‘The Big Dark’: Series Of Storms Stretching From China To U.S. Batters NorthwestNick Visser The composite image above, released by NASA, shows a large atmospheric river stretching from China on the left to the coast of North America on the right. (NASA)A 5,000-mile-long belt of rain is battering the Northwest this week, an “atmospheric river” stretching across the Pacific Ocean from China to British Columbia.The storm system, which some weather officials have described as “The Big Dark,” is expected to drop 10 to 15 inches of rain and snow over high elevations and 2 to 5 inches of rain over the Puget Sound region in Washington state.The system could be seen earlier this week on an image released by NASA as a giant horizontal band of clouds over the Pacific. Dustin Guy, an official at the National Weather Service in Seattle, described it to The Seattle Times as “one long stretch of moisture a few thousands miles long that will be hitting us in the face.” FollowNWS Portland @NWSPortlandTalk about an atmospheric river!! Wow! https://twitter.com/NWSSeattle/status/919785355422740481 …At least one city in Washington set a daily record for precipitation Wednesday, and Seattle was expected to have its wettest 24-hour period since February. Local ski blogs in British Columbia gleefully predicted the region could get 28 to 80 inches of snow during the week.Strong wind gusts knocked out power to more than 54,000 people in western Washington, and a ground delay was temporarily placed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to KING 5 TV. Ferry services were temporarily closed as well.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association describes such weather patterns as “rivers in the sky” that transport water vapor from warm tropical areas to cooler regions.“These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River,” the agency says. “When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.”The Washington Post notes that while this week’s storm is certainly dramatic in its scale, atmospheric rivers this large have been seen before. Another over the Pacific Ocean in October 2009 hit central California and dumped up to 15 inches of rain over parts of the state.This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Trailers could house those displaced by fires in California wine countryBy Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis View photosFresh flowers are seen in the aftermath of the Tubbs Fire in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, California U.S., October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Loren ElliottBy Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Residents of Northern California’s wine country left homeless by the state’s deadliest-ever wildfires could be temporarily housed in federal government trailers, officials said on Wednesday, as the death toll from the blazes rose to 42.Since erupting on Oct. 8 and 9, the blazes have blackened more than 245,000 acres, (86,200 hectares) and destroyed an estimated 4,600 homes along with wineries and commercial buildings.Thousands of survivors, forced to flee the flames with little warning, remain displaced. Many are returning to find nothing left, forcing them to seek housing in emergency shelters or with family and friends.The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has called trailers a solution of last resort for housing the displaced.But local officials said they had few other options because of a lack of hotels and rental housing, especially around Santa Rosa – the urban hub of the region’s wine country – which had nearly 5 percent of its homes destroyed.”We have talked to FEMA about trailers, we’re not sure what the availability is, how soon we could get them here, but we are looking at every option,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey told Reuters by phone.”I don’t relish having people living in FEMA trailers, but it’s a hell of a lot better than sleeping out under the stars,” he said.FEMA deployed trailers to house thousands of people displaced by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina along the U.S. Gulf Coast, triggering lawsuits by people who contended they were exposed to formaldehyde in the government-issued housing.A judge in 2012 approved a settlement requiring builders of the trailers to pay a settlement of nearly $40 million.FEMA’s latest trailers, which it calls manufactured or temporary housing units, have new safety features and are built to high standards, the agency said in a blog post last year.The agency is only at the beginning stage of determining which options to employ, in consultation with local officials, to house people displaced by the fires, FEMA spokesman Victor Inge said by phone.”A temporary housing unit is an absolute last resort, they’re expensive and they take a long time to get set up,” Inge said.‘PROBABLY GOING TO NEED TRAILERS’ Officials with Sonoma County, which includes Santa Rosa, are considering sites with built-in utilities, such as running water and electricity, for mobile-home units, said Margaret Van Vliet, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.”We know we’re probably going to need FEMA trailers,” she said.Firefighters on Wednesday were still battling the blazes, the deadliest in state history, as search-and-rescue teams picked through burned-out neighborhoods.Law enforcement officials said the body of the 42nd confirmed victim was found late on Tuesday in the Fountain Grove section of Santa Rosa.About 60 people remain missing or unaccounted for in Sonoma and Napa counties. Most of the more than 2,000 people listed in missing-persons reports have turned up safe, including evacuees who failed to alert authorities after fleeing their homes.Fire officials said that while 13 major blazes were still burning as of Wednesday, the flames were largely contained and no longer considered a threat to homes or communities.”We have stopped the forward progress and movement of all these fires, we have line around them,” Brett Gouvea, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection deputy chief, told reporters at an afternoon news conference. A Santa Rosa couple whose house was destroyed sued Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) on Tuesday, alleging the utility failed to take preventative measures in the face of dangerous drought conditions.Representatives for PG&E said that the utility was focused on supporting firefighting efforts and restoring powerAbout 30 vintners sustained fire damage to wine-making facilities, vineyards, tasting rooms or other assets, according to the Napa Valley Vintners industry group(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco and Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)
