200-vehicle pileup kills 2, injures nearly 70 amid whiteout conditions in Montreal by Chaffin Mitchell•A pileup involving roughly 200 vehicles killed two people and injured nearly 70 on Autoroute 15 in La Prairie, Québec, Canada on Wednesday.Sudden whiteout conditions with blowing snow severely limited visibility in the area likely caused the major chain reaction, Quebec’s Transport Minister François Bonnardel said at a news conference.”The pileup was likely the result of a snow squall that moved through between 7 and 9 am this morning. Similar to a squall line in the summertime, winds can pick up quite dramatically and snow can fall heavily in a short period of time,” AccuWeather Brett Rossio said.
According to Rossio, this can lead to white-out conditions that can bring severely reduced visibility, in some cases to a quarter of a mile or less.”Vehicles that entered the squall likely slowed down and drivers outside the squall potentially did not see the quickly slowing traffic, which likely led to the pileup. It was also occurring during rush hour, which may have also had an influence.” Rossio said.Images and videos of the crash shared on social media show a school minibus, a tanker truck with a flammable materials sign as well as other mangled cars involved in the deadly crash.CBC Montreal@CBCMontreal Emergency responders are working to get people out of their cars after a multi-vehicle pileup in La Prairie, Que. Provincial police say as many as 60 people have been injured.More: https://www.cbc.ca/1.5468787 Emergency personnel worked to get people out of their cars as two people were trapped and died as a result.No students were involved in the accident, officials reported.Multiple vehicles looked as if they were only tangled metal, while roughly 75 were able to get towed and about 50 lightly damaged vehicles were able to drive away from the scene, said Sgt Marie-Michelle Moore with the province’s police force and highway patrol authority, citing The Guardian.The highway is likely to remain closed until Thursday, according to The Guardian.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Pilots aboard Hurricane Hunter plane chasing a winter storm experience strange phenomenon by Mark Puleo•An experienced hurricane hunting crew chasing a winter storm came across a far different discovery this past weekend. In what is know as St. Elmo’s fire, footage of the forking electric discharge was captured on Saturday by pilots as the spectacle flashed throughout the cockpit.The video, captured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), was taken as pilots flew across the Atlantic Ocean amid thunderstorms. NOAA deployed the hunters to support a project analyzing ocean surface winds in winter storms over the North Atlantic.The flight took place as Storm Dennis chugged along in the North Atlantic approaching Ireland and the United Kingdom.While frightening and shocking on camera, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said the actual charge from the weather phenomenon is harmless, especially for those surrounded by the metal shell of the aircraft.”St. Elmo’s fire is a phenomena that has occurred throughout human history. Before it was reported on planes, it happened on ships in the open ocean,” Samuhel said. „It happens when the charge of an object is much different than the charge of the air. Unlike lightning when huge bolts of electricity jump across a large distance from one charge to another, St. Elmo’s fire happens on a very small scale.”
|Sprawling displays of St. Elmo’s fire illuminated the cockpit of a crew flying across the Atlantic Ocean. (NOAA Corps)|
Named after St. Erasmus of Formia, the patron saint of sailors, reports of St. Elmo’s fire trace back thousands of years to ancient Greece and tales of the marvel were consistently shared by ship fleets.St. Elmo’s fire differs from lightning in that it is simply a glow of electrons in the air, whereas lightning is the movement of electricity from a charged cloud to the ground. In a thunderstorm, where the surrounding environment is electrically charged, the phenomenon is sparked when a charged object, such as a ship mast or airplane nose, causes a dramatic difference in charge, emitting a visual discharge. It can most simply be compared to a continuous spark.
„The point of the nose of an aircraft gives electricity an easy path to flow, as does the mast of the ship,” Samuhel said. „These locations are where St. Elmo’s fire is most common.”
In historical recounts of St. Elmo’s fire, writers such as Julius Caesar and Charles Darwin depict the instances as a steady glow.
„Everything is in flames: the sky with lightning, the water with luminous particles and even the very masts are pointed with a blue flame,” Darwin wrote while aboard the Beagle as he traveled across the Atlantic.
For experienced pilots like the Hurricane Hunters, the light show in front of them likely wouldn’t have induced any fear or panic, although the event could be a sign of stormy weather ahead.
