TIME weather

Two Bolts of Lightning Strike One World Trade Center

Two bolts of lightning hit the antenna on top of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan as an ele
Gary Hershorn—Insider Images/Corbis

As a thunderstorm passed over New York City Friday night, photojournalist Gary Hershorn captured two bolts of lightning hitting the spire on top of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

A seasoned photographer and photo editor, Hershorn described how he captured the photo: “I saw the storm clouds forming while I was shooting some pictures of lower Manhattan from Jersey City right across from One World Trade Center. I was shooting with a point and shoot camera so I raced home and grabbed my real camera and tripod and went to a gazebo next to the Hudson River and shot endless 10 second exposures hoping to catch the bolts of lightning. I shot about 150 pictures and 6 frames had lightning bolts. I missed about 5 others in between frames. I was able to shoot from a covered spot in the pouring rain. It feels like I spend half my life shooting the New York skyline but have been waiting for years to have the perfect electrical storm around sunset…[T]he light in the sky was nicely balanced with the lightning and the brightness of the buildings on the skyline.”

MORE: One World Trade Center: How New York rebuilt the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere

TIME Serbia floods

Satellite Images Show Serbian Town Underwater after Floods

The town of Obrenovac, in northwest Serbia, was among the worst hit by historic floods that wreaked havoc across the Balkans. The flooding killed at least 40 people, including 14 in Obrenovac

The town of Obrenovac in northwest Serbia was largely submerged in flooding that wreaked havoc across the Balkans last week. The town was evacuated, but at least 14 people were killed and entire portions of the town were destroyed.

The historic flooding–more rain fell in three days than normally falls in a month–killed at least 40 people in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia and caused more than a billion dollars in damages. On Tuesday, Serbia declared three days of national mourning. In Bosnia, where a day of mourning was also held on Tuesday, the government says more than 1 million people — a quarter of the neighboring nation’s entire population — were affected by the flooding and landslides.

The satellite photos of Obrenovac, provided by Digital Globe, Google, CNES, and Astrium, may be even more explicit than the numbers. The rooftops of homes can be seen poking out above the floodwaters; entire fields disappear under the murky water; and roads lead into newly formed lakes.

TIME weather

Watch Lightning “Strike” The Tallest Building in Western Europe

Despite the harrowing photos and video, a spokesperson for the skyscraper told Sky News that there was no damage to the building

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Londoners are buzzing about video and Twitter photos that appear to show a bolt of lightning flashing over The Shard, which bills itself as the tallest building in Western Europe at 1,016-feet.

The Telegraph highlights this dramatic view, posted to Twitter by a lifeboat crew based on the city’s River Thames:

And here’s another angle, flagged by the The Evening Standard:

Sky News reports: “A spokesman for The Shard said he was not aware of a strike as there was no damage.”

TIME weather

These Are the Hurricane Names We Could Get This Year

Hurricane Irene Churns Off East Coast Of United States
Hurricane Irene is seen from space from the International Space Station, as it churns off the east coast of the United States on August 26, 2011 NASA/Getty Images

Here's hoping Bertha doesn't get too big

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released its forecast for hurricane season earlier Thursday, making it a good day to check out the names of the storms that could potentially hit us in 2014 — though NOAA says it’s likely going to be a pretty average year for hurricanes.

For a tropical storm to get a name, its top winds much reach 39 mph; to qualify as a hurricane, those winds must hit 74 mph. These lists are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, and they get recycled every 6 years. Names of especially devastating storms, like Katrina or Sandy, are cycled out for sensitivity’s sake.

Your 2014 Atlantic hurricane names:

Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gonzalo
Hanna
Isaias
Josephine
Kyle
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paulette
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

Your 2014 Eastern North Pacific hurricane names:

Amanda
Boris
Cristina
Douglas
Elida
Fausto
Genevieve
Hernan
Iselle
Julio
Karina
Lowell
Marie
Norbert
Odile
Polo
Rachel
Simon
Trudy
Vance
Winnie
Xavier
Yolanda
Zeke

TIME weather

Thousands May Have to Flee as Arizona Wildfire Explodes in Size

Arizona Wild Fire
The Slide Fire burns near 89 A south of Flagstaff, Arizona on May 21, 2014. Tom Tingle—Arizona Republic/AP

The blaze has raised concerns of a devastating wildfire season amid a drought that has left the woods particularly vulnerable.

