Powerful Hurricane Irma could be next weather disaster

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Powerful Hurricane Irma could be next weather disaster

Story highlights

  • Hurricane Irma is a powerful Category 3 and has rapidly intensified on Thursday
  • Irma is in the open Atlantic, and it’s too early to know where it will hit

(CNN)While much of the United States’ focus is still on Texas and the destruction left behind by Hurricane Harvey and it’s historic rainfall, powerful Hurricane Irma is rapidly intensifying in the open Atlantic and poses a major threat to the Caribbean and potentially the United States next week.

Irma was named as a tropical storm on Wednesday morning and by Thursday afternoon it had strengthened into a large Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 115 mph.

Hurricane Irma satellite image

Such explosive strengthening is known as “rapid intensification,” defined by the National Hurricane Center as having its wind speed increase at least 30 knots (35 mph) in 24 hours.
“Irma has become an impressive hurricane,” the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday, noting the rapid intensification, and saying “this is a remarkable 50 knot [58 mph] increase from yesterday at this time.”

How are hurricanes named?

Hurricane Harvey underwent rapid intensification last week, just before landfall, which brought it from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane when it moved onshore near Corpus Christi.
Irma is a classic “Cape Verde hurricane,” a type of hurricane that forms in the far eastern Atlantic, near the Cape Verde Islands (now known as the Cabo Verde Islands) and tracks all the way across the Atlantic. Cape Verde storms frequently are some of the largest and most intense hurricanes. Examples are Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Floyd, and Hurricane Ivan.
Hurricane Irma is forecast to continue to strengthen as it moves westward over the next five days and the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center puts a dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Irma on the doorstep of the Caribbean by the end of the five-day forecast on Tuesday afternoon.
A strong high-pressure ridge to the north of Irma, over the Atlantic, is steering the storm to the west and limiting the wind shear in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which has allowed the storm to grow so quickly. Wind shear is like hurricane kryptonite, and prevents storms from forming or gaining strength.
Unfortunately, Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days, so there isn’t much hope that Irma will weaken any time soon.
There is considerable confidence that Hurricane Irma will track to the west through the weekend and then take a slight jog to the southwest early next week in response “to a building ridge [of high pressure] over the central Atlantic.”
From there the forecast becomes a lot less clear, with some major differences among some of the key models meteorologists use to forecast hurricanes, differences so drastic that in one instance Irma slides harmlessly back out to sea and in another it makes multiple disastrous landfalls in the Caribbean and likely the United States after that.
The European model, or ECMWF, and the American GFS model have had some notable showdowns before, most notably with Hurricane Sandy.
With Sandy, the ECMWF correctly predicted a landfall in the northeast nearly a week ahead, while the GFS continually kept the storm offshore in what became a major black eye for the US weather modeling industry. There have been other examples where the GFS model has performed better than the European model, such as with a few major snowstorms in the northeast.
Right now, the GFS has Irma taking a more northerly track that curves to the north before it reaches the Caribbean, thus making a US landfall much less likely.
The European model keeps the storm tracking further west and into the Caribbean by the middle of next week.

European vs American weather models

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics, said, “The ECMWF sees a much stronger ridge or Bermuda High [than the GFS] which forces Irma west, whereas the GFS has a weaker ridge and a more rightward, parabolic track.”
“The prospects for major impacts anywhere from Cuba to Carolinas is concerning for this very reliable model,” Maue said.
Irma is still more than 1,700 miles east of the Leeward Islands and any impacts from the storm shouldn’t be felt until Tuesday or Wednesday for the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.
The forecast picture should become clearer after the weekend as we see which model correctly predicts Irma’s path.
Bottom line: Hurricane Irma is already a powerful hurricane and looks to only become more so. Those with interests in the Caribbean and southeast US coast should pay close attention to the forecast.

‘Pops,’ Followed By Black Smoke And Fire, Reported At Storm-Crippled Texas Chemical Plant

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

‘Pops,’ followed by black smoke and fire, reported at storm-crippled Texas chemical plant

 August 31 at 9:56 AM

The flooded Arkema Inc. chemical plant is seen on Wednesday. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

CROSBY, Tex. — The operators of a chemical plant left without power by floodwaters said Thursday that possible explosions have been reported at the facility, and they warned that more problems could occur as rising temperatures make the highly flammable compounds inside volatile and dangerous.

