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  • Cyclone Pancho Nears Category 3 Strength
    Sunday, March 30, 2008
    A tropical cyclone that forecasters expected to briefly flare to hurricane strength, then diminish has instead steadily gained strength.

    Tropical Cyclone Pancho gained Category 2 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale yesterday, and overnight grew to the cusp of Category 3 strength, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    Still, Tropical Cyclone Pancho is not expected to menace the West coast of Australia. It is expected to come no closer than about 250 miles to Carnarvon.

    Currently packing winds of 109 mph, it is expected to lose strength today and tomorrow, according to the latest forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    The Southern Hemisphere summer, and its hurricane season, is coming to an end. Hurricanes are called tropical cyclones in this part of the world, and typhoons in other parts. Australia also uses a different numbered scale to measure hurricane strength.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:42 PM  
    Tropical cyclone Pancho

    Tropical cyclone Pancho is forecast to strike Australia as a tropical storm at about 18:00 GMT on 29 March. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 25.5 S, 112.2 E. Pancho is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 64 km/h (40 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

    The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and University College London (UCL). TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:35 PM  
    Million acres of Guyanese rainforest to be saved in groundbreaking deal
    By Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor
    Thursday, 27 March 2008

    A deal has been agreed that will place a financial value on rainforests – paying, for the first time, for their upkeep as "utilities" that provide vital services such as rainfall generation, carbon storage and climate regulation.

    The agreement, to be announced tomorrow in New York, will secure the future of one million acres of pristine rainforest in Guyana, the first move of its kind, and will open the way for financial markets to play a key role in safeguarding the fate of the world's forests.

    The initiative follows Guyana's extraordinary offer, revealed in The Independent in November, to place its entire standing forest under the protection of a British-led international body in return for development aid.

    Hylton Murray-Philipson, director of the London-based financiers Canopy Capital, who sealed the deal with the Iwokrama rainforest, said: "How can it be that Google's services are worth billions but those from all the world's rainforests amount to nothing?" The past year has been a pivotal one for the fast- disappearing tropical forests that form a cooling band around the equator because the world has recognised deforestation as the second leading cause of CO2 emissions. Leaders at the UN climate summit in Bali in December agreed to include efforts to halt the destruction of forests in a new global deal to save the world from runaway climate change.

    "As atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide rise, emissions will carry an ever-mounting cost and conservation will acquire real value. The investment community is beginning to wake up to this," Mr Murray-Philipson added.

    Guyana, sandwiched between the Latin American giants Venezuela and Brazil, is home to fewer than amillion people but 80 per cent of its land is covered by an intact rainforest larger than England. The Guiana Shield is one of only four intact rainforests left on the planet and at its heart lies the Iwokrama reserve, gifted to the Commonwealth in 1989 as a laboratory for pioneering conservation projects.

    Iwokrama, which means "place of refuge" in the Makushi language, is home to some of the world's most endangered species including jaguar, giant river otter, anaconda and giant anteater.

    Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo, a former economist, has appealed for state and private sector help for the country to avoid succumbing to the rampant deforestation currently blighting Brazil and Indonesia, in an effort to raise living standards in one of Latin America's poorest countries.

    "Forests do much more for us than just store carbon ... This first significant step is in keeping with President Jagdeo's visionary approach to safeguarding all the forests of Guyana," said Iwokrama's chairman, Edward Glover.

    The deal, drawn up by the international firm Stephenson Harwood, is the first serious attempt to pay for the ecosystem services provided by rainforests.

    "We should move beyond emissions-based trading to measure and place a value on all the services they provide," said Mr Glover.

    In addition to providing shelter to half the world's terrestrial species and one billion of the earth's poorest people, forests such as Iwokrama act as pumps, drawing water from the Atlantic Ocean inland to the Amazon and Guiana Shield where they help to seed clouds and deliver moisture over vast distances.

    The Amazon generates the rain that falls on the vast soya estates of Sao Paulo, helping to make Brazil the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world.

    Guyana's attempt to secure its entire standing forest has received the backing of the British environment minister Phil Woolas and Downing Street has told The Independent that it is "considering the offer". President Jagdeo met with Gordon Brown on the sidelines of a recent Commonwealth Summit in Uganda where they discussed the proposal. The UN road map to a deal to replace the Kyoto protocols foresees payments from wealthy climate-polluting nations to developing countries to compensate for potential income lost through avoiding deforestation. But there are fears that this formula may simply displace the demand for timber and cheap agricultural land.

    Andrew Mitchell, head of the Global Canopy Programme, an alliance of rainforest scientists, said: "The decision on forests at December's conference in Bali is a major step in tackling climate change but it fails to reward countries such as Guyana that aren't cutting down their forests."

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:32 PM  
    U.S. West warming faster than rest of world: study
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The U.S. West is heating up at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world and is likely to face more drought conditions in many of its fast-growing cities, an environmental group said on Thursday.

    By analyzing federal government temperature data, the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that the average temperature in the 11-state Western region from 2003-07 was 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.94 degrees Celsius) higher than the historical average of the 20th century.

    The global average increase for the same period was 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit (0.55 degrees Celsius).

    In the Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to big and fast-growing cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Denver, the average temperature rose 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.21 degrees Celsius), the U.S. group said.

    Most of the river's water comes from melting snow in the mountains, and climate scientists predict hotter temperatures will reduce the snowpack and increase evaporation, the NRDC said in a statement.

    "Global warming is hitting the West hard," said Theo Spencer of the NRDC. "It is already taking an economic toll on the region's tourism, recreation, skiing, hunting and fishing activities."

    Study author Stephen Saunders of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization said there were signs of the economic impacts throughout the West.

    "Since 2000 we have seen $2.7 billion in crop loss claims due to drought. Global warming is harming valuable commercial salmon fisheries, reducing hunting activity and revenues, and threatening shorter and less profitable seasons for ski resorts," he said.

    The report is available online at

    (Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Bernie Woodall)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:19 PM  
    Tropical storm kills 12 in Bangladesh
    Wednesday, March 26, 2008
    DHAKA (Reuters) - A tropical storm swept parts of Bangladesh, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 200, media reports said on Sunday.

    The storm, packing winds of up to 100 kph (60 mph), hit nine districts in north and northeastern Bangladesh, the reports said.

    Heavy rain and hail damaged rice and other crops across thousands of acres (hectares), agriculture officials told reporters.

    It flattened thousands of huts and several schools.

    Tropical storms and tornadoes are common in densely populated Bangladesh, killing hundreds of people every year.

    A cyclone in November last year, the worst since 1991, killed more than 3,300 people, made millions homeless and destroyed around 1 million tonnes of rice, the country's main staple food.

    (Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by David Fox)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:58 PM  
    Sea levels rising too fast for Thames Barrier
    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    Saturday, 22 March 2008

    A fear that sea levels will rise far faster than predicted this century has led to a revision of the plan to protect London from a devastating flood caused by the sort of storm surge in the North Sea that resulted in the closure of the Thames Barrier yesterday.

    It was the 108th time that the barrier had to be closed since it became operational in 1982 but scientists are concerned that rapidly rising sea levels could significantly shorten the expected lifespan of one of the world's biggest anti-flood structures.

    When the Thames Barrier was being designed in the 1970s, global average sea levels were rising at about 1.8 millimetres a year and global warming was not seen as a threat, but in the past 15 years the rate has nearly doubled to about 3.1mm a year and many scientists expect it to accelerate still further.

    Sea levels are rising even faster in south-east England because of local effects, such as land sinking, but officials for the Environment Agency said that the barrier is designed to cope with an 8mm-per-year rate of sea level increase yet still meet its design specifications – such as coping with a one-in-a-thousand-year storm surge by 2030.

    "The defences we have at the moment allow for sea level rise and the tidal levels we're expecting by 2030. That is still some time away. However, it takes time to research, design and build tidal defences, so we're already planning how we can manage increasing flood risk in the estuary," said a spokesman for the Environment Agency. Experts working on the Thames Estuary 2100 project, who are writing a report on what needs to be done to protect London in the next 100 years, believe that past assessments on the sea level rise this century are too optimistic and have devised far higher worse-case scenarios.

    A report on the options open to the Government if sea levels rise faster than expected is due to be completed next year. If sea levels are forecast to rise by two metres or more, a bigger and more expensive barrage will have to be built and raised permanently.

    Under the Government's estimate for a rise of less than one metre, the Thames Barrier will meet its maximum preferred closure rate of 70 times a year by about 2082. Under the extreme "high plus plus" scenario of TE2100, which envisages a four-metre rise in sea level, this limit will be reached in the early 2020s.

    Few experts believe that sea levels will rise this fast in the coming century, although they accept that this depends on the rate at which ice sheets in Greenland and west Antarctic melt or move in to the sea. Most climate specialists believe that the current predictions of a maximum 59cm rise by 2100 made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are likely to be significantly underestimated.

    On current, outdated forecasts the barrier is likely to be closed up to 30 times a year by 2030 – compared with an average closure rate of five times a year over the past quarter century.

    The Thames Barrier protects about £80bn worth of buildings and capital infrastructure in London. Some 1.25 million people live or work in the at-risk area.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:52 PM  
    Cracking up: the ice shelf as big as Northern Ireland
    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    It is one of the biggest in Antarctica and, for the past century, the massive Wilkins ice shelf appeared to have escaped the ravages of global warming. But now, enormous cracks have appeared in this floating ice platform the size of Northern Ireland. Scientists say it is breaking apart at an unprecedented rate after warmer temperatures weakened it.

