News El Niño forecast to continue through the summer, could knock down hurricanes Doyle Rice•El Niño is forecast to continue through the summer and possibly into the fall, federal forecasters announced Thursday, which could weaken the Atlantic hurricane season.El Niño is a periodic natural warming of seawater in the tropical Pacific. It’s among the biggest influences on weather and climate in the United States and around the world.Specificially, in its monthly forecast released Thursday, the Climate Prediction Center said there’s a 66% chance that El Niño conditions will persist through the summer. Beyond that, however, the forecast calls for a 50-55% percent chance it will last through the fall, including the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season.If it persists into the fall, that might be good news: „El Niño typically reduces Atlantic hurricane activity due to increased vertical wind shear,” Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach tweeted Thursday morning.But with only a 50-55% chance of lasting through the fall, a calmer storm season is far from a slam dunk.On the other side of the Americas, however, warm water from El Niños tend to increase hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes there seldom affect land, but they can impact Mexico, the U.S. Southwest and Hawaii.Other than its impact on hurricanes, its influence on U.S. summer weather tends to be rather weak, according to Bloomberg.Elsewhere, El Niños also raise the chances Brazil can be warmer than normal and leave India, Indonesia and eastern Australia drier, Bloomberg reported.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: El Niño forecast to continue through the summer, could knock down hurricanes
Snowmelt fills rivers in US Southwest, easing drought fears DAN ELLIOTT •Drought DENVER (AP) — A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the southwestern U.S., fending off a water shortage but threatening to push rivers over their banks.Last winter brought above-average snowfall to much of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, so an abundance of snowmelt is rushing into the Colorado River, the Rio Grande and other waterways after a desperately dry 2018.”It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. „There’s this big sense of relief this year that we’ve kind of rebounded.”Colorado was blanketed by 134% of its normal snowfall last winter. Utah was even better, at 138%. Wyoming peaked at 116%.That will put so much water into the Colorado River that Lake Powell, a giant reservoir downstream in Utah and Arizona, is expected to rise 50 feet (15 meters) this year, said Marlon Duke, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Powell and dozens of other reservoirs.The reservoir is rising so fast — 6 to 15 inches (15 to 38 centimeters) a day — that the National Park Service warned people to keep cars and boats at least 200 yards (183 meters) from the shoreline to keep them from being submerged overnight.The influx into Powell will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to send enough water downstream into Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada to avoid a possible water shortage there. Arizona, California and Nevada rely heavily on the reservoir.Last year, the bureau predicted a better than 50% chance that Mead would fall so low that Arizona — which has the lowest-priority rights to the reservoir — would have to take a cut in its share in 2020. The shortage now might be put off until after 2021, Duke said.The Colorado River is expected to send more than 12 million acre-feet into Powell this year, 112% of average and a huge improvement over last year, when scant snow in the Rocky Mountains produced only 4.6 million acre-feet for the reservoir. An acre-foot, or 1,200 cubic meters, is enough to supply a typical U.S. family for a year.The bureau expects to release 9 million acre-feet from Powell to Mead for the fifth consecutive year.The news is also good for the Rio Grande, which flows from Colorado through New Mexico and then along the Texas-Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico.Elephant Butte, a massive reservoir on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, had dropped as low as 10% of capacity, but it could reach 30% this year, said Carolyn Donnelly, a water operations supervisor for the Bureau of Reclamation.”Given last year, which was really one of the lowest years on record, it’s been a complete turnaround,” she said.Besides replenishing reservoirs — a boon to cities and farms that depend on them — the surging rivers mean good rafting conditions, but some sections are so wild that guides are avoiding them.Last week, a rafting accident killed a 29-year-old man on Colorado’s Eagle River, and a 5-year-old boy had to be rescued from a river in a Salt Lake City suburb.A popular hike along a riverbed in Utah’s Zion National Park has been closed since April 1 because of high water. It could be two weeks before water levels fall enough to make the trail safe, park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said.Colorado authorities spent weeks clearing debris that threatened to clog streams around the small town of Lake City in the southwestern part of the state. Winter avalanches left behind dead trees and rubble that could have backed up the streams and then given way, sending a wall of water into the town, said Micki Trost of the state’s emergency management division.The National Weather Service issued alerts about potential flooding in several states but only a few local problems have been reported. Still, the risk could last for days because so much snow remains in the mountains after a cold May delayed the melt.
