TIME weather

Tornado Rips Through Illinois as Severe Weather Hits Midwest

Chicago was placed under a tornado watch for much of Thursday evening

A tornado damaged numerous homes Thursday night in northern Illinois, police told NBC News, as part of a storm system that was moving toward Chicago, which was under a tornado watch.

Police in Rochelle confirmed that the tornado left significant damage in Rochelle, Kings and Hillcrest. There was no immediate word on injuries.

The tornado crossed Interstate 39 several miles north of Rochelle, shortly after 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET), according to The Weather Channel, which aired the incident live. It also hit Fairdale and damaged an undetermined number of structures northwest of Ashton…

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

TIME weather

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Tornado Hits Iowa as Severe Weather Moves Across Midwest

Chicago is under tornado watch for much of the night

A “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down in eastern Iowa on Thursday evening, the National Weather Service reports, calling for Midwest communities to take caution as severe weather moved across the region.

The agency said the tornado was seen near Camanche at 6:45 p.m. ET and moving northeast at 40 mph. CNN reports the twister is one part of a severe weather system that could effect up to 95 million people on Thursday, notably in cities like St. Louis and Chicago.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that Chicago and much of central and northeastern Illinois would be under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. CT (midnight ET). A tornado was spotted earlier in the day in Illinois, and tornado watches are in effect for parts of nine other states, Weather.com reports.

TIME weather

Supercell Storms Rip Through Midwest as They Head East

Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.
National Weather Service Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.

"There'll be a lot of supercells"

As many as 30 million people were in the path of the spring’s biggest storm yet — a monster stretching Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and east to the Atlantic Ocean, which was already dropping giant hail on parts of the Midwest and threatened the greatest likelihood of tornadoes anywhere in the country.

Brief tornado warnings dotted Missouri and Indiana as the system began coalescing into what meteorologists call “supercells” — intense thunderstorms buoyed by cyclone-like rising winds. They’re the least common but most dangerous kind of thunderstorm, the National Weather Service said.

“There’ll be a lot of supercells,” said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

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

TIME Environment

Here’s Why Allergy Season Might Be Especially Unpleasant This Spring

Pollen levels are going to be intense this month, experts warn

There’s one more downside to winters that seems to drag on: allergy season is intensified.

Tree pollen levels may reach unusually high levels in the coming weeks because persistent colder temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating last month, according to allergy experts. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time — maple, cedar and elm trees, for example, pollinate early — the delays result in a large amount of trees pollinating at once.

“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York last week.

Experts say those living in the New England region — which saw its “last hurrah” winter storm in March — might want to pay particular attention to pollen levels, though any region that’s been slow to warm up this year may be affected.

“The general principle is the same: in the spring, wherever you are, whenever it becomes temperate, trees start to emit their pollen,” Dr. Rachel Miller, chief of pediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told TIME.

So what can you do to avoid the runny noses, itchy eyes and headaches? There are the classic over-the-counter allergy pills like Zyrtec and Claritin, but for those that suffer from more severe allergies, this spring might be the perfect time to finally get checked out.

“Certainly people can visit their allergists,” said Dr. Miller, “who can help make sure that they’re doing certain behaviors to try to minimize exposure when, say, they’re exercising or jogging in the park — as well as medical management, or possibly immunotherapy.”

 

TIME Environment

California’s Water Crisis By the Numbers

California Drought Rice Harvest
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Rice harvested by Mike DeWitt is loaded into trucks near Davis, Calif., Oct. 10, 2014. DeWitt is among the Sacramento Valley farmers who planted 25 percent less rice than normal because of water cutbacks.

Almost two-thirds of water is used for agriculture — but Gov. Jerry Brown's measures apply mainly to urban areas

California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday imposed historic water controls on the drought-stricken state. But who will the burden of conserving water fall upon? Here, nine numbers that explain the new measures:

25%
The amount by which cities and towns across the state must reduce water use under Brown’s new regulations. That would total about 487.5 billion gallons of water over the next nine months.

50 million square feet
The area of lawns throughout the state to be replaced by “drought tolerant landscaping,” in partnership with local governments. The plan will also require university campuses, golf courses and cemeteries to make “significant cuts” in water use, Brown said.

38 billion gallons
The amount of water used every day throughout California according to 2010 estimates, more than any other state in the country.

16.6%
The average share of water consumption in the U.S. that goes toward domestic purposes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, such as washing dishes or drinking water.

