U.S. Flood watches, evacuation orders as storm hits California•A pedestrian makes their way across an overpass under a dramatic sunrise during the early morning commute in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. A powerful storm heading toward California is expected to produce heavy rainfall, damaging winds, localized stream flooding and heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Forecasters say rain will arrive in the north late Friday afternoon and reach the south late in the night, and last through Saturday night. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A powerful storm descending on California Saturday threatened flooding in the entire San Francisco Bay Area and areas stripped bare by devastating wildfires.The storm that began moving in Friday night was expected to bring up to 4 inches of rain in some areas, winds gusting to 80 mph in the mountains, 10-foot waves and several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges.The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch through Saturday morning for the entire San Francisco Bay Area and much of the Central Coast.”Heavy rainfall over a short amount of time will likely overwhelm storm drains and result in flooding of low-lying urban areas. Also, expect rapid rises on small streams and creeks” which could overflow, the weather service warned.Evacuations were ordered or recommended for many areas of Northern and Southern California that were hit by wildfires in recent months. Authorities fear that an inch of rain an hour could send fire debris, mud and boulders sluicing down denuded hillsides.In Malibu, where a fire last year destroyed many homes, Vidette Bell had her front door and garage barricaded with sandbags even before a previous storm hit.”I paid $3,000 to have these sandbags delivered,” Bell told KCAL-TV on Friday. „I didn’t want to have my house survive a fire and then get invaded with mud.”In the Holy Jim fire area southeast of Los Angeles, where an August wildfire scoured tens of thousands of acres in the Cleveland National Forest, volunteers using heavy equipment removed debris and deepened a creek bed to help prevent flooding.”In the last two days we’ve been able to move 19 dump trucks worth of debris from the creek bed and reinforce some of the walls here,” Keith Kothlow of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response organization, told KABC-TV.Santa Barbara County ordered evacuations of residents in designated debris-flow risk areas near the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire scars. Nearby residents were urged to also consider leaving.It has only been a little over a year since a downpour on the huge Thomas Fire burn scar unleashed a massive debris flow that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in the seaside community of Montecito.The disaster killed 21 people, and two others have never been found.The weather service issued flash-flood watches for areas burned by the Mendocino Complex, Camp and Carr wildfires in Northern California.Winter storm warnings went into effect in the Sierra Nevada along with avalanche warnings on the Nevada side of the range. The Sierra is already loaded with snow from a series of storms in January. The weather service said areas could see accumulations of up to 10 feet over the next few days as a series of storms blew through.Numerous areas of the state were under warnings for high winds, some that could potentially knock down trees and power lines.Two cold weather systems will follow on Sunday and Monday, bringing additional widespread showers and snow, forecasters said.
By Michael Hirtzer and Gina Cherelus•Downtown Manhattan in New York City is seen over ice that formed on the banks of the Hudson River during below freezing temperaturesDowntown Manhattan in New York City is seen over ice that formed on the banks of the Hudson River during below freezing temperatures from Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew KellyBy Michael Hirtzer and Gina CherelusCHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bone-chilling cold that paralyzed a chunk of the United States this week and killed at least 18 people eased on Friday as an errant Arctic air mass retreated ahead of a warmer-than-normal weekend in areas of the Midwest and Northeast.In Chicago, where the mercury dipped as low as minus 22 Fahrenheit (minus 30 Celsius) this week, temperatures of 22F (minus 5.5C) by Friday afternoon felt balmy for some in the nation’s third-largest city.”It’s got to be an almost 50 degree difference, it feels like spring,” said one commuter heading home from Chicago’s downtown financial district, wearing only a sweatshirt.Cable worker Brian Stachovic said he was up an electrical pole for only five minutes on Thursday before his fingers and toes went numb, and he had to go inside to avoid frostbite.”Today, working outside it was like normal,” said Stachovic, 40, wearing brown overalls and insulated gloves, as he worked in Chicago’s downtown.Temperatures from southern New England to the upper Midwest should reach the mid-40s to low 50s Fahrenheit through the weekend and Monday, forecasters said, after a record-breaking cold snap that stopped mail deliveries in some parts of the Midwest and shuttered schools and businesses.”The bitter cold air is going to be pushed up into Canada,” said Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.The Midwest’s worst cold snap in two decades was created by the polar vortex, a reservoir of icy air that usually swirls over the North Pole. Shifting air currents caused it to slip down through Canada and into the U.S. Midwest this week.Temperatures on Friday afternoon ranged from the teens to the twenties, after cities like Chicago experienced sub-zero temperatures for two days and opened additional warming centers for the homeless.DEATH TOLL MAY RISE At least 18 deaths have been linked to the deep freeze since Saturday, and the number was expected to climb as authorities identified more victims.On Friday, police in