California faces more rain, snow as deadly storm moves south

People with umbrellas walk along street in Los Angeles

(Reuters) – California was bracing on Saturday for another wave of torrential rain as well as heavy snow as a massive storm triggered flooding, mudslides and power outages and killed two people, officials said.

The National Weather Service warned that rain totals could reach 10 inches (25 cm) in parts of southern California and 2 feet (60 cm) of snow in higher areas to the east as the storm continues to roll through the region.

The severe storm has brought California its heaviest rainfall in six years and comes after months of wet weather that has dramatically eased a years-long drought in the key agricultural state.

The rain and melting snowpack also are threatening to undermine a spillway at one of the largest dams in the country. Some 188,000 residents were evacuated from the area earlier this week.

Utility crews were working to restore electricity to more than 78,000 customers affected by power outages throughout the Los Angeles area.

Early on Saturday, an evacuation order remained in effect for 180 homes in Duarte, a city about 20 miles (32 km) east of Los Angeles, because of fears of mudslides.

One man died after he was electrocuted by a downed wire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said, adding that it had responded to 150 reports of downed wires on Friday. Another person was found dead in a submerged vehicle in Victorville, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, fire officials said on Twitter.

A woman was injured when the car she was in fell into a 20-foot sinkhole in Studio City on Friday night. A second car fell into the sinkhole after the woman was rescued, an ABC affiliate reported.

Local television news also showed video footage of a San Bernardino County fire truck tumbling over the side of a freeway as the road gave out.

“All firefighters confirmed safe. The lane under the fire engine has failed, and the engine has gone over the side,” the San Bernardino County Fire Department said on Twitter.

Amtrak railroad service was suspended for trains between the cities of Oxnard and San Luis Obispo in the central and southern areas of the state due to extreme weather conditions, according to the transportation service’s website.

In higher areas of eastern California and western Nevada, snowfall and wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) were in the forecast until Saturday night, the National Weather Service said.

“This will make travel hazardous or impossible,” the service said in an advisory.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee Editing by Ed Osmond and Paul Simao)

Storm to dump heavy rain and snow on U.S. West

warning sign

(Reuters) – A major storm packing intense rain and heavy snow and winds will pound California and southern Oregon on Friday and through the weekend, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said the system is expected to dump as much as 10 inches (25 cm) of rain at a rate of 1 inch (3 cm) per hour in parts of southern California on Friday.

“This looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season,” the service said, adding that rainfall totals could be the highest in the area over the last six years.

The downpours in heavily populated counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles where wildfires recently burned could create the risk of mud and debris flows, the weather service said.

“There will likely be widespread urban roadway flooding,” it said. “There will also be a significant threat of rock and mudslides, especially near canyon roadways.”

Rain was also forecast for northern California and southern Oregon, where the weather service issued a flood warning until Friday afternoon.

In areas of higher elevations in eastern California and western Nevada, as much as 2 feet (60 cm) of snow could cause whiteout conditions, forecasters said.

The area should also expect winds gusts of 75 mph (120 kph), potentially causing widespread power outages on Friday and Saturday, the service said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by John Stonestreet)

Flights canceled, roads hazardous as winter storm pummels New England

A man clears snow off his vehicle following a winter snow storm in Somerville,

BOSTON (Reuters) – Hundreds of flights were canceled, scores of vehicle crashes reported and schools and government offices shuttered as the third winter storm in five days slammed New England on Monday.

Government offices were closed throughout Maine, with much of the state’s coast expecting to see 18 inches to 24 inches (46-61 cm) of snow by the day’s end, according to the National Weather Service.

“Travel conditions are expected to remain treacherous throughout Monday,” said Maine Governor Paul LePage. “Stay off the roads and avoid traveling unless it is an absolute emergency.”

Substantially less snow fell further south, though wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour (89 kph) threatened to down tree limbs and power lines, forecasters warned.

Courts were closed throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, prompting a one-day delay in the start of jury selection for the double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez.

Some 675 U.S. flights were canceled on Monday, with Boston’s Logan International Airport the hardest hit with more than one of every five flights called off, according to tracking service

Residents dig out following a winter snow storm in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S.

Residents dig out following a winter snow storm in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

At least one storm-related death was reported in Bedford, Massachusetts, about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Boston, where a 60-year-old man died after he was struck and killed by a snowplow in the parking lot of the Veterans Administration hospital where he lived, police said.

The recent flurry of snowstorms follows a winter that has been mild throughout New England.

National Weather Service data on Monday showed that even with the most recent snowfall, Boston had recorded just 32.4 inches (82 cm) of snow so far this year.

