Thousands without power as storms lash France
Thousands without power as storms lash France
Fierce winds drove heavy rain across large swathes of France on Friday, knocking out electricity for tens of thousands of homes along the western Atlantic coast and causing destructive flooding in the southeast, officials said.
An autumn storm baptised Alex buffeted Brittany overnight, with wind gusts reaching 186 km/h (115 mph) at Belle-Ile-en-Mer, an island off the coast near Nantes.
Emergency services were mobilised to clear fallen trees and downed power lines, though no deaths were reported in the region, authorities said.
But many schools and parks were closed, train services were halted and access to the coasts prohibited.
In the southeast, a road bridge was destroyed as muddy waters churned through a valley near Saint-Martin-Vesubie, north of Nice near the Italian border, Eric Ciotti, an MP for the Alpes-Maritimes region, told AFP.
„The service station was washed away, houses were severely damaged, and the stadium and the cemetery have been flooded” after some 235 millimetres (9 inches) of rain was dumped in just a few hours, Ciotti said.
Beaches in Nice and other coastal cities were closed, and authorities asked people to stay at home and refrain from using their cars unless in case of emergency.
New tropical storm headed for Mexico’s Yucatan coast •MEXICO CITY (AP) — Newly formed Tropical Storm Gamma was headed for a Saturday collision with the resort-lined coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, bringing torrential rains to a large swath of southern Mexico.A tropical storm warning was in effect for the northern half of the peninsula’s Caribbean coast, covering Cancun, the Riviera Maya and other resorts.The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 mm) of rainfall are likely in parts of the Yucatan and far-western Cuba. The northeastern tip of the peninsula could see 10 to 15 inches (250 to 375 mm) of rain.Heavy rains could then follow over other parts of southern MexicoIt was centered about 110 miles (175 kilometers) south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) Friday night and was moving to the northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).The Hurricane Center said it might strengthen somewhat before a likely landfall on Saturday.The forecast track showed it clipping the tip of the peninsula, then veering toward the west-southwest into the Gulf of Mexico over the coming days.Meanwhile, powerful Hurricane Marie pushed across the open Pacific, and forecasters said it was likely to weaken over the weekend.Marie was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) Friday evening, according to the Hurricane Center. It was centered about 1,090 miles (1,750 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula and was headed to the northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).Forecasters said it should begin weakening Saturday without threatening land.
By Adrees Latif
CALISTOGA, Calif. (Reuters) – California fire crews deploying water-dropping helicopters made a defensive stand on Friday against flames raging in the foothills of the Napa Valley wine region as forecasts called for a return of dangerous high winds and hot weather this weekend.
More than 2,500 firefighters were battling the Glass Fire, which broke out last Sunday near the resort community of Calistoga, some 75 miles (120 km) north of San Francisco, and has already destroyed 248 homes or other structures.
Among them were the stately Chateau Boswell Winery north of Napa, and a farmhouse at the landmark Castello di Amorosa winery, where the castle-like main building survived.
Thick smoke poured over deserted Napa Valley communities that would typically be bustling with visitors for the grape harvest.
„Everyone is hunkered down, it’s very, very quiet,” said Kari Corte, who works at the Ghost Block Estates Winery outside Oakville. She was in her home in Zinfandel, the fire burning less than three miles to the north.
„I’ve got my bags packed and I’m ready to go,” Corte said, recalling that in 2017 she had been forced to flee the town of Atlas Peak community during another bad fire year for the wine country.
At some wineries employees stood guard over buildings and crops with bulldozers and water tankers, hoping to serve as a desperate last line of defense if flames made a run out of the foothills.
The Newton Vineyard winery went up in flames on Wednesday, according to a Reuters photographer, who saw rivulets of red wine mixed with ash flowing down its main access road.
Vintners in the area fear the smoke has spoiled much of this year’s vintage.
RAIN IN THE FORECAST
Roughly 52,000 residents were under evacuation orders at least through the weekend, with the fire at only 5% containment, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for high winds over the next two days.
Rain storms are forecast for the region at the end of next week and firefighters hope they could keep the blaze from entering populated areas again until the showers came.
„It’s going to be a big firefight for us in the next 36 hours,” Cal Fire operations section chief Mark Brunton said on Thursday. Resources were stretched due to the high number of fires burning across the state, he said.
Some 200 miles (320 km) to the north, crews have made significant progress against the Zogg Fire in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range. Containment had reached 46% as of Friday afternoon, up from 26% a day earlier.
Four people have been killed in the Zogg fire, which has also has destroyed nearly 150 buildings near the town of Redding. No casualties have been reported in the Glass Fire.
Overall, at least 30 people have died since mid-August in a devastating string of wildfires across the U.S. West that have been stoked by bouts of extreme heat, winds and dry-lightning storms that scientists attribute to climate change.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has also blamed decades of poor forest management.
