffic from this next event. UJEAS is in line with the majority if not all the other models in keeping a near historical arctic air mass into the Southern California region.

With a warm November, Southern California is finally ready for cold storms to make their way in. Resort level snow will be likely next week, and in pretty hefty amounts if things stay on track. OWSweather.com Meteorologist Kevin Martin predicts a 50 year event. While Martin is usually conservative on these events, the pattern highly favors it. "We are in a pre-1950 type pattern, "said Martin. "We know we are due for a winter storm sometime this year. The type we may be dealing with will be ranked up there with the known years before 1950, which set record low daytime temperatures into the forecast region. With this, may come low elevation snow."

Forecaster Cameron Venable is seeing very cold temperatures in the Los Angeles areas as well. Torrance is not usually known for winter weather, thus making this an interesting event for Venable to track.

"Temperatures in Siberia, Russia will be -81 degrees this week, "said Martin. "With those type of temperatures the arctic air mass has to spill somewhere. Our answer of the exact track will become more clear this week. All residents in the mountain communities should prepare this week for very cold, winter weather, with snow."

Indications are a second, colder storm could hit near the 18th-22nd time-frame. The details on that will have to be sorted out.

Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California.
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« Reply #201 on: December 21, 2008, 12:24:17 AM »

Winter weather blasts nation from end to end
By Amy Lorentzen
23 mins ago

DES MOINES, Iowa – Successive waves of wintry weather gripped much of the country Saturday, frustrating holiday travelers from coast to coast and keeping the lights off for thousands of people who lost power after ice storms just days ago.

Iowa public safety officials urged motorists not to travel as heavy snow began to fall in the morning. The state expected winds up to 35 miles per hour and wind chills of minus 25 just two days after being slammed with sleet, ice and snow.

Washington state braced for hurricane-force winds as a storm blew in from the Pacific. The temperature dipped to minus 18 Saturday in Spokane, which expected up to 6 inches of snow on top of the 25 that fell over the past three days, said Johnny Burg, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

In the Northeast, the aftermath of snow that fell Friday continued to snarl air traffic. And residents who still lacked power after an ice storm last week grew frustrated as officials warned that the storm now battering the Midwest would blow in Sunday, the official first day of winter.

But the wintry conditions weren't unwelcome everywhere. Megan Zarbano, manager of Kratz Hardware in Valley City, N.D., noted that the snow was helping to clear inventory from years of mild winters.

"We haven't had a blizzard-type storm in almost 10 years," she said. "A good storm really shakes people up; they freak out and realize they're not prepared for winter."

North Dakota's snowfall total for December nearly matches the 19.3 inches that fell all last winter, said meteorologist Joshua Scheck at the National Weather Service office in Bismarck.

"And it's not even the first day of winter yet," he said Saturday.

The cold was the major concern in Illinois, where the Weather Service canceled a storm watch in the north but warned that freezing temperatures could cause flooding from ice jams on rivers near the Quad Cities and Rockford.

Meteorologists also said the weekend's temperatures, expected to hit minus 5 by late Sunday with wind gusts of 30 mph, could again damage power lines serving those plunged into darkness by ice earlier in the week.

More than 77,000 customers in northern Indiana still had no power Saturday after Thursday night's ice storm, and Indiana Michigan Power said the power failures could last beyond Wednesday. The Weather Service warned that winds as high as 40 mph would "create havoc with trees and power lines" already covered or weakened by ice.

In New Hampshire, more than 20,000 homes and businesses awaited restoration of power after an ice storm last week but feared the worst as the next storm approached.

"The utilities have made significant progress in restoring power in what is an unprecedented outage," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said Saturday. "However, I continue to hear frustration from the local communities regarding communication with the utilities, and I share their frustration."

Sunday's storm could bring more power failures to southern New Hampshire, which was expected to get 10 to 16 inches of snow, forecasters said.

Boston's Logan International Airport reported about 60 canceled flights and about 215 delays Saturday as effects lingered from a storm the day before. In the New York City area, some arrivals were three hours late to Newark airport, and arrival delays at Kennedy Airport averaged 90 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Alaska Airlines, a major regional carrier in the Northwest, said it pre-emptively canceled 47 flights to and from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia. United Airlines also canceled some flights, said Perry Cooper, spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

It was unclear whether weather was a factor in an airport mishap in Denver, where a Continental Airlines jet taking off veered from the runway and went into a ravine, injuring at least 38 people. It was cold but not snowy at the time of the Saturday evening accident.

Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of Washington as high winds, snow and freezing rain began coating the state Saturday. Western Washington, including the Seattle area, could see wind gusts as high as 90 mph, meteorologist Burg said.

Icy wind and heavy snow closed a 45-mile stretch of Interestate 84 in Oregon between the Portland suburb of Troutdale and Hood River. The state braced for wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Freezing rain clattered to the ground Saturday in the agricultural Willamette Valley, meteorologist Jonathan Wolfe said.

"It'll be nasty well into Sunday evening," he said.

Accidents have been reported for days on the region's icy roads, including one Friday in which a charter bus slid down an icy hill and crashed through a barrier, slightly injuring several people and leaving the front of the bus dangling about 20 feet above Interstate 5 in Seattle.

Even an indoor ice skating rink in Seattle bowed to officials warning against travel, putting up a sign saying it was closed "because of snow."

Winter weather blasts nation from end to end
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« Reply #202 on: December 25, 2008, 08:21:58 PM »

I can vouch for the unusually cold weather in Los Angeles.  It's been rainy, too, off and on.  Feels more like Christmas weather though.  Putting the gas heat on alot.
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« Reply #203 on: December 27, 2008, 02:00:05 PM »

Marshall Islands flooded, 600 people evacuated
Thu Dec 25, 10:38 pm ET

MAJURO, Marshall Islands – The Marshall Islands are in a state of emergency after severe flooding forced more than 600 people from their homes.

The Marshall Islands Journal reports that a combination of 5-foot waves and heavy storms swamped the cities of Majuro and Ebeye, destroying plywood homes and sending residents into churches, high schools and youth centers.

About 1 1/2 feet of water submerged parts of the South Pacific islands, and the streets are covered with rocks, coral and debris.

The state of emergency was declared Christmas Eve, after flooding that occurred from Dec. 9 to Dec. 15.

About 62,000 people live in the Marshall Islands. Flooding is a severe problem because the islands are close to sea level, making them vulnerable to storms and high tides.

Marshall Islands flooded, 600 people evacuated
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« Reply #204 on: December 29, 2008, 01:36:54 AM »

High wind knocks out power to 413,000 in Mich.
By David Runk
Dec 28, 10:05 pm ET

DETROIT – Wind gusting more than 60 mph knocked out power to about 413,000 Michigan homes and businesses on Sunday as temperatures dipped back into the 20s and 30s.

Meanwhile, flood warnings were posted throughout the Midwest as temperatures rose after a week of heavy snowfall. Forecasters said flooding was possible in areas of Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana.

In Michigan, high wind knocked down tree limbs and power lines. Parts of the state also got about 4 inches of snow.

"We've had an intensifying storm system track northeast through the state," said Mark Sekelsky, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids. "As that storm intensified, it brought the winds."

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. said about 230,000 lost power Sunday, mostly in Wayne and Oakland counties. Crews were working, but spokesman Scott Simons said 10 percent of the 155,000 customers blacked out Sunday night would have to remain without power into Thursday.

"We're still assessing," Singer said.

CMS Energy Corp. subsidiary Consumers Energy said about 183,000 of its customers lost power because of the winds and 91,000 remained blacked out Sunday night. Consumers said it couldn't predict when power might be restored because the winds continued.

Crews from Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio aided Michigan's power restoration efforts.

Strong winds also gusted across upstate New York, reaching 75 mph in the Buffalo area and toppling some power poles and trees. Nearly 16,000 customers were without power in five western and northern counties. In New York City, residents relaxed as temperatures reached the mid-60s Sunday.

Melting snow and ice caused problems in the Midwest. In southeastern Wisconsin, the National Weather Service predicted the Fox River would crest about a foot over flood stage Tuesday in the town of Wheatland.

Flooding along U.S. 31 in Holland, Mich., forced Amtrak to cancel a train from Chicago to Grand Rapids on Saturday night, and at least 300 passengers were taken to buses to complete their trips, WZZM-TV reported.

