TIME Texas

National Weather Service Issues New Flash Flood Warning for Texas

Flooding in the state has already claimed 17 lives

The National Weather Service issued a new flash flood warning Thursday morning for large parts of Texas, as the state reels from extreme flooding that has already killed 17 people.

The new flood warning covers southern and central Texas from around San Antonio to Dallas and remains in effect until Friday morning. “This area is already saturated from recent rounds of heavy rain and will be susceptible to flash flooding… even with just short periods of rain,” the warning said.

At least 17 people have been killed by the severe weather in Texas so far this week. The storms have also damaged buildings, submerged cars and flooded major Texas cities Houston and Austin.

 

TIME weather

This Woman Was Almost Struck by Lightning and Filmed It

Damn nature, you scary

A woman from Ireland got dangerously close to a bolt of lightning earlier this month when out filming a rainstorm for her mother.

Nicola Duffy, a lecturer at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown in Dublin, was recording the heavy rain when a bolt of lightning appeared to explode on the opposite side of the courtyard, several meters from where she was standing, reports TheJournal.ie.

In the video you see a streak of light and hear a huge bang before Duffy falls to the ground in shock.

Because there was no visible damage done to the building, some at the college believe the lightning strike Duffy filmed was in fact a reflection — but nonetheless still very nearby.

Either way, it’s pretty scary and Duffy’s video has racked up almost 300,000 views on YouTube.

[TheJournal.ie.]

TIME weather

May Is Already the Wettest Month in Texas History

A home on the Blanco River was taken off its foundation after heavy overnight rain caused flash flooding in Wimberley, Texas, May 24, 2015.
Rodolfo Gonzalez—AP A home on the Blanco River was taken off its foundation after heavy overnight rain caused flash flooding in Wimberley, Texas, May 24, 2015.

'It has been one continuous storm after another'

Flooding in Texas has taken the lives of at least 19 people and caused a virtual standstill across the state with school closings and road closures. It turns out all that rainfall has also set at least one new record: May 2015 is now the wettest month in state history, with over four days still to go.

Across Texas, the average rainfall in May has measured 7.54 inches, beating the June 2004 record of 6.66 inches, according to figures provided by the Office of the State Climatologist at Texas A&M University. The wettest region, located adjacent to Dallas-Fort Worth area, has received more than 20 inches of rain.

“It has been one continuous storm after another for the past week to 10 days in several regions of the state,” State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said in a statement. “It has rained so much that the ground just can’t soak any more moisture into it, and many creeks and rivers are above flood stage.”

The beginning of El Niño and the flow of wet air from the South have both contributed to the record downpour, according to Nielsen-Gammon. He predicted that the wet weather should change within the next few days.

In some parts of the state, rivers and reservoirs went from 20% to 100% capacity in the past month. Still, a drought remained in other parts of America’s largest contiguous state.

TIME weather

Forecasters Predict ‘Below Average’ 2015 Hurricane Season—But Threats Still Lurk

hurricane NOAA prediction 2015
Getty Images

'We always hope for the best and prepare for the worst'

Forecasters expect this year’s tropical storm season to be weaker than usual with zero to two major hurricanes predicted to affect the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday.

The announcement came days before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. Hurricane season typically lasts until the end of November.

Overall, the agency predicted 6 to 11 named storms with winds of 39 mph or greater and 3 to 6 hurricanes with wind speeds of 74 mph or greater. Despite the “below average” prediction, officials from NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stressed that communities typically affected by hurricanes, particularly along the Gulf Coast, should still prepare for the worst.

“No matter how many pitches Mother Nature throws at us, from only a few to a whole lot, if just one of those pitches gets through the strike zone we can be in for a lot of trouble,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan at a press conference. “Below average doesn’t mean no pitches get thrown our way.”

The El Niño weather phenomenon, which began this spring, is at least in part responsible for the suppression of storm activity, Sullivan said.El Niño tends to increase wind shear, the difference in wind speed and direction over a relatively short distance, which in turn subsequently slows down storm formation and growth.

In the NOAA press conference, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that his city is better prepared to handle a major hurricane today than it was when the Hurricane Katrina hit 10 years ago as a Category 3 hurricane, killing more than 1,800 people—but he stressed that city residents should still prepare.It’s also important to remember that a storm doesn’t necessarily have to be powerful in order to wreck a lot of havoc. Superstorm Sandy wasn’t technically strong enough to be rated as a hurricane when it made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012—yet it caused north of $60 billion in damage because of its sheer size and because it squarely hit some richest, most populated coastal territory in the U.S. There’s no way to predict today where any hurricanes that may form in 2015 could make landfall—and location matters as much as strength.

“We always hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’ve learned a lot of the path.”

TIME weather

Heavy Rain Threatens to Wash Out Memorial Day Weekend

Severe thunderstorms were predicted across much of the country

Millions of Americans were under the threat of flash floods this Memorial Day weekend as heavy rain was forecast for waterlogged parts of Texas, Arkansas and the southern Plains.

Thunderstorms in the Midwest, Plains, Texas threatened to bring hail, wind and even isolated tornadoes on Saturday and Sunday, the Weather Channel said.

Average rainfall of up to 3 inches is possible over the next week in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and parts of Louisiana and Arkansas, with high spots of 5 inches more possible.

