Antarctic thaw quickens, trillions of tonnes of ice raise sea levels

By Alister Doyle Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) – An accelerating thaw of Antarctica has pushed up world sea levels by almost a centimeter since the early 1990s in a risk for coasts from Pacific islands to Florida, an international team of scientists said on Thursday.

Antarctica has enough ice to raise seas by 58 meters (190 ft) if it ever all melted, dwarfing frozen stores in places from Greenland to the Himalayas and making its future the biggest uncertainty in understanding global warming and ocean levels.

The frozen continent lost almost three trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, the 84 scientists said in what they called the most complete overview of Antarctic ice to date.

The thaw, tracked by satellite data and other measurements, contributed 0.76 cm to sea level rise since 1992, they wrote in the journal Nature.

And the ice losses quickened to 219 billion tonnes a year since 2012, from 76 billion previously. “The sharp increase … is a big surprise,” professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds and a leader of the report, told Reuters.

Most ice was being lost from West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, where warmer ocean water is melting floating ice shelves at the end of glaciers, allowing ice pent up on land to slide faster toward the sea, the study said.

A single millimeter of global sea level rise is equivalent to 360 billion tonnes of melted ice, or an imaginary gigantic ice cube with sides about seven kilometers (4.35 miles) long.

Overall, world sea levels have risen about 20 cm in the past century, driven mainly by a natural expansion of water already in the oceans as it warms along with a thaw of glaciers form the Andes to the Alps.

And a major U.N. assessment in 2014 said seas could rise this century by between about 30 cm and almost a meter.

Shepherd said Antarctica alone is now on track to raise world sea levels by about 15 cm by 2100, above most past estimates.

Such a rise alone sounds little but would make coastal floods during storms at high tides more damaging, he said. Sea level rise is a threat to cities from New York to Shanghai as well as low-lying nations from the Pacific Ocean to the Netherlands.

“We’re watching these reports closely,” said Michiel van den Broeke, professor of Polar Meteorology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, saying they were the guide for defending the Dutch coast.

Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, almost 200 governments set a goal of phasing out fossil fuels this century to limit warming. U.S. President Donald Trump plans to pull out of the pact and to focus instead on U.S. jobs and coal.

Chris Rapley, a professor of climate science at University College London who was not involved in the study, wrote in a comment that he had suggested in 2005 that a “slumbering giant (of ice in Antarctica) seemed to be awakening. This paper suggests it is stretching its limbs.”

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Winter storm to strike U.S. East, snarling traffic, closing schools

A pedestrian walks through a late season snow storm in New York, U.S., March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – Millions of commuters along the U.S. East Coast will face another round of heavy snow, ice and wind gusts on Wednesday when the fourth major snow storm this month strikes the region, closing schools, grounding flights and halting buses and trains.

The nor’easter storm is on track to dump up to a foot of snow and bring gusts of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kmph) to major cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston on Wednesday and into Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

“Significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice will make travel very hazardous or impossible,” the service said in an advisory for New Jersey.

More than 2,000 flights had already been canceled on Tuesday evening at the three major airports that serve New York. Airlines said they were waiving fees to change flights from and to the East Coast.

The storm forced schools across the region including those in Philadelphia and New York, the largest school district in the United States, to cancel classes on Wednesday.

“For everyone’s safety, because it could be such a big storm … we want to be ahead of it,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

Both Greyhound bus service and Amtrak passenger train service suspended or abbreviated routes for the day. Throughout the East Coast, local bus and train services that millions of people rely on to commute to and from work and school also canceled service on Wednesday.

Widespread power outages were also expected on Wednesday as heavy snow and ice along winds may topple trees and power lines, the service said.

The latest storm comes after storms on March 2, 7 and 12 left at least 9 people dead across the region and more than 2 million homes and businesses without power.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

Storm barrels through U.S. Midwest with snow and frigid temperatures

Satellite image from the National Weather Service. 2-9-18

By Brendan O’Brien and Suzannah Gonzales

MILWAUKEE, Wis./CHICAGO (Reuters) – A major winter storm barreled into Chicago and Milwaukee early on Friday, dumping heavy snow and dropping temperatures well below freezing as it forced schools to close and threatened to leave travel at a stand still across the Midwest.

