Hurricane Gert strengthens, moving faster toward north-northeast: NHC (Reuters) – Gert, the second hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic season, became a little stronger and was moving faster toward the north-northeast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday.The hurricane was about 385 miles (615 km) west-northwest of Bermuda, packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h).Weakening should begin by Thursday when Gert moves over colder water, the NHC said.(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish)
Monsoon floods kill more than 200 people across South Asia By Gopal Sharma and Ruma Paul View photosA flood victim washes herself in Saptari District, Nepal August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh ChitrakarBy Gopal Sharma and Ruma PaulKATHMANDU/DHAKA (Reuters) – Heavy monsoon rains in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed more than 200 people in the last week, officials said on Tuesday, as rescue workers rushed to help those stranded by floodwaters.In Nepal, the death toll from flash floods and landslides rose to 115, with 38 people missing. Relief workers said 26 of Nepal’s 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides.Television pictures showed people wading through chest-deep water carrying belongings and livestock.”We will now focus more on rescue of those trapped in floods and relief distribution. People have nothing to eat, no clothes. So we have to provide them something to eat and save their lives,” said Nepali police spokesman Pushkar Karki.Floods in north Bangladesh have killed at least 39 people in the last few days and affected more than 500,000, many of them fleeing their homes to shelter in camps, officials said.The situation could get worse as swollen rivers carry rainwater from neighboring India downstream into the low-lying and densely populated country, they said.In the northern Indian state of Bihar, floods have killed 56 people since Sunday and affected more than six million, said Anirudh Kumar, additional secretary in the state Disaster Management Department.More than two million people have been evacuated from their homes, Kumar told Reuters, and national disaster relief force teams have been airlifted in to help.Flooding has also killed at least 15 people in the northeastern state of Assam.India’s meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain on Wednesday.Monsoon rains start in June and continue through September. They are vital for farmers in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh but cause loss of life and property damage every year.(Additional reporting and writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Andrew Roche)
Nearly 400 bodies recovered from Sierra Leone mudslide: coroner By Christo Johnson and Umaru FofanaView photosQUALITY REPEAT: Rescue workers search for survivors after a mudslide in the Mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, August 14, 2017. Pictures taken August 14, 2017. Sierra Leone Red Cross/Handout via REUTERSBy Christo Johnson and Umaru FofanaFREETOWN (Reuters) – Rescue workers have recovered nearly 400 bodies from a mudslide in the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, the chief coroner said on Tuesday, as morgues struggled to find space for all the dead.Related SearchesSierra Leone MudslideSierra Leone FloodSierra Leone LandslideDozens of houses were buried when a mountainside collapsed in the town of Regent on Monday morning – one of the deadliest natural disasters in Africa in recent years.President Ernest Bai Koroma urged residents of Regent and other flooded areas around Freetown to evacuate immediately so that military personnel and other rescue workers could continue to search for survivors who might be buried underneath debris.”As the search continues, we have collected nearly 400 bodies – but we anticipate more than 500,” chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya told Reuters.Hundreds of other people are missing, aid agencies said.Bodies continued to arrive at Freetown’s overwhelmed central morgue on Tuesday. Corpses were lying on the floor and on the ground outside for lack of room, a Reuters witness said.”Our problem here is space. We are trying to separate, quantify, and examine quickly and then we will issue death certificates before the burial,” said Owiz Koroma, head of the morgue, who also estimated the death toll to be in the hundreds.To relieve pressure on the morgue, authorities and aid agencies were preparing to bury the bodies in four different cemeteries across Freetown, said Idalia Amaya, an emergency response coordinator for Catholic Relief Services.The burials are expected to take place on Thursday, government spokesman Cornelius Deveaux said.Medecins Sans Frontieres is providing hundreds of body bags to authorities that the medical charity kept in Sierra Leone after the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak which killed 4,000 people in the former British colony.FEAR OF DISEASE Sierra Red Cross Society spokesman Abu Bakarr Tarawallie said by phone he estimated that at least 3,000 people were homeless and in need of shelter, medical assistance and food. The Red Cross said another 600 were missing.”We are also fearful of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Freetown. „We can only hope that this does not happen.”Contaminated water and water-logging often lead to potentially deadly diseases like cholera and diarrhea after floods and mudslides.Crowds of people gathered, waiting for news of missing family members.”I’ve been looking for my aunt and her two children, but so far no word about them,” said a tearful Mohamed Jalloh. He said he feared the worst.President Koroma said in a television address on Monday evening that rescue centers had been set up around the capital to register and assist victims.Bulldozers dug through mud and rubble at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf, where many residents had been asleep when part of the mountainside collapsed. The government said a number of illegal buildings had been erected in the area.(Additional reporting by Kieran Guilbert; writing by Edward McAllister and Nellie Peyton; editing by Mark Heinrich)
