The Extinction Chronicles

An impartial record of articles and events leading up to the end…

The Extinction Chronicles

Hurricane Larry will produce category 1 winds and… feet of snow

By Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologist

Updated 2:11 PM ET, Fri September 10, 2021

How are hurricanes named?

NOW PLAYINGHow are hurricanes named?CNN

(CNN)Friday is the statistical peak of hurricane season, yet a monster named Larry is forecast to transform into a winter storm that will deliver feet of snow in Greenland.Yes, you read that correctly. A hurricane producing feet of snow. It’s been a crazy year for tropical systems already, so why not?This year is already ahead of pace in terms of storms, with 13 named. On average, we don’t see 13 named storms until the end of the season.

Hurricane-force winds are not uncommon in Greenland, but hurricanes that bring significant snow are.

Feet of snow for Greenland

Hurricane Larry is forecast to slide up the east coast of Greenland this weekend. When it gets there, it will have sustained winds around 60 to 70 mph, with gusts as high as 85 mph. Larry’s hurricane-force wind likely will produce blizzard conditions across Greenland, although Larry might lose the tropical aspects of a hurricane by then.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “Meanwhile in China” Newsletter.close dialog

CNN weather alerts

Get the latest storm and extreme weather updates delivered straight to your inbox from CNN.Sign Me UpBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.“Larry should become an extratropical cyclone on Saturday, and is now forecast to be absorbed by a larger extratropical low near Greenland by the end of the weekend,” the National Hurricane Center says.

The term extratropical has to do with the storm’s core. A hurricane has a warm core, while an extratropical (or post-tropical) has a cold core.Cold core systems produce weather features like cold fronts and warm fronts — terms people are more familiar with. Warm core systems produce weather features such as eyes, eyewalls and outer-bands.As Larry interacts with this other system, it will be able to pull in a tremendous amount of moisture leading to significant snowfall in Greenland.Widespread totals of 12 to 18 inches are expected in the eastern half of the island nation. Higher elevations along the east coast could get 2 to 4 feet or higher.Hurricane Larry could bring feet of snow to Greenland.Hurricane Larry could bring feet of snow to Greenland.While it is rare for tropical systems to help trigger snow, it’s not unheard of. In fact, just last year Hurricane Zeta brought snow to the Northeast US, including several inches to Massachusetts.What makes Larry a bit more unusual is the timing. Zeta hit in late October. So did Superstorm Sandy, which also helped produce snowfall in October 2012.

Landfall as a hurricane in Canada first

In the short term, Larry will bring affect the US and Canada before Greenland.”Significant swells from Larry will continue affecting Bermuda, the east coast of the United States, and Atlantic Canada through Saturday. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.” said the National Hurricane Center.While Larry is expected to gradually weaken Friday as it moves through the colder waters of the northern Atlantic, it is still expected to retain hurricane strength until it passes Newfoundland.Damaging winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall also are expected in Newfoundland.”These winds will likely topple some trees (leading to downed utility lines), damage signs and cause some property damage to roofing materials, cladding, fences and exterior fixtures,” the Canadian Hurricane Centre cautioned. “Secure loose objects on your property and anticipate power interruptions.” is no stranger to systems that undergo the post-tropical or extratropical transition but still produce hurricane-force winds. In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Canadian Maritimes as a Category 1-equivalent extratropical storm.What makes Larry interesting is that it may be able to make landfall in Canada before transitioning to extratropical. Landfall is expected late Friday night or early Saturday morning in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is forecast to be a Category 1 hurricane.

Larry is a large hurricane with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 90 miles from the center. Even after it transitions to extratropical, Larry is expected to stay big in size.The Canadian Hurricane Centre has extended the Tropical Storm Warning along the southern coast of southeastern Newfoundland westward to Francois and along the northern coast of southeastern Newfoundland to Fogo Island.

CNN meteorologists Chad Myers and Brandon Miller contributed to this story.

‘Vicious little suckers’: Massive clouds of mosquitoes kill cows, horses in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura

Joel Shannon


Swarms of mosquitoes have killed cows, deer, horses and other livestock in Louisiana after rain from Hurricane Laura led to an explosion in the pests’ population.

Thousands of mosquitoes have attacked animals as large as bulls, draining their blood and driving the massive creatures to pace in summer heat until they were exhausted, according to a Louisiana State University AgCenter veterinarian, agent and press release.

While recent aerial spraying efforts have helped bring the outbreak of mosquitoes under control, residents and animals in a portion of the state faced clouds of the bloodsucking insects in the days after Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 27.

Farmers near where the storm made landfall have probably lost 300 to 400 cattle, said Dr. Craig Fontenot, a large-animal veterinarian based in Ville Platte.

“They’re vicious little suckers,” he said.

Jeremy Hebert, a LSU AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish, told USA TODAY Thursday that residents along costal, marshy areas are accustomed to mosquitoes and expect the population to climb following a heavy rain. But the scale of this outbreak was much larger than Hebert expected: “I’ve never experienced anything like this.”

The species of mosquito doesn’t transmit human diseases easily, Christine Navarre, an extension veterinarian with LSU AgCenter, told USA TODAY on Thursday.

2nd Crew Member Found Alive From Cattle-Carrying Ship That Sank Off Japan

An unoccupied lifeboat drifts near Kodakarajima island. Japanese authorities are racing to find dozens of missing sailors from a cargo ship that sank in a typhoon.

10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters/AFP via Getty Images

A second crew member has been found alive from a ship carrying livestock that capsized and sank during a typhoon off the southern coast of Japan. But another storm expected to hit the area over the weekend is likely to hamper the search for 40 other people still missing.

The Gulf Livestock 1, a 450-foot ship with a cargo of some 5,800 cows en route from New Zealand to China, issued a distress call early Wednesday Japan time near the island of Amami Oshima, north of Okinawa. The ship’s “mayday” was sent from an area affected by Typhoon Maysak, a powerful Category 4 storm.

Japan’s coast guard said Friday that it had rescued Jay-nel Rosals, a 30-year-old Filipino deckhand. Another crew member, chief officer Edvardo Sareno, who was initially identified as Sareno Edvarodo, was located on Wednesday.

Edvardo Sareno, a 45-year-old chief officer from the Philippines of the capsized ship The Gulf Livestock 1, is seen being rescued by Japan’s coast guard on Wednesday. So far, he is one of two survivors from the vessel’s crew of 43.

Japan Coast Guard, 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters

Rosals was wearing a life jacket and floating in a raft, the coast guard said without elaborating on his condition.

The two found alive are among the 39 crew listed as being from the Philippines. Two others are from New Zealand and two from Australia.

Earlier, a third crew member, who was not identified, was recovered from the water unconscious and facedown, a spokesman for the coast guard said, according to The Associated Press. The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Searchers also said they had found a fuel slick on the sea surface and dozens of floating animal carcasses.

After Sareno’s rescue on Wednesday, he told rescuers that the Gulf Livestock 1 was hit broadside by a large wave, capsized and sank. He managed to jump overboard wearing a life jacket but said he did not see any others escape from the sinking ship.

He reportedly asked rescuers: “I’m the only one?”

“I’m so sorry … [I’m] so lucky,” Sareno said, according to the AP.

The Panamanian-flagged vessel is owned and operated by the United Arab Emirates-based Gulf Navigation, which issued a statement about the disaster that was carried by media on Friday.

“Our hearts go out to those onboard and their families at this time,” a Gulf Navigation spokesman said. “We also express deep regret for the sad loss of the livestock onboard. We are monitoring the situation closely and working closely with those involved in rescue efforts. We pray that there are other survivors.”

Typhoon Haishen, bearing down on the same general area affected by Typhoon Maysak earlier this week, was likely to complicate the search for any remaining survivors. Japan’s Meteorological Agency forecasts that by Sunday, Haishen will pass near Okinawa, just south of where the Gulf Livestock 1 went down. The JMA said the storm has the potential to be even more dangerous than Maysak.

If Republicans really cared about hurricane victims, they’d stop denying climate change

Thoughts and prayers are not enough and never have been. But the GOP is determined to deny climate change regardless of the consequences to our nation.
Hurricane Laura's Damage Falls Most Heavily on Louisiana

People sift through debris at a damaged home after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish, La., on Aug. 27, 2020. Hurricane Laura raked across Louisiana early on Thursday, becoming one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the state with a “catastrophic storm surge,” flash floods and devastating winds that could inflict more than $15 billion in insured losses.Bryan Tarnowski / Bloomberg via Getty Images

By John Podesta, advisory board member, Climate Power 2020

If you were watching the Republican National Convention this week, you might have missed the news: Millions of acres of land across the West are on fire, families are living in extreme heat in Arizona, and the Category 4 Hurricane Laura slammed into the Gulf Coast.

The climate crisis is happening right before our eyes, but President Donald Trump simply offered his “thoughts to the wonderful people who have just come through the wrath of Hurricane Laura” and then proceeded to double down on lying about former Vice President Joe Biden’s proposals to invest in clean energy.

