Tropical Storm Barry lands first blow on coastal Louisiana, New Orleans hunkers down

A view of downtown New Orleans pictured with the Mississippi River as Tropical Storm Barry approaches land in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

By Collin Eaton and Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Coastal Louisiana felt the first blow from Tropical Storm Barry’s winds early on Friday as the slow-moving tempest was forecast to become the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019 threatening to bring rain and flooding to New Orleans later in the day.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana late Thursday, hours after the region’s oil production was cut in half as energy companies evacuated offshore drilling facilities and a coastal refinery.

Tropical Storm Barry packed maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (85 km per hour) early Friday and was centered 95 miles (155 km) southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Barry will likely strengthen into a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 km) by the time it comes ashore late Friday or early Saturday, but officials warned that torrential rains posed the greatest danger.

Authorities kept a close eye on the levee system built to contain flooding along the lower Mississippi River that winds through the heart of New Orleans and has been running above flood stage for the past six months.

Barry was forecast to bring a coastal storm surge into the mouth of the river that could push its crest to 19 feet (5.79 m)on Saturday. That would be a foot lower than initially predicted but still the highest since 1950 and dangerously close to the top of the city’s levees.

Meteorologists predicted as much as 25 inches (64 cm) of rain could fall, leading to life-threatening flooding along parts of the Gulf Coast on Friday and Saturday.

The brunt of the storm was expected to skirt the western edge of New Orleans, avoiding a direct hit. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city has not ordered any voluntary or mandatory evacuations. But she added that 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps designed to purge streets and storm drains of excess water in the low-lying city.

“There is no system in the world that can handle that amount of rainfall in such a short period,” Cantrell said on Twitter.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned: “The more information we get, the more concerned we are that this is going to be an extreme rain event.”

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the levees, insisted that no significant breaching of the 20-foot-tall levees in New Orleans was likely.

Some residents, recalling the deadly, devastating floods unleashed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said they were determined to get out of harm’s way.

Others flocked to supermarkets for bottled water, ice, snacks and beer, thronging grocery stores in such numbers that some ran out of shopping carts.

Throughout the city, motorists left cars parked on the raised median strips of roadways hoping the extra elevation would protect them from flood damage.

A concierge at the luxury Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans noted many cancellations ahead of the storm. The hotel had been hosting the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s 54th national convention and most attendees checked out early, said the concierge, who declined to give her name.

A tropical storm warning was in place for metropolitan New Orleans, and a hurricane warning was issued for a stretch of the Louisiana coast south of the city.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for areas of Plaquemines Parish beyond the levees southeast of the city, and for low-lying communities in Jefferson Parish, to the southwest.

(Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by Scott Malone and Steve Gorman; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Thousands stranded, five killed, as heavy rain lashes south China

Residential houses and cars are seen submerged in floodwaters following heavy rainfall in Taihe county, Jian, Jiangxi province, China June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Thousands of people have been stranded and at least five killed amid torrential rain throughout central and southern China, with authorities bracing themselves for at least another four days of downpours, state media reported on Tuesday.

The official China Daily said floods had wiped out 10,800 hectares of crops and destroyed hundreds of houses in the Jiangxi province by Monday, with a total of 1.4 million people affected and direct economic losses amounting to 2.65 billion yuan ($382.41 million).

In the region of Guangxi in the southwest, 20,000 households had their power cut and roads, bridges and other infrastructures were severely damaged, the China Daily said.

Rainfall in Jiangxi reached as much as 688 millimeters (27 inches), according to a notice by China’s meteorological administration. It said rain in parts of Jiangxi and Hunan had hit record highs for June.

The administration said rainstorms were expected to spread to Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan and Taiwan by Thursday. It also warned authorities to be on their guard against severe thunderstorms and the possibility of small rivers bursting their banks in coming days.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait)

Cyclone Kenneth batters Comoros and heads to Mozambique

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth approaches the coast of Mozambique in this April 25, 2019 handout satellite image. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

By Ali Amir Ahmed

MORONI (Reuters) – Violent winds of up to 140 kph (87 mph) lashed the East African island nation of Comoros overnight, killing three people, authorities said on Thursday, as Cyclone Kenneth swept toward flood-battered Mozambique.

