Eight people were killed and at least 15 were missing on Wednesday after the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade breached a dam in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said.
In the state capital Mumbai, the death toll from a wall collapse in a slum on Tuesday following the torrential downpour reached 24, with more rain expected in coming days.
Heavy rain continued to lash the coastal city of 20 million people Wednesday, bringing it to a virtual standstill as flooding cut train lines, closed the airport’s main runway and caused traffic misery.
Building collapses and dam breaches are common during the monsoon in India due to dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.
India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told AFP they were using drones over the area flooded by the breach of Tiware dam, around 275 kilometres (170 miles) from Mumbai.
„We have located eight dead bodies and over 15 people are still missing,” said spokesman Alok Awasthy.
Police teams and government officials were also helping rescue efforts.
In the state capital, a spokesman for the local authority said the death toll from the wall collapse in a slum in the north of the city had risen to 24, with many others being treated for injuries.
Six labourers also died in the nearby city of Pune when another wall collapsed.
India’s weather department has warned of „extremely heavy rainfall” in parts of Mumbai in coming days.
After more than 100 flights were either cancelled or diverted from Mumbai airport on Tuesday, officials announced the operations on the main runway were still closed.
According to Skymet Weather, a private-weather tracking agency, Mumbai faces serious risks of flooding with more than 200 millimetres (eight inches) of rain expected in the next few days.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A powerful Hurricane Barbara rapidly gained strength and was close to growing into a Category 5 storm Tuesday night as it pushed out over the eastern Pacific Ocean, far from land.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Barbara had maximum sustained winds of nearly 155 mph (250 kph), just under the 157 mph threshold for a Category 5 storm.
The storm’s center was about 1,175 miles (1,895 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and it was moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph (22 kph).
The hurricane center said the storm was not expected to gain much more strength during the night and predicted it would begin to quickly lose power Wednesday afternoon.
This NOAA water vapor satellite loop shows Hurricane Barbara on Tuesday morning after it rapidly intensified from a tropical storm on Monday to a Category 4 storm within 24 hours.
HONOLULU (AP) — Federal officials raised the alert level Tuesday for the world’s largest active volcano, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984.
The U.S. Geological Survey changed the level from „normal” to „advisory” following a steady increase in earthquakes and ground swelling that began in March.
An eruption is not imminent, but scientists are closely monitoring Mauna Loa because of its reputation for „evolving very quickly” and sending lava far and wide, USGS research geophysicist Ingrid Johanson told The Associated Press in a phone interview last month.
„Lava can go from the rift down to the ocean on the west side of Mauna Loa on the order of a couple hours,” Johanson said. „The rate of the eruption is just really fast.”
Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843.
Its lava flows have stretched to the south and west coasts eight times and neared Hilo, on the east side, seven times. During its last eruption, lava flows came within 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) of Hilo, the Big Island’s largest city.
The alert level on Mauna Loa was last raised to advisory in 2015. A similar period of increased activity occurred around 2004, but the USGS Volcano Alert Level system was not yet in place at that time.
„Advisory” is the second of four alert levels and means scientists have detected elevated activity or unrest. The next level, „watch,” means there is heightened activity with more potential for eruption or that an eruption is ongoing but poses little threat. The highest level, „warning,” means a dangerous eruption is imminent or underway.
An alert-level change is not something the USGS does lightly, said Janet Babb, an agency geologist and spokeswoman. It must balance the need to keep people informed and the risk of causing panic. „A lot of discussion goes into it because it has ramifications,” Babb said.
Mauna Loa currently is experiencing 50 to 75 earthquakes a week, a steady increase since March when there was a pronounced change. And the bulging of the ground, known as deformation, indicates magma is entering the volcano’s plumbing system.
Yet gas emissions have been low and steady in recent months, and „that tells us that there isn’t magma rising to very shallow depths,” Johanson said.
And scientists would expect to see 50 to several hundred earthquakes per day — not per week — ahead of an eruption, USGS volcanologist and geologist Frank Trusdell said.
„It’s above background, but it isn’t the amount of earthquakes we would expect to see prior to an eruption,” Trusdell said.
Mauna Loa’s smaller neighbor to the south, Kilauea, has long been the world’s most active volcano.
It made headlines last year as molten rock exploded from its flank in one of its largest eruptions in recorded history. More than 700 Big Island homes were destroyed and thousands of people were displaced.
Trusdell said there is historical evidence of a „general correlation” between the two volcanoes.
„If you look at the long-term eruptive history of both volcanoes, when one volcano in the past was active, it seems like the other volcano was quiet,” Trusdell said.
Kilauea stopped erupting for the first time in more than 30 years in 2018.
But „it is not as if Kilauea is stealing Mauna Loa’s volume,” he said. „It has more to do with the interaction and the buttressing of the volcanoes.”
Mauna Loa and Kilauea are fed by different portions of a hot spot deep within the Earth’s crust, but Mauna Loa basically rests up against Kilauea and both volcanoes are sliding to the south. When Kilauea stops moving, it can cause pressure to build in Mauna Loa.