Amtrak canceled one train Sunday night and one Monday morning between Chicago and Grand Rapids because of the weather, Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said.

High wind knocks out power to 413,000 in Mich.
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« Reply #205 on: February 08, 2009, 12:22:30 AM »

35 dead in Australia's worst fires in decades
By Rohan Sullivan
6 mins ago

SYDNEY – Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia, razing scores of homes, forests and farmland in the country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. At least 35 people died and the toll could rise further, police said Sunday.

Witnesses described seeing trees exploding and skies raining ash as temperatures hit a record 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 C) on Saturday in Victoria state and combined with raging winds to create perfect conditions for uncontrollable blazes.

"Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria in the last 24 hours," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reporters Sunday as he toured the fire zone.

Police said they believed the deaths included groups of people whose charred bodies were found in cars — suggesting families or groups of friends were engulfed in flames as they tried to flee. One official said an entire town had been razed save for one building, though no deaths were reported there.

Police said they were still trying to confirm details of the deaths, with officers' movements hampered by still-dangerous conditions in the disaster zone.

But Victoria police spokeswoman Sarah Campbell said a total of 35 bodies were found at a dozen locations north and east of the state capital, Melbourne. At least 18 people were hospitalized with burns.

Conditions in Victoria eased Sunday, but several major fires were still posing a threat and state Premier John Brumby said troops would be deployed to help thousands of exhausted volunteer firefighters battle on.

The fires were so massive they were visible from space Saturday. NASA released satellite photographs showing a white cloud of smoke across southeastern Australia.

Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said police suspected some of the fires were set deliberately, and predicted it would take days to get all the blazes under control.

The largest of about a dozen big fires in Victoria ripped unchecked across at least 115 square miles (298 square kilometers) of forests, farmland and towns north of Melbourne on Saturday.

"The whole township is pretty much on fire," Peter Mitchell, a resident of the town of Kinglake, where at least six people died in the same car, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio during the inferno. "There was no time to do anything. ... It came through in minutes."

Marysville, a former goldrush town of about 800 people 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Melbourne, was almost completely gone, a local lawmaker said. Media reports said residents fled to a football field to escape the flames.

"I understand, there's only one building left in the town," said federal parliamentarian Fran Bailey.

"It's been, I think, the worst day in our history," said Brumby, whose parents' house was among those saved by firefighters Saturday.

Forecasters said temperatures would only reach about 77 F (25 C) on Sunday around Melbourne, but along with cooler conditions came wind changes that could push fires in unpredictable directions.

On Saturday, steel-gray smoke clogged the air and flames roared to two-story heights, while homes and businesses burned.

In the town of Taralgon, resident Lindy McPhee watched in fear as a fire front edged closer to the town until rain began falling late Saturday.

"It's raining black soot," McPhee told Sky News television.

In nearby Wittlesea, Sally Tregae described feeling terror as the fire approached.

"I saw trees explode in front of me," she said. "It's a horrible thing to see."

Rudd said he was "absolutely horrified" by the disaster and promised blankets for victims in the near term and money for them later.

Victoria's Country Fire Authority deputy chief Greg Esnouf said Saturday's conditions were "off the scale" in terms of danger. Another fire official, Stuart Ord, said some 460 square miles (1,190 square kilometers) was burned by early Sunday, and estimated the number of houses destroyed would be "into the hundreds."

In New South Wales state, where several fires were also burning but not posing an immediate threat to property, police detained and questioned a man in connection with a blaze but released him without charge.

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. Government research shows that about half of the roughly 60,000 fires each year are deliberately lit or suspicious. Lightning and people using machinery near dry brush are other causes.

Australia's deadliest fires were in 1983, when blazes killed 75 people and razed more than 3,000 homes in Victoria and South Australia.

35 dead in Australia's worst fires in decades
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« Reply #206 on: April 23, 2011, 08:14:55 AM »

St. Louis Airport Closed After Reported Tornado Rips Through Facility
foxnews


An apparent tornado ripped through St. Louis' International Airport Friday, injuring several people and forcing the airport to be closed indefinitely.

There was extensive damage to the airport's busiest terminal, where 40 to 50 percent of glass was blown in, according to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Spokesman Jeff Lea.