„It lasted about three minutes,” explained Maria Ines Rubio, a flight attendant who witnessed the phenomenon in 2017, to The Washington Post. „I wasn’t nervous, because it a rather normal occurrence when you get into a strong enough storm.”
The phenomenon, also known as a corona discharge, is „commonly observed on the periphery of propellers and along the wing tips, windshield, and nose of aircraft flying in dry snow, in ice crystals, or near thunderstorms,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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- The Turkish armed forces are losing a battle with Russian-backed Syrian troops over a safe zone full of refugees in northern Syria.
- If Syria takes Idlib permanently, about 1 million refugees will be forced out in the direction of Turkey.
- Turkey has already taken in as many as 4 million Syrian refugees, and it says it cannot handle more.
- The Turkish military is threatening to elevate its low-grade war in Syria or release the refugees northward into the rest of Europe.
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Bombing by the Russian air force has tipped the scales against the Turkish military in their confrontation over the Idlib province of northern Syria.Until recently, Idlib provided some safety for millions of Syrians seeking refuge from the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is supported by Russia.Assad has repeatedly massacred civilians in his struggle to control all of Syria, including the rebel-held territories near Syria’s border with southern Turkey.But in the past few days, Turkish troops — who had been providing some stability in Idlib — were quickly surrounded or overrun by bombing and shelling from the Syrian army and its Russian „advisers.”
With pro-Syrian troops moving into the Idlib area, more than 832,000 refugees have migrated north toward Turkey. The fighting threatens to send 1 million or more refugees — mostly women and children — into Turkey, which has already taken in nearly 4 million civilians since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.Traffic jams where babies die The refugees have been seen in huge numbers every day for weeks in enormous traffic jams, trapped between the Russian-backed Syrian military behind them and the Turkish border in front.Virtually homeless and stranded in freezing temperatures, the refugees are reliant on food aid from charities. If babies go to sleep at night, while their parents are camped in the open, they risk dying of hypothermia, according to CNN.The UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, said on Tuesday that the situation risked creating the worst refugee crisis of the 21st century. As many as 3 million people are caught in the ever-shrinking rebel zone near the Turkish border. It has been continually bombarded by Syrian and Russian forces for years.Two weeks ago, Syria retook the rebel-held highway crossroads at Saraqib, near Idlib, that links the capital Damascus with Syria’s largest city, Aleppo. That victory gave Syrian forces a patch of high ground in the hills with good visibility over the Idlib area — perfect for shelling targets. As a result, Russian air attacks and Syrian ground troops, supported by Iran, sent at least 1 million civilians fleeing toward the closed Turkish border.Turkey, which hosts at least 3 million Syria refugees, has demanded a halt to the offensive.
Turkey is losing its battle to keep the refugees safe — and out of Turkey
Yet Russian-backed Syrian troops swarmed past a dozen Turkish military observation posts along Idlib’s border with the rest of Syria.Turkey needs the Idlib province to remain a safe and stable area for refugees to stay so they don’t attempt to migrate across the border. The Turks have poured in hundreds of military vehicles and regular ground troops and engaged in repeated artillery exchanges with the Syrians, killing dozens of soldiers on both sides, to defend Idlib from the Syrian incursion.But Assad’s offensive has continued.Turkey has repeatedly warned Europe that a collapse of the Idlib „pocket” — and the ensuing flow of refugees that is certain to follow — would force a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis. In 2015, at least 1.5 million refugees poured into central and northern Europe, mostly via Greece, after arriving from Turkey by boat.4 million refugees later, Turkey can’t handle it anymore The crisis may be even worse than that, because the refugees previously taken in by Turkey arrived over a period of time. And once inside the Turkish border, they did not attract the attention of the Syrian military.After nearly a decade, Turkey’s ability to continue housing such numbers is limited, and a further influx would most likely involve another mass migration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned.On Tuesday at a conference for his political party’s membership, Erdogan warned that a Turkish offensive to relieve pressure on the pocket — heating up what amounts to an undeclared war against Syria — was „only a matter of time.”
Following Uesi, which remained well east of Australia earlier in February, the next tropical cyclone to develop will most likely be closer to home.
The potential exists for at least one tropical system to develop near Australia in the coming days, threatening northern parts of the country.
