DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- More than 2,000 travelers were stranded at Red Cross shelters in the Colorado high country Monday as a threat of avalanches closed a stretch of Interstate 70 west of Denver.
Deep snow drifted into more than two dozen narrow ravines in the mountainsides -- known as avalanche chutes -- raising the danger of potentially deadly snow slides cascading onto I-70.
High winds and blowing snow forced the state to close the highway overnight. There was no word on when the busy thoroughfare through the mountains would reopen.
"I can't even venture a guess right now," Rod Mead, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Monday.
Crews used low-power explosives Monday morning trying to bring the snow down while the highway was closed, Mead said.
In addition to the avalanche threat, snow blown by wind gusting to 65 mph reduced visibility to nearly zero. P.J. Bailey left Breckenridge to head home on I-70 to Denver about 1 p.m. Sunday, but by nearly four hours later she was no farther than Georgetown, about 35 miles from Breckenridge.
"I was told it would get better, but a mile east of Georgetown, there were whiteout conditions. You couldn't even see the front of your car," said Bailey, 24.
She made her way back to Georgetown for the night.
"You should see this town. There's people stopped everywhere," she said.
Red Cross spokeswoman Melinda Epp said the agency opened seven shelters in schools and recreation centers and most of the 2,000-plus travelers who used them during the night were still there Monday morning.
Westbound I-70, the main route between Denver and many of the state's major ski resorts, was closed from 10 miles west of Denver to Vail, a distance of about 75 miles. Eastbound lanes were closed from Vail to Georgetown, about 60 miles.
The highway department also closed several other highways around the state Sunday as snow blown by wind gusting to 65 mph reduced visibility to near zero. U.S. 40 over Berthoud Pass, U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass and U.S. 550 over Red Mountain Pass all remained closed Monday.
Steamboat Ski Resort reported 17 inches of fresh snow Sunday.
Wrap up warm, the January shivers are on their way.
By the end of the week temperatures in many places will be below zero and large areas will be covered in a blanket of snow, forecasters warned yesterday.
Robin Downton, of the Met Office, said: "The weather is going to turn really cold during Wednesday and by Thursday it will feel jolly cold throughout the whole of the country apart from the very far West and South West.
"There could well be snow in the East and North of England and eastern Scotland. There is a significant risk of a covering of snow.
"Thursday daytime temperatures will only be a degree or so above zero and it could be just below zero overnight.
"Going into Thursday and Friday, there could be snow in areas further west, including the Midlands, on higher ground."
Revellers heading out to see in the New Year tonight will enjoy mostly dry weather in England and Wales but those in central and southern Scotland and Northern Ireland can expect rain, he added.
The bleak predictions came as it emerged that, with December almost over, it is now certain that 2007 will have been Britain's second hottest year of all time.
The average temperature of 49.3F was only a fraction lower than last year's all-time record of 51.5F.
The next warmest year was 2003 which had an average of 49.1F.
Dave Britton, of the Met Office, added: "Even though summer was very wet, it was still relatively warm.
"The spring was very mild and dry and October and November were pretty mild and December looks likely to be the same."
He added: "The six warmest years on the record, which dates back to 1914, are the last six years.
"That suggests that climate change is happening and it is affecting the UK with warmer temperatures in the country.
"It is difficult to attribute one warm year to climate change but, when you see six years in close succession, that suggests a trend."
Dec. 30 - Torrential downpours overnight spark fears of further landslides on Indonesia's Java island.
Nearly 100 people were killed or missing after landslides buried houses under thick mud across the Central Java province this week, while thousands were forced to move out of homes submerged by floods triggered by days of heavy rain.
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Oil companies have begun to resume production in Australia's remote northwest coast after government meteorologists on Sunday cancelled a cyclone warning for category two tropical cyclone Melanie.
The bureau cancelled cyclone warnings along the coast as Melanie, packing winds of up to 150 kph (94 mph), was moving away from the coast and was expected to remain offshore, it said on its Web site (www.bom.gov.au).
A spokesman from U.S. oil major Chevron said on Sunday operations on Barrow Island, which were partially shut in overnight, would return to full production by Sunday evening, while its Thevanard Island field remains shut in with personnel returning on Monday morning.
The fields have a combined production of about 8,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Santos Ltd's spokesman said its 5,000 bpd Mutineer-Exeter field was shut in since Saturday but production was expected to resume by Monday evening as the floating production storage and offloading vessel sails back to location.
Melanie is the first storm of the November-to-April season to form in Australia's 'cyclone alley', which is also home to the world's biggest iron ore deposits and major oil and gas fields. Normally the area sees about five storms each season.
In March, a powerful cyclone forced oil companies, including Woodside Petroleum Ltd and BHP Billiton to shut about 180,000 barrels a day of production, half of Australia's output, for nearly a week.
CHICAGO (Dec. 29) - The remnants of a winter storm moved through the Northeast and headed out to sea Saturday, a day after blanketing the Great Lakes region with several inches of snow that disrupted holiday travel.
Aviation officials said nearly 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport on Friday and delays averaged 30 to 45 minutes. Delays at Midway Airport averaged 30 minutes, with about 25 cancellations.
On Saturday, snow spread across northern New England, with occasional heavy snow and freezing fog during the morning at Bangor, Maine, the National Weather Service said. Rain fell elsewhere in the Northeast and the Mid Atlantic states, but by midmorning showers lingered mostly over eastern New England. New York's Central Park got about a half-inch of rain during the night, the weather service said.
Both runways at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport were closed due to snow for about an hour early Friday afternoon and then at least two hours in the evening, airport spokesman Ryan McAdams said. The Green Bay Packers asked for 300 people to help shovel snow Saturday at Lambeau Field in preparation for Sunday's game against Detroit.
Two of three runways were closed at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis., causing many delays and seven flight cancellations, airport spokeswoman Sharyn Wisniewski said.
At Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., snow caused some radar equipment to shut down automatically, closing one runway to arriving planes for about two hours, said Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Planes were diverted or circled while crews replaced the device, which tells aircraft whether they are properly lined up for landing.
Five to 7 inches of snow was reported in the region. Milwaukee's total at Mitchell International was 6.3 inches, topping the record for the date of 5.3 inches set in 1968.
Some were elated by the winter wonderland.
"We love it. Business is wonderful today," said Sara Voegeli, ski manager at the Villa Olivia Country Club and Ski Area outside Chicago.
A tractor-trailer truck jackknifed and rolled over on a highway near Madison, Wis., spilling 50,000 gallons of condensed milk and 90 gallons of diesel fuel, sheriff's officials said. The driver was not hurt but was cited for driving too fast for conditions.
In the Southeast, forecasters said additional rain was likely this weekend in the Atlanta metro area, and may determine whether 2007 is the driest year on record for the region.
WASHINGTON (Dec. 29) - When the calendar turned to 2007, the heat went on and the weather just got weirder.
January was the warmest first month on record worldwide - 1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year.
And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.
U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. weather data. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
It wasn't just the temperature. There were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August, inspiring the tabloid headline: "This ain't Kansas!"
In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, nearly 155 inches of rain fell in three days - a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.
Individual weather extremes can't be attributed to global warming, scientists always say. However, "it's the run of them and the different locations" that have the mark of man-made climate change, said top European climate expert Phil Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
Worst of all - at least according to climate scientists - the Arctic, which serves as the world's refrigerator, dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice.
2007 seemed to be the year that climate change shook the thermometers, and those who warned that it was beginning to happen were suddenly honored. Former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Oscar and he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of thousands of scientists. The climate panel, organized by the United Nations, released four major reports in 2007 saying man-made global warming was incontrovertible and an urgent threat to millions of lives.
Through the first 10 months, it was the hottest year recorded on land and the third hottest when ocean temperatures are included.
Smashing records was common, especially in August. At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new heat records were set or tied for specific August dates.
More remarkably that same month, more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken - regardless of the date - either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night. By comparison only 14 all-time low temperatures were set or tied all year long, as of early December, according to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center.
For example, on Aug. 10, the town of Portland, Tenn., reached 102 degrees, tying a record for the hottest it ever had been. On Aug. 16, it hit 103 and Portland had a new all-time record. But that record was broken again the next day when the mercury reached 105.
