Cloud Lightning

Indonesia: Wild Weather Destroys Homes In 2 Provinces

Extreme weather in two provinces has damaged hundreds of houses and left scores homeless, officials said on Thursday.

On the East Nusa Tenggara island of Flores on Wednesday, high waves that reached as far as 100 meters inland swept away at least 18 houses in Sikka district's Nangahale village, said Fransiska Palan Bolen, secretary of the province's Natural Disaster Management Agency (BNPD).

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Fransiska said the affected villagers had been evacuated to emergency camps and that her office had sent personnel, supplies and food to help the victims.


New Englanders Dig Out After Snowstorm

New England Blizzard January 2010
© Jessica Hill/Associated PressRoy Williams of Westfield, Massachusetts, shovels snow from in front of his car on a ramp to Interstate 91 south during a winter storm in Windsor, Connecticut, on Wednesday.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick lifted a state of emergency Thursday, one day after blizzard conditions pounded his state and created hazardous travel conditions across New England.

Hundreds of schools remained closed in Massachusetts as crews continued to clear snow and to salt icy roadways, according to state Emergency Management spokesman Peter Judge.

The state's 250 National Guardsmen -- who were mobilized as a precautionary measure on Wednesday -- were relieved from duty by Thursday morning, Judge said.

Delta Air Lines canceled more than 200 Delta and Delta Connection flights in an effort to minimize delays, the airline said. It had canceled 1,300 flights Wednesday because of the storm.

Amtrak, which had suspended rail service between New York City and points north, resumed full service by Thursday morning, according to Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole.

Cloud Lightning

Brazil Flood Death Toll Rises to 443, More Feared

Brazil flood/truck in water
© Reuters/Bruno DomingosA partially submerged vehicle is seen after a landslide in Teresopolis, Jan 13, 2011.
Rescue workers dug desperately for survivors on Thursday and struggled to reach areas cut off by floods and landslides that have killed at least 443 people in one of Brazil's deadliest natural disasters in decades.

Torrents of mud and water set off by heavy rains left a trail of destruction through the mountainous Serrana region near the city of Rio de Janeiro, toppling houses, buckling roads and burying entire families as they slept.

"It's like an earthquake struck some areas," said Jorge Mario, the mayor of Teresopolis, where 185 people were killed and scores more were feared dead.

"The death toll is going to climb a lot. There are a lot of people buried who can't get help because rescue teams can't get there," Mario said, adding that three of the town's neighborhoods were destroyed by the flooding.

The mudslides swept away the homes of rich and poor alike in and around Teresopolis and other towns, likely causing billions of dollars in damage. But the brunt of the disaster was borne by poorer rural residents in houses built in risky areas without formal planning permission.

The floods have not affected Brazil's main export crops -- soy, sugar cane, oranges and coffee -- although they could push up local food prices further as the small Serrana region is an important producer of fruit and vegetables for the Rio metropolitan area.

Television images showed rescuers trying to haul residents from raging floodwaters, and going through the ruins of homes in search of survivors, often finding only corpses. One success came when a 6-month-old baby was rescued alive from the rubble of a house, drawing thunderous cheers from residents.

Bizarro Earth

New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands on Red Alert for Cyclone Vania

Cyclone Vania
© Storm2k.orgCyclone Vania lashed southern Vanuatu and moved on the Loyalty Islands.
French authorities in New Caledonia today flagged a red alert for the French Pacific territory's north-eastern Loyalty slands group, due to the ominous approach by tropical cyclone Vania, which has overnight lashed at neighbouring Vanuatu's southern islands.

The red alert, which is a maximum level on a scale of three (yellow, orange, red) was due to come into force at 3 pm local time (GMT+11), the French High Commission in Nouméa said in a release.

The red alert effectively means that people should stay indoors until further notice and continue to monitor cyclone-related advice on local media.

A previous orange alert had been imposed on the Loyalty Islands, on Wednesday, prompting the population to store goods and essential items such as batteries, water and food.

Bizarro Earth

Update: Torrential Rain, Mudslides in Brazil Kill 239

Brazil Floods
© Roberto Ferreira/APCars sit in debris in a flooded street in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Wednesday Jan. 12, 2011. Torrential summer rains tore through Rio de Janeiro state's mountains, killing at least 140 people in 24 hours, Brazilian officials said Wednesday.
Summer rains sent tons of red mud and torrents of water rushing down mountainsides in towns outside Rio de Janeiro, enveloping the homes of rich and poor alike and killing at least 239 people in 24 hours. Some survivors clung to trees to escape the water and landslides.

Rescuers used heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands to dig through debris in a search for survivors Wednesday. It was not immediately clear how many people were rescued. At least 50 remained missing, and officials feared that figure would rise.

In Teresopolis, a town 65 kilometres north of Rio, the rain overflowed creeks and flash floods swept over already water-logged mountainsides. Brick and wooden shacks built on hillsides stripped of trees were washed away in surging earth and water, leaving behind only a long trail of rusty red mud.

Heavy rains and mudslides kill hundreds of people across Brazil each year. Especially punished are the poor, whose rickety homes are often built on steep inclines with little in the way of foundations.

