TIME weather

Severe Storms Leave Nearly 400,000 Without Power on East Coast

Pennsylvania Severe Weather
Nabil K. Mark—AP Lightning strikes over Mount Nittany in State College, Pa., June 23, 2015, as a thunderstorm moves through Centre County.

Public transit was disrupted

(TRENTON, N.J.)—Powerful storms that plowed through eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut downed trees and power lines, leaving nearly 400,000 customers without electricity and disrupting mass transit service in both states Wednesday.

In Pennsylvania, PECO says more than 165,000 homes and businesses were without power. Chester and Delaware counties were hardest hit, and officials said full service might not be restored until the weekend.

Forecasters are trying to determine whether straight line winds or a tornado caused most of the damage. The National Weather Service says a 71 mph wind gust was recorded at Philadelphia International Airport.

The PATCO Speedline between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia was not operating during Wednesday’s rush because of power problems. Trains were expected to be running after midmorning. New Jersey Transit has suspended service on its Atlantic City rail line.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority suspended service along some regional rail lines.

Four people sustained minor injuries when a building collapsed in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.

In New Jersey, nearly 210,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Wednesday morning after the storms, some packing 75 mph winds, thundered through the region.

Gloucester, Camden and Salem counties were among the hardest hit areas. Complete utility restoration could take several days.

The NWS is investigating whether a tornado formed in parts of Gloucester County.

Strong winds ripped off part of the Deptford Mall’s exterior. More than 30 animals were left stranded when a pet shop roof fell in in Gibbstown.

Parents and students scrambled when the storms formed as the Egg Harbor Township High School graduation ended.

There are no reports of injuries.

In Maryland, Montgomery County Police say a 79-year-old man died Tuesday night after his pickup truck hit a downed tree in Beallsville after storms swept through.

Connecticut’s two largest utilities reported more than 19,000 customers lost power, with outages in Durham, East Haddam, Monroe, Redding and Ridgefield.

In New Hampshire, the fast-moving storm knocked out power in in Colebrook, Columbia, Pittsburg and Stewartstown, but most service was restored before morning.

The strong storm system was the same that had spawned tornadoes in the Midwest, including at least nine in northern Illinois.

As the storms moved through southeastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening, the sky blackened and commuter train service was halted beginning at rush hour. Amtrak suspended its Northeast Corridor and Keystone services from Washington through Philadelphia and on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but restored service about two hours later.

TIME weather

Tornadoes Sweep Across Midwest, More Severe Storms Predicted

Central Illinois Severe Tornados midwest
Jon Durr—Getty Images The scoreboard at Coal City High School's football field is left damaged after a tornado struck the previous day on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois.

13 tornadoes were reported across four states

Five people were rescued from a campground as tornadoes swept across the Midwest overnight, with almost 50 million more Americans under the threat of further damaging thunderstorms on Tuesday.

Winds of 122mph were recorded in South Dakota and baseball-sized hail fell in Indiana as the severe storms ripped up trees and power lines.

In total, 13 tornadoes were reported across four states, the Weather Channel reported. In Illinois, where at least one twister was confirmed by the National Weather Service, more than 15,000 customers were without power.

The storm system was moving swiftly towards the Northeast Tuesday, forecasters said, with…

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TIME weather

Earth Just Had Its Warmest Spring on Record

People gather in in Central Park as temperatures in Manhattan hit 90 degrees F (32C) for the first time in 2015, in New York City on June 11, 2015.
Kena Betancur—AFP/Getty Images People gather in in Central Park as temperatures in Manhattan hit 90 degrees F (32C) for the first time in 2015, in New York City on June 11, 2015.

It was officially the warmest May ever, too

This year is shaping up to be a hot one—literally.

This past May was officially the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a new report. What’s more, researchers say Earth experienced the warmed spring and first five months of the year on record, too. Land and sea temperatures across the globe were higher than the agency has ever recorded in more than 130 years.

Last month was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the average worldwide of 58.6 degrees, the agency said. And the spring averaged 1.53 degrees above the the typical temperature. In the U.S., May turned out to be the country’s wettest month on record.

TIME weather

Texas Faces Heavy Rain as Storm Moves Inland

Texas weather
Aaron M. Sprecher—EPA A vehicle is stranded in flood waters on Quitman Street as Tropical Storm Bill moves into the area in Houston on June 16, 2015.

