Flooding in Venice put three-quarters of the city underwater

Venice, Italy was hit with a storm that put three-quarters of the city under water. Read the rest

Climate change is AWOL in America's political debates

There is no political issue more pressing than the official inaction on climate change. With time running out to avert hundreds of millions of deaths and global migration, food, disease, and water chaos, with 73% of US voters believing in climate change (albeit with a mere 57% believing it is caused by humans), every one of our political debates should be centered on climate change. Read the rest

Detainees trapped in van drown in flood

Two women drowned during Hurricane Florence after the van they were being transported in was overwhelmed by floods. The officers driving them were rescued. The AP's Meg Kinnard reports from Horry County, S.C..

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to The Associated Press early Wednesday the victims were Windy Wenton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43.

"They're still under the water," he said. "It's come up 2 feet since just last night." Richardson said the van came across rising water and was carried off the road. "They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out," he told AP.

Holden said that deputies tried to get the victims out but couldn't. Rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van.

Photo: Flood waters in Virginia, by Virginia Sea Grant, (CC BY-ND 2.0) Read the rest

Japan's flood woes still have a long way to go

Amidst all the hubbub surrounding a trapped soccer team, Supreme Court nominations and idiot-Canadian music stars getting engaged to models, there’s not been much talk about what’s going on in Japan right now—and that’s a shame because it’s some very serious shit.

Torrential rains battered the Pacific island nation last week, causing landslides and flash floods which, at last count, had killed at least 127 people and have forced the evacuation of millions. Many of the displaced have been able to return to their homes, but things are still really fucked up. According to Reuters, just about all of homes that lost power as a result of the storms have been reconnected to the grid. But the people in storm-affected areas are still pretty fucked. Temperatures in city of Kurashiki, for example, which was hit particularly hard, are set to reach 91°F, with high humidity. They might have air-conditioning, in some cases, but very likely don’t have easy access to potable water. Some areas are able to have bottled water, medical supplies and food trucked in, but a lot of the roads in areas strike by mudslides are just gone.

The Japanese government has budgeted billions of bucks for cleaning up after disasters like this one, but it takes time to bring infrastructure back from the brink. What’s more, the worst may still be yet to come.

From Reuters:

A new evacuation order was issued on Tuesday in one part of the western prefecture of Hiroshima, after a river blocked by debris overflowed its banks.

Read the rest

New Orleans pulls 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from storm drains

In temperate and tropical locales, storm drains are a vital bit of urban infrastructure. As a channel for rain water to drain from city streets, they play an important role in keeping the places most of us live habitable and our roads passable during wet weather. When storm drains get clogged with debris, the water they're meant to carry can't flow and things go sideways, fast. As such, most cities throw a lot of money at cleaning them – and the catch basins that feed into them – out, several times per year.

New Orleans? They've got storm drains. Given the city's history of catastrophic flooding, to say that keeping their waste water flowing would be an understatement. It's a tough job, made more difficult by the annual influx of drunken, horny tourists.

On January 28th, the Times-Picayune reported that in addition to the mud, leaves and garbage that New Orleans public works employees have to suck out of storm drains this year, they discovered something else: 46 tons of Marti Gras beads. For the sober uninitiated, the tradition of passing out strands and necklaces of Mardi Gras beads to boozy revelers started back in the 1800s when people parading as part of the annual celebration handed out the inexpensive mementos to onlookers. As anyone who's been to the five-day festival recently will tell you, just as many strands of the beads wind up on the ground as they do around necks. While the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up after the days-long party, the beads still end up getting into places that you don't want them to – kind of like macro-sized glitter. Read the rest

Floating islands of fire ants

A fresh hell for the flooded plains of Texas: Yes, That's a Huge Floating Mass of Live Fire Ants in Texas. (Photo: Brant Kelly / CC BY 2.0)

Sarah Zhang:

“Holy crap. I have never, in my entire career as an ant researcher, seen *anything* like this,” tweeted Alex Wild, curator of entomology at University of Texas at Austin, in response to the image below. Of course, Wild told me, it is all perfectly logical. “They actually love floods,” says Wild. “It’s how they get around.” Fire ants displaced by water form rafts; a lot of fire ants displaced by a lot of water will form really big rafts. But still! The sheer size of them is incredible.

