TIME weather

A Powerful Storm Is Pounding Northern California

A massive system of moist moves across California's west coast. Weather forecast has dubbed it as the largest storm to hit the region since 2009. Dec. 11, 2014.
A massive system of moist moves across California's west coast. Weather forecast has dubbed it as the largest storm to hit the region since 2009. Dec. 11, 2014. Corbis

As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period

SAN FRANCISCO — A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years pushed across parts of Northern California early Thursday as schools canceled classes and residents stocked up on supplies.

Moderate rain and gusty winds hit the area north of San Francisco with heavier rain expected in the coming hours across the region, the National Weather Service said. The storm could also cause debris slides, especially in areas affected by this year’s intense and widespread wildfires. Big waves are expected along the coast.

As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period, the weather service said.

“It’s a short amount of time for that amount of water,” forecaster Diana Henderson said. “We are anticipating some localized flooding, maybe some downed trees and downed power lines. It could have an effect on a wide range of people.”

Meteorologist Charles Bell predicted that major elements of the storm would hit the San Francisco Bay area by late morning.

The storm is “going to be advancing toward the south through the day today,” Bell said Thursday. Winds were also picking up, he said, noting gusts of up to 50 mph were hitting some buoys off the coast.

Residents rushed to buy emergency supplies, with some stores running out of water, batteries and flashlights. Some cities announced on their Twitter accounts that they had no sandbags or sand left by Wednesday evening.

The Citrus Heights Police Department tweeted Wednesday: “Sandbag locations in CH are closed. All bags and sand has been taken. All sand & bags were taken in 3hr period.”

Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada could get more than 2 feet of snow.

The storm is expected to later pound parts of Southern California before a weakening system moves east through Nevada, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico. Those states could get rain and snow, but nothing like what California is expected to experience, forecasters say.

In San Francisco, where as much as 4 inches of rain was forecast, crews cleared storm drains and removed loose rocks from a hillside to prevent them from crashing down. Residents were advised to sweep up leaves and debris in front of their properties to prevent them from clogging drains.

“We have crews working starting tonight in 12-hour shifts,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for San Francisco’s public works agency. “It will be all hands on deck.”

Public schools in several Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and some private schools canceled Thursday’s classes.

Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were expected on mountain tops, creating possible blizzard conditions in the Sierra. Rain, pounding surf and gusty winds were forecast for Southern California starting Thursday evening.

The weather service issued a high-surf advisory from the Central Coast to Ventura County, saying “waves will over-top jetties and sea walls at times” and “will potentially wash into low-lying beach areas or parking lots.”

In California’s agricultural heartland, farmers were looking forward to the dousing after three consecutive dry years. Parts of the state have experienced above-average rainfall this year but not enough to make much of a dent in the drought.

James McFarlane, a third-generation farmer in Fresno County, said workers would have to stop picking citrus crops during the storm, but rain this time of year makes fruit bigger, allowing it to fetch higher prices.

“If we’re not getting some Mother-Nature-dictated time off out in the field, that probably means we’re going to have a hard time finding surface water in the warmer months,” he said.

The rain and the snow in the Sierra Nevada fill reservoirs that supply irrigation water during hot, dry months.

Farther north, a series of strong weather fronts with high winds and heavy rains could lead to flooding and landslides in western Washington.

The weather service expects as much as 14 inches of rain between Monday and Thursday in the Olympic Mountains west of Seattle.

Saturated soils will bring the risk of mudslides, while winds could topple trees.

High winds were also forecast in Oregon.

TIME People

Sailor Survives Being Stranded at Sea for 12 Days

The fish he caught to eat "wasn’t as good as a sushi bar"

A sailor who had been missing since Thanksgiving and found south of Hawaii on Tuesday has returned to shore, Coast Guard officials said Wednesday, days after the search had been called off.

Ron Ingraham is an experienced sailor but sent out distress calls on a recent trip between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Lanai, alerting maritime officials that his boat was in danger of sinking, according to a Coast Guard report about his rescue. After a hard wave hit his 25-foot vessel, knocking him off and damaging his radio, he towed himself back to the boat. But after the search came up empty, it was called off.

On Tuesday, however, Ingraham sent a mayday call that saved his life. Coast Guard officials responded and found Ingraham weak, hungry, and dehydrated.

He was able to subside on his boat for 12 days by catching fish, Ingraham told ABC News. “It wasn’t as good as a sushi bar, but that’s how I hydrated.”

[ABC News]

TIME weather

Both U.S. Coasts Being Battered by Big Storms

A man walks in snow in Pittsfield, Mass., as snow accumulates on the sidewalk on Dec. 10, 2014.
A man walks in snow in Pittsfield, Mass., as snow accumulates on the sidewalk on Dec. 10, 2014. Ben Garver—AP

Rain soaks the northeast as California prepares for a nasty storm

Florida got 5½ inches of snow Wednesday morning — and so did many other cities in the Northeast (Florida is a town of about 675 people in northwestern Massachusetts) as a nor’easter that has already caused wind and flood damage picked up fresh energy on its way to Canada.

Meanwhile, in drought-stricken California, schools were closing and residents were locking up ahead of a storm that the National Weather Service said could turn out to be one of the biggest in five years.

The nor’easter along the Atlantic coast mainly dropped buckets of rain Wednesday on Northeast cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington…

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


Morning Must Reads: December 10

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

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A Senate report says the CIA’s interrogation methods of al-Qaeda suspects after 9/11 were brutal and possibly illegal, that they were poorly managed, and that the agency misrepresented it to the White House, the Justice Department and Congress

Winter Storm Hits Northeast

A winter storm brought rain, heavy winds and snow to the region, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations and flooding concerns

Prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles Sue Uber

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TIME weather

Winter Storm Hits Northeast With Flood Concerns and Travel Delays

Snow and rain expected across the region through Thursday

A winter storm brought rain, heavy winds and snow to the Northeast on Tuesday, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations and flooding concerns.