    A thin strip of ice is all that now prevents the Wilkins shelf from disintegrating and breaking away from the landmass of the Antarctic peninsula, scientists said yesterday. The peninsula is the fastest-warming region in the Antarctic and has seen some of the largest temperature rises on earth – 0.5C per decade – which is why the Wilkins ice shelf is on the verge of disappearing completely, said one of the scientists.

    Observers at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge and the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado said they were astonished to discover just how fast the ice shelf was breaking apart since the first cracks were seen in February.

    "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf yet on the Antarctic peninsula to be threatened, said David Vaughan of the BAS. "I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread – we'll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be.

    "In this case things are happening more rapidly than we thought. We didn't really understand how sensitive these ice shelves are to climate change," said Dr Vaughan, who predicted in the 1990s that it would take 30 years for the ice shelf to break up.

    Ice shelves form along the coasts and, because the ice is already floating on water, their disintegration does not affect sea levels. However, scientists believe that their rapid disappearance could lead to the faster movement into the ocean of the massive, land-based ice sheets and glaciers – which do raise sea levels.

    The Wilkins ice shelf covers an area of about 5,282 square miles and satellite images taken at the end of February revealed that the rapid disintegration began after an iceberg the size of the Isle of Man broke away from its western edge.

    Ted Scambos, of the snow and ice data centre, spotted the development and alerted colleagues at the BAS in Cambridge, who immediately dispatched a Twin Otter reconnaissance aircraft to map the Wilkins ice shelf with aerial photographs.

    "I had never seen anything like this before – it was awesome," said Jim Elliott, who was on board the aircraft. "We flew along the main crack and observed the sheer scale of movement from the breakage. Big, hefty chunks of ice, the size of small houses, looked as though they've been thrown around like rubble – it was like an explosion."

    Dr Scambos said: "We believe the Wilkins has been in place for at least a few hundred years. But warm air and exposure to ocean waves are causing a break-up... the collapse underscores that the Wilkins region has experienced an intense melt season. Regional sea ice has all but vanished, leaving the ice shelf exposed to the action of waves."

    Several ice shelves on the peninsula have retreated in recent years and six of them – the Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A and Larsen B, the Wordie, Muller and the Jones ice shelves – have collapsed completely.

    The Wilkins ice shelf is important because it is farther south on the Antarctic peninsula, where temperatures are generally colder than at the northern tip. "Climate warming in the Antarctic peninsula has pushed the limit of viability for ice shelves further south – setting some of them that used to be stable on a course of retreat and eventual loss," Dr Vaughan said.

    "The Wilkins breakout won't have any effect on sea level because it is floating already, but it is another indication of the impact that climate change is having on the region."

    The two biggest ice shelves in Antarctica – the Ross and the Ronne – lie on the edges of the Antarctic mainland farther south and so far show no signs of melting, Dr Vaughan added.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:51 PM  
    Hawaiian Volcano Spews Lava for First Time in 25 Years
    Tuesday, March 25, 2008
    HILO, Hawaii — Small splatters of molten lava have been ejected from Halemaumau Crater for the first time since 1982.

    Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say some of the particles — the largest of which measure four inches across — have landed on the rim of the crater.

    They say geologists have discovered thin strands of volcanic glass known as "Pele's hair" along with small bits of volcanic glass known as "Pele's tears" in the crater overlook area.

    Scientists say the gas from the new vent at Halemaumau is thick with ash, making the plume from the 100-foot-wide vent appear brown.

    Officials are continuing to monitor the activity and say aviation agencies have been warned that the ash may threaten aircraft in the area.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:19 PM  
    Floods Kill Two In New Caledonia
    Monday, March 24, 2008
    Torrential rains and the subsequent severe flooding caused by a tropical depression have at the weekend killed two men in New Caledonia, including a Belgian biologist working for the local branch of international environment organization Conservation International.

    After two days of search, local police found the body of Belgian biologist Henri Blaffart on Sunday morning, about 1.200 meters downstream in the river he was last seen trying to swim across on Friday, near the village of Hienghène (Eastern coast of the main island).

    Blaffart, in his forties, was working for environment organization Conservation international and at the time was trying to cross a river which had burst its banks and carried a very strong current.

    The local representative of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), who was with the victim at the time of the accident, managed to swim to the other bank.

    On Saturday, a motorist also died in a road accident associated with the adverse weather conditions.

    Local authorities had issued a heavy rain caution late last week, but no cyclone warning as the cyclone approached New Caledonia with winds not seen as destructive and a maximum gust speed of forty knots (75 kilometers per hour).

    The depression effectively dissipated over water on Saturday as it moved away from New Caledonia in a South-South-westerly direction.

    But torrential rains associated with the phenomenon had caused many rivers on the main island to burst their banks.

    Several roads were also closed at the weekend due to the floods.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:52 PM  
    Tropical Storm Kills 5 in Bangladesh
    Saturday, March 22, 2008
    SUNAMGANJ, Bangladesh (AP) — An emergency official says a tropical storm has killed at least five people in Bangladesh.

    Mozammel Haq, a local Disaster Management and Relief Ministry official, says the storm also leveled around 3,000 huts on Saturday. The damage was spread across four villages of the northeastern district of Sunamganj.

    Pre-monsoon storms, accompanied by high winds and lightning, are common at this time of year in the South Asian country.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:15 PM  
    Killer floods hit US
    Violent storms and floods have killed 16 people in the US, according to reports.

    Swollen rivers have flooded central states and threatened to engulf a major interstate highway in Missouri, where a state of emergency has been declared
    The deaths were blamed on victims being swept away by rising water and on road traffic accidents caused by the conditions.

    Extreme weather warnings were in force across 15 states as a storm bore down on the Midwest, causing heavy snow and delaying flights.

    Floods have left houses under water from Texas north to Ohio after heavy rain.

    In the north, a heavy snowstorm was hitting the upper Midwest, causing chaos from North Dakota southeast to Indiana and Ohio.

    Experts say the bad weather could rival and in some places top the record-breaking floods that hit the US in 1982.

    Parts of Missouri have received more than ten inches of rain this week while Southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois were braced for up to 12 inches of snow over the weekend.

    Flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport have been subject to lengthy delays.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:07 PM  
    Google Working On Hurricane Warnings
    Thursday, March 20, 2008
    Enter address, find out about flooding

    If you insist on staying at your computer while a hurricane's on its way, Google still won't say, "I'm sorry, Dave . . . . I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen." A yet-to-be-released tool may, however, try to let you know what's coming.

    "Bill Read, who was appointed head of the Miami-based U.S. forecasting center in January, said a planned program will couple a Google application with storm surge data that meteorologists have used for years to determine the flooding threat from any category of storm," according to Jim Loney.

    The tool may be ready by the beginning of June, which coincides with the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Users will need to enter their addresses in order to find out about flooding.

    The storm surge warning system should represent the first Google offering of its kind. Admittedly, Google News has conveyed all sorts of information about disasters, and people could send warnings through Gmail and Google Talk. Also, Google Earth and Google Maps have been used to mark the current status and aftermath of problems. But the new tool will have the sole purpose of preventing (or at least limiting) damage and loss of life.

    Come to think of it, maybe it's just as well the thing's not more like HAL.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:16 PM  
    Cyclone develops near Fiji
    A tropical cyclone is developing in a neighbouring Pacific Island country but it is not expected to hit Fiji, said the Fiji Weather Meteorological Office in Nadi yesterday.

    However, members of the public are being warned to expect more rain and flashfloods in low-lying areas over the coming days.

    "There is a tropical depression to the west of Vanuatu and the north of New Caledonia," senior weather officer Alipate Waqaicelua said.

    "It is slow moving but expected to move generally towards Australia. It is not expected to directly affect Fiji."

    He said the system may develop into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

    "Also as we are still in the cyclone season, the public is warned to be prepared for any eventuality," he said. "Members of the public should heed weather warnings to save lives and property."

    Mr Waqaicelua said there was a slow moving trough of low pressure to the southwest of Fiji.

    This, he said, is associated with an active cloud band and moist northerly flow prevailing over the country. The public should expect rain over most of the country with isolated heavy falls and squally thunderstorms, he said.

    "There is also the possibility of flash floods in low-lying areas."

    Mr Waqaicelua said there would be longer periods of sunshine over the group when this trough moved further south of Fiji.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:57 PM  
    Midwest eyes rising floodwaters as skies clear
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Residents warily watched as rivers continued to rise Thursday from heavy storms that dumped as much as a foot of rain in the Midwest and left behind more than a dozen deaths.

    While the first day of spring brought much needed sunshine Thursday to Ohio and other states, authorities warned that many rivers would crest well above flood stage in the next several days.

    The death toll rose to at least 14, with the death of a woman whose car was swept away by floodwaters near the southwest Ohio city of Wilmington on Wednesday. The woman had clung to a tree for hours before she was rescued but died a short time later at a hospital.

    Government forecasters said this week's floods are just a taste of things to come, as record rainfall and melting snow packs will continue to cause rivers to overflow in large areas of the country.

    The National Weather Service's flood forecast, released Thursday, said flooding danger is high this spring for much of the Mississippi River basin, the Ohio River basin, the lower Missouri River basin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, most of New York, all of New England and portions of the West, including Colorado and Idaho.

    Many areas remained flooded Thursday. Watch road, farm after flood passed through »

    Drivers trying to reach downtown Columbus, Ohio, from the south were being detoured off heavily traveled U.S. 23, because its northbound lanes were flooded at Interstate 270.

