Saturday, December 17, 2011

DELUGE & GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Heavy Rains, Widespread Flooding and Major Landslides Ravage Northern Colombia - 11 People Have Been Killed!

At least 11 people have died and four others reported missing after heavy rains inundated rivers and caused major landslides in Colombia.

Rescue workers recovered nine bodies, including four youths, after a landslide covered two houses in the north-central department of Caldas, approximately 200 miles from the capital city Bogota, Colombia, AFP reported.

In northern Magdalena, two people were killed and four others are reported missing after an overflowing river swamped two houses and destroyed a bridge.

September marks the beginning of the rainy-season in Colombia, which has so far seen a wave of fatalities, with a total of 159 dead, and more than 878,000 people being affected by the rains.

The country's President Juan Manual Santos recently ordered the government to focus on getting basic humanitarian relief to those affected by the seasonal floods. - Press.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Over 200 People Have Been Killed After Tropical Storm Washi Pummels and Ravages the Philippines - Scores Missing in the Southern Regions! UPDATE: Death Toll Approaches 500 People!

More than 200 people have been killed in widespread flooding in the southern Philippines, as tropical storm Washi raked across the region, the Philippine Red Cross said.

Cagayan de Oro city councillor Alvin Bacal said 107 people had died in his city alone in the flooding. Mayor Lawrence Cruz of nearby Iligan city said 79 bodies were recovered there after more than 12 hours of continuous rain from Tropical Storm Washi swelled a river and sent muddy floodwaters cascading down from nearby mountains. About 150 people were missing after the storm swept through the Philippines' Mindanao region from Friday night into early Saturday, Cruz said. Disaster officers said three people drowned in Zamboanga del Norte province, west of the two cities. Teddy Sabuga-a, a disaster officer in Misamis Oriental province, said 60 people were rescued in waters off El Salvador city, about 6 miles northwest of Cagayan de Oro, after they were swept to the sea by a raging river, and about 120 more were rescued off Opol township, closer to the city. He said an island in the middle of the Cagayan de Oro river was inundated, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or people missing. Cruz said the coast guard and other rescuers were scouring the waters off his coastal city for survivors or bodies that may have been swept to the sea by a swollen river. The floodwaters were waist-high in some neighborhoods that do not usually experience flooding. Scores of residents escaped the floods by climbing onto the roofs of their homes, Cruz said.

Those missing included prominent radio broadcaster Enie Alsonado, who was swept away while trying to save his neighbors, Cruz said. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro said that about 20,000 residents of the city had been affected and that evacuees were packed in temporary shelters. Television footage showed muddy water rushing in the streets, sweeping away all sorts of debris. Thick layers of mud coated streets where the waters had subsided. One car was shown to have been carried over a concrete fence. The chief of the national disaster agency, Benito Ramos, said that officials were still getting reports from the field and that the number of casualties would likely rise. "Massive flooding had been reported over the region, especially in Iligan city and Cagayan de Oro city," Ramos said, adding that tens of thousands of people sought shelter on high ground. Strong winds toppled trees onto the rain-saturated ground in Polanco township in Zamboanga del Norte province. An 80-year-old woman drowned after being trapped in the first floor of her flooded home. A 30-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy also drowned, said provincial disaster officer Dennis Tenorio. Washi, the 19th storm to hit the Philippines this year, came ashore in eastern Mindanao and blanketed the region with thick rain clouds 250 miles in diameter. It quickly cut across the region overnight and was over the Sulu Sea by midmorning Saturday, packing maximum winds of 47 miles per hour and gusts of up to 56 mph. It is expected to blow out of the country late Sunday, forecaster Raymond Ordinario said. Back-to-back typhoons in September left more than 100 people dead in the northern Philippines. - USA Today.
WATCH: Philippines storm triggers deadly floods.

WATCH: Washi ravages Philippines.

WATCH: Tracking Tropical Storm Washi.

UPDATE: Death Toll Approaches 500 People!
Flash floods triggered by a tropical storm in the southern Philippines have killed more than 430 people and left many more missing, officials say. Many of the victims were asleep when it struck Mindanao island, hitting the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Tens of thousands of people have fled to higher ground, the authorities say. Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster rescue agency, said reports were still coming in and the casualty figures could rise. Mr Ramos said the floodwaters had risen alarmingly fast overnight as people slept. "Massive flooding had been reported over the region, especially in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City," he said. Rivers burst their banks after 25mm of rain fell in 24 hours. The Philippine National Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said at least 430 people had been killed. She said 215 people had been killed in Cagayan de Oro and 144 in Iligan. Large areas were left without power and some domestic flights were cancelled as winds of up to 90 km/h (55mph) swept across the island. A landslide killed at least five people in the east of the island, the national disaster agency said. A military spokesman, Colonel Leopoldo Galon, said an entire army division - some 10,000 soldiers - was involved in the rescue efforts around Cagayan de Oro. Forecasters said the eye of Tropical Storm Washi had passed close to Dipolog City, west of Iligan City, early on Saturday and it was now heading out into the Sulu Sea. - BBC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm in Puerto Rico - Strong Earthquakes Strike Region Within Minutes of Each Other!

