Obama faces weather woes on way to Charlotte Associated Press – 10 hours ago CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The weather just isn’t cooperating with President Barack Obama.Obama’s flight to Charlotte for the Democratic Party’s national convention was briefly delayed Wednesday afternoon because of a thunderstorm. The weather delay came just hours after Democrats cited the potential of severe weather in North Carolina as the reason for moving Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech inside.Air Force One taxied slowly on the runway, then came to stop for several minutes while waiting for the storm to subside. Steady rain was still falling as the plane took off.Obama will hold a national conference call Thursday with the tens of thousands of people who had planned to attend his outdoor acceptance speech. He’ll speak to a much smaller audience at an indoor arena instead.
Wildfire near LA remains in wilderness area By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON and SUE MANNING | Associated Press – 15 hours ago LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 3,600-acre fire in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles chewed through thick brush in steep terrain that hadn’t burned in two decades amid hot, dry conditions.But with no serious winds to whip it or push it, the fire made no move toward the Los Angeles suburbs to the south, remaining within the wilderness instead.Because of the terrain and warm temperatures, it could take a week to contain the blaze, said incident commander James Smith of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It had burned about 5½ square miles by late Tuesday.Very dry conditions, with humidity below 10 percent, were forecast for the area all week and temperatures were expected to remain in the 80s and 90s, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Wofford.The serious fire season in Southern California usually begins with the arrival of the Santa Ana winds, which peak in November and December. The Santa Anas are often linked to the most destructive wildfires, blowing out of the northeast and through mountain canyons and passes, driving flames into foothill suburbs.Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist William Patzert said the winds were the only factor absent from the current fire situation, because all the other major factors including drought and dense population already exist.Southern California’s population in 1950 was 4 million people, Patzert said, but today it is pushing 20 million and many people are living in areas that historically were considered fire corridors, he said.”The history of Southern California has been written in fires and other calamities. I think the population density and where we build and how we build has made it more frequent, more costly and more precarious,” he said.The only thing you need to go with winds, overpopulation and a dry fuel load is ignition, Patzert said. Ninety percent of fires are human-caused, either intentional or accidental, he said.”With 20 million people in Southern California, there are always plenty of candidates. We seem to have our unfair share of wacko pyromaniacs,” he said.Brush clearance is one of the few things homeowners can do to help protect their homes, Patzert said. „It stands head and shoulders over everything else. You need a defensible area in a fire zone. It should be mandatory.”Southern California’s fire outlook for the fall and winter remains unclear.The NWS Climate Prediction Center issued a three-month outlook that shows no strong science suggesting hot or cold temperatures or high or low precipitation, Wofford said. „The prediction is very non-specific.”On the San Gabriel Mountains fire front, a burned car was found in the area, but it was unknown if the car caused the fire or was destroyed by it.The blaze in popular San Gabriel Canyon brought an early halt to Labor Day weekend hiking and camping plans for as many as 12,000 people. But 25 residents of the nearby community of Camp Williams refused to leave.Kevin Brown, a gold prospector and Hollywood lighting technician who lives in Camp Williams, said he was scared when a sheriff’s deputy knocked on his door Sunday.Brown looked at a weather report and decided to ignore the evacuation orders. The fire burned closest to the mobile homes and campsites late Monday, he said.”I sat up for hours in my picnic chair and my video camera just taping different sections of the fire raging,” he said. „It was crazy, I had this whole fireworks show to myself in the middle of the night.”In Northern California, several fires broke out Tuesday, including one in Colusa County north of Sacramento that had surged to 1,000 acres and forced the closure of Highway 16. A 200-acre spot fire broke out about three miles away._Manning reported from Los Angeles. Dillon reported from Camp Williams.
Powerful quake hits Costa Rica, two dead By Isabella Cota | Reuters – 6 hrs ago SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake rocked Costa Rica on Wednesday, killing at least two people, sparking landslides, knocking down buildings, and briefly triggering atsunami warning.Striking a tourist region popular with Hollywood stars, Costa Rica’s worst quake in over two decades sowed panic in the capital, disrupting power supplies and communications, and caused an entire hospital on the Pacific coast to be evacuated.The Red Cross said two people died in Guanacaste, the northwestern province at the epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude quake, which split open tarmac roads, cracked gravestones and sent books tumbling off library shelves.One of the dead was a man working on a construction site who was killed when part of a wall fell on top of him. The other was a woman who had a heart attack.Costa Rican television said 22 people were also treated for injuries, but the Red Cross could not confirm this.Locals were shocked by the force of the earthquake, which was felt as far away as Nicaragua and Panama, and the biggest to hit Costa Rica since a 7.6 magnitude quake in 1991 left 47 dead.”I was inside my car at a stop sign and all of a sudden everything started shaking. I thought the street was going to break in two,” said Erich Johanning, a 30-year-old who works in Internet marketing in San Jose. „Immediately, I saw dozens of people running out of their homes and office buildings.”Dozens of patients were stretchered or wheeled out of the Monsenor Sanabria hospital just metres (yards) from the Pacific coast after the facade of the nine-storey building began to crumble during the quake, police from the port city of Puntarenas said.Local media said the building housed 218 patients and that all were relocated to other hospitals or sent home.Actor Mel Gibson owns a lush forest retreat at Playa Barrigona in Samara not far from the epicenter, which he recently put up for sale for $29.75 million. Guests to the 200-hectare (500-acre) property have included Bruce Willis and Britney Spears.Esteban Moreno of the national emergency services (CNE), said some buildings in the worst-hit areas had collapsed, though he added they were mostly older, and of poor quality.Some 21 hotels reported minor damage such as broken windows and fallen objects in Guanacasteprovince and the north of the country, but none reported serious damage, said Alcides Mora, spokesperson for the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.The small Central American nation may have been spared worse destruction due to the fact the quake struck fairly deep, coming in some 40.8 km (25.4 miles) below the surface.The epicenter was about 87 miles from San Jose, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.BEACHES AND SURF-Guanacaste is known for its beaches, surf and volcanoes. With several nature and marine reserves it is less tropical than the rest of Costa Rica, with stretches of open savannah and mountains.The province’s head of police, Rafael Angel Araya, said schools and homes suffered serious damage and that many Samara residents had left home after a tsunami alert was issued.”Half of the population, mostly foreigners who go online, decided to leave their homes temporarily and are now returning,” Araya said. „This was not an evacuation”.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a warning for Pacific coastlines of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, but this was later canceled. The center had earlier warned of tsunamis for as far afield as Mexico and Peru.The CNE said landslides had blocked some roads and that damage was done to some homes in built-up areas in the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast.In the town of Nicoya, about 11 km (7 miles) from the epicenter, Selenia Obando, a receptionist at the Hotel Curime, said the building was left without lights and power. A floor had collapsed in the hotel but there were no injuries.”It was horrible, like being in a blender going round and round,” Obando said. „All the water sloshed out of the swimming pool. It’s now about half full.”There was also an early report of damage to the Hotel Riu Guanacaste on Matapalo beach in Guanacaste.But America Nava, a reservations clerk with Riu in Mexico, said it had only been evacuated. „There is no damage to the hotel, they’re checking it to make sure everything is in order. As soon as that is finished, the guests will return.”The last serious quake to hit Costa Rica was a 6.1 magnitude quake in January 2009, which killed 40 people.(Reporting by Isabella Cota in Costa Rica and the Mexico City bureau; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Kieran Murray, Simon Gardner and Sandra Maler)