Dish soap breaks the surface tension and they sink. Read the rest

News anchor has a question for folks fleeing storm

Enjoy this Fox News anchor ask a rain-soaked evacuee an excruciatingly long and rambling question concerning the logistics of flood plain management. Read the rest

Harrowing car escape from a flash flood

Fast moving floodwaters slammed a car against a building wall. The water level started rising, and it was clear the car would soon be submerged, trapping the hapless occupants. Fortunately, they were able to get out of the back window in time.

I don't know where this happened, but a reddit commenter said:

That looks like the floods during Typhoon Ondoy [Phillipines].

I lived in Mandaluyong at the time, and while my subdivision wasn't hit bad, the next one over was right next to the city Cemetery. Because of limited space, caskets are put into vertical plots. The flood waters broke them open and that subdivisions' streets were littered with caskets.

At my mom's place, the water current was so intense it ripped the wrought iron right out of the walls and swept an entire building away.

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'Suddenly the water came' — 14,000 people evacuated in San Jose, CA

Last night, Coyote Creek in San Jose, California dramatically overspilled its banks. A mandatory evacuation displaced 14,000 residents, many of whom required decontamination because the water was likely toxic. Read the rest

California has a storm of "biblical proportions" every 200 years

The incessant rain in California for the last several weeks is just a taste of what's to come in the formerly drought-plagued state, says Rachel Becker in The Verge.

Snip:

The most recent was a series of storms that lasted for a near-biblical 43 days between 1861 and 1862, creating a vast lake where California’s Central Valley had been. Floodwaters drowned thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of cattle, and forced the state’s government to move from Sacramento to San Francisco.

More than 150 years have passed since California’s last, great flood — and a team of researchers with the US Geological Survey have predicted what kind of damage a similar flood would cause today. Their simulation, called the ARkStorm, anticipates that a stretch of the Central Valley 300 miles long by 20 miles wide would be underwater. Cities up and down the coast of California would flood. Winds would howl 60 to 125 miles per hour, and landslides would make roads impassable.

Image: Christopher Michel / Bay Area Storms 2017 Read the rest

Flood destroys home of man who believes floods sent to punish gays

Amid the horror of floods that have covered southern Louisiana in recent days, a grim note of irony: Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-queer Family Research Council, is among those whose homes are underwater. Perkins believes natural disasters are sent to punish gays. Read the rest

Horse (car) unable to "Charge!" (drive) through deeply-flooded road

A gentleman in England spots, adroitly, that the road ahead is underwater. So he decides, not so adroitly, to "Charge!" The story unfolds from this point as you expect it will. Read the rest

Terrifying video of Blanco River flood tearing into Texas home

CNN reports on high waters and extreme weather that have taken at least 35 lives in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico. Read the rest

The aftermath of extreme weather

IMAGE: Derek Montgomery for MPR

That is not the result of an earthquake. Instead, this is what happens when a city receives as much as 10 inches of rain in three days. Over the last two days, flash flooding ripped apart Duluth—and other cities in Northeast Minnesota/Northwest Wisconsin. The damage in Duluth alone is expected to be in the millions. There will be street repairs, sewer line replacements, damage to private homes and businesses. The photos are devastating. Luckily, it seems that nobody died, but my heart goes out to everyone dealing with the aftermath of these storms.

At Minnesota Public Radio's Updraft blog, Paul Huttner explains how Duluth, a city built on a hillside and not near any big rivers, can end up with flooding this intense.

A cold front approached Minnesota from the High Plains on Sunday, June 17th and this front set off numerous thunderstorms through the evening. Duluth NWS received nearly an inch of rain (0.71"). The rains that fell on Sunday had inundated the soil, and created more saturated conditions than normal, which primed the Duluth area for runoff in the extreme rain event that we received

Meanwhile, 1/3 of the state of Minnesota is under drought conditions.

In pre-response to the inevitable climate change discussion, let me just remind you of meteorologist Paul Douglas' brilliant analogy:

You can’t point to any one weather extreme and say “that’s climate change”. But a warmer atmosphere loads the dice, increasing the potential for historic spikes in temperature and more frequent and bizarre weather extremes.

Read the rest