News From blizzards to tornadoes to extreme temperature drops, a wild weather week ahead Doyle Rice•Bomb cyclone blizzard whips and roars west Old Man Winter isn’t giving up without a fight.A potent storm is expected to bring blizzard conditions to portions of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest this week, where some spots could see as much as 2 feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service.The storm will get started Tuesday, and snow is likely over much of the northern Rockies by the evening. It will pick up in intensity as it moves into the central USA by Wednesday and into Thursday.In much of the region, travel „may become difficult to impossible,” the weather service warned. „Road closures are possible, potentially including along stretches of Interstates 29, 80 and 90,” the Weather Channel said.The heaviest snow will be in Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota, according to weathermodels.com meteorologist Ryan Maue. Blizzard warnings will probably be issued in those states.Minneapolis/St. Paul will be the largest metro area in the path of the snowstorm. The weather service in Minnesota said snow may be heavy at times: as much as 2 inches of snow per hour.
Snowfall in the Twin Cities in April isn’t unheard of: The area got 13.8 inches on a single day in April 1983.
Winds will howl as the storm cranks up, and gusts could hit 40-60 mph. The strongest winds will whip through the central and southern Plains, AccuWeather said.
Wild temperature drops will bring weather whiplash: After a high near 80 degrees Tuesday in Denver, the low late Wednesday will be in the 20s with wind chills in the teens.
Severe weather, including the chance for tornadoes, is possible later in the week. The greatest risk for severe weather will be in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys Thursday. The storm threat Friday will be in the East.
Late Sunday and early Monday, severe storms walloped several Southern states. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. Severe weather that could affect 26 million people was possible Monday and into early Tuesday, the Storm Prediction Center said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: From blizzards to tornadoes to extreme temperature drops, a wild weather week ahead
By Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The March floods that punished the U.S. Midwest have trapped barrels of ethanol in the country’s interior, causing shortages of the biofuel and helping to boost gasoline prices in the western United States.
The historic floods have dealt a series of blows to large swaths of an ethanol industry that was already struggling with high inventories and sluggish domestic demand growth.
The ethanol shortages are one factor pushing gasoline prices in Southern California, including Los Angeles, to the highest in the country, and they could top $4 a gallon for the first time since 2014, according to tracking firm GasBuddy.
Benchmark price for ethanol used in most supply contracts initially jumped on news of the floods but has been hobbled by rising waters around the Chicago hub that have halted barges and sales. That stands in contrast to prices on the coasts, which rose dramatically – drawing in heavy imports from Brazil, the main U.S. ethanol competitor.
The floods inflicted billions of dollars in damage to crops and homes in the U.S. Midwest, and knocked out roughly 13 percent of ethanol capacity.
U.S. ethanol is made from corn and required by the government to be blended into the country’s fuel supply to reduce emissions.
While some ethanol plants were flooded, the primary effect of the rising waters was to shut rail lines that serve as the main arteries for corn and ethanol deliveries.
Ethanol prices on the coasts spiked due to shortages, but Midwest producers have been unable to take advantage because of washed-out rail lines, market sources told Reuters.
„Unfortunately for anyone who was impacted by logistics issues it was a double whammy. You couldn’t capture the rally,” said one trader.
At Chicago’s Argo terminal, the nation’s main ethanol pricing hub, the cash price for ethanol fell for an eighth straight session last week to $1.29 a gallon, the longest downward skid since April of last year, according to Oil Price Information Service, which does daily assessments.
Initially, fears of widespread plant outages boosted that benchmark, but plants proved more resilient than expected, continuing to produce despite logistical challenges.
U.S. ethanol inventories were at 24 million barrels for the week ended March 29, just off a record hit a week earlier, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
Chicago’s price acts as the benchmark for millions of barrels bought and sold via longer-term supply contracts each day. While that price faltered, ethanol prices at the coast have surged, helping plants owned by Pacific Ethanol Inc and White Energy in California and Texas to take advantage of higher prices.
Ethanol delivered into Los Angeles typically trades at 20 cents a gallon higher than Chicago, but that premium rose to as high as 50 cents a gallon, traders said. The price in New York Harbor was at roughly double normal levels, traders said.
The tight ethanol supplies, along with refinery outages, boosted retail gasoline prices and led to some gas station shutdowns in the West as blenders there lacked the ethanol needed to blend with gasoline to make fuel that meets government regulations.
Gas prices in Arizona averaged $2.89 per gallon on Monday, 17 percent higher than last month, according to the American Automobile Association. Prices were even steeper in California at $3.80 a gallon, well above the national average of $2.74 a gallon.
