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Posts Tagged ‘storms’

First Tropical Storm of the Season Kills Scores

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2010

More than 110,000 in Guatemala flee as first storm of season lashes region

May 31, 2010
AP

GUATEMALA CITY – Flooding and landslides from the season’s first tropical storm have killed at least 150 people and left thousands homeless in Central America, officials said Monday.

Dozens are still missing, thousands have lost homes and emergency crews are struggling to reach isolated communities cut off by washed-out roads and collapsed bridges caused by Tropical Storm Agatha.

Photo: The overflowing Choluteca River knocked out the Bailey bridge in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Orlando Sierra / AFP – Getty)

The sun emerged Monday in hardest-hit Guatemala, where officials reported 123 dead and at least 90 missing. In the department of Chimaltenango — a province west of Guatemala City — landslides buried dozens of rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people, Gov. Erick de Leon said.

“The department has collapsed,” de Leon said. “There are a lot of dead people. The roads are blocked. The shelters are overflowing. We need water, food, clothes, blankets — but above all, money.”

In the tiny village of Parajbei, a slide smothered three homes and killed 11 people.

“It was raining really hard and there was a huge noise,” said Vicente Azcaj, 56, who ran outside and saw that a hill had crumbled. “Now everyone is afraid that the same will happen to their homes.”

Volunteers from nearby villages worked nonstop since Sunday to recover the bodies in Parajbei, and on Monday they found the last two: brothers, 4 and 8 years old, who were buried under tons of dirt, rocks and trees.

As a thank-you, rescuers got a plate of rice and beans from the mayor of nearby Santa Apolonia.

“It’s a small thing, but it comes from the heart,” Tulio Nunez told them through a translator.

Nunez said he worried about the well-being of survivors in the area because the landslides blocked roads and burst water pipes.

“They don’t have anything to drink,” he said.

In all some 110,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.

Thousands more have fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 15 even as meteorologists predicted three more days of rain.

Two dams near the capital of Tegucigalpa overflowed into a nearby river, and officials warned people to stay away from swollen waterways.

“The risk is enormous,” Mayor Ricardo Alvarez said.

In El Salvador, at least 179 landslides have been reported and 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll was nine, President Mauricio Funes said.

About 95% of the country’s roads were affected by landslides, but most remain open, Transportation Minister Gerson Martinez said.

Photo: This home in Amatitilan, Guatemala, was among the thousands flooded on Sunday. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters)

The Lempa River, which flows to the Pacific, topped its banks and flooded at least 20 villages, affecting some 6,000 people, said Jorge Melendez, director of the Civil Protection Agency.

Officials warned that the Acelhuate River, which cuts through San Salvador, was running at dangerously high levels and threatened to spill over into the capital’s streets.

Agatha made landfall near the Guatemala-Mexico border Saturday as a tropical storm with winds up to 45 mph (75 kph). It dissipated the following day over the mountains of western Guatemala.

The rising death toll is reminding nervous residents of Hurricane Mitch, which hovered over Central America for days in 1998, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing and unaccounted for.

Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated by a volcanic eruption Thursday near the capital that blanketed parts of the area with ash and closed the country’s main airport. Officials are now allowing helicopters and propeller planes to take off, but commercial flights remain grounded.

From http://standeyo.com/NEWS/10_Earth_Changes/100601.TS.Agatha.html

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US predicts up to 7 major Atlantic hurricanes

Posted by Admin on May 29, 2010

By JENNIFER KAY | Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 4:59 pm

The Atlantic hurricane season could be the busiest since 2005, when Katrina and Rita caused massive destruction along the same part of the Gulf Coast now struggling with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, government scientists said Thursday.

The 2010 season may spawn as many as 23 named tropical storms, including up to seven major hurricanes, a number not likely to be affected by the spill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted.

Eight to 14 storms would strengthen into hurricanes, with top winds of 74 mph or higher, the agency said. Three to seven of those could become major storms that reach Category 3 or higher _ meaning they bring sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

“This season could be one of the more active on record,” NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a news release. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

A hurricane might help break up the oil spill staining the Gulf of Mexico, but the oil won’t affect significantly how tropical storms develop, forecasters said. They don’t know what kind of environmental hazards to expect, though there are fears that winds and waves could push the oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands.

Government scientists said Thursday that anywhere from 500,000 gallons to a million gallons a day has been leaking from the site where an oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people. BP PLC, which leased the rig and is responsible for the cleanup, and the Coast Guard previously had estimated the flow was about 210,000 gallons per day.

The expanding slick already has coated wildlife and marshes in Louisiana, but Lubchenco said the spill is still small relative to hurricanes _ which sometimes span the entire Gulf.

Although some oil could be pushed inland by a storm as it makes landfall, it could be difficult to determine whether it leaked from flooded cars or factories, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate said.

The 2010 government forecast is based on the weakening of El Nino. The Pacific Ocean phenomenon created strong wind shear that helped suppress storm development in the Atlantic last season. Record warm water temperatures also will feed storms crossing the Atlantic this year.

Three hurricanes developed out of nine tropical storms in 2009. None of the hurricanes came ashore in the United States. Hurricane Ida hit Nicaragua as a Category 1 storm in November.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist urged coastal residents to remember the destruction left in the wake of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Crist said at the annual Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale. “We don’t need to suffer from hurricane amnesia.”

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said Wednesday that his biggest concern for the season is a storm striking Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people have been living in makeshift camps since the Jan. 12 earthquake. Heavy rains can trigger serious flooding and mudslides in the mountainous Caribbean country, but no evacuation plans exist for displaced communities.

Tropical storms are named when their sustained winds reach 39 mph. The first named storm of the 2010 season will be Alex.

In April, Colorado State University researchers predicted 15 named storms would form this season, with four developing into major hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins Tuesday and runs through Nov. 30.

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Associated Press writer Suzette Laboy contributed to this report from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Online:

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center: http://www.hurricanes.gov

FEMA: http://www.fema.gov and http://www.ready.gov

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