Flash flood warnings were issued in seven counties

8:45 a.m. CDT

A flash flood watch is in effect for most of eastern Oklahoma and part of northwest Arkansas as Tropical Depression Bill flows northward.

The National Weather Service predicts the storm could drop between 3 and 7 inches of rain across Oklahoma before it leaves the state Thursday. The flood watches will likely remain until Friday morning.

Forecaster Forrest Mitchell in Norman says there is also a marginal risk of weak tornadoes and thunderstorms. He says flash flooding on Wednesday and Thursday is the primary risk and warned drivers to steer clear of high water.

Mitchell says the threat of flooding will remain after the storm passes as water makes its way into rivers and lakes still swollen from May showers.

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8:40 a.m. CDT

Flood warnings remain in effect around Illinois, and homes and businesses have been evacuated in at least one community.

The LaSalle County village of Utica ordered people to leave low-lying areas near the Illinois River. Some of the same areas experienced flooding in 2008 and 2013.

Mayor Matt Jereb says the order to leave by 10 p.m. Tuesday went out by recorded telephone messages. He says it mostly affected small businesses and there are only about a dozen residents there.

Portions of the Des Plaines, Fox and DuPage rivers in northern Illinois are also under flood warnings.

In the center of the state, warnings remain for the Little Wabash River near Clay City.

And in southern Illinois, the Big Muddy River near Murphysboro is also under a flood warning.

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8:10 a.m. CDT

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared an emergency throughout its Kansas City District because of high river levels and a rainy forecast in northwest Missouri.

The Level III emergency allows sponsors of levees to obtain technical assistance for damage to qualifying levees caused by the high water.

Judd Kneuvean, emergency management director for the Kansas City District, says the corps has delivered 43,000 sandbags for use in the Blue River Basin. The corps also sent 1,000 sandbags to Manhattan, Kansas.

Kneuvean told The St. Joseph News-Press (http://bit.ly/1GYEdRt ) that rivers throughout the district are “prime” for flooding after weeks of intermittent rains. He says part of the problem is water backing up into streams and rivers because of high waters in the Missouri River.

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07:30 a.m. CDT

A 60-year-old eastern Missouri man has died after his car was swept off a road by high water.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says John P. Lyons, of Sullivan, died Tuesday evening on a road near Meramec State Park in Washington County, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

The patrol says Lyons tried to drive through a flooded roadway when water forced his car off the road and the vehicle overturned. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch through Friday evening for a large swatch of eastern Missouri, including St. Louis and Washington counties. Severe thunderstorms are possible, with between 4 and 7 inches of rain forecast, adding to already high water levels in the region.

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3:30 a.m. CDT

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for seven counties in southeastern Texas as a tropical depression makes its way inland.

At 2:50 a.m. Wednesday, the service reported areas in southeastern Texas that will experience flooding include Sealy, Hempstead, Prairie View, East Bernard, Wallis, Pine Island, Simonton, San Felipe, Pattison, Egypt and Monaville.

Earlier, Tropical Storm Bill lost strength and was downgraded to a tropical depression, but is still expected to bring heavy rainfall to much of rain-weary Texas.

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1:15 a.m. CDT

Flood-weary Texans are bracing for heavy rain and possible flooding as the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill creep further inland.

The center of the storm was expected to move northward just west of the Interstate 35 corridor, dropping 4 to 5 inches of rain on areas still cleaning up and recovering from Memorial Day weekend floods that left 14 dead and two missing along the Blanco River alone in Blanco and Hays counties.

A flash flood warning was in effect until 2:45 a.m. for parts of five counties in south-central Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott was to receive a briefing from state emergency officials Wednesday morning in Austin.

Meanwhile, in North Texas, where forecasts called for up to 12 inches of rain, Arlington residents were picking up sandbags being offered for free by city officials, and Dallas authorities were monitoring roadways for high water.

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12:55 a.m. CDT

Tropical Storm Bill has lost strength and been downgraded to a depression as it dumps rain on Central Texas.

Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the depression was located about 40 miles east of Austin.

Bill was moving northward at 13 mph and was expected to continue in that direction later Wednesday with a turn to the northeast on Thursday.

The center says maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 35 mph.

The system was expected to weaken further over the next 48 hours, though it was still likely to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Western Arkansas and southern Missouri could see 3 to 6 inches.

The tropical storm warning along the Texas Gulf Coast has been canceled.

