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Cloud Lightning

Floods in Brazil Are a Result of Short-Term Planning

© V. Almeida/AFP/Getty Images
Rescue workers searching for victims after heavy rains in January 2011 caused mudslides in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil.
Urban planning has never been part of Brazil's political agenda, so when heavy rains come cities are not able to cope

As I write, more than two weeks after the floods began in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, many communities remain isolated due to landslides on the main access roads.

More than 800 people died and thousands of people have been displaced in the state, according to official figures. One of the worst affected towns is Santa Rita. Dozens of families still depend on helicopters to deliver food, water, and emergency healthcare. In the town of Teresópolis, people are starting to clear debris in the streets by hand, with shovels and brushes. And in Nova Friburgo, families watch, and cry, as their homes are demolished.

In the neighbouring state of São Paulo, the richest in the country, 25 people died because of the heavy rains. In Santa Catarina state, in the south, five people lost their lives and 17,000 had to flee their homes.

The January rains in Brazil are becoming more severe and floods are becoming a routine. But while specialists say it's too early to confirm the heavy rains are caused by climate change, the fact is that Brazilian cities have never been ready for them.

Cloud Lightning

No let-up in rains, floods in Caraga

© Unknown
Manila, Philippines - Floods due to non-stop rains still affect parts of the Caraga region in Mindanao, as another low pressure area threatens other areas of Mindanao with flash floods and landslides.

Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, OIC of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said that rain bands are still affecting parts of northeast Mindanao, Bohol, northern Cebu, and the southern parts of Leyte and Samar.

The rain bands are still expected to bring moderate to heavy rains in the area, with the weather station in Hinatuan, Surigao del Norte, recording more than 180 mm of rain in 24 hours, Yumul said.

Meanwhile, Yumul said the low pressure area east of General Santos City is predicted to proceed to the Palawan area, instead of going towards Southern Luzon or the National Capital Region.

He said numerical models indicated the LPA will be in the northern part of the island by Thursday, and will go out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Friday.


US cities paralysed by snow and ice

© Weather Central
US temperatures as of 1:20PM EST.
A massive storm billed as the worst in decades has left vast areas of the United States paralyzed by snow and ice.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded and airports and schools were forced to close.

Chicago received up to 17in of snow, with more still possible, and up to 18in fell on Missouri.

More than a foot dropped on northern Indiana and south-east Kansas, while Oklahoma saw similar snowfall. In the north east, parts of northern New York had a foot of snow, while New York City was covered in ice.

In Chicago, the city shut down Lake Shore Drive for the first time in years, and hundreds of motorists were stranded for 12 hours after multiple car accidents on the road.

Raymond Orozco, chief of staff to Chicago mayor Richard Daley, said efforts to rescue motorists were "severely hampered" by snow drifts, high winds and white-out conditions.


Chicago Blizzard of 2011

© John Gress, Reuters
Pedestrians cross State Street in Chicago February 1, 2011. A colossal winter storm stretching from New Mexico to Maine hit the middle of the United States on Tuesday with blizzards and freezing rain, and experts said the worst is still to come as it moves northeast.
We were warned. And Mother Nature did not disappoint.

The great blizzard of 2011 roared into Chicago with mighty force at around 3 p.m. and continues to pound the area.

The deluge of snow and wind knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers, blew out windows and delayed many commuters. Some are still trying to make their way home.

"Main city streets downtown leading to the expressways are now JAMMED," said reporter Dick Johnson, who braved the conditions en-route to a live report. "Seems not enough took the endless warnings and storm start time seriously."

Bizarro Earth

How Cyclone Yasi Compares Around the World

© News.com Australia
Date/Time: 2011:02:02 13:29:18
IF you're struggling to grasp the magnitude of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, consider this: it is so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe.

Most of the coverage about the scale of Yasi has tried to compare it with storms of the past - it's bigger than Larry, more powerful than Tracy.

But just as powerful is this comparison, showing this storm is continental in size. The main bloc of the cyclone is 500km wide, while its associated activity, shown above in a colour-coding to match intensity, stretches over 2000km.

The storm's scale of destruction is as shocking as it is inevitable. In the map above, the United States from Pennsylvania in the east to Nevada in the west, from Georgia in the south to Canada in the north and well into Mexico would be battered with 300km/h winds and up to one metre of rain.

The economic impact would be felt around the world.


Canada: Blizzard Warning Issued for Southwestern Ontario

© Weather Underground/Associated Press
This U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image taken Tuesday at 12:45 a.m. ET shows a storm system over Texas and the central U.S. The front is expected to hit southwestern Ontario Tuesday evening with heavy snow and high winds
Environment Canada has upgraded a warning about a snowstorm expected to hit Ontario late Tuesday, saying there will be blizzard conditions in certain areas of southwestern Ontario.