„With the eruption over in (Kilauea’s) east rift zone, maybe the flank will stop,” Trusdell said. „Then Mauna Loa’s flank will buttress up against the immobile Kilauea and the trickle of magma that has been feeding the volcano will build positive pressure and drive an eruption.”
But there have been times that both volcanoes have erupted simultaneously, and there are other factors at play, Trusdell said.
At the beginning of the 2018 Kilauea eruption, a large earthquake struck the Big Island and destabilized the entire region.
Trusdell said if the theory is correct and the motion caused by the 6.9 magnitude earthquake isn’t that significant, Mauna Loa could be „reawakening.”
But it’s too early to be certain, he warned.
„The last time we had a large earthquake like this it took a decade for the flank to decelerate,” Trusdell said. „It could be that this complicates that simple relationship of one volcano buttressing against the other because the flank is still moving.”
At issue is a statement from the European Court of Justice that says Airbnb is a digital platform rather than an accommodations provider. The cities—Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Vienna—fear such a ruling would remove a key tool they have to regulate against the worst effects of the vacation-rental industry. European cities believe that homes should be used first and foremost for living in,” they wrote in the letter.
Record-breaking heat across Alaska is pushing tourists to beaches, and sending flames across the unseasonably hot, dry state.
Anchorage experienced higher than average temperatures nearly every day of June, reaching a balmy 80F on days that once maxed out at a mild 67.
The weather is forecasted to heat up further through and after the Fourth of July, with temperatures expected to climb to nearly 90F in Fairbanks and Anchorage over the weekend.
If the forecasts are correct, the state could set several new local heat records before the week is out.
Alaska’s heating has a cascading effect. As ocean temperatures rise, the coasts heat up, with potentially catastrophic consequences on land and in the water. And all that local heat contributes to faster planet-wide warming.
Alaska is no stranger to large wildfires, and so far this year’s fire season is only slightly worse than average. But with about a quarter-million acres burned in roughly the last week, nearly 120 fires still uncontained, and the heat still rising, authorities aren’t taking any chances.
With resources spread thin and fearing further sparks, the state fire marshal’s office issued a statewide ban on the sale and personal use of fireworks ahead of the holiday.
Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, forest destruction and other human activities are trapping heat and putting more energy into the climate system.
Hotter air means heatwaves are much more likely. For example, scientists now say the unprecedented heat and wildfires across the northern hemisphere in 2018 “could not have occurred without human-induced climate change”. In Australia, the scorching summer of 2016-17 in New South Wales was made at least 50 times more likely by global heating, linking it directly to climate change.
Hotter air can also carry more water vapour, meaning more intense rain and more flooding.
Another important factor in the northern hemisphere is the impact of changes in the Arctic. The polar region is heating more rapidly, reducing the temperature difference with lower latitudes. There is strong evidence that this is weakening the planetary waves (including the jet stream) that normally meander over Europe, Asia and North America.
When these waves stall, weather gets fixed over regions and becomes extreme. This has been linked to past floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in Russia and drought in California.
Most of the planet’s trapped heat goes into the oceans and rising sea temperatures mean more energy for hurricanes and typhoons. Record-breaking cyclones hit Mozambique in March and April. The deluge delivered in the US by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was made three times more likely by climate change. Rising sea level also means storms cause more coastal damage.
Global heating does not influence all extreme weather – natural variability still exists. Carbon Brief analysed more than 230 studies and found 95% of heatwaves were made more likely or worse by climate change. For droughts, 65% were definitely affected by our hotter world, while the figure for floods was 57%. It is now undeniable that global heating is causing more extreme weather.
Alaska is trapped in a kind of hot feedback loop, as the arctic is heating up much faster than the rest of the planet. Ocean surface temperatures upwards of 10F hotter than average have helped to warm up the state’s coasts. When Bering and Chukchi sea ice collapsed and melted months earlier than normal this spring, the University of Alaska climate specialist Rick Thoman characterized the water as “baking”.
“I intentionally try to not be hyperbolic, but what do you say when there’s 10- to 20- degree ocean water temperature above normal?” Thoman told the Guardian. “How else do you describe that besides extraordinary?”
The hot water has affected sea birds and marine life, with mass mortality events becoming commonplace in the region. The National Park Service characterizesAlaska’s increasingly frequent sea bird die-offs, called “wrecks”, as “extreme”. “The folks in the communities are saying these animals look like they’ve starved to death,” said Thoman.
Accelerating ice melt stands to put the state’s coastal communities at risk, reshaping food sources the people rely on and the very land on which they live. Where there are no built roads, Alaskans rely on frozen ground as infrastructure for traveling. Less ice means less of the life that’s evolved to depend on that ice, both animal and human.
“It’s really affecting people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families,” said Brendan Kelly, a University of Alaska marine biology professor and executive director of Study of Environmental Arctic Change. “The amount of time people have to fish, to hunt, to trap is shrinking from both ends.”