The storm system stretches from western Montana across the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, and reaches as far east as southern Michigan. The storm could drop up to 14 inches (36 cm) of snow in some areas, the National Weather Service said.

Chicago was anticipating six to 12 inches of snow early on Friday morning with more snow expected over the weekend, according to the service’s weather forecast.

“The city is ready for this,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during a news conference about the city’s preparedness on Thursday. “Make no mistake though, this is a heavy snow, heavier than we’ve seen in a number of winters.”

City officials announced school closures in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee because of the weather.

Wind chill temperatures were expected to drop below 0 Fahrenheit (-18 C) in many areas across the region, and officials warned of limited visibility on roads.

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports canceled more than 200 flights on Thursday before the storm hit, and several airlines were also anticipating delays or cancellations.

United Airlines said on Twitter that waivers were in effect for snow-hit areas this week allowing travelers to change flights without charges, and Delta Air Lines offered to rebook flights on Friday for 18 Midwest cities.

Winter weather across the United States this week killed several people in accidents in the Midwest, including six in Iowa, two in Missouri and one in Montana, local media in those states reported.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

Deadly winter storm delays travel in U.S. Midwest, Northeast

Weather conditions for winter storm 2-6-18 National Weather Service

(Reuters) – A winter storm will dump snow and freezing rain on the U.S. Midwest and the Northeast beginning on Tuesday after it caused several deaths as it snarled highways and spurred the cancellation of hundreds of flights at Chicago’s main airport.

The National Weather Service warned commuters in northern Texas, east through southern Illinois and Indiana, and New York and Massachusetts, to watch for icy road conditions, wind gusts and reduced visibility throughout the day and into Wednesday.

“The ice and snow will result in difficult travel conditions,” the NWS said in an advisory. “Motorists are strongly urged to slow down and allow plenty of time to reach their destinations.”

Winds of 40-miles an hour(65 kph) and as much as 4 inches (10 cm) of snow are expected across the affected regions, with parts of New York and Vermont getting as much as a foot of snow, the NWS said.

The storm was responsible for the death of six people on Monday in crashes throughout Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported.

Two people also died in southwest Missouri and more than 70 others were injured after icy roads caused a high number of crashes, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

At Chicago’s busy O’Hare International Airport, the storm caused the cancellation of more than 460 flights, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Second U.S. winter storm forces hundreds of flight cancellations

The Brooklyn Bridge is seen partially in fog from in front of the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., January 12, 2018.

By Alana Wise

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A second winter storm in as many weeks caused hundreds of flight cancellations across the United States, airlines reported on Tuesday, potentially dealing a further blow to carriers’ first quarter outlooks.

As the storm sweeps across southeast Texas and up the East Coast dumping snow, sleet and freezing rain, airlines have already canceled flights into Wednesday in anticipation of difficult conditions.

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by passenger traffic, had canceled some 270 flights between Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of the storm, it said.

Rival Delta Air Lines, the No. 2 U.S. carrier by passenger traffic, said it had canceled about 275 Tuesday flights and expected additional cancellations in New York and Boston as the storm tracked north.

The third-largest U.S. carrier, United Airlines, said it had canceled more than 700 flights on Tuesday. United was offering to waive fees for changes to flights to and from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other affected airports for scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday flights.

The storm itself is relatively minor compared to other winter weather events, and several hundred flights represent only a tiny percentage of airlines’ overall operations. But such storms are still a nuisance to carriers and can cost them millions of dollars in lost revenue.

A massive winter storm at the onset of the year caused thousands of cancellations, as several inches of snow and ice paralyzed the U.S. Northeast and forced the closure of some of the region’s biggest airports.

(Reporting by Alana Wise, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

New York City’s JFK Airport temporarily closed due to snowstorm: FAA

People are seen in silhouette inside the Trans World Airlines Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport in the Queens borough of New York, October 18, 2015.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport was temporarily closed on Thursday due to heavy snow, ice and harsh winds in the area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport, which suspended operations shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1600 GMT), was expected to reopen at 3 p.m. (200 GMT), FAA officials said.

(Reporting by Gina CherelusEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Storms slam U.S. Southeast as bitter cold drags on

A woman stops to photograph the frozen Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in New York, U.S., January 3, 2018.