Enough snow is left that the Snowbird ski resort in Utah and Arapahoe Basin and Aspen in Colorado are still open, at least on weekends.
Weather and climate experts say it’s too early to declare the Southwest’s two-decade-long drought over because wet years sometimes provide temporary relief from prolonged dry spells.
Becky Bolinger, Colorado’s assistant state climatologist, said that even if the drought is ending, another will follow.
„Our region is vulnerable to drought and vulnerable to increasing frequency of drought,” she said.
Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.
Another day of brutal heat was forecast Thursday for the Phoenix area and the entire Desert Southwest, a day after the city tied a record high of 112 degrees.
„Across the Desert Southwest, temperatures will once again reach triple digits on Thursday, resulting in another day of excessive heat warnings for portions of southern California, southern Nevada and southwestern Arizona, including the Las Vegas and Phoenix metro areas,” the National Weather Service said.
Fortunately, forecasters said the intense heat will begin to ease on Friday across the Desert Southwest, including Phoenix.
The extreme heat has already ended across most of California and Oregon, after several days of record to near-record highs in cities such as San Francisco and Portland. San Francisco hit 100 degrees on Monday for only the 7th time ever recorded, AccuWeather said.
In Phoenix, after a pleasant May temperature-wise, the metro area now is dealing with a bout of intense heat, which has resulted the excessive heat warning.
“Anyone who goes outside will notice an intense heat,” said Andrew Deemer, meteorologist with the weather service in Phoenix.
Monday and Tuesday saw highs of 109 and 108 degrees, respectively, in Phoenix.
A heat advisory, originally issued Monday, will continue through 8 p.m. Thursday, meaning temperatures could again exceed 110 degrees. According to the National Weather Service, Phoenix will experience “a high near 112” on Thursday.
Deemer said that to avoid the dangerous heat conditions, people should be prepared – including making sure they have somewhere to go should their air conditioning break down, making sure their pets are safe in the heat and having water in case a car gets a flat tire, to name a few precautions.
“The truth is, heat kills,” Deemer said.
He said this unusually high heat wave is caused by high pressure building over the Southwest that will continue “for most of the summer.”
This year, the pressure just happened to build earlier, after an unusually mild May, he said.
Deemer said temperatures are expected to cool down on Friday – the weather service is forecasting a high of 104 degrees – which is more typical for this time of year in Arizona.
While residents are encouraged to stay hydrated and avoid prolonged periods of time outdoors, such as hiking, Deemer said one of the most important things to do is to make sure that community members are staying safe.
“Check in on family, neighbors, friends … just check in on people,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix ties record-high temperature as excessive heat warning continues in Southwest
Vilnius (AFP) – Lithuanian temperatures have hit record June highs, meteorologists said Thursday, as a heatwave forced school closures and threatened to reduce harvests in the draught-hit Baltic region.
Kaisiadorys in central Lithuania was the hottest place at 35.7 degrees Celsius (96.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, the highest-ever temperature recorded for June in the country, weather forecaster Paulius Starkus told AFP.
Six people drowned in the Baltic EU state on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the year to date, while some schools put classes on hold or cut lessons short due to the heatwave.
Scientists say the extreme weather is in part a result of climate change.
„Lithuania used to have heatwaves but now they occur more often and are more intense due to climate change,” Vilnius University climatologist Donatas Valiukas told AFP.
Starkus said a downpour with thunder and hail could follow in some areas on Thursday afternoon.
Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys told lawmakers that some areas were experiencing „a real climatic draught” threatening harvests, while hydrologists warned that river water levels posed a threat to fish.
Demand for air-conditioning has also soared in recent weeks.
Lithuania’s hot weather is expected to last through the week, then temperatures may ease below 30 degrees Celsius starting Monday.
Fellow Baltic state Latvia is also experiencing unusual heat for June, with temperatures over 32 degrees Celsius.
In recent days, Latvia’s western region of Kurzeme saw thunderstorms with hail damaging buildings, smashing greenhouses and tearing power lines.
Two people have been hospitalised in the northern Latvian town of Cesis after a tree fell on their camper van while they were inside.
Fellow Baltic state Estonia had a heatwave last week and is now experiencing rainy and windy weather.