Dozens of towns in Alaska are now or will soon be in need of relocation from eroding land and rising oceans.
“Things are changing so rapidly in Alaska right now we just can’t keep up,” said Thoman.
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Extreme weather in China is becoming increasingly frequent, with temperatures in some regions hitting record highs this year and with rainfall set to exceed average levels by 70% in the next 10 days, officials at the nation’s weather bureau warned.
Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Liao Jun of the disaster relief department of the China Meteorological Administration said average temperatures this year in China have been 0.9 degrees Celsius higher than the average since 1961.
Liao said average temperatures in the southwest province of Yunnan and the island province of Hainan have been the highest since 1961, adding that as many as 40 weather stations across the country have recorded their hottest temperatures ever.
While average rainfall in Yunnan and Tibet has been the lowest since 1961, other regions have been facing „extreme precipitation events”, with rain in parts of Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou „breaching historical extremes”, Liao told reporters.
Large parts of southern China’s planting regions have been waterlogged, affecting rice, tobacco and fruit production, he said, adding that rainfall in the south over the next 10 days is expected to exceed average levels by between 30%-70%.
„From a wider perspective, along with global warming, the likelihood of extreme weather events is increasing,” said Chen Hao, an official with China’s National Climate Center, at the same Tuesday briefing.
China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said on Tuesday that it had already disbursed 1.32 billion yuan ($192 million) in emergency funds to help disaster relief, with a large proportion of the money going to flood-hit central and southern regions.
($1 = 6.8717 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway)
Freak summer hailstorm engulfs Guadalajara’s cars, streets in up to 6 feet of ice
A freak summer hailstorm buried parts of a Mexican city in 5 to 6 feet of ice, engulfing cars on the street in a stunning display.
„I’ve never seen such scenes in Guadalajara,” the state governor, Enrique Alfaro, told Agence France-Presse.
Guadalajara, the capital city of Jalisco with a population of almost a million and a half people, saw at least six of its neighborhoods on the outskirts blanketed in the massive hail accumulation Sunday, AFP reported.
At least 200 buildings and 50 vehicles were damaged by the ice.
No fatalities were reported, but at least two people showed early signs of hypothermia.
According to AFP, although hailstorms aren’t uncommon in the summer in Jalisco, nothing of this magnitude had been recorded. Guadalajara is northwest of Mexico City and is about 5,000 feet above sea level.
70-year-old Massachusetts man recounts being lost in woods for 5 daysoriginally appeared on abcnews.go.com
A 70-year-old Massachusetts hiker said he’s still struggling to recover after being lost in the woods for five days without food or drinking water.
„I knew it was the end. I knew this was it. I was resigned, I really was,” Christopher Staff told ABC affiliate WCVB on Tuesday. “I could hardly move. And when I’d stop, bugs were all over me. They knew they had me. They knew they had something.”
“I knew [Friday] was my last day,” he added.
Staff, who has more than four decades worth of hiking experience, said he spent years preparing for the 31-mile hike in a rugged mountain area near Lincoln, New Hampshire, last week, but things took a tragic turn when the hike was nearly done.
He said he started to feel disoriented near the end of the path, possibly from dehydration, and lost his way. He also lost his backpack and drinking water, which forced him to drink from a river.
“I planned this for two years,” Staff said. “I wanted to do the 31-mile loop – I don’t know why but I wanted to get it done. And I came close. But what does it matter when I almost did myself in?”
Thankfully, he had spoken with his wife on the phone earlier when he was about 75% finished, He told her that he would be home around 9 p.m. on Monday and she notified police when he didn’t return on time.
He was rescued four days later on Friday night, when a pair of hikers found him sitting on a log about five miles away from the roadway. He’d lost 25 pounds and was covered with scratches, blisters and bug bites, the station reported.
Staff said he’s recovering now, but he’s still haunted by memories of when he was stranded.
„I just keep reliving that whole thing,” Staff said. “I’m trying to get rid of it but I’m going to get some help on it that’s for sure — trying to get rid of this, get it out of my mind.”
Solar eclipse plunges Chile into darkness
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare, and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world’s clearest skies.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.
The best views this time were from Chile’s sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world’s clearest skies.
The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.
Eclipse-watchers in Chile were not disappointed on Tuesday. The 95-mile (150-kilometer) band of total darkness moved eastward across the open Pacific Ocean late in the afternoon, making landfall in Chile at 4:38 p.m. EDT (2038 GMT).
Clear skies dominated from the South American country’s northern border with Peru south to the capital of Santiago, where office workers poured from buildings to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon.
Earlier in the day, a run on special „eclipse-viewing” glasses downtown had led to a shortage in many stores, with street vendors charging as much as $10 for a pair of the disposable, cardboard-framed lenses.
„This is something rare that we may never see again,” said Marcos Sanchez, a 53-year-old pensioner from Santiago who had purchased 16 of the lenses from an informal vendor downtown for himself and his family.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Sandra Maler)