Ice storm targets central United States

empty runway at natioanal airport due to ice

Reuters) – An ice storm heading for the central United States is threatening to cause power outages and create treacherous travel conditions on Friday and into the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

Ice, freezing rain and winter storm warnings were in effect for a large swathe of the Plains, from the Texas panhandle north into Iowa and east through central Indiana, the Weather Service said in an advisory.

“Significant amounts of ice accumulations will make travel dangerous or impossible,” the weather service said. “Travel is strongly discouraged. Commerce will likely be severely impacted.”

Ice accumulation could be more than half an inch (1 cm) depending on local temperatures, creating slick roadways especially on bridges and overpasses, and possibly causing scattered power outages across the region, the service said.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for the entire state ahead of the storm.

“Emergency personnel are coordinating with state and local officials to ensure we are prepared and ready for whatever comes our way,” said Fallin.

A handful of public school districts and universities in Idaho, Oklahoma and other parts of the central region have either canceled classes on Friday or had delayed openings due to the impending storm.

Parts of the region could also see as much as 3 inches (8 cm) of snow later in the weekend, according to the forecast.

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

Preparation and driving tips for incoming Midwest ice storm

By Shirette Stockdall

Multiple weather services (including The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and the National Weather Service) are reporting a widespread ice storm to hit the U.S. Midwest this weekend. Winter storm watches have been placed in several counties ranging from Texas to Ohio. This storm is expected to bring freezing rain/sleet starting Friday, January 13th and continue throughout the region until Tuesday, January 17th.

The Weather Channel reports that the storm will slowly move north throughout the weekend. Radar shows that the storm will hit Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana with the most ice. By Monday, the freezing rain/sleet will move north, hitting Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan until Tuesday.

Despite the storm moving across the Midwest, meteorologists warn that ice accumulation could get up to half an inch. This is more than enough to weigh down trees and damage power lines, meaning that hundreds of thousands could be without power during the weekend, according to The Weather Channel. Ice will also accumulate on the roads, leading to dangerous driving conditions.

The National Weather Service is warning drivers to stay off the roads, but also provided driver safety tips on Twitter for those who do have to brave the storms.

Additionally, multiple weather services are advising residents in these regions to stock up on preparation items for the storm. These items include:

Flashlights, candles
Batteries
Battery powered radio
Extra Prescriptions/medications
First Aid Kit
Bottled Water
Nonperishable Food
Extra fuel for your generator
A cooler with ice to store cold foods
Extra blankets/warm clothes
Extra toiletries
Cash

Other actions can be taken to prepare for the storm. Make sure to charge all electronics before the power could possibly go out. If you have a generator, run it before the storm hits, make sure it has plenty of fuel or is full charged, and train all family members to be able to operate it. Teach family members basic first aid. Unplug sensitive appliances before the storm hits. If your house will be without heat for a couple days, make sure to drain all of your water pipes to avoid bursts. And if you do lose power, keep your refrigerator closed. Frozen food will keep for approximately 48 hours in the fridge, even without power.

Stay safe and stay warm!

Snow, rain pummel parts of California, Nevada and Oregon

clearing snow from a driveway

(Reuters) – Heavy rain and snowfall hit parts of California, Nevada and Oregon early on Wednesday, causing roads to be closed, schools to cancel classes and widespread flooding along already swollen waterways.

A National Weather Service blizzard warning remained in effect until late on Wednesday morning for ski resort towns in the greater Lake Tahoe area, including Truckee and South Lake Tahoe, California, and neighboring Nevada enclaves of Stateline and Incline Village.

Snow accumulations of 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meters) were forecast above elevations of 7,000 feet, with fierce wind gusts reaching 100 miles (160 km) per hour along the ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the National Weather Service reported.

An avalanche warning was issued for much of the same mountain regions.

“Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented so persons in the warning area are advised to stay indoors,” the weather service said.

Roadways, including Interstate 80 near the border of California and Nevada, were closed on Wednesday morning.

Schools throughout the region canceled Wednesday classes, including the Portland Public Schools district in Oregon, attended by about 50,000 students.

Several flood warnings remained in effect until Wednesday morning for lower elevations in northern and central California and in western Nevada, where creeks and rivers were expected to overrun their banks.

Several communities in the region opened evacuation centers for people who heeded warnings from officials to move to higher ground to avoid flooding.

Heavy downpours sent a wall of mud down onto a house in Fairfax, California, trapping an elderly couple and their two granddaughters, according to local media. Firefighters rescued the couple and children and no one was injured, an ABC affiliate reported.

A series of floodgates on the Sacramento River, just upstream of California’s capital, were opened for the first time in 11 years on Tuesday to divert high water around the city and into a special drainage channel, said Lauren Hersh, a spokeswoman for the state Water Resources Department.

The cascade of rain and snow marked the fourth round of extreme precipitation unleashed during the past month by a weather pattern meteorologists call an “atmospheric river” – a dense plume of moisture flowing from the tropical Pacific into California.