Death toll rises to 42 in California wildfiresBy Dan WhitcombA firefighter sprays water to put out hot spots during the Wilson Fire near Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Mario AnzuoniBy Dan WhitcombLOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The death toll from more than a dozen major wildfires still burning across Northern California’s celebrated wine country rose to 42 on Wednesday, after search and rescue teams picking through burned out neighborhoods found another victim.Few details were available on the latest person confirmed to have died in the so-called North Bay fires, already the deadliest in California history.Law enforcement officials said only that the individual had died in the Fountain Grove section of Santa Rosa, a city of about 175,000 people north of San Francisco that has seen nearly 5 percent of its homes destroyed.Since erupting on Oct. 8 and 9, the fires have blackened more than 245,000 acres, (86,200 hectares), an area more than five times the size of Washington, D.C., and destroyed nearly 5,000 homes along with wineries and commercial buildings.About 60 people remain missing or unaccounted for in Sonoma and Napa counties. Most of the over 2,000 people listed in missing-persons reports have turned up safe, including evacuees who failed to alert authorities after fleeing their homes.Thousands of survivors, forced to flee the flames with little warning, remained displaced. Many would return to find nothing left, forcing them to make hasty plans for shelter.Fire officials say that while 13 major blazes were still burning as of Wednesday, the flames were largely contained and no longer considered a threat to homes or communities.”We have stopped the forward progress and movement of all these fires, we have line around them,” Brett Gouvea, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection deputy chief, told reporters at an afternoon press conference. A Santa Rosa couple whose house was destroyed sued Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) on Tuesday, claiming the utility failed to take preventative measures in the face of dangerous drought conditions.“PG&E failed to properly maintain and to repair power lines while also negligently failing to properly trim, prune and maintain vegetation near their electrical equipment,” attorneys for Wayne and Jennifer Harvell said in a written statement.The couple seeks compensation for personal property losses and “emotional harm.” in their lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court.Representatives for PG&E said that the utility was focused on supporting firefighting efforts and restoring power”We aren’t going to speculate about any of the causes of the fires and will cooperate with the reviews by any relevant regulator or agency,” spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said.Authorities say they were still investigating to determine a cause of each of the major fires.About 30 vintners sustained some fire damage to wine-making facilities, vineyards, tasting rooms or other assets, according to the industry group Napa Valley Vintners.About 90 percent of Napa’s grape harvest had been picked and escaped exposure to smoke that could have tainted the fruit.Still, the toll taken on the region has thrown the wine industry into disarray. The group’s spokeswoman, Patsy McGaughy, said the 2017 Napa vintage would likely be smaller than previously expected.(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Trump’s NOAA nominee signed 20-year weather deal with China … which is suspected of hacking NOAA Andrew Freedman •View photosPresident Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the nation’s oceans and atmosphere agency is already facing political headwinds. While environmental groups and some senators have expressed skepticism about the nomination of Barry Lee Myers, the CEO of AccuWeather, to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the criticism to date has focused on possible conflicts of interest that could arise from the fact that he has spent much of his career leading a private sector weather forecasting company.However, potentially more problematic is Myers’ role in securing a 2015 deal with the Chinese government that set up a 20-year joint venture to disseminate weather data in China. SEE ALSO: Trump’s nominee to lead nation’s top science agency has no science degreeThe deal may spur national security concerns, at least on the surface, considering that China is a potential adversary of the U.S. Shortly before AccuWeather announced its expansion into China, Chinese hackers were implicated in a 2014 hacking incident that knocked out NOAA’s satellite data dissemination. In other words, the nominee to lead NOAA is doing business with the country suspected of hacking the agency. View photosSatellite view of Hurricane Maria.Image: noaa/cimssAccuWeather, based in State College, Pennsylvania, entered into the 20-year agreement with the Huafeng Media Group, a commercial weather media company wholly owned by the China Meteorological Administration, a government entity. Through this partnership, AccuWeather and Huafeng set up the Huafeng-AccuWeather (Beijing) Co., Ltd., whose mission is to „advance, enhance, share, and distribute weather forecasts” from AccuWeather for locations across China. According to a 2015 press release announcing the partnership, the joint venture would include other arrangements to distribute weather information through other Chinese companies. It described the deal in hyperbolic terms, saying it’s a game-changer in the weather industry. „This is may be [sic] the largest and most dramatic single event to occur in the provision of weather information on a country and global scale in the history of the weather industry,” the release stated.The full scope of the deal between AccuWeather and the Chinese government is unknown, but does involve AccuWeather hiring personnel in China. A company spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the joint venture in China. View photoHurricane Irma (L) and Hurricane Jose (R) in the Atlantic Ocean on September 7, 2017.Image: NOAA/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/ShutterstockAccuWeather is not the only U.S.