Tropical storm nears northern Bahamas, complicating Dorian relief

By Zach Fagenson

NASSAU (Reuters) – The leading edge of a potential tropical storm brought rain and wind to the Bahamas early Friday, complicating the search for 1,300 people missing in the wake of the worst hurricane to ever hit the island nation and efforts to bring relief to survivors.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for most of the Northwestern Bahamas, including Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Those islands were ravaged when Hurricane Dorian ripped through the archipelago as a Category 5 storm two weeks ago.

Early Friday, the tropical disturbance was 235 miles (375 km) east-southeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island as it traveled northwest with winds of 30 mph.

The storm was expected to dump two to four inches of rain on the islands, where the powerful and slow-moving Dorian had ripped roofs off thousands of dwellings and dumped up to two feet of rain. In some areas, the new storm could drop up to 6 inches of rain through Sunday, the NHC said, but no storm surge was expected.

“Tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and high surf are expected” in the Bahamas, said Dennis Feltgen, the center’s spokesman. “Wet and windy, which is going to make the recovery over the northwest Bahamas that much more difficult.”

The storm is expected to pick up speed as it moves northwest on Friday and could hit Florida on Saturday, it said.

In Florida, a tropical storm watch was in effect for portions of the east-central coast early Friday. South Florida could see tropical storm-force winds as early as Friday evening, the NHC said.

The tropical cyclone was not expected to bring anywhere near the devastation of Dorian, which slammed into the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 storm. It was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record to hit land, packing top sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (298 kph).

With 1,300 people still missing, according to the Bahamian government, relief services are focused on search and rescue as well as providing food, water and shelter.

Aid groups rushed shelter material to residents living in the shells of former homes.

“We’re seeing plastic tarps go out all over the islands, and that’s extremely important because now you’ve got another tropical storm coming,” said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs for U.S. relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday to speak with people affected by the hurricane and the humanitarian teams assisting them. He planned to meet with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis in Nassau.

Minnis on Wednesday said the official death toll stood at 50 but was expected to rise. He said he was trying to remove “bureaucratic roadblocks” to bringing aid to areas where the devastation made it hard for relief teams to reach.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he believed “hundreds” were dead on Abaco “and significant numbers on Grand Bahama,” the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.

Officials have erected large tents in Nassau to house those made homeless by Dorian. They plan to erect tent cities on Abaco to shelter up to 4,000 people.

(Reporting by Zach Fagenson in Nassau; additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Jason Neely and David Gregorio)

Back-to-back hurricanes churn towards Hawaii

Hurricanes Erick and Flossie 7-31-19

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Back-to-back hurricanes churned in the eastern Pacific on Wednesday towards Hawaii, with one set to lose punch when it reaches the U.S. archipelago state even as its mate gains might.

The closest to Hawaii was Hurricane Erick, which swelled from a tropical storm on Monday to a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

But it has since weakened to Category 3 with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said on Wednesday.

It was about 695 miles (1,115 km) from Hawaii’s Big Island.

Erick is expected to continue to lose its might, dwindling back into a tropical storm by the time it makes its closest approach to Hawaii.

It is forecast to skirt south of the Big Island on Friday morning. Meteorologists see a higher chance of gale-force winds from the storm on the Big Island later this week.

Meanwhile, farther east in the Pacific, Hurricane Flossie, a Category 1 with sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), is expected to gradually gain power and speed over the next few days, the NHC said early on Wednesday.

It was about 1,150 miles (1,850 km) southwest of the Mexican state of Baja California, an advisory said, and was slowly headed west, getting stronger over the next few days.

The latest forecast shows it approaching the island by 8 p.m. Sunday, a forecaster at the NHC said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

As Hurricane Erick heads toward Hawaii, another Pacific hurricane expected to form

Hurricane Erick - NOAA track photograph

(Reuters) – As Hurricane Erick gained strength in the eastern Pacific as it churned toward Hawaii, another weather system, tropical storm Flossie brewing farther east is likely to become a hurricane later on Tuesday, forecasters said.

Tropical Storm Erick grew into a hurricane late on Monday in the eastern Pacific, packing maximum sustained winds of 1115 mph as it churned more than 1,000 miles (1,610 km) from Hawaii’s Big Island.

Erick, the Pacific season’s third hurricane, is rated a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and could gain strength in the next two days, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

“A weakening trend is expected to begin later in the week,” it said in an advisory.

The weather system is expected to weaken back into a tropical storm by the time it makes its closest approach to Hawaii and is forecast to skirt south of the Big Island on Friday morning. Forecasts call for a higher chance of gale-force winds from the storm on the Big Island later this week.

Another tropical storm, Flossie, was trailing Erick farther out in the eastern Pacific, packing winds of 65 mph (100 kph) early on Tuesday.

