Bizarro Earth

Hurricane Irene Spotted From Space

Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene, the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, was seen from space today (Aug. 22) as it roared past Puerto Rico.

Irene formed as a tropical storm east of the Leeward Islands on Aug. 20. By early Aug. 22, the storm had strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Irene had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), with higher gusts. The storm was located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) west-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image at 11:20 a.m. local time (15:20 UTC) on Aug. 22. Storm clouds cover part of the Dominican Republic, and all of Puerto Rico.

As of Aug. 22, Irene had cut power to more than a million residents of Puerto Rico, according to ABC News. The Miami Herald reported that heavy rains had pushed at least five rivers over their banks on the island. Citing continuing rains, downed power lines, and potential landslides, the Puerto Rico governor urged residents to stay indoors.

Cloud Lightning

Heavy Rain Kills Seven, Wrecks Property in Niger

Niger flood
© AFP/File, Boureima HamaPeople protect their houses from flood water in 2010 in Niger
Heavy rain has killed seven people and done considerable damage to property in Niger, the government and radio stations said Friday.

"The toll is two dead in the Maradi region and two others in Tillaberi," according to an official statement read on national radio, while the private radio Anfani announced the further deaths of three children aged between eight and ten when their house collapsed in a village in Maradi.

In the southern Maradi province, floodwaters destroyed almost 600 homes, a mosque and three business establishments, the communique added.

Cloud Lightning

'If you're in south Florida, get ready': Official warning as Hurricane Irene hits Puerto Rico and has U.S. mainland in its sights

'If you're in south Florida, now is the time to get prepared,' the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency warned on Monday.

National Hurricane Centre spokesman Dennis Feltgen urged south Florida residents to monitor the storm carefully, to double check their supplies of food and fuel and to review their hurricane plans.

Forecasters say because of its track, the mountains of Hispaniola will probably do little to weaken the storm that is projected to hit the U.S. mainland on Thursday or Friday.

© Associated PressHeading inland: A national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image from 1.45am EDT shows patches of dense cloud from Tropical Storm Irene heading towards Puerto Rico
Irene is the first hurricane of the Atlantic storm season.

The heavily-populated south east Florida coast is in the direct line of numerous forecast cones.

However, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) stressed Irene's path still remains uncertain and it could make landfall anywhere from the Florida Keys to the Carolinas.

Cloud Lightning

New York, US: Violent Weather Damages Homes in Wayne and Cayuga Counties

© Susan McNamaraOfficials are investigating the possibility of a tornado touching down in Wayne County that caused damage to this house on Route 89.
Witnesses said a tornado blew through Wayne and Cayuga counties Sunday afternoon, cutting a crooked path through cornfields and woods and severely damaging the few homes in its way.

There were no reported serious injuries.

Fire officials said the tornado appeared to have traveled about five miles from South Butler, Wayne County, crossing Route 89 northeast to the town of Conquest in Cayuga County.

The National Weather Service has not officially classified the event as a tornado, but you can't convince Michael Dunn otherwise.

"I saw it. Oh yeah, it was a tornado," said Dunn, a volunteer with the South Butler Fire Department.

Dunn was in his yard working on his lawnmower when it suddenly became "pitch black - like someone turned the lights off. I could see the debris field around it," he said.

Then he turned and - dodging flying tree limbs - ran for the mobile home where he lives with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 8. He said he made them get in the bathtub and he stood in a doorway.

Bizarro Earth

Irene Strengthens into Hurricane as It Heads for Haiti

© AP PhotoIrene is now officially a hurricane
Tropical Storm Irene has turned into a hurricane - the first of the Atlantic hurricane season - over Puerto Rico.

Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people still live in tents after last year's earthquake, is in Irene's projected path, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

It is next set to hit the Dominican Republic, and may also hit Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas in the US.

Irene has maximum sustained winds of 75mph (120kmh), said the NHC.

That puts it just above the official strength of a hurricane. At 09:00 GMT it was centred about 25 miles (40km) west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving west-northwest at around 12mph.