    About 4 miles of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 -- a major east-west highway -- was closed due to high water in central Ohio's Licking County, but reopened by late morning.

    President Bush declared a major disaster in Missouri on Wednesday night and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by flooding. Seventy counties and the city of St. Louis also are eligible for federal funding for emergency protective measures.
    Several areas in Missouri were bracing for record-level flood surges expected to hit Friday and Saturday. Authorities were straining to keep pace with some of the worst flooding to hit their region in decades.

    The National Weather Service forecast record flooding along the Meramec River near St. Louis. Some residents had already been evacuated Thursday. The Black, Big and St. Francis rivers in southeastern Missouri also were expected to see significant flooding.

    The town of Fenton put out a call asking volunteers to help put down sandbags against the floodwaters Thursday. Gov. Matt Blunt said cities can count on the state for help, as he activated the Missouri National Guard.

    "Missourians should know that we are doing everything within our power to provide state resources to communities in need," Blunt said.
    Much of Ohio was under a flood warning Thursday, with some areas cautioned to watch for flash floods. Most of southwest Ohio had received more than 4 inches of rain, and officials in Butler County declared a state of emergency because of the rising waters.

    The Great Miami River, west of Cincinnati near the Indiana state line, crested at 25.85 feet Wednesday at Miamitown. That's the fourth highest level since 1959, when record-keeping began at that location, said Mike Gallagher, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, Ohio.

    Flooding along the Scioto River in Pickaway, Ross and Pike counties was expected to be the worst since January 2005. The river near Circleville was expected to remain over the 14-foot flood stage through Sunday, and Pickaway County authorities asked the Red Cross to prepare shelters for possible flood victims.

    In Findlay in northwest Ohio, authorities closed off streets Wednesday after the Blanchard River had once again gone over the 11-foot flood level -- the 10th time it has done so in the last 15 months. The National Weather Service predicted the river would crest Thursday afternoon at 12.3 feet.

    "It is going to take some time to dry out with this type of rain put down on saturated ground," said Beverly Poole, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky. "It's going to take a few days for the rivers and the creeks to recover."

    The Ohio River at Cincinnati was expected to rise about 2 feet above flood stage by Friday. In nearby Whitewater Township, rescue workers with boats helped 16 people to safety and urged 40 to 45 more families to leave their homes.
    Judy Booth, who's lived in a low-lying area of the township for 11 years, said Wednesday was the first time she's had to flee from flooding.

    "You don't have no choice, you've got to go," said Booth, who was helped by fire-rescue squads who brought an inflatable boat to her water-surrounded home.

    Retired truck driver George Slayton, 65, said he just wasn't sure how much water from the Black River flowed into his home in Piedmont, Mo. He only had time to grab some medication and a change of clothes.

    "I believe in God and everything, but he does things sometimes that make you wonder," said Slayton, who found shelter at a church and slept on a padded pew.

    Including the woman in Wilmington, Ohio, at least 14 deaths have been linked to the weather over the past few days, and three people were missing.
    Five deaths were blamed on the flooding in Missouri, five people were killed in a highway wreck in heavy rain in Kentucky, and a 65-year-old Ohio woman appeared to have drowned while checking on a sump pump in her home.

    In southern Illinois, two bodies were found hours after floodwaters swept a pickup truck off a rural road.

    Searches were under way in Texas for a teenager washed down a drainage pipe, and two people were missing Thursday in Arkansas after their vehicles were swept away by rushing water on Tuesday. Flood water remained standing in many places in Arkansas Thursday.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:45 PM  
    2 Killed As Severe Storms Strike Ga.
    Sunday, March 16, 2008
    2 Killed, Dozens Injured As Powerful Storms, Tornadoes Strike Georgia

    Two people in rural northwest Georgia are dead and dozens injured after a series of severe storms moved through the state, producing the first-ever tornado to hit downtown Atlanta.

    A woman was killed in Polk County early Saturday afternoon when a storm demolished her home and threw her and her husband into a field, while an elderly man in neighboring Floyd County was killed by flying debris as he sat in his home, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Officials have not released the victims' names.

    Calls to the Polk and Floyd County sheriff's departments were not immediately returned.

    National Weather Service officials were expected to be in both counties later Sunday to determine whether the damage was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds, meteorologist Vaughn Smith said.

    In Atlanta, crews began cleaning up debris and broken glass Saturday from the tornado that struck the city with little warning the previous night. The storm cut a 6-mile path of destruction through the city with winds gusting up to 130 miles per hour, leaving homes crushed by centuries-old trees and numerous windows shattered in high-rise office buildings and hotels.

    In neighborhoods just east of downtown — like the historic Cabbagetown where a loft apartment building partially collapsed and homes were destroyed — residents ducked under tables and hid in closets as the twister made its way through the city.

    "It was just like everyone says it is — the proverbial freight train," said Carol Grizzel as she cleaned debris out of her yard.

    Some of the cleanup in Atlanta was delayed by a series of strong storms that moved through the state Saturday, bringing torrential rain, high winds and quarter-sized hail.

    Residents had about eight minutes of warning before the twister struck downtown Friday night, weather officials said. The tornado, classified as an EF2 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, lasted about 20 minutes.

    Many residents were surprised by the storm, as were basketball fans at the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament at the Georgia Dome and the NBA matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers at Philips Arena. The warning was not displayed at either game.

    At least 27 people were hurt Friday night, though no injuries were reported to be life-threatening.

    Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin declared a state of emergency in the city Saturday. Curious onlookers fanned out across the city taking pictures and surveying the damage in their neighborhoods.

    Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine estimated damage from Friday night's storm at $150 million to $200 million. He said at least $100 million of the damage occurred at the Georgia World Congress Center, a state convention facility near the CNN Center.

    He said the storm broke through the roof, sucking walls, glass and furnishings out like a vacuum.

    "Had the building been occupied by a significant number of people, you would probably have had major injuries and loss of life," he said.

    The storm smashed hundreds of skyscraper windows, blew furniture and luggage out of hotel rooms and crumbled part of an apartment building. Streets were littered with broken glass, downed power lines, crumbled bricks and insulation. Billboards rested atop parked cars.

    CNN said ceiling damage at its headquarters allowed water to pour into an atrium. Windows were shattered in the newsroom and the company's library. A water line inside the building broke, turning a staircase into a waterfall.

    "It was crazy. There was a lot of windows breaking and stuff falling," said Terrence Evans, 23, a valet who was outside the Omni Hotel, which adjoins the CNN Center.

    A spokesman for the Omni Hotel said guests and staff were quickly moved to the exhibit hall and ballroom and that the only injuries were "some cuts and scrapes."

    Power was knocked out to about 19,000 customers, and most had it restored by Saturday night, said Jeff Wilson, a spokesman with Georgia Power.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said the last tornado to hit a major city's downtown was on Aug. 12, 2004, in Jacksonville, Fla. Downtown tornadoes have also struck Fort Worth, Texas; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, Ark.; and Nashville, Tenn., in the past decade.

    This was the first tornado on record in downtown Atlanta, weather officials said. The last tornado to strike inside the city was in 1975, and it hit the governor's mansion north of downtown.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:43 PM  
    Magnitude 5.9 quake hits off US Pacific coast
    Saturday, March 15, 2008
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday at 7:44 a.m. Pacific time off the U.S. northern Pacific coast of Oregon, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

    The quake was centered 112 miles west of Port Orford, Oregon, at a depth of 6.2 miles, the USGS said.

    The USGS initially put the quake at 6.0 magnitude. There were no reports of a tsunami threat to the area.

    (Reporting by Vicki Allen, editing by Jackie Frank)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 11:11 PM  
    Mozambique Needs 1.25 Million Tons of Grain to Ease Shortage
    Thursday, March 13, 2008
    By Brian Latham

    March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Mozambique will need to import about 1.25 million metric tons of corn, wheat and rice this year to ease a food shortage after floods and cyclones destroyed crops in the southern African nation.

    Farmers produced 2.2 million tons of grain last year, leaving a 500,000-ton shortfall in corn, 400,000 tons in rice and 350,000 tons in wheat, said Fernando Songane, director of the Mozambican government's National Agriculture Development Program.

    ``Over 150,000 people face very serious hunger because of flooding in the central provinces in February,'' Songane said by telephone from the capital Maputo today. ``Mozambique's corn productivity is the lowest in the region and needs to quadruple if it is to meet demand.''

    More than 150,000 hectares (371,000 acres) of crops in central Mozambique were destroyed or damaged by floods, according to the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Network System. Flooding and cyclones have reduced harvests in Mozambique for two consecutive years.

    Cyclone Jokwe, which struck Mozambique's northern provinces this week, killed nine people and made a further 55,000 homeless, according to Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane. The government has start setting aside land to grow crops for the displaced people, the deputy minister said.

    Mozambique grows mainly corn, rice and cassava, grown for its starchy roots. Farmers grow almost no wheat.

    Wheat traded in Chicago, a global benchmark, jumped 77 percent last year as drought and excessive rain hurt crops in countries including Canada, Australia and the U.S.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:58 PM  
    Eyewitness report: Cyclone hits Mozambique
    Wednesday, March 12, 2008
    The Northern coast of Mozambique was hit by the tail of cyclone 'Jokwe' this weekend. Linette Ruys, a Dutch volunteer, stays in the Mozambiqan town Cabaceira Grande and reports about the disaster.
    A colossal pounding wakes me. An electric storm illuminates my bedroom and instantly I am wide awake. The wind and rain are so fierce that it seems like buckets of water are being thrown through my sheeted bedroom window. Uprooted trees thrash through the air, sending palm leaves and branches flying. The panicky shouts filling the corridors are no match to the storm's orchestra.

