British Columbia extends wildfire state of emergency for third timeBy Nia Williams FILE PHOTO: A wildfire burns north east of the town of Cache Creek, British Columbia, Canada on July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Nelms/File PhotoBy Nia Williams CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Canadian province of British Columbia has extended a state of emergency for a third time until Sept. 1 because of wildfires raging across the region, the provincial government said on Friday.Since early summer firefighters and emergency services have been battling hundreds of blazes across British Columbia that have forced as many as 45,000 people from their homes.More than 894,000 hectares (2.2 million acres) have burned so far this year, making it the most destructive fire season since records began in 1950.The wildfires have prompted the longest-lasting state of emergency ever declared in British Columbia, having started on July 8, and gives federal and provincial authorities the power to take any action necessary to fight the wildfires.There are 140 fires still burning across the province, and while many residents have been able to return to their homes, 4,400 are still under evacuation orders and another 20,000 remain on evacuation alert, meaning they may have to leave at any time.The number of fires has fallen slightly since mid-July, a cold weather front bringing strong winds and possibly lightning over the weekend could spark new outbreaks, British Columbia chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said on a conference call.”There are a challenging few days ahead mainly due to winds,” he said. „We are expecting growth in a number of fires and there’s a chance we will have to respond to some new fires.”Skrepnek said that so far the wildfire response had cost the province C$325 million ($258.45 million).(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Sandra Maler)
Eclipse weather forecast: Best in West, least in East BY SETH BORENSTEIN View photos Bruce Sullivan, a forecaster at NOAA’s National Weather Service Prediction Center explains that viewing conditions in the zone of totality for the upcoming eclipse, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, at NOAA in College Park, Md. The early eclipse weather forecast looks best in the West and least in the East with patchy clouds muddling up the picture in between. The forecast as of Friday shows Oregon and Idaho as most promising to have clear sky views, while South Carolina is the most likely to find the sun and moon blocked by clouds. (AP Photo Bill Gorman)WASHINGTON (AP) — The early eclipse weather forecast looks best in the West and least in the East with patchy clouds muddling up the picture in between.As of Friday, the forecast for Monday’s total solar eclipse shows Oregon and Idaho as the most promising for clear sky views, while South Carolina is the most likely to find the sun and moon blocked by clouds.Related SearchesWeather Forecast For EclipseKey West Weather Forecast 10 DayAugust Weather Forecast 2017Weather Forecast TodayWeather Forecast TomorrowThe National Weather Service also is optimistic about good viewing from St. Louis to Nashville, but forecasts can change.Overall, about half the nation is likely to get favorable eclipse viewing weather, said Mike Musher, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center.The troublesome area, not easy to forecast and not likely to be all clear, is from Wyoming to western Missouri.”It’s going to be twitchy for everybody from Nebraska eastward,” said retired Canadian meteorologist Jay Anderson, who has been forecasting eclipse weather since 1978.Anderson, who runs the Eclipsophile weather website, said people east of Idaho and west of the Appalachian Mountains may have to drive a bit to find clear skies, but with a little effort they can find them. Officials and eclipse watchers have fretted, though, about roads being too clogged as the eclipse approaches.The full eclipse will cover a 70-mile-wide (112-kilometer) swath from Oregon to South Carolina. The moon will pass between Earth and the sun for America’s first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918. When this happens, the classic image appears of a black dot surrounded by a feathery red ring, the sun’s corona.A partial eclipse will be visible outside the path, extending up to Canada and down to the top of South America.Anderson, who is staying in Jackson, Wyoming, fears heart-breaking weather in Wyoming where clouds could hide the eclipse with tantalizing clear skies just off in the distance.If a cloud moves over the sun, you miss the corona, Anderson said. „That’s everybody’s No. 1 target.”It will still get dark and cooler and animals may act differently, but the sky show won’t be the same, Anderson said.Computer-generated forecasts don’t quite agree about cloud cover, except for the Pacific Northwest and South Carolina.This is still early. The forecast can still change and has been changing, but Musher said „we are getting into that window where there shouldn’t be a dramatic adjustment to weather development and cloud coverage.”Musher cautioned that wildfires in the Northwest could cause smokiness that might worsen the eclipse view in Oregon and Idaho, but Anderson and Oregon State University climate scientist Kathie Dello said smoke is looking like less of an issue.No area on the eclipse path had high chances of rain Monday afternoon, Musher and Anderson agreed.Hardcore eclipse chasers pore over weather forecasts, especially the day before the action so they can alter their plans.”I’ve travelled overseas three times for this. One that I can drive to, I don’t want to miss because of the weather,” said Alabama plastic surgeon Gordon Telepun, who is leading a group of about 20 people.He is leaving nothing to chance. Telepun has booked six separate sites — five camping areas and one hotel — along a 400-mile-long swath from Missouri to Tennessee, ready to get ahead of the weather.Telepun said he won’t even pay attention to Friday’s forecast, despite how promising it looks for him.”We’ll be making the decision Sunday morning where to go,” Telepun said._Follow AP’s coverage of the total solar eclipse here._Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears. His work can be found here