“Additional flash flooding is likely with already saturated grounds and creeks, streams and rivers at bank…

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

TIME weather

At Least 19 Tornadoes Touch Down From Texas to Minnesota

Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan.
Matthew Fowler—AP Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan., on May 16, 2015.

A powerful storm system stretching from Texas to Minnesota brought flash flood warnings early Sunday after kicking up at least 19 damaging tornadoes overnight and pounding the region with baseball-sized hail.

Thousands of customers were without power but there were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries.

Forecasters said the system was continuing its march eastward as radar showed storms across Iowa, Missouri and a large area of Texas.

Severe storms were likely Sunday for the Upper Midwest and mid-Mississippi Valley, including the possibility of isolated tornadoes. Flash flood warnings were also in effect in many areas, including north Texas, NBC DFW reported.

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

TIME Science

One Astronaut’s Stunning Vine Shows a Huge Lightning Storm From Space

"A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect"

American astronaut Terry Virts posted a breathtaking Vine recently that showed a huge lightning storm as seen from the International Space Station. It’s the latest Vine that astronauts have been posting since they started using the app. “Massive lightning storm over India,” Virts wrote on Twitter. “A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect.”

Astronauts have recorded tons of fun footage during their time in space, including this fascinating video from Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who explained how exactly they use the bathroom in zero gravity.

Now that Virts, Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov will be in a space longer than anticipated, perhaps we’ll see more of these short clips soon.

TIME weather

Small Earthquake Shakes Michigan

Earthquakes are rare in the state

A small earthquake hit Michigan on Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Service reported the quake on its website at a magnitude of 4.2, centered in Galesburg in the southwestern part of the state.

“While on the low end of the scale, it is still quite rare for Michigan,” Rob Dale, from the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told the Detroit Free Press.

No injuries were immediately reported, but the effects of the small quake were felt miles away, including as far as Chicago.

TIME viral

Watch an Unbelievable Dust Storm Turn Belarus Into Tatooine

This is terrifying

An incredible video has surfaced of a bizarre weather phenomenon that, within a matter of minutes, transformed day into night in the Belarus city of Soligorsk on Monday.

Thankfully, while property damage was reported in the region, nobody was injured during the storm, says the Russian news outlet RT.

A cold front near the border with Ukraine created the epic dust storm called a “haboob,” which is rare in the region at this time of year. What’s more, the storm also included heavy rain.

It appears Mother Nature reminded us that science fiction may not be so outlandish after all.

Read next: How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME natural disaster

How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Dust Storm
Arthur Rothstein—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Father & sons walking towards shack, pace slowed by dust storm, in the Great Plains in the 1930s

April 14, 1935: The worst dust storm in history descends on the Great Plains—exactly four years before 'The Grapes of Wrath' is published

The dust fell so thickly on this day, April 14, 80 years ago, that even Okies and Texans inured to dust storms thought the end of the world was upon them. The fast-moving, low-hanging black cloud caught them unprepared, trapping motorists in their cars and forcing those who were caught out in the open to drop to their knees and crawl blindly toward shelter, according to an account by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “Afternoon brightness [plunged] immediately into midnight darkness,” noted one National Weather Service observer.

It became known as the Black Sunday storm — the worst on record in the drought-stricken Great Plains. An Associated Press reporter and photographer who had tried to outrun the storm in a car were trapped for hours in the suffocating blackness. The next day, the reporter used the term “Dust Bowl” for the first time in print to describe the devastated region: “Three little words — achingly familiar on a western farmer’s tongue — rule life today in the dust bowl of the continent … ‘if it rains,’ ” he wrote.

Four years after Black Sunday, John Steinbeck marked the storm’s anniversary by publishing The Grapes of Wrath, the iconic tale of Oklahoma tenant farmers driven off their land and pushed into California in search of a new life. The fictional Joad family joined the real-life exodus of migrant farmers — roughly a quarter of a million of them, per TIME — who followed the same path out of desperation after the farms of the Great Plains were ruined by drought, overgrazing and unsustainable farming practices.

But in the promised land where Ma Joad dreamed of “a white house with oranges growin’ around,” they encountered hostility and living conditions not much better than in the dusty wasteland they’d left behind.

“Some of them camp in packing-box jungles and drink ditchwater; others are lucky enough to lodge in new government camps with modern plumbing and electric washing machines,” TIME observed in a 1940 article that compared the real-life migrant farmers to Steinbeck’s fictional ones. (Reviled as the penniless Okies were in California, TIME offered an ambivalent defense: “Strangely enough the incidence of venereal disease among the migrants is lower than among native Californians, and they have relatively little tuberculosis. Greatest plague: dietary diseases (scurvy and pellagra), resulting from lack of fresh meat and vegetables.”)

And while The Grapes of Wrath climbed to the top of the bestseller list, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became a “cornerstone of [Steinbeck’s] 1962 Nobel Prize,” according to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, TIME was similarly ambivalent about the merits of the book. In its review, TIME concludes:

The publishers believe it is “perhaps the greatest modern American novel, perhaps the greatest single creative work this country has ever produced.” It is not. But it is Steinbeck’s best novel… It is “great” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great — because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.

Read the full review of The Grapes of Wrath, here in the TIME archives: Oakies

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