U.S. NHC sees 20 percent chance of cyclone east of Lesser Antilles (Reuters) – Shower and thunderstorm activity associated with an elongated area of low pressure located more than a thousand miles east of the Lesser Antilles has a 20 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday.”Some slow development of this system is possible before it moves into the Caribbean Sea, where environmental conditions are expected to be less conducive for tropical cyclone formation,” the NHC said.(Reporting by Nithin Prasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)Greece seeks EU help as wildfires rage By Phoebe Fronista and Alkis Konstantinidis Greece seeks EU help as wildfires rageBy Phoebe Fronista and Alkis KonstantinidisATHENS (Reuters) – Firefighters battled wildfires raging northeast of Athens for a third day on Tuesday as Greece asked for help from its European partners to prevent them from spreading.Related SearchesRemains Of 19 Firefighters Killed In Yarnell Hill FireWildfires Near MeThe fire started in Kalamos, a coastal holiday spot some 45 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital, and has spread to three more towns, damaging dozens of homes and burning thousands of hectares of pine forest. A state of emergency has been declared in the area.”The blaze is advancing with great speed. Because of the scale and intensity of the wildfires, the country submitted a request for aerial means,” fire brigade spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri told a press briefing.Cyprus offered a group of 60 firefighters and a Greek air force plane was headed there to pick them up. But a request for two pairs of CL-415 firefighting aircraft was turned down by France as it had to deal with its own wildfires, she said.Three firefighting planes and six water-throwing helicopters operated through the day, assisting 210 firefighters and about 100 military personnel battling the blaze on the ground near the town of Kapandriti.Rugged terrain dotted with small communities made the fire-fighting difficult, with winds rekindling the blaze at many spots. Thick, billowing smoke rendered operations from the air difficult.Across Greece, firefighters were battling more than 55 forest fires, an outbreak fed by dry winds and hot weather that fanned blazes in the Peloponnese and on the Ionian islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia.ARSON?On Zakynthos, an island popular with foreign tourists, a dozen fires burned for a fifth day. Authorities declared a state of emergency there on Monday. A government minister said there was no doubt the fires had been set deliberately.”It’s arson according to an organised plan,” Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, the member of parliament for Zakynthos, told state TV.Late July and August often see outbreaks of forest and brush fires in Greece, where high temperatures help create tinder-box conditions.In Kalamos, community president Dimitris Kormovitis told Reuters TV: „If we don’t manage to cut it off today, there will be terrible consequences. There has been devastation of a biblical scale in our area, which is one of the last lungs of the Attica region.”Andreas Theodorou, a local councillor in Kalamos, said the blaze had damaged several dozen homes. „Help did not arrive fast enough, and if you don’t stop a forest fire so large as soon as it breaks out, it’s very hard to put it out,” he said.In the Peloponnese region of Ilia, blazes that broke out in three areas on Monday and looked tamed early on Tuesday flared up again, fanned by winds. In 2007 the same area was the site of Greece’s worst fires, with more than 70 people killed.”We asked for the evacuation of the village of Peristeri. The fire has gotten very close, it cannot be contained due to strong winds,” Ilia vice-prefect George Georgiopoulos told SKAI TV.(Additional reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris; Writing by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
Wet weather brings garden problems LEE REICHThis undated photo shows blueberries growing in LaGrangeville, N.Y. Despite wet soil, these blueberries grow well because they are planted on raised mounds from which water drains well. (Lee Reich via AP)A season of rain is as trying as a season of drought. Excess rain creates gooey soil, which is no fun for planting if you are a human and no fun for growing if you are a plant.Roots need air, and day after day of rain can fill all the soil pores with water. The result: Roots have trouble absorbing nutrients and even water._HELP FOR CLAY SOILS Incessant summer rains rarely present a problem in soils that are well-cared for or sandy. In clay soils, waterlogging can be avoided if they are treated right. Adding heaps of organic materials such as compost, leaves and straw to clay soils causes the small clay particles to aggregate into larger units. Not walking on or working a clay soil also allows aggregation over time. Larger aggregates have larger spaces between them, so well-aggregated clay soils drain water well, just as water drains well from the large pores within sandy soils.If conditions are really watery, construct raised beds for vegetables and flowers, and large mounds on which to plant trees and shrubs. Of course, soil used to build up the raised beds or mounds should drain well.If soil conditions are worse still, move your plants somewhere drier._PROBLEMS EVEN IN WELL-DRAINED SOILS Alas, even with perfect drainage, a wet summer can bring on problems unrelated to the soil. Plants might „lodge,” for example: Growth is so lush that stems flop over because they can no longer support themselves. Corn plants standing neatly like soldiers one day might suddenly, even with calm air, bow low as if hit by gale-force winds.Speaking of lush growth, abundant summer rains will also have weeds thriving.And plants will experience less sunlight during a wet summer. Less sun means less fuel to make delicious tomatoes, peppers, apples and other fruits.You could also blame rainy weather for poor fruiting of peppers and delayed fruiting of tomatoes. The effect of rain in these cases is indirect, the result of poor pollination.Excessive rains also can bring on pests. Most fungi thrive in moisture. A dramatic demonstration of this would be the near-leafless crabapple trees frequently seen in wet summers; moisture-loving scab and rust fungi are mostly responsible for these trees’ fall from their spring glory.Adequate spacing and pruning promote good air circulation so plants dry more quickly, lessening disease problems. Still, the threat is increased during a rainy year.Crawling pests may or may not enjoy abundant moisture. Needless to say, wet conditions are heavenly for slugs and mosquitos._TOO WET OR TOO DRY?I prefer a dry summer to a wet one. The effects of drought can be mitigated by mulching and irrigating, but there’s little you can do when days of rain cause poor fruiting and an increase in diseases, slugs and mosquitos.Summer weather in many regions is variable, wet one year and dry the next, but there’s something to appreciate either way._Online:http://www.leereich.com/blog ; http://leereich.com
