NewsStorms leave deaths, damage and injuries in their wake
Strong storms, including at least one tornado, swept through parts of the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic region, damaging homes and businesses and causing injuries after storms in the South killed at least eight people.Storms that hit Ohio on Sunday and moved into New Jersey overnight into Monday brought heavy rains, lightning, strong winds and, in Ohio, at least one tornado. The storms followed worse conditions that had swept across the South , unleashing more than a dozen confirmed tornadoes and flooding, killing at least eight people, injuring dozens and flattening much of a Texas town.In Virginia, about an hour south of Washington, authorities said a tree fell on a house and killed a woman early Monday morning. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said the unidentified woman, 78, had been asleep when the tree fell at 1:43 a.m. An 82-year-old man who was in the home was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.In Shelby, Ohio, the National Weather Service said an EF2 tornado with winds of up to 125 mph (200 kph) touched down Sunday. No deaths were reported, but Richland County emergency officials said several homes and businesses were damaged and that at least six people were injured in the city roughly 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Cleveland.The weather service says an EF0 tornado with maximum winds of about 70 mph (115 kph) also swept through part of Clark County in western Ohio on Sunday, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Columbus, and damaged some mobile homes. There were no immediate reports of injuries there.Storms on Monday spawned a tornado watch and flooded roadways in some areas of New Jersey, causing a roof to collapse at an apartment complex in Camden, though no injuries were reported. The weather disrupted rail service in the mid-Atlantic region, caused delays at airports and left tens of thousands of utility customers without power.More than 20,000 customers lost power in New Jersey when the storms hit, though crews were able to quickly restore service to most.The weather service confirmed Monday that a tornado significantly damaged a lumber company Sunday evening in Starbrick, in northern Pennsylvania.Vermont officials say flooding from spring rains closed a number of roads Monday. An emergency operations center has been activated to help communities respond to the flooding.The weather service said Monday that a survey team found evidence of an EF3 twister with winds of at least 136 mph near Weches, Texas, and that two other smaller tornadoes touched down in the same region on Saturday. Another EF3 twister flattened part of Franklin, Texas.The system moved eastward into Mississippi, where weather service teams have confirmed eight tornadoes. And at least three weak tornadoes struck Alabama on Sunday.Four people were killed in Texas. The other victims died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A wide swath of the nation awoke to devastation Monday after a deadly front drove a line of severe storms and tornadoes through much of the South and East over the weekend, destroying neighborhoods and flattening a Texas town.
The death toll rose to eight and dozens more were injured after a wave of suspected tornadoes roared from Texas to New Jersey. Rolling power outages followed the storms, and 170,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.
On Sunday afternoon, six people were injured after a suspected tornado roared through a section of Shelby, Ohio. Police Chief Lance Combs said damage to the power infrastructure was „severe” and that some streets were littered with utility poles and trees.
„If there is a silver lining to the cloud that passed us, was the time, day and location,” Combs said. „Just a half a mile to the north and our residential neighborhoods would have been devastated.”
Wind gusts of up to 60-70 mph accompanied the storms, more than enough to topple trees and power lines.
Severe storms and high winds blasted Washington, D.C., and it suburbs Sunday night and early Monday, and the weather service warned that 50-mph gusts were possible all day Monday.
The storm stretched to New England. The Boston Marathon’s 30,000 runners were ordered to shelter in schools and garages while awaiting Monday’s rolling start in heavy rains and wind. The weather cleared for an on-time start, but forecasters warned of possible thunderstorms and wind gusts up to 34 mph.
„Thank you to all participants for cooperating through the inclement weather!” marathon officials tweeted in advance of the start.
In New Jersey, the roof of an apartment complex collapsed early Monday in Camden. In Delaware, several homes and businesses were battered in the town of Laurel.
The weekend brought devastation across much of the South. In Texas, the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office said two children were killed Saturday when strong winds toppled a tree onto their family’s car. In nearby Alto, Sheriff James Campbell said one person died and at least 25 people were injured after a tornado ripped through a cultural event at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site.
And more than 100 miles to the west, a massive tornado estimated at EF3 strength with winds of 140 mph tore through Franklin, Texas, injuring more than a dozen people and damaging more than 50 homes and businesses.
„The south side of Franklin looks like a war zone,” County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told Patch.com.
Mississippi was also hard hit, with Gov. Phil Bryant declaring a state of emergency on Sunday night. Authorities in Monroe County said a 95-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on his mobile home, and several people were missing and several homes were damaged in Hamilton, a rural hamlet of about 500 people 45 miles northeast of Starkville.
County Road Manager Sonny Clay said 19 people were injured, two critically. A hospital clinic, apartment complex, firehouse and several single-family homes were damaged. Clay told the Monroe Journal that Hamilton drew the most destruction, but damage was widespread throughout the county.