The storms have brought some sorely needed replenishment to many reservoirs left low by five years of drought, while restoring California’s mountain snowpack to 135 percent of its average water-content level for this time of year as of Tuesday, state water officials said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Dominic Evans)

Thai floods cause 200-kilometer traffic tailback; death toll up to 25

Bridge damaged by floods in Thailand

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Flash floods in southern Thailand washed out a bridge on the country’s main north-south highway on Tuesday, backing up traffic for 200 km (125 miles) as the death toll from days of unseasonable rain rose to 25, media reported.

More than 360,000 households, or about a million people, have been affected by the floods that have damaged homes and schools and affected rubber and palm oil production, the Department of Disaster Prevention and industry officials said.

Television pictures showed abandoned cars submerged in murky waters in Prachuap Khiri Khan province where a torrent washed out a bride on the main road linking Bangkok to the south, causing the 200 km tailback, media reported.

The railway link to the south, and Malaysia, beyond has been severed for days.

Thailand’s rainy season usually ends in late November but this year heavy rain has fallen well into what should be the dry season.

Southern Thailand is a major rubber-producing area and the wet weather has hit production. Palm oil plantations have also been flooded, industry officials and farmers’ groups said.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, one of the worst-hit provinces, television footage showed villagers commuting by boat.

“It’s like a big pond,” said resident Pattama Narai.

Nakhon Si Thammarat has had 493 mm of rain in the past seven days, 426 mm more than the average for this time of year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Flooding regularly occurs in the May-November rainy season.

In 2011, widespread flooding that began in the north and flowed down to Bangkok crippled industry, killed more than 900 people and slowed economic growth to just 0.1 percent that year.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Juarawee Kittisilpa and Jutarat Skulpichetrat; Editing by Robert Birsel; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Powerful storms head for U.S. West after thousands flee floods

Partially submerged building in California

(Reuters) – Powerful storms packing heavy rain and snow will lash the U.S. West on Tuesday, a day after thousands of people fled their homes to escape floods, forecasters said.

A band of heavy downpours will drench northern California and heavy snow will fall in the Sierra Nevada mountains into Wednesday, exacerbating the threat of flooding, the National Weather Service said.

The storms are part of weather system called the “Pineapple Express” that has soaked a vast area from Hawaii to the typically drought-prone states of California and Nevada.

Just north of San Francisco, the Russian River in Sonoma County flooded early on Monday, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents, officials said.

In Nevada, residents of about 400 homes in Reno were ordered to leave as rains swelled the Truckee River, which flows through the city, a county official said.

A woman died after she was struck by a falling tree in the San Francisco area, local officials and media reported.

Over the weekend, an ancient giant sequoia tree with a hollowed-out tunnel was toppled by floods in Calaveras Big Trees State Park just southeast of Sacramento.

California’s Napa Valley vinyards largely escaped undamaged and the rain was expected to replenish water supplies after five years of drought, said Patsy McGaughy, Napa Valley Vintners spokeswoman.

California officially remains in a state of drought as water is still scarce in the south.

But northern California’s Lake Oroville, the principal reservoir for the State Water Project, has 2.25 million acre feet of water, more than double the amount it had a year ago, Michael Anderson, state climatologist for the California Department of Water Resources, said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee)

More rain, snow forecast as U.S. storm brings floods to California

Flooded street in Calfornia

(Reuters) – Forecasters expect another half foot of rain to soak central and northern California and the Sierra Nevada mountains through early Tuesday, coming on the heels of powerful storms that walloped the state and other parts of the U.S. west on Sunday.

The drenching rains and blowing snow flooded rivers and shut down roads from mudslides in a state that has struggled with drought for years.

From 3 to 8 inches (7.6 to 20 cm) of rain is forecast in the region while several feet (1-2 metres) of snow are likely for higher elevations, said meteorologist Andrew Orrison at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.

“We’re going to see heavy rain going into (Monday) evening and early morning,” he said.

Heavy snow is expected in Nevada and the northern Rocky Mountains could get several feet of snow over the next day or two.

The weather service said almost 40 rivers or creeks in Northern California and western Nevada were flooded or threatened to top their banks. But an emergency agency spokesman said there had been no reports of fatalities or serious damage.

Authorities said a section of Interstate 80 near Truckee, southwest of Reno, Nevada, was closed by a mudslide.

The upper Napa River north of San Francisco was expected to cause “extreme damage to all towns along the reach,” the California emergency agency said in a statement. Anticipated flooding brought voluntary evacuations in neighboring Sonoma County.

Residents of Cambria, near the famous Hearst Castle along California’s central coast, were advised to move to higher ground due a flash flood warning.

Several other California highways were closed from landslides or high water. In Washington state, high winds, ice and heavy snow shut roads and created hazardous driving conditions.

Iridium Communications said Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company had delayed Monday’s launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 of its satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles. The launch was now set for Saturday.