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – Winter storms swept up the U.S Southeast toward New England on Wednesday as snow, freezing rain and strong winds added to record-shattering cold that had much of the eastern United States in its grip.

The wintry mix and low wind chills could cause widespread power outages and leave roads icy, making commuting treacherous for millions of Americans from northern Florida to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said in a series of warnings.

Some schools and universities in those states were closed on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm. Many flights out of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia and Tallahassee Airport in Florida were canceled.

The weather service said its Tallahassee office measured a snow and sleet accumulation of 0.1 inch (2.5mm) on its roof early in the day, the first time Florida’s capital has had snow in nearly 30 years.

The service said travel in northeastern Florida was likely to be difficult and dangerous.

Two to 3 inches of snow was expected in northeastern Florida, coastal Georgia and South Carolina, according to early morning forecasts, said weather service meteorologist Bob Oravec.

Some Florida and Georgia residents shared images on social media of light snow accumulating.

“So a #SnowDay in #Florida. We know hurricanes. Snow? Not sure what to do here. How do you luge?,” wrote one Twitter user, @thejalexkelly.

On Tuesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged residents in the north of the state to brace themselves for the cold. He said cold weather shelters have either opened or would be opened in 22 of the state’s 67 counties.

Some coastal areas of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia could ultimately receive up to 6 inches (15 cm) of snow, along with an accumulation of ice, while parts of New England could see 12 to 15 inches (30-38 cm) of snow and wind gusts of 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour) by the end of week, the weather service said.

Late on Tuesday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 28 of the state’s 159 counties.

As the storm bears down, an arctic air mass will remain entrenched over the eastern two-thirds of the country through the end of the week, forecasters said. The record-low temperatures were to blame for at least eight deaths in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota and Michigan over the past several days, officials said.

A large swath of the Midwest was under a wind chill warning on Wednesday as places like Cleveland and Indianapolis had temperatures in the wind of 5 to 20 degrees below zero in Fahrenheit (minus 20 to minus 29 degrees Celsius), while the Deep South faced deep-freeze temperatures that threatened crops and pipes, the weather service warned.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Jonathan Oatis)

JetBlue plane skids off taxiway in Boston, no injuries

A JetBlue plane is seen at the Boston's Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 25, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken December 25, 2017.

(Reuters) – A JetBlue Airways passenger plane skidded off an icy taxiway after landing at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday night but no injuries were reported, the airline said.

The mishap involving an AirBus A320 occurred around 7:15 p.m. as Flight 50 from Savannah, Georgia touched down in Boston, where nearly three inches of snow had fallen earlier in the day, the airline said.

“No injuries have been reported at this time,” the airline said in a statement. “Buses transported customers from the aircraft to the terminal.”

A JetBlue plane is seen on the in-flight map on the plane, at the Boston's Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 25, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

A JetBlue plane is seen on the in-flight map on the plane, at the Boston’s Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 25, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Courtesy of Yuval Gonczarowski/via REUTERS

Earlier on Monday departures and arrivals were halted at Logan International for about an hour as snow reduced visibility to near zero, airport officials said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Christmas Travel: Winter Storm Warnings in Northeast brings White Christmas and slick travel

National Weather Service weather map for Friday, December 22nd

By Kami Klein

Christmas is the most traveled part of the year with an estimated 107.3 million travelers nationwide from December 23rd to January 1st according to the American Automobile Association. Weather conditions play a major role in getting your family where you want to be.  This Christmas weekend getting to Grandma’s house will have some challenges with a winter storm system blowing across the United States bringing a variety of weather conditions.

If you are headed anywhere in the Northeast be prepared for delays from snow and ice which will make road travel difficult and most likely cause some flight delays.  On the plus side it’s perfect weather for Santa’s sleigh!

Winter storm warnings have been posted for parts of upstate New York and northern New England.  For the rest of New England, northern Pennsylvania, New York State and much of lower Michigan, a winter weather advisory has been issued.  

Heavy rainfall and flooding in the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys will last into early Saturday while,low humidity and offshore winds will continue to result in elevated-to-critical fire weather conditions across southern California through at least Monday. Dry air continues to be dominant in California.  

