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Autumn Storm Brings Plains, Southwest DownpoursQuiet weather will be replaced by an arc of heavy rain and thunderstorms from the Southwest to the Upper Midwest today and Thursday. There is an increased threat of flash flooding across the Southwest, southern Rockies, northern Plains and Upper Midwest.White Closed White Fashion Style Closed Blouse Fashion Style Blouse Blouse Closed Style Fashion > Read More
An upper-level storm system over the central Rockies and a surge of tropical moisture riding northward will set the stage for a large expanse of rainfall across the Southwest into the central Rockies and out onto the north-central Plains into the Upper Midwest later today and Thursday.
Although the rain is needed to help quench a long-term drought, too much of a good thing could happen in the Southwest. The downpours that develop across southeastern Arizona, southwestern, west-central and south-central New Mexico and the extreme southwestern Texas will increase the threat of flash flooding.
Flash Flood Watches are in effect throughout this entire area and include Tucson, and Casa Grande, Ariz., Albuquerque and Glenwood, N.M., and El Paso, Texas. One to 2 inches of rain and isolated 3 inch amounts are possible. Rain should gradually come to an end Thursday evening as the storm system lifts northward.
The storm system will also create problems for the north-central Plains from northeast Colorado northeastward across Nebraska, southern South Dakota, northern Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula later today through Thursday. Warm, moist air surging north up the western Plains will roll overtop the system’s warm front, producing strong to severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. The heaviest rainfall will likely develop over eastern South Dakota, central and southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and Wisconsin, where widespread 1 to 3 inches of rain is possible.
There is a Slight Risk for severe thunderstorms across a large chunk of the Upper Plains Thursday afternoon and evening, with hail the size of golf balls, torrential downpours, and wind gusts more than 57 mph possible. Flash Flood Watches are in effect from southeastern South Dakota eastward into western Wisconsin. This includes Sioux Falls, S.D., Rochester, Minn., and La Crosse, Wisc.
Be sure to heed warnings, and do not cross roads that are flooded as the flooding could be deeper than you think. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Swiftly moving water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet, while 1 to 2 feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
Florence’s Flooding Claims 3.4 Million Poultry, 5,500 hogsAbout 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials.> Read More
The N.C. Department of Agriculture issued the livestock mortality totals Tuesday, as major flooding is continuing after the slow-moving storm’s drenching rains. Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecasted to peak by Thursday.
The Department of Environmental Quality said the earthen dam at one hog lagoon in Duplin County had breached, spilling its contents. Another 25 of the pits containing animal feces and urine have either suffered structural damage, had wastewater levels go over their tops from heavy rains or had been swamped by floodwaters. Large mounds of manure are also typically stored at poultry farms.
Style Blouse Fashion Fashion Blouse Fashion Blouse White Style Closed Style Closed White Closed North Carolina is among the top states in the nation in producing pork and poultry, with about 9 million hogs at any given time and 819 million chickens and 34 million turkeys raised each year.
The N.C. Pork Council, an industry trade group, said the livestock losses from the storm should be taken in the context.
“Our farmers took extraordinary measures in advance of this storm, including moving thousands of animals out of harm’s way as the hurricane approached,” the group said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We believe deeply in our commitment to provide care for our animals amid these incredibly challenging circumstances.”
The industry lost about 2,800 hogs during flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Sanderson Farms, a major poultry producer in the state, said it lost about 1.7 million chickens after flooding at more than 60 of the independent farms that supply its poultry processing plants. The company said its facilities suffered no major damage, but supply disruptions and flooded roadways had caused shutdowns at some plants.
In addition, about 30 farms near Lumberton have been isolated by flood waters, hampering the delivery of feed to animals. The lack of food could cause additional birds to die if access isn’t restored quickly, the company said.
Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, said its plants also suffered no significant damage and are operating at limited capacity. The company said it would ramp up production as roads become passable.
An environmental threat is also posed by human waste as low-lying municipal sewage plants flood. On Sunday, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority reported that more than 5 million gallons of partially treated sewage had spilled into the Cape Fear River after power failed at its treatment plant.
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The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that 16 community water treatment facilities in North Carolina are unable to supply drinking water and that seven publicly owned sewage treatment works are non-operational due to the flooding.
Duke Energy is continuing cleanup operations Tuesday following a weekend breach at a coal ash landfill at its L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington.
Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said a full assessment of how much ash escaped from the waterlogged landfill is ongoing. The company initially estimated Saturday that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced, enough to fill about 180 dump trucks.
The coal-fired Sutton plant was retired in 2013 and replaced with a new facility that burns natural gas. The company has been excavating millions of tons of leftover ash from old pits there and removing the waste to a new lined landfill constructed on the property. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.
Photos from the site provided to AP by Cape Fear River Watch, an environmental advocacy group, show cascades of gray-colored water spilling from at least two breaches at the landfill and flowing toward Sutton Lake, the plant’s former cooling pond which is now used for public recreation, including fishing and boating.
Sutton Lake drains into the Cape Fear River. Sheehan said Duke’s assessment is that there was minimal chance any contaminants from the spill had reached the river.
At a different power plant near Goldsboro, three old coal ash dumps capped with soil were inundated by the Neuse River. Duke said they had no indication those dumps at the H.F. Lee Power Plant were leaking ash into the river.
Duke’s handling of ash waste has faced intense scrutiny since a drainage pipe collapsed under a waste pit at an old plant in Eden in 2014, triggering a massive spill that coated 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River in gray sludge. The utility later agreed to plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. It plans to close all its ash dumps by 2029.
In South Carolina, workers with electricity provider Santee Cooper erected a temporary dike in hopes of preventing flooding of an old coal ash dump at the demolished Grainger Generating Station near Conway. The dump is adjacent to the Waccamaw River, which is expected to crest at nearly 20 feet (6 meters) this weekend. That’s nine feet above flood stage and would set a new record height.
Image: Chicken farm buildings are inundated with floodwater from Hurricane Florence near Trenton, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Style Style Closed White Fashion Fashion Closed White Blouse Fashion Closed Blouse Blouse StyleNorth Carolina Gov Pleads With Storm Evacuees to be PatientWILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — With Wilmington still mostly an island surrounded by Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters and people waiting for hours for handouts of necessities like food, North Carolina’s governor is pleading with thousands of evacuees to be patient and not return home just yet.> Read More
“I know it was hard to leave home, and it is even harder to wait and wonder whether you even have a home to go back to,” Gov. Roy Cooper said as officials began distributing supplies to residents of Wilmington, population 120,000.
The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina, as Florence’s remnants went in two directions: Water flowed downstream toward the Carolina coast, and storms raced through the Northeast, where flash floods hit New Hampshire and New York state .
Cooper warned that the flooding set off by as much as 3 feet (1 meter) of rain from Florence is far from over and will get worse in places.
“I know for many people this feels like a nightmare that just won’t end,” he said.
Addressing roughly 10,000 people who remain in shelters and “countless more” staying elsewhere, Cooper urged residents to stay put for now, particularly those from the hardest-hit coastal counties that include Wilmington, near where Florence blew ashore on Friday. A second shelter is opening in Carteret County.
Roads remain treacherous, he said, and some are still being closed for the first time as rivers swelled by torrential rains inland drain toward the Atlantic.
In South Carolina, two women died after a van was overtaken by rising flood waters near the Little Pee Dee River. Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson told The Associated Press that the women, detainees being transported to a mental health facility, drowned at around 6 p.m. Tuesday when a van tried to cross a roadway and was overtaken by water. Their names have not been released. Two other people were sent to a hospital for observation.
The White House said President Donald Trump will visit North Carolina on Wednesday to see the damage. Beforehand he boasted on Twitter: “Right now, everybody is saying what a great job we are doing with Hurricane Florence — and they are 100% correct.” He warned that the Democrats will soon start criticizing the government response, and “this will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”
In Wilmington, workers began handing out supplies using a system resembling a giant fast-food drive-thru: Drivers pulled up to a line of pallets, placed an order and left without having to get out. A woman blew a whistle each time drivers had to pull forward.
Todd Tremain needed tarps to cover up spots where Florence’s winds ripped shingles off his roof. Others got a case of bottled water or military MREs, or field rations. An olive-drab military forklift moved around huge pallets loaded with supplies.
Brandon Echavarrieta struggled to stay composed as he described life post-Florence: no power for days, rotted meat in the freezer, no water or food and just one bath in a week.
“It’s been pretty bad,” said Echavarrieta, 34, his voice breaking.
Nearby, about 200 people lined up to buy 40-pound (18-kilogram) bags of ice as quickly as a Rose Ice and Coal Co. could produce it.