Daily triple-digit temperatures took a toll on everybody, public safety director George West recalled. The state had 15 heat-related deaths in August.
Portland was far from alone. In Idaho, Chilly Barton Flat wasn't living up to its name. The weather station in central Idaho tied an all-time high of 100 on July 26, Aug. 7, 14 and 19. During 2007, weather stations in 35 states, from Washington to Florida, set or tied all-time heat records in 2007.
Across Europe this past summer, extreme heat waves killed dozens of people.
And it wasn't just the heat. It was the rain. There was either too little or too much.
More than 60 percent of the United States was either abnormally dry or suffering from drought at one point in August. In November, Atlanta's main water source, Lake Lanier, shrank to an all-time low. Lake Okeechobee, crucial to south Florida, hit its lowest level in recorded history in May, exposing muck and debris not seen for decades. Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest August and September levels in history.
Los Angeles hit its driest year on record. Lakes fed by the Colorado River and which help supply water for more than 20 million Westerners, were only half full.
Australia, already a dry continent, suffered its worst drought in a century, making global warming an election issue. On the other extreme, record rains fell in China, England and Wales.
Minnesota got the worst of everything: a devastating June and July drought followed by record August rainfall. In one March day, Southern California got torrential downpours, hail, snow and fierce winds. Then in the fall came devastating fires driven by Santa Ana winds.
And yet none of those events worried scientists as much as what was going on in the Arctic in the summer. Sea ice melted not just to record levels, but far beyond the previous melt record. The Northwest Passage was the most navigable it had been in modern times. Russia planted a flag on the seabed under the North Pole, claiming sovereignty.
The ice sheets that cover a portion of Greenland retreated to an all-time low and permafrost in Alaska warmed to record levels.
Meteorologists have chronicled strange weather years for more than a decade, but nothing like 2007. It was such an extreme weather year that the World Meteorological Organization put out a news release chronicling all the records and unusual developments. That was in August with more than 145 sizzling days to go.
Get used to it, scientists said. As man-made climate change continues, the world will experience more extreme weather, bursts of heat, torrential rain and prolonged drought, they said.
"We're having an increasing trend of odd years," said Michael MacCracken, a former top federal climate scientist, now chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington. "Pretty soon odd years are going to become the norm."
CHICAGO — A winter storm hit the Great Lakes on Friday, blanketing the region with several inches of snow and disrupting holiday travel.
Nearly 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport by late Friday and delays averaged 30 to 45 minutes, said aviation officials. Officials urged travelers to check the status of their flights.
Delays at Midway Airport averaged 30 minutes, with about 25 cancellations.
Both runways at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport were closed due to snow for about an hour early Friday afternoon and then at least two hours in the evening, airport spokesman Ryan McAdams said.
Two of three runways were closed at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis., causing many delays and seven flight cancellations, airport spokeswoman Sharyn Wisniewski said. At Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., snow caused some ground-radar equipment to shut down, forcing the closing of a runway to arriving planes for about two hours, said Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Planes were diverted or circled overhead while crews replaced the device, which tells aircraft whether they are properly lined up for landing.
Between 5 and 7 inches of snow was reported across the region. Milwaukee's total at Mitchell International was 6.3 inches, topping the record for the date of 5.3 inches set in 1968. The Madison airport had 5.1 inches.
The Green Bay Packers asked for 300 people to help shovel snow at Lambeau Field on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's game against Detroit.
Some were elated by the winter wonderland.
"We love it. Business is wonderful today," said Sara Voegeli, ski manager at the Villa Olivia Country Club and Ski Area in suburban Chicago.
During Christmas, the facility was relying on machine-made white stuff. But nearly 300 skiers, snowboarders and sledders using inner tubes had turned out by Friday afternoon, drawn by the new, powdery snow, Voegeli said.
A semitrailer truck jackknifed on a highway near Madison, Wis., causing the trailer to detach and roll and spilling 50,000 gallons of condensed milk and 90 gallons of diesel fuel, sheriff's officials said. The driver was not hurt but was cited for driving too fast under the circumstances.
There had been nearly 150 crashes in Michigan's Jackson County, about 67 miles west of Detroit, authorities said. As much as 8 inches of snow were expected in parts of the state.
In the Southeast, forecasters said additional rain was likely this weekend in the Atlanta metro area, and may determine whether 2007 is the driest year on record for the region.
As of Friday morning, the area had just under 30 inches of rain for the year. The record was set in 1954, when the area had less than 32 inches of rain, according to the weather service.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The average temperature in the Netherlands in 2007 matched 2006, the warmest year in 300 years, and the Dutch meteorological institute said it was a sign of global warming.
The average temperature in 2007 was 11.2 degrees Celsius (52.16F) which, along with 2006, is highest average since Dutch temperatures were first measured in 1706, the KNMI institute said on Friday. The normal annual average is 9.8 degrees.
"The most important reason for the recent high temperatures is the slow global warming of the climate," KNMI said.
Dutch temperature records are among the oldest in the world.
Eight out of the ten warmest years in the Netherlands were after 1988.
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- United Airlines, hit hard by weekend storms in the Midwest, canceled dozens more flights Thursday as the second storm since Christmas threatened to pile 20 inches of new snow on Colorado.
Up to 8 inches of new snow were expected in Denver, which set a record for its snowiest Christmas with the nearly 8 inches that fell Tuesday.
United canceled 168 flights nationwide Thursday mostly because of the weather in Denver, its second-largest hub, to help prevent planes from being stranded there. That's about 5 percent of the airline's daily schedule.
"There will be impacts in other parts of the system and we're doing our best to accommodate everyone," United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.
It marked the fourth straight day that United had canceled flights. The Chicago-based carrier grounded fewer than 5 percent of its flights Wednesday as it moved crews to deal with schedules disrupted days earlier when bad weather hit O'Hare International Airport. McCarthy said the airline had recovered from those delays before the storm moved into Colorado.
Meanwhile, discount carrier Skybus Airlines said Thursday it was operating normally again after two days of cancellations due to maintenance issues with a pair of its seven planes. The Columbus, Ohio-based company canceled 18 flights over Tuesday and Wednesday, affecting an estimated 1,000 holiday travelers. (CNN)
JAKARTA: Rescue workers struggled for a second day Thursday to move emergency equipment into remote villages in central Java buried by landslides that so far have killed at least 80 people.
The villages, in a mountainous area, have been difficult to reach with large trucks, backhoes and other equipment needed to dig out bodies or possible survivors.
The police, military personnel and residents have been clawing through the dense mud with hands and crude farming tools since early Wednesday morning, when the mudslides struck.
Tabrani, who heads the National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management, said that dozens were still unaccounted for and that the death toll could rise when excavating machines finally reach the area.
"The locations are quite difficult to get to with heavy equipment, so we are relying on local government, police and military to manually dig through the mud," Tabrani said. "We expect to find more bodies, and we are praying we find some who are still alive."
Relentless rain this week has triggered flooding and landslides across much of Indonesia. Landslides in Yogyakarta, also in central Java, destroyed houses and farms.
At least one landslide in east Java and another on the resort island of Bali were responsible for several deaths. Also in east Java, at least 50 people were missing after floods caused a bridge to collapse.
Landslides are frequent in Indonesia during the long rainy season as driving rain batters hillsides, soaking the soil and dislodging large pieces of earth.
Java, which is densely populated, is particularly vulnerable because so many people live along hillsides or in valleys, officials said, and because decades of persistent logging activity have left the ground rootless and unable to absorb heavy rain.
The disaster management agency estimates that more than 500 landslides in the last decade have been partly the result of excessive logging.
"Too much logging has definitely made the conditions worse in this area," said Tabrani, who has been scrambling in the last few days to monitor the numerous disasters. "There is very little forest there anymore and that has contributed to causing the landslides."
The landslides on Wednesday in central Java, together with heavy flooding, have displaced thousands of people in the Karang Anyar District, who are now camping under makeshift tents or staying with relatives.
Local television showed residents carrying belongings on their heads as they waded through chest-high water.
A wide, raging river, also in Karang Anyar, jumped its banks Wednesday, flooding roads and adding to the difficulty of moving aid into the area.