In Comoros, the winds caused widespread power outages in the northern part of the main island, Grande Comore, and the capital Moroni as well as on the island of Anjouan, residents said.

By Thursday afternoon, the cyclone was making its way to Mozambique, just over a month after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique, virtually flattening the port city of Beira, flooding an area the size of Luxembourg and killing more than 1,000 people across the region.

Kenneth may strengthen before it makes landfall on the continent, said Dipuo Tawana, forecaster at the South African Weather Service.

It could bring seven- to nine-meter waves and a three-meter storm surge, she said, and was likely to linger over Mozambique, dumping rain until late Monday evening, bringing a risk of intense flooding.

“The rainfall that we forecast for the next four days in the northeastern part of Mozambique – we have between 500 and 1,000 millimeters (19.5 to 39 inches) of rain,” Tawana said.

FLOODS LOOM FOR MOZAMBIQUE

In Comoros, a Reuters correspondent saw fallen trees and debris from homes scattered over streets, and houses with their roofs torn off.

President Azali Assoumani told reporters that three people had been were killed and several others injured.

A few taxis were driving around the center of Moroni on Thursday morning as police and soldiers cleared blocked roads. Government offices and schools were closed.

In Mozambique, authorities said on Wednesday that five rivers as well as coastal waterways could overflow, putting over 680,000 people at risk from the storm.

Antonie Beleza, deputy national director of Mozambique’s Centre for Emergency Operations, said the center had been telling people for days to move out of 17 at-risk districts.

“There were some people, they didn’t want to move as of yesterday, so now we are just taking them out,” he said by phone from the northern port town of Pemba. At least 5,000 people had moved out.

The energy firm Anadarko, which is developing large natural gas fields off Mozambique, said it had suspended air transportation in and out of the site as a precaution.

Exxon Mobil , also involved in the fields, said its operations were normal for now, but that it was monitoring the situation.

(Additional reporting Emma Rumney and Alexander Winning in Johannesburg and Stephen Eisenhammer in Luanda; Writing by Elias Biryabarema and Alison Williams; Editing by Hereward Holland and Kevin Liffey)

‘Pineapple Express’ storm douses California with rain, snow

Snow capped mountains are seen behind the downtown Los Angeles skyline, California, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – A Pacific storm system known as the “Pineapple Express” threatened to dump up to 8 inches of rain and 8 feet of snow on areas of California, raising risks of flooding and mudslides, meteorologists said on Wednesday.

“The (Pineapple) Express is no joke,” said Bob Oravec, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland of the strongest weather system of the season.

The weather system, also known as an atmospheric river, gets its name from the flow of moisture that periodically heads east from waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands to soak the U.S. West Coast. It blanketed parts of Hawaii with snow over the weekend and is expected to drench California.

The San Francisco Bay area could be hit by flash flooding and falling trees as saturated ground gets up to 8 inches more rain and strong winds blow in, the weather service said.

“We’re talking 3 to 5 inches of rain in San Francisco and coastal areas in just the next 24 hours, and more on into Friday,” Oravec said.

To the northeast in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, passes could see between 80 and 100 inches (approximately 7 to 8 feet) of snow through Friday.

Valley areas face flood watches over fears the relatively warm Pineapple Express system could initially drench areas as high as Lake Tahoe with rain, melting snow and swelling rivers.

WILDFIRE BURN AREAS

The Central and Southern California coast can expect flash flooding and possible mudslides near recent wildfire burn areas, the NWS reported.

Oravec said that the problem is not just the amount of rain, but the fact that it will hit in a short amount of time.

“It’s going to be heavy and fast,” he said. “Debris flows and mudslides are a risk in any area scorched by the wildfires. There’s little to no vegetation to slow that water down.”

Up to 2 inches of rain was expected in the Los Angeles area between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning, the weather service said.