No one put forward plans or solutions to the biggest threat to our country’s future; the only thing the GOP was able to offer is their “thoughts and prayers.” But when the climate crisis is destroying homes, ravaging farms and agricultural businesses, leveling entire communities and killing people, thoughts and prayers are not enough.

It’s clear from what we saw over the last week that the Republican Party is in denial. They deny the exigency of mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis; they deny the necessity of policies informed by science and experts; and they deny Americans relief from these collective problems by eschewing any collective action and instead leave us to fend for ourselves.

Denial is not a plan, though, and “thoughts and prayers” are not a solution.

That this is all they have for us shouldn’t be surprising; the GOP has been offering prayers in lieu of policies for years. Whether in response to gun violence, an inequitable health care system, police brutality, the climate crisis or now a worldwide pandemic, Republicans are blindly following both their long-standing playbook and the direction of a president who dismisses 180,000 dead Americans and counting with a glib, “It is what it is.”

We can’t ignore the reality before us. Climate change is making storms, fires and hurricanes more frequent, dangerous and deadly. Warming seas and a wetter atmosphere are supercharging hurricanes by increasing rainfall, worsening flood risks and leading to rapid intensification. This is why Hurricane Laura rapidly strengthened over the 24 hours before it came ashore.

And it is not just the intensity of the storms that have increased; there are more and more of them. Climate change has been driving increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic and leading to the most extreme hurricane seasons on record.

Meanwhile, a bone-dry winter sandwiched between extremely hot summers fueled wildfires across California this year, issuing a cloud of smoke thatpassed over the the White Housewhere Trump held part of his political convention.

We’re already living the economic consequences of climate change. The number of billion-dollar disasters over the last 10 years has been historically large: One hundred and twenty-three extreme weather events cost the U.S. more than $800 billion. In 2019 alone, weather and climate disasters cost the United States more than $45 billion. Economists say if we don’t act, climate change could cut the U.S. economy by up to 10 percent, kill millions of jobs and cost Americans tens of trillions of dollars in the coming decades.

And make no mistake, Trump is making the climate crisis worse. The fossil fuel lobbyists whom Trump has appointed to lead the agencies charged with protecting our public health and environment have rolled back more than 100 regulations during his tenure — including the bedrock National Environmental Protection Act.

During the middle of this pandemic, the administration allowed more than 3,000 polluters to have free rein to pollute our air and water under the guise of loosening regulations. They gave waivers to oil and gas companies, allowing them to curb environmental monitoring standards and skip testing altogether for some refineries and gas stations. In August, the Trump administration even approved oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge­ — one of the country’s last wild places.

It’s not the first time. Even in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, as Houston and other cities saw polluted and toxic water flood their neighborhoods, Trump rolled back the “chemical disaster rule,” which sets requirements for chemical plants to plan for emergencies, like hurricanes and extreme weather.

We will see the consequences of all of those decisions play out in the coming days and weeks as Texas and Louisiana contend with the damage from Hurricane Laura. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, a chemical plant damaged by the hurricane has already caught fire, releasing poisonous chlorine gas into the atmosphere. Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered residents to seal their homes and shelter in place.

This is one reason that thoughts and prayers are not enough when it comes to natural disasters driven by climate change. We need real solutions that understand the severity and importance of the moment and will rise to it — not simply bear witness to the catastrophic course of destruction laid out by Trump administration policies and willing political denialism.

Everything Is Unprecedented. Welcome To Your Hotter Earth

The five largest fires in California history have occurred since 2003, a sign that climate change is making extreme wildfires more frequent.

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

This week, Americans are living through concurrent disasters. In California, more than 200,000 people were under evacuation orders because of wildfires, and millions are breathing smoky air. On the Gulf Coast, people weathered a tropical storm at the beginning of the week. Two days later, about half a million were ordered to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura. We’re six months into a global pandemic, and the Earth is on track to have one of its hottest years on record.

Climate scientist Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii says if our collective future were a movie, this week would be the trailer.

“There is not a single ending that is good,” he says. “There’s not going to be a happy ending to this movie.”

Mora was an author of a study examining all the effects of climate change. The researchers concluded that concurrent disasters will get more and more common as the Earth gets hotter. That means we will live through more weeks like this one — when fires, floods, heat waves and disease outbreaks layer on top of one another.

“Keep in mind that all these things are related,” Mora explains. “CO2 is increasing the temperature. As a result, the temperature is accelerating the evaporation of water. The evaporation of water leads to drought that in turn leads to heat waves and wildfires. In places that are humid, that evaporation — the same evaporation — leads to massive precipitation that is then commonly followed by floods.”