Mayor Francis Slay said Lambert would be shut down "indefinitely," impacting 256 daily departures and arrivals from the facility.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced late Friday he had declared a state of emergency, allowing state agencies to assist local jurisdictions with their emergency responses to the storm's aftermath, including the destruction at Lambert.

"The state of Missouri is ready to assist at every stage of this emergency to keep Missouri families safe and help communities recover," Nixon said.

Friday evening's storm at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport ripped away a large section of the main terminal's roof, forcing the airport to close indefinitely and diverting incoming flights to other cities.

"We have all hands on deck here," Mayor Francis Slay said at the airport. "This is something we're putting a lot of attention to."

But amid all the damage, there was relief that things could have been worse. Only four people with minor injuries were taken to the hospital from Lambert, while an unspecified number of others were treated at the scene for cuts blamed on flying glass.

"We're fortunate we didn't have larger (numbers) of injuries," said airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

The airport's main terminal sustained the most damage. Hamm-Niebruegge said roughly half of that structure's windows were blown out, sending glass and rain into that building. Elsewhere on the property, trees were toppled and power lines downed, further limiting access to the airport even hours after the storm left its destruction.

Passengers from at least two planes were stranded briefly on the Lambert tarmac because of debris but were later taken away by buses. An Air National Guard facility at the airport was reportedly damaged.

Installation and roofing tile was strewn about the inside and outside of one terminal. Large, plate-glass windows were blown out. A shuttle was teetering precariously from the top level of a parking garage.

Dianna Merrill, 43, a mail carrier from St. Louis, was at Lambert waiting to fly to New York with a friend for vacation. She said her flight had been delayed by weather and she was looking out a window hoping her plane would pull up. But the window suddenly exploded.

"Glass was blowing everywhere. The ceiling was falling. The glass was hitting us in the face. Hail and rain were coming in. The wind was blowing debris all over the place," she said. "It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying. It was horrible."

Merrill said she felt lucky to be alive and that airport workers quickly moved people to stairwells and bathrooms to get them out of harm's way.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, who was at the airport when the storm was closing in, said he saw gawkers watching the weather outside as the tornado sirens blared. Moments later, they hastily scrambled inside the building and sought shelter in a restroom.

"About the time we came into the building, the doors blew off," he said. "Literally 10 seconds later, it was over. It's amazing to me more people weren't hurt."

Elsewhere around St. Louis, residents in suburbs were waking to damaged homes, fallen trees and downed power lines -- the remains of a fierce line of storms that moved through central and eastern Missouri.

Unconfirmed tornadoes were reported in several counties in the St. Louis area, and at one point utility company Ameren Missouri reported more than 47,000 power outages, with another 7,000 reported in Illinois.

In the suburbs of Maryland Heights and New Melle, the storms damaged several dozen homes but there were no immediate reports of major injuries. Some playground equipment in New Melle was left in a twisted heap by the storm that also tore up roofs and ripped off siding.

Brandon Blecher, 16, said he was home watching the storm out his window in Maryland Heights when he spotted the tornado coming toward his house. A gust of wind knocked out his window.

"The giant wooden swing set in my neighbor's yard came into my yard and a shed landed on my deck," he said. "The tornado was right on top of us."

Maryland Heights police were dealing with reports of gas leaks and downed trees that were blocking roadways.

The city's community center was opened as a shelter Friday night for residents affected by the storm.

"We have electricity, and everything's fine," Vaughn said. "We have heat and air. We'll be here as long as we need to be."

Damage, possibly from a tornado, was also reported at several towns near the airport -- Bridgeton, St. Ann, Ferguson and Florissant. Interstate 270 in that area was closed. Trees and power lines were down. A tractor-trailer was sitting on its end.

In downtown St. Louis, Busch Stadium officials hurriedly moved Cardinals fans to a safe area as tornado sirens blared. The game with the Cincinnati Reds was delayed for hours but later resumed.

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« Reply #207 on: April 23, 2011, 08:17:02 AM »

Wow!  What a month for tornados here in the U.S.!  You could say, "What in the world is going on?", but we already know, don't we?

I think Easter Sunday would be a wonderful day for the Rapture!
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« Reply #208 on: April 23, 2011, 08:33:28 AM »

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Off Solomon Islands
AP


WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A powerful earthquake struck in waters off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Saturday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and no tsunami was expected.