According to the Associated Press, two strong earthquakes struck Puerto Rico within minutes of each other early today. The quakes, with magnitudes of 5.1 and 5.3 respectively, occurred three minutes apart just after 2 a.m. AST in the Mona Passage, just to the west of the island. A smaller aftershock was reported a few minutes later, and all were felt in the capital, San Juan.

The 5.1 quake was recorded at a depth of 14 kilometers. The quake hit at 06:06:12 UTC, with an epicentre at 20 km (12 miles) southwest of Stella. While the 5.3 quake occurred at a depth of 17 kilometers, hitting at 06:09:09 UTC, with an epicentre at 21 km (13 miles) southwest of Stella.

No tsunami alert was issued. Some residents in the island's southwest region reported power outages as well as broken items around the house. No injuries have been reported. There were no immediate reports of damage in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

WEATHER ANOMALIES - Extreme Weather - Hail Storm Ravages Brazil, Destroying Several Acres of Farms and Crops!

A hailstorm last night affected several farms in southern Brazil. In the major grapevine region of Brazil, about 80% of the crop was lost in 20 minutes of hail. Fruit farms were also affected, losing the whole production of peach and other seasonal fruits.

Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina states are also the bigger tobacco producers in Brazil, and were hardly damaged. Growers from an important region had done two harvests so far, and more 4 – 5 was up to start in the next following days, but was totally damaged by the hail. Some soybean and corn crops were also damaged in the west of Santa Catarina state, and north of RS. Those are not such expressive areas, but these regions are also suffering with drought. - Agweb.
The 25 acres of a crop of corn were completely lost. Heavy rain accompanied by wind and hail destroyed the plantation Luiz Cenci. According to the farmer, this is the first time that the property in D'Herval west, Santa Catarina , is hit by a storm so strong. Losses can spend the $60 thousand. It is estimated that at least seven communities in the municipality have registered losses and more than 100 properties have been achieved. The city declared an emergency and now tries to help farmers. Hail also destroyed crops in other municipalities. Only in Campos Novos, more than six thousand hectares have been damaged, damage that exceeds $ 12 million. Among the most affected crops are soybeans. In Leonir Severe property, 35 acres of the plant were destroyed. They were at the flowering stage, now, the farmer must invest in planting other crops to try to recover losses. If you choose again for soy, he estimates a drop in production of more than 30%. - Globo [Translated].
In Bento Gonçalves, the region of Serra do Rio Grande do Sul , the hailstorm lasted only 10 minutes, long enough to damage the peaches that were ready for harvest. In Flores da Cunha, the ice that formed in the ground seemed to snow. The striking image in the vineyards. The rain made the morning much ice accumulated. In nearly 15 inches of ice you can see the size of the damage. The grape was the final stage of maturation, but after the hail, there was nothing left. In property Gilmar Galiotto 150 tons of grapes were lost. "We worked all year with such dedication and in 20 minutes everything was lost." According to the data Emater technicians, about 80% of the vineyards were hit by hail total loss. In the Sierra de Venancio Aires, in Vale do Rio Pardo, the intensity of the storm of hail was so much smoke that whole crops have been devastated. Milton Renz did not expect to finish 2011 with losses. In all, he would seven crops this season, but only two were possible to accomplish. The 48 000 feet of tobacco were destroyed by ice. In another area, planted later, the producer Rudi Reckziegel to anticipated harvest because the drought was causing damage, only that he hoped the rain would be accompanied by hail. - Globo [Translated].

ICE AGE NOW: BIG FREEZE - Black Ice Menace Warnings in the United Kingdom, Massive Power Outages as Monster Storm Batters Europe, Beaches Huge Cargo Ship, and Blizzards Rip Through China!

Christmas shoppers are being warned of black ice making driving treacherous for the whole weekend as the big freeze takes hold.

Temperatures are forecast to remain below zero across much of the country in what is expected to be the coldest snap of the winter so far. The Met Office issued an ice warning until Monday and predicted wintry showers on what is traditionally the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day of the year. The country woke up to a frosty morning, after snow fell across large swathes of Britain yesterday, with up to three inches in some areas. The weekend is expected to be brighter but bitterly cold, with widespread frost and snow showers expected in westernmost parts of Britain, the north of Scotland and east England coasts. The North may go as low as -6c today, with -1c expected in the south of England and Wales. And in the country's first truly wintry weekend, tomorrow is expected to bring snowy showers in western areas and across the far north of Scotland. Elsewhere, it will be cold with sunny spells, but a scattering of wintry showers will move south-eastwards across the Midlands and southern England through the morning, with a possibility of a few showers clipping North Sea coasts.