Authorities in Arizona have warned that thousands of people may have to evacuate their homes on Thursday after a wildfire rapidly expanded near Flagstaff.

Nearly 4,500 acres between Flagstaff and Sedona are now in flames after a wildfire grew roughly 10 times in size over a 24-hour period, AZCentral.com reports. Approximately 500 firefighters are battling the blaze, but erratic winds have grounded fire-fighting aircraft, hampering response efforts.

“Everything’s kind of going against us,” Bob Orrill, a liaison officer for a response team told residents, according to AZCentral.com.

The blaze has raised concerns of a devastating wildfire season amid a drought that has left Arizona’s wooded areas particularly vulnerable. It also comes less than a year after a fire in nearby Prescott killed 19 Hotshot firefighters.

TIME weather

Endless Winter: Aspen Reopens for Skiing on Memorial Day Weekend

Squeezing the last drops out of winter before the white stuff melts away

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of summer, when people head for the beaches and lakes to enjoy the warming sun. This year, winter isn’t going out without a fight, at least not at Aspen. The chichi resort announced that Aspen mountain will reopen for skiing this holiday weekend. A series of late spring storms has left the mountain with a base depth of more than four feet of snow on top, enough to open 21 runs and nearly 130 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain from the 11,212-ft. summit. It’s still cold up there.

Ski areas in the west typically close in late March or early to mid April. It’s not necessarily because the snow is gone, but because the skiers are—they are already in spring mode. Yet there’s traditionally been a battle for bragging rights for the area that can stay open longest and attract the diehards. It’s an honor that typically goes to places such as Arapaho Basin, situated on the Continental Divide or Oregon’s Mount Bachelor. A-Basin has extended its season until June 8. The area collected some 35 ft.. of snow during the 2013-14 season, “so we’re staying open!” says the company’s website. It may even extend the season if conditions permit. In Utah, Snowbird is reopening for the holiday weekend too.

Four-season resorts such as Aspen have robust summer programs to try to entice vacationers when it’s not white outside, so they generally don’t try to squeeze the last drops out of winter. But this year there’s been so much winter that staying open might be the only option. It’s tough to run dirt bike trails when there’s no dirt.

TIME weather

Watch a Cloud Supercell Form in This Time-Lapse Video 

A supercell is a spinning thunderstorm

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A few days ago in Wyoming, swirling clouds came together in a kind of half-tornado. Instead of spinning down to the ground, it ended suddenly in a flat mass that spat out heavy rains and hail. It was a “supercell,” and this time-lapse video shows exactly how it was formed.

Supercells are sometimes called “rotating thunderstorms”—they’re one of the most severe types of thunderstorms in the world. Their spinning, which is clearly visible in the video, sets them apart. Horizontal wind starts the air spinning, then an updraft angles the spin upwards. Then the updraft gets caught up in the spinning column to turn the whole cloud mass into a slightly less dangerous version of a tornado.

Thankfully, Basehunters, a group of weather-chasers, got close enough to shoot the video so we didn’t have to.

TIME Serbia

Thousands Flee Deadly Floods in Serbia and Bosnia

TOPSHOTS-SERBIA-BOSNIA-WEATHER-FLOOD
A Serbian rescue worker carries an elderly woman out of her flooded house in the Serbian village of Obrez on May 17, 2014 Sasa Djordjevic—AFP/Getty Images

Floods have killed at least 44 people and caused some 10,000 to evacuate from the affected areas, while some towns have been completely cut off following the region's heaviest rainfall since the late 19th century

Thousands of people have fled their homes in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as massive floods fueled by record rainfall have already killed at least 44 people, officials say, and as residents have been warned about land mines exposed by mudslides.

Approximately 10,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas, while some towns have been completely cut off by the deluge that hit the region’s Sava River, Agence France-Presse reports.

“We sent rescue teams into a part of the city we had not been able to access so far. They are entering those areas fearing what they might discover,” said Samo Minic, the mayor of the Bosnian town of Samac.