Flossie is expected to become the fourth hurricane of the Pacific this season later in the day, forecasters said. It was about 965 miles (1550 km) southwest of Baja, California, an advisory said, and was slowly headed west.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Tropical storm brewing off U.S. Gulf Coast, likely to hit Louisiana as hurricane

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico and aimed at water-logged New Orleans was expected to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2019 season by late Friday or early Saturday, forecasters said.

A waterspout is seen on Lake Pontchartrain off New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Bryon Callahan via REUTERS

A waterspout is seen on Lake Pontchartrain off New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Bryon Callahan via REUTERS

The storm, which forecasters said might escalate to a tropical storm by late Thursday, had maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour (55 kph) as of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Meteorologists predicted between 10 and 20 inches (25 and 50 cm) of rain would fall on the Gulf Coast on Friday and Saturday from West Texas through New Orleans and the Louisiana coast.

“The whole area is in for a soaking, the worst of it on Saturday,” said David Roth, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

The storm remained a tropical disturbance early on Thursday about 115 miles (185 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm will be named Barry if it strengthens into a tropical storm with winds of 39 mph or more on the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale. It will become Hurricane Barry if it reaches wind speeds of 74 mph (119 km) as expected when it makes landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River and just west of New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

“The storm system will likely produce storm surge, hurricane-force winds,” he said at a news conference. “No one should take this storm lightly.”

 

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERS

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERSNational Guard troops were in place across the state, the governor said.

U.S. oil producers on Wednesday cut nearly a third of Gulf of Mexico crude output ahead of the storm.

Fifteen production platforms and four rigs were evacuated in the north-central Gulf of Mexico, according to a U.S. regulator as oil firms moved workers to safety.

New Orleans was already hit with widespread flooding on Wednesday from a weather system that might inundate the low-lying U.S. city.

The National Weather Service said the city had received 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm) of rain by Thursday morning, causing dramatic flooding in the area, including on Bourbon Street in the city’s historic French Quarter.

Officials advised residents on Wednesday to stock up on emergency supplies and ordered evacuations in some vulnerable residential areas.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Peter Sezekely and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bill Trott)

Former Hurricane Michael heads northeast after trashing Florida

Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

By Rod Nickel

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Michael took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday after battering Florida’s Panhandle as the third most powerful hurricane ever to strike the U.S. mainland and killing at least two people.

Michael shattered houses and buildings, downed power lines and ripped up trees when it crashed ashore on Wednesday afternoon, carrying winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) and causing deep seawater flooding.

Emergency crews work to clear a street of debris during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Emergency crews work to clear a street of debris during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Residents and officials were taking stock of the damage on Thursday.

“I think everything from Panama City down to Mexico Beach is way worse than anybody ever anticipated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Weather Channel. Michael’s eye came ashore near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Panama City.

“This is going to be a long recovery but Florida is resilient, we help each other, and we survive,” Scott said. “We worked all night in endangered circumstances.”

It was not yet known what had happened to about 280 residents of Mexico Beach who authorities said had ignored evacuation orders as the storm approached the state’s northwest. The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

By 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Thursday it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 50-mph (85-kph) winds as it pushed through Georgia into the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said.

Parts of North Carolina and Virginia could get as much as 9 inches (23 cm) of rain and life-threatening flash floods, the NHC said. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

More than 830,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

A McDonald's sign damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

A McDonald’s sign damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

‘SURREAL’ WIND

The hurricane, the fiercest to hit Florida in 80 years, pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.

“The wind that came through here was surreal. It destroyed everything,” Jason Gunderson, a member of a group of rescue workers that calls itself the Cajun Navy, told CNN early on Thursday from Callaway, a suburb of Panama City.

“It’s unlivable. It’s heartbreaking.”

Thousands of people hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes ahead of the storm.

An estimated 6,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters, mostly in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week’s end, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.

Twenty miles (32 km) south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said. Wind damage was also evident.

“There are so many downed power lines and trees that it’s almost impossible to get through the city,” Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said.

Michael had rapidly intensified as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico in recent days, growing from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane in about 40 hours and catching many by surprise.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, the measure of a hurricane’s force, it ranked as the third strongest storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States. Only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys were more intense.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

About 3,500 Florida National Guard troops were deployed, along with more than 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel, Governor Scott said.

Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by nearly one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Panama City, Florida; Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Tallahassee, Florida; Susan Heavey, Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Gina Cherelus and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Liz Hampton in Houston, Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Writing by Steve Gorman and Bill Trott; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)

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)

Tropical storm Gordon weakens after killing child

Storm clouds loom over a pier as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches in Waveland, Mississippi, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Gordon weakened into a depression on Wednesday hours after making landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border and killing one person in Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, which caused only minor damage, was about 25 miles (40 km) south-southeast of Jackson, Mississippi and packed winds of 35 miles per hour. It will likely move across the lower Mississippi Valley through the day, bringing heavy rain and flooding, the NHC added.