California fires have scorched nearly 6,100 square miles acres (15,800 square km) since January, more than three times the land mass of Delaware and far exceeding the acreage burned during any previous year on record.
(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler and Rosalba O’Brien)
Wildfire impact on Napa wine country likely to be ‘most significant in recent memory’
Some wineries in Northern California could be facing a total loss as a result of the wildfires that have ravaged Napa County. Scenes of vineyards scorched by flames and shrouded in smoke emerged this week as the wildfire crisis dragged on. After a tough week, many winemakers in Northern California were trying to figure out their next steps.
„The last five years, we’ve been impacted by fires,” Anita Oberholster, an enologist at the University of California at Davis, told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. „Specifically 2017, 2018, less in 2019 and now in 2020, we have fires way more extensive. This is our third fire at the moment.”
Just because a vineyard doesn’t go up in flames doesn’t mean it’s not at risk of devastation. The smoke the fires are pumping into the air is full of damaging chemical compounds that can be toxic for some grapes and can result in a loss of harvest. Wind direction is also a factor as it can blow wildfire smoke over a vineyard that’s not at immediate threat from the flames.
The smoke often lingers after the fires pass through the area. On top of all of that, the fires erupted this year during the grapes’ harvest season.
„It started much earlier on during harvest, meaning way more fruit was still on [the] vine,” Oberholster said. „So yes, the impact this year will probably be the most significant in recent memory.”
Although some grapes will survive, Oberholster said that harvests will still be lost this year, with some of the most affected vineyards even experiencing a total loss of crops.
The smoke exposure could be detrimental for some grapes, as the chemicals contained in the smoke could be absorbed into the inside of the grape.
„You have a lot of wood burning and there’s compounds being released. We call them volatile pehnols,” Oberholster explained. „They’re natural in grapes, so this is not a health concern at all, but what happens is they’re absorbed through the berry skin so it’s not on the outside. It’s on the inside of the berry, and there’s enzymes that put sugars onto these compounds.”
Oberholster added that, although the absorption of the compounds that come from the fires’ smoke in smaller amounts might not have a negative effect on the grapes, „When you have an excessive amount of them … they can give you smoky, ashy characteristics.”
This can then lead to the loss of the crop for commercial purposes, as the production of wine will no longer be possible, due to its taste being altered by the overpowering smoky aroma that might come from the damaged grape.
To figure out if grapes have been affected by the smoke or not, many growers across the region are currently having the fruit tested, to ensure that only „the best quality makes it to the market,” Oberholster added.There is hope for the future of the wine industry in Napa Valley, as experts are certain that next year’s crops won’t be affected by this year’s smoke. However, many growers and experts are still concerned about the future of the industry if wildfires continue to burn across wine country.Despite the devastation caused by the fires, Oberholster is certain that the wine industry will persevere. „We need to do better. Unfortunately, this seems to be our future,” she said.Reporting by Bill Wadell.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Persistent downpours to drench South Florida into this weekend
The same system that has brought drenching downpours to South Florida during the latter part of this week will continue to affect the southern part of the Sunshine State, and even some locales farther north, through this weekend.
Earlier this week, a cool front advanced across much of the central and eastern United States but managed to stall over South Florida. As if the shower and thunderstorm activity was not enough from the stalled front alone, tropical moisture has become involved and will continue to help fuel the downpours through much of the weekend.
|This image, captured during Friday midday, October 2, 2020, shows a band of clouds associated with a stalled front over southern Florida. A swirl of clouds associated with a budding tropical storm can be seen over the northwestern Caribbean. (CIRA at Colorado State/GOES-East)|
„From Friday afternoon through Sunday, an additional 2-4 inches of rain is likely to fall with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 6 inches,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
From Wednesday through Friday morning, rainfall in both Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, topped 4 inches.
Much of the rain and downpours that hit other locations from the Florida Keys to the southern counties of the peninsula occurred in a few hours’ time. Rainfall of this magnitude has produced urban flooding problems and can continue to do so through this weekend.
Some of the rain is forecast to surge northward into the central counties of the state for a time.
As a weak storm develops along the front and moves northeastward along it, rain will swell northward into central Florida, including around Orlando, Tampa and perhaps Daytona Beach, for a time on Saturday and Saturday night.
Once this storm moves off to the northeast later in the weekend, dry air may move southward over the peninsula and could mark an end to the rain even in some of the southern counties on Sunday.
„The downpours can not only put the skids outdoor plans but also hinder travel through city streets and on the highways in the area,” Anderson said.
Motorists should be prepared to seek alternative routes if they encounter high water.
In addition to localized flooding from downpours, boaters should be alert for potential waterspouts in the adjacent waters of southern and central Florida and the Keys.
In addition to the downpours at hand from a non-tropical system, meteorologists are monitoring a budding tropical storm in the northwestern Caribbean this weekend and a second system that may move into the same general area next week.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.