Supplies have been brought into the city by big military trucks and helicopters, which also were used to pluck hundreds of desperate people from homes and other structures.
Mayor Bill Saffo said two routes were now open into Wilmington, which had been completely cut off by floodwaters, but those roads could close again as water swells the Cape Fear River on the city’s west side.
At Fayetteville, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) inland, near the Army’s sprawling Fort Bragg, the Cape Fear River had risen about 50 feet (15 meters) toward a crest predicted to be more than 25 feet (7 meters) above flood level. On Tuesday, logs and other debris became trapped under a rail bridge as rushing brown water pushed against the span.
The flooding got so bad that authorities closed a vehicle bridge in Fayetteville after the river began touching girders supporting the bridge’s top deck. Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said it was unclear if the bridge was threatened. “We’ve never had it at those levels before so we don’t really know what the impact will be just yet,” he said.
The river swallowed trees, lamp posts and a parking lot near its banks. City officials warned still-rising water threatened some neighborhoods and businesses that seemed safe, but said the worst was nearly over and life was beginning to return to normal downtown. Businesses were re-opening and owners removed sandbags and plywood from storefronts.
Human and animal waste is mixing with the swirling floodwaters, which have killed about 1.7 million chickens on poultry farms. More than 5 million gallons (18 million liters) of partially treated sewage spilled into the Cape Fear River after power went out at a treatment plant, officials said, and the earthen dam of a pond holding hog waste was breached, spilling its contents.
The governor said 16 rivers statewide were at major flood stage and more than 1,100 roads were closed. Emergency workers reported rescuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people and around 575 animals, he said.
In a bright spot, the Lumber River appeared to be falling in hard-hit Lumberton, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) inland. Power outages in the Southeast also were down, from a high of more than 910,000 to about 245,000, nearly all in North Carolina.
Style Style Closed Fashion Fashion Blouse Closed Closed Fashion White Blouse White Blouse Style Waggoner reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. AP photographer Gerry Broome in Lumberton, North Carolina; Gary Robertson in Raleigh; Alex Derosier in Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Image: Kenny Babb retrieves a paddle that floated away on his flooded property as the Little River continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Linden, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Video: Antarctic Researchers Capture Spellbinding AuroraAn Australian researcher at the Australia Antarctic Division's Mawson Station captured this stunning video of the Aurora Australis, or southern lights on September 11.> Read More
Credit: Pat James/Australian Antarctic Divison via Storyful
Today's Weather Outlook
The middle of the work week will see a gradual weather pattern shift across the U.S., with Florence’s influence finally waning.
The remnants of Florence, which has brought a soggy mess to much of the East Coast since Friday’s original landfall on the North Carolina Coast has moved off of the East Coast. On the heels of the system, a weak cold front will slide southward across the Northeast and the northern Mid-Atlantic, ushering in lower humidity and more seasonable temperatures. Highs across New England and the northern Appalachians will be in the lower to middle 70s, with lower 80s found across the New York City Tri-state area and the Delaware Valley.
The cold front will stall before reaching the southern Mid-Atlantic, keeping the South, Southeast and southern Mid-Atlantic locked in summer-like temperatures. Highs will climb into the 80s with lower 90s found in the Deep South, Southeast, Florida and along the Gulf Coast.
A few showers or thunderstorms could develop across southern Florida and along the immediate Gulf Coast.
Blouse Style Closed Style Closed Blouse White Blouse Fashion Fashion Closed Fashion Style White A developing autumn storm system moving out of the central Rockies into the western High Plains will be a major driver of the weather throughout the Rockies and the Great Plains.
A warm front will expand across the north-central Plains into the Upper Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes, bringing late-afternoon and evening downpours and even a few thunderstorms. South of the warm front, temperatures will jump into the lower to middle 90s, even as gusty winds blow dust around and keep the fire danger elevated. North of the front, the northern Plains, Upper Midwest and northern Rockies will feel like autumn as highs only reach the 50s and 60s.
Subtropical moisture streaming into the High Plains storm will feed showers and thunderstorms that will develop across the southern Rockies and the Four Corners region today. These storms will suppress the high temperatures, with highs in the 70s and 80s common here.
The Great Basin, Southwest and southern California will remain hot, with highs in the upper 80s and lower 90s a common theme. A few spots of the Desert Southwest will reach 100 to 101 degrees in the afternoon. The Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and northern Rockies will be seasonably mild with highs in the 60s and lower 70s. A few showers are possible in the northern Rockies.