Cash prices in the state’s physical market suggest further increases. In Los Angeles, spot gasoline on Monday was offered 10 cents a gallon higher from where it traded on Friday, putting it at a premium of 69 cents a gallon above the NYMEX futures benchmark.
„Ultimately, Los Angeles could get close to seeing that average at $4 a gallon,” Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at tracking firm GasBuddy, said, adding that much of that increase will come because of refinery outages in the state.
At least one county in California has already surpassed $4 a gallon. The highest recorded average price for the state was $4.67 a gallon, in October 2012, according to AAA.
The high coastal prices attracted barrels from the biggest U.S. competitor: Brazil. Overall ethanol imports to the United States totaled 558,279 barrels in March, the most seasonally since 2013, according to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data. Most of the imports during the month came from Brazil, according to the tracking data.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly; additional reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio)
CLARKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) — The window of the Bee Naturals bath-and-body shop offers a view out of a Mark Twain novel: The sprawling Mississippi River at one of its widest points lapping against a small-town Missouri waterfront as barges float by and eagles dart in the air above.
But with a major flood receding and predictions of potentially even worse flooding to come later in the spring, owner Barbara Chappuis is moving her business, abandoning the Clarksville riverfront for higher ground across Highway 79.
„We’re looking at potential historic floods,” Chappuis said. „I can’t risk that.”
Most communities on America’s rivers have some sort of flood protection — usually a concrete wall or an earthen levee. But a few places such as Clarksville do not. They simply cannot afford it, either because Congress will not authorize money or because the local share of the project is more than a small town can pay for. Some communities also struggle with the aesthetics of flood barriers and worry that they will spoil the rustic riverfront streets that are popular with tourists.
Clarksville, a town of 450 people 90 miles north of St. Louis, just endured its seventh major flood in the past decade. Volunteers spent days filling sandbags and building a 4-foot rock-and-sandbag fortress that successfully kept water out of the downtown arts-and-craft shops that operate out of 19th century brick buildings.
But with snowmelt still coming down from the north and more spring rain expected, the National Weather Service warns that the potential for even worse flooding is high.
Clarksville leaders have long opposed an earthen levee because of how it would change the local scenery.
„If we don’t have the view, we don’t have anything left,” Mayor Jo Anne Smiley said.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want protection. Town officials favor a system that consists of a removable wall with pieces stored inside a pod. When a flood threatens, the interlocking steel and aluminum pieces can be installed in a day. When the water goes down, the wall goes down.
The proposal would cost $4 million. Smiley said the federal government and Missouri would provide $1 million each. The rest of the money is up to Clarksville to find — a tall task for a city with an annual budget of $550,000.
A comparable problem has developed in South Dakota, where the Big Sioux River offers dramatic scenery and abundant recreation for the 22,000 residents of Watertown. But the river is also a curse. Six major floods over the past two decades have cost Watertown millions of dollars. Local leaders want to build a dam upstream that would regulate the river, but Congress will not authorize funding.
„So here we are, we’re in the midst of another flood,” Mayor Sarah Caron said as she took a break from fighting the water. „People have given up, I think. A lot of people think there will never be a flood-control project for Watertown. So we’ll just fight it whenever it happens.”
Officials in some small towns believe the government sees them as expendable when it comes to flooding, while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to protect larger communities.
About 150 miles north of Watertown stand the neighboring communities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, which straddle the Red River and together are home to 250,000 people. A $2.8 billion floodwater-diversion project has been in the works there since a record-breaking 2009 flood. The federal government has already dedicated $450 million and promised $300 million more.
Similarly, the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to spend $117 million to fend off future flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city, after a devastating 2008 flood caused $5.4 billion in damage. That money, combined with more than $100 million from the city and $284 million from the state, is funding a host of improvements, including new floodwalls, green space and upgraded pumps.
Meanwhile, officials in Hamburg, Iowa, population 1,000, have tried for years to come up with money to restore a levee damaged in the 2011 flood. The money never came, and when massive flooding arrived again in March, the town was swamped. Mayor Cathy Crain said 169 of the town’s 566 homes were underwater. Eighty-eight percent of businesses were damaged.
Crain doesn’t know if a higher levee would have been enough to save the town, but „it sure would have given us a better chance.” The water „would have only overtopped by half a foot. Instead, we had 9 feet.”
The National League of Cities said small flood-prone communities suffered a blow in 2011, when House Republicans banned earmarks, or items placed in spending bills by individual lawmakers for favored projects. That step left communities of all sizes competing for the same federal dollars.