At least 114 people died in Teresopolis, the local Civil Defence agency said. The mountains saw 26 centimetres of rain fall in less than 24 hours.


US: Winter Storm That Shut Down the South Turns North

© AP –A pedestrian walks down Spring Street in Atlanta Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011.
The snow-and-ice storm that has shut down much of the South slowly rolled toward the Northeast on Tuesday, revealing a regional culture clash along the way.

Southerners seemed resigned to waiting out winter headaches such as slick roads and paralyzed airports. But people from Ohio to New York, who face up to a foot of snow in their third blast of winter in as many weeks, were already putting pressure on state and local governments to spare them from travel tangles and snow-choked roads.

Across the South, communities remained encrusted in ice and snow for a second straight day. Road crews fared little better than in the storm's opening hours, owing mostly to their lack of winter equipment. Frustrated motorists sat idle on slippery pavement or moved at a creep. Millions of people just stayed home.

In Atlanta, which had only 10 pieces of snow equipment when the storm hit, officials planned to bring in nearly 50 more pieces - the most resources marshaled for a storm in a decade. Mayor Kasim Reed said backup supplies of salt and sand were on the way, too.

Mail delivery was restricted to just a few places because postal employees could not get to work. Many schools and other institutions planned to stay closed Wednesday out of caution. The storm has been blamed for 11 deaths and many more injuries.

Despite the inconvenience, Southerners confronted the aftermath with patience - and a certain amount of wonder.

Comment: may NOT be a "once in a decade event". For more information on the changing climate, see this SOTT Focus article


US: Blizzard Hits Southern New England

© Photo by Rick MacomberA bus stop in the snow Wednesday afternoon at Copley Square
A very powerful nor'easter produced treacherous conditions across all of southern New England Wednesday.

Heavy, wet, pasty snow poured over eastern Massachusetts, stuck to everything and caused thousands of power outages.

Several reports of thunder and lightning came into the weather office before sunrise, as intense bands of snowfall rotated onshore.

The snow was a bit lighter and fluffier well inland, so it was a bit easier to move and shovel out in Worcester County.

Across the extreme South Shore and Cape and Islands, the snow is mixing with sleet and rain at times making for a big mess.

Time Frame

The heaviest snow, 1-to-3 inches per hour, continued through midday.

Steady moderate snow will fall for most of this afternoon and then becoming lighter by this evening.

Cloud Precipitation

Torrential rain, mudslides in Brazil kill 140

© Paulo Cezar / AP People stand by the bodies of mudslide victims after heavy rain in the neighborhood of Caleme in Teresopolis, Brazil on Wednesday
Torrential summer rains tore through Rio de Janeiro state's mountains, killing at least 140 people in 24 hours, Brazilian officials said Wednesday. Rescuers using heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands struggled to dig through tons of mud and debris in a search for survivors.

In Teresopolis, a town 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Rio, flash floods tossed cars into trees and mudslides poured tons of red earth over houses below. At least 114 died, according to a local Civil Defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information. She added that 10 inches (26 centimeters) of rain fell on the town during 24 hours.

Survivors waded through waist-high water, carrying what belongings they could, trying to reach higher ground. Flood water continued to flow down the mountains, though rains had stopped.

"I've lived here 25 years and I've never seen anything like it," Teresopolis citizen Manoel Rocha Sobrinho told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. "I live on high ground and when I looked below, I only saw a sea of mud. Most people saved themselves by climbing trees."

Cloud Precipitation

Non-Stop Rains Damage 2,929 Hectares of Rice Fields in Albay

© AllVocies
Manila, Philippines - Some 2,929 hectares of rice farmlands were damaged by the continuous rains in Albay, the Department of Agriculture said in a report on Tuesday.

The damaged rice areas are 12 municipalities in the province of Albay that have been flooded due to the heavy rains that have been battering the region, according to Marilyn V. Sta Calataina, the DA Bicol regional technical director who has placed production loss at about P13.37 million.

Majority of the affected rice crops were either newly planted or in their vegetative stage as the cropping season has just started, Catalina said.

Of the 2,929 affected areas, 85.8 percent or 2,516 hectares were considered to "have a chance of recovery" and only 413 hectares were destroyed, with no chance of recovery.

The areas greatly affected by the flooding are: Tabaco City with over 932 hectares; Legaspi City with over 592 hectares and Malinao with over 420 hectares.

Cloud Lightning

Flash Floods Alert - Tasmania

flipped care
© Ross MarsdenA car flipped on the Midland Hwy at Perth in slippery conditions.
The weather bureau yesterday renewed warnings about heavy rain and flash flooding in the north and northeast today and tomorrow.

Bureau of Meteorology Media and Community Relations manager Malcolm Riley said computer models were suggesting that several hundred millimetres of rain could fall between Tuesday midnight and Friday midnight.

"Heavy falls are expected about the north and northeast where there is the possibility of flash flooding ," Mr Riley said.

"Northern rivers could reach at least moderate flood level.

The warnings come as police warned motorists to drive with caution in the extreme weather.

A car flipped on its roof in slippery conditions on the Midland Hwy near Perth yesterday and the driver was lucky to escape without serious injuries.