Arkema, the French chemicals group that runs the plant, said in a statement that it was notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center “of two explosions and black smoke” coming from the facility, which was under about six feet of water from the relentless rains unleashed by Harvey.

Local authorities later said there weren’t explosions at the facility, but rather “pops” followed by smoke and fire. But Arkema urged residents to stay clear of a temporary evacuation zone set up Wednesday, and said in its statement that “a threat of additional explosion remains.”

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported “a series of chemical reactions” and “intermittent smoke” at the facility, about 25 miles northeast of Houston.

Bob Royall, assistant chief for emergency operations for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, said there were “small container ruptures that may have a sound” — like “a series of pops.”

“I don’t want the public thinking these are massive explosions,” Royall told reporters.

“I want to be very clear: It was not an explosion,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

He added: “It is not anything toxic; it is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all.”

The plant in Crosby manufactures organic peroxides, a family of compounds used in everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials such as counter tops and pipes.

A variety of federal agencies have warned about the dangers of organic peroxides. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that “contact of organic peroxides with the eyes should be avoided. Some organic peroxides will cause serious injury to the cornea, even after brief contact, or will be corrosive to the skin.”

It added that “many organic peroxides also burn vigorously.”

An earlier study done for the Environmental Protection Agency found that organic peroxides are skin and eye irritants and could also cause liver damage.

Smoke from the plant left at least one sheriff’s deputy in need of medical treatment. A total of 15 deputies were evaluated by medical teams as a precaution, and most were later released from the hospital after experiencing what Gonzalez, the sheriff, referred to as respiratory irritation. “We believe the smoke is a non-toxic irritant,” he said.

The incident was reported between midnight and 1 a.m. on Thursday, and local authorities and Arkema officials had warned earlier that such problems were likely.

The material at the plant must remain cold — otherwise it can combust. “The material naturally degrades and some types can be unstable unless refrigerated,” Arkema explained.

The facility’s coolant system and inundated backup power generators failed, according to the company. Primary power at the plant went out on Sunday, and two sources of emergency backup power were lost shortly thereafter.

At that point, Richard Rowe, chief executive of Arkema’s North American unit, warned that trouble was likely.

“We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire,” Rowe said in a statement Wednesday. “The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it. We have evacuated our personnel  for their own safety. The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter.  They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too.”

In the statement, Rowe apologized “to everyone impacted by our situation.”

A mandatory evacuation zone was established for a 1.5-mile radius Wednesday as the last remaining workers at the facility attempted to resolve the problem. Police cruisers and SUVs sealed off access to the plant on Highway 90, which connects Houston and Beaumont. Parts of the highway nearby were underwater.

A continuous flow of trucks, many hauling boats to participate in flood rescue efforts, approached the police barricade near the facility Wednesday afternoon only to be turned away as Crosby Volunteer Fire Department trucks crisscrossed the highway cut-through roads.

A Crosby, Tex. volunteer fireman with an evacuee in tow answers questions on road closures from bystanders near a chemical plant authorities said is going to explode. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

The facility, the company noted, “is in a rural area with no hospitals, schools, correctional facilities or recreational areas or industrial/commercial areas in the vicinity.” Arkema said the plant, which employs 57 people, “has never experienced flooding of this magnitude before.”

Ahead of Harvey’s arrival, “the plant made extensive preparations,” bringing extra backup generators to the facility, along with diesel-powered refrigerated tank trailers, Arkema said. But the generators were inundated by water and failed. At that point, the company said, “temperature-sensitive products” were transferred into the diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

Still, the company said Wednesday, “the most likely outcome is that, anytime between now and the next few days, the low-temperature peroxide in unrefrigerated trailers will degrade and catch fire. There is a small possibility that the organic peroxide will release into the floodwaters but will not ignite and burn. … In the alternate, there could be a combination event involving fire and environmental release. Any fire will probably resemble a large gasoline fire. The fire will be explosive and intense. Smoke will be released into the atmosphere and dissipate. People should remain clear of the area.”

The Associated Press reported that Arkema was previously required “to develop and submit a risk management plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, because it has large amounts of sulfur dioxide, a toxic chemical, and methylpropene, a flammable gas.”