A string of winter storms has swelled snowpack in California to above-average levels, delighting farmers in need of water and skiers in search of powder.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay, additional reporting by Rich McKay, editing by Louise Heavens)

Death toll from Philippine landslides, floods climbs to 85

Rescue workers carry a body bag containing remains of victims following a landslide at Cisolok district in Sukabumi, West Java province, Indonesia, January 1, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken January 1, 2019. Antara Foto/Nurul Ramadhan/ via REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) – The death toll from landslides and devastating floods in the central Philippines triggered by a tropical depression climbed to 85, officials said on Wednesday, and 20 people were missing as rescuers slowly reached cut-off communities.

The casualties, including young children, were mostly killed when their homes collapsed in landslides after days of heavy rain in several provinces in the central Philippines, said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the national disaster agency.

“If we don’t recover the missing or we recover them dead, that is 105 deaths, which we hope not,” Jalad said.

A resident carries his livestock following a landslide at Cisolok district in Sukabumi, West Java province, Indonesia, January 1, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken January 1, 2019. Antara Foto/Nurul Ramadhan/ via REUTERS

A resident carries his livestock following a landslide at Cisolok district in Sukabumi, West Java province, Indonesia, January 1, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken January 1, 2019. Antara Foto/Nurul Ramadhan/ via REUTERS

The tropical depression, which weakened into a low pressure system before leaving the Philippines on Sunday, brought heavy rain that triggered landslides and flooding in the Bicol and eastern Visayas regions.

Officials put three provinces under a “state of calamity” to give them access to emergency funds.

Bicol, with a population of 5.8 million, was the hardest hit, with 68 killed in intense rains and landslides. Damage to agriculture in Bicol, which produces rice and corn, was estimated at 342 million pesos ($6.5 million).

Rescuers, including the police and military, used heavy-lifting equipment to clear roads leading to landslide sites and entered flooded communities using rubber boats.

“The sun is already out, with occasional light rains. We hope floods will subside,” Ronna Monzon, a member of the operations personnel at the disaster agency in Bicol, told Reuters.

About 20 tropical cyclones hit the Philippines every year, with destroyed crops and infrastructure taking a toll on human lives and weighing down one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Paul Tait)

Indonesian rescuers struggle against heavy rain to reach tsunami-hit villages

A man holding an umbrella watches as personnel search through the debris of his damaged house after a tsunami, in Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

By Fergus Jensen

SUMUR, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesian rescue teams on Wednesday struggled to reach remote areas on the western coast of Java amid an “extreme weather” rain warning after a tsunami killed more than 400 people last week.

Heavy rain lashed fishing villages along the coast, muddying roads and holding up convoys delivering heavy machinery and aid to isolated areas while authorities urged residents to stay away from the shore in case of further waves.

Clouds of ash spewed from the nearby Anak Krakatau, or child of Krakatau, almost obscuring the volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide on Saturday sent waves up to 5 meters (16 feet) high smashing into the coast on the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands.

Evacuees walk to a shelter with supplies they collected, after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Evacuees walk to a shelter with supplies they collected, after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Indonesia’s meteorology agency (BMKG) said the rough weather could make the volcano’s crater more fragile.

“We have developed a monitoring system focused specifically on the volcanic tremors at Anak Krakatau so that we can issue early warnings,” said BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati, adding that a two-kilometer exclusion zone had been imposed.

The confirmed death toll is 430, with at least 159 people missing. Nearly 1,500 people were injured and over 21,000 people have evacuated to higher ground.

A state of emergency has been declared until Jan. 4, which authorities hope will make it easier to deploy assistance, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency.

Search and rescue teams were focused on the town of Sumur near the southwest tip of Java, but “the roads are damaged and clogged” and helicopters had to be deployed to carry out assessments and evacuations, he added.

Volunteers were having to piece together makeshift bridges out of concrete blocks after the waves washed away infrastructure along the coast.

Debris is seen along a beach after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Debris is seen along a beach after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Indonesia is a vast archipelago that sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. This year, the country has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

The latest disaster, coming during the Christmas season, evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

The Saturday evening tsunami followed the collapse of an area of the volcano island of about 64 hectares (222 acres), or about 90 soccer fields.