Clare Allen, of Meteogroup, said: 'We've been experiencing snow mainly over higher ground, in Wales, Scotland, the Pennines, the Lake District, but it's wet and sleety snow so is not settling," she said. 'The rest of the country is expected to remain very cold with widespread frosts and everywhere below zero, apart from the South West. 'There will be some more wintry showers, mainly in the north and west, with hail, sleet and snow expected in Scotland and northern England.' The Highways Agency said it has 500 winter vehicles on standby, and enough salt to deal with severe conditions. Cumbria Police yesterday said they were called to a number of incidents on the A595 at Moota where motorists slid off the road. A spokesman said drivers should check the forecast and leave extra time for their journeys if necessary. He added: ‘They are also advised to carry warm clothing and an emergency pack, which includes food and water, boots, de-icer, a torch, and a shovel in case of snow.’ Met Office forecaster Sarah Holland said: ‘Temperatures will be below freezing in many parts, especially on Saturday night, with frosty mornings.

‘Only South-West England will be a little milder, with temperatures hovering above freezing overnight. ‘The main risk is now on the widespread ice warnings, with the chance of wintry showers adding to that risk. If people are heading out, they need to be aware of the possibility of ice and take extra care.’ There were over two inches of snow in Glasgow yesterday and half an inch fell in Essex and Buckinghamshire. There were flurries across the West Midlands, mid-Wales and Shropshire. Elsewhere there were heavy downpours as more than one-and-a-half inches of rain hit parts of the South and 70mph winds battered coastlines, whipping up huge waves. The Environment Agency had 34 flood warnings in place, mainly in the South, Midlands and North-West. In London and the South East the day started off damp and miserable but by 8am rain had already turned to a light snow, although it failed to lie in the capital. A low pressure system has helped push the white stuff towards the South East and as far as Kent mixed with high winds and gales. - Daily Mail.
A storm has battered northwestern France, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, disrupting rail traffic and grounding a ship that spilled oil off the coast of Brittany.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or significant damage as storm Joachim moved further inland to Switzerland and Germany. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said France had escaped largely unscathed from the storm. 'It seems there have been no victims,' he said, adding that 'a certain number' of people living in low-lying areas in Brittany had been evacuated because of the storm. Officials said 400,000 homes had lost electricity, mainly in the west of the country. By mid-day, the number of homes without electricity had fallen to 330,000 as workers scrambled to restore electricity infrastructure. The storm had been battering the area since Thursday night, with gusts of wind of up to 133 km/h and waves up to seven metres high. The storm caused a cargo ship, the TK Bremen flying the Maltese flag, to run aground and spill some oil into the sea off Brittany early on Friday, officials said.

'The level of pollution is limited,' said local maritime official Marc Gander, adding that regional authorities were deploying equipment to try and contain the slick and to empty the ship of its 180 tons of fuel and 40 tons of diesel. All 19 members of the ship's crew were evacuated by helicopter. Local prosecutors in Brest said they had opened an investigation into the spill. Train traffic was disrupted, with more than 15 trains cancelled in central France and significant delays, the French rail authority said. The storm had little effect on international flights but the strong winds did force some tourist sites to close, including the park at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris and the famed Christmas market in Strasbourg. The storm was moving its way inland on Friday, with Swiss authorities reporting it caused a train to derail in Switzerland, lightly injuring three people. 'Friday morning a train derailed in the forest near Tramelan,' in the northwest of the mountainous country, police said in a statement. - News Australia.
WATCH: Massive storm batters Europe.

Severe frost and icy patches are expected in Ireland this weekend as the current cold spell continues, with sub-zero temperatures expected at night, according to Met Eireann.
Ireland will continue to shiver over the weekend with low temperatures and wintery showers becoming more widespread. Met Eireann today issued a a warning about widespread ice on untreated roads and footpaths around the country. Freezing fog is also forecast – especially in the midlands – and AA Roadwatch today urged motorists to slow down. Parts of the country woke up to snow and heavy rain today in the latest of the bad weather in the run up to Christmas. Met Eireann said tonight would be cold with frost in many areas with icy patches. There will be wintry showers of rain, hail and sleet in most places tomorrow, some heavy and possibly thundery. Many roads will be very icy throughout the night.

Irish Water Safety warned the public about the dangers from floodwaters and the possibility of drowning accidents. Another Atlantic depression was due to approach Ireland this weekend bringing more torrential rain. But the good news from Met Eireann is that the mercury may rise slightly next week. "At the moment it looks like the early days of next week will become milder," the weather service said. Repair crews were working round-the-clock last night to tackle severe damage caused to the phone grid by the Arctic storms. The Society of St Vincent de Paul yesterday appealed to people to check on their elderly neighbours during the freezing conditions. - Independent.
WATCH: BBC Weather Forecast.