Disease outbreaks are also more likely. The most recent U.S. National Climate Assessment warns that changing weather patterns make it more likely that insect-borne illnesses will affect the U.S. Climate change is also causing people and animals to move and come in contact with one another in new and dangerous ways.

If humans dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately, scientists say it will help avoid the most catastrophic global warming scenarios. Worldwide emissions are still rising, and the United States is the planet’s second-largest emitter.

Mora says helping people connect the dots between the current disasters and greenhouse gas emissions should be every scientist’s priority. “That’s the million-dollar question,” he says. “How do we speak to people in a way that we get them to appreciate the significance of these problems?”

Hurricane Laura heads for the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday.


Hurricanes and climate change

Climate change is making the air and water hotter, and that means more power for hurricanes.

“Whenever you get ocean temperatures that are much above average, you’re asking for trouble,” meteorologist Jeff Masters explains. “And we’ve seen some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record for the Atlantic basin this year.”

Hot water is like a battery charger for hurricanes. As a storm moves over hot water, like Hurricane Laura did this week, it captures moisture and energy very quickly. In recent years, scientists have seen evidence that global warming is already making storms more likely to grow large and powerful and more likely to intensify quickly.

That’s an alarming trend. “We’re not very good at forecasting rapid intensification,” Masters says. “That’s critical because that gives you less time to prepare if there’s a storm rapidly intensifying right before landfall.”

Scientists have also found that hurricanes are dropping more rain, which means more flooding. Flooding is consistently the most deadly and damaging effect of a hurricane. Studies show many people underestimate the flood risks from hurricanes. Just a few inches of moving water can make it impossible to stay on your feet or control your car.

Add all that to the current pandemic, and you get a dangerous situation, especially for people living in the path of the storm. As NPR has reported, safe options for people who evacuate this year could be limited because group shelters might accept fewer people in order to maintain social distancing.

Concurrent disasters are hitting the country as more people struggle to keep their homes during the economic crash. Andreanecia Morris, the executive director of the nonprofit HousingNOLA, says this week’s hurricanes are especially risky to the many people in Louisiana who don’t have secure places to live because they were evicted.

“People are becoming more vulnerable as this COVID crisis goes on,” Morris says, as more people get laid off or run out of savings. “We have frankly been failing to serve the most vulnerable, and the people who have been made vulnerable by these cascading catastrophes.”

Wildfires and Climate Change

The fingerprints of climate change are all over the Western wildfires, too.

There are nearly 100 large uncontained fires burning across the U.S. More than a million acres have burned in California alone — almost all in the last few weeks. The smoke has blanketed cities and cast a haze from coast to coast.

Wildfires, like hurricanes, are a natural occurrence. They existed long before humans started rapidly changing the climate and are a necessary process for many Western landscapes. But a growing body of scientific evidence shows that a warming climate has changed the status quo.

Fires are burning more frequently and intensely in places where they’ve always occurred, and they’re creeping into places where they were previously rare.

Wildfires thrive on high heat, low humidity, strong winds and dry vegetation, all of which are more likely to occur in a warming climate, says Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth system sciences at Stanford University.

Diffenbaugh was a co-author of a recent study that found climate change has doubled the number of days when conditions would support extreme fire in California. “And it’s particularly increased the odds that those conditions occur broadly, simultaneously,” Diffenbaugh says.

Take the fires currently burning across the West.

Two of the fire clusters in California are among the five largest wildfires in state history. The Pine Gulch Fire, chewing across the Western slope of the Colorado Rockies, is now largest fire in that state’s history.

All occurred during a heat wave that broke temperature records from Texas to Washington state. Death Valley, Calif., reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature, if verified, that would rank as one of the hottest ever reliably recorded on the planet. At the same time, scientists are warning that Colorado and much of the Western U.S. may be in the early stages of a climate-fueled megadrought, the likes of which haven’t been seen in the last 1,200 years.

“When you have warmer temperatures and you’re lengthening the warm season, you’re also lengthening the time when wildfires have a chance to start and grow,” says Becky Bolinger, Colorado’s assistant state climatologist.

The fire season is growing at a time when more people are in harm’s way. Millions of houses in the Western U.S. have been built in fire-prone areas, many before building codes required fire-resistant roofs and siding. Many landscapes are also primed to burn because of overgrown brush and trees. For much of the last century, the U.S. Forest Service and other fire agencies extinguished wildfires, allowing vegetation to build up.