In the Central states, lingering snow may occur from the upper Mississippi Valley into the Great Lakes. Rain and thunderstorms will be possible for the middle/lower Mississippi Valley to central Texas with some freezing drizzle/freezing rain that may occur in parts of Oklahoma.  

The West will see a new weather system arriving that will bring snow and gusty winds to the northern Rockies and Northwest which will make poor driving conditions in some areas.  Rain showers will be possible along the Interstate 5 corridor from Seattle to Portland, Oregon.  

Flight delays will be possible for the following airports for Pre-Christmas travel:  

Atlanta, Cincinnati, Boston, Memphis, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston,  St. Louis.  Portland and Seattle. New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Denver will be most affected by weather delays on Saturday evening into Sunday.  Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland and Detroit  will be on the lookout for flight delays all day on Sunday (Christmas Eve)  

Be sure to stay tuned to your local weather stations for current weather conditions, be patient and have a safe and wonderful Christmas!  

 

Sources :  http://www.weather.gov/          http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2017/12/19/christmas-travel-2017/964422001/       http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/hpcdiscussions.php?disc=pmdspd    https://www.wunderground.com/

 

 

Cities dubbed immigrant ‘sanctuaries’ hit back on Trump funding threat

Immigrant supporters protest during the Los Angeles City Council ad hoc committee on immigration meeting in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Department of Justice is reviewing letters from 10 local jurisdictions that said they are in compliance with U.S. immigration law, to determine whether to cut federal funding, officials said Thursday, heating up a dispute between so-called sanctuary cities and President Donald Trump’s administration.

In April, the department had asked a handful of states and cities to document by June 30 their compliance with a statute that says local governments cannot prevent their employees from sharing information with U.S. immigration officials.

The Trump administration has said jurisdictions that do not fully cooperate are shielding “criminal illegal aliens,” and has promised to crack down on cities that do not comply. The sanctuary jurisdictions say they are following the law and do not want to spend local resources on immigration enforcement.

“It is not enough to assert compliance, the jurisdictions must actually be in compliance,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Thursday. He said the 10 jurisdictions had written in with “alleged compliance information” and that the government would “examine these claims carefully.”

Sessions’ statement said “some of these jurisdictions have boldly asserted they will not comply with requests from federal immigration authorities.” If the government finds the cities are violating the statute, known as Section 1373, it could decide to cut federal funds.

In the letters seen by Reuters, the jurisdictions say they are following the law even though some do not honor all “detainer” requests sent by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.) A “detainer” asks local authorities to hold people in jail up to 48 hours beyond when they are set to be released so immigration officials can take them into custody.

Many of the letters noted that compliance with detainer requests is voluntary and is not required under the statute. The jurisdictions targeted are the states of California and Connecticut, Chicago and Cook County in Illinois, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and New York.

At least one of the jurisdictions – Nevada’s Clark County, which is dominated by Las Vegas – has a long-standing formal agreement with ICE in which local police officers help with federal immigration enforcement.

New York City said it complies with detainer requests for people who have been convicted of certain “violent or serious” crimes, so long as the request is accompanied by a judicial warrant. Like other cities, New York said its priority is creating trust between immigrant communities and local police to encourage residents, even if they are living in the country illegally, to report crimes.

Mitchell Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans made a similar argument in a letter to Sessions. He said the administration has erroneously characterized sanctuary cities as havens for Central American gangs. Landrieu said an audit of gangs in New Orleans did not find a single Latino-dominated group.

“Undocumented people who commit violent crimes must face the criminal and immigration legal systems of this country. But that does not mean that all people are illegal immigrants that are part of violent gangs,” Landrieu wrote.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele called the Justice Department’s statement on Thursday “inflammatory.”

The county is at risk of losing more than $6 million in revenue if the Justice Department follows through, a June 28 letter from its lawyers said. It said Milwaukee would “avail itself of all legal options available” to “protect its grant funding.”

Trump’s executive order early in his presidency pledging to cut funding to sanctuary cities has been challenged in the courts. In April, a federal judge in San Francisco said in a case brought by Santa Clara county that cities were likely to succeed in proving Trump’s order unconstitutional.

The California county wrote in a court filing on Thursday that top administration officials have repeatedly stated that federal funding should be tied to local willingness to honor ICE detainer requests.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Allen in New York; additional reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; editing by Grant McCool)