In Louisiana, Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department said two people died in floodwaters Saturday. And in Alabama, a Jefferson County employee was struck and killed by a vehicle while clearing toppled trees from a roadway.
Contributing: Kristin Lam, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Like a war zone’: Tornadoes, ferocious storms stun South, East; death toll hits 8
Notre Dame: The national and architectural significance of the historic cathedral originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
There are few monuments that are more distinctly French or more woven into the history of France than Notre Dame Cathedral.
As images of the fire ravaging through the historic church sparked outcries around the globe, people from all walks of life are mourning.
Its place in Catholicism is undisputed, as is its role in French history. It was the site of some of the most notable coronations, including that of Emperor Napoleon.
Beyond the Catholics who attend mass there and the tourists who go to look for a glimpse of Quasimodo, the cathedral represents a landmark in Parisian life that is now likely permanently scarred, if not disfigured or ruined.
“Notre Dame Cathedral is the very soul of Paris but so much more — it is a touchstone for all that is the best about the world, and a monument to the highest aspirations of artistic achievement that transcends religion and time,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art said in a statement.
“It has survived so much — from the French Revolution to Nazi occupation—to watch its devastation is excruciating,” the statement continued.
Edward Berenson, a history professor who specializes in French history at New York University, said Notre Dame is „one of the most sacred places, maybe the most sacred place, not only in France but in all of Catholicism. There aren’t that many places that are that old and that connected to the history of the church.”
He went on, “Notre Dame has evolved into a place where every French person can feel belongs to them, whether they’re religious or not, and I think that’s the really key point: it has national meaning. It’s one of the things that’s associated with France even more so than the Eiffel Tower just because it’s so much older than the Eiffel Tower.”
Beyond its religious significance, Notre Dame was the site of many French coronations.
Notre Dame was built over the course of a century, starting in 1160 and ending in 1260, centuries before any country in North America, South America, or Africa was formally founded. The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889.
The cathedral is located at the center of Ile de la Cite, which is the small island in the middle of the Seine River, which Berenson notes “is the original Paris.”
“Even before Roman times, [that’s] where the first settlements were,” he said of Ile de la Cite.
The cathedral is 130 meters long, which is a little longer than a football field, and 48 meters wide. One of the most distinctive aspects of the cathedral is its height, coming in at 35 meters high, according to the cathedral’s website.
“Architecturally, it was significant at the time it was built because it was built in the Gothic tradition,” said Krupali Krusche, the associate dean of the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who pointed to the lightness of the walls and the flying buttress support system as two key factors in that style.
She said that the “very thin shell [of the building] and the light buttresses on the shell allow it to reach greater heights than any catholic church previously built.”
Another iconic part of Notre Dame is the stained glass rose windows, which are more than 32 feet in diameter. When asked to name some of the most significant and historic aspects of the cathedral, Berenson immediately cited the windows, calling them “priceless.”
“You would have to think that they would be unbelievably vulnerable to high heat,” Berenson said.
Krusche noted that beyond their beauty, the rose windows “are some of the largest rose windows that you will see around the world” and were unique at the time of their creation.
“Gothic architecture allowed the buildings to be lighter and to go higher, reaching out to the heavens, and then the light allowed it to be having a sense of being able to connect to new knowledge,” Krusche said.
The National Weather service said more than a dozen tornadoes were confirmed in Texas, where four people were killed. Three children were among the dead.
The agency said a survey team found evidence of an EF-3 twister, meaning it sustained winds of at least 136 mph, near Weches, Texas, and two other smaller tornadoes touched down in the same region Saturday. Another EF-3 twister flattened part of Franklin, Texas.
The system moved eastward into Mississippi, where the weather service said teams have confirmed eight tornadoes. At least three weak tornadoes struck Alabama on Sunday.
Four people were killed in Texas. The other victims died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Those numbers could go up because teams are reportedly still assessing the damage.
Meanwhile, much of the eastern Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic woke up Monday to damaged buildings, closed schools, and dark homes and businesses after powerful storms that spawned at least one confirmed tornado.
The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down Sunday evening in Shelby, Ohio, about 90 miles southwest of Cleveland. A half-dozen homes were damaged and at least six people were injured.
The weather service said high winds in Pennsylvania that may have been tornadoes flattened a house and several barns and blew out windows.
The storms also collapsed a roof at a New Jersey apartment complex, disrupted rail service in the mid-Atlantic and caused airport delays.
Tens of thousands of utility customers are without power across the region.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
(Reuters) – Severe thunderstorms blasted the U.S. East Coast with gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour on Monday morning, knocking out power in thousands of homes and putting several states on flood watch, the National Weather Service said.