Poland has also been experiencing high temperatures this month, which has resulted in increased air-conditioner use. The power transmission system operator PSE said that on Wednesday there was record electricity demand for a summer morning at nearly 24.10 gigawatts (GW).
Forty-two people have already drowned in Poland this month, according to the government security centre RCB.
VERAVAL, India (AP) — The Latest on Cyclone Vayu (all times local):
Authorities say a very severe cyclone appears to have changed course and is less likely to touch India’s western coast than was previously forecast.
The India Meteorological Department says Cyclone Vayu has jogged west away from the shoreline of Gujarat state as it travels northwest toward Pakistan.
Fearing a dangerous impact, rescue workers had evacuated nearly 300,000 people from the state in western India.
Coastal areas in Gujarat have experienced heavy wind and rain, with huge waves splintering abandoned fishing boats.
Authorities in Pakistan said the southern port city of Karachi could experience a heat wave and dust storms because of the cyclone even as it remained far from the coast.
Authorities have evacuated nearly 300,000 people from India’s western coastline ahead of a very severe cyclone that’s expected to make landfall as the year’s second major storm.
The India Meteorological Department says Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind, could glance the western state of Gujarat Thursday afternoon before returning to sea.
In Veraval, a hub of India’s fishing industry where Vayu was expected to touch down, heavy wind and rain battered the beaches early Thursday. Fishing boats were splintered by huge waves crashing onto shore. Local police tried to convince hut dwellers to leave their homes.
Gale winds up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour and rough sea conditions could last up to 12 hours in the cyclone’s wake as it moves west toward Pakistan.
Sure, it’s common knowledge to take refuge inside when you hear thunder, but did you know that lightning can still shock you if it strikes and sends electricity through the pipes and water in your home?
According to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service (NWS), in order to stay safe in your home during a storm, you need to stay away from anything that conducts electricity, which includes both wires and the plumbing, Accuweather reports.
“Certainly showers would be dangerous, it would be dangerous to be washing your hands or washing dishes,” Jensenius said. “Just avoid those any time you can hear thunder.”
But it’s not just metal pipes that should take all the blame. Since the impurities in tap water can also conduct electricity, plastic pipes won’t protect you from these dangers.
“Water can conduct electricity as well,” Jensenius said. “We see that on the outside where lightning strikes something and if there are puddles around, it can easily electrocute somebody nearby the puddle.”
However, how your house is grounded changes how badly a lightning strike could affect your plumbing.
“When a house is built, it should be built so that when your electricity comes in, it’s grounded to your house,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “If your house is grounded to separate rods that are basically stuck down into the ground, then that’s a bit safer because nothing is attached to the plumbing.”
To find out whether your home’s electrical system is grounded to the plumbing system or not, contact an electrician.
There have been nearly 240 wildfires in California over the past week, causing one evacuation and two power shut-offs while fire fighters and utility companies attempt to prevent another catastrophe. Since the start of the year, 1,349 wildfires in the state have burned 12,247 acres of land, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as CalFire. Of those fires, 178 have been on federal land. There have been 236 new wildfires fires in the past week alone.
Evacuation orders in Yolo County began Saturday afternoon, impacting about 125 people. Residents are now allowed to return home where possible after the Sand Fire burned 2,512 acres and seven non-residential buildings since Saturday, according to CalFire, which declared Sand Fire 60% contained on Tuesday morning.
“Residents still need to be cautious and very aware that we’re still working on putting that fire completely out,” Amy Head, CalFire Battalion Chief and Northern Region Information Officer, tells TIME.
The number of wildfires so far this year is still less than the amount CalFire saw by this time in 2018. Not including federal land, there were 1,921 wildfires this time last year, burning through 15,220 acres.
“But we did see a lot of new fires last week with weather conditions changing,” says Head. “We are starting to see an increase in the number of fires we’re seeing, and we have had some significant heat in much of the state that have helped to increase the fire activity.”
As of Tuesday morning, Northern California, including parts of San Francisco, Sacramento and further north to Redding, Calif., remained on a fire weather watch.
Now, California is in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, which Head says is a cause for concern.
“The high heat can definitely influence our fire behavior,” she says. “The good thing is there wasn’t a lot of extreme winds associated with the high heat … but it’s not uncommon for us to see these kinds of weather patterns in California.”
