ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

thelivyjr
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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CNN

"Hurricane Ida leaves at least 1 dead and more than a million without power as it slows to a near standstill over Louisiana"


By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

30 AUGUST 2021

Hurricane Ida slammed Louisiana with devastating force as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday, leaving at least one person dead and more than 1 million customers without power as it flooded homes, ripped off roofs and trapped residents in dangerous rising waters.

In Jean Lafitte, south of New Orleans, levees were overtopped and residents were on their roofs, waiting for rescue boats to arrive, Mayor Tim Kerner Jr. said.

"We're going to make sure we get as many boats as possible," to assist with rescues he said, adding that boats were ready to move in as soon as the weather broke.

"It really breaks your heart when you know those people and you can't get to those people."

In nearby northwestern Plaquemines Parish, flash flooding was reported early Monday morning after a levee failed near Highway 23, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

Based on the number of calls, texts and emails coming from the area, Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser earlier told CNN he believes there were probably "several dozen" people who didn't leave the parish and were waiting out the storm.

Resources to help those affected by the storm have been impacted as well, with hospital staff relying on generators to keep life-saving machines running and sleeping on air mattresses in their workplaces.

And New Orleans 9-1-1 reported technical difficulties amid power outages as of Monday morning, encouraging anyone experiencing an emergency to find their nearest fire station or approach the nearest officer.

After making landfall Sunday on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Ida has slowed to a near crawl over southeastern Louisiana, causing flash flood emergencies as it dumps inches of rain.

It's the state's strongest storm ever -- tied with Hurricane Laura from last year and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.

As of Monday morning, more than a million customers in Louisiana were without power, according to PowerOutage.US.

Among them is all of Orleans Parish, which was hit with "catastrophic transmission damage," the city office says in a Tweet Sunday night.

More than 93,000 customers were without power in Mississippi, PowerOutage.US reported.

As Ida continues to bear down on the coast, Entergy Louisiana said Sunday some of its customers could be without power for weeks.

And the storm surge of up to 15 feet and winds as strong as 150 mph could leave parts of southeast Louisiana "uninhabitable for weeks or months," according to a local hurricane statement from the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

While the scope of the damage won't be clear until day breaks and teams can assess the chaos -- initial reports indicate the situation for many residents who stayed behind is dire.

Jefferson Parish has received calls from people asking for help as water rose to their chest in their homes, Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told CNN Sunday night.

But with high winds, flooding and reports of hazards, including downed powerlines and uprooted trees, Sheng said the dangerous conditions have prevented emergency crews from helping.

And Ida has plenty of strength left.

The Category 1 hurricane is turning northward over southeastern Louisiana, with sustained winds of 75 mph.

The storm is weakening very slowly, and will likely continue to pelt the southeastern coast and lower Mississippi Valley with heavy rainfall throughout the early morning hours, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

The region could get 10 to 24 inches of rainfall, which may bring life threatening flash and urban flooding.

Tornadoes will continue to be a threat for the Gulf Coast through Monday, with the threat expanding into central and northern Mississippi and Alabama.

The storm is expected to turn northeast Monday and head to the middle Tennessee Valley and Upper Ohio Valley through Wednesday.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency advised residents across the state Sunday to prepare for Ida, warning that heavy rain and flooding are possible in areas still recovering from a flood emergency last weekend.

Until then, Louisiana will bear the brunt of the rain, flooding and wind.

"I haven't seen relentless wind [like this] in my lifetime," St. Bernard Parish president Guy McInnis told CNN.

Hospitals damaged and roadways closed

Two of the three hospitals in Lafourche Parish sustained damage in Sunday's epic storm, Laforche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre told CNN.

A portion of the roof of The Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano was ripped off as Ida came ashore, Webre told CNN's Pamela Brown.

The county was also forced to relocate its emergency operations center to a different building after the first building's roof began to leak Sunday, Webre told CNN.

Hospitals dealing with storm damage and attending to victims of the hurricane were largely already stretched by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Before going into this storm, our hospital was already almost at capacity," Ochsner Health System's Dr. Derek Smith told CNN.

"We know the coming hours are going to be even more of a test."

The hospital, which is near New Orleans, is running on generators, and staff there have been locked in -- sleeping on air mattresses and working around the clock to care for patients, Smith said.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hadn't yet felt the worst of Ida when Mayor Toby Barker spoke to CNN Sunday night, but officials there were bracing for damage from the storm and stress on their hospitals.