The plans are supposed to detail the effects of a potential release, evaluate worst-case scenarios and explain a company’s response. In its most recently available submission from 2014, Arkema said potentially 1.1 million residents could be impacted over a distance of 23 miles (37 kilometers) in a worse case scenario, according to information compiled by a nonprofit group and posted on a website hosted by the Houston Chronicle.

But, Arkema added, it was using “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” at the plant, including steps to reduce the amount of substances released, and that made the worst case “very unlikely.”

On Wednesday, James and Deborah Hyer sat, frustrated, in a white pickup truck with a plant water tower in view. They were waiting with their three young children for the police to clear out so they could return to their home in Dayton, about 10 miles north of the barricade.

They were out of milk and water, with local stores either closed or cleaned out of supplies.

Their newly purchased double-wide trailer on top of a hill escaped much of the floodwaters, Deborah Hyer said, but some of their friends living at the bottom experienced complete devastation.

“They lost everything,” she said. One friend of hers, a single mother of five children, lived in a house on 17-foot stilts, but the water rose so high she had to evacuate, she said.

In tiny Kenefick to the northeast, neighborhoods built on the floodplains and banks of the Trinity River were destroyed, and relatives of friends who tried to evacuate were still missing.

 Play Video 0:54
Houston hero rescues neighbors from Harvey’s floodwaters
Howard Harris purchased a boat last time his hometown of Cypress, Tex., flooded. Now, as Harvey unleashes record levels of rain on Houston and surrounding areas, Harris is making sure his neighbors can evacuate safely. (Kurt Kuykendall, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

As in other areas like Houston and its western suburb of Katy, residents remarked on the quick response of volunteers with fishing boats fanning out as self-deputized rescue units.

“Some authorities are helping, but civilians like the Cajun Navy are helping the most,” James Hyer said.

A Crosby Volunteer Fire Department truck with flashing lights stopped as another man flagged him down to get updates on alternate routes to Dayton.

“We have nowhere to go,” James Hyer pleaded to the firefighter.

“I’d go away from here,” the firefighter responded, though he conceded he did not know which nearby back roads were flooded or, like Highway 90, sealed by police. The Hyer family, resigned, turned around with their backs to Dayton.

Cleveland Walters, Jr. waits for a police barricade to close down on Highway 90 in Crosby, Tex. Police sealed off the highway following reports of an imminent explosion at a chemical plant after floodwaters damaged its coolant systems. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

Cleveland Walters Jr., who also lives in Dayton, waited more than an hour outside his black GMC pickup to get home, where his wife and elderly 92-year old father needed to be cared for, he said.

“Dayton is where all my medicine is,” he said, ticking off the medical issues stemming from Agent Orange he said he was exposed to while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Guam during the final years of the Vietnam War.

The runways for B-52 Stratofortress bombers taking off were choked with jungles, and the defoliant sprayed around his tent sparked skin and gastrointestinal problems. He takes about 30 pills a day, he said, and had only a limited supply with him as he sat on Highway 90.

But Walters wasn’t overly concerned about the plant’s reported impending explosion, after working in the oil industry for many years after his service.

“I drive by it about every day. It is what it is,” he said. He left soon after, and like the Hyer family, put more distance between himself and Dayton as rescue vehicles roared to Beaumont.

Mufson and du Lac reported from Washington. Brian Murphy and Mark Berman contributed to this report, which has been updated.

Trump Makes Devastating Hurricane All About Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Trump Makes Devastating Hurricane All About Trump

“What a crowd, what a turnout.”

X

Crises like major weather disasters offer presidents the chance to unify the country and rise above partisan politics. Although a significant amount of aid work is done at the state and local levels, the president still has a major role in coordinating the response and setting the tone for the country.

But for Donald Trump, Hurricane Harvey has been a golden opportunity to promote himself.

“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it,” the president said on Tuesday. “We want to do it better than ever before.”

Right now, however, Trump wants to be looked at in a way that makes people say, “I would really like to wear that hat, and I’d be willing to pay that man $40 for it.”

The president has repeatedly worn his own campaign merchandise, which is on sale at his website, to Hurricane Harvey events.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Trump has used his Harvey meetings as product placement for hats he sells for $40 two days in a row now…

For a third time, Trump is using Hurricane Harvey as product placement for a hat he sells for $40

Nearly every chance he gets, Trump brags about the size of his hurricane. He doesn’t have to deal with just any old storm like his predecessors did ― he is confronting a huge storm. The biggest storm you’ve ever seen. A storm that only he could handle. And of course, he wants everyone to know that he and his administration are doing a heckuva job.

HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!

Going to a Cabinet Meeting (tele-conference) at 11:00 A.M. on . Even experts have said they’ve never seen one like this!

Wow – Now experts are calling  a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!

Trump also continued to tout how many supporters he has, and the size of his crowds, which he also does at nearly every campaign rally. On Tuesday, he remarked on the crowd size while visiting Corpus Christi, saying, “What a crowd, what a turnout.”

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He was at a fire station to meet with local officials about the disaster response. It was not a rally.

Reporters at the event heard no mention from the president of the dead, suffering or displaced Texans, nor did they hear Trump express any sympathy for them, according to a Dallas Morning News reporter.

Trump seems to be taking a certain amount of satisfaction from the attention he and the hurricane are getting on TV, where cable news has nearly non-stop coverage.

On Tuesday, Trump boasted that Federal Emergency Management Director Brock Long “has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.” And he defended his decision to pardon controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio during Harvey, saying he did so because of how many people were tuning in: “I assumed the ratings would be far higher.”

On the same day that Trump was tweeting about the size of the hurricane, his great rescue operation, NAFTA and his insistence that Mexico will pay for the border wall, former President Barack Obama tweeted a donation link to the Red Cross.

I worked for his opponent in 2012 and had many differences but this really is how a president should respond. In substance & tone. https://twitter.com/barackobama/status/901946021437206528 

Want more updates from Amanda Terkel? Sign up for her newsletter, Piping Hot Truth, here.

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

A view of the Zillertal Valley in the Austrian Alps, near an area where five climbers were killed.

Story highlights

  • Five climbers were killed after falling onto a glacier in the Austrian Alps
  • Two others were killed in Italy climbing in a group roped together

Rome (CNN) Seven climbers fell to their deaths in two separate incidents in the Alps on Sunday, officials said.

Five of the climbers died in the Austrian Alps, Zell am See provincial government chief Martin Reichholf told CNN. Two others were killed as they climbed in a group roped together in the Italian Alps, according to an emergency center there.
Reichholf said there were indications that the climbers were German citizens, adding that details were still emerging.
The climbers in Austria fell around 300 meters (1,000 feet) onto a glacier near the town of Krimml, according to Dr. Egbert Ritter, a trauma surgeon at the AUVA hospital in Salzburg.
Adamello Glacier
Krimml
Map data ©2017 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009), Google, Inst. Geogr. Nacional
A sixth climber — a 60-year-old man — is in intensive care at the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening, Ritter said. Six helicopters were at the scene of the accident, he told CNN.
The climbers fell at around 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) about 1.5 kilometers south of a mountain cabin called the Zittauer Hutte at an altitude of around 3,000 meters, he said.

Group roped together

In Italy, a man and woman who appear to be in their mid-30s were killed as they climbed the Adamello glacier in the the Trentino Alto Adige region, according to the emergency rescue center in the town of Trento.
They were part of a group of nine Italians from the city of Brescia. The climbers were connected by three ropesThey fell when those on the lowest rope slipped on the glacier, dragging down others higher up the slope, according to the rescue center.
A further two climbers were seriously injured, including a 14-year-old boy who is being treated in Trento hospital.
Three helicopters were used to rescue the group, officials said.

(History/Poem) Tangled And Twisted: The Belvidere Illinois F-4 Tornado

Tangled And Twisted

 

April 21st, 1967 a day that I remember well

In my mind, this day will always in infamy live

This day an F-4 tornado tore into our hometown

Killing and hurting so many the day darkness kissed

 

 

About four on Friday afternoon it showed its wrath

Down the business twenty corridor this killer swept

Hitting the Chrysler Assembly Plant about change of shift

Pacemaker grocery store and Highland Hospital it hit

 

 

Houses in the neighborhoods swept clean to cement

To the high school with children filled buses it went

Buses thrown like bowling pens, its wrath did vent

Many a white crosses are for so many of the children

Now lay in rest with white stones at their heads

The living hearts broken from the day of the twist

 

 

It’s not just cars and houses that are missed

It’s survivors lives such storms tangle and twist

Empty desks within the classrooms never filled

Forever a reminder of friends that we still miss

An F-4 tornado our lives it did tangle and twist

Couple’s Frozen Bodies Found on Glacier 75 Years After Disappearance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

‘We Spent Our Lives Searching For Them.’ Couple’s Frozen Bodies Found on Glacier 75 Years After Disappearance

8:17 AM ET

The frozen bodies of a couple who disappeared 75 years ago have been discovered side by side on a glacier near a ski lift above the Les Diablerets resort in the Swiss alps.

Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, who were 40 and 37 years old at the time of their disappearance, went missing after going to feed their cattle on a mountain pasture above Chandolin, on August 15, 1942. It was the first time Francine Dumoulin had accompanied her husband on such an excursion, the Swiss publication Le Matin reports.

For months after the couple’s disappearance, local villages carried out various search operations, to no avail. “One day, we had to [accept] the obvious,” the couple’s youngest daughter, Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, told Le Matin. “They were not coming back.”

Udry-Dumoulin, who is now 79 and became an orphan when she was four, said she and her six siblings spent their “whole lives” looking for their parents, “without stopping.” She told Le Matin that they hoped to give them “the funeral they deserved one day.”

“I climbed the glacier three times afterwards, always looking for them,” she said. “I kept wondering if they had suffered and what had become of them. I now have the pleasure of having answers to these questions.”

The couple’s bodies were discovered last week and their identity investigated by the Valais police. They were wearing World War II-era clothing and were said to be “perfectly preserved” in the glacier. According to Le Matin, such discoveries are becoming increasingly common as the glacier continues to melt.

Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica

(CNN) A massive iceberg weighing more than one trillion tons has broken away from western Antarctica, according to a UK-based research team.

Scientists from Project MIDAS had been monitoring a break in the Larsen C ice shelf — the fourth largest in Antarctica — following the collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and had observed significant advances in the rift over the past 12 months.

The rift, then spanning 70 miles, on Larsen C pictured in November last year.

Experts said the separation of a 5,800 square kilometers (2,239 square miles) section of Larsen C was confirmed to have broken away between Monday and Wednesday by NASA’s Aqua MODIS satellite, which is capable of producing images in thermal infrared at a resolution of 1 km.

See Newfoundland’s ‘Iceberg Alley’ in 360° 01:26
“We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,” Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project said in a statement.
He told CNN the team believes the iceberg has remained intact adding, “This is part of the normal behavior of ice shelves. What makes this unusual is the size.”

Map showing iceberg detachment based on data from NASA dated July 12.

Scientists believe the iceberg — likely to be named A68 — has a volume twice that of Lake Erie in North America and is more than three times the size of the greater London area.

See how Iceland is melting in 360° 04:06
It’s half the size of the largest iceberg ever recorded: B15. With an area of 11,007 square kilometers (4,250 square miles) — about the size of the state of Connecticut or the island of Jamaica — it calved off Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000.
With the iceberg now floating independently, the area of Larsen C has been reduced by more than 12%, forever changing the landscape of the peninsula, according to experts.

An aerial view of the Larsen C rift.

Luckman said that as the sheet of ice was already floating before it carved off the shelf “there will be no immediate impact.”
“This event does not directly affect anyone, and repercussions, if there are any, will not be felt for years. However, it is a spectacular and enormous geographical event which has changed the landscape.”
“We will study the ice shelf for signs that it is reacting to the calving — but we do not expect anything much to happen for perhaps years. Icebergs are routinely monitored by various agencies, and they will be keen to keep track of this one,” Luckman added.

Back in November, a satellite photo revealed just 5 km of ice connected the ice sheet to Larsen C.

Calving is a natural occurrence but scientists have been exploring if climate change may have played a role in expediting the rift.
The team of researchers have not yet found “any link to human-induced climate change,” Martin O’Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the MIDAS project team, said in a statement.

NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER / NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Luckman added, “We have no evidence to link this directly to climate change, and no reason to believe that it would not have happened without the extra warming that human activity has caused. But the ice shelf is now at its most retreated position ever recorded and regional warming may have played a part in that.”
He continued, “This event does not directly affect anyone, and repercussions, if there are any, will not be felt for years. However, it is a spectacular and enormous geographical event which has changed the landscape

Iranian city soars to record 129 degrees: Near hottest on Earth in modern measurements

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Iranian city soars to record 129 degrees: Near hottest on Earth in modern measurements

 June 29 at 3:07 PM

A city in southwest Iran posted the country’s hottest temperature ever recorded Thursday afternoon, and may have tied the world record for the most extreme high temperature.

Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster at French meteorological agency MeteoFrance, posted to Twitter that the city of Ahvaz soared to “53.7°C” (128.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Kapikian said the temperature is a “new absolute national record of reliable Iranian heat” and that it was the hottest temperature ever recorded in June over mainland Asia. Iran’s previous hottest temperature was 127.4.

Weather Underground’s website indicates the temperature in Ahvaz climbed even higher, hitting 129.2 degrees at both 4:51 and 5 p.m. local time.

If that 129.2 degrees reading is accurate, it would arguably tie the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth in modern times.

Christopher Burt, a weather historian for Weather Underground, has exhaustively analyzed world temperature extremes and determined the 129.2 degree readings posted in Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21, 2016, and Death Valley, Calif., on June 30, 2013, are the hottest credible temperature measurements that exist in modern records.

Officially, Death Valley set the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth on July 10, 1913, soaring to 134 degrees (57 Celsius). But Burt posted a devastating critique of that measurement in October 2016, concluding it was “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective,” and that the weather observer committed errors.

For the 129.2 degree-reading Ahvaz posted on Weather Underground to stand and match the highest modern global temperature, it will require review by the World Meteorological Organization.

The scorching temperature reading was brought about by a dome of heat centered over the Middle East.

The excessively hot air over Ahvaz, a city of 1.1 million people, felt even more stifling due to high humidity. As the temperature climbed into the high 120s, the dew point, a measure of humidity, peaked in the low 70s; a high level for the desert location (due to air flow from the Persian Gulf, to the south). The heat index — a measure of how hot it feels factoring in the humidity — exceeded 140 degrees. This combination of heat and humidity was so extreme that it was beyond levels the heat index was designed to compute.

In the Persian Gulf city of Jask, Iran, about 800 miles southeast of Ahvaz, the humidity was even more suffocating. The dew point on Wednesday morning hit 91.4 degrees. Dew points above 90 are quite rare. The highest dew point ever measured on Earth is 95 degrees (35 Celsius), set at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2003.

Thursday marked the second straight day of record heat in Ahvaz. On Wednesday, it hit 127.2 degrees (52.9 Celsius), breaking the record for Iran’s hottest June temperature, only to be exceeded the next day.

These Iranian temperature extremes come just a month after several locations in the Middle East recorded their hottest May temperatures during another exceptional heat wave.

On May 28, the western Pakistani town of Turbat hit 128.3 degrees (53.5 Celsius), tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world record temperature for May, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.

At the same time Masters reported that at the military base of Konarak in eastern Iran, the temperature reached 127 degrees, “destroying the record of the highest temperature ever recorded in May in Iran (50.5°C in Bostan in May 1999).”

All of these record-breaking temperatures in recent years, including Thursday’s reading in Ahvaz as well as those set in Kuwait and Death Valley in 2016 and 2013, represent temperature extremes consistent with what climate scientists expect to see in a warming world.

The National Academy of Sciences published a report in 2016 that said worsening heat waves are among the weather events that can be most easily connected to human-caused climate change.

study published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2015 cautioned that by the end of the century, due to climate change, temperatures in the Middle East may become too hot for human survival.

15 Dead, 110 May Be Buried After Landslide In Southwest China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

15 Dead, 110 May Be Buried After Landslide In Southwest China

Chinese military police and rescue workers at the site of a landslide in Xinmo village, Sichuan province on Saturday.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Updated 10:10 p.m. EST

More than 110 people remain missing after rescuers found 15 bodies among the debris of a landslide in the town of Xinmo in southwest China Saturday.

Local officials estimate more than 120 people and 62 homes were buried under tons of rubble.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports 15 people are confirmed dead, as the now 3,000-strong rescue team, armed with “life-detection instruments and sniffer dogs,” continue to search overnight. Xinhua quoted the government of Sichuan province, where the town is located, as saying the identities of the 118 missing will be soon made public.

“We won’t give up as long as there is a slim of chance,” said an unidentified rescuer, according to the news agency.

Rescuers had pulled out at least three people earlier Saturday, Xinhua reported.