Weather During Eclipse An Area For More Study, But Researchers Know There Will Be Changes Nina Godlewski The sun influences every process on Earth including one of the most important ones, the weather we experience on a day to day basis. When the sun is blocked during Monday’s eclipse the Earth will suddenly be thrown into night-like conditions without the usual gradual process that occurs beforehand.Scientists are eager to study how the total solar eclipse will impact weather and what it could mean for future research. Scientists from the University of Barcelona and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will work together during the eclipse to study the way the eclipse changes weather.They’ll use an experimental version of an instrument usually used to forecast the weather. This instrument is called the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh and it will be used as a short-term weather forecasting model. The goal is to predict the small changes in weather caused by the eclipse.eclipsesketch_0The information the HRRR will be working with will come from NOAA stations across the country that will collect valuable data during the eclipse including temperature, humidity, wind and clouds. This will allow the researchers to use the eclipse conditions against the constant of regular conditions that we experience on a daily basis. Instruments like the HRRR weren’t around during the last total solar eclipse in the United States in 1979 so this will bring a wealth of data for researchers.If you’re in the path of totality during the eclipse there are a few changes in weather that have been recorded in the past that you could expect to experience. Some will be easier for you to notice than others, NASA is encouraging people across the country to record the data they take during the eclipse and submit it via an app. All of this data will be compiled to learn more about the eclipse.Temperature is expected to change in the path of totality by five to fifteen degrees, or one half to three quarters of the typical difference between nighttime and daytime temperatures, according to NASA. This is a change viewers will likely be able to feel but an inexpensive outdoor thermometer would also be able to record hard data on the change.This rapid temperature change might cause what’s referred to as an “eclipse wind.” A study out of the United Kingdom’s University of Reading hypothesizes that this wind is actually a product of a lack of a “boundary layer” or a part of the atmosphere that usually separates high and low winds from one another. Researchers involved in the study think this happens because hot air stops rising from the ground when totality is reached and the direction of wind changes.Other than wind speed, direction and temperature there are no extreme changes expected to happen weather-wise due to the eclipse. It will be a spectacular show but other than that not much else will happen. Animals will likely act normally, although million of humans traveling for the eclipse is a bit out of the ordinary behavior.If you want to check what the eclipse will be like near you there’s a simulator online that you can use, and remember to never look directly at the sun due to a risk of eye damage.
Cities across Africa face threat of landslides like Sierra Leone By Edward McAllister View photos Residents stand as rescue workers search for survivors after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone. REUTERS/Ernest HenryBy Edward McAllisterDAKAR (Reuters) – Natural and human factors made Sierra Leone’s capital vulnerable to a landslide that killed more than 400 people this week: heavy rain, deforested land and communities forced by overcrowding to live on steep hillsides.Those vulnerabilities are mirrored in villages and cities across West and Central Africa – among the world’s poorest and wettest regions – that face a worsening threat from landslides, researchers say.Hundreds are also missing after the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed near Freetown on Monday in one of the worst flooding-related disasters in Africa in years. On Thursday, another landslide in a fishing village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 40.Over 4,000 people have died in similar incidents over the past 10 years and millions of dollars of resources are lost because of them each year in Africa, according to Ogbonnaya Igwe, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, who studies landslides.”Triggered by intense rainfall, changes in water level and anthropogenic activities, it is very difficult … to overestimate their threat to public safety and the environment,” Igwe said in a report.Landslides generally happen after periods of heavy rain, saturating or liquefying soil and causing slippage. They are more likely to occur if soil is laid bare by deforestation or urban planning.That was the case in Sierra Leone and in other mudslides in recent years in Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo and Uganda.An additional factor in Freetown was poor urban planning that put people unnecessarily at risk, according to aid groups and flood experts. Freetown’s population has also grown sharply in recent decades, raising pressure on living space.Experts say the regional problems could be getting worse. The volume and intensity of rainfall in West Africa is increasing, Igwe said. Urban populations are on the rise and so is deforestation.”Once you turn a forest into something else and the land is on a hillside, you increase the likelihood of landslide,” said Nelson Odume, a senior researcher at the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University, South Africa.Based on its geographical similarity to other areas that have suffered landslides, Igwe said that Conakry, the hilly, wet capital of Sierra Leone’s neighbor, Guinea, faces similar dangers.”We have studied areas that have similar features as Conakry and we are able to say with some degree of confidence that it is at risk,” said Igwe.Predicting a landslide is difficult. Sometimes a slow slippage or fissures in the ground offer a sign of what is to come. Mostly though they happen without warning.Igwe uses satellite and GPS data to measure small ground movements to detect the possibility of landslides in vulnerable areas like the Adamawa highlands along the Nigeria-Cameroon border.But, ultimately, the best way to lessen the danger is to stop the root causes, experts told Reuters, including by developing local economies and improving urban planning with the safety of residents in mind.”They need to diversify people’s livelihoods,” Odume said. „No one will stop cutting trees down if that is all they have to do.”(Editing by Nellie Peyton and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