Experts say that living with both destructive wildfires and hurricanes will take more planning and preparation. Communities will have to strengthen existing homes and infrastructure, as well as improve evacuation and emergency plans. Some neighborhoods could prove too unsafe for residents at all.

How bad it eventually gets depends on how quickly the world can reduce carbon emissions. But the past weeks should make clear: “Climate change and its impacts are not the future,” says Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of California, Merced. “They are now.”

Tropical Storm Isaias Expected To Make Landfall As A Hurricane In Carolinas

Waves kicked up by Tropical Storm Isaias crash along Deerfield Beach, Fla., on Sunday. Isaias is expected to make landfall as a hurricane in the Carolinas on Monday evening.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The National Hurricane Center is warning residents of the Carolinas to brace for the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, which is expected to make landfall as a hurricane in northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina by Monday evening.

The storm is expected to linger in North Carolina on Monday, traveling inland through the night before swirling up the Mid-Atlantic coast and into the northeastern United States on Tuesday night.

“Heavy rainfall from Isaias will result in flash and urban flooding, some of which may be significant in the eastern Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic, through Tuesday night near the path of Isaias up the East Coast of the United States. Widespread minor to moderate river flooding is possible across portions of the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. ET storm update.

The center warned that tornadoes are also possible over the coastal Carolinas through Tuesday evening and through eastern Virginia and New England on Tuesday as well.

The storm has already affected parts of Florida, having grazed the east coast of the state as a tropical storm on Sunday, dumping some 2 to 4 inches of rain and knocking out power for a few hundred customers, according to the Miami Herald.

Officials are warning of a potentially more severe outcome in some parts of North and South Carolina, particularly in the stretch from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Surf City, N.C., which are under a hurricane watch.

Areas spanning from the coastal waters of Georgia up to the Virginia coast could see several feet of storm surge as the storm progresses.

Further complicating matters is the coronavirus pandemic. In crowded storm shelters, it may be difficult to maintain social distancing to prevent the virus’s spread.

In a Sunday tweet, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper acknowledged the complications of managing both a pandemic and a tropical storm at the same time.

“Our state has weathered more than our fair share of storms,” he said. “We know how to plan, prepare & respond when it’s over. Nothing about that has changed. But this time, we’re gonna do it with a mask on. Helping your neighbors & loved ones is even more important as this storm approaches.”

Covid-19 patients evacuated as Mumbai braces for worst storm to hit city in 70 years

Tropical Cyclone Nisarga would be the strongest cyclone to hit Mumbai since 1948.
Tropical Cyclone Nisarga would be the strongest cyclone to hit Mumbai since 1948. CNN Weather

Coronavirus patients were among more than 100,000 people evacuated from low-lying coastal areas in India’s western states as a cyclone advanced toward Mumbai in Maharashtra today.

Cyclone Nisarga made landfall at around 1 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) with wind speeds of up to 110 kph (68 mph), according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

The cyclone, which formed in the Arabian sea on Tuesday morning, hit Alibag town, south of Mumbai.

Cyclones in that part of the country are relatively rare — Mumbai, India’s financial center and home to 18 million people, was last hit by a major storm in 1948.

The arrival of Cyclone Nisarga today comes as Maharashtra grapples with India’s worst coronavirus outbreak. Hospitals are struggling to treat an influx of patients as the confirmed number of cases in that state passes 72,300, with more than 2,400 deaths.

Ahead of landfall, the cyclone strengthened to the equivalent of just below a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane, or a Severe Cyclonic Storm in the West Pacific.

Read more:

More than 80 killed in India and Bangladesh as Cyclone Amphan heaps misery on coronavirus-hit areas

Kolkata (CNN)More than 80 people have been killed and thousands more left homeless after Cyclone Amphan slammed into coastal towns and cities in India and Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities are now racing to provide relief efforts in communities already stricken by the coronavirus, hampered in many areas by heavy rains and fallen debris that has made roads impassible.
Large-scale evacuation efforts appear to have saved many lives, but it could take days to realize the full extent of the deaths, injuries and damage from the cyclone.
Amphan — which was the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal before it weakened — ripped apart homes, tore down trees, washed away bridges and left large predominately rural areas without power or communications.
At least 72 people died in West Bengal state, including 15 in the city of Kolkata, the state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Thursday. Among them was a young girl killed after a wall collapsed inside her home in Howrah district.
“I have never seen such disaster,” Banerjee told reporters. “All areas have faced destruction. Nothing is left.”
In neighboring Bangladesh, 10 people have been confirmed dead, according to the governmental Health Emergency Operations Center. Among those killed was a 57-year-old Red Crescent volunteer in Barisal who drowned when attempting to help others to safety, the Red Crescent Society of Bangladesh said.
Disaster teams worked throughout the night and into Thursday morning in India’s West Bengal and Odisha states, clearing trees and other debris from roads.
A man salvages items from his house damaged by Cyclone Amphan in Midnapore, West Bengal, on May 21, 2020.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the devastation caused by the cyclone in a series of tweets on Thursday, writing, “No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected.”
“The entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal,” he wrote. “My thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of Cyclone Amphan.”
Banerjee said that she would appeal to the central government in New Delhi for help and ask Modi to visit the stricken area on the Bay of Bengal.
No deaths have been reported yet in the neighboring coastal state of Odisha, despite wind and storm surges causing heavy damage, according to the government there.