    As a Dutch person I thought I had grown accustomed to rain and stormy weather, however the scenery I now found myself in was surreal. What was once a peaceful place, transformed into a natural battlefield. The participants are relentless Mother Nature against all else. I would only discover the following morning quite how relentless nature could be. For now I try to find comfort and safety under the shelter of my sheets and pillow.


    Dawn breaks and the cyclone continues beating. Simon, another volunteer, barges through my bedroom door completely drenched in water. Lisa (College founder) and Mees (co-founder) need our assistance and so the time for action has come. Still disorientated, I tear after him. The first glance at the outside world hits me like a blow to the stomach. The torrential rain, incredible force of the wind and amount of destruction is overwhelming. I become aware of every fibre of my being. My heart pounds so heavily, that I am sure others can here it. My mouth is dry, my hands cold and clammy, my stomach continuously churns and my legs feel like pudding. I find myself in a situation I only ever saw on the news and I feel helplessly inadequate. How on earth can we help the people of the Mossuril District?

    The local population in the Mossuril District in North Mozambique is extremely poor. Living in mud huts and shacks, these men, women and children are no match to the force of the cyclone. In an attempt to aid these people we gather bare necessities, including, a first aid kit, money, flash lights, mobile phones, a notepad and a pen, and drive out to the surrounding villages. The car's four wheel drive struggles as we drive over what was once a dirt road. Not only do the fallen trees and branches barricade us, but the heavy rainfall and puddles create obstacles too.

    Mud huts

    The first mud huts I see are damaged, but not completely destroyed and so for a moment my spirits are lifted. As we continue our journey, my heart sinks once more. Shivering people, wet to the bone, huddle together, sheltering under what is left of their homes, from their persistent enemy, the rain, the wind and the cold. In less than 15 minutes I count 34 severely damaged homes and 15 homes completely destroyed, (these being the homes I can see located next to the road). On the way back to the college, homes that had still stood just 20 minutes ago, now too are completely destroyed. The amount of homeless can only rise seeing as the cyclone has not yet completely passed through.

    Back at the college I was placed in charge of cooking warm and nutritious meals for 54 homeless neighbouring villagers. Thankfully, Beatrice, a teacher at the college helps me out. Talking to her about what is happening she shrugs and says, "They say god has left Africa along time ago." When listening to all the stories and seeing the destruction myself, I have to agree with what Beatrice says. In Cabaceira Pequena alone, 315 mud huts, 15 boats, 15 canoes, the primary school and 30 coconut palms have been destroyed. Even through this living hell the Cabacerianos are experiencing, they remain friendly, ask me how I am doing and give me a smile.

    Incredible loss

    Personally, this experience has allowed me to begin to understand some of the hardship many Cabacerianos have to withstand. A song sang by Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mombassa called 'Homeless' has real meaning to me now. The verse, 'strong wind, destroy our homes, many dead…' will always make me think of this day and the incredible loss these people have experienced because of the cyclone.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:25 PM  
    Cyclone leaves 55 000 homeless
    Maputo - A Mozambican government spokesperson said about 55 000 people lost their houses when cyclone Jokwe hit the northern Mozambican coast at the weekend.

    He said that a total of 165 000 people in Mozambique had been affected by the cyclone. The known death toll from the storm now stands at nine.

    More than 90 classrooms and about 100 boats had been destroyed by the storm.

    Jokwe is now in the south of the Mozambique Channel, where it is weakening, and it is expected to dissipate over the next two days.

    It is unlikely on its current course to strike either Mozambique or Madagascar again.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:16 PM  
    Met Office continues to forecast severe westerly gales
    Tuesday, March 11, 2008
    The Met Office continues to forecast a swathe of severe westerly gales to affect parts of the UK on Tuesday night and through the first half of Wednesday. The strongest winds are expected to reach Northern Ireland late on Tuesday evening, and then transfer across parts of southwest Scotland, northern England, north Wales and the Midlands during Wednesday. Gusts of 65 to 75 mph are expected with the possibility of gusts in excess of 80 mph on exposed coasts and hills, especially across N.Ireland and northwest England. The winds are expected to be accompanied by some heavy snow over the higher parts of northern England and southern Scotland, with temporary blizzard conditions during Wednesday morning. Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. This warning will be superseded by FLASH warnings.

    Issued at: 1041 Tue 11 Mar
    (Met office
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:10 PM  
    Prepare for the worst says agency as violent storm looms over Wales
    A NEAR hurricane-force storm is expected to break coastline flood defences and cause a swathe of damage across Wales today.

    The Atlantic “cyclone” that equates to 11 on the Beaufort Scale – one below a hurricane’s 12 – was expected to peak in the early hours of today, before returning with a second wave of potential disruption within 24 hours, the Met Office warned last night.

    High tides – the highest predicted this year – are forecast at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, shortly before 8am, 8.48am at Newport and 9.53am at Barmouth, Gwynedd. This is when the Welsh coastline is most at risk of a sea surge.

    The Environment Agency urged people to “prepare for the worst” and to stay away from the coast because the storm – said to be this winter’s worst – combined with this high spring tide could trigger massive waves and flooding.

    Pembrokeshire County Council urged residents to be alert, and said there was a possibility of evacuations in high risk flooding areas such as low-lying Newgale.

    The council said the Cleddau Bridge is likely to be closed for much of today, while the road at Newgale was to be closed from 6am. Other roads may also be closed.

    The cyclone, caused by a swirling deep depression is expected to bring 70mph gales, hail and lightning across the whole of Wales, generating 30 feet-high waves out at sea, making sailing treacherous.

    Today’s 2.45am Stena Line ferry crossing between Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, and Ireland’s Rosslare was cancelled yesterday in anticipation.

    The Met Office predicted that South Wales and southern England would suffer the brunt of the storm. It issued a severe weather warning, saying power supplies could be disrupted, trees uprooted and buildings damaged, making driving conditions hazardous.

    Rachel Vince, senior forecaster at Meteogroup, said heavy rain, gales, hail and lightning would move across the country overnight.

    “It’s unlikely we could expect gales as strong as the 1987 one,” she said. “Nevertheless, where you do see the strongest winds you could expect some trees to fall and possibly some structural damage to buildings.”

    She added there is a “little bit” of snow expected, but only above 300 metres.

    Jonathan Powell, a senior weather forecaster, said disruption is most likely in the south and west of Wales, which would “take the brunt of the cyclone”.

    Mr Powell said up to 40mms of rain is expected in 18-hour period from midnight to 6pm today, with sleet and snow mixed in at times.

    He added, “There is the potential for flash flooding. Wind strength will surpass 60 mph at times, possibly reaching 70 mph, causing possible structural damage.”

    Barry Priddiso, duty watch coastguard manager at Holyhead, Anglesey, said the public and local councils across Wales had been placing sandbags on low-lying flood-prone areas in readiness for the onslaught.

    He said, “The scale 11 violent storm could cause 12-metre high waves that could break our coastal flood defences. This is likely to be the worst storm of winter.

    “It is being caused by a deep depression and the areas where the isobars are close together indicate the areas that will be worst hit – and that is the whole of Wales.

    “If you were to draw a straight line on a map from Anglesey to London, there would be a 70% chance of damage at all areas below that line.

    “In 50mph winds people would have to lean into the wind to stay upright but these gales are going to be over 70 mph. This is a serious wind in a pretty nasty storm.

    “Although people can be drawn by the awesome sight of nature like a magnet, anyone standing too close to the shoreline and its dramatic waves would be putting themselves in danger.”

    John Mosedale, flood risk manager at Environment Agency Wales, said, “We need to prepare for the worst.”

    The storm is set to hit Wales in two waves, according to Meteogroup UK, the Press Association’s weather division, with more rain and fierce westerly gusts tonight and tomorrow.

    In Gwent, police were visiting the 170 residents at the Lighthouse Park Caravan Site at St Brides, and advising precautionary evacuation.

    Residents of the 12 premises on a stretch from Goldcliff to Redcliff were also being urged to evacuate as a precaution, and were being advised on how to protect their houses.

    Newport Leisure Centre has been set up as an evacuation centre.

    Floodline – 0845 988 1188

    How today’s storm rates on the Beaufort Scale of one to 12

    11 – Violent storm
    64 to 72 mph gales – 56 to 63 knots
    Very rarely experienced, the storm is accompanied by widespread damage on land and exceptionally high waves at sea.

    12 – Hurricane
    73 to 83 mph gales – 64 to 71 knots. Excessive damage.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:05 PM  
    Britain braced for second storm front as thousands are hit by flooding and power cuts
    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Thousands were left stranded, flooded or without power yesterday as 95mph hailstorms lashed Britain.

    Amid widespread travel chaos, more than 10,000 families were plunged into darkness when trees crashed through power lines.

    Homes in Wales, Cornwall and Devon were deluged.

    Emergency services were at full stretch for the "perfect storm" - a combination of gale force winds and the high spring tide.
    And as insurers estimated damage running into hundreds of millions, forecasters warned there would be more mayhem today.

    Yet despite the thunderous fury of the storm, said to be the worst of the winter, there was no loss of life and the verdict so far was: It could have been a lot worse.

    Motorists were recounting their lucky escapes avoiding trees that crashed to the road, while others were plucked to safety from rising waters.

    Lightning struck two homes in Dorset, and in London a woman was taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious by an advertising hoarding blown down as she waited for a train.

