TIME weather

Stormy Weather Chases Summer Away Over Labor Day Weekend

So long, summer

The Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, has been wet, windy and distinctly unsummery in many parts of the U.S., with strong thunderstorms expected through the middle of the country and into the Northeast.

While conditions for possible tornadoes settled down significantly Sunday, a strong jet stream that dipped south over the weekend dropped heavy rain that created floods in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Several feet of standing water left stalled and stranded cars Saturday on the streets of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

Hurricane, Tropical Storm Bring Huge Waves to Both Coasts

A surfer rides a wave at the wedge in Newport Beach, Calif. on Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought on by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico.
A surfer rides a wave at the wedge in Newport Beach, Calif. on Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought on by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico. Chris Carlson—AP

Two storms may be on opposite coasts on Thursday, but Hurricane Cristobal and Tropical Storm Marie were delivering similar conditions to both sides of the country. Neither storm is expected to make landfall, but both were bringing strong rip currents and massive surf, which have already proved to be deadly on the East Coast. Spectators and thrill-seekers flocked to Southern California beaches to view, or ride, the waves — some of which reached 20 feet — due to Marie, according to NBC Southern California

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME weather

Farmers’ Almanac Forecasts Another Frigid and Snowy Winter

"Shivery and shovelry are back"

Winter is coming, and it’s going to be as bitterly cold and snowy as last year’s, according to the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, which goes on sale this week.

“Shivery and shovelry are back,” managing editor Sandi Duncan told the AP. “We’re calling for some frigid conditions, bitter conditions.”

The Associated Press reports the guide “forecasts colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.”

The 2014 edition‘s prediction of a “C-O-L-D” winter was spot-on, given the polar vortex. The editors even correctly called a snowstorm to hit at the same time the Super Bowl was taking place, although fortunately for the players and fans, it swept in hours after the game.

The Farmers’ Almanac has been published every year since 1818, and claims its predictions are accurate around 80% of the time. Those forecasts are based on a secret mathematical formula that reportedly considers factors modern meteorologists don’t pay much attention to, like sunspots, tidal action, and the position of planets.

TIME weather

Wild Weather: U.S. Hit by ‘Most Unusual Year’ for Temperatures

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.
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

"This is the most unusual year on record"

If you haven’t seen anything like this year’s weather, well, neither has anyone else.

This year is on track to set a temperature record that climate researchers say is unique since the first time stats were taken in 1900.

A typical year in the U.S. would see near-average temperatures or a spike in either extremely cold or extremely warm temperatures. But this is the first year in which both cold and warm temperatures have ranged far outside the norms, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

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

TIME natural disaster

Damage from California Earthquake Could Top $1 Billion

6.0 Earthquake Rattles Northern California
A building is seen destroyed following a reported 6.0 earthquake on Aug. 24, 2014 in Napa, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Strongest to strike northern California in 25 years

The earthquake that struck northern California over the weekend is estimated to have caused at least $1 billion in damage and economic losses.

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake was the strongest the area has experienced in 25 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS estimated the high economic loss from the widespread damage the quake caused. More than 60,000 Californians were left without power in the quake’s wake. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the effected area on Sunday, which includes Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

The USGS said there is a 29% probability for a strong aftershock within the next week, though there is only a 5-10% chance that any aftershock will be stronger than the initial quake within the next week.

TIME weather

Flash Floods and Stranded Drivers in Arizona After Heavy Rain

Fast and furious rainfall in the Phoenix area damaged houses, stranded drivers and forced at least one airborne rescue, which was broadcast live on television Tuesday. The Associated Press reported nearly 3,000 homes were left without power by the storm, which dumped up to two inches of rain in the span of an hour, in a state unused to so much precipitation

TIME weather

Heavy Rain Smashes Records Across America

Long Island Bayshore Flood
A car is abandoned on a flooded Reddington St. following heavy rains and flash flooding in Bayshore, N.Y. on Aug. 13, 2014. Andrew Theodorakis—Getty Images

Flash-flood watches and record rainfall

A historic storm system flooded cars, turned parking lots into lakes and smashed records on New York’s Long Island, where one town got more than a foot of rain in just six hours on Wednesday.