Sunderbans islands ‘pulverized’

S.N. Pradhan, director-general of India’s National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), said the worst of the damage is concentrated in two of West Bengal’s coastal districts and that the Sunderbans had been “pulverized” by the cyclone.
The Sunderbans are an ecologically fragile cluster of low-lying islands spread across India and Bangladesh, known for mangrove forests and rare wildlife, including the endangered Bengal tiger.
“Maximum impact, as expected has been seen there,” Pradhan said.
Four of the state’s least affected districts could be up and running in four to six days, and some coastal parts of Odisha are expected to be back up by this evening, he said.
“People have started moving out of shelters to assess the damage to their homes. Some have even started repairing their damaged homes,” Pradhan said.
In Kolkata, the biggest city in the direct path of the cyclone and home to 14 million people, Pradhan said that a lot of trees had been uprooted and “the city has never seen such high winds.”
Cyclone Amphan is a disaster bigger than the coronavirus outbreak, the state’s chief minister Banerjee said at a news conference Wednesday.
“The whole of the southern part of the state has been affected. We are shocked,” the chief minister said. “The cyclone has affected the electricity supply and destroyed many houses, bridges and embankments.”
In the areas affected by the cyclone, many villagers live in temporary homes with thatched or tin roofs, which were easily swept away in the powerful winds.
In Bangladesh, nearly every coastal district has been seriously affected by Cyclone Amphan, according to Ranjit Kumar Sen, an official at the Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.
Sen said that the damage along the coast was “huge.” Among the 10 killed in the country, five people were in Barisal state — including the Red Crescent volunteer — four in Khuna, and one in Chittagong.
Several poorly maintained dams broke down even before the cyclone made landfall, causing extensive flooding in parts of the country.
Snigdha Chakraborty, with charity Catholic Relief Services, said the country saw storm surges as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters), inundating houses throughout the country.
Cyclone Amphan made landfall on India’s east coast, near Sagar Island in West Bengal, at around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday (7.30 a.m. ET) and began tracking north toward Kolkata, with wind speeds of up to 160 kph (100 mph), according to data from the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Amphan weakened into the equivalent of an Atlantic tropical storm as it crossed the border between West Bengal and Bangladesh Thursday morning, but is still packing strong winds of up to 110 kph (68 mph). The system is expected to continue weakening over the next 24 hours as it travels northeast.
The next danger will come from the heavy rain, which could lead to flash flooding across the region through Thursday morning.

Mass evacuations and coronavirus

An ambitious evacuation mounted by India and Bangladesh saw an estimated 3 million people moved to safety across the two countries, according to regional authorities.
The relief operation came despite India and Bangladesh remaining under strict lockdown orders due to the coronavirus. The virus, which continues to spread through both countries, has complicated the emergency response, as relief teams grapple with how to get people to safety while also protecting them against the risk of Covid-19.
India passed more than 100,000 confirmed infections earlier this week, according to Johns Hopkins University, and recorded its largest single-day spike on Wednesday with 5,611 new cases. Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s infection count is rapidly rising, with more than 1,300 new cases on Sunday, its biggest rise to date. In total, the country has recorded 26,738 confirmed infections, according to Johns Hopkins.
Police officers carry a disabled man to a safer place following his evacuation from a slum area in Kolkata, India.