    From Cornwall to Kent, spectacular waves came perilously close to breaching sea walls in coastal towns.

    The onslaught continued throughout the day and Paul Leinster, director of operations at the Environment Agency, said the "potent cocktail" of strong winds, large waves and high tides would last until tomorrow.

    The AA reported its busiest day of the year, responding to 16,000 stricken motorists.

    The RAC advised drivers to stay on the alert for hazardous conditions over the next few days.

    British Airways had to cancel dozens of short-haul flights at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and regional airports in the south were also hit.

    Most English Channel ferry crossings were cancelled, and dozens of roads were flooded or closed, including the M25.

    Power companies said 7,500 properties in an area stretching from Bristol to Cornwall had been cut off and 3,000 more in South Wales.

    The worst of the weather hit the far south-west coast in the early hours of yesterday.

    Winds reached 82mph at Berry Head in Brixham, Devon, between 3am and 5am and peaked at 95mph at The Needles on the Isle of Wight at 1pm.

    Despite structural damage, organisers of the Cheltenham Festival said the racecourse was undamaged and promised events would begin today as planned.

    Last night, Britain braced itself for more misery as forecasters predicted there could be more severe gales on the way.

    The whole of England could once again face winds of up to 80mph and disruption is set to continue on railways and roads.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:42 PM  
    UK: Severe Gales 2100 Tue 11 1500 Wed 12
    Severe Gales 2100 Tue 11 1500 Wed 12
    The Met Office is forecasting another swathe of severe westerly gales to affect parts of the UK on Tuesday night and through the first half of Wednesday. This time the focus is further north than on Monday. The strongest winds are expected to reach Northern Ireland during Tuesday evening, and then transfer across parts of southwest Scotland, northern England, north Wales and the Midlands during Wednesday. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph are expected with the possibility of 80 mph gusts on exposed coasts and hills. Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. This warning will be updated around 1100 on Tuesday 11 March.

    Issued at: 1454 Mon 10 Mar

    Met office
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:38 PM  
    UK braced for more severe weather
    10 March 2008

    Following the very windy conditions experienced across the south of the UK through Monday the Met Office is expecting unsettled conditions to continue with more severe gales to affect the UK later this week.

    Forecasters at the UK's national weather service have issued an early warning of severe gales with potentially damaging gusts forecast for late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

    High winds with gusts of 60 to 70 m.p.h., and perhaps 80 m.p.h. gusts over exposed coasts and hills. Areas most at risk of this spell of severe weather are likely to be north Wales, the Midlands, Northern Ireland and northern England.

    Nick Grahame, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office said: "We are forecasting another swathe of severe gales to affect parts of the UK, although the focus further north compared to the severe weather on Monday.

    "With this spell of strong winds the Met Office is predicting further disruption to transport and power supplies, as well as the potential of damage to buildings and trees."

    People are advised to stay in touch with the latest weather forecast and warnings on the Met Office website, and tune into local radio and TV.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:36 PM  
    MAP: Tropical cyclone Jokwe (satellite image)

    Source: NASA

    The compact Tropical Cyclone Jokwe had just skimmed past northern Madagascar and was moving south into the Mozambique Channel when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this photo-like image on March 7, 2008.

    Loose bands of clouds circle a tightly packed core and a small, but defined eye that resembles a pin prick in a field of white. Though small, the cyclone was expected to bring winds and heavy rain to coastal Mozambique as it tracked south along the shore. At the time MODIS acquired this image on the afternoon of March 7, Jokwe had winds estimated at 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour or 85 knots) with gusts to 190 km/hr (120 mph or 105 knots), said the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    Jokwe follows in the wake of powerful Cyclone Ivan, which devastated Madagascar between February 17 and February 19, 2008. As of February 29, the death toll from Cyclone Ivan had surpassed 80, reported Reuters. Fortunately, Jokwe's path did not take the storm over parts of Madagascar affected by Ivan.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:07 PM  
    Violent storm winds batter county
    Hampshire has been hit by a deluge of horrific weather conditions, with widespread flooding and other problems across the county.

    High tide at noon coupled with force 11 winds shortly afterwards spelt misery for many.

    After a midmorning lull, the weather hit back this afternoon to bring a repeat performance of the travel chaos and disruption it caused across the county during the early part of today.

    By mid-afternoon police have received 200 weather-related calls since storm conditions began in the early hours this morning.

    Fallen trees, broken power lines and concerns over flooding have formed the majority of the calls to Hampshire constabulary.

    Earlier today power cables and phone lines were down in Barton-on-Sea and Dibden respectively as high winds and lashing rain settled in across the county.

    Officers are advising people to take extreme precautions and avoid coastal areas with further storms expected this afternoon coupled with high tides.

    Earlier, coastguards said that off Hurst Castle in the Solent the wind reached near hurricane force which would be 73 miles an hour.

    Trees have been uprooted and buildings damaged along the south, with the emergency services bracing themselves after a night of gale-force winds.

    The Red Jets and Red Funnel ferries between Southampton and Cowes on the the Isle of Wight were suspended but are now working normally.

    Trees have blocked roads all over Hampshire, including the A326 Marchwood bypass, the A32 in West Meon and Gore Road in New Milton.

    A tree has also blocked the route from Everton to Wainsford, near Lymington.

    The Environment Agency currently has seven severe flood warnings in force, 48 flood warnings and 53 flood watches.

    The Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency advised members of the public to stay away from the waves, but reported there had been no serious incidents overnight.

    They added: "Due to inclement weather conditions, the Coastguard would advise all mariners and visitors to the coast to be very wary over the next few days.

    "There may be some extremely difficult weather conditions out at sea and on exposed coastlines. As always, it is important to be aware of the weather, tides and sea conditions prior to making any excursion to the coast or out to sea, and the Coastguard is available 24 hrs a day to provide that information."

    The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place for most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and central Scotland.

    Last night Gordon Brown held a crisis telephone conference with officials from the EA, the Met Office and relevant government departments, as well as the emergency services and armed forces, to discuss the storm.

    P&O Ferries have also cancelled its sailing from Bilbao to Portsmouth because of the severe weather warning.

    The National Rail website warned commuters to expect delays on the railways, imposing a temporary speed limit south of Basingstoke.

    Sancha Lancaster, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, said rail delays were particularly likely on vulnerable lines such as the London to Penzance route, and the very worst weather was due to strike during the afternoon rush hour.

    She said: ''The strongest gusts of wind, reaching up to 80mph, are likely to happen between midday and late afternoon, affecting afternoon rush hour and possible coinciding with high tides on the south and west coasts."

    The Environment Agency has opened its national incident room, warning of the risk of high waves and flooding in Wales, the south west, and southern England.

    Paul Leinster, Environment Agency director of operations, said there would be a ''potent cocktail'' of strong winds, wave action and high tides from last night until Wednesday.

    ''The gale force winds will combine with spring high tides to significantly elevate the water levels along the coast by up to 1.5 metres over normal levels, which is likely to cause some flooding."

    If you believe you are at risk of flooding call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for advice on what to do before, during and after a flood.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:58 PM  
    Mozambican cyclone kills ten, displaces 2,000 families
    MAPUTO (AFP) — A fierce cyclone hit northern Mozambique at the weekend, killing ten people and forcing nearly 2,000 families from their homes, officials said on Monday.

    "For the moment, we count ten deaths," Administration Minister Lucas Chomera told journalists in the capital Maputo in the afternoon.

    In the morning, the Institute for the Management of National Disasters said seven deaths had been reported since Cyclone Jokwe, measuring four on an intensity scale of one to five, hit Mozambique on Friday evening.

    "Thousands of dwellings, hundreds of schools and dozens of hospitals" were destroyed, the institute's Antonio Bonifacio, told AFP.

    The cyclone struck the large Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar during Wednesday night, and left at least 400 people homeless and 44 buildings wrecked on the tourist islet Nosy Be in the north.

    Madagascar has already been struck by two other cyclones since the beginning of the storm season in December 2007. Between February 17 and 19, Cyclone Ivan killed 93 people, injured 639 others and affected more than 332,000 people.

    Madagascan national catastrophe office staff said last Friday that 191,000 people were homeless, but they were checking the figure of 117 reported missing.

    Cyclone Jokwe crossed the Mozambique Channel and reached the southeast African coast on Friday, striking Mozambique's northern Nampula province. It is now moving southwards through the southern African country.

    "Monday and Tuesday it will hit the provinces of Zambezia, Sofala and Inhambane (in the centre and south of the country), said Mussa Mustafa of the national institute of meteorology (NIM).

    Authorities in these regions have issued a red alert and invited people living in makeshift shelters to take refuge in public buildings.

    The cyclone was expected to lose intensity from Tuesday onwards, according to the NIM.

    Mozambique has been battling floods since January that have killed about 10 people and displaced another 100,000.

    The rising waters destroyed more than 80,000 hectares of farmland, leaving some 250,000 people dependent on food aid.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:56 PM  
    Tropical Cyclone Jokwe Reaches Category 3 Strength
    Sunday, March 9, 2008
    Tropical Cyclone Mozambique is making landfall in Mozambique as a Category 3 hurricane, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    The storm gained more strength than had been predicted in the two days since it brushed Madagascar as a Category 1 storm.

    But the storm is expected to lash Mozambique with winds of 115 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    "The National Institute of Meteorology said the risk of flooding was low as the rains would hit coastal areas and flow into the ocean. Shipping would however be affected," the World Meteorological Agency reported. "Flooding earlier this year forced tens of thousands of people in Mozambique to flee their homes."