"We know that both our hospitals are at capacity because of Covid, and we really need everyone tonight just to make good decisions," Barker said.

The storm has also impacted access for rescuers to get in and residents to get out.

The Kerner Swing Bridge in Jefferson Parish was hit by a barge Sunday as Ida beat down on Louisiana, according to the parish government, prompting officials to warn residents it may not be safe to drive across.

"Any residents that may still be in Lafitte are advised to not attempt to drive on this bridge."

"We do not believe it is structurally safe," Jefferson Parish tweeted.

And due to fallen trees on the roadway, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development shut down about 22 miles of Interstate 10, a major thoroughfare that transits the state east to west.

The closed portion of roadway stretches from Louisiana Highway 73 -- near Dutch Town, Louisiana -- to Louisiana Highway 641 -- near Gramercy, Louisiana.

In Lafourche Parish, every road was impassible Sunday night, Webre told CNN.

There is a curfew in place for Lafourche Parish, "and we're going to set up checkpoints to aggressively enforce that curfew," the sheriff said.

Officials plan to canvass the parish with every available county employee in the morning, but with the lack of electricity, downed power lines, and scattered debris, Webre doesn't anticipate any opportunities to clear roadways Sunday night that would allow any travel prior to daybreak.

Governor asks for assistance with 'one of the strongest storms to ever hit Louisiana'

Once the storm does calm, there are 21 urban search and rescue teams from about 15 states ready to search, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN Sunday.

"At the height of a hurricane you can't get first responders out because it's just simply too dangerous."

"The wind speeds don't allow for that," he explained.

"Just as soon as we can, we will be engaged in very robust search and rescue operations."

Edwards said he anticipated the storm would continue to cause damage throughout the night, noting that it hadn't reach I-10 yet and the expected wind and rain, which could be 20 to 24 inches in some areas, is likely to cause further damage in the state.

"It's tough all over southeast Louisiana," he said, adding "This is a very devastating storm."

Sunday night, President Joe Biden granted Edwards' request for a major disaster declaration, ordering federal agencies to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

Edwards requested federal public assistance related to emergency protection actions, shelters and temporary housing costs, his office said.

Also included was a request for federal assistance for debris removal and infrastructure damage, according to the news release.

"Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest storms to ever hit Louisiana," Edwards said in a press release Sunday, noting the urgency of the declaration.

Chef prepares to serve more than 10,000 meals

Chef Jose Andres left Haiti, which is recovering from a major earthquake, on Saturday.

On Sunday, he and his World Central Kitchen were in New Orleans to assemble a team ahead of the storm.

"As soon as the hurricane goes away we are always able to start cooking," Andres told CNN.

The organization has so far set up three kitchens with enough food to serve more than 10,000 meals, Andres said on Twitter.

Many other NGOs will be joining on the ground to make sure people in the areas impacted by the storm have food and water, he said.

No two hurricanes are the same, Andres said, so while his teams have provided food and water to people in need following crisis many times before, they will have to adapt to the specific circumstances they are facing in Louisiana.

That means cooking with generators providing the only electricity and food trucks placed strategically to reach the wide region impacted by the storm, he said.

Another complication to serving meals to a massive amount of people: the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead of serving trays that could feed dozens of people at a time, Word Central Kitchen had to start preparing meals individually.

Through it all, the most important question: "How are we going to be able to keep this city of New Orleans fed, and more importantly how are we going to be able to keep the entire state of Louisiana fed," Andres said.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hurri ... hp&pc=U531
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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THE VERGE

“'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Ida strengthens dramatically overnight"


Mary Beth Griggs

30 AUGUST 2021

Hurricane Ida is pummeling Louisiana as an “extremely dangerous” storm after strengthening rapidly over the weekend.

The hurricane swirled towards the coast with winds of 150 miles per hour, accompanied by a life-threatening surge of water, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center warned on Sunday.


“This will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference on Saturday.

The storm made landfall just before noon local time, near Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

Ida already had wind speeds of 103 miles per hour on Saturday night.

Just six hours later, the storm had strengthened into a major hurricane with wind speeds increasing to 130 miles per hour.

Soon after, it had strengthened even more — making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds up to 150 miles per hour.

The storm was able to intensify so quickly because it had all the ingredients a hurricane needs to grow.

Warm waters below the hurricane and plenty of moisture in the atmosphere provided fuel for the storm, while winds in the upper atmosphere favored the hurricane.