In Odisha, where more than 150,000 people were evacuated, a total of 211 of the state’s 809 permanent cyclone shelters were being used as Covid-19 quarantine centers.
Pradeep Jena, special relief commissioner for Odisha state, said emergency services had to balance saving lives from the cyclone with saving lives from the coronavirus. In evacuation centers, Jena said they were trying to keep the elderly and pregnant women separate from the rest of the population and were working hard to obtain adequate soap.
“Social distancing is definitely a very good concept but enforcing it in the strictest possible manner in a disaster situation may not always be possible,” he said.
In India’s West Bengal, which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s winds, about 500,000 people were temporarily housed in storm shelters, according to authorities, while in Bangladesh the government said they had evacuated 2.4 million people as well as about 40,000 livestock animals.
People gather at a cyclone center for protection before Cyclone Amphan made  landfall in Gabura, on the outskirts of Satkhira district, Bangladesh May 20.

It’s unknown when many of those people will be able to return home. Bangladesh Oxfam director, Dipankar Datta, said Wednesday that thousands of makeshift homes in Bangladesh had been uprooted due to the cyclone.
In what is likely to be one small glimmer of hope, Catholic Relief Services’ Chakraborty there had been no major damage reported so far in sprawling refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which are home to nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees and had been a source of concern to aid workers after Covid-19 cases were identified there last week.
Some weak shelters were damaged in the storm and now need to be repaired, she said.
Though there is concern that the precipitation from the storm — though it made landfall on the other side of Bangladesh — could still cause landslides and flooding in the camps.

Typhoon Vongfong rapidly intensifies as it slams into coronavirus-hit Philippines

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.


The first typhoon of the 2020 Western Pacific season rapidly strengthened before slamming into the eastern Philippines Thursday, forcing an evacuation of thousands that was complicated by efforts to avoid spreading coronavirus at shelters.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said that Typhoon Vongfong was 289 miles east-southeast of Manila Wednesday and was tracking westward.

The storm has maximum sustained wind speeds of 115 mph with gusts near 143 mph, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.


The first typhoon to hit the country this year rapidly strengthened over a 24-hour period, going from the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 3 storm. The state weather bureau said the storm slammed ashore in San Policarpio town in Eastern Samar province around noon.

Typhoon Vongfong rapidly intensified before impacting the Philippines on Thursday.

Typhoon Vongfong rapidly intensified before impacting the Philippines on Thursday. (NOAA)

Footage posted to Twitter showed wind gusts in the Gubat area of Sorsogon, Philippines, north of Samar island.

Other video shared to Facebook showed locals battling gusts in the town of San Policarpo. The fierce rain and wind swayed coconut trees, rattled tin roofs and obscured visibility in Eastern Samar, where some towns lost power.


Typhoon Vongfong is forecast to barrel northwestward across densely populated eastern provinces and cities before exiting in the north Sunday. Tens of millions are in its path.

Residents brave rains and strong wind as they walk past uprooted trees along a highway in Can-avid town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines on May 14, as Typhoon Vongfong makes landfall.

Residents brave rains and strong wind as they walk past uprooted trees along a highway in Can-avid town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines on May 14, as Typhoon Vongfong makes landfall. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)

The government weather agency warned that “along with large swells, the typhoon will bring a storm surge may cause potentially life-threatening” flooding, adding that sea travel would be dangerous in Vongfong’s path.


The storm’s arrival came as the Philippines fights COVID-19 outbreaks, largely by locking Filipinos in their homes and prohibiting gatherings.

More than 11,600 infections, including 772 deaths, have been reported in the country.

Overcrowding in emergency shelters is a common scene in the archipelago, which has about 20 typhoons and storms annually, and is regularly hit by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.


But ABS-CBN said regional authorities in Eastern Samar were “scrambling” to shelter affected residents, after earlier converting most evacuation centers to coronavirus quarantine facilities.

“This is very complicated,” Jipapad Mayor Benjamin Ver of a town in the typhoon’s path told The Associated Press by telephone.

The only evacuation shelters in the town of 8,000 villagers are a gymnasium and the town hall. Ver, who also is the town’s only doctor, told the AP he has secured enough face masks to protect them from the virus in the town hall when the typhoon hits.


Provincial Gov. Ben Evardone told the AP that all emergency shelters were turned into quarantine facilities with medical equipment in case of outbreaks, but may have to be rearranged back into evacuation centers if large numbers of people need shelter.

Provincial disaster officials said they had asked the education department for more schools for temporary shelters, putting thousands in classrooms and school gymnasiums, Reuters reported.

Dark clouds envelop the skies as workers fold a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila, Philippines Thursday May, 14, 2020.

Dark clouds envelop the skies as workers fold a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila, Philippines Thursday May, 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Authorities also asked 47 churches in the area to accept people fleeing the typhoon.

“We will be overwhelmed, so we’re expanding our evacuation to include churches,” Cedric Daep, disaster chief in central Albay province, told Agence France-Presse.

Metropolitan Manila will not be hit directly by the storm, but may be lashed by strong winds. Officials were advised to remove medical quarantine tents set up outside hospitals.

The region of the Philippines initially hit by Vongfong was devastated in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Warmest Oceans on Record Could Set Off a Year of Extreme Weather

  • Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans have reached record highs
  • Hurricanes, wildfires and severe thunderstorms all affected

The world’s seas are simmering, with record high temperatures spurring worry among forecasters that the global warming effect may generate a chaotic year of extreme weather ahead.

Parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans all hit the record books for warmth last month, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. The high temperatures could offer clues on the ferocity of the Atlantic hurricane season, the eruption of wildfires from the Amazon region to Australia, and whether the record heat and severe thunderstorms raking the southern U.S. will continue.

In the Gulf of Mexico, where offshore drilling accounts for about 17% of U.S. oil output, water temperatures were 76.3 degrees Fahrenheit (24.6 Celsius), 1.7 degrees above the long-term average, said Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University. If Gulf waters stay warm, it could be the fuel that intensifies any storm that comes that way, Klotzbach said.

“The entire tropical ocean is above average,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center. “And there is a global warming component to that. It is really amazing when you look at all the tropical oceans and see how warm they are.”

Simmering Seas

The deeper the red, the warmer the water in this illustration from NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.


The record warm water in the Gulf of Mexico spilled over into every coastal community along the shoreline with all-time high temperatures on land, said Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section at the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. Florida recorded its warmest March on record, and Miami reached 93 degrees Wednesday, a record for the date and 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

While coronavirus has the nation’s attenton right now, global warming continues to be a threat. Sea water “remembers and holds onto heat” better than the atmosphere, Arndt said.

Overall, the five warmest years in the world’s seas, as measured by modern instruments, have occurred over just the last half-dozen or so years. It’s “definitely climate-change related,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. “Oceans are absorbing about 90% of the heat trapped by extra greenhouse gases,”

Worldwide, sea temperatures were 1.49 degrees Fahrenheit above average in March. That’s the second highest level recorded since 1880 for the month of March, according to U.S. data. In 2016, temperatures were 1.55 degrees above average.

The first of Colorado State’s 2020 storm reports, led by Klotzbach, forecast this year that eight hurricanes could spin out of the Atlantic with an above-average chance at least one will make landfall in the U.S. during the six-month season starting June 1. The U.S. is set to issue its hurricane forecast next month.

Arctic Systems

The searing global temperatures this year can also be traced back to intense climate systems around the Arctic that bottled up much of that region’s cold, preventing it from spilling south into temperate regions. Combined with global warming, this was a one-two punch for sea temperatures that’s brought them to historic highs.

One of the best-known examples of how oceans drive global weather patterns is the development of the climate system known as El Nino. It occurs when unusually warm waters in the equatorial Pacific interact with the atmosphere to alter weather patterns worldwide. In the Atlantic, for instance, El Ninos can cause severe wind shear that can break up developing storms with the potential to become dangerous hurricanes.

This year, the chance of an El Nino developing are small, and scientists are theorizing one reason could be that climate change is warming all the world’s oceans. El Nino “depends on contrasts, as well as absolute values of sea-surface temperatures,” according to Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Strengthening Their Fury

Meanwhile, if the Atlantic stays warm through the six-month storm season that starts June 1, the tropical systems can use it as fuel to strengthen their fury.

The oceans also play a role in setting the stage for wildfires. In the case of Australia and the Amazon, really warm areas of the ocean can pull rain away from the land, causing drier conditions and, in extreme cases, drought. Last year, for instance, the Indian Ocean was really warm off Africa, so that is where all the storms went. Australia was left high and dry.

Back in the Atlantic, research by Katia Fernandes, a geosciences professor at the University of Arkansas, has also shown a correlation between sea surface temperatures in the northern tropical Atlantic and drought and wildfires in the Amazon. The warmer the water, the further north rainfall is pulled across South America.

According to Fernandes model, even Atlantic temperatures in March can serve to predict if the Amazon will be dry and susceptible to fires.

For California, the outlook isn’t as clear. Wildfires there depend as much on how well vegetation grows, providing fuel for the flames, as it does on the weather conditions coming off the Pacific.

“Tricky question,” said Mike Anderson, California state climatologist. “Our weather outcomes are influenced by sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, but it depends on where and when the warm waters appear and how long they persist. In the end we have a highly variable climate that doesn’t map in a statistically convenient way to patterns of sea-surface temperatures.”