    Meanwhile, the damage done by the last hurricane in the region, Tropical Cyclone Ivan, is still being felt in Madagascar. The death toll from that storm increased by another 10 people, to 93, and the total number of homeless is well over 330,000, according to Reuters.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 11:46 PM  
    Mozambique: Cyclone Plunges Island Into Darkness

    The district of Mozambique Island, on the coast of the northern province of Nampula, is without electricity thanks to the high winds and torrential rains brought to the region by cyclone Jokwe.

    Jokwe has been affecting the weather along the Nampula coast since Friday night. The cyclonic winds have knocked down electricity pylons, and have caused houses built of flimsy materials to collapse. According to radio reports, the roofs have been blown off two Mozambique Island schools, and the local police command is without communication, since its antenna has been damaged.

    The Minister of State Administration, Lucas Chomeras, has interrupted a working visit to Ribaue district, in the west of Nampula in order to concentrate his efforts on the cyclone-hit districts of the coast.

    Chomera said that teams from the government's relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), are on their way to Mozambique Island to assist the local authorities. The INGC will provide a helicopter to assist in relief logistics.

    By Saturday afternoon, the centre of the cyclone had moved southwards, and was between Mozambique Island and the fishing town of Angoche. On making landfall, Jokwe lost strength, falling from a category four to a category three cyclone, and its wind speeds diminished from over 200 to about 170 kilometres an hour.

    On Saturday night, as Jokwe continues moving slowly south, the coastal districts of Zambezia province will experience high winds. But Zambezia will be spared the full impact of the cyclone, since its course is expected to take it back out to sea.

    It is projected to drift across the Bay of Sofala, where it will pose a serious threat to shipping. Since cyclones intensify over water, Jokwe could become a Category four storm again.

    The National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE) on Saturday afternoon again urged the Nampula and Zambezia authorities to take all due precautions. All boats should be moored securely, and local residents should sit out the storm in the safest parts of their homes, or in temporary shelters provided by the authorities.

    CENOE warned that people should not venture into the open and should particularly avoid the vicinity of trees or electricity pylons.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 11:35 PM  
    Warning! Severe Gales 0001 Mon 10 0300 Tue 11
    Severe Gales 0001 Mon 10 0300 Tue 11
    The Met Office continues to expect an intense low pressure system to move east across the UK during Monday, bringing severe gales and potentially damaging gusts across some areas, more particularly the west and south of England and Wales. Southerly winds are expected to strengthen during the early hours of Monday to give severe gales for a time, coinciding with the morning rush hour in some areas. An additional swathe of severe westerly gales will follow through the morning and afternoon, principally affecting southwest England and the south coast of England. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph are likely with the possibility of 80 mph gusts on exposed coasts and hills. Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. In addition high waves and flooding may affect coastal areas in the south. This warning is likely to be superseded by FLASH messages.

    Issued at: 1110 Sun 9 Mar

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:24 PM  
    Flood warning as storm approaches
    South and west Wales have been warned they will bear the brunt as the biggest storm of winter heads towards the UK.
    People in low-lying exposed coastal areas have been urged to stay alert amid fears of flooding and damage.

    Experts said the most risk was at high tide on Monday morning, with winds up to 80mph and rain due on Sunday night.

    Environment Agency Wales said it had to "prepare for the worst," with high spring tides, very low pressure, and strong onshore winds forecast.

    The Met Office has severe weather warnings for all of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and southern and central Scotland.

    David Rooke, head of flood risk management at the Environment Agency, said: "People living in properties in low-lying exposed coastal areas along the south west, Wales and north-west England should make sure they are monitoring the situation from Sunday afternoon onwards by checking flood updates on the Environment Agency website or ringing Floodline.

    "The strong winds will combine with spring high tides to significantly elevate the water levels along the coast which is likely to cause some flooding.

    "We understand that people are fascinated by the sea but at times like this we do urge them not to go and watch the high waves - it is extremely dangerous and only takes a few seconds for someone to be knocked off their feet, into the water."

    John Mosedale, flood risk manager at Environment Agency Wales, said the consequences were difficult to predict.

    'Vulnerable to flooding'

    "But we know that with high spring tides, a very low pressure area and very strong on-shore winds, we need to prepare for the worst," he said.

    "We are concerned that the sea surge could overtop defences along the coast of Wales. Coastal communities facing south and west will also be vulnerable to flooding from waves.

    "We are keeping a very close eye on the situation as it develops."

    People are advised to listen to local weather reports and call the Environment Agency Wales' Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

    Meteogroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said the storm was set to hit the country in two waves, with more bad weather on the way later this week.

    Rachel Vince, senior forecaster at Meteogroup, said the winds would start to pick up soon after midnight on Sunday, with heavy rain, hail and lightning moving across the country overnight.

    "It's unlikely we could expect gales as strong as the 1987 one," she said.

    "Nevertheless, where you do see the strongest winds you could expect some trees to fall and possibly some structural damage to buildings."

    The unsettled weather is due to climax on Monday morning, then ease off before worsening again in the evening, with fierce westerly gusts in the west and south of the UK.

    'Make for shelter'

    The tides - without the surge - are the highest predicted this year.

    Those high tides which affect Wales are predicted at 0752 GMT on Monday at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, 0848 at Newport, 0953 at Barmouth, Gwynedd, and at 1243pm at Liverpool. The actual time of high tide can vary by about an hour either side.

    Barry Priddis, watch manager on duty at Holyhead Coastguard, said ships at sea were being advised to make for shelter before the highest winds arrived.

    "It's almost benign here at the moment, there's not much wind presently," he said on Sunday morning.

    "That will change, however, so there is time if you are out there to come into shelter and stay there and let this blow over."

    Swansea Coastguard said the wind was expected to go to force 10 or 11. The maximum is force 12.

    Monday's 0245 GMT Stena Line ferry across the Irish Sea between Fishguard in Pembrokeshire and Rosslare has been cancelled in advance in anticipation of the weather.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:16 PM  
    Britain is bracing itself for the worst storm in 20 years tonight
    Britain is bracing itself for the worst storm in 20 years tonight, with hurricane-force winds and devastating floods.

    Millions are being warned to stay indoors as 80mph gales batter the country, threatening widespread destruction and rush-hour chaos tomorrow.

    A giant cyclone sweeping across the Atlantic is expected to carve a 300-mile trail of damage as it moves southwards, bringing down power lines and causing havoc on the roads and railways. What is worrying the emergency services is that the storm will coincide with high spring tides.

    Flood warnings have been put in place along hundreds of miles of coastline from the Scottish Borders to the English Channel.

    The Met Office last night issued a severe weather warning for England, Wales and western Scotland for the whole of tomorrow and Tuesday.

    It said there was a 70 per cent risk of disruption throughout South-west England, Wales, London, the Home Counties and the south coast. The North-west, Midlands and East Anglia face a 40 per cent risk.

    “Parts of Wales and the southern half of England are considered at greatest risk,” said a Met Office spokesman. “Disruption could occur to transport and power supplies, and there may be damage to buildings.”

    Ten high-tide warnings have been issued – seven in the North-west and three in southern England. Barrow-in-Furness, Morecambe Bay, the Mersey estuary, Wales and the entire Cornish coastline are under threat.

    Motoring organisations warn drivers to stay inside unless journeys are essential and Coastguards have urged amateur sailors to stay ashore.

    As wind speeds began to pick up last night, the Llanberis mountain rescue team searched for a climber blown off a ridge on Snowdon. The man was reported to have survived but his condition was not known.

    While scientists are not predicting weather as severe as the Great Storm of 1987, they do fear a drop in air pressure to near record levels. Pressure in the eye of the cyclone could fall to 935mb. The lowest recorded over the UK was 925.6mb at Ochtertyre, near Stirling, Perthshire, in 1884.

    Meteorologists have been monitoring the storm for 48 hours as it developed out of a strong jet stream off
    the Canadian coast.

    Independent weather forecaster Tom Defty said: “The latest computer models show the strongest of the winds affecting southern Ireland, Wales and South-west England during Monday morning.”

    A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The time of main concern is Monday morning at around 7am and again in the afternoon.

    “Flood Watches will continue to be issued over the course of Sunday morning and are likely to be upgraded to Flood Warnings in some areas.

    “Property holders in low-lying exposed areas along the entire coast of North-west and South-east England and Wales should check our Floodline from around midday Sunday to ensure they are aware of the situation.”

    The Institute of Advanced Motorists urged drivers to stay off the roads. Air travellers were advised to check in as normal.

    The Met Office is to launch traffic-light-style signals on TV weather forecasts this week to warn of extreme conditions.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:13 PM  
    Tropical Cyclone Jokwe Heads for Mozambique
    Saturday, March 8, 2008

    Tropical cyclone Jokwe, currently a Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to grow in strength and lash Mozambique as a Category 2 storm with 109-mph winds, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm already swept across Madagascar, which has been slammed repeatedly by tropical cyclones this season. In February, Cyclone Ivan killed more than 80 people there, and made 200,000 homeless. The cyclone could cause heavy damage in Mozambique, which suffered the worst floods in memory in January and February, according to Reuters. Tens of thousands of people evacuated during those floods. Scroll down for a map showing expected path of Tropical Cyclone Jokwe past Madagascar and toward Mozambique.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:26 PM  
    Mozambique: Cyclone Alert On Northern Coast

    Mozambique's National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE) on Friday advised coastal districts of Nampula and Zambezia provinces to remain on the alert, as a category three cyclone approaches.