That’s less than half the amount the city had experienced by this time of year in the record-setting winter of 2014-2015, when more than 9 feet (2.74 m) of snow fell and some snowbanks lingered on until the summer.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Two die as winter storm wallops northeastern United States

Pedestrians walk in Times Square as heavy snow falls

By Scott Malone and Jonathan Allen

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The fiercest snowstorm of the winter slammed the northeastern United States on Thursday, leaving a foot (30 cm) of snow in places, canceling thousands of flights and shutting down schools. At least two deaths were blamed on the storm.

The storm, which came a day after temperatures had been a spring-like 50 to 60 degrees (10 to 16C), had wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) and left roads and sidewalks dangerously slick in densely populated cities such as New York, Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

The storm’s winds reached as far south as Virginia, where a truck driver died after his tractor-trailer was blown off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Tom Anderson, the facility’s deputy director, said in a phone interview.

A New York City doorman died while shoveling snow as he slipped and fell down a flight of stairs, crashing into a window that cut his neck, police reported.

Some areas experienced “thunder snow,” violent bursts of weather featuring both snow and lightning.

Nearly two-thirds of the flights into or out of the three major New York-area airports were canceled, as were 69 percent of those at Boston Logan International Airport, according to

Nationwide, about 4,000 flights were canceled and 5,700 delayed.

“The roads are dangerous,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. “I don’t care if you have a four-wheel-drive car and you think you’re a super hero … if you don’t have to be out, don’t be out.”

David Hassan, 50, attested to the ugliness of the weather as he packed up his mobile coffee cart in New York’s Times Square.

“I don’t like coming out in this weather but I have three kids going to school and I have to work,” Hassan said as he prepared for the two-hour trip back to his home in Parsippany, New Jersey.

New York received about a foot of snow, while Boston was braced for up to 20 inches.

Many schools systems were closed in the area, and Boston schools would remain closed on Friday, Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Many government offices also were shuttered with Massachusetts and Connecticut ordering non-emergency workers to stay home.

Blizzard warnings were in effect for the New York’s eastern Long Island suburbs, southern Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as the Massachusetts coast.

Temperatures were expected to fall to single-digit Fahrenheit levels overnight in the Boston area.

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Daniel Trotta in New York, Ian Simpson in Washington and Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Providence, Rhode Island; Editing by Larry King and Bill Trott)

A foot of snow, icy cold forecast for northeastern U.S.

woman walks through snow in New York City

By Scott Malone and Joseph Ax

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The heaviest storm the northeastern United States has seen this year was bearing down on the region on Thursday, forcing schools in major cities to cancel classes and airlines to ground thousands of flights.

Forecasters predicted the storm could bring more than a foot (30 cm) of snow and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) from Pennsylvania through Maine.

New York City schools, the largest public school system in the United States, with more than 1 million students, canceled classes on Thursday. So did districts in Boston and Philadelphia.

More than 2,700 flights in and out of the region were also canceled, according to, as airlines told passengers to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.

Blizzard warnings were in effect for the eastern end of New York’s Long Island, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the island of Nantucket.

“Early start. Getting Ready to go out and battle the snow storm so that I can do what I need to do,” tweeted IT professional Andy Quayle in New York City.

With the storm expected to dump as much as to three inches (8 cm) per hour and start before the morning rush hour and last into the evening, mayors of major cities, including New York and Boston, warned residents to stay off the roads.

“Visibilities will become poor with whiteout conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented. So persons in the warning area are strongly advised to stay indoors,” the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

Temperatures were expected to fall to single-digit Fahrenheit levels (below -12.8°C) overnight in the Boston area.

The forecast comes a day after much of the northeast saw spring-like weather, with temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 16°C).

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, you know, what feels like a summer day, almost, now, and then tomorrow a blizzard,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told WCBS-AM radio. “But it’s going to be a blizzard and New Yorkers should get ready.”

While temperatures had been mild for much of the region on Wednesday, New England highways were clogged with scores of car crashes that morning after an early rain storm coated roads in ice. At least one person was killed in Massachusetts when he was struck by a car as he tried to help another motorist..

“We want people to stay indoors as much as possible,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told reporters on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Larry King)

Islamic State suspected of killing six Afghan Red Cross workers: officials

Logo of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Courtesy of Wiki Commons

By Bashir Ansari

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Islamic State gunmen were suspected of killing at least six Afghan employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday as they carried supplies to areas in the north of the country hit by deadly snow storms, government officials said.

Another two employees were unaccounted for after the attack in Afghanistan’s Jowzjan province, ICRC said, but the aid group did not know who was responsible or why the convoy was targeted.

“This is a despicable act. Nothing can justify the murder of our colleagues and dear friends,” the head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan, Monica Zanarelli, said in a statement.

The aid workers were in a convoy carrying supplies to areas hit by snow storms when they were attacked by suspected Islamic State gunmen, Lotfullah Azizi, the Jowzjan provincial governor, told Reuters.