"This major winter storm is quite large in size and will have a major impact on travel, especially tonight and on Wednesday," Environment Canada said in a warning issued Tuesday.

It will be "the strongest storm of the season" for urbanized areas like Toronto that are outside the Ontario snowbelt.

The weather agency had upgraded a winter storm watch in southern Ontario, stretching from Windsor to Kingston, to a winter storm warning.

Environment Canada added the blizzard warning for London, St. Catharines, Sarnia and Hamilton just after 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

A warning is typically issued between six and 24 hours before the start of severe weather.

By the time the storm finishes Wednesday, large swaths of southern Ontario could have snowfall accumulations of between 20 and 30 centimetres, the agency predicted.

Heavy snow is expected to hit southwestern Ontario on Tuesday evening and the Toronto area around midnight. It is then predicted to move into eastern Ontario on Wednesday morning.

The snow will be accompanied by gusting winds of 50 to 70 km/h at their strongest, Environment Canada said. The high in Toronto is forecast to be - 5 C on Wednesday, and the low will dip to - 9 C.

Plenty of people in Toronto were dashing out to stores on Tuesday to stock up on storm supplies.

Fraser Perkin was doing a brisk trade in salt and shovels at the Home Hardware location he manages at Highway 7 and Woodbine Avenue in Markham, Ont., Tuesday afternoon.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Cyclone Yasi
© Earth Observatory, NASA
Tropical cyclone Yasi, acquired February 1, 2011.
On February 1, 2011, Tropical Cyclone Yasi continued on its path toward Queensland, Australia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image at 10:00 a.m. Queensland time (00:00 Universal Time) on February 1. The storm extends over the Solomon Islands and grazes Papua New Guinea. Part of the Queensland coast appears in the lower left corner.

At 1:00 a.m. Queensland time on February 2, the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reported that Yasi was roughly 450 nautical miles (835 kilometers) east-northeast of Cairns, Australia. Sporting a well-defined eye, Yasi had maximum sustained winds of 120 knots (220 kilometers per hour) and gusts up to 145 knots (270 kilometers per hour). True to earlier forecasts, favorable conditions led the storm to intensify rapidly over the Pacific Ocean.


U.S. Colossal storm roars through nation's heartland

© Associated Press/L.G. Patterson
Chris Gubbels walks his dog, Frank, in the snow in Columbia, Mo.
Chicago - A winter weather colossus roared into the nation's heartland Tuesday, laying down a paralyzing punch of dangerous ice and whiteout snow that served notice from Texas to Maine that the storm billed as the worst in decades could live up to the hype.

Ice-covered streets were deserted in Super Bowl host city Dallas. Whiteouts shut down Oklahoma City and Tulsa. And more was on the way. Chicago expected 2 feet of snow, Indianapolis an inch of ice, and the Northeast still more ice and snow in what's shaping up to be a record winter for the region.

The system that stretched more than 2,000 miles across a third of the country promised to leave in its aftermath a chilly cloak of teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the single digits or lower.

Winds topped 60 mph in Texas. The newspaper in Tulsa, Okla., canceled its print edition for the first time in more than a century. In Chicago, public schools called a snow day for the first time in 12 years, and both major airports gave up on flying until at least Wednesday afternoon.

Cloud Lightning

Monster Storm Bears Down On Australia, Hits Category 5


Tropical cyclone Yasi seen off the coast of Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi was upgraded to category five off north Queensland this morning as the weather bureau warned it was likely to be "more life-threatening" than any storm seen in Australia in living memory.

The weather bureau says Cyclone Yasi is a large and very powerful tropical cyclone and poses an "extremely serious threat" to life and property within the warning area, especially between Port Douglas and Townsville.

"This impact is likely to be more life-threatening than any experienced during recent generations," the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said this morning.

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes ahead of the monster storm, which is expected to hit the coast between Cairns and Innisfail some time tonight.

This morning it was estimated to be 650 kilometres east north-east of Cairns and 650 kilometres north-east of Townsville, moving west south-west at 30 kilometres per hour.

"There's still potential for it to become stronger ... as a strong category five we could see wind gusts in excess of 320 kilometres an hour (200mph). Which is just horrific."

Cloud Lightning

NASA Satellites Capture Data on 2000 Mile-Wide Monster Winter Storm Affecting 30 States

NASA Video of Storm on 1 Feb 2011
Massive winter storm over N. America, February 1, 2011
One of the largest winter storms since the 1950s is affecting 30 U.S. states today with snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. NASA satellites have gathering data on the storm that stretches from Texas and the Rockies to the New England states.

NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites have been providing visible, infrared and microwave looks at the storm system's clouds, precipitation, temperatures and extent.