One rescue worker who spent two days trying to reach the Serbian village of Krupanj described the floods as looking “like a tsunami and earthquake occurred at once.”

“We found some 50 people gathered in the highest house,” Nedeljko Brankovic said. “They had neither electricity nor drinking water. Telephones did not work. We evacuated them 10 by 10 in a huge boat.”

Twenty-seven deaths have been reported in Bosnia, 16 reported in Serbia and one reported in Croatia. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he expected the death toll to rise.

In addition to the floods, the rainfall led to destructive landslides and warnings that residents should beware of exposed landmines first buried during fighting and warfare in the 1990s.

[AFP]

TIME natural disaster

San Diego Wildfire Destruction Could Reach 30,000 Acres

California wild fires
A longtime exposure shows smoldering remains of overnight fires on the hillsides of San Marcos, San Diego county, Calif., May 16, 2014. Stuart Palley—EPA

Only one of the seven major blazes in the outskirts of San Diego had been fully contained by early Saturday, and the rest are expected to spread further — though cooler, more humid weather will help in the fight to extinguish the fires

San Diego residents began returning home Saturday even as some of the worst early-season wildfires in California’s history continued to carve a swathe of destruction along the city’s drought-wasted outskirts, threatening to engulf up to 30,000 acres of land.

The dozen or so fires that raged in the less populated areas around California’s second-largest city had desolated more than 26,000 total acres of land, or 40 square miles by early Saturday, Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova told TIME. Only one of the seven major blazes had been fully contained, and the rest are expected to spread further.

A fire that began on Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook on Wednesday had affected over 6,500 acres and a separate fire first reported Thursday—the “Las Pulgas” fire—engulfed 15,000 acres.

A total of 11 single-family homes in San Diego county and 25 structures of the Harmony Grove Spiritualist Association have been destroyed so far in the 2,520-acre Cocos fire, based on a damage assessment late Friday by local authorities. Dozens of home have been swallowed up over the course of the week.

An unusually harsh drought this season, along with hot, arid winds from the east have made the region particularly susceptible to fire, said Cordova, exacerbating the risk of the region’s 10-year fire cycle, which lands this year.

“We get extreme fire behavior every 10 years and the drought doesn’t help. This is very odd for the month of May to have these types of fires,” Cordova said.

Parts of the county were reopened for residents after some of the worst fires were quelled, with sections of San Marcos and the Del Dios corridor around Lake Hodges, but much of the area remained closed as the fire continued to burn actively with strong winds.

Up to 125,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, Reuters reports.

Authorities were investigating how so many fires started at the same time and whether they were intentionally set. Two teenagers were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of setting two small fires that bystanders quickly extinguished. A 57-year-old man was also charged with arson Friday in connection with a fire near the suburban area of Oceanside.

The fire erupted Wednesday near the town of San Marcos after the worst drought season since the federal government began monitoring levels in 2000.

Local firefighters are working closely with the U.S. military and national guard this year, who will deploy aid within 24 hours, faster than the four to five days of previous years, the Cordova said.

The fire could burn as much as 30,000 acres but cooler, more humid weather over the next few days will help firefighting efforts.

TIME weather

Entire State of California Facing Worst Drought Since Tracking Began

California Drought
Cracks in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif., on March 13, 2014. Marcio Jose Sanchez—AP

The entire state of California is suffering the most intense drought since the federal government began monitoring drought levels in 2000. Wildfires in the south have burned down at least 30 homes, in an “unprecedented” intensity, climatologist Mark Svoboda said

The entire state of California is facing a “severe” drought or worse for the first time since tracking began in 2000, according to the federal U.S. Drought Monitor.

The level of drought in the state, where wildfires in the south have burned down at least 30 homes, is “unprecedented” over the past decade and a half, climatologist Mark Svoboda, from the National Drought Mitigation Center, which runs the monitor based out of Nebraska, told USA Today.

Nearly a quarter of the state is facing an “exceptional” drought, the worst possible categorization, including the entire Bay Area. Another half of the state, including Los Angeles and San Diego, is in the midst of an “extreme” drought, while the remainder of the state is in the midst of a “severe” drought, the third most dire category.

[USA Today]

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