East Moline, Illinois, about 160 miles (260 km) west of Chicago, said the weather may have contributed to the death of a FedEx freight driver whose body was found between two trucks on Thursday outside a company distribution hub.A representative for FedEx did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The Cook County’s medical examiner’s office said there were four confirmed cold-related deaths this week in the Chicago area.More than 40 cold-temperature records were broken on Thursday, the coldest morning since the polar vortex moved in late on Tuesday, clinging to a swath of the United States from Iowa and the Dakotas across the Great Lakes region and into Maine.Amtrak restored rail service to and from Chicago on Friday, and the U.S. Postal Services resumed mail delivery in six Midwest states.But while the U.S. Midwest and East Coast thawed out, a fierce winter storm headed towards California, carrying heavy rains and high winds that could touch off city flooding and mudslides.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Gina Cherelus in New York; additional reporting by Peter Szekely and Gabriella Borter in New York, Michael Hirtzer in Chicago and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; editing by Jonathan Oatis, James Dalgleish and Sonya Hepinstall)
News Part of eastern Australia hit by once-in-a-century floods, braces for more rain By Will Ziebell•By Will ZiebellMELBOURNE (Reuters) – Once-in-a-century flooding in part of the eastern Australian state of Queensland looks set to worsen as the nation’s weather bureau on Saturday warned of more heavy rain in the area.Some residents have already been evacuated after days of monsoon rains lashed the region around the coastal city of Townsville in north Queensland, a spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology said.Adam Blazak, a forecaster with the bureau, did not say how many people had been evacuated, but added that some areas had reached „major” flood levels.”Normally a monsoonal burst might last a few days, but this one’s been going on over a week now and is set to continue for a few more days as well,” he said.Between 150 mm and 200 mm of rain is expected across Townsville on Saturday – equal to about a month’s average rainfall.Local authorities issued a number of flood warnings on Saturday morning and told residents to avoid using roads and consider moving to higher ground if conditions worsen.North Queensland has significant zinc reserves as well as major deposits of silver, lead, copper and iron ore, with Townsville a major processing center for the region’s base metals.In stark contrast, wildfires in the southern island state of Tasmania have burnt through close to 190,000 hectares of land, fire officials said.Chris Arnold, the chief officer of the Tasmania Fire Service, said on Saturday that nearly 600 personnel were working to contain the fires, some of which have been burning for weeks and have destroyed homes.Arnold told reporters that while the last few days have seen favorable conditions for battling the blazes, communities in part of the state were still under threat as expected hot and dry weather on Sunday could see bushfires escalate again.Australia endured its hottest month on record in January, with sweltering conditions expected to persist through April. That scorching weather triggered power outages in some areas and sent electricity prices soaring.(Reporting by Will Ziebell; Editing by Joseph Radford)
China deploys new rocket-launching robotic ship, but it’s not built for warMike WehnerWhen one of the world’s superpowers deploys a robotic ship capable of launching rockets it’s safe to assume that it’s going to raise plenty of eyebrows. Well, that’s exactly what China just did, but this particular vessel isn’t concerned with protecting territory to fending off invaders.The boat, which was designed and deployed by Chinese scientists, is far more concerned with the climate and weather patterns than military goals. The autonomous watercraft successfully launched a sounding rocket, which is a tool used by weather researchers to monitor conditions over a massive area, and its maiden voyage was chronicled in a new paper published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.Don’t Miss: Amazon sale shaves almost $100 off Sony’s insanely popular 1000XM3 noise cancelling headphonesThe vessel is an unmanned semi-submersible vehicle (USSV for short) and it was built by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics. It’s operated remotely and offers much more control than weather buoys and more versatile than a weather balloon.“The unmanned semi-submersible vehicle is an ideal platform for marine meteorological environmental monitoring, and the atmospheric profile information provided by [the sounding rocket] launched from this platform can improve the accuracy of numerical weather forecasts at sea and in coastal zones,” Dr. Jun Li, co-author of the paper, said in a statement.The idea here was to create an ocean-based observation tool that could change positions as needed without requiring a manned presence on the ship itself. The team accomplished that task and proved that the robotic vessel is a viable option for ongoing weather observation over the ocean.Going forward, an entire fleet of USSVs could be used to provide wide coverage over areas of the ocean that are traditionally much more difficult to monitor, especially when threats like typhoons spring up.“We are currently developing a new generation of USSVs which can carry various sensors relevant to marine science, including conductivity–temperature–depth, acoustic Doppler current profiler, and motion sensors to provide vertical profiles of the conductivity, water temperature, current velocity, and wave height and direction,” lead author Hongbin Chen explains.Such a network of robot ships could provide vital insights into ocean weather and improve warning systems for people on land as well as at sea.BGR Top Deals:
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