-based weather company with a presence in China. IBM, for example, which owns The Weather Company, including the popular website weather.com, also conducts activities in China, but does not have nearly as extensive a meteorology operation in the country as AccuWeather does, according to a spokesperson for The Weather Company. When it was announced, AccuWeather claimed that the joint venture makes it, „the only company sanctioned under the new Meteorological Law of China to distribute a full and detailed set of official weather information and forecasts of the China Meteorological Administration and the unique forecasting techniques and Chinese patents of AccuWeather.”Myers is quoted in the release as saying: The Chinese market is massive, and the growing population and increasing popularity of mobile devices there offer tantalizing prospects for weather information providers such as AccuWeather. But there is one big problem in having a NOAA nominee who was the CEO of a company that struck such a deal: The China Meteorological Agency (CMA) is a government entity, just as the National Weather Service (NWS) is in the U.S. Not only that, but the Chinese government has also been implicated in cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, including NOAA’s own systems in 2014, the year before AccuWeather inked its deal. According to the Washington Post, hackers based in China breached federal weather systems pertaining to satellites and other critical infrastructure. The attack on web servers led to a satellite data outage, affecting millions of U.S. users of weather information and partners abroad. While Chinese officials denied any involvement in the incident, then-Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia told the Post that the attack was of Chinese origin. (Wolf was a key player in cybersecurity and NOAA oversight at the time.)View image on Twitt FollowCapital Weather Gang @capitalweatherScathing criticism of Trump pick to head NOAA, Barry Myers, from former Obama official. More: http://wapo.st/2xAKfcD China continues to be a major cybersecurity concern of the U.S. government, perhaps second only to Russia.According to Antonio Busalacchi, the president of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR), it’s up to the U.S. government to determine if American weather companies’ work with China poses any national security risks. “In terms of the media outreach and other aspects, China’s working with a range of companies,” Busalacchi said in an interview.Busalacchi said it’s possible that the AccuWeather deal, as well as other private company operations in China, will raise national security concerns on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon, given the U.S. treatment of China as a potential adversary. “Is something like AccuWeather or Yahoo Weather or The Weather Channel having activities in these countries, is that giving those countries or parts of the world an undue edge versus our military? I can’t answer that question,” Busalacchi said.”If the answer is ‘yes’ then we have a national security issue. That’s a fair question to be asked. That transcends just AccuWeather,” he said. “The government has to be very careful if it’s going to step in and try to stifle this sort of innovation of the private sector.”Ralph O. Stoffler, the director of weather and the deputy chief of staff for operations at the Air Force, said he does not think AccuWeather’s activities in China, or those of other private U.S. weather firms, raise red flags on national security, at least not for the Air Force. “Recognize the fact that, first, the weather information that these private companies are most likely selling in China is information over China, and the rest of the information to a great extent is already available in the public domain,” Stoffler said in an interview. What would be far more concerning to Defense officials like Stoffler is if China were to seek weather information on strategically sensitive U.S. locations, he said.Stoffler said he does not think AccuWeather’s Chinese venture should be much of a focus of senate hearings for Myers’ nomination. “U.S. weather companies operate all over the globe, China is a big market, and I don’t see why that would be an issue in the senatorial discussions at all from my perspective,” he said. View photosForecasters at the National Weather Service monitor Hurricane Irma, at the hurricane center in Miami on Sept. 9, 2017.Image: AP/REX/ShutterstockAccuWeather’s Chinese operation has not yet been a focus of attention for critics of Myers’ nomination, since most opposition from environmental groups and senators has focused on conflict of interest issues and AccuWeather’s past activities lobbying for a bill that would have narrowed the role of NOAA’s National Weather Service. For example, when contacted for comment about AccuWeather’s China operation, a spokesperson for a senator said he was unaware the deal existed. Myers is the first head of a private weather company ever to be nominated for this position, and his lack of a formal science background and any experience with oceans issues has been a main focus of criticism. The Chinese deal, when combined with the hacking incident, may add to some lawmakers’ skepticism toward his nomination.AccuWeather helped push a 2005 bill that would have severely curtailed the ability of the National Weather Service (a NOAA agency) to unveil new products and services to distribute its forecasts and weather warnings. Such a bill was widely interpreted as being a boon for AccuWeather