The magnitude-6.9 quake struck about 100 miles southeast of the Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara, at a depth of 50 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was not expected.

"We haven't had any information about damage or anything of that kind," National Disaster Management Office director Lote Yates told The Associated Press from Honiara.

The quake was felt widely in the capital and "was quite scary," Yates said. "It went on for a minute or two. It was not a one-off jolt -- this one went on and on. It seemed forever."

The Solomon Islands is a country of nearly 1,000 islands that lie on the "Ring of Fire" -- an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

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« Reply #209 on: April 26, 2011, 09:59:37 AM »

Deadly Storms Slam Midwest as Levees Are Pushed to the Limit
foxnews.com

Severe storms across the Midwest caused heavy flooding and violent tornadoes, killing 7 in Arkansas and forcing residents in a Missouri town to pack up and flee to higher ground.

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said four people died Monday in the central Arkansas town of Vilonia, where a tornado likely ripped through the area. In the state’s northwest, three people died after their vehicles were swept off the road.

Vilonia's fire chief, Keith Hillman, said 40 to 50 weren't accounted for, but he expected many simply weren't reachable. He said he didn't expect the death toll to rise significantly. Fire crews wrapped up work overnight and planned to resume early Tuesday morning.

"The town's gone," Vilonia resident Sheldon Brock said outside a gas station a few miles outside of town.

Brock told The Associated Press he was standing in his front yard and watched storms pass over his home, leaving him and his family unscathed, while strong winds and a possible tornado destroyed homes and businesses and yanked down power lines. Heavy rains sent water from nearby creeks washing over their borders.

Torrential rain expected to continue for several days pounded southern Missouri early Tuesday, forcing residents to flee to higher ground away from overburdened levees on the verge of breaking.

Authorities evacuated more than 1,000 homes threatened by rising floodwaters in the Missouri town of Poplar Bluff.

Heavy rains that are expected to continue for several days and saturated grounds threatened a levee holding back the Black River in Poplar Bluff. By early Tuesday morning, water from the was pouring over in more than three dozen spots, and police said a catastrophic failure of the levee was imminent.

If the levee breaks completely, many homes will be left uninhabitable. Sandbagging wasn't an option -- the river, spurred on by 10 inches or more of rain since last week, simply rose too quickly.

The Missouri National Guard sent 200 guardsmen and rescue equipment to the area. Several people had to be rescued by boat, including some who don't live in the flood plain, as heavy rain flooded several streets Monday night.

Police officers spent Monday going door-to-door in the southwest part of town, telling residents to get out. Not everyone did.

"We've got water laying around everywhere looking for somewhere to go," said David Nickell, a college instructor in Ledbetter, in western Kentucky's Livingston County, who did not plan to leave his home even though floodwaters were rapidly approaching.

Flood warnings have also prompted evacuations of hundreds of people in Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio, Reuters reports.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Monday to help communities threatened by flooding.

"There have been many evacuations in small pockets of populations along the Missouri/Arkansas border," Bill Davis, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, Mo., said.


"There are a lot of low-lying bridges and roads in that area that can be dangerous."

The storm system was expected to move into Illinois and Wisconsin on Tuesday, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. At the same time, a second storm system will start along the same path, meaning several more days of rain. That system will continue east through Thursday, he said.

Governors in both Arkansas and Kentucky declared states of emergency. In Kentucky, historic flooding is expected over the next few days, partly because of a double-whammy -- both the Ohio and Mississippi rivers significantly above flood stage. Several dozen residents were evacuated near the confluence of the rivers at Cairo, Ill.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was considering the extraordinary step of intentionally breaching the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri, just downriver of the confluence, in a bid to reduce the amount of water moving down the Mississippi. The move would soak 130,000 acres of farmland, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon objected to the idea. A decision was expected Tuesday.

Missouri was still cleaning up from tornado damage in the St. Louis area -- 2,700 buildings, including Lambert Airport, were damaged in the Friday night twister -- when spring flooding went from bad to far worse Monday.

A dam in St. Francois County was in jeopardy of bursting, with a few dozen homes potentially in harm's way. Levees were stressed along the Mississippi River in Pike and Lincoln counties, north of St. Louis.

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