Residents in the village of Tawangmangu escaped a small landslide just after midnight Wednesday morning. But as they returned hours later to clean their houses, another, much larger landslide smashed through their homes, burying dozens of people.
Tawangmangu, which so far has recorded the most deaths, is set mostly along steep valley cliffs and has been nearly washed away, said a police chief, Suardi.
"In rained for days and days, which caused this landslide," Suardi said. "The village has been totally destroyed."
The authorities are still trying to work out the exact numbers of dead, missing and displaced. The remoteness of the villages and the movement of large groups of people into camps and other homes has made counting difficult, Tabrani said.
Indonesia has been the victim of countless natural disasters in recent years. This week's landslides and flooding came as Indonesians marked the third anniversary of the 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 people in Indonesia alone and leveled an entire city on the island of Sumatra.
Dec. 27 - Landslides and floods triggered by heavy rain have left over 120 people dead or missing on Indonesia's Java island.
Rescuers struggled on Thursday (December 27) to pull out bodies buried under thick mud, officials said. The government has moved thousands of villagers who lost their homes into temporary shelters in offices, schools and tents.
ANKARA, Turkery (AP) -- A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 shook Ankara on Thursday, Turkey's Istanbul-based Kandilli seismology center said. There was no immediate reports of any major damage or injuries.
The earthquake, which struck at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival, lasted for a few minutes, and caused apartment buildings and furniture to sway and chandeliers to fall.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 5.3.
Kandilli said the epicenter of the quake was the town of Bala, some 50 miles south of Ankara. There were two smaller quakes, measuring 3.9 and 4.0, earlier in the day.
Gov. Kemal Onal said there were no immediate reports of any casualties in the quake.
"Emergency services have left for Bala to assess possible damage in the villages," Onal said.
Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, much of which lies atop the active North Anatolian fault, though they are rare in the capital.
Two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey in 1999. In 2003, a school dormitory collapsed following a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Bingol, in southeast Turkey, killing 83 children. (CNN)
OKLAHOMA CITY—More than 90,000 homes and businesses remained without power Monday, more than a week after an ice storm battered Oklahoma, and the emergency has outlasted the ability of many residents to pay for it. Some depleted their funds stocking up on food before the storm that went bad after the power went out, while others used money to stay in a hotel, thinking power would be restored within a day or two.
"We've had people using generators who ran out of money for fuel to operate the generators," said Vince Hernandez, chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma.
Hundreds of people found a place to sleep and hot meals over the weekend at a temporary shelter established at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Officials reported 349 people stayed at the shelter Sunday night, down from more than 400 on Friday and Saturday nights.
Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state's largest electric utility, set up temporary walk-up stations in nine central Oklahoma cities for customers to report power failures.
"We've got eight days without lights," said 7-year-old Josue Velasquez, who came to one station with his mother, Rebeca Rascon, who speaks little English. Josue said they "just sit on the couch and wait for the lights to come on" in their "very cold" south Oklahoma City home.
OG&E reported nearly more than 56,000 without power, mostly in the Oklahoma City area, while Tulsa-based Public Service Company of Oklahoma reported about 24,000. Other utilities reported several thousand more still without power Monday.
Overnight temperatures in the state in the past week have dipped into the teens.
The state medical examiner's office said the ice storm contributed to at least 27 deaths: 16 in traffic accidents, eight in fires, two from carbon monoxide fumes and one from hypothermia.
In Kansas, where six deaths were blamed on last week's storm, about 24,000 customers remained without power, and some of those in rural areas might not see electricity restored for a week or more. The reason is another winter storm expected later this week, said Larry Detwiler of the Kansas Electric Cooperatives.
"We all hope for everybody to be back on by Christmas," he said. "I'm not sure that's a realistic goal."
Margy Knight, who owns several rental and commercial properties in south Oklahoma City that are without power, said she has stopped by OG&E's station every day for the last week and acknowledges she's getting frustrated with the lack of progress.
"I'm trying real hard not to be tacky," Knight said. "I think they're doing the best they can, but they need more manpower."
Rick McCown, a field account supervisor for OG&E, said the company is working overtime to restore power.
"We let them know that we've got people on the ground working to get power restored," McCown said. "We try to be patient with them and let them know we understand their frustration and what they're going through."
While the Plains struggled to put power back on, a swath of the country from the Great Lakes to New England dug out from a weekend storm that dumped 18 inches of snow in some places.
School districts across the region canceled classes Monday. Snow blown by winds gusting to 35 mph cut visibility made driving hazardous. At least eight traffic deaths were reported.
LONDON (Reuters) - Three British polar explorers have postponed for a year a trip to the North Pole they were due to make in early 2008 to try to establish when Arctic summer sea ice will vanish because of global warming.
A spokesman said on Friday expedition leader and veteran Polar explorer Pen Hadow had postponed the trip until February 2009 to expand the range of scientists and sponsors involved.
"It will only take a few months to organize this. But that means having to delay for a year because there is only one Arctic season in which you can do this," the group spokesman told Reuters. "So, reluctantly Pen took this decision."
The ice is already receding at a rate of 300,000 square km (115,000 square miles) a year -- about the size of the British Isles -- but despite some submarine and satellite measurements there is no accurate measure of how rapidly it is also thinning.
The decision to postpone came as U.N. environment ministers faced deadlock on the Indonesian island of Bali as they try to agree an outline for talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions which expires in 2009.
Estimates of final total disappearance of the summer sea ice range from 16 to 100 years, and the four-month expedition aims to fine-tune that by getting accurate readings of the ice's thickness from the surface.
It is not just polar bears and global sea levels that are at risk. As the ice retreats, countries surrounding the region are starting to stake their claims on some of the richest untapped mineral and marine resources on the planet.
Russia has already claimed half of the Arctic sea bed where an estimated 25 percent of the earth's known reserves of gas and oil lie, and the summer opening of the Northwest Passage off Canada could cut weeks off east-west sea voyages. The three explorers -- Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley -- will walk, swim and ski the 2,000-km (1,250-mile) route over some of the toughest terrain in the world in temperatures down to minus 50 Celsius (minus 58 Fahrenheit), towing behind them an ice-penetrating impulse radar.
The specially designed radar will measure and transmit readings of the depth of snow and underlying ice every 20 cm (8 inches) -- providing 10 million readings during the journey.
BOSTON (Reuters) - A major winter storm that dropped more than 10 inches of snow across parts of the Midwestern United States barreled into New England on Sunday, with snow, freezing rain and forecasts for winds as high as 50 miles per hour.
Roads were covered in snow and local airports reported hundreds of flights canceled, but authorities reported no major accidents or power outages.
The wintry blast came just a week after an earlier ice storm in the Midwest contributed to the deaths of at least 13 people and left hundreds of thousands without power.
Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway airports were dealing with the aftermath of the storm on Sunday.
In New England, about 8 inches snow fell around Boston, though the precipitation had changed to rain across coastal areas of the region by afternoon, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
In New England, the storm, which started in the predawn hours of a weekend day, did not bring the disruption of Thursday afternoon's snowfall, which blanketed the region with about 10 inches of snow as millions of commuters were trying to head home.
The Boston area typically gets about 7.8 inches of snow through the entire month of December.
"At this point, fortunately, because there's been such limited travel out there, folks are listening, there really haven't been any major accidents of significance," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. "But the attraction of the Patriots game is going to bring a lot of traffic." The New England Patriots football team began playing the New York Jets around 1 p.m. EST in Foxborough, Massachusetts, despite the storm. The Patriots have won all 13 games they have played so far this season, and their bid to be the first team in 35 years to go unbeaten through the 16-game regular season has attracted intense fan interest.
Logan International Airport in Boston halted all flights for about an hour and a half to allow officials to plow its runways and had canceled about 300 flights, said airport spokeswoman Lisa Langone.
"We're now at one runway and we hope to open up the second," Langone said. She said that the airport's terminals were relatively quiet, with many passengers apparently having contacted the airport to check on flight status before heading out.
AP/SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic - Survivors of a devastating flood lashed out at authorities Thursday for not warning that a dam's floodgates were being opened during Tropical Storm Olga, unleashing a deadly wall of water that killed as many as 20 people.
President Leonel Fernandez, who promised aid while touring the area to view the destruction, did not comment on the decision to rapidly release the water. He blamed global warming for the rare December storm with torrential rains.