Congo landslide death toll likely to rise over 200: Ituri vice governorDAKAR (Reuters) – A landslide in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo likely killed more than 200 people, based on estimates from the number of households submerged, the vice governor of affected Ituri province said on Friday.The landslide struck the village of Tora, on the shores of Lake Albert, a seismically active zone in the western Rift Valley, on Thursday.”There are many people submerged whom we were unable to save,” Pacifique Keta, the vice governor of Ituri province, where Tora lies, told Reuters by telephone. „The rescue is very complicated because there are mountains everywhere, which makes it very difficult to have access.”Many parts of west and central Africa are vulnerable to landslides, because land is heavily deforested and communities crowd into steep hillsides.On Friday, Sierra Leone buried 461 victims of a mudslide that swept away homes on the edge of Freetown, the capital, and 600 more people are missing.Eastern Congo has the added risk of being on a seismic fault line, which means it frequently suffers earthquakes and sometimes volcano eruptions.Keta said the toll was an estimate based on the number of households submerged and the population of the households. He said that so far about 40 people had been buried.”We are trying to enhance the emergency response. The aid agencies and MINUSCO (the U.N. peacekeeping force) are there to evacuate bodies and any survivors as quickly as possible,” Keta said.(This story corrects Keta’s title to vice governor, not governor, in paragraphs 1, 3 and headline)(Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Leslie Adler)
U.S. Extended: Dramatic highway truck crash in Kansas
Cloudy Weather Could Keep Half of America From Seeing the Total Solar Eclipse Melissa Chan Clouds may obscure next week’s historic total solar eclipse for people in half of the country along the eclipse’s path of totality, meteorologists said Friday.While it’s too soon to make an accurate weather forecast for Monday’s highly anticipated celestial spectacle, the National Weather Service said computer models at the moment only show favorable sky conditions in the Northwest, including Oregon, where the solar eclipse first hits, while parts of the Southeast could see heavy cloud cover or even rain.“It’s looking good for half of the country — other parts, not so great,” said Mike Musher, a meteorologist and lead forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center. “But things can still change and evolve over the next few days.”View photosNOAA’s graphic shows cloud coverage predictions for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.Related SearchesTotal Solar Eclipse GlassesSolar Eclipse WeatherTotal Solar Eclipse MapTotal Solar Eclipse VideoTotal Solar Eclipse ImagesMusher said there will be very low percentages of cloud cover — which is ideal for eclipse viewing — across parts of the Pacific Northwest and over some metropolitan areas like Portland, Ore. and Nashville, Tenn. People in parts of Kentucky and southern Illinois can also expect to have nice weather. The fewer clouds in the sky, the more likely eclipse chasers will be able to fully witness the rare event.However, residents in Oregon and Idaho should watch for rising smoke from active wildfires, which could hinder views, according to Musher. “Even though the probability for clouds is pretty low in the Northwest, there could be smoke that could inhibit a perfect view of the eclipse,” he said. “It’s something to keep in mind.”It was unclear Friday what kind of cloud cover the Midwest would have on Monday since overnight thunderstorms are expected in several states within the path of totality, including Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. “The Midwest is kind of in the unknown,” Musher said.But Musher predicts “unfavorable” heavier cloud cover in the Southeast, particularly in North Carolina and South Carolina, which could hinder eclipse viewing, though northern Georgia should be alright. There may also be some light precipitation along coastal South Carolina, like in Charleston, where the eclipse ends.“It’s a crapshoot at this point,” said Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist at WLTX, a local TV station in Columbia, S.C. The best predictions from computer models won’t come until late Sunday, he said.View photos here’s about a 20% chance Columbia may see a thunderstorm before the eclipse, which would affect cloud cover, according to Gandy. Otherwise, the city is expecting partly cloudy skies on Monday and a temperature of 93 degrees Fahrenheit, which is fair eclipse viewing weather.Even in places where there are a few clouds, the eclipse should still be visible from some areas on the ground. Gandy also said the approaching eclipse could move the clouds out of the way at the last minute.“Totality creates its own weather. As the shadow approaches, the temperature will start to drop and that will stabilize the atmosphere. Clouds up there will begin to dissipate,” said Gandy, citing anecdotal evidence from astronomers. “It creates an opportunity for the sky to open up to see the eclipse.”The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will cross the country from coast to coast and be visible only in America for the first time in the nation’s history.It will pass through parts of 14 states, beginning in Oregon and continuing through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina before ending in South Carolina.
Tropical Storm Harvey moves across eastern Caribbean islands BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — Authorities in the eastern Caribbean warned residents to stay indoors as Tropical Storm Harvey brought heavy winds and rain to the area Friday on a path expected to take it to Central America next week.Related SearchesTropical Storm HarveyTropical Storm DonFranklin Tropical StormHarvey was expected to cross through St. Vincent and the Grenadines and then over the Caribbean Sea. A tropical storm warning was also in effect for Martinique and St. Lucia.The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Harvey had winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph) and was moving west at 18 mph (30 kph).The storm’s maximum sustained winds early Friday were near 40 mph (65 kph) with slight strengthening possible over the next two days.Harvey was centered about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados and was moving west near 18 mph (30 kph).