An unidentified child was killed on Tuesday when a tree fell on a mobile home in Pensacola, Florida, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.

A slab where a house once stood is seen as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches Waveland, Mississippi, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

A slab where a house once stood is seen as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches Waveland, Mississippi, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Flash flood warnings and watches were in effect for inland areas while all coastal watches and warnings associated with Gordon were discontinued at this time, the NHC said.

Separately, the NHC on Wednesday named storm Florence, which was about 1,350 miles (2,170 km) east-southeast of Bermuda, as the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. It has winds 105 miles per hour (165 km/h) and was moving northwest at 13 miles per hour.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency lifted evacuation orders and curfews for south Mississippi residents on Wednesday, said Ray Coleman, spokesman for the agency.

“We have no real damage reports, a couple of trees down, but no real major damages in the lower Mississippi Gulf Coast counties,” Coleman said.

Moderate to heavy flooding could be seen on roadways on Dauphin Island, Alabama and in Jackson, Mississippi, along with a few toppled trees, according to video reports by WKRG and WRAL news stations.

The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had declared this week a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm while companies cut 9 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.

U.S. oil producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp evacuated workers and shut production at two offshore platforms on Monday, and other companies with production and refining operations along the Gulf Coast said they were securing facilities.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Last year, hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing widespread destruction and thousands of deaths.

(Reporting by Kathy Finn, Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by David Stamp and Steve Orlofsky)

Tropical Storm Gordon hits southern Florida, spins toward U.S. Gulf Coast

FILE PHOTO: Homes sit on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in the Myrtle Grove Estates development in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, U.S. October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jessica Resnick-Ault/File Photo

By Jon Herskovitz and Rich McKay

(Reuters) – A tropical storm whipped the southern tip of Florida with high winds and rain on Monday morning and was forecast to gain strength as it passed over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, officials said.

Tropical Storm Gordon was forecast to drop as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of rain in some areas of the U.S. South still reeling from hurricanes a year ago.

The storm was generating winds of 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) on Monday as it steamed west-northwest at 17 miles an hour (27 km/h), National Hurricane Center Director Kenneth Graham said in a video briefing on Facebook.

“It looks like for the next three or four days we’re going to be having to really watch close,” Graham said, “and remember if you’re even inland you can get some of these heavy rainfall totals so now is the time to be prepared.”

Last year, hurricanes walloped Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, massive power outages and devastation to hundreds of thousands of structures.

The National Hurricane Center warned of high winds around parts of Florida as the storm passed over the southern tip of the state on Monday morning.

The storm was expected to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico, and reach the central Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana late on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

At the mouth of the Mississippi River, around the area of New Orleans, the storm could generate a surge of up to 4 feet (1 meter) and smaller surges could hit coastland along other parts of the Gulf Coast, Graham said.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the National Hurricane Center said in a statement.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Sunday he had activated the state’s Crisis Action Team as a precaution.

There were no immediate indications that the storm had affected energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico area.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andrea Ricci)

Two dead in North Carolina landslide as Alberto no longer a storm

Subtropical Storm Alberto is pictured nearing the Florida Panhandle in this May 27, 2018 NASA handout photo. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Two people were killed after floods triggered a landslide in North Carolina, as Alberto was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone with diminished rainfall by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Thursday.

Rescue workers found two bodies after being alerted late Wednesday that the landslide had destroyed a home in Boone, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, said Jeff Virginia, spokesman for Watauga County Emergency Management.

Local media reported that heavy rains caused the landslide which triggered a gas explosion.

Video images posted to Twitter by the Boone Police Department showed an apparently charred home reduced to rubble.

Alberto has becomes a post-tropical cyclone as it attempts to exit northeastern lower Michigan, and a heavy rainfall threat is fading near its center, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

The system is located about 20 miles (30 km) west south-west of Alpena, Michigan with maximum sustained winds of 30 miles per hour (45 km/h), the weather forecaster said.

“Flash flood watches remain in effect for the western Carolinas, northwest Virginia, and far eastern west Virginia,” the NHC added.

(Reporting by Arpan Varghese and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)

Tropical storm Eliakim kills 17 in Madagascar: authorities

The aftermath of the tropical storm Eliakim near Manambonitra, Atsinanana region, Madagascar, March 18, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Erino Razafimanana/ via REUTERS

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – At least 17 people died when a tropical storm hit eastern Madagascar over the weekend, authorities said.

More than 6,000 people were displaced by the storm, called Eliakim, the National Office of Risk and Disaster Management said in a statement late on Sunday.

The tropical storm hit the island’s Mananara region, 635 km north-east of Antananarivo, on Saturday night and had a wind speed of 85 km per hour and gusts of 120 km per hour.

In January, the island’s disaster management office said Tropical Cyclone Ava killed 51 people.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Jason Neely)