WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday because of rising water on the Susquehanna River, swelled by a record-breaking deluge that has killed at least 12 people across the Northeast.
Thousands more were ordered to leave their homes in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Rescue helicopters plucked residents from rooftops as rivers and streams surged over their banks, washed out roads and bridges, and cut off villages in some of the worst flooding in the region in decades, with more rain in the forecast for the rest of the week.
Reno, Nevada - Gov. Kenny Guinn declared a state of emergency as state and federal crews put practically every available piece of equipment on the lines to combat dozens of lightning-sparked fires that have burned 125 square miles of Nevada.
More than 1,000 firefighters on Wednesday were battling dozens of fires, from a 57,000-acre blaze burning out of control largely in uninhabited rangeland in northeast Nevada to a complex of a dozen smaller fires around Reno and Carson City that forced evacuations at the town of Mound House along the historic Pony Express Trail.
TEHRAN, Iran - An earthquake shook southern Iran early Thursday morning, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Radio reports said residents of the southwestern city of Bandar Abbas poured into the streets after the quake hit.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 1:32 a.m. (local time) and had a magnitude of 5.6. It was centered about 35 miles southwest of Bandar Abbas or about 650 miles southeast of Tehran, the capital.
Government officials prepared for evacuations of low-lying sections of the water-logged Washington region last night as record-setting rainfall continued and commuters, homeowners and federal agencies struggled to cope.
Several large federal offices remained closed. Local governments opened emergency command centers and sheltered more residents reeling from rains of historic magnitude. The silt-laden Potomac River neared flood stage, and other waterways verged menacingly on overflowing.
Fearing that Lake Needwood, north of Rockville, was breaching its leaking dam, Montgomery County officials early this morning began evacuating people living along Rock Creek below the dam, county spokeswoman Donna Bigler said.
QUITO - Ecuador's National Geophysical Agency said on Tuesday the Tungurahua volcano had registered 50 explosions in the past 24 hours.
The Tungurahua volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador, started its second activity peak this May since the eruption process began in August 1999.
It is now experiencing "shivers": constant tremors inside the crater's bed. The agency's volcanologists have observed constant emissions of gas, ash and water vapor that is forming a cloud around 1 km above the volcano's crater.
If someone said you can understand rain patterns and the dynamics of the atmosphere by studying magnets and magnetism - and therefore make better predictions of the effects of global warming - would you think he's crazy? Brilliant? The atmosphere spans the entire globe, while a magnet fits easily in your hand; can they really be so similar?
Ole Peters, a 27-year-old physicist with expertise in "critical phenomena" and "self organized criticality" - which he acknowledges is "a bit of a rogue field" - doesn't sound the least bit crazy.
In the June issue of the respected journal Nature Physics, he and J. David Neelin, UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, report that the onset of intense tropical rain and magnetism share the same underlying physics.
Peters and Neelin analyzed statistical properties of the relationship between water vapor in the atmosphere in the tropics and rainfall, using remote sensing from a satellite over the tropical oceans.
"We studied properties of that relationship that are also observed in equivalent quantities for systems with 'continuous-phase transitions' like magnets," said Peters, a research scientist with UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and a visiting scientist at the Santa Fe Institute.
"The atmosphere has a tendency to move to a critical point in water vapor where the likelihood of rain dramatically increases. The system reaches a point where it's just about to rain; it's highly susceptible. Any additional water vapor can produce a large response."
Washington - US President George W. Bush on Monday said it was time to move past a debate over whether human activity is a significant factor behind global warming and into a discussion of possible remedies. "I have said consistently that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused," Bush told reporters.
"We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing the technologies necessary to enable us to achieve a couple of big objectives: One, be good stewards of the environment; two, become less dependent on foreign sources of oil, for economic reasons as for national security reasons," he said.
Bush cited "clean-coal technology," efforts to develop automobiles powered by hydrogen or ethanol, and his push for the United States to develop significant new nuclear energy capabilities.
"The truth of the matter is, if this country wants to get rid of its greenhouse gases, we've got to have the nuclear power industry be vibrant and viable," he said.
Lucknow, India - Another 11 people have died from lightning strikes and heavy rains in India, officials have said, taking the death toll since the monsoon began lashing the country last month to 215.
"At least 11 people died of rain-related incidents in the past 24 hours. Two died due to house collapse while the rest died of lightning," government official Manish Awasthi told AFP in Lucknow, capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state.
At least 80 people have died in the state as annual summer monsoon rains tore through India earlier than usual.
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression...There is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
- William O. Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice from 1939 - 1975
The world has reached a tipping point, when a world leader can conduct the destruction of a Nation, to save his own arse, then we have reached the...