and other private weather companies, at the expense of taxpayers who pay for NOAA to gather weather data that is distributed for free. The bill would have set up a system in which NOAA would still gather weather data, but private sector companies like AccuWeather would then deliver it to consumers in the form of forecasts, potentially charging for such services. The bill never came up for a vote on the senate floor. However, opponents of the bill haven’t forgotten it. Florida Senator Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, released a statement on the Myers nomination that implicitly referenced it. “We’ve had ten hurricanes in ten weeks, I want to make absolutely sure any NOAA administrator will put the public first in delivering freely available weather forecasts,” Nelson said. “We can’t afford to have someone in this position that might be tempted to feather their own nest by privatizing the National Weather Service.”WATCH: Los Angeles is painting their roads white to cool the city down and improve air quality
Typhoon Lan will be Earth’s next megastorm, with effects rippling across the Pacific Andrew Freedman•View photos It’s 2017, which means a week cannot go by without a megastorm potentially devastating some part of the planet. As Hurricane Ophelia fades from headlines, now all sharp weather eyes are turning to Typhoon Lan in the western Pacific Ocean. The storm is currently churning to the east of the Philippines, slowly moving over some of the warmest waters on Earth. Computer models show that warm water, plus low atmospheric wind shear and other favorable conditions may allow the storm to rapidly intensify during the next 48 hours, potentially bringing Typhoon Lan to Category 4 or 5 super typhoon status by the end of the week. SEE ALSO: Surreal astronaut photos show the danger and beauty of Hurricane MariaTyphoon Lan will initially move to the north-northwest, and eventually to the northwest for a time, before being steered more to the northeast, on course for a potential landfall or significant swipe at the coast of Japan. View photos HWRF computer model projection of Typhoon Lan’s satellite presentation on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.Related SearchesTyphoon LanTyphoon ChinaImage: weatherbellThe Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) forecasts the storm to be near Tokyo on Oct. 23, as a Category 2 or 3 storm. If this occurs, this could test Tokyo’s expensive flood control system by bringing a combination of heavy rain and storm surge flooding to the densely populated city. There is considerable uncertainty in a 5-day typhoon track and intensity forecast, however.Computer model projections show that Typhoon Lan may grow to be a particularly large storm in the Northwest Pacific as it intensifies and moves toward Japan. Eventually, it will recurve out into the North Pacific, where some of its energy will interact with the jet stream (the river of fast-flowing air at high altitudes that helps steer weather systems), perturbing what has been a rather straight west-to-east airflow into a series of upper level waves or undulations. These dips, or „troughs” in the jet, as well as bulges or „ridges,” will trigger changes in the weather across North America and beyond. Assuming Typhoon Lan reaches at least Category 3 intensity, it will end an unusually long quiet period when it comes to major typhoons in the western Pacific, with no such storms occurring since Sept. 15. WATCH: Balloons may be Puerto Rico’s best chance for communicationView photos
‘Atmospheric river’ will deluge Washington state, Oregon MAX GOLEMBOA 5,000-mile conveyor belt of moisture called an atmospheric river has developed in the air over the Pacific Ocean, spanning from Asia to North America.Over the next several days, storms will move along this belt, bringing more than a foot of rain to parts of western Washington and northern Oregon and several feet of snow to the Cascade mountains. Gusty winds with these storms could reach 50 to 60 mph.PHOTO: A so-called Atmospheric River could dump rain on parts of Oregon and Washington state this week. (ABC NewsPHOTO: Western Storm – through Friday. (ABC News)The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and high wind warnings for Washington state and Oregon.An atmospheric river is a narrow but a long plume of moisture in the atmosphere, hundreds of miles wide and several thousand miles long. Atmospheric rivers transport up to half the West Coast’s precipitation each year during the rainy season, from October to April.A single atmospheric river can carry more water than the earth’s largest river, the Amazon.
By Alana Wise
(Reuters) – United Airlines <UAL.N> on Wednesday said its third-quarter net income fell slightly less than investors had feared as the third-largest U.S. carrier was hit by $185 million in pre-tax losses caused by canceled flights during the Atlantic hurricane season.
Looking forward, it forecast a pre-tax margin of between 3 percent and 5 percent for the current quarter, a steep drop from 9.8 percent a year ago, largely due to an increasingly competitive fare war in key markets against low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines Inc <SAVE.O>, Frontier Airlines and others.
United has acknowledged the short-term impact on profit from matching sharply discounted fares against its competitors, but has said it would continue matching until it could outpace low-cost rivals.
United’s shares hovered around the unchanged mark in after-hours trading.
The Chicago-based airline said passenger revenue per available seat mile, a closely watched measurement of an airline’s performance, fell 3.7 percent, about 1 percentage point of which was attributable to disruptions caused by storms.
For the current quarter, United forecast that passenger revenue per available seat mile would decline by 1 percent to 3 percent.
It reported net income of $637 million, down 34 percent from $965 million in the year-ago quarter.
Excluding some special charges, United reported earnings per share of $2.22 per share. That beat Wall Street’s average forecast of $2.16, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Bill Rigby)