The National Weather Service-Sacramento announced an excessive heat warningto last until Wednesday morning. Temperatures are expected to rise as high as 107 degrees in some parts of Northern California, including Sacramento.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which services nearly 16 million people in Northern California, purposely shut down power twice in Northern California over the weekend, after finding weather conditions prime for a wildfire. PG&E is one of several utility companies in California that conduct power outages, known as Public Safety Power Shutoff’s (PSPS), when weather conditions could lead to a wildfire.
PG&E cut power to 21,000 residents in Butte and Yuba Counties between Saturday and Sunday, the first two PSPS’s to take place this year.
PG&E can’t predict how many more shutoffs would take place throughout wildfire season, according to a spokesperson, since shutoffs only take place when weather patterns meet certain criteria such as hot temperatures, humidity levels, dry vegetation and wind speeds. For that reason, PG&E urges California residents to have a plan to get through outages, and encourages their customers to make sure the utility companies have updated their contact information.
Electrical lines belonging to PG&E were found responsible for the Camp Fire that burned through 153,336 acres led to 85 deaths last November, and is considered the most destructive fire in California history.
Correction, June 12The original version of this story misstated the number of residents whose power was cut in Yuba and Butte Counties. It was 21,000, not 2,100.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Mississippi River is dropping below flood stage along many of Iowa’s riverfront cities after nearly three months of record highs caused by melting snow and torrential rain.
The river dropped below flood stage at Guttenberg, Iowa, early Tuesday, and was more than half a foot (15 centimeters) under flood stage Thursday morning at one Dubuque gauge. The river was above flood stage at Dubuque for a record 85 days, breaking the old mark of 34 days set in 2011, according to the National Weather Service.
The river remained around 2.5 feet (three-quarters of a meter) above flood stage at Davenport, where floodwaters surged into downtown after a barrier failed April 30.
Levels of the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi near St. Louis, have dropped some but are expected to remain high for much of the summer. Several Midwestern rivers have flooded periodically since March, causing billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses.
While the Mississippi is dropping now, „it could come right back up if we get a bunch of rain,” said Jamie Gamerdinger, who owns a hotel, a fishing barge, a bait shop and rents out boats in Guttenberg. He erected concrete walls to protect his various businesses.
„If the water was going to come up high, you can’t stop it,” he said.
Downstream in St. Louis, the river reached its second-highest crest in recorded history Sunday and has dropped 2 feet (0.61 meters) since. It’s not expected to return below flood stage for nearly two more weeks.
Nearly 280 roads remain closed in Missouri, mostly in communities situated near the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The Missouri Transportation Department said as many as 400 have been closed by flooding.
In Jefferson City, Missouri, where Missouri River floodwaters at one point blocked streets leading up to the Capitol, the river remained more than 7 feet (2.13 meters) above flood stage. It’s not expected to go below flood stage until June 21, barring any torrential rain.
The Missouri River dropped below flood stage Thursday in Omaha but remains well above in several southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa spots.
More flooding is possible in places protected by levees that were damaged in March because few have been repaired. The work has been hindered by the extent of the damage and lingering floodwaters, officials said.
The death toll from a Budapest tourist boat sinking rose to 25 with a man’s body found about 100 kilometres from the accident site, police said Thursday.
The Mermaid capsized seconds after colliding with a bigger river cruise vessel on a busy stretch of the Danube in the heart of the Hungarian capital on May 29.
Thirty-five people, all of them South Koreans except for the Hungarian captain and a crew member, were on the boat when it sank. Only seven South Koreans survived so far.
The 25th body was found Wednesday about 100 kilometres (60 miles) downriver from the accident scene, police said in a statement, adding that three South Koreans were still missing.
The search for the three continues and South Korea has insisted it wants all the victims accounted for.
Rescue workers on Tuesday lifted the sunken vessel out of the Danube.
Efforts to dive to the wreck had repeatedly been called off due to the heavy current of the river swollen by weeks of rain.
The captain of the larger vessel, the Viking Sigyn which collided with the Mermaid, has been charged after being detained on suspicion of „endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths”.
The captain, a Ukrainian national identified only as Yuriy C., has been released on bail following a court order on Wednesday.