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.”

TIME weather

Earthquake Hits Hawaii as it Braces for Two Hurricanes

Hawaii Braces For Multiple Hurricanes
In this handout provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the GOES-East satellite, four separate weather system (L-R) Halong, Genevieve, Iselle, and Julio are tracked in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the United States Getty Images

No damages were immediately reported

A 4.5-magnitude earthquake rattled Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday morning just as residents prepare to weather twin hurricanes.

There were no reports of damage yet, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira told the Associated Press, and small quakes like this are “not uncommon.”

“We felt a pretty good shake,” Joanna Cameron, owner of the Kohala Club Hotel, told TIME of the tremor at 6:24 a.m. local time. Cameron’s hotel is located close to the epicenter, estimated 7 miles from Waimea. She plans to keep the hotel open throughout the storm despite numerous cancellations and the closures of nearby schools and businesses.

“We have an earthquake this morning,” she added. “Now the sun is coming out and we’ll have a hurricane at 4 p.m. No one is enjoying this.”

Hurricane Iselle is expected to strike the Big Island on Thursday night, followed by Hurricane Julio. Hawaii hasn’t been directly hit by a hurricane in 22 years and, according to ABC meteorologists, this will be the first to ever impact the Big Island.

When asked what’s next, Cameron replied: “Locusts.”

— Additional reporting by Jonathan D. Woods

TIME weather

Hawaii Is Preparing for a Double Hurricane Hit

Tropical Weather
This image provided by NOAA taken Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, shows Hurricane Iselle, center, and Hurricane Julio, right. AP

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio will be the first to directly strike Hawaii since September 1992

Two hurricanes currently churning in the Pacific Ocean are projected to pass over Hawaii this weekend.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation on Wednesday as hurricanes Iselle and Julio approached the island chain from the east.

The storms will be the first hurricanes to directly strike Hawaii since September 1992, when Hurricane Iniki battered several of the state’s major islands.

Forecasters expect Iselle to make landfall over the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday afternoon local time, bringing with it maximum sustained winds of up to 70 m.p.h. and as much as a foot of rain. Julio will graze the island by Sunday morning, weakening as it passes.

“The Big Island will get the worst of it,” Eric Lau, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, told TIME. “People should expect potential power outages, downed trees and flying debris. It’s not a common occurrence here.”

Hawaii’s largest island is home to nearly 200,000 of the state’s 1.4 million people, while some 75% of the population lives on Oahu, to the west, where Honolulu and the outlying area are currently under a tropical-storm warning.

The local press have described the impending weekend as a meteorological “one-two punch” — two storms, relatively weak on their own, that together will bring potentially dangerous conditions for as long as five days. Abercrombie’s proclamation will last until Aug. 15, allowing the state to turn to a $2 million fund earmarked for emergencies.

Residents are meanwhile buckling down at home. The Hawaii State Department of Education closed all schools on the Big Island and neighboring Maui on Thursday and Friday, while voters hustled to cast early ballots in Saturday’s primary election for governor and congressional representatives.

“Water and Spam have been flying off the shelves,” Honolulu resident Kory Johnson joked. (The state reportedly eats 7 million cans of the precooked meat each year.) “A lot of businesses are closing down — including the medical clinic I’m working for — and there are massive lines at Costco. People are stocking up.”

Many tourists, however, are vying to steer clear of the storms before they hit. To assist travelers in altering their plans, Hawaiian Airlines has temporarily waived its reservation-change fee — typically $30 to $200, depending on the route — as have other carriers. At the Wailea Marriott Resort and Spa in Maui, staff members have posted hurricane information flyers for visitors to consult, but their audience is dwindling: a hotel clerk who identified herself only as Alicia told TIME that a number of tourists have canceled their reservations in anticipation of the hurricanes.

She stressed, though, that the hotel had safety measures in place should the weather turn severe.

“We have an evacuation route planned on the island,” she said. “The safety of our guests is our first priority.”

TIME weather

California Is the State of Emergencies

Mudslides, drought, fires and flooding have made the most populous state in the Union a difficult place to live this year

Seven months ago, California’s historic drought prompted governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

As the farmland-rich Central Valley remained parched, wildfires ravaged Northern and Southern California. Elsewhere in the state, mudslides washed away homes. Then there was a water main break that wasted up to 20 million gallons of water and flooded the UCLA campus.

There’s simply no way around it: California — the most populous state in the Union — is going through some tough times.

TIME weather

Double Trouble: Hawaii Braces for Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

NBCUniversal/The Weather Channel

Two hurricanes are now taking aim at Hawaii.

The first, Hurricane Iselle, packed 90 mph wind on Wednesday as it chugged west toward the islands, and forecasters said that while it was expected to weaken, it could still be hurricane strength at landfall on Thursday.

The trailing system, Hurricane Julio, was upgraded from a tropical storm. It had winds of 75 mph, just strong enough to make the cut. While it could jog to the north, the projected path still had the storm hitting Hawaii on Sunday night…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME weather

Double Trouble: Hawaii Braces for Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

Hawaii Hurricane Iselle Julio
NBC News

90 mph wind on Wednesday

Two hurricanes are now taking aim at Hawaii.

The first, Hurricane Iselle, packed 90 mph wind on Wednesday as it chugged west toward the islands, and forecasters said that while it was expected to weaken, it could still be hurricane strength at landfall on Thursday.

The trailing system, Hurricane Julio, was upgraded from a tropical storm. It had winds of 75 mph, just strong enough to make the cut. While it could jog to the north, the projected path still had the storm hitting Hawaii on Sunday night.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie encouraged islanders to make an emergency plan, and people stocked up on bottled water and other supplies.

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

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