80-100 gallons
The amount of water the average American goes through a day, much of it in the bathroom, according to the USGS. Showers use on average two to two-and-a-half gallons per minute. A full tub holds an estimated 36 gallons. Washing your hands and face take a gallon, while toilet flushes in older models use three gallons. (Newer ones use closer to one and a half.) Washers also go through a significant amount of water: about 25 gallons a load in newer models.

70 gallons
The amount of water used by San Francisco Bay Area residents after Brown asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20%. Some in Southern California continued to use some 300 gallons a day on amenities such as lawns and swimming pools.

$10,000
The possible daily fine for those of California’s 400 local water agencies who fail to meet the governor’s 25% target.

61%
The average share of the nation’s water that is used for agricultural purposes, including irrigation and livestock (Another 17.4% goes to thermoelectric power plants). In California that share is about 80%.

76,400
Number of California farms and ranches, which produced $21 billion in agricultural exports in 2013, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, including $7.6 billion in milk and $5.8 billion in almonds. More than 400 different crops and commodities are grown in the state, accounting for 14.7% total U.S. agricultural exports. The measures announced by Governor Brown on Wednesday do not apply to the agriculture industry.

 

TIME weather

This Amazing NASA Video Shows Every Rainstorm on Earth for 10 Days

Take a worldwide tour of global precipitation

NASA has released a stunning visualization of every rainstorm, snow storm, hurricane and everything else that occurred on Earth from August 4 – 14, 2014. The time lapse video was made possible by data from NASA’s one-year-old Global Precipitation Measurement satellite mission, which scientists are using to understand the Earth’s freshwater resources and natural disasters.

TIME weather

This March Was the Hottest on Record for West Coast Cities

It's not necessarily a sign of climate change, meteorologists say

Last month was the hottest March on record for cities scattered across the West Coast, with temperatures consistently higher than those posted in earlier years in places like Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Los Angeles and San Diego marked at least five days of 90°F or above temperatures, with San Diego experiencing 17 consecutive months of a progressively warmer climate. Both cities also produced new record-breaking monthly averages hovering in the 60°Fs, the Associated Press reported.

“All of the West Coast … even up into Oregon, Washington … have seen record-breaking temperatures this winter, and March just continued this same theme,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt.

Texas, Nevada and Montana followed California’s warming trend, which meteorologists say was precipitated by a high-pressure ridge blanketing the Western region of the U.S. by creating a storm pushover area, which then buffeted the northeast. There is no indication the high-pressure system will dissipate anytime soon.

This has created problems in areas like drought-hit California, where Governor Jerry Brown introduced water limits this week to save the state’s scarce water supply.

[AP]

TIME weather

California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions

Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.

The state is facing a historic drought

California’s governor issued unprecedented mandatory water restrictions for the entire state on Wednesday, in the face of a persistent drought that is growing dire.

Governor Jerry Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to cut the state’s water usage by 25% by enacting a series of water-reduction practices, which could translate to savings of about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. The plan would include replacing 50 million sq. ft. of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping, replacing appliances with energy-efficient models and enforcing restricted water use for places like golf courses and cemeteries. Additional measures will address agricultural water use and investment in water-saving technologies.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Brown in a statement referring to the record-low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

The order also asks local water agencies to implement conservation pricing, which can encourage water reductions and discourage waste. Local water suppliers will be required to report water usage, conservation and enforcement actions every month.

A year ago, Governor Brown declared the drought a state of emergency. The drought has lasted four years so far.

TIME weather

California’s Snowpack Reaches All-Time Low During Drought

Low snow levels indicate water supplies will continue to be scarce through much of the year

The snow that typically tops California’s mountains and is critical to maintaining the state’s water supply dropped to a record low level this year.

Because of an abnormally warm winter and little precipitation, the California Department of Water Resources has estimated that the California snowpack level is 8 percent of the historical average, as of late March. A manual survey of snow levels will be conducted in April. The previous record low for the snowpack level, at 25 percent of the average, was set in 1977 and was seen again last winter.

The lack of snow could have big implications for California’s battle against an ongoing drought. A department of water resources official told the San Francisco Chronicle that snowpacks typically provides 30 percent of the state’s water supply after the snow melts in spring and summer. With that resource nearly wiped out this winter, Californians will likely have to continue to limit their water use in the coming months.

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