More than 54,000 homes and businesses were without power in Pennsylvania, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US, with 139,000 more outages reported across New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey.
The National Weather Service forecast heavy rains and flash flooding would exist for the Northeast later on Monday.
„This is an ongoing threat,” said Brian Hurley, from the center. „There are short spin-ups, pockets of heavy rain and damaging winds that can still hit before this pushes off shore.”
The storm system picked up strength in the U.S. South over the weekend, where it spurred tornadoes that killed at least five people, including three children, officials said.
The massive storm system sped from Texas eastward with dozens of twisters reported as touching down across the South from Texas through Georgia into Pennsylvania.
The storm’s cold front brought snow to Chicago on Sunday, with 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) reported in central Illinois.
Two children, siblings aged three and eight, were killed on Saturday when a tree fell on the car in which they were sitting in Pollok, Texas, a spokeswoman for the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department said.
A third child, Sebastian Omar Martinez, 13, drowned late on Saturday when he fell into a drainage ditch filled with flash floodwaters near Monroe, Louisiana, Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
In another storm death nearby, an unidentified victim’s body was trapped in a vehicle submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, Louisiana, Springfield said.
In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant said one person was killed and 11 injured over the weekend as tornadoes ripped through 17 counties and left 26,000 homes and businesses without electricity.
In addition, three people were killed when a private jet crashed in Mississippi on Saturday, although Bryant said it was unclear whether it was caused by the weather.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, and Barbara Goldberg, Peter Szekely and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Alison Williams and Susan Thomas)
By Andrew R.C. Marshall and Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) – Thousands of environmental activists paralyzed parts of central London on Monday by blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in a bid to force the government to do more to tackle climate change.
Under sunny skies, activists sang songs or held signs that read „There is no Planet B” and „Extinction is Forever” at some of the capital’s most iconic locations. Roadblocks were due to continue night and day at each site and the demonstrators said the protests could last at least a week.
The protests are being led by the British climate group Extinction Rebellion and are to involve demonstrations in 33 countries around the world over the coming days.
„I realised that signing petitions and writing letters was not going to be enough. Real action is needed,” said Diana McCann, 66, a retired wine trader from south London, holding a banner in the middle of a traffic-free road. „It’s like a world war. We have to go on to a war footing.”
Extinction Rebellion, which generated headlines with a semi-nude protest in Britain’s parliament earlier this month, has warned its members that some of them could be arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
At the Shell building near the River Thames, two protesters scaled up scaffolding writing ‘Shell Knows!’ in red paint on the front of the building and three protesters glued their hands to the revolving doors at the entrance.
Activists said they smashed the glass of a revolving door and caused more than 6,000 pounds ($7,900) worth of damage. The organizers said five people had been arrested for criminal damage.
At Oxford Circus, protesters unveiled a pink boat that says „TELL THE TRUTH” and on Waterloo Bridge demonstrators brought trees, hanging baskets and skate ramps.
The protest had a festive atmosphere, with many families in attendance, and a low police presence.
Police later said that, from 1755 GMT for 24 hours, protesters would only be allowed to gather at Marble Arch to prevent „ongoing serious disruption”. A Reuters photographer said police had begun arresting protesters on Waterloo Bridge.
Extinction Rebellion wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday outlining their demands and asking for face-to-face talks, warning that they will escalate their disruptive actions over the coming weeks unless the government acts.
„Make no mistake, people are already dying,” the letter states. „In the majority world, indigenous communities are now on the brink of extinction. This crisis is only going to get worse … Prime minister, you cannot ignore this crisis any longer. We must act now.”
Organizers of the protests circulated legal advice to anyone planning to attend, requesting they refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and asking them to treat the public with respect.
The disruption follows similar action last November when thousands of protesters occupied five central London bridges. Police arrested 85 people that day.
Rowan McLaughlin, 47, a teacher, said this week’s protests were more important that the huge pro and anti-Brexit protests in London recently.
„In Europe, out of Europe, it makes no difference if we have no liveable habitat,” he said. „We’re just going to get bigger and more annoying until the government speaks to us.”
(Additional reporting by Helena Williams and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Peter Graff/Mark Heinrich)
The world’s largest airplane — a Stratolaunch behemoth with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines — made its first test flight on Saturday in California.
The mega jet carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert.
It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites.
It is supposed to provide a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets because this way all you need is a long runway for takeoff.
It was built by an engineering company called Scaled Composites.
The aircraft is so big its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380.
Specifically, the wing span is 117 meters; that of an Airbus A380 is just under 80.
The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.
It hit a top speed of 304 kilometers per hour (189 mph) and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet, or 5,182 meters.
„What a fantastic first flight,” said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch.
„Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems,” he added.
Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites.
But Allen died in October of last year so the future of the company is uncertain.