The waves engulfed fishing villages and holiday resorts, leaving a coast littered with the matchwood of homes, crushed vehicles and fallen trees. Children’s toys and rides at a seaside carnival in Sumur were left scattered along a swampy beach.

The surge of seawater also left dozens of turtles, weighing several kilograms, stranded on land, and some volunteer rescuers worked to carry them back to the sea.

On Sebesi Island in the middle of the Sunda Strait, helicopters had been dispatched to evacuate residents.

Along the coast, thousands of people are staying in tents and temporary shelters like mosques or schools, with dozens sleeping on the floor or in crowded public facilities. Rice and instant noodles have been delivered to many shelters, but clean water, wet weather gear, fresh clothes, and blankets are in short supply, some evacuees said.

Ade Hasanah, 45, staying in an emergency center with her children, said people were being told not to return to their homes.

“It’s safe here,” she said. “We hope if the children are safe and the situation is stable, we can go home quickly. We’re restless.”

In 1883, the volcano then known as Krakatoa erupted in one of the biggest blasts in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunamis and lowering the global surface temperature by one degree Celsius with its ash.

Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927 and has been growing ever since.

(Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe, Tabita Diela, Fanny Potkin, Nilufar Rizki, Wilda Asmarini in JAKARTA; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor,; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)

Thousands evacuated as Hurricane Willa descends on Mexico

People board up windows of a store as Hurricane Willa approaches the Pacific beach resort of Mazatlan, Mexico October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

By David Alire Garcia

MAZATLAN, Mexico (Reuters) – Thousands of people were evacuated, buildings boarded up and classes canceled on Mexico’s Pacific coast as Hurricane Willa threatened to batter tourist resorts with high winds and heavy rains on Tuesday.

Residents on Monday night sealed off windows and doors with large wooden planks on hotels facing the historic downtown boardwalk of Mazatlan, a popular coastal city in the state of Sinaloa, as tourists strolled nearby and palm trees swayed in a light breeze.

Forecast to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to enter Mexico from the Pacific in recent years, Willa is expected to strike a few miles south of Mazatlan as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

At a gas station on the city’s outskirts, a steady line of cars queued up to refuel and shop at the neighboring convenience store.

Station attendant Zulema Pardo said residents had been streaming through for hours to stock up on basic items, buying enormous jugs of water and gasoline, and leaving the bread shelf completely empty.

“People are really scared,” she said. “People are crazy and worked up.”

A general view of Mazattlan is seen through a window of a plane as Hurricane Willa approaches the Pacific beach resort of Mazatlan, Mexico October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A general view of Mazattlan is seen through a window of a plane as Hurricane Willa approaches the Pacific beach resort of Mazatlan, Mexico October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Late on Monday the storm was advancing about 175 miles (280 km) south-southwest of Mazatlan, Mexico, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Several other tourist getaways in Nayarit, as well as the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco state, also lie near the path of the storm, which is forecast to bring a “life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall,” the NHC said.

Willa, which was a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was blowing maximum sustained winds of near 130 miles per hour (215 kph) on Monday night with higher gusts, the NHC said.

Headed northward, Willa is forecast to weaken after hitting the coast, the hurricane center said.

Antonio Echevarria, governor of Nayarit, said more than 10,000 people were being evacuated and schools would be closed. He warned locals not to defy the storm.

“Let’s not play the macho. Let’s not act like superheroes,” he said. “It’s a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don’t want any tragedies.”

Sinaloa also canceled classes in much of the state.

Up to 18 inches (45 cm) of rainfall could pummel the storm zone, the NHC said. Even buildings up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the coastline could lose power and suffer physical damage, Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (SMN) said.

Despite the looming threat, some tourists appeared unfazed.

“It doesn’t ruin the pleasure of being here,” said vacationer Angel Avelar, popping open a beer while dangling his feet off the boardwalk.

“Maybe things will be different tomorrow.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham, David Alire Garcia and Brendan O’Brien; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Tropical Storm Rosa will still pack a punch to southern California, Arizona

Hurricane Rosa is shown from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) GOES East satelite over the eastern Pacific Ocean on September 27, 2018, in this image provided September 28, 2018. Image taken September 27, 2018. NOAA/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Rosa diminished from a Pacific hurricane over the weekend, but will still bring strong winds and dangerous rip currents to Southern California on Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It could also bring life-threatening flash floods to central Arizona over the next few days, the NHC added.