Flash-flood watches were in effect across New England as the dousing chugged east. The National Weather Service described the Long Island flooding as dangerous and life-threatening. The town of Islip, which had never recorded more than seven inches of rain in a single day, reported almost 13 inches. The pictures looked like something out of a hurricane…

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

TIME weather

Heavy Flooding in Detroit Leaves 1 Dead, Tens of Thousands Without Power

Historic flooding in Motor City contributed to at least 1 death and knocked out power grids, with more rain expected

TIME weather

Firefighters Wrap Historic Buildings to Protect Them From Forest Fires

Foil, but for foiling forest fires

Firefighters in central California are doing a bit of redecorating: They’re wrapping historic buildings in a foil-like covering to protect them from the radiant heat and flying embers of the French Fire—a massive conflagration that’s consumed 13,700 acres and is 60% contained.

The wraps are similar to ones firefighters use for personal safety on the job, though they’re thicker and the Forest Service says they’re not exactly fireproof. While no buildings have been destroyed yet, drought conditions have managed to worsen the blaze.

These wraps are straightforward to apply—essentially you use staples and special tape to hold it fast against the building, so the high winds of a wildfire don’t blow it off—and appear to have the potential to keep the structures intact. It’s not cheap: Wrapping a single cabin costs nearly $1,200 of the stuff, and it takes six to seven hours to secure to a building.

All this said, there’s a version available commercially; let’s hope you never have to use it.

[ABC]

TIME weather

Hawaii Pummeled by Massive Storm, Thousands Without Power

Iselle downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm just before making landfall

Tropical storm Iselle made landfall on Hawaii’s biggest island Thursday evening local time, cutting down trees, ripping roofs off buildings and cutting power at a biodiesel plant, leaving 18,000 people without electricity.

“There were trees everywhere, the roads were completely blocked,” Bob Petrici, a woodsman living outside the town of Pahoa, tells TIME.

Iselle was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm just before it struck Hawaii, yet there was no debate over its ferocity. Thrusting rain and massive waves onto the island, Iselle is expected to release an even heavier downpour as it crashes into the towering Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa mountains. Meteorologists are warning of possible land- and rockslides.

“It’s absolutely a danger to people,” says Professor Steven Businger, principal investigator at Mauna Kea Weather Center. “You need to have a nice symmetric situation for a storm to be happy. The ocean is its energy source, so when it runs into a wall, it’s going to significantly disrupt the circulation of the winds.”

Petrici left his house when he smelled the smell of rotten eggs and received an alert that there had been an emergency steam release at the nearby geothermal power plant. Since he owns one of the only hydrogen-sulfide monitors in the area, he felt compelled to check the levels, but failed to reach the plant.

“I cut my way through, but when I came across a tree sagging over the power lines and heard the cracking from the forest, I decided to go back. I think it’s really odd that they didn’t shut down the plant, but my educated guess is that there’s no risk of a major incident.”

A civil defense operation center has been assembled in the major town of Hilo, gathering first responders, road crews, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Red Cross. Kevin Dayton, executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi, at 10 p.m. local time said the storm’s impact so far has been less severe than expected, but that the worst could yet come.

“We don’t want to be too optimistic, but it’s looking good,” he said by phone. “We stay hunkered down and wait, and try to clear roads as fast as we can.”

After passing the island of Hawaii, Iselle is expected to skirt to the south of the archipelago, where a tropical-storm alert is currently in effect. Over the weekend, an even more powerful hurricane, Julio, is expected to barrel just to the north.

Hawaiians have been preparing throughout the week for Iselle’s onslaught, decimating shelves in grocery stores and supermarkets. Kawehi Cochrane, who runs a guesthouse in Hilo, made sure her guests left before the airport closed.

“I’m very nervous, my stomach’s churning,” she says. “My windows don’t have modern coating, and I’m afraid to lose roofing.”

As the evening progressed, however, Cochrane moved out onto her porch, and the familiar Big Island choir of coqui frogs could be heard over the phone line.

“It feels like Hilo now,” she said. “I think the worst is over, I feel safe.”

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