A family of three managed to escape the disaster after an infant in the home woke up crying half an hour before the landslide hit their house, the father, Qiao Dashuai, tells the news agency.

All 142 tourists visiting the site are alive, says Xu Zhiwen, executive deputy governor of the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, where the landslide struck.

The landslide fell from “a high part of a mountain” nearby, Xinhua reports.

“There are several tons of rock,” police captain Chen Tiebo told the state television network CCTV, according to the BBC. “It’s a seismic area here,” he said.

“Initial accounts from villagers nearby said there had been rain in the area, but some said it was not very heavy and there was no sign of an impending landslide,” NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai.

More children than usual may be in the town because China’s schools are on vacation, Schmitz adds.

The landslide fell around 6 a.m. local time Saturday, Xinhua says, and also blocked a section of a nearby river and buried about a mile of a road.

The town remains without power, the agency adds, and the regional government has approved about $730,000-worth of rescue funding.

A massive earthquake hit the Sichuan province in 2008, which left about 90,000 dead or missing, and the BBC notes it also caused a landslide that killed 37 tourists.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins: NOAA And FEMA Have No Leaders/Directors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Hurricane season began on June 1, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the season will be a busy one, with an above-average range of 5-9 hurricanes likely in the Atlantic.

The United States could be especially vulnerable to hurricane landfalls this year, observers say, but not because of the enhanced activity that is expected.

NOAA is forecasting an above-average hurricane season in 2017.

The two agencies that protect the country’s coast lines and its residents, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still without leaders — positions that must be appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
“That should scare the hell out of everybody,” retired US Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré told CNN. “These positions help save lives.”
Honoré knows all too well the value that leadership plays during a crisis, as he commanded Joint Task Force Katrina. He coordinated military relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré talks to his soldiers at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on September 8, 2005.

Despite concerns, FEMA and NOAA say they are prepared for the hurricane season and the aftermath of any storms that make landfall and cause damage.
NOAA runs the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the agency that tracks and forecasts tropical storms and hurricanes, providing five-day forecasts to allow government officials plenty of time to make preparations and organize evacuations.
Not only is NOAA lacking a leader, but the NHC is also without a director after Rick Knabb stepped down earlier this year after leading the center for five years. The director briefs government leaders as well as the American public directly on the forecast for impending storms.
Also under NOAA is the National Weather Service, which is tasked with issuing life-saving warnings for impeding threats from land-falling storms such as strong winds, flooding rainfall and damaging storm surge.
While also key in the preparations, FEMA’s role really kicks in once the storm hits and a disaster has been declared, as FEMA coordinates the government-wide relief efforts.
According to FEMA’s website, “it is designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.”
But according to Honoré, things could be anything but orderly. “These operations will not function as they should with temporary people doing the jobs.”
“Just look back to Hurricane Katrina to see how important leadership was. If someone is slow in making decisions it can be costly — imagine having no one at all,” Honoré said, referring to the criticism and eventual resignation of then-FEMA director Mike Brown over the bungled response after Katrina hit.
Trump did appoint former Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long in late April to lead FEMA, but as of this week, the selection has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Despite the vacancy, FEMA director of public affairs William Booher believes the agency will be able to serve its mission.
“Throughout the transition to the new administration, FEMA has ensured that career civilian staff are in place in key positions throughout the agency, allowing them to continue, uninterrupted, to perform their core mission responsibilities — preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating all hazards, Booher told CNN.
Booher stated that the agency is “looking forward to working with the Senate on the confirmation process and a successful vote” for Brock Long.
A NOAA spokesman told CNN the National Hurricane Center’s acting director, Ed Rappaport, is an experienced leader with 30 years at the center.
“NOAA is fully prepared for the hurricane season and is even launching new and improved products and services this year,” said Chris Vaccaro. “Under our acting administrator, NOAA will continue to provide the American public with science and services important for public safety, the nation’s natural resources, and the economy.”
Trump has yet to appoint someone to the NOAA position.
While the heads of NOAA and FEMA are not the only vacant positions in the US government waiting on appointments, the prospect of a busy hurricane season make them two of the most important.
“We’ve already lost six months of preparation,” Honoré pleaded. “The government has been preaching to people to prepare themselves for hurricanes, but they haven’t done their part to prepare by picking someone to lead.”
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