The death toll stood at 25 across the Caribbean, including two other deaths in the Dominican Republic, two in northern Haiti and one in Puerto Rico.
As Olga began lashing the Dominican Republic with rain Tuesday, officials slowly released water from the Tavera Dam into the Yaque River, Octavio Rodriguez, a member of the committee that oversees dams during emergencies, told The Associated Press.
But fearing a dam failure that could kill thousands in Santiago, the country's second-largest city, the panel decided around 11 p.m. Tuesday to open all six floodgates an hour later, gushing 1.6 million gallons of water every second into the river.
The late-night decision gave authorities too little time to warn people living downriver — many of them already in bed.
Police and local officials took to the streets as midnight approached to warn that a devastating flood was on its way. But many people said they had just 15 minutes — or less — to flee before a wave of water 66-feet deep slammed into their homes.
"They warned us but there was no time ... everybody was sleeping," said 50-year-old Sonia Duran Maldonado, her voice shaking. "They must beg our forgiveness for what has happened."
On Thursday, dazed residents wandered through muddy wreckage of their brick homes, strewn along the flat river bank.
A woman sat on the front steps to her house — stairs rising to emptiness where the structure had stood. On another street, the back of an SUV was snagged in a second-floor window of an apartment building after being tossed there by the raging water.
Orlando Franco, a senior engineering professor at Santiago's Pontifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, said authorities released too much water and failed to have an effective alarm system in place.
"If there was a proper alarm system, this would not have happened. There would not have been a single death," Franco said.
Rodriguez, the dam committee member, said the panel was aware of the danger but was forced to release the water to avoid a collapse of the dam as rapidly accumulating water built up pressure behind it.
"We knew the damage we were going to cause below. We did not want to, but we had to," he said.
Olga weakened to a tropical depression and began to break apart as it moved west toward Cuba on Thursday, continuing to drop rain from outer bands over that island and the Bahamas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.
Dominican emergency authorities searched for the dead in Santiago province, where at least 20 fatalities were confirmed. Homes were filled with mud and people looted some residences looking for food or supplies.
The storm displaced more than 34,000 people and damaged more than 7,500 houses, Dominican officials reported.
An elderly woman and a 3-year-old boy were killed in northern Haiti, where poor infrastructure could delay reporting on the storm's aftermath for days, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti's civil protection department.
In Puerto Rico, a rain-triggered avalanche buried an SUV, killing a passenger.
Olga was only the 10th named storm to develop in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1851, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It passed through the Dominican Republic two weeks after the Atlantic hurricane season officially ended, and six weeks after Tropical Storm Noel left 87 dead.
Olga will be included in the tally for the 2007 hurricane season, bringing the number of named storms to 15, including six hurricanes. The next season begins June 1.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Reuters) - The death toll from Tropical Storm Olga neared two dozen on Thursday after flash floods killed at least 19 people in the Dominican Republic, where 35,000 people were forced to flee their homes, Dominican officials said.
The rare December tropical storm, which disintegrated into a mass of thunderstorms late on Wednesday, killed two people, a woman and a 3-year-old boy, Haiti, which shares the Caribbean island Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
Olga's torrential rains also were blamed earlier for mudslides that killed a man in Puerto Rico.
The remnants of the year's 15th tropical storm skirted Jamaica to the north, raced through the Cayman Islands and were expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico between Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Saturday.
The majority of the Dominican deaths -- at least 17 -- were people drowned when a river burst its banks and flooded parts of Santiago, the Dominican Republic's second-largest city, 110 miles north of Santo Domingo, the capital.
The Yaque del Norte River rose rapidly on Wednesday morning after the release of water from the nearby Tavera dam, local officials said.
Rushing waters submerged and flipped cars, and sent panicked residents to treetops and rooftops. Some died as the flood waters collapsed their homes while other were dragged away by the water.
"The river grew suddenly and began to flood houses. Some people could get out, but others were swept away with their homes and all," said Ernesto Bencosme, a resident of Bella Vista, a neighborhood built on the banks of the river.
Helicopters plucked victims from rooftops and police moved hundreds of prisoners from a flooded jail to an army fortress.
Olga swept away three bridges, damaged 6,896 houses and cut off residents of 76 village, the country's Emergency Operations Center said. There were widespread power outages.
The center warned that flooding would continue with heavy rainfall forecast for the next 24 hours.
Olga was the second storm to hit the Dominican Republic in just over a month. In late October, Noel killed at least 89 people, left 42 missing and caused millions of dollars in damages to roads, farming and power and water systems.
Olga formed in the Virgin Islands on Monday, 10 days after the official end of the six-month Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season. Tropical storms feed on warm seas, so December storms are unusual.
It was the 17th named storm to form in the region in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1851, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Olga weakening as the center reaches the Windward Passage...
a Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect along the northern coast of Hispaniola from Cabo engano in the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas Haiti. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo engano to Punta Palenque. These warnings and watches will likely be discontinued later today.
A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Tropical storm conditions are possible over portions of eastern Cuba today.
Interests in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands should monitor the progress of Olga.
For storm information specific to your area...including possible inland watches and warnings...please monitor products issued by your local weather office.
At 800 am AST...1200z...the center of Tropical Storm Olga was located near latitude 19.3 north...longitude 73.8 west or about 65 miles...105 km...south-southeast of the eastern tip of Cuba...and about 110 miles...175 km...west-northwest of Port au Prince Haiti.
Olga is moving toward the west near 19 mph...31 km/hr...and this motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. This motion should bring the center of Olga near the southern coast of eastern Cuba today.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 45 mph...70 km/hr... with higher gusts. Satellite imagery indicates that Olga has become disorganized...and further weakening is forecast during the next 24 hours. Olga could weaken to a tropical depression later today.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 260 miles...415 km over water to the north and east of the center. Turks island recently reported sustained winds of 38 mph...61 km/hr.
Estimated minimum central pressure is 1007 mb...29.74 inches.
Olga is expected to produce additional rain accumulations of 1 to 2 inches over Puerto Rico and the southeastern Bahamas...with isolated maximum storm total amounts of 12 inches over Puerto Rico. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are possible over Hispaniola with possible isolated maximum totals of 10 inches. These rains are expected to produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible over eastern Cuba with possible isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
Repeating the 800 am AST position...19.3 N...73.8 W. Movement toward...west near 19 mph. Maximum sustained winds...45 mph. Minimum central pressure...1007 mb.
The next advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at 1100 am AST.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Olga knocked out power and caused widespread flooding in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and hit the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with torrential downpours, threatening to unleash mudslides.
Olga's maximum winds strengthened from 45 mph (75 kph) to about 60 mph (96 kph) but forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted strong winds in the upper atmosphere would start to tug it apart on Wednesday.
Olga was born as a subtropical storm on Monday but forecasters said it had gained tropical storm characteristics on Tuesday. Both types of storms are cyclones but subtropical storms have a cooler core, which can slow development.
The hurricane center said Olga's greatest threat was its torrential rains.
"These rains have already produced life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in Puerto Rico," the forecasters said in an advisory.
Tropical storm warnings and watches were in effect for parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, and for the Turks and Caicos islands and the southeastern Bahamas.
At 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT), the storm's center was moving over the Dominican Republic about 30 miles north-northeast of the capital of Santo Domingo.
Olga was moving west at nearly 13 mph (21 kph) and was expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain on the island.
Authorities evacuated scores of families in vulnerable areas of the Dominican Republic, where at least 89 people died in devastating floods from Tropical Storm Noel in October.
Olga pounded Puerto Rico with rain on Monday. Central mountain towns like Orocovis and Jayuya had received 8 inches
by midday Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
The storm knocked out electricity to 80,000 customers, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said. The Aqueduct and Sewer Authority said 144,000 clients were without water because the storm disabled 11 of 33 filtration plants.
Children were evacuated from a school in Aguada, on the west coast, after the Culebrinas River flooded, officials said. Six other rivers flooded and a dozen major roadways were closed due to flooding and fallen trees, they said.