“Daesh is very active in that area,” he said, using an alternate name for Islamic State, which has made limited inroads in Afghanistan but has carried out increasingly deadly attacks.

A storm dumped as much as two meters (6.5 feet) of snow on many areas of Afghanistan over the weekend, according to officials, killing more than 100 people.

Three drivers and five field officers were on their way to deliver livestock materials to those affected by the snow storms when they were attacked, the ICRC statement said.

“These staff members were simply doing their duty, selflessly trying to help and support the local community,” ICRC president Peter Maurer said.


Jawzjan police chief Rahmatullah Turkistani said the workers’ bodies had been brought to the provincial capital and a search operation launched to find the two missing ICRC employees.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said his group was not involved in the attack and promised that Taliban members would “put all their efforts into finding the perpetrators”.

Last month, a Spanish ICRC employee was released less than a month after he was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in northern Afghanistan.

That staff member was traveling with three Afghan colleagues between Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz on Dec. 19 when gunmen stopped the vehicles.

The other Afghan ICRC staff were immediately released.

In a recent summary of its work in Afghanistan last year, the ICRC said increasing security issues had made it difficult to provide aid to many parts of the country.

“Despite it all, the ICRC has remained true to its commitment to the people of Afghanistan, as it has throughout the last 30 years of its continuous presence in the country,” the statement said.

Zanarelli said it was still not clear how the deadly attack might change ICRC operations.

(Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Josh Smith in Kabul; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ken Ferris)

Storm dumps snow, rain on U.S. Northeast; search on for Georgia toddler

relief workers look at area that was struck by tornado

(Reuters) – A powerful storm that killed at least 21 people in the southern United States over the weekend brought snow, heavy rain and gusty winds to the Northeast on Tuesday as searchers combed Georgia tornado wreckage for a missing toddler.

The storm, known as a nor’easter, dumped from 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of snow on New York’s Catskills as well as mountains in Pennsylvania and New England, along with a heavy mix of freezing rain and sleet, said Brian Hurley, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“A lot of places are seeing snowfall in the 2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) range because not all of it is snow,” he said. Much of the Northeast was under winter storm warnings or advisories.

Wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour (97 km per hour) also were recorded all along the East Coast, Hurley said. The high winds caused scattered power outages, with Eversource Energy reporting about 4,400 customers in New England without power.

The snow and ice is expected to taper off through Wednesday morning as the storm system heads into Canada’s Maritime provinces, the National Weather Service said.

School districts across the region canceled or delayed the start of classes due to icy roads. Local news outlets showed footage of snow-covered roads and vehicles thickly glazed with ice.

In southern Georgia, police with dogs searched through the ruins of the Piney Woods Mobile Home Park and adjacent woods near Albany for a 2-year-old boy missing since a tornado flattened the area on Sunday.

Search teams had looked all day Monday and through the night for the toddler. Local media said the child had slipped away from his mother before their home was destroyed.

The storm was part of the system that killed at least 21 people, 16 of them in Georgia, before roaring up the East Coast.

Another winter storm plowing east out of the Rocky Mountains could drop from 6 to 15 inches (15 to 38 cm) of snow on parts of South Dakota and Nebraska before weakening as it reaches the upper Midwest on Wednesday, Hurley said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)

Powerful storm hammers eastern United States with heavy snow, wind gusts

residents survey damage of tornado that struck Georgia

(Reuters) – A powerful storm that killed at least 21 people in the southern United States over the weekend was expected on Tuesday to bring heavy snow and wind gusts to the Northeast, causing school closings, treacherous driving conditions and power outages.

The storm, known as a nor’easter, was forecast to bring snowfalls of up to 9 inches (23 cm) along with icy rains and wind gusts of 40 mph (65 kph) to northern Pennsylvania through central New York and into Maine on Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

“Only travel in an emergency,” it said in an advisory.

School districts across the region canceled or delayed the start of classes on Tuesday due to the icy road conditions. Local news outlets showed early-morning footage of vehicles covered with a thick glaze of ice and snow-covered roads.

“I didn’t want a snow day but I didn’t want to drive in this mess either,” Lauren Piechota, a teacher in Vermont, said on Twitter.

Flood advisories and watches were also in effect for coastal areas throughout New England until midday as rain totals for the last couple of days were expected to reach 3 inches (8 cm), the weather service said.

About 15,000 customers were without power early on Tuesday morning, according to online reports by utility companies in the region.

“Scattered power outages are expected as the slushy accumulations and ice will weigh down trees and power lines,” the weather service said.

The storm unleashed deadly twisters in Mississippi and Georgia over the weekend before turning cooler as it advanced on the Northeast on Monday and into Tuesday. It was expected to head into Canada by Wednesday, the service said.