Should the likely storm become a named tropical system by the Australia Bureau of Meteorology, it would gain the name Esther.
„The environment on the northern end of Australia is conducive for the development of tropical systems with light wind shear and warm waters will be in place,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.
Two separate areas of open water could produce a more organized tropical system given these conditions.
One such area is along Australia’s Top End in the Arafura Sea or Gulf of Carpentaria.
Over the weekend, the tropical low in this area will be able to flourish and strengthen into a tropical cyclone as it drifts about the region.
This is when the storm will gather its heavy, tropical rainfall and gusty winds. Shipping interests in this area should use caution from late this week through the end of the month.
„By early next week, the low will be moving southwest, either approaching or making landfall in the northern part of Northern Territory,” added Nicholls.
Heavy rainfall could extend from far northwestern Queensland through the northern half of Northern Territory through Tuesday. If the storm drifts far enough west, northern parts of Western Australia may also be affected.
Widespread rainfall amounts of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) are possible in this area, with a smaller area of 100-150 mm (4-6 inches). Over a four- or five-day period, an AccuWeather Local StormMax™️ of 200 mm (8 inches) is possible.
The heaviest rain will follow the core of the storm, which may impact places like the Pellew Islands and Limmen National Park, as well as cities like Borroloola and Daly Waters.
|The above satellite image shows the clouds and thunderstorms developing along the northern coasts of Australia on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 19 (Photo/RAMMB).|
Exactly how strong the winds will be, and thus how strong the cyclone becomes, will be determined by how much strength it can gather while stalling over the warm, open waters.
Wind gusts will be highest over the open waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria and near the center of the storm where it makes landfall. Wind gusts of 80 km/h (50 mph) are not out of the question in these areas.
The combination of wind and heavy rainfall may topple trees and quickly raise water levels of creeks and streams. Travel could turn difficult from Carpentaria to the Darwin area.
The second area for possible development is less likely to mature into a named system and will remain farther offshore from mainland Australia. Located south of the Greater Sunda Islands of Indonesia, the area of development could bring rough seas and impact offshore interests of northwestern Australia. This would particularly true if the low develops into a stronger tropical cyclone, which AccuWeather meteorologists currently think is unlikely.
As the system drifts westward away from Australia, the seas and waves should lessen through the end of the week.
The Australia cyclone season officially runs from November to April. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, over a 15-year average up to the 2003/2004 season, the average number of total cyclones in the season is 55, with about nine of those occurring in February.
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Locust swarms arrive in South Sudan, threatening more misery
Billions of desert locusts, some in swarms the size of Moscow, have already chomped their way through Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.
Their breeding has been spurred by one of the wettest rainy seasons in the region in four decades.
Experts have warned the main March-to-May cropping season is at risk. Eggs laid along the locusts’ path are due to hatch and create a second wave of the insects in key agricultural areas.
The arrival of the locusts could be catastrophic in South Sudan, where war followed by drought and floods has already left six million people — 60 percent of the population — facing severe hunger.
Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo Nyikiwec said the locusts had crossed the eastern border with Uganda on Monday.
„The report came that these are matured. As you know locusts are like human beings, they send their reconnaissance ahead of time to make sure that whether there is food or not and if the area is good for breeding.”
Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in South Sudan, said about 2,000 locusts had been spotted so far, and if not controlled quickly, could have a devastating impact.
„These are deep yellow which means that they will be here mostly looking at areas in which they will lay eggs.”
He said the FAO was training locals and acquiring sprayers and chemicals to try and combat the locusts. It is the first locust invasion in 70 years in the country.
Other countries have employed aircraft to spray the swarms, while desperate locals have employed tactics like banging pots and pans or shooting at them.
Nyikiwec said the government had prepared a contingency plan.
„We are training people who will be involved in spraying and also we need chemicals for spraying and also sprayers. You will also need cars to move while spraying and then later if it becomes worse, we will need aircraft.”
Earlier this month Somalia declared a national emergency over the invasion.
The FAO says the current invasion is known as an „upsurge,” the term for when an entire region is affected.
However, if the invasion cannot be rolled back and spreads, it becomes known as a „plague” of locusts.
There have been six major desert locust plagues in the 1900s, the last of which was in 1987-89. The last major upsurge was in 2003-05.