Most forecasting models showed the storm moving westward across the Caribbean toward Central America, keeping it well away from U.S. oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
One had it crossing Cuba into the southern Gulf of Mexico and then veering across Florida toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The 15th storm of the year, Olga formed over the Virgin Islands 10 days after the official end of the six-month Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season.
Tropical storms draw strength from warm seas, so December storms are unusual. Olga was the 17th named storm to form in the region in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1851, the hurricane center forecasters said.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Olga strengthened and became a tropical storm Tuesday as it drenched the Dominican Republic, forcing the evacuation of low-lying communities ahead of the rare December cyclone.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 95 kph (60 mph) Tuesday evening, and forecasters warned it could trigger dangerous floods by dumping as much as 25 centimeters (10 inches) of rain in some parts of the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti.
Olga struck nearly two weeks after the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is only the 10th named storm to develop in the month of December since record keeping began in 1851, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
"It's not completely unusual to have a storm form in December," said Daniel Brown, a hurricane specialist at the center, who noted that three named storms have formed after Nov. 30 since 2003.
At 7 p.m. EST (2400 GMT), Olga was centered about 45 kilometers (30 miles) north-northeast of Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, and it was moving west, the hurricane center said.
The storm was passing along the southern Dominican coast, threatening southwestern areas that were hardest hit by Tropical Storm Noel six weeks ago. At least 87 fatalities in the country were blamed on Noel, the deadliest storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.
Authorities evacuated 22 communities in eastern provinces to prepare for the storm.
"Every civil defense agency has been activated," emergency services spokesman Luis Luna Paulino said.
In neighboring Haiti, the government warned people in coastal areas to prepare for evacuations and urged fishermen to remain in port, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of the country's civil protection department.
Olga was tracking westward at about 20 kph (13 mph), and the center of the storm was expected to remain over land for much of the next 24 hours. Forecasters said it was expected to gradually weaken over that time.
The storm passed Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, knocking out electrical service to 79,000 people and water to 144,000.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, meaning tropical storm conditions are expected there within 24 hours.
Forecasters said Olga's stronger winds on Tuesday evening indicated that it had transitioned from a subtropical storm to a tropical storm over the course of the day.
Subtropical storms often form over cooler waters than those needed by tropical storms, which usually have their strongest winds located close to a well-defined, spinning center.
Olga will be included in the tally for the 2007 hurricane season, bringing the number of named storms to 15, including six hurricanes. The next season begins June 1.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Sleet and freezing rain blanketed much of the central United States with a thick coating of ice on Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people and knocking out power to nearly a million homes and businesses.
The ice storm set in on Sunday and little relief from the wintry mess was in sight, as the National Weather Service predicted another icy blast later on Tuesday.
Oklahoma was hit the hardest. About 592,000 customers there lost electricity service, including more than 200,000 in Oklahoma City alone, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. At least 12 people died in storm-related accidents and one man died of exposure to the cold.
The power outages paralyzed parts of the most important U.S. oil hub, threatening supplies to the region's oil refineries, although industry sources said the area's refiners were still operating normally.
President George W. Bush issued an emergency declaration for the state, giving local governments in Oklahoma access to federal resources.
Residents described harrowing traffic pileups on ice-slick roadways, streets littered with downed trees, whole neighborhoods gone dark, and the persistent popping sounds of tree limbs breaking under the weight of ice.
"We don't have any heat. No lights. Nothing. We have nothing at all," said Kathy Nash, a 30-year-old advertising executive whose home lost power on Monday.
She and her husband had been making do with flashlights and candles and layers of warm clothes. "It's cold," she added. In Missouri, icy conditions left 170,000 without power, according to Susie Stonner, spokeswoman for the state Emergency Management Agency. The state had one traffic death due to the storm, she said.
"The tree debris with the icing is causing a lot of problems," said Stonner. "The power companies keep working to fix the lines and restore power but then the trees coming crashing down again."
In Kansas, 90,000 homes and businesses were without power as up to a half-inch of ice blanketed most of the state. The Kansas National Guard delivered generators to nursing homes and sewage treatment centers lacking electricity, Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson said.
In the tiny town of Larned, Kansas, many of the 4,000 residents' homes were damaged by falling trees.
"It is a pretty ugly sight right now. It looks like a tornado passed through," said Jason Murray, who helps manage a cattle feeding operation there.
The National Weather Service said significant accumulations of ice were expected through Tuesday as a cold air mass remained stalled over Kansas into central and northern Missouri.
(Reporting by Ben Fenwick in Oklahoma City, Carey Gillam in Kansas City, and Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago, editing by Patricia Zengerle)
The effects of climate change such as droughts and food scarcity could trigger conflict and wars around the world, a report warned today.
The report by Swiss and German academics said without action to combat global warming, problems including extreme weather events and growing numbers of "climate refugees" could be too much for some countries to cope with.
Released on the day Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) received the Nobel Peace Prize for their environmental work, the report warned countries such as India, Pakistan and China and areas such as southern Africa and the Amazon could all be at risk.
Many countries which are already facing conflict or tensions will be put under more pressure as fresh water becomes scarcer, food production declines, storms and floods increase and more people are forced to migrate to survive.
Even southern Europe might see potentially violent conflicts, even though the countries there could cope with environmental changes, if droughts and heat waves push migrants from North Africa, the study warned.
The Climate Change as a Security Risk report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change called on governments meeting this week at the climate change conference in Bali to adopt deep emissions cuts to avert disaster.
Professor Hans Schellnhuber, leader author of the report and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: "Without resolute counteraction, climate change will overstretch many societies' adaptive capacities within coming decades.
"This could result in destabilisation and violence jeopardising national and international security to a new degree."
According to the report countries in northern Africa such as Sudan, Somalia and Chad are already suffering wars and scarce resources.
Despite widespread peace, southern African cities such as Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Maputo, Mozambique, are threatened by sea level rise.
Across the continent there are the twin threats of declining harvests and population growth.
Also, southern Europe could be at risk from instability and scarce resources in North Africa, the scientists claim, pushing migrants into the EU which "could trigger potentially violent conflicts".
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh could see falls in wheat and rice yields as the monsoon changes, as well as dry seasons becoming drier in the wake of melting glaciers and rising sea levels putting pressure on densely populated areas.
And the western coast of China could be inundated by sea level rises, while soil degradation and drought could be a feature in the north of the country.
In the Caribbean there is an increasing risk of hurricane and tropical cyclone activity, which can also induce floods in coastal communities.
Grain yields would be under threat and conflicts could be aggravated by pressures caused by climate change.
Tensions in South America could be exacerbated by the melting of Andean glaciers - leading to water shortages, threats to agriculture and desertification.
In the Amazon, where as much as 65 per cent of the rainforest could disappear, warmer temperatures could threaten maize and wheat yields, damage inland fisheries and undermine Brazil's ability to handle crises at home or in neighbouring countries.
The Greenland ice sheet melted at a record rate this year, the largest ever since satellite measurements began in 1979, a top climate scientist reported.
"The amount of ice lost by Greenland over the last year is the equivalent of two times all the ice in the Alps, or a layer of water more than 800 meters deep covering Washington DC," said Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Using data from military and weather satellites to see where the ice is melting, Steffen and his colleagues were able to monitor the rapid thinning and acceleration of ice as it moved into the ocean at the edge of the big arctic island.
The extent of the melt area was 10% greater than the last record year, 2005, the scientists found.
Greenland is about one-fourth the size of the United States and about 80% of it is covered by the ice sheet.
One-twentieth of the world's ice is in Greenland; if it all melted it would be equivalent to a 6.4 metre global sea level rise, the scientists said.
One factor in the speed-up of Greenland's ice melt is an increase in cylindrical shafts in the ice called moulins.
These huge tunnels in the ice act like drains and appear to let the ice sheet respond more rapidly than researchers expected to spikes in temperature at the beginning of the annual warm season, Steffen said.
In recent years, melting has started earlier in the year than normal.
Air temperatures on the ice sheet have risen by about seven degrees F (3.9 degrees C) since 1991, mostly because of the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the scientists said in research presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
This is in keeping with persistently gloomy news about the state of the Arctic this year.
In October, a US government "report card" found less ice, hotter air and dying wildlife.
In May, a US expert at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado found that Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A wintry storm caked the center of the nation with a thick layer of ice Monday, blacking out more than 600,000 homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 15 deaths in Oklahoma and Missouri were blamed on the conditions, with 13 of them killed on slick highways.