TIME weather

Texas Braces for Rains, Floods as Tropical Storm Nears

Flooding texas
Max Faulkner—Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty Images Flood waters surround the Bridgeport Building Center in Bridgeport, Texas, June 1, 2015.

Up to 9 inches of rain expected in parts of the state

10:15 a.m.

Tropical Storm Bill is about to make landfall on the Texas coast with sustained winds of up to 60 mph and heavy rain that’s expected to bring widespread flooding to a state experiencing one of its wettest springs on record.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Tropical Storm Bill will come ashore Tuesday morning in the area of Matagorda County, about 90 miles southwest of Houston.

Residents have been asked to evacuate homes in low-lying areas coastal areas, schools in the Houston region are closed and people have been buying up bottled water and grocery staples ahead of Bill’s arrival.

The National Weather Service says average rainfall for portions of Texas will be 3 to 6 inches but there could be as much as 12 inches in some areas near Austin.

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8:05 a.m. CDT

The Houston Independent School District is closing schools and offices as a precaution as Texas prepares for Tropical Storm Bill to make landfall.

District officials say heavy rain could make driving dangerous on Tuesday afternoon. Schools and offices are expected to re-open at their regular times Wednesday.

Regular classes ended at the end of May but some Houston campuses have been running summer school classes since early June.

Tropical Storm Bill is expected to make landfall on the east coast between Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, and High Island, up the coast from Galveston by Tuesday morning. The storm is expected to then move inland over the south-central part of the state.

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3:50 a.m. CDT

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Bill will probably not become stronger before it makes landfall in Texas.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds remain near 50 mph and Bill is expected to weaken as its center moves inland on Tuesday.

The tropical storm is centered about 55 miles southeast of Port O’Connor, Texas, and is moving northwest at almost 13 mph.

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1:30 a.m. CDT

Tropical Storm Bill is expected to make landfall in Texas by morning then move inland over the south-central part of the state.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Tuesday that Bill was centered about 95 miles southeast of Port O’Connor, Texas, and about 120 miles south-southwest of Galveston, Texas. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Texas from Baffin Bay to High Island.

Bill had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving northwest at about 13 mph.

The center says some slight strengthening is possible before landfall, after which Bill is expected to weaken.

The storm was expected to produce rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma. Western Louisiana and western Arkansas could see 2 to 4 inches.

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1 a.m. CDT

The eastern half of Texas is preparing for renewed flooding as Tropical Storm Bill approaches the Texas Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm would make landfall Tuesday morning somewhere between Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, and High Island, just up the coast from Galveston.

Galveston County officials already have directed voluntary evacuation of the low-lying Bolivar Peninsula, where Hurricane Ike wiped out most structures in 2008. School districts from Galveston to the Houston suburbs have canceled Tuesday’s classes.

According to projections by the National Weather Service, parts of North Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma could get up to 9 inches of rain over the next five days, and Missouri could get more than 7.

The forecast follows historic rains and floods last month.

TIME weather

U.S. Sees Wettest May on Record

Flooding Texas bridgeport
Max Faulkner—Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty Images Flood waters surround the Bridgeport Building Center in Bridgeport, Texas, June 1, 2015.

The contiguous U.S. saw record precipitation totals for the month of May

This May was the wettest on record for the contiguous United States, according to federal weather data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports 4.36 inches of rain fell on the contiguous U.S. this May, 1.45 inches above average and the most rain the administration has recorded for the month of May in 121 years.

The total precipitation that fell in the spring was 9.33 inches, making it the 11th wettest spring on record for the contiguous U.S.

Severe weather events and heavy rainfall across the U.S. have contributed to the uptick in precipitation. Fifteen states had totals well above average, including Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado which each suffered severe flooding. However, seven states along the East Coast had lower than average levels of precipitation.

About 24.6% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought according to a June Drought Monitor report, an improvement across the board though many states in the West, Northwest, Southeast and Northeast have seen drought conditions worsen.

So far, 2015 has brought a number of record-setting months weather-wise. January through March 2015 was the warmest first three months of the year on record across the globe. In the contiguous U.S., this January to May has been the 17th warmest in the 121 years that the NOAA has tracked temperatures.

TIME Mexico

Hurricane Blanca Weakens as it Nears Mexico’s Coast

Mexico Tropical Weather hurricane blanca
Eduardo Verdugo—AP Men tow a boat to higher ground, as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Blanca in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, June 6, 2015.