All those factors allowed it to keep developing and prevented it from weakening before landfall.

“Ida found the perfect path across the gulf, where the warmest water is,” Chris Slocum, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told The New York Times.

“You could say it’s a worst-case scenario.”

Rapidly intensifying hurricanes have developed many times in the past few years, including Harvey in 2017, and Michael in 2018.

This rapid intensification may be caused in part by climate change, recent studies suggest.

A recent United Nations report also found that storms are becoming stronger as the planet warms.

Other factors, including cyclical changes in the ocean and atmosphere, may also play a role in rapid intensification — researchers are actively gathering more data about how the process works so that they can better predict when storms like Ida are likely to develop.

Do not play around

Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the state.

Hurricanes are categorized by wind speed, and Ida, currently a Category 4, is expected to bring catastrophic winds to the region.

Along with the winds will come a storm surge, a huge pileup of water driven inland by the storm.

Forecasters predicted waters could reach heights of 12-16 feet in parts of Louisiana.

Ida will also dump 10-18 inches of rainfall on the region, and some areas could see as much as two feet of rainfall, with the potential for more flooding.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service office in New Orleans issued a dire warning to residents in its forecast discussion that underscores the seriousness of the storm:

These are the last few hours to prepare or leave.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate late tonight and especially tomorrow morning.

Once sustained tropical storm force winds move in first responders will button down and YOU WILL BE ON YOUR OWN.

Please understand this, there is the possibility that conditions could be unlivable along the coast for some time and areas around New Orleans and Baton Rouge could be without power for weeks.

We have all seen the destruction and pain caused by Harvey, Michael, and Laura.

Anticipate devastation on this level and if it doesn`t happen then we should all count our blessings...

Do not play around and say “Ive been through Andrew/Camille/Katrina/Betsy” all storms are different.

Update 8/29 3:30 PM ET: This post has been updated with information about Ida’s landfall, and path across the Gulf.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topst ... hp&pc=U531
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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THE SUN SENTINEL

"Hurricane Larry forecast to be a Category 4 with top winds reaching 140 mph"


Robin Webb and Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel

3 SEPTEMBER 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hurricane Larry has been intensifying steadily and, by Thursday afternoon, had grown slightly larger, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Larry is forecast to develop rapidly into a major hurricane with top winds reaching up to 140 mph.


Larry, the fifth hurricane of the season, formed early Thursday and is expected strengthen into a major hurricane, with winds of at least 111 mph, by late Friday, the hurricane center said.

By Sunday night, its maximum sustained winds are forecast to reach 140 mph, putting it at Category 4 strength.

Larry is coalescing in the eastern central Atlantic, an area where storms tend to form during peak season, which runs mid-August through October.

It’s currently on a path west over the central Atlantic, in the general direction of the U.S.

However, it is forecast to make a gradual turn to the west-northwest Friday night, before slowing in speed on Saturday, according to the hurricane center’s five-day forecast outlook.

Beyond that, it’s too early to tell where it may head.

Forecasters say conditions support rapid development.

Located roughly 765 miles off the west coast of Africa as of 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, its hurricane-force winds extended out up to 25 miles from its center and its tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 160 miles.

If Larry develops into a major hurricane as forecast, it would be the third of the season, along with Grace, a Category 3, and Ida, a Category 4.

There are only five years in the satellite era, which began in 1966, that had three major hurricanes by Sept. 4: 2008, 2005, 2004, 1996 and 1969, according to Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach.

Meanwhile, forecasters are watching two other areas for potential storm development.

An area of low pressure in the western Caribbean could move over the Gulf of Honduras on Friday.

This system could then move over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico this weekend and early next week, but upper-level winds would hinder development.

A second area of low pressure area formed late Thursday morning about 280 miles east-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of west Africa, according to the hurricane center.

Forecasters said some development is possible over the next 24 hours as the low moves west at about 15 mph.

After that, conditions are expected to be less ideal for development.

With the formation of Larry, a total of seven named storms have formed in the Atlantic between Aug. 10 and Sept. 1 this year.

That ties the record established in 2011, according to Klotzbach.

And this is the sixth year to have 12 named storms by Sept. 1, joining 2020, 2012, 2011, 2005 and 1995, he said.

The season’s pace is running “well above average,” according to AccuWeather.

“Typically, the 12th named system and second major hurricane does not occur for another five weeks, or in early October.”