A state of emergency was declared for the entire state of Oklahoma, where the sound of branches snapping under the weight of the ice echoed through Oklahoma City.
``You can hear them falling everywhere,'' Lonnie Compton said Monday as he shoveled ice off his driveway.
The National Weather Service posted ice and winter storm warnings Tuesday for parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Missouri declared an emergency on Sunday and put the National Guard on alert.
Oklahoma utilities said a half-million customers were blacked out as power lines snapped under the weight of ice and falling tree branches, the biggest power outage in state history, and utilities in Missouri said more than 100,000 homes and business had no power there.
``If you do the math, probably one out of three Oklahomans has no electricity at this point,'' said Gil Broyles, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility.
Roughly 11,000 customers were blacked out in southern Illinois and more than 5,000 had no electric heat or lights in Kansas, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was expecting requests from several counties for emergency declarations.
Ice was as much as an inch thick on tree limbs and power lines in parts of the region.
Schools across Oklahoma were closed and some hospitals were relying on backup power generators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.
Tulsa International Airport had no power for about 10 hours and halted flight operations for the day, and most morning flights at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were canceled because of icy runways. Greyhound bus passengers were stranded overnight at a shelter in a church in Tulsa, and were joined by some local residents who had no heat.
Portions of Interstate 35 and Interstate 44 were shut down early Monday afternoon in Oklahoma City after ice-laden power lines collapsed and fell into the roadways.
Oklahoma utility officials said it could be a week or more before power was fully restored.
``This is a big one. We've got a massive situation here and it's probably going to be a week to 10 days before we get power on to everybody,'' said Ed Bettinger, a spokesman for Public Service Company. ``It looks like a war zone.''
The Oklahoma City suburb of Jones, a town of 2,500 people, had low water pressure because there was no electricity to run well pumps, and firefighters said an early morning fire destroyed most of the community's high school.
The icy weather stretched into the Northeast, where many schools across upstate New York were closed or started late because of icy roads.
On ice-covered Interstate 40 west of Okemah, Okla., four people died in ``one huge cluster of an accident'' that involved 11 vehicles, said Highway Patrol Trooper Betsey Randolph.
Eight other people also died on icy Oklahoma roads, and Missouri had one death on a slippery highway. In addition, a homeless person died of hypothermia in Oklahoma City, the state medical examiner's office said.
Warning extended westward along the north coast of Hispaniola... At 11 am AST...1500 UTC...a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the north coast of Haiti from the border with the Dominican Republic westward to Le Mole St. Nicholas at the northwestern tip of Haiti. A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect along the northern coast of Hispaniola from Cabo engano in the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas Haiti.
A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo engano to Punta Palenque.
A tropical storm watch or warning may be required for the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands later today.
For storm information specific to your area...including possible inland watches and warnings...please monitor products issued by your local weather office.
At 1100 am AST...1500z...the center of subtropical storm Olga was located near latitude 18.1 north...longitude 68.0 west or about 130 miles...205 km...east-southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and about 125 miles...205 km...west of San Juan Puerto Rico.
Olga is moving just south of due west near 15 mph...24 km/hr...and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. On the forecast track...the center of Olga is expected to pass very close to the southern coast of the Dominican Republic later today.
Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph...75 km/hr...with higher gusts. Little change in strength is expected today...but some weakening is likely tomorrow as Olga encounters strong upper-level winds.
Olga's strongest winds are located well away from the center of circulation...which is a characteristic of subtropical cyclones. Winds of 40 mph extend outward up to 275 miles...445 km to the north and northeast of the center. NOAA buoy 41043...about 270 miles from the center...recently reported a sustained wind of 40 mph with a gust to 54 mph.
Estimated minimum central pressure is 1005 mb...29.68 inches.
Olga is expected to produce additional rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands...with isolated maximum storm total amounts of 12 inches over Puerto Rico. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are possible over Hispaniola with possible isolated maximum totals of 10 inches. These rains have already produced life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in Puerto Rico.
Repeating the 1100 am AST position...18.1 N...68.0 W. Movement toward...west near 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds...45 mph. Minimum central pressure...1005 mb.
An intermediate advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at 200 PM AST followed by the next complete advisory at 500 PM AST.
MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Heavy rains from Subtropical Storm Olga drenched Puerto Rico on Tuesday, while the Dominican Republic braced for a hit by reopening hurricane shelters more than a week after the official end of hurricane season.
The storm skirted Puerto Rico's northern coast overnight with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph), causing blackouts that left 76,000 people without power.
Forecasters said up to six inches (15 centimeters) of rain is expected to fall over Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
At 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, Olga was centered near the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, about 130 miles (205 kilometers) east of Santo Domingo, the capital, and was moving west, the National Hurricane Center said.
"It is unusual since the season does end officially on November 30," said meteorologist Hugh Cobb. "However, in recent years we have seen quite a few December cyclones."
The Atlantic hurricane season had 14 named storms, including six hurricanes. (CNN)
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A vicious ice storm sweeping through the U.S. Plains left more than 600,000 people without power as frigid temperatures plunged and contributed to at least 14 deaths, authorities said on Monday.
The icy blast downed tree limbs and power lines, leaving more than 500,000 people without power in Oklahoma, where shelters opened throughout the region for those driven from cold and dark homes, and national guardsmen and volunteers were transporting food and water to hard-hit areas.
"This particular storm is now the worst in company history in terms of customers affected," said Brian Alford, spokesman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric.
Crews were sent from Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi to help repair power lines, which snapped seemingly as quickly as they could be repaired.
The storm also shut down electricity service to more than 102,000 people in Missouri, more than 11,000 people in Illinois and about 5,000 in Kansas.
In all, ice storm warnings were issued from Texas up through Oklahoma and Kansas and east across Missouri into Illinois, with up to an inch of ice accumulation possible in some areas. Iowa and Arkansas were also affected.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency, calling out the state National Guard to aid communities hit by the storm. "We are only just beginning to see the devastation from this series of storms," he said.
Ice-slicked roads contributed to the deaths of 12 people in Oklahoma during the weekend, state officials said. One Oklahoma man died of hypothermia. A Missouri motorist died when he stopped to help another driver and was hit by a car skidding on ice. Parts of several highways and interstates were closed and hundreds of flights were canceled at major airports in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis and Oklahoma City.
The National Weather Service office predicted another icy blast on Tuesday night, with more significant ice accumulations possible.
(Reporting by Ben Fenwick in Oklahoma City and Carey Gillam in Kansas City, editing by Doina Chiacu)
(AP)MIAMI - Subtropical Storm Olga weakened slightly as it lashed the northern coast of Puerto Rico early Tuesday, but forecasters feared its heavy rains could trigger flash floods and mudslides by the time it reaches Haiti.
At 7 a.m. EST, Olga was centered over the waters west of Puerto Rico, about 45 miles east of Cabo Engano in the Dominican Republic. It was moving toward the west at 15 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Olga's maximum sustained winds dropped to 40 mph, down from 45 mph earlier Tuesday, and forecasters did not expect the storm to strengthen before it reached the coast of the Dominican Republic. The mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was expected to further weaken Olga.
Forecasters said Olga's heavy rains would be the system's greatest hazard, with up to six inches expected to fall over Hispaniola and up to four inches expected over Puerto Rico.
The government of the Dominican Republican issued a tropical storm warning Monday night for the northern coast from Cabo Engano westward to Bahio de Manzanillo at the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A tropical storm watch was issued for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque southwest of Santo Domingo.
"It is unusual since the season does end officially on November 30," said meteorologist Hugh Cobb. "However, in recent years we have seen quite a few December cyclones."
In 2005, the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, Tropical Storm Zeta formed Dec. 30 and meandered over the Atlantic for about a week without approaching land. Zeta was the 28th and final named storm of that season.
Olga will be included in the tally for the 2007 season, which will now have 15 named storms, including six hurricanes. The next season officially begins June 1.
(AP)MIAMI - A weather system off Puerto Rico on Monday still had the potential to become a late tropical or subtropical storm, although that potential had diminished, the National Hurricane Center said.