The storm will continue to drench the I-95 corridor from Boston to D.C. over the next two days, while mountainous areas in the interior Northeast and northern New England are set for icy road conditions and up to two feet of snow, USA Today reports. And more than 800 cancelled flights and 2,000 delays were reported as of Tuesday evening.

The storm is expected to continue across the region through Thursday.

[USA Today]

TIME weather

Nor’easter Set to Bring 2 Days of Heavy Winds and Rain

Prompting winter storm watches and warnings in six states

A second nor’easter in two weeks will slug the Interstate 95 corridor starting Tuesday, prompting winter storm watches and warnings in six states. The storm is expected to arrive Tuesday with strong winds and 2 inches of rain from Maine to New Jersey, according to The Weather Channel. Flood watches were posted by the National Weather Service over much of southern New England south into New Jersey, including the New York City region, Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

The storm is expected to be a long, drawn-out affair, dropping heavy rain on some parts of New England as late as Thursday night…

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

TIME Philippines

Mighty Typhoon Barrels Straight Toward the Philippines

At least 600,000 people have already evacuated their homes

A destructive typhoon with sustained winds of 109 miles-per-hour caused thousands to flee for safety, as it churned its way Saturday toward the Philippines, a country that was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan a little more than a year ago.

The new storm, Typhoon Hagupit, has already forced at least 600,000 people to evacuate their homes, the Associated Press reported. With gusts up to 130 miles-per-hour and rain clouds that stretch for more than 370 miles, the storm is not expected to be as devastating as Haiyan, but could still cause heavy damage in the country. Downed trees and power outages were already being reported early Saturday before the typhoon made landfall Saturday night.


TIME Environment

California’s Drought Is Now the Worst in 1,200 Years

California Drought Dries Up Bay Area Reservoirs
A car sits in dried and cracked earth of what was the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir on Jan. 28, 2014 in San Jose, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

And it might not be ending anytime soon

California’s three years of low rainfall is the region’s worst drought in 1,200 years, according to a new study.

Record high temperatures combined with unusually low levels of precipitation have been the primary causes of the dry conditions, according to the study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“It was a surprise,” study author Kevin Anchukaitis told the Los Angeles Times of the findings. “I don’t think we expected to see that at all.”

The drought has led to tremendous economic costs in the state, including an expected $2.2 billion and 17,000 farming jobs this year alone, according to a report from the University of California, Davis. It’s also expected to increase food prices across the country.

And the problem may not be going away soon. About 44% of three-year droughts last continue past their third year, according to the Times.

TIME The Philippines

The Philippines Is Facing a Terrifying Typhoon Once Again

Residents with their belongings wait for a government vehicle to bring them to the evacuation center in Tacloban city, central Philippines, on Dec. 4, 2014 Reuters

Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, is threatening parts of the Philippines still recovering from 2013's catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan

Thousands of people are being evacuated from coastal areas of the eastern and central Philippines as Typhoon Hagupit approaches.

The massive storm, called Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines, is packing maximum sustained one-minute wind speeds of 257 km/h (160 m.p.h.) and threatens the very regions that were devastated by Supertyphoon Haiyan just 13 months ago.

The new storm has the potential to cause massive damage with storm surges, heavy rainfall and landslides, meteorologists say. That could lay waste to areas still recovering from last year’s catastrophic storm.

At least 6,300 people died, and 4 million were displaced, when Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda) crashed into the Visayas with wind speeds exceeding 300 km/h last November. Some 25,000 people in the area are still living in temporary shelters and tents.

Forecasters previously believed that Hagupit would veer north toward Japan, but on Thursday it appeared increasingly likely that it would track through the central Philippines. Hagupit’s intensity has decreased, but the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center still grades it as a Category 5 hurricane — the highest level.

The Philippines’ weather agency has issued public storm signals for 21 geographic areas, mainly along the eastern seaboard, spanning from Luzon in the north to Mindanao in the south. Schools and government offices have closed and people are lining up outside shops and gas stations to stock up on supplies.

“There’s extreme nervousness and anticipation,” says Renee Lambert, who heads the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) office in Tacloban, provincial capital of Eastern Visayas. “However, the memory of what happened during Haiyan has also increased people’s awareness and preparedness.”

Lambert says that people started preparing in earnest on Thursday, and that CRS and other relief organizations are working in close coordination with the local government, schools, churches and communities to find safe shelters.

“There’s no movement of the air at all at the moment, but it’s really heavy and humid,” she says. “People who survived Haiyan say it felt just like this in the days before Haiyan struck.”

Hagupit is expected to make landfall Saturday evening and then move extremely slowly over rugged island terrain toward the capital Manila, increasing the risk of heavy rainfall, landslides and flash floods.

TIME climate change

Watch the Science Cop Take on Climate Change Denying Senator Jim Inhofe

The climate denier in charge of the Senate Climate Committee

You don’t have to be a general to be head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but if you don’t at least believe in the existence of a military, we’ve got a problem on our hands.

The country is about to face something similar in January, when the GOP takes control of the U.S. Senate and Oklahoma’s James Inhofe — Congress’s most vocal global warming denier — becomes chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe, who has called climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” not only sniffs at what the overwhelming majority of climatologists know to be true, he actually tries to go toe to toe with them on the science. And that’s where he exposes how little he knows — and how wrong he is. The Science Cop explains.

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