The storm is drawing strength from the interaction between an “atmospheric river,” a plume of water vapor flowing from the tropics toward the West Coast, and a low-pressure area near Oregon, the National Weather Service said.

After years of drought, the storm is the latest in a strong wet season for California that began in the autumn. Another front is expected on Tuesday.

In an encouraging sign, the U.S. Forest Service said the rain had restored moisture levels in Southern California vegetation to a seasonal normal for the first time in five years.

The eastern United States experienced low temperatures on Sunday, the day after a massive storm dumped snow from Georgia to Massachusetts.

(Editing by Chris Michaud)

Thai PM visits flood-battered south: six dead, transport disrupted

People in flood street in Thailand

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited flooded parts of the south of the country on Friday where unseasonable downpours have killed six people, cut road and rail links and forced an airport to close.

Thailand’s wet season usually ends in late November and heavy rain and flooding is rare in January, which is high season for beach resorts in the south.

Twenty-six flights to and from the main airport in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat airport were canceled on Friday because the runway was flooded, the Department of Airports said.

“The floods began on January 1 and are due to the unseasonable heavy rain,” said an officer at the National Disaster Warning Center who declined to be identified as she is not authorized to speak to the media.

Six people had been killed in accidents caused by the flooding, she said.

Railway services on the main line linking Thailand to Malaysia have been suspended because the track is flooded.

Southern Thailand is a major rubber-producing region and the wet weather was having a significant impact on production, said Uthai Sonlucksub, president of the Natural Rubber Council of Thailand.

“Farmers began tapping in December because they had to wait for the rainy season to end but now they have to contend with the floods,” Uthai told Reuters.

Flooding in Thailand usually occurs during the May-November rainy season.

Widespread floods in 2011 killed more than 900 people and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 percent.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Snow storm takes aim at U.S. South, Southeast

Semi truck driver removes chains from truck

(Reuters) – A winter storm packing heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain is on track for the U.S. South and Southeast where roads may become impassable and power outages are possible starting on Friday and into the weekend, forecasters said.

A large swath of the United States, from Louisiana northeast through the Appalachian Mountains and into southern Pennsylvania, is expected to get as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of snow with 1 inch (3 cm) of sleet, according to the National Weather Service.

“If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” said Matthew Grantham, a NWS meteorologist in Alabama, adding that conditions were expected to worsen after dark on Friday.

A weather warning was in effect until Saturday afternoon for most of North Carolina along with northwest South Carolina and northern Georgia where heavy snow, freezing temperatures and wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour (40 kph) were expected.

“The heavy snow will make many roads impassable and may produce widespread power outages,” the weather service said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 79 counties and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency for his entire state.

The poor weather forced the postponement of the inauguration events that were scheduled over the weekend for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who was elected in November.

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

Record snow and rain stretches across parched U.S. west

(Reuters) – Record snow and rain pummeled the western United States on Thursday, raising the threat of floods and freezing temperatures in some areas across the region, weather officials said.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in parts of California, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah following days of snowfall and cold.

California, where a five-year drought has triggered dozens of wildfires, was bracing for floods after heavy rainfall earlier in the week. Rivers are expected to overflow in northern and central parts of the state at a rate last seen in December 2005, the National Weather Service said.

Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which provides a critical source of water for California and has receded in recent years, is forecast to be twice the monthly average for January.

Snowstorms battered Oregon, which was in the grips of a moderate drought last year, prompting the closure of highways and schools.

In Medford, Oregon, a winter storm dumped more than eight inches of snow in a single day, the most the city has recorded over a 24-hour period in nearly a century, KTVL News 10 reported.

The Oregon State Police reported that its field office, located about 50 miles southeast of Portland, was buried under at least five feet of snow.

An 8-year-old girl was killed in the coastal area of Otis, Oregon, when a storm bringing high winds and snow caused a tree to crash onto her home earlier in the week, CBS reported.

In Boise, the capital city in the northwestern state of Idaho, 6.5 inches of snow fell on Wednesday, the most ever recorded on that date, the Weather Service said. Snow depth in the area was 15 inches, another record, it said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Storms that pounded U.S. South seen easing leaving 5 dead

National Weather Service forecast map for January 3rd, 2017

(Reuters) – A severe storm system that left five people dead in the U.S. South is expected to weaken significantly on Tuesday, bringing only light rainfall along the East Coast, officials said.

The storms eased a day after strong winds from what is believed to have been a tornado killed four people in southeast Alabama, and a man was found drowned in floodwater in northwest Florida, state officials said.

“The threat of severe weather is much lower today,” meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center said by telephone.

Between half an inch and an inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) of rain was expected to fall along the East Coast on Tuesday, including in Washington D.C. and in parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Oravec said.

The rainfall threat was diminishing as the storm moved out of the South toward the U.S. Northeast, he said.

Unlike on Monday, when 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm) of rain soaked parts of the U.S. South, causing flooding in some areas, no major floods were expected along the East Coast.

“Without a doubt it will be quieter” than on Monday, John Hart, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center, said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Mark Heinrich)