    Cyclone Jokwe, after brushing the northern tip of Madagascar, is crossing the Mozambique Channel, and heading towards the Nampula coast. By 14.00, the centre of the cyclone was about 230 kilometres from the coast of the Nampula district of Mossuril, and cyclonic winds were reaching 130 kilometres an hour.

    The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) said the cyclone was already influencing the weather of the coastal districts bringing moderate to heavy rains to the districts of Moma, Mogincual, Mossuril, Angoche and Mozambique Island.

    The latest projection of the cyclone's course by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre of the US Navy and Air Force suggests that by about midnight the centre of the storm will be just south of the port of Nacala. Jokwe is then projected to move southwards, down the Nampula and Zambezia coasts. But by Sunday, it should be sweeping back out to sea, moving away from the Mozambican mainland.

    The warning statement from CENOE states that the Nampula and Zambezia coastal districts can expect moderate, and locally heavy rains on Saturday morning, and winds of up to 50 kilometres an hour.

    CENOE urges the authorities and residents of those districts to take the necessary preventive measures, and to follow any further warnings that may be issued as the storm approaches.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 11:53 AM  
    Climate Study Links Atlantic Storms With African Dust Levels
    Friday, March 7, 2008
    Aided by satellite monitoring, scientists at the University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies have updated their study of cyclone formation in the eastern Atlantic Ocean off of Africa’s west coast. Their findings, released last month, appeared about the same time as tropical Cyclone Ivan struck Madagascar in the Indian Ocean east of the African continent. The International Red Cross and the UN humanitarian agency OCHA have stepped up emergency appeals for millions of dollars to help Madagascar recover from the tropical storm, which caused severe flooding and left at least 84 people dead and several hundred thousand homeless.

    While ingredients and conditions for storms forming over the Indian Ocean differ from the catalysts that can precipitate storms over the Atlantic, climate specialists are hoping to enhance the predictability and understanding of tropical storm formation in general. Researcher Evan Amato in Madison, Wisconsin explains that the latest studies over West Africa and the eastern Atlantic show a unique climatological link between African dust outbreaks, water temperatures, and the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.

    “When you have a lot of dust particles suspended in the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean, essentially they just reflect sunlight back out to space. They’re like millions of tiny little mirrors, and so that’s energy that could have been used to warm up the ocean that’s now being reflected back out to space. And so, what happens is that in years when there’s an anomalously high amount of dust storm activity, you get immeasurable cooling of the ocean temperatures,” he notes.

    During dry years when airborne dust particles drift southward to cover the West Africa coastal zone where humid ocean air can breed tropical storms, cooling atmospheric conditions can lower ocean temperatures and reduce the chances of storms developing. But in years when heavier precipitation covers a greener land mass, reduced quantities of aerosol dust allow more sun to radiate and heat up ocean temperatures. Amato says such seasonal indicators can help researchers understand several months in advance whether or not ocean temperatures, coupled with wind speeds, moisture, and dust content will be ripe for storm formation.

    “Probably one of the biggest impacts of this recent study is that dust storm activity, even before hurricane season starts, say in May and June, is really giving us an indication of the environment. If we get a lot of dust storm activity and a lot of dust suspended out over the Atlantic Ocean, it’s going to cool the ocean temperatures and that’s going to have an impact on hurricane activity, later in the season, even into September, directly through the ocean temperatures,” says Amato.

    Scientists recognize the unique conditions over West Africa that permit them to study this phenomenon from space. Wisconsin’s Amato says the combination of a vast dust-generating Sahel desert region, bordered by a tropical, moist area to the south which fuels hurricane formation, produces many different kinds of atmospheric phenomena that, coupled with warm ocean temperatures, can generate conditions that may or may not be ripe to cultivate a tropical storm.

    “All of the wind patterns, all of the storm patterns that we see across the tropical north Atlantic are all being generated over Africa, over the Ethiopian highlands. They’re being modified as they travel across Chad, across Mauritania. And really, West Africa is just such a fascinating and unique place in the world. There’s this super, dry desert, that’s just massive, and then to the south of that is this very tropical, moist area. All kinds of interesting atmospheric phenomena are set up when you have very dry, warm air to the north of these very tropical air masses, when you have these strong gradients of temperature and moisture. That just tends to fuel these storms that are being initiated over the Ethiopian highlands, and so by the time they get out over the Atlantic, they’re these very strong storms that are very likely to be able to form into hurricanes,” he notes.

    Amato says there can be fluctuations from season to season, but his 25-year findings show promising signs for identifying cyclical patterns in hurricane formation. He notes an overall trend that generally between 1982 and 1994, higher dust concentrations coincided with reduced cyclone activity, while the remaining recent years of the study, extending up until 2006, exhibited lower dust levels and greater cyclone activity, particularly in 1996, 2004, and 2006. But the Wisconsin researcher cautions that measuring year to year changes is not a straight forward process. He says that other factors like human industrial development, environmental factors like volcanic eruptions that can generate huge amounts of aerosols, changes in Sahelian vegetation levels and a rise in carbon dioxide levels over the next few decades may alter the entire scheme of findings from the past 25 years and leave room for much future investigation.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:24 PM  
    Tropical Cyclone Jokwe Within Hours of Landfall
    Tropical Cyclone Jokwe, packing winds of nearly 100 mph, is within hours of making landfall in Mozambique, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    The Category 2 hurricane already passed Madagascar as a Category 1 storm, doing little damage to that cyclone-battered island nation (the death count from Cyclone Ivan was recently upped to 83, and hundreds of thousands remain homeless, according to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization).

    Mozambique has already suffered serious flooding this year, and Cyclone Jokwe promises more destructive weather.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:38 PM  
    Mozambique: Cyclone Threatens Northern Region
    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    A tropical cyclone is heading for northern Mozambique and is likely to make landfall on Saturday.

    As of Thursday morning, cyclone Jokwe was clipping the northern tip of Madagascar. It was slowing down over Madagascar, and the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre put its wind speed at 55 knots (100 kilometres an hour), with gusts of 65 knots (120 kilometres an hour).

    But cyclones intensify over the open ocean, and so as Jokwe moves across the Mozambique Channel, its wind speeds will become faster. As it approaches the Mozambican coast, a wind speed of almost 140 kilometres an hour, and gusts of up to 167 kilometres an hour are forecast.

    On its current course, the centre of the storm system will make landfall somewhere near the northern port of Nacala on Saturday morning. This is well to the north of the river valleys of central Mozambique that suffered severe flooding in January and February, and so it is unlikely that Jokwe will worsen the situation of the flood victims.

    Last month Madagascar took the full brunt of another Indian Ocean cyclone, codenamed Ivan. Some journalists who should have known better hyped up the threat cyclone Ivan supposedly posed to Mozambique. But Ivan hit central Madagascar, and dissipated as it crossed the island. As on many earlier occasions, Madagascar acted as a natural buffer, protecting Mozambique from the full fury of Indian Ocean storms.

    Jokwe is different, since it is not likely to be over Madagascar long enough for the storm system to collapse.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:49 PM  
    Snow, Ice, Floods Hit Several States
    Wednesday, March 5, 2008
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Snow, ice and flooding closed roads and schools across Ohio on Wednesday and left tens of thousands of customers without electricity in the aftermath of a storm system that had pummeled wide sections of the eastern half of the nation.

    Scattered school closings were reported Wednesday from Indiana to Maine. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and advisories for streams from eastern Oklahoma to North Carolina and as far to the northeast as Massachusetts.

    In northern Maine, Caribou received 1.4 inches of snow overnight, giving the city a total of more than 160 inches so far this season, making this the second-snowiest winter on record there, the weather service said.

    More than a dozen homes were evacuated overnight because of flooding in eastern Ohio's Jefferson County.

    A school was set up as an emergency shelter, said Rob Herrington, assistant director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.

    "Mostly, we've had more nuisance flooding than anything, just some water on the roads," he said.

    At least three Ohio counties declared driving emergencies, meaning only essential vehicles should be on the roads, and traffic in some other parts of the state was slowed by accidents on icy roads and detours around fallen trees and power lines.

    Traffic in northern Indiana was at a near standstill Wednesday morning on Interstate 74 near Batesville because of ice and snow, state police Sgt. Noel Houze said. Motorists were unable to make it up a hill on the highway about 60 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Several inches of snow had fallen overnight in northeastern Indiana.

    The edge of the storm also hit southeastern Michigan, dumping as much as 10 inches of snow during the night and closing hundreds of schools in the Detroit area.

    Sleet changing to light snow during the night in western New York state created an ice layer about a half-inch thick around Buffalo and Rochester, the weather service said. Buffalo Niagara International Airport shut down for about an hour Wednesday morning so crews could clear runways and a handful of flights were canceled.

    The storm blacked out thousands of homes and businesses in parts of Indiana, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina,

    Farther south, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency Wednesday because of power outages and preliminary reports that high wind had destroyed nine buildings and damaged more than 50 others.

    On Tuesday, the same storm system dumped as much as 13 inches of snow in west-central Arkansas, with up to 8 inches in Missouri and 9 around Alton, Ill., the weather service said.

    Four inches of rain fell in southwestern Kentucky, and up to 5 inches fell in southwest North Carolina. Alabama had two small tornadoes Tuesday that destroyed at least two homes and damaged others, the weather service said.

    Two people were killed Tuesday in Illinois when their car slid on a sleet-covered road into the path of a truck.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:33 PM  
    Namibia: Floods a National Disaster
    Petronella Sibeene

    President Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday declared the floods in the northern regions of the country a national disaster, sending an SOS to the international community to step in and render assistance to the country amid fears of biting food shortages and serious damage to infrastructure.