The number of expected major hurricanes this season is three to five, according to the forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

As of Sept. 2, there have been 12 named storms and five hurricanes, two of which have been major hurricanes.

NOAA’s forecast predicts 7 to 10 hurricanes and 15 to 21 named storms this Atlantic season, which means those with winds speeds of at least 39 mph.

The next named storm to form would be Mindy.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topst ... hp&pc=U531
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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USA TODAY

"Tornadoes and 100 mph winds hit Central US; region braces for severe thunderstorms and wildfires"


Doyle Rice and Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

16 DECEMBER 2021

A wild weather day was underway Wednesday across the central U.S., with howling winds, severe storms, tornadoes and even wildfires slamming the region.

Damaging winds have brought down trees and power lines, making widespread power outages possible, the National Weather Service warned.

The winds will also be strong enough to kick up dust and raise the risk of wildfire ignition and rapid spread in some areas, AccuWeather said.

In Iowa and Minnesota, debris littered sidewalks, power lines fell, and entire houses were destroyed after tornadoes and strong winds pounded the region.

Portions of Oklahoma's panhandle were evacuated Wednesday afternoon and all lanes of U.S. Highway 287 closed down due to extreme winds as crews battled wildfires, and parts of Texas' panhandle saw at least four active wildfires accelerated by the strong winds.

The Weather Service has issued a high wind warning along a swath stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan – including Wisconsin and Illinois – with sustained winds between 25 mph and 40 mph expected.

It also issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Multiple tornadoes have already touched down in Iowa.

In all, some 36 million people were under high wind warnings as of midday Wednesday.

Several airlines later decided not to chance landings at the Des Moines International Airport, as an epic line of thunderstorms approached from the west.

In Kansas City, Missouri, part of the roof at its downtown airport collapsed and traffic controllers had to evacuate from the tower cab.

The strong winds reached the Great Lakes, with Lake Michigan creating waves as high as 15 feet in some areas.

Multiple highways closed down in Kansas, where high winds and dust storms caused brownout conditions and reduced road visibility.

The high winds, which reached 100 mph in some areas, blew roofs off houses and toppled semitrailers.

And over 166,000 Kansas homes and businesses served by Evergy, the state's largest electrical company, were without power as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the company reported on an online outage map it maintains.

Already Wednesday, a gust of 107 mph was reported in Lamar, Colorado.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department said on Twitter that they had received 635 calls for service within five hours — including one about the roof being blown off their own headquarters.

A Weather Service forecast office in Nebraska warned that "travel will be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles."

"Trucks may be blown over."

"Holiday decorations will be damaged or blown away."

Some schools in Nebraska canceled in-person classes and dozens of schools in Iowa planned to close early Wednesday in anticipation of bad weather.

Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, shut down at noon due to the storm threat.

Over 48,000 Iowans were left without power Wednesday night, gas and electric provider MidAmerican Energy tweeted, and restoration could take up to three days due to extensive damage.

At this time of year officers in Iowa are used to warning people to stay off the roads because of snowstorms, not thunderstorms, said Polk County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Evans.

"It's really weird," Evans said.

"We're 10 days before Christmas and we're talking about 70-degree temperatures and near-hurricane force winds."

Allan Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, said Wednesday's storm line would "raise eyebrows" even if it happened in the summer, he said.

“We don’t have a lot to compare it to,” Curtis said.

“It’s really one of a kind for this state or this area for this time of year."

Des Moines police said on Twitter that no significant damage, injuries, or road closures had been reported yet as of Wednesday evening.

Denver International Airport had over 100 flight cancellations and 288 delays due to the high winds.

There is also the chance for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes into Wednesday night: "Severe storms are expected across southeast Minnesota, west-central Wisconsin, and Iowa this afternoon and evening," the Storm Prediction Center said. 

"Widespread damaging wind gusts (80+ mph) and a few tornadoes (some strong) are likely."

A tornado watch was in effect for portions of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.

The Weather Service also predicted that daily high temperatures will skyrocket to over 30 degrees above average on Wednesday throughout the Plains and Mississippi Valley.

"With spring-like highs anywhere from the 50s and 70s in the forecast, over 50 daily high records stand to be broken on Wednesday," the Weather Service said.

Ottumwa, Iowa, soared to 75 degrees on Wednesday, which was a state record high for the month of December.

The weather across the central states followed a powerful storm on Monday and Tuesday that socked drought-stricken California with heavy rain at lower levels and up to 6 feet of snow at some higher elevations.