Even if the system doesn't strengthen, it could still produce heavy squalls and strong wind across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later Monday, the center's meteorologists warned.
It also could produce heavy rain with a threat of flash floods and mudslides on Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola, home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
At 11 a.m. Monday, the system was centered about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico. It was expected to continue moving west or southwest at about 20 mph.
The Atlantic hurricane season ended Nov. 30 after 14 named storms, including six hurricanes.
The Bali summit: The world's poor are already feeling the effects of a crisis that is not of their causing. Rich nations must help them adapt The stories keep on coming, from every corner of the world.
There's Tahmina in inundated Bangladesh who spent a night in November clinging to a palm tree while Cyclone Sidr battered her village and took the lives of her two sons.
There's Ursula Rakova from the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea, campaigning in Bali on behalf of her compatriots who can only watch as salt water bubbles up through their shrinking lands.
And there's Thandi Masuku in parched KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, asking (pdf) for help to cope with the deepening drought that is compounding the already deadly impact of HIV/Aids in her community.
The world's poorest people - the people Oxfam works with in more than 80 countries - rely on the land and the sea for their survival. While they may not all be following events at the UN conference in Bali, climate change is already a stark reality for them.
Far from being passive victims, people are already adapting in order to survive. In Vietnam, for example, they are planting mangroves to keep back the rising seas; in South Africa they are using fast maturing crops to cope with erratic rainfall. But all of this costs money, money poor countries don't have.
Oxfam estimates that developing countries need around $50bn a year, starting now, to have any chance of adapting to climate change. And the very poorest, the least developed countries (LDCs), need an immediate pay out of $1-2bn just for their most urgent adaptation projects.
What have rich countries pledged so far to the UN fund for the LDCs? Just $163m - less than half the amount the UK is investing in cooling the London Underground. What's worse, only $67m of that has actually been delivered, less than what Americans spend on suntan lotion in a month.
These amounts are frankly an insult; the efforts to tackle this problem need to be stepped up right now by the delegates in Bali. The immediate needs of people in developing countries should be placed centre stage. And the guiding principle should be "the polluter pays" - rich industrialised nations should be providing compensatory finance to help the poorest adapt to a crisis that is not of their causing.
Of course the Bali conference must take tackle head on the thorny issue of how to cut carbon emissions sufficiently to keep global temperature rises to a "safe" level. But Bali needs to address both cause and effect equally. Even if the world stopped polluting today, the worsening impacts of climate change would be with us for 30 years or more. That's why it is so vital that rich countries help the poorest to cope now.
Oxfam wants to see negotiators in Bali set out a plan for identifying new ways of raising finance for adaptation. Rich countries should seek to secure resources from the private sector, particularly from economic sectors that are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon taxes; air travel levies; levies on carbon trading and carbon auction revenues; redirecting fossil fuel subsidies - all these and more should be explored.
New sources of funding must be found because adaptation cannot be paid for out of aid budgets. This is not about aid - it is about the world's biggest and richest polluters covering the costs they have forced upon those who are most vulnerable.
In addition to identifying new funding sources for the Adaptation Fund - the largest potential source of funds for climate adaptation in poor countries - Oxfam is calling for a decision on management of the fund that puts poor countries first. This must be coupled with a post-2012 negotiation process that puts adaptation on an equal footing with the urgent agenda of cutting global carbon emissions.
We know that scientists aren't yet able to attribute specific weather events directly to global warming. But we also know they are extremely confident about the pattern that is emerging, a pattern of more and more unpredictable and severe weather. For the people on the front lines, things are set to get a lot worse, and quickly.
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A Pacific Northwest storm blew through Southern California early Friday without causing much damage, but officials warned that the threat of mudslides and flooding continued.
Up to three inches of rain had been expected in Orange County, which had been burned bare by wildfires earlier in the year. About 1,000 homes were evacuated on Thursday, but only about half that amount of rain fell overnight.
Still, the narrow, sandbagged streets were at risk of mudslides and flash flood watches remained in effect for burned areas through Friday afternoon.
"It still could flow hours after the rain could stop," said Stuart Seto, chief weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Elsewhere, rain-slicked roads led to multiple traffic accidents. In Burbank, firefighters rescued two people whose car went off Interstate 5 shortly after 5 a.m. and overturned in 2 feet of water in the Los Angeles River.
The occupants were trapped for several minutes but they were conscious when they were rescued, said California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos. In neighboring Pasadena, a tractor-trailer rig overturned on the Foothill Freeway at around 3 a.m., destroying some 30 feet of freeway soundwall. Several lanes were shut for several hours.
The storm arrived late Thursday night and the heaviest rain came after midnight. About a half- to three-quarters of an inch fell in coastal and valley areas and up to 2 inches in the mountains.
"The storm pushed through L.A. pretty fast, faster than we were expecting," Seto said.
By daybreak, the storm front had moved east to the San Bernardino Mountains, leaving only scattered showers that could drop only about a quarter-inch of rain through the day, Seto said.
However, high wind warnings remained through the day for 25-35 mph winds, gusting to 50 mph, in some desert, mountain and coastal areas. (CNN)
for Fiji ON SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE DAMAN ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI at 11:11am on Saturday the 8th of December 2007
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING
THE HURRICANE WARNING IS NOW CANCELLED FOR CIKOBIA, NORTHERN LAU, AND NEARBY ISLANDS. THE STORM WARNING IS NOW CANCELLED FOR TAVEUNI, CENTRAL LAU GROUP AND NEARBY ISLANDS. A GALE WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR THE LAU GROUP.
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE DAMAN CENTRE 940HPA [CATEGORY 4] WAS LOCATED NEAR 16 DECIMAL 2 SOUTH 178 DECIMAL 6 WEST OR ABOUT 148 KILOMETRES EAST SOUTHEAST OF CIKOBIA, 148 KILOMETRES EAST OF UDU POINT AND 162 KILOMETRES EAST NORTHEAST OF TAVEUNI AT 10AM TODAY. CLOSE TO ITS CENTRE, THE CYCLONE IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE AVERAGE WINDS UP TO 165 KM/HR WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS UP TO 230 KM/HR. THE CYCLONE IS NOW MOVING EAST-SOUTHEAST AT ABOUT 18 KM/HR AND EXPECTED TO CURVE MORE TOWARDS THE SOUTHEAST.
FOR THE LAU GROUP, WINDS OF DAMAGING GALE FORCE OF 65 KM/HR WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS TO 110 KM/HR TODAY AND TONIGHT.
EXPECT RAIN AND SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS ESPECIALLY OVER THE LAU GROUP. SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS, ESPECIALLY AT THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE.
FOR THE REST OF FIJI EXPECT THE WEATHER TO BE MORE IMPROVED ESPECIALLY OVER YASAWA, MAMANUCA, VITI LEVU AND KADAVU WITH ISOLATED OCCASIONAL SHOWERS WITH A FEW THUNDERSTORMS.
MODERATE TO ROUGH SEAS. MODERATE TO HEAVY SWELLS.
FOR ROTUMA. NORTH TO NORTHWEST WINDS FRESH AND GUSTY. CLOUDY PERIODS WITH OCCASIONAL SHOWERS. AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS. MODERATE TO ROUGH SEAS. MODERATE TO HEAVY SWELLS.
The following information is provided especially for the mariners: EXPECT WINDS OF VERY DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE FORCE WITHIN 20 MILES OF CYCLONE CENTRE WITH PHENOMINAL SEAS. DESTRUCTIVE STORM FORCE WINDS WITHIN 35 MILES OF CENTRE WITH VERY HIGH SEAS. DAMAGING GALE FORCE WINDS TO 55 MILES WITH VERY ROUGH TO HIGH SEAS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS.
THE NEXT SPECIAL WEATHER BULLETIN FOR FIJI WILL BE ISSUED AROUND 2PM TODAY.
CNN) -- Powerful Tropical Cyclone Daman closed in on Fiji on Friday, threatening the Pacific island chain with home-destroying winds and dangerous floods.
"It's most likely going to be one of the severest cyclones to hit the country in recent times," Fiji Disaster Management Office director Joeli Rokovabe told The Associated Press. Tourist resorts -- Fiji's top industry -- are also threatened, he added.