“This storm still has a punch, it’s still dangerous,” said David Roth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Swells generated by Rosa on Monday are affecting the coasts of southwestern Mexico, the west coast of the Baja California peninsula and southern California through Tuesday, the weather service said in an advisory.

“We’re already getting rains in southern California through southwest Arizona,” Roth said.

Baja California and southern California could receive 3 to 6 inches of rain, with isolated spots of 10 inches in the next few days. The desert southwest of Arizona could get up to 4 inches of rain, potentially bringing flash floods and mud slides, Roth said.

Rosa was packing 50 mph (85 kmh) winds and was about 140 miles (225 km) west southwest of Punta Eugenia, Mexico at 2 a.m. Monday, Pacific time, the NHC said.

It is expected to diminish in strength as it makes landfall on Monday night and its remnants are expected to move across the southwestern desert on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Gaerth Jones)

Hawaii residents hit by floods from Hurricane Lane as new storm forms

FILE PHOTO: Large waves crash against the shoreline on the east side of Oahu as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – Flash flood warnings were issued on Tuesday for the Hawaiian island of Kauai, with residents on the north coast told to evacuate and others left stranded by high water as the remnants of Hurricane Lane drenched the archipelago and a new storm brewed in the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii was spared a direct hit from a major hurricane as Lane diminished to a tropical storm as it approached and then drifted west, further from land. But rain was still pounding the island chain, touching off flooding on Oahu and Kauai.

“It has been a steady rain since after Lane but I got up 2:30 a.m. (Hawaiian Standard Time) to the National Weather Service flash flood advisory and that’s when we put out the release as well as an island-wide telephone call,” County of Kauai spokesman Alden Alayvilla said.

The advisory urged residents near Hanalei Bridge on the north side of the island to evacuate their homes due to rising stream levels. A convoy that had been used to escort residents over roads damaged by historic floods in April between was shut down, leaving many cut off.

“Heavy pounding and hazardous conditions are being reported island-wide. Motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution. Updates will be given as more information is made available,” the Kauai Emergency Management Agency said.

A flash flood watch also remained in effect for Oahu, home to the state capital Honolulu and 70 percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents.

Micco Godinez, who lives on the north side of Kauai, said he found the only road out of Hanalei, where he lives, barricaded by police vehicles when he tried to leave for work on Tuesday morning. He expected to be stranded for at least another day.

“I can’t get out at all,” Godinez said. “Our little community of Hanalei is isolated and then west of us is even more isolated,” he said.

Even as Hawaii residents sought to recover from Lane, they kept a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Miriam, spinning in the Pacific Ocean some 2,000 miles to the east and expected to become a hurricane by the time it approaches the islands.

“Miriam is supposed to go north and dissipate in the colder waters and drier air, so I’m not really worried about it,” Godinez said. “But it is hurricane season, and there’s another one behind that. You know what they say: Without rain you wouldn’t have rainbows.”

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Typhoon Cimaron slices through western Japan, heads north

High waves triggered by Typhoon Cimaron crash against the coast of Aki, Kochi Prefecture, western Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo, August 23, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – A powerful typhoon sliced across western Japan on Friday, dumping heavy rain before heading out to sea and turning towards the northern island of Hokkaido after reports that three students were swept out to sea.

There were scattered reports of damage and significant transportation delays but the region appeared to have escaped the devastation and mass casualties it experienced in floods in early July.

The center of Typhoon Cimaron was estimated to be about 210 km (130 miles) northwest of Wajima city in Ishikawa prefecture at 9 a.m. (0000GMT) and heading north, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Three college students were thought to have been swept away by high waves from a beach in Shizuoka, public broadcaster NHK said. The students’ sandals, backpacks, smartphones and wallets were found on the beach, it said.

Evacuation orders were issued in areas including Wakayama, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures and train and plane services were disrupted, NHK said. The directive was lifted in many areas but about 45,000 households had lost power in western Japan, it said.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Paul Tait)