„Metro areas, they have more buildings and infrastructure. Their needs are going to be greater,” said Yucel Ors, the league’s program director of public safety. „With limited resources, it’s hard (for Congress) to find funding for smaller communities.”
Chappuis spent years working as nurse. The constant hand-washing left her fingers raw, so she developed a product using beeswax to protect her hands. That evolved into a thriving business. In addition to her store in Clarksville, Bee Natural has a store in suburban St. Louis and sells online.
Leaving her riverfront perch inside an 1850-era building that once housed the town bank will be „heartbreaking,” but necessary, she said. Chappuis believes Clarksville has vast potential if only the town can find a way to hold back the Mighty Mississippi.
„There’s just a certain charm here. It’s beautiful,” she said. „And the river is spectacular.”
Nicholson reported from Bismarck, North Dakota. Associated Press Writer Scott McFetridge in Des Moines, Iowa, also contributed to this report.
Booking a Flight Soon? These Are the Best (and Worst) Airlines, Researchers Say
,Time•April 8, 2019
Booking a Flight Soon? These Are the Best (and Worst) Airlines, Researchers Say
According to researchers who looked at on-time performance and more
Delta Air Lines comes in first in a long-running study that ranks U.S. airlines by how often flights arrive on time and other statistical measures.
Researchers who crunch the numbers also say that as a whole, U.S. airlines are getting better at handling baggage and overcrowded flights and are getting fewer complaints.
Academics at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University released their annual study, now in its 29th year, on Monday. They used 2018 data collected by the U.S. Transportation Department on rates of on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, bumping passengers and consumer complaints.
Delta was the only carrier to improve in all four categories, the researchers said. It rose from second place last year.
JetBlue Airways ranked second, followed by Southwest Airlines and last year’s winner, Alaska Airlines.
Discount carrier Frontier Airlines ranked last, just behind American Airlines.
Overall, the industry improved in three of the four categories in the study, including fewer passengers being involuntarily bumped from a flight. For several years, airlines have been cutting that rate by enticing more customers to take vouchers or other compensation in exchange for volunteering to get off oversold flights.
“They are buying out customers better than ever,” said one of the lead researchers, Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle.
The rate of late-arriving flights rose over 2017, however. “It was computer glitches and it was weather,” Bowen said.
There are many surveys of airline passengers and reviews that sometimes come up with different results, perhaps by capturing intangibles such as customer service.
Last week, travel site TripAdvisor named its 10 best airlines in the world, and Southwest was the only U.S. carrier to make the cut, landing sixth. Airlines from the Middle East and Asia dominated the list, led by Singapore Airlines.
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – New England states enjoying the first signs of spring were hit with a wintry blast of snow on Monday and parts of the U.S. Midwest prepared for a blizzard.
The snow storm in New England brought more than 2 inches (5 cm) of snow to Portland, Maine, and up to half a foot fell in inland areas of the state and parts of neighboring New Hampshire, said meteorologist Brian Hurley of the federal Weather Prediction Center.
Some places in New England can expect to receive up to 10 inches (25 cm) of additional snow by Wednesday, when the storm will drift out into the Atlantic Ocean, Hurley said.
The wintry weather in New England was not blustery enough to count as a blizzard, meteorologists said, but a stronger storm was forming over the Midwest, taking shape as a blizzard that will strike on Tuesday night.
The snow storm will wallop Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, with some areas receiving more than a foot of snow, said Dave Samuhel, senior meteorologist at Accuweather.com.
„This is going to be an all-out blizzard,” Samuhel said, adding that the peak of the snowfall will come on Thursday.
„It’s going to be an impressive storm,” Samuhel said. „You want to get where you need to be before the snow falls because it’s going to come in heavy.”
The blizzard will create hazardous roadway conditions in some parts of the Midwest and could trigger power outages, Samuhel said, but the snow will likely melt quickly in time for the weekend.
The National Weather Service said a rapidly deepening low-pressure system is sweeping eastward. The Weather Service has posted storm watches and warnings in parts of 10 states, from Montana and Utah east to Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.
The weather system could pile more misery on areas that are still recovering from last month’s „bomb cyclone”, a late-winter blizzard that brought high winds and drifting snow to the Rocky Mountain region. It then turned into drenching rains as it moved across the Midwest and caused widespread flooding along the Missouri River.
In January, an unusually strong arctic cold blast known as a „polar vortex” shattered a few all-time cold records in the Upper Midwest, creating wind chills as cold as 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 50 Celsius).
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)
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