The population of the nation's 332 islands is about 900,000, according to the CIA World Factbook, and many residents rely on fishing and farming to survive.
A Category 4 storm, Daman has triggered a hurricane warning for some of Fiji's larger islands, including Cikobia and northeastern Vanua Levu. Daman's eye is expected to brush Vanua Levu, which is Fiji's second largest island, said meteorologist Alipate Waqaicelua.
Vanua Levu residents and those on the Lau and Lomaiviti island groups have been warned to move from coastal areas to cyclone shelters and other safe buildings, said Rokovabe, according to The Associated Press.
The storm is predicted to bring "winds of very destructive hurricane force" within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of its center, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service.
The island's Nadi Meteorological Center warned that the storm will "cause major flooding" and "pretty serious damage" to islanders' flimsy housing.
Estimated average winds speeds near Daman's center are up to 112 mph (180 kmh) gusting to 161 mph (260 kmh), according to the Fiji Meteorological Service.
"Expect heavy rain and squally thunderstorms, especially over the eastern half of the country," said the service's Web site, which also warned of flash flooding in low-lying areas, rivers and streams.
Daman is moving east at about 9 mph (15 kmh), and is expected to curve to the southeast, the service Web site said.
A Category 4 storm can cause extensive damage to small structures and push seawater up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) inland.
Fiji's northern islands were expected to take the brunt of the storm in the overnight hours, with lesser damage anticipated in the south.
The chain has been hit by 13 tropical cyclones in the past ten years, AP reported. Among the worst was 2003's lower-intensity Cyclone Ami, which killed 17 people when it slammed Vanua Levu, according to AP.
In 1973, 70 people died when Cyclone Lottie sank two ships off the western part of the island chain, AP reported. (CNN)
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong warned people with heart or lung problems to avoid outdoor activities on Friday as the territory experienced one of its most polluted days of the year, with the hills across the harbor almost invisible.
Pollution monitoring stations registered "very high" readings in several spots around the former British colony, and the Environmental Protection Department said the poor air was expected to continue.
Hong Kong's air has become increasingly clogged with pollutants from cars, ships, power plants and a booming manufacturing sector across the border in China's Guangdong province.
Air Pollution Index (API) readings surpassed 101, entering what the EPD considers "very high," at several sites, including the Central business district, which hit 150 by mid-afternoon, and the Causeway Bay shopping area, which hit 127.
The figures were among the highest this year, a spokesman for the EPD said. Readings are typically worse during winter months.
"We expect that the regional background air pollution will continue to be high and that air dispersion will remain poor tomorrow. The general and roadside API readings are expected to remain at higher than normal levels," the department said in a written statement.
With very high readings, the government recommended "people with heart or respiratory illnesses should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities, and avoid prolonged stay in roads and streets with heavy traffic."
LISBON (Reuters) - Greenpeace urged European Union and African leaders meeting in Lisbon over the weekend to take urgent measures to stop the destruction of African forests which cause carbon emissions responsible for climate change.
"Leaders in Lisbon have to exercise political muscle and immediately support a halt to deforestation in Africa," said Stephan Van Praet, coordinator for the Greenpeace International Africa Forest Campaign.
Trees soak up carbon dioxide -- the main greenhouse gas -- as they grow and release it when they rot or are burnt.
According to the United Nations, deforestation accounts for around 25 percent of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide -- roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide produced by the United States, the world's largest polluter.
"It's clear they have to take urgent measures," he said.
Greenpeace activists unveiled a banner at Lisbon's Vasco da Gama tower on Friday that read: "Save the Climate-Save African forests." Stephan Van Praet said Greenpeace would continue with its campaign over the weekend in Lisbon.
Europe should also adopt legislation to prevent illegal timber from being imported into its market to bolster the continent's credibility in the fight against climate change and forest destruction, he said.
"If Europe wants to be responsible in the international market, they should start at home," he said. The EU has set a goal of cutting emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as part of a drive to mitigate the consequences of climate change, which could mean more heatwaves, more disease, rising seas and droughts.
CHEHALIS, Washington (AP) -- The drenching rain and howling wind were gone but flooding concerns persisted Wednesday as anxious residents waited for water to recede so they could see what was left after this week's fierce storm.
The storm, which killed at least seven people in the Pacific Northwest before moving on Tuesday, left behind flooded homes, fallen trees and washed-out roads, including the region's largest highway.
On Wednesday, the storm continued pushing east, dumping snow across the Midwest, and was blamed for two traffic deaths in Wisconsin.
Damage could be in the billions of dollars, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday.
She said she was pushing to deliver a damage estimate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and expected a presidential emergency declaration that could speed delivery of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. See photos of the flooding »
At least 300 people had been rescued by helicopters from the Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard and other agencies, and flights continued in what Gregoire described as the state's largest aerial search-and-rescue operation in a decade.
"Those folks who are literally homeless today still have a spirit in them," Gregoire said. "They are determined to get back to their homes and get their lives back together again."
Some people spent Wednesday looking for the lost. In the Lewis County town of Winlock, divers planned to search normally tiny Wallers Creek for Richard Hiatt, 81, believed to have been swept away when a bank gave out from underneath him.
"It happened so quickly," daughter-in-law Sharon Hiatt said Tuesday. "That's the only possibility, that he fell into the creek."
At least half of downtown Aberdeen had electricity Wednesday and Grays Harbor Community Hospital no longer had to rely on emergency generators, said Aberdeen police Detective George J. Kelly. Tens of thousands were without power in Oregon and Washington state at the height of the storm.
National Guard troops were summoned early Wednesday to help evacuate a 20-unit trailer park near Elma threatened by the flooding Chehalis River, Kelly said. Watch water swamp a Wal-Mart »
Flooding about 90 miles west of Seattle also was approaching U.S. Highway 12, a principal link to the Puget Sound area, Kelly said. Check out a map of some flooded areas »
As the water started to rise outside their Lewis County home, Terry Roberts moved his cars to higher ground, shepherded his wife and two children into their RV and hit the road.
They didn't get far.
"We were on dry road and all of a sudden, the water started swirling around," Roberts said, standing with his wife in a temporary shelter in Chehalis after being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. "That's when we got on the CB and called for help."
Interstate 5 has been shut down since Monday at Centralia because of flooding. At one point Tuesday, officials said a three-mile section of the road was under as much as 10 feet of water from the Chehalis River.
The interstate, which is the main north-south route between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, was expected to be closed at least through Thursday.
In Tillamook, Oregon, home of large dairy cattle herds, the smell of manure was pervasive as shopkeepers downtown shoveled out their businesses.
Ben and Amanda Beal had moved to a motel with their two young children when police notified everyone there to evacuate. Just as they left the parking lot, waves swelled over Highway 101.
"I thought we were going to be swept away," said Amanda Beal. "You could feel the water pushing the Blazer. The winds were blowing at 100 miles per hour."
With I-5 closed, state officials were recommending a lengthy detour across the Cascade mountains and down through central Washington -- a route that roughly doubles the three-hour trip from Seattle to Portland.
The storm overwhelmed a number of sewage treatment plants, allowing tons of raw sewage to spew into Puget Sound.
Mudslides halted Amtrak passenger train service between Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia, at least through Wednesday.
The storm was blamed for five deaths in Washington state, including two hikers who died in an avalanche and a man who was buried by a mudslide. Two Oregon deaths were reported, including a driver swept away by high water.
The storm moved out to the Upper Midwest, where it dumped as much of 9 inches of snow in parts of North Dakota and two people died in a weather-related car accidents in Wisconsin. Western Ohio was predicted to get as much as 7 inches of snow.
A small airplane headed to Buffalo, New York, crashed amid falling snow near the airport in Columbus, Ohio, killing two on board, authorities said. Weather was being considered by investigators trying to determine a cause of the crash.
The snow temporarily closed Milwaukee's airport and created delays and cancellations at several other Midwestern airports, including Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where more than 200 flights had been canceled. The snow also caused a bus crash in Indiana that injured 21 people, authorities said. (CNN)
The tropical cyclone data presented at this site are intended to convey only general information on current storms and must not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to the protection of property: the data may not be accurate. If you are in the path of a storm you should be listening to official information sources. These data have no official status and should not be used for emergency response decision-making under any circumstances