Cloud Lightning

Storm Cuts Short Pope's Speech in Spain

Pope storm
© David Ramos/Getty ImagesBiblical: Lightning over the World Youth Day crowd.
Rain and lightning forces pope to skip bulk of speech to 1 million young pilgrims and disrupts Sunday's mass

A thunderstorm forced the pope to cut short his speech to an estimated 1 million young pilgrims gathered at a Madrid airfield to mark World Youth Day.

As rain soaked the crowd and lightning lit up the night sky on Saturday, the 84-year-old pontiff skipped the bulk of the speech and delivered brief greetings in half a dozen languages.

During the day, firefighters had sprayed the crowds with water, and pilgrims sought shade in the near 40C (104F) heat.

Bizarro Earth

US: Tropical Storm Irene Could Take Aim at Florida

© NOAAA map from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the probable course of tropical storm Irene.
Tropical Storm Irene whipped the northern Leeward Islands with rain and squalls on Sunday as it barreled west on a track through the Caribbean that looked set to threaten Florida.

Irene, the ninth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, was expected to pass Puerto Rico's southern coast early on Monday and then strengthen into a hurricane as it approached the Dominican Republic.

It would be the first hurricane of the so far busy, but to date not destructive, 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

At 8 a.m. EDT, Irene was packing winds of 50 miles per hour and was located about 35 miles west northwest of the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, moving into the northeastern Caribbean sea, the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center said.

Residents of Antigua reported rains, strong squalls and surf as the storm passed.

Bizarro Earth

Pennsylvania, US: Rain, Traffic, Land Contribute to Deadly Flood

© Tribune Review, Chris LangerRomy Connolly is lifted from a rescue boat by Pittsburgh emergency responders after being caught in a flash flood, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Pittsburgh.
The flash flooding that killed four people and forced others to swim to safety or climb onto car roofs was a freak accident caused by heavy rainfall that overwhelmed the sewer system just as rush-hour traffic clogged low-lying city streets, officials said Saturday.

A mother and her two daughters died in Friday's flood after becoming trapped in their vehicle and rising water pinned it to a tree. Another woman's body was washed into the Allegheny River, where she was found Saturday morning.

Back-to-back storms pounded the city with 3 to 4 inches of rain. The water drained rapidly onto Washington Boulevard, a main street near the Allegheny River on the city's east side, with a force too great for a pair of sewer pipes 9 feet in diameter. The torrent blew off 60-pound manhole covers.

"We had geysers here," said Raymond DeMichiei, deputy director of the city Office of Emergency Management.

"There's only so much any drainage system can handle," said Jim Struzzi, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. PennDOT maintains the roadway, but the city is responsible for the pipes underneath, part of aging sewer system.


Best of the Web: US: 2008 Record for billion-dollar weather disasters tied - frequency and cost of extreme weather are rising

© Nati Harnik / Associated PressA tractor sits in floodwater from the Missouri River in Plattsmouth, Neb., on Aug. 10.
With four months still to go in 2011, the United States has already tied its yearly record for the number of weather disasters with an economic loss of $1 billion or more, the U.S. government reported Wednesday.

With the bulk of the hurricane season ahead and winter storms after that, National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said 2011 could surpass the record, first set in 2008.

"I don't think it takes a wizard to predict 2011 is likely to go down as one of the more extreme years for weather in history," he told journalists on a conference call.

The "new reality" is that both the frequency and the cost of extreme weather are rising, making the nation more economically vulnerable and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk, Hayes said.

Cloud Lightning

St. Louis, Missouri, US Tornado: Man Films Tornado From Inside Airport

The tornado that ransacked St. Louis on Friday [22 Apr 2011] left Lambert airport struggling to get back on schedule (the airport is meant to be at 100% on Tuesday). A male passenger in the hardly hit C concourse was filming the surrounding lightning storm when the tornado hit.

Though he doesn't reveal where he was headed, the man was calmly filming the lightning (the video does reveal a few amazing views of lightning strikes) when people start screaming and running away from windows.

It's hard to imagine what a tornado that powerful was like to be near. But this man's unbelievable video--he keeps filming the entire time--offers a glimpse into what it must have been like.