    "I have no other option but to declare that an emergency situation has arisen in the north and northeastern parts of the country. Thus, the necessary interventions must be put into operation to face this emergency," he said yesterday at a media briefing at State House.

    Torrential rains in the usually dry central and northern parts of the country have washed away roads, bridges, submerged schools and clinics and claimed more than 40 lives.

    "This could be the worst disaster in many years survival of a large percentage of our population in Namibia is under serious threat," said the President.

    The current situation, he added, requires the Government to act immediately to avert this crisis, which could grow out of proportion.

    However, Government resources alone are insufficient, given the magnitude of the situation.

    Pohamba appealed to the international community to assist Namibia in the short-term with food, blankets and tents.

    In the long-term, the President said the country would have to reconstruct bridges and roads destroyed by heavy rains. He reiterated that Government resources alone cannot cope with the situation hence a call to the international community to assist in the present crisis and its aftermath.

    "I therefore, appeal to the international community to assist our Government to carry out a reconstruction programme as a result of destroyed infrastructure," said Pohamba.

    Equally, Namibians are called on to work together and render assistance.

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry says communal farmers have lost about 25850 animals. It is reported that more animals are still dying in these areas.

    The President feared that grazing in large parts of the communal areas will be poor as a result of excessive water. This poses yet another threat to animal life as whatever grass will be there might not be enough to sustain the lives of the animals until the next rainy season.

    Similarly, crop assessment experts say widespread crop losses are expected and families that heavily depend on crop farming are likely to face severe food shortages.

    "Many fields, especially in the Caprivi, Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshana regions are submerged," Pohamba said.

    The Head of State said the 2007/8 rainy season delayed in most parts of northern Namibia. The delay resulted in significant unfavourable crop growing conditions that saw the reduction of yield prospects by at least 40 percent.

    The heavy rains received since early this year have caused water logging and leaching, which had negative effects on seed germination. The conditions further stunted the growth of main food crops namely maize and mahangu.

    Farmers in communal areas in northern Namibia are reported to have reduced the area under cultivation by 50 percent as a result of wet fields and unavailability of draught animals.

    By December last year, farmers in the north could not work their fields at the onset of the rains because animals were too weak to pull the ploughs.

    For those that ploughed in the Oshikoto and Oshana regions, their fields were invaded by armyworms, posing a major threat to crops and pasture

    In the Caprivi Region, farmers delayed working on their fields as the region was hit by foot-and-mouth disease. Farmers also faced restrictions on animal movement to the crop fields.

    "Various assistance schemes were undertaken in several areas of agricultural activities such as the provision of seed subsidies and assistance with ploughing and planting activities," the President said.

    He added, "From the look of things, all our efforts were to no avail."

    Apart from jeopardising food security in the country for the next year, floods have also adversely affected learners.

    In the Ohangwena Region 17 schools, with 3715 learners and 108 teachers, are affected by floods.

    In the Kabbe constituency in the Caprivi Region, nine schools with 1278 learners and 58 teachers are affected.

    The President says the situation is not different in the Oshana and Omusati regions.

    He warned that the flood situation in the country is likely to worsen as hydrologists and meteorological officials forecast more rains in the coming weeks.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:11 PM  
    Floods in Namibia kill 42 and displace thousands
    Tuesday, March 4, 2008
    By John Grobler

    WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Floods in Namibia have killed 42 people and displaced thousands since early February and officials said on Tuesday more flooding can be expected.

    Gabriel Kangowa, head of the Emergency Management Unit of Namibia, said 4,500 people have been displaced from their homes in central and northern Namibia after heavy rains in neighboring Angola led to devastating floods.

    The rain in Angola turned normally dry floodplains -- known as "Oshonas" in Namibia -- into raging rivers, washing away roads and bridges and forced the closure of scores of schools in the country's northern Owambo region.

    Most of the victims were young children or old people who appeared to have drowned when crossing floodplains at night.

    "People are used to walking through the oshonas, but this time they are much deeper than before. We have had lots of drownings at night, when people can't see where they are going," Kangowa said.

    Guido van Langenhove, Head of Hydrology in Namibia, said more floods can be expected as Angola's southern Cunene province had received non-stop rain for the past three weeks.

    "The Cuvelai area is a disaster, the floods are at the highest level we have seen in over 35 years," he said, referring to an area in Angola just north of the Namibian town of Oshakati.

    He said more floodwater was on its way into already flooded areas in Namibia, adding "The end is not yet in sight".

    Emergency management chief Kangoma said some 250,000 people in the densely-populated Owamba region have been cut off with many only reachable by helicopter.

    In the eastern Caprivi region, rescue officials have begun evacuating schoolchildren by boat across the rising Zambezi River into Zambia, and from there, by road back to Namibia.

    The Zambezi, which normally only reaches its highest levels towards April, was currently at record highs, Van Langenhove said.

    The U.N. Children's Fund said last month that close to 150,000 children in southern African were in need of humanitarian assistance because of floods.

    At least 45 people have died in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi since torrential rains swept through southern Africa in December and January. The subsequent floods have swept away livestock and crops, prompting fears of food shortages and outbreaks of disease.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:16 PM  
    Climate skeptics roast Al Gore on global warming
    By Steve James

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Al Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar for his environmental advocacy, was the main target on Monday at a conference of dissident scientists skeptical of his views on global warming.

    Several speakers at the conference on climate change whose theme was "Global warming is not a crisis," took pot-shots at the ex-vice president and his film, "An Inconvenient Truth," which won last year's Academy Award for best documentary.

    "Whether we like it or not, it was extremely effective propaganda," said Timothy Ball, an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.

    "It was appropriate that he got an Oscar from the land of make-believe," he joked.

    The gathering was sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a non-profit libertarian organization that studies environmental and other issues "from a free-market perspective" and argues that "property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies."

    Attendees watched a movie, "A Climate of Fear," by conservative TV commentator Glenn Beck, who charged that anyone who opposes the view that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing the earth to warm up, are branded "heretics or Nazis."

    "Al Gore's version of climate change has no longer become science. It's dogma. And if you question it, you are a heretic," Beck said in the film.

    The conference challenged a strong majority of world scientific opinion that has concluded that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming.

    This view has been backed by bodies such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    "Our imperfect understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change means the science is far from settled," said Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

    "Proposed efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions are premature and misguided. Any attempt to influence global temperatures by reducing such emissions would be both futile and expensive," he said.

    Lord Monckton, who advised former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, blamed "the international left," for promoting that global warming is dangerous.

    "It's the media wanting a scare story," he said.

    (Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Alan Elsner)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:28 PM  
    Protesters and whalers clash in Southern Ocean
    Monday, March 3, 2008
    By James Grubel

    CANBERRA (Reuters) - Anti-whaling activists clashed with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean on Monday, prompting a diplomatic complaint from Tokyo to Canberra and a rebuke for the activists from the Australian government.

    Members of the hardline Sea Shepherd group threw bottles and containers of foul-smelling substances at the Japanese factory ship the Nisshin Maru as part of the organization's campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt.

    Three Japanese sailors were injured after the chemical cocktail splashed into the eyes of two coastguard crew and one whaler causing irritation, said an official with Japan's Fisheries Agency in Tokyo. He declined to give the location of the incident for security reasons.

    Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Japanese officials had complained to the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

    "I absolutely condemn actions by crew members of any vessel that cause injury, or have the potential to cause injury, to anyone on the high seas," he said on Monday.

    Sea Shepherd's leader Paul Watson described the incident as "non-violent chemical warfare," saying the substances thrown at the Japanese ship were harmless, foul-smelling and slippery substances, designed to make it difficult to process whales.

    "I guess we can call this non-violent chemical warfare," Watson said in a statement from the Sea Shepherd. "We only use organic, non-toxic materials designed to harass and obstruct illegal whaling operations."

    More than 100 glass bottles containing an unidentified white powder, and butyric acid, which comes from rancid butter, were thrown at the Nisshin Maru, the Fisheries Agency official said.

    The whalers responded by hosing down the activists, he said.


    The whaling ship and the Sea Shepherd vessel came within 10 meters (33 ft) of each other during the exchange, which lasted for an hour until the activists had run out of ammunition, the official said.

    "This is an act that tries to unfairly harm the safety of a ship and crew that is acting within the law at sea," Japan's top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference.

    "It's an unforgivable act and we protest strongly."

    The clash between the 139-crew whaling ship and Sea Shepherd's ship of 33 protesters follows a high-profile standoff in which two anti-whaling activists boarded another Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean in January.

    The incident, resolved after the activists were handed over to an Australian fisheries patrol, briefly suspended Japan's plan to kill nearly 1,000 whales during the year's Antarctic summer.

    Japan, which considers whaling to be a cultural tradition, abandoned commercial whaling after agreeing to an international moratorium in 1986, but began what it calls a scientific research whaling program the following year.

    It has since struggled to appease countries such as Australia, which strongly opposes the hunting of whales and is looking at mounting an international court case against Japan's annual whale hunt.

    On Monday, Japan hosted a whaling seminar with countries from Africa and Asia, although in a sign that even Japanese opinion is divided on the issue, several protestors gathered outside the venue, with one dressed as a whale.

    "Whaling tends to be an emotional issue, but we need to discuss it calmly, from a scientific standpoint," Japan's senior vice foreign minister, Itsunori Onodera, told the seminar.

    (Additional reporting by Chisa Fujioka and Chika Osaka in Tokyo; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:29 PM  
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    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