The unpredictable storm had strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 on Saturday

(CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico) — Hurricane Blanca was weakening even as it roared toward Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Sunday, and authorities put thousands of troops on alert and businesses boarded over windows ahead of its arrival.

The unpredictable storm had strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 storm on Saturday before weakening to Category 1 by Sunday morning.

Blanca is expected to approach Baja California’s southwestern coastline later Sunday and move near or along the coast in the evening and on Monday. The director of Mexico’s National Water Commission, Roberto Ramirez, said he was concerned about Blanca’s “erratic” behavior and warned residents along the coast to be prepared for intense rains.

In Baja California, 2,000 army troops and 1,321 marines were on alert, as well as emergency responders and power line technicians, said Civil Protection director Luis Felipe Puente.

He said there is currently a 70 percent hotel occupancy rate in Los Cabos and warned tourists to be attentive to any advisories issued by authorities

Some businesses and banks on Saturday were seen hammering boards over their windows in preparation for Blanca’s arrival. People began forming lineups at gas stations to stock up on fuel.

Blanca’s maximum sustained winds had decreased Sunday morning to near 90 mph (150 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The hurricane is centered about 180 miles (290 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and is moving north-northwest near 12 mph (19 kph).

A hurricane watch is in effect for an area from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Fe. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Loreto to Punta Abreojos, including Cabo San Lucas.

Puente said he saw no reason to suspend local elections scheduled to be held on Sunday.

TIME weather

Hurricane Blanca Is Now a ‘Major’ Category 3 Storm

hurricane blanca
National Hurricane Center

The severe storm is expected to dump up to 5 inches of rain on much of Baja California Sur

Hurricane Blanca intensified off the Pacific Coast of Mexico early Saturday and has been upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane packing 120 mph winds, forecasters said.

A new Tropical Storm Warning was issued for the coast from La Paz to Santa Fe, including Cabo San Lucas, and a Hurricane Watch is in effect from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Fe, the National Hurricane Center said in an overnight update.

It said Blanca had become a “major hurricane” again.

The severe storm is expected to dump up to 5 inches of rain on much of Baja California Sur and the southern portion of Baja California when it hits later in the weekend, the NHC said…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

 

TIME weather

Colorado Battered By Hail, Heavy Rainfall, and Tornadoes

Colorado Tornadoes
Dan Elliott—AP In this frame from video, a tornado moves through Longmont, Colo., June 4, 2015.

Reports of hail the size of grapefruit

Hail the size of grapefruit, heavy rainfall, and several tornadoes caused damage and flooding across parts of the Rockies and Plains overnight into Friday, officials and meteorologists said.

Seven tornadoes were reported in Colorado and one in Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

At least three homes were demolished in the town of Berthoud, 40 miles north of Colorado, the Larimer County Office of Emergency Management said. The Associated Press reported there were no injuries.

Crews were checking reports of 25 other homes in the area that were possibly damaged or destroyed, the AP added, but they were hindered by bad …

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TIME Economics

El Nino Could Cause Serious Trouble Across Asia

Aerial view of a flooded area in Trinida
Aizar Ralder—AFP/Getty Images Aerial view of a flooded area in Trinidad, Beni, Bolivia on Feb. 24, 2007. Authorities say two months of rain and floods left 35 people dead, 10 unaccounted for, and affected hundreds of thousands of people. The disaster, blamed on the "El Nino" weather phenomenon, also has caused millions of dollars in material losses.

Bad weather on the horizon

You may recall a time in the mid-1990s when American citizens were worried about El Niño, the tropical weather pattern that can cause global changes in temperature and rainfall. Now, according to a new Citigroup report, the next group to pin concerns to El Niño may be bankers.

The report, produced by Citi analysts Johanna Chua and Siddharth Mathur, suggests that the current El Niño (the weather anomaly takes places at unpredictable times, sometimes more than five years apart) could have a deleterious effect on economies in countries in and around Asia.

India, Thailand, The Philippines, and others, where agriculture contributes a major percentage of GDP, might see inflation in food prices, since a severe El Niño can brings dry spells and cause crop damage. In Indonesia, for example, the agriculture sector makes up more than 50% of overall employment.

In economies dependent on farming, long-lasting weather that upends crops will naturally impact farming output, and thus commodity pricing.

With these countries especially vulnerable to economic disruption, it may be more bad news that recent reports indicate we are about to see a particularly violent El Niño.

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