Meanwhile, a heavy blizzard stranded passengers in Xinjiang in China.
A heavy blizzard hit Maytas fetch, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Thursday night, trapping 27 vehicles and stranding 135 passengers, the local road bureau said. The blizzard blocked the road as of 7:20 p.m., and visibility in the fetch was less than 2 meters, causing difficulty for traffic. On receiving emergency calls,the Maytas rescue base has sent snowmobiles, snowploughs and other emergency rescue vehicles for help,according to a watch-keeper at the base. After two and a half hours of rescue efforts, all the stranded passengers and vehicles are now safe. But the road section of Maytas is still closed for safety reasons. - People Daily.

EXTREME WEATHER: Texas Drought Takes Cow Numbers Down by 600,000 - Extreme Drought Conditions in Texas Moving North?

The worst drought in Texas' history has led to the largest-ever one-year decline in the leading cattle-state's cow herd, raising the likelihood of increased beef prices as the number of animals decline and demand remains strong.

Since Jan. 1, the number of cows in Texas has dropped by about 600,000, a 12 percent decline from the roughly 5 million cows the state had at the beginning of the year, said David Anderson, who monitors beef markets for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. That's likely the largest drop in the number of cows any state has ever seen, though Texas had a larger percentage decline from 1934 to 1935, when ranchers were reeling from the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, Anderson said. Anderson said many cows were moved "somewhere there's grass," but lots of others were slaughtered. He said that in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas, about 200,000 more cattle were slaughtered this year, a 20 percent increase over last year. That extra supply could help meet increased demand from China and other countries, but the loss of cows likely will mean fewer cattle in future years. "Consumers are going to pay more because we're going to have less beef," Anderson said. "Fewer cows, calves, less beef production and increasing exports."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that beef prices will increase up to 5.5 in 2012, in part because the number of cattle has declined. That follows a 9 percent increase in beef prices in the past year. Oklahoma, the nation's second-largest cattle producer, also saw about a 12 percent drop in cows, Oklahoma State University agriculture economist Derrell Peel said. Anderson said beef production nationally will be down 4 percent next year. In Texas, the problem is primarily due to the worst single-year drought in the state's history. From January through November the state got just 46 percent of its normal rainfall of about 26 inches. The drought was the result of a La Nina weather pattern, which brings drier than normal conditions to the southwestern states. Forecasters have said La Nina is back, meaning another dry year for Texas, Oklahoma and other nearby states. The lack of rain coupled with blistering summer heat caused pastures to wither, leaving rancher with the choice of buying feed for the cattle or selling them. Betsy Ross, a 75-year-old rancher from the small central Texas community of Granger, said she sold all but 80 of the 225 grass-fed animals she had in January. With feed costs up 40 percent and her pasture parched, Ross said she didn't have any other option. "It's not a profitable year, heavens no," she said. "If you can't keep them on grass when they're grass fed you're not going to make any money." - Deseret News.
State and government officials got together today to talk drought. A bad word in this part of the country--nevertheless, it's mitigation is essential to our way of life. Today climatologists warn, our way of life could be under threat sooner than most think. While forecast models paint a not so bad picture for next spring's ag producers, scientists are keeping a close eye on Texas.

So far, the state's worst drought in history has caused over five billion dollars in damage to Texas' agriculture industry and has dried up forty percent of it's reservoirs and just the existence of such a large drought could cause it to spread here. "We will definitely need to be aware as the source region for the precipitation is to the South, so if the air's going over a dried out environment it means less precipitation for us," said Brian Fuchs with the National Drought Mitigation Center. And if the drought does begin to migrate it may not just stop in Southern Nebraska. Climatologists think if the extreme drought in Texas, and now Oklahoma, does begin to migrate North it could spread all the way into the Dakotas. - NTV.

DELUGE: Prevailing and Unstable Weather - Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast Under "Yellow" Alert Due To Rains And Swollen Rivers!

The swelling of the river waters, flooding of many areas and continuing rains in Costa Rica's Caribbean coast has led the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias (CNE) to declare a "yellow" alert for the canton de Sarapiquí.

According to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN) - national weather service - the instability in the weather will prevail in the area for the remainder of this week, hitting hard the Caribbean and Northern zone and to a lesser extent the rest of the country. The Northern Zone is under a "green" alert.

So far, the town of Sarapiquí, north of Limón, has been affected the most with flooding, while the rest of the Caribbean coast to Panama is under constant surveillance by members of municipal emergency committees. In Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí (in the province of Heredia, not to be confused with Puerto Viejo in the southern part of the province of Limón) at least 450 people of the more than 1.100 that are in shelters due to the swollen rivers, rain and cold. - Inside Costa Rica.