The weather system killed 16 people on Sunday in Georgia, according to a tally by the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal extended a state emergency declaration to 16 counties and said President Donald Trump had called him on Sunday and promised he would be “ready and willing to respond” to an expected request for federal disaster relief.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

North Dakota tribe formally calls on pipeline protesters to disperse

Dakota Access pipeline protest

By Terray Sylvester

CANNON BALL, N.D. (Reuters) – A Sioux tribal council on Saturday formally asked hundreds of protesters to clear out of three camps near its North Dakota reservation used to stage months of sometimes violent protests against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday unanimously passed a resolution calling for the camps to be dismantled, it said on its Facebook page on Saturday. The tribe has been encouraging protesters to go home since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to an environmental review of the $3.8 billion project in December.

Despite earlier discussions about alternative sites, the resolution made no provision for relocating the estimated 600 protesters, which include non-native environmental activists and Native Americans from outside the tribe.

“The pipeline fight has moved beyond the camps and our strategy must evolve with the process,” Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said in a statement dated Saturday.

The council said heavy snowfall in the area had raised the danger of flooding, and this week’s clashes with police could imperil the environmental review process.

“Because we worked together, the federal government will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement,” the tribe said. “Moving forward, our ultimate objective is best served by our elected officials, navigating strategically through the administrative and legal processes.”

Native Americans and environmental activists have said that the pipeline would threaten water resources and sacred lands.

The tribe, which launched the effort to stop the pipeline last year, won a major concession when the government denied Energy Transfer Partners an easement for the pipeline to travel under Lake Oahe, a water source upstream from the reservation.

The tribe’s resolution formally called on protesters to leave the area in 30 days, in part because of the potential for environmental damage and safety issues raised by the encampments.

But a former council member said the tribe was also concerned that recent clashes could delay the reopening of a highway linking the reservation to Bismarck, the state capital, an hour’s drive to the north.

“Our main venture that we have on Standing Rock is the Prairie Knights Casino, and Highway 1806 is the main access road,” said Phyllis Young, who currently serves as a consultant to the tribe on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Tensions increased this week near the construction site, with repeated clashes between protesters and police ahead of Friday’s inauguration of President Donald Trump, an unabashed supporter of the project.

Police used tear gas and fired beanbag rounds to disperse crowds, and have arrested nearly 40 people since Monday, law enforcement officials said.

One of the main groups representing protesters in the camp signaled a willingness to abide by the tribe’s resolution.

“Our network respects the decision of the Cannon Ball district and the tribal council of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” said Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Vacating the camp does not mean abandoning the resistance.”

But Olive Bias, a Cherokee from Colorado who has been at the camps since September, said she expected some people would refuse to leave camp.

“Some will (leave). Others won’t. It’s pretty inevitable,” she said.

(Writing by Frank McGurty, editing by G Crosse)

U.N. alarmed at migrants dying of cold, ‘dire’ situation in Greece

refugee boy rides bike through snow

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Refugees and migrants are dying in Europe’s cold snap and governments must do more to help them rather than pushing them back from borders and subjecting them to violence, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.

“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. It’s about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements,” Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. “The dire situation right now is Greece.”

UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly cited five deaths so far from cold and said about 1,000 people including children were in unheated tents and dormitories on the Greek island of Samos, calling for them to be transferred to shelter on the mainland.

Hundreds of others had been moved to better accommodation on the islands of Lesbos and Chios in the past few days.

In Serbia, about 80 percent of the 7,300 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are staying in heated government shelters, but 1,200 men were sleeping rough in informal sites in Belgrade.

The bodies of two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman were found close to the Turkish border in Bulgaria and two Somali teenagers were hospitalized with frostbite after five days in a forest, Pouilly said. The body of a young Pakistani man was found along the same border in late December.

A 20-year-old Afghan man died after crossing the Evros River on the Greece-Turkey land border at night when temperatures were below -10 degrees Celsius. The body of a young Pakistani man was found on the Turkish side of the border with Bulgaria.

“Given the harsh winter conditions, we are particularly concerned by reports that authorities in all countries along the Western Balkans route continue to push back refugees and migrants from inside their territory to neighboring countries,” Pouilly said.

Some refugees and migrants said police subjected them to violence and many said their phones were confiscated or destroyed, preventing them from calling for help, she said.

“Some even reported items of clothing being confiscated thus further exposing them to the harsh winter conditions,” she said. “These practices are simply unacceptable and must be stopped.”

Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said migrant movements across the Mediterranean had “started out in a big way” in 2017, and the death toll for the year was already 27.

The World Meteorological Organization said a movement of cold Siberian air into southeastern Europe had driven temperatures in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Romania 5-10 degrees Celsius lower than normal. Such cold outbreaks happen about once in 35 years on average, the WMO said.

(additional reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Janet Lawrence)