Climate change means more rain but less water in rural rivers: study •while hotter weather sparked heavier storms leading to floods in built up areas, it also reduces moisture in the soil, which then quickly absorbs any excess and reduces water flow in rural rivers.Soaring temperatures driven by climate change are whipping up ever-more intense storms inundating cities with flash floods but leaving the countryside and crucial agricultural land parched, an Australian study has found.Researchers at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) found that while hotter weather sparked heavier storms leading to floods in built up areas, it also reduces moisture in the soil, which then quickly absorbs any excess and reduces water flow in rural rivers.Related SearchesClimate Change FactsNyt Climate ChangeWhat Is Climate ChangeClimate Change DefinitionGlobal Climate Change„So when the big rainfall events… do fall, a bigger proportion of them are stored up in the soil, so you have a lesser proportion coming out as flows,” UNSW professor of hydrology Ashish Sharma told AFP Tuesday.Experts say decreases in waterways in farming areas threatens agriculture and food security, requiring urgent attention amid a forecast rise in the global population by 23 percent to nine billion over the next two decades.Meanwhile, they point out that city infrastructure is struggling to cope with the harsher downpours, with flood damage worldwide costing more US$50 billion in 2013 — a figure expected to double in the next 20 years.”It’s a double whammy,” said the paper’s lead author Conrad Wasko from UNSW.”People are increasingly migrating to cities, where flooding is getting worse. At the same time, we need adequate flows in rural areas to sustain the agriculture to supply these burgeoning urban populations.”The extensive analysis, published Friday in the Nature Scientific Reports, is based on data from nearly 50,000 rain and river monitoring sites across 160 countries.Whereas extreme „once in a lifetime” floods are causing increasingly large water flows, regular cyclical inundations are having less and less of an effect on the water table, Sharma said.He added that even though the increase in intensity of storms varied around the globe, a persistent finding in the research was that more rain did not translate to more water in river systems.”One thing that came out consistent was the change in rainfall was much more than the change in flow”, Sharma added.The paper’s authors said engineering solutions were required to adapt to the change in environment.”In places like Arizona, or California, the Netherlands, or the Snowy Mountains Scheme (Australian hydroelectricity system), these things happened because of civil engineers,” Sharma said.”We felt that the way the natural system was working was not consistent with where we want the population to be so we engineered an outcome… and we are benefiting from all the work that was done so many years ago.”
Climate change will cut crop yields: study •Each degree Celsius increase in global mean temperature is estimated to reduce average global yields of wheat by six percent.Climate change will have a negative effect on key crops such as wheat, rice, and maize, according to a major scientific report out Tuesday that reviewed 70 prior studies on global warming and agriculture.Experts analyzed previous research that used a variety of methods, from simulating how crops will react to temperature changes at the global and local scale, to statistical models based on historical weather and yield data, to artificial field warming experiments.All these methods „suggest that increasing temperatures are likely to have a negative effect on the global yields of wheat, rice and maize,” said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.”Each degree Celsius increase in global mean temperature is estimated to reduce average global yields of wheat by six percent,” said the report.Rice yields would be cut by 3.2 percent, and maize by 7.4 percent for each degree of Celsius warming (almost two degrees Fahrenheit), it added.”Estimates of soybean yields did not change significantly.”These four crops are key to the survival of humanity, providing two-thirds of our caloric intake.Changing temperatures would likely cause yields to rise in some locations, said the report.But for the most part, the overall trend planet-wide is downward, signaling that steps are needed to adapt to the warming climate and feed an ever-expanding world population.
Got questions about the solar eclipse happening Aug. 21? We’ve got answers. We’ve assembled an expert panel to answer your burning questions about the upcoming ‘Great American Eclipse.’ Join us on Facebook at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15.
Can you look directly at the solar eclipse without special glasses? Will you even be able to see the eclipse from where you live? What’s the best way to photograph it?We’ll have experts on hand to answer all your eclipse-related questions at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, on The Seattle Times’ Facebook page. You can also leave questions in the comment thread on this article.Featured VideoFrom Ethiopia to Seattle, young goalkeeper keeps tradition alive (2:11) Most Read Stories Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton