Hawaii Storm Brings 60-Foot Waves, Damaging Winds, Power Outages

A winter storm reached Hawaii over the weekend, bringing dangerous surf conditions and damaging winds.

Waves near Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu surpassed 60 feet Sunday afternoon, meteorologist Gavin Shigesato with the National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office told USA TODAY. Surf heights hit 45 feet on another part of the island, according to observation reports.

Gusty winds, reaching a high of 53 mph in Oahu, knocked down trees and caused power outages throughout the islands, Shigesato said. About 26,870 customers throughout the state did not have power at 4 p.m. local time Sunday, according to Poweroutage.us. Debris on Sunday closed roads in downtown Honolulu and in the Waikiki area, Shigesato said.

All state parks closed Sunday morning after the County of Hawaii closed beach parks on Saturday night, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim tweeted. The Honolulu Zoo closed before noon Sunday because of falling branches. Two African ground hornbills escaped from their enclosure, local station KITV reported, and officials asked the public not to approach the black birds “bigger than a chicken” with red skin under their beaks.

Two evacuation centers opened Sunday morning on Oahu as officials told residents to monitor conditions. The Red Cross also opened a shelter in Kauai on Saturday night. Authorities said residents on the islands’ north shores should be prepared for coastal flooding.

A 66-year-old California man died Friday after getting stuck in rough ocean conditions in Napili Bay, off northwest Maui.

The weather service issued statewide high wind warnings as well as high surf warnings for life-threatening conditions at several shores until Monday morning. A storm warning ended Sunday afternoon.

A gale warning was also in effect until Monday morning for surrounding waters and channels. The office forecast snow and ice on the Haleakala and Big Island summits through Sunday night, with visibility below a quarter-mile at times. The powerful, low-pressure storm north of the state, Shigesato said, also brought periods of downpours.

Mudslides, Floods, Rain, Howling Winds, 10 Feet Of Snow: California Braces For Powerful, Dangerous Storm

With the polar vortex in full retreat, the USA’s wildest weather shifts to the West.

The dangerous cold and heavy snow that hobbled the northern U.S. this week wreaked plenty of havoc – with estimates as high as 24 dead – but a new form of deadly weather could be on the way. A powerful, dangerous rainstorm is forecast to batter the western United States over the next couple of days, especially California.

Heavy rain could trigger mudslides, rockslides and floods, while feet of snow will bury the mountains, the National Weather Service warned.

Forecasters say rain will arrive in the north late Friday afternoon and reach southern California late in the night, and last through Saturday night. A flash flood watch was in effect for millions of people in the Los Angeles area, where as much as a half-foot of rain could fall.

Flash flooding and debris flows will be a concern particularly near burn scar areas. “Southern California residents, in or below the recently burned areas, are urged to take the steps necessary to protect their property,” the weather service said.

“If you are in Southern California & live near a recent wildfire burn scar, take the incoming storm extremely seriously,” tweeted UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.

As the storm approaches, the biggest priority will be to keep people out of harm’s way, said Craig Sap, district superintendent of California State Parks. People may see a fire coming, but a debris flows gives little or no warning, he said. “If a hillside lets loose, there’s nothing you can do.”

The weather service in Los Angeles warned that “in addition to the heavy rain potential with this storm, the very strong southerly winds could be an equally concerning impact with this storm system.” The storm “could bring one of the strongest south-southeast wind events we have seen in recent years.”

The strong winds can bring down trees and cause power outages.

Up to 10 feet of snow could fall in the Sierra Nevada, where “travel is highly discouraged.” Winter storm warnings were in effect for hundreds of miles of mountainous regions of California, all the way from the Oregon border to north of Los Angeles.

“While the snow will be a further boost in the snowpack and add to the tremendous bases of snow at the ski resorts, it will lead to major travel disruptions,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

Extratropical Volcanoes Influence Climate More Than Assumed

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 had a significant impact on climate, decreasing global mean temperature by about 0.5°C. Like the famous eruptions of Krakatau (1883) and Tambora (1815), Pinatubo is located in the tropics, which has been considered an important factor underlying its strong climate forcing. However, an international research group led by the GEOMAR has now published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience that shows that explosive extratropical eruptions can have a strong impact on the climate, too.

In recent decades, extratropical eruptions including Kasatochi (Alaska, U.S., 2008) and Sarychev Peak (Russia, 2009) have injected sulfur into the lower stratosphere. The climatic forcing of these eruptions has, however, been weak and short-lived. So far, scientists have largely assumed this to be a reflection of a general rule—that extratropical eruptions lead to weaker forcing than their tropical counterparts. Researchers from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, the University of Oslo, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg together with colleagues from Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. now contradict this assumption in the international journal Nature Geoscience.

“Our investigations show that many extratropical volcanic eruptions in the past 1,250 years have caused pronounced surface cooling over the Northern Hemisphere, and in fact, extratropical eruptions are actually more efficient than tropical eruptions in terms of the amount of hemispheric cooling in relation to the amount of sulfur emitted by the eruptions,” says Dr. Matthew Toohey from GEOMAR, first author of the current study.

Large-scale cooling after volcanic eruptions occurs when volcanoes inject large quantities of sulfur gases into the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that starts at about 10 to 15 kilometers height. There, the sulfur gases produce a sulfuric aerosol haze that persists for months or years. The aerosols reflect a portion of incoming solar radiation, which can no longer reach the lower layers of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface.

Until now, the assumption was that aerosols from volcanic eruptions in the tropics have a longer stratospheric lifetime because they have to migrate to mid or high latitudes before they can be removed. As a result, they would have a greater effect on the climate. Aerosols from eruptions at higher latitudes would be removed from the atmosphere more quickly.

The recent extratropical eruptions, which had minimal but measurable effects on the climate, fit this picture. However, these eruptions were much weaker than that of Pinatubo. To quantify the climate impact of extratropical vs. tropical eruptions, Dr. Toohey and his team compared new, long-term reconstructions of volcanic stratospheric sulfur injection from ice cores with three reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere summer temperature from tree rings dating back to 750 CE. Surprisingly, the authors found that extratropical explosive eruptions produced much stronger hemispheric cooling in proportion to their estimated sulfur release than tropical eruptions.

To understand these results, Dr. Toohey and his team performed simulations of volcanic eruptions in the mid to high latitudes with sulfur amounts and injection heights equal to that of Pinatubo. They found that the lifetime of the aerosol from these extratropical explosive eruptions was only marginally smaller than for tropical eruptions. Furthermore, the aerosol was mostly contained within the hemisphere of eruption rather than globally, which enhanced the climate impact within the hemisphere of eruption.

The study goes on to show the importance of injection height within the stratosphere on the climate impact of extratropical eruptions. “Injections into the lowermost extratropical stratosphere lead to short-lived aerosol, while those with stratospheric heights similar to Pinatubo and the other large tropical eruptions can lead to aerosol lifetimes roughly similar to the tropical eruptions,” says co-author Prof. Dr. Kirstin Krüger from the University of Oslo.

The results of this study will help researchers to better quantify the degree to which volcanic eruptions have impacted past climate variability. It also suggests that future climate will be affected by explosive extratropical eruptions. “There have been relatively few large explosive eruptions recorded in the extratropics compared to the tropics in recent centuries, but they definitely do happen,” says Dr. Toohey. The strongest Northern Hemisphere cooling episode of the past 2500 years was initiated by an extratropical eruption in 536 CE. This new study explains how the 536 CE eruption could have produced such strong cooling.

UPDATE : Large Storm Hitting Central US, Heading East With Flooding Rain, Strong Winds

A large storm that developed in the central U.S. is moving east on Wednesday and bringing snow, a wintry mix, severe weather and flooding rain.

he storm dumped over 17 inches of snow in the mountains of Colorado, and widespread 2 to 4 inches of snow from the Colorado Plains to the upper Midwest. Freezing rain also was reported in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana on Tuesday night.

Locally heavy snow is moving through parts of the Midwest, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday morning. In Chicago, a wintry mix, with some snow, is possible as colder air is being wrapped into the storm. However, most of the frozen precipitation will stay north and west of the city. A dangerous morning commute is likely in these areas.

Additionally, a wintry mix is likely across parts New York state Wednesday morning as precipitation is interacting with colder air.

There are numerous alerts being issued for this wide-ranging storm, including winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories from Kansas to Michigan to Maine. Since there is a threat for heavy rain in the Northeast, there are new flood watches being issued for the major cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Additionally, there are alerts being issued for blowing snow in the Northern Plains in the storm’s wake.

A line of very heavy rain will extend through the Mississippi and Tennessee Valley late in the day Wednesday. Additionally, severe weather is likely across parts of the Gulf — from New Orleans to Mobile — where damaging winds and brief tornadoes are possible. Since this cold front is very strong, it will also cause gusty winds over 35 mph in spots.

Out ahead of the cold front, very mild air will surge up the East Coast. Temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees above average in the New York City area, where temperatures might be in the mid-50s Thursday morning. But the warmth will be brief.

Early Thursday morning, the heavy rain and strong winds will move into the southeast U.S. and toward Atlanta. By Thursday morning, the line of heavy rain, with some locally strong thunderstorms, will stretch along the entire East Coast. Very heavy rain will fall Thursday during morning rush hour in the major northeast cities. Locally, 1 to 2 inches of rain could cause flash flooding and strong gusty winds are possible.

An additional complication in parts of the Northeast is that the heavy rain, combined with mild temperatures, will cause last week’s snow to rapidly melt and cause additional flooding concerns.

Chill behind the storm

Behind this storm, another frontal system will pass and deliver a cold blast. Wind chills on Friday in the Midwest will dip locally to minus 30 degrees. Chicago will feel like minus 21 on Friday morning.

Some of this cold air makes its way east, but moderates before reaching the major Northeast cities. It will not be as cold as last weekend.

However, another powerful blast of cold air will come in behind it over the weekend and wind chills approaching minus 50 are possible in parts of the upper Midwest by Sunday. Duluth will feel like minus 47 and Minneapolis like minus 29 on Sunday morning — this is life-threatening cold.

Deep Freeze Covers Northeast, Midwest After Deadly Weekend Storm

Tens of millions of Americans are feeling the deep freeze left behind by a deadly weekend winter storm that swept through the Midwest and Northeast. More than a quarter of the country woke up to temperatures below 10 degrees Monday, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca from Killington, Vermont, where the wind chill was minus-31 degrees.

At least 3 deaths are blamed on the severe weather.

The storm also caused headaches for millions of air travelers across the U.S., with thousands of flight cancellations and delays.

Upstate New York got as much as 20 inches of snow. Parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania got up to 18 inches.

The storm buried parts of the Northeast in snow and ice. The Hudson River froze over in upstate New York.

People in Glens Falls, New York, near the Vermont border, spent Sunday digging out from more than a foot-and-a-half of snow, and plows could barely keep up with whiteout conditions on Interstate 87.

In Gray, Maine, residents raced to clear around 8 inches of snow before the Arctic temperatures froze everything. Resident Len Sherwood explained the way to do it is to “do a little bit at a time, go back in warm up, come back out later.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said, “What we’re particularly worried about is the icy conditions and what that means to the electric grid.”

The snow, sleet and freezing rain knocked out power to more than 20,000 homes and businesses in Connecticut and New York.

A utility worker in Connecticut was killed Sunday when a tree fell on him while he was trying to restore service.

The storm was deadly from its onset. In Kansas, a snow plow driver died Saturday morning when his vehicle rolled off the road. And it created a scare in Chicago when a United Airlines jet slid off the icy runway after landing at O’Hare Airport.

“Next thing you know we were off the runway and stuck in snow…we ended up sitting on the plane for another hour,” one passenger said.

In Missouri, slick surfaces triggered a 15 car pileup crash on Interstate 55, shutting down the road for hours.

The effects of the storm reached as far south as Alabama, where at least six people were hurt in an apparent EF-2 tornado. Winds topping 135 miles an hour significantly damaged several buildings outside Montgomery.

For those who have to venture out into the bitter cold, the advice is the same whether you’re here skiing or just walking your dog: Dress in layers, stay hydrated, and take frequent breaks inside — because it can take less than 15 minutes for frostbite to set in.

California Storms Bring Fear Of Devastating Mudslides, Residents Warned To Evacuate

LOS ANGELES — A year after a mudslide swept through a fire-devastated California town, killing 21 people, residents of hundreds of homes in burn areas were told to pack up and leave as a Pacific storm threatened potential catastrophe.

In Riverside County east of Los Angeles, mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday for a dozen areas around the Holy Fire, which swept through an enormous swath of the Cleveland National Forest and surrounding areas last August.

“People in these zones MUST GO NOW. Rainstorms carry the potential for dangerous debris flows that can send mud, boulders and trees crashing down hillsides” with little or no warning, a county statement said.

The evacuation was later downgraded to voluntary, but authorities urged people to stay alert because of continuing rain forecasts.

In Santa Barbara County on the central coast, evacuation orders were set to take effect at 10 a.m. Tuesday for areas hit by the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas fires.

“Gather family members, pets, and essential items,” a county statement said. A debris flow could also make roads impassable and strand people near the evacuation areas, especially in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, the county warned.

After a devastating fire that burned and destabilized foothills, Montecito was hit by a powerful storm on Jan. 9, 2018, that sent water, mud and boulders sluicing down creeks and canyons. Twenty-three people died and over 100 homes were destroyed.

Weather forecasters have predicted a series of storms that could continue to bring rain and snow into the middle of the week. Flash flood watches were issued by the National Weather Service for burn areas in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which could see as much as an inch of rain per hour from Tuesday afternoon into the evening.

All schools in Malibu were closed Tuesday.

Flooding and debris flows were a threat to hundreds of homes in areas below foothills and canyons that were swept by flames in recent years.

Los Angeles County authorities issued evacuation orders beginning Tuesday morning for some areas of the Woolsey Fire. The blaze that broke out in November destroyed more than 1,500 homes and other buildings from Ventura County to Malibu and killed four people.

On Monday, the first in the series of storms dumped an inch of rain in Los Angeles and snow in the mountains.

Rain closed the Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement parks.

In San Diego County, a 20-foot-long, 20-foot-deep sinkhole on an Interstate 805 off-ramp near Serra Mesa.

A mudslide closed a 4.4-mile section of section of Pacific Coast Highway just north of Malibu on Monday for several hours. In Encino, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, a guest house was pushed off its foundation by a 250-foot-long debris flow from a hillside. No one was hurt but the Fire Department said up to a dozen other homes were in the slide zone.

Ice and blowing snow shut down the Grapevine, a high pass on Interstate 5, a major route connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco. Dozens of cars and trucks were stranded before the road reopened after nightfall.

UPDATE : Rescue Efforts Underway After Tsunami Hit Indonesia Without Warning

Rescue crews are helping thousands of people who were injured or displaced after a tsunami struck the coasts of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia on Saturday night. Many residents did not receive any warning before the tsunami, which killed hundreds.

Volcanic activity on Indonesia’s famous Anak Krakatau island triggered underwater landslides that caused the tsunami, officials say. Anak Krakatau emerged from the site of an 1883 eruption that killed tens of thousands of people and has drawn tourists from around the world.

At least 373 people have died, with 128 missing and nearly 1,500 wounded, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster management agency.

Crews continue to search for survivors while retrieving bodies from the wreckage with heavy machinery and their hands, Reuters reports.

The Red Cross has dispatched 22 ambulances and more than 100 volunteers to transport the injured. Blocked streets have hindered access to health centers in Pandeglang, on the island of Java, where Doctors Without Borders volunteers are helping to treat patients injured by the tsunami and falling rubble.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrived at the disaster zone on Monday, while members of the military and volunteers continue to search affected areas. Authorities have warned residents to stay away from beaches because of the risk of continued volcanic activity.

The tsunami caught residents by surprise because the country’s seismic activity detectors were not functioning properly, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports. Nugroho acknowledged Indonesia’s detection buoys have been dysfunctional since 2012, according to The Associated Press, a result of vandalism and budget issues.

Kathy Mueller, a communications delegate with the Red Cross, was working in Indonesia when the tsunami hit — because of ongoing recovery efforts after a previous tsunami in September, which killed more than 1,700 people.

She says Saturday’s tsunami affected Java’s entire western coastline.

“There are a lot of communities we know … have not yet been accessed,” she told NPR’s David Greene. “It’s going to take some time before we get a fully clear picture of what the full extent of the damage is.”

The Indonesian Red Cross dispatched more than 117 volunteers to the affected area immediately after the disaster, Mueller says. They brought basic supplies, including blankets, clothes, food and water.

The tsunami struck Indonesia’s two most populous islands. Proximity to the nation’s capital, Jakarta, has facilitated the mobilization of volunteers, military and emergency personnel, compared to previous disasters.

Mueller adds that emergency respondents have become proficient at purifying drinking water since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which killed more than 200,000 people.

But she says three major disasters since the summer — massive earthquakes on the island of Lombok in July and again in August, followed by September’s tsunami and earthquake on the island of Sulawesi — have taxed the country, even before the latest tsunami.

“People are a little bit tired now,” she says.

On Sulawesi, thousands of residents still live in tented camps, according to Mueller.

Now this disaster has displaced 11,000 more people in Java and Sumatra, who are residing in government buildings and camping out in tents beside hospitals.

“A lot of them were holidaymakers,” Kuhn says. “The government has tried to turn the western tip of Java into a new tourist destination to rival the island of Bali. But that effort has been suspended after this disaster.”

Several of the dead were members of the local pop-rock band Seventeen, which was performing at a year-end party in Java when the tsunami struck, sweeping away performers and concertgoers.