Contributing: The Associated Press; The Des Moines Register; The Tokepa-Capital Journal; The Oklahoman; Amarillo Globe-News

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topst ... d=msedgntp
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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REUTERS

"Heatwave scorches Europe; health warnings issued"


By Catarina Demony and Kylie Maclellan

July 15, 2022

Summary

* WMO issues warning on air quality in towns and cities

* UK declares first red heat warning for Monday, Tuesday

* Wildfires ablaze in France, Spain and Portugal


LEIRIA, Portugal/LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - Hundreds more people were evacuated from their homes as wildfires blistered land in France, Spain and Portugal on Friday, while officials in Europe issued health warnings for the heatwave in the coming days.

More than 1,000 firefighters, supported by water-bomber aircraft, have battled since Tuesday to control two blazes in southwestern France that have been fanned by scorching heat, tinder-box conditions and strong winds.

While temperatures dipped a little in Portugal, they were still expected to top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in some places, with five districts on red alert and more than 1,000 firefighters tackling 17 wildfires, authorities said.

In Spain, a new wildfire broke out in the south of the country after blazes in the west in the past week.

More than 400 people were evacuated from the hills of Mijas, a town popular with northern European tourists in the province of Malaga.

Beachgoers in Torremolinos, some 20 km away, could see plumes of smoke rising above the hotels lining the coast.

Meanwhile, the worst drought in over 70 years reduced Italy's longest river, the Po, to little more than a trickle in places, with temperatures expected to rise next week.

Officials are worried about the effects on people's health and on healthcare systems already challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic as the searing heat sweeps the continent, with warnings issued for worse to come in Britain in particular.


The World Meteorological Organization said the heatwave would worsen air quality, especially in towns and cities.

"The stable and stagnant atmosphere acts as a lid to trap atmospheric pollutants, including particulate matter," Lorenzo Labrador, WMO scientific officer, told a Geneva press briefing.

"These result in a degradation of air quality and adverse health effects, particularly for vulnerable people."

Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido said on Thursday the health system faced a "particularly worrying" week due to the heatwave and said some hospitals were overwhelmed.

From July 7 to July 13, Portugal registered 238 excess deaths due to the heatwave, the country's DGS health authority said.

Spain registered 84 excess deaths attributable to extreme temperatures in the first three days of the heatwave, according to the National Epidemiology Centre's database.

UK WARNING

Britain's weather forecaster issued its first red "extreme heat" warning for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday.

"Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week," Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen said.

"Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas," he said.

"This is likely to lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure."

The highest recorded temperature in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F) recorded in Cambridge on July 25, 2019.

Hannah Cloke, climate expert at Britain's University of Reading, said the heatwave showed climate change was here and there was an urgent need to adapt.

"We are seeing these problems now and they are going to get worse."

"We need to do something now," she told Reuters.

"It's harder to cope with these types of temperatures in the UK because we're just not used to them."

In Portugal, the highest temperature on Thursday was recorded in the northern town of Pinhao at 47 C (116.6 F), just below the record.

Raymond Loadwick, 73, a retiree from Britain now living in the Portuguese district of Leiria, had to leave his home with his dog Jackson when flames started to burn down a hill packed with highly flammable eucalyptus and pine trees on Tuesday.

When he returned a day later, his white house stood untouched but the vegetation around it had turned to ashes and his fruit trees were burned down.

Loadwick is scared fires will happen more often in the future: "You have to be on your guard," he told Reuters.

In France's Gironde region, 11,300 people have been evacuated since the wildfires broke out around Dune du Pilat and Landiras.

Some 7,350 hectares (18,000 acres) of land have been burnt.

Authorities said the fires had not yet been stabilised.

Elsewhere in Spain, the wildfires that have been burning in parts of Extremadura, which borders Portugal, and the central Castille and Leon region forced the evacuation of four more small villages late on Thursday and on Friday.

The flames are now threatening a 16th century monastery and a national park.

Several hundred people have been evacuated since the fires started and 7,500 hectares of forest have been destroyed in the two regions.

In Catalonia in the northeast, authorities suspended camping and sporting activities around 275 towns and villages to prevent fire risks and restricted farm work involving machinery.

Additional reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris, Emma Pinedo, Elena Rodriguez and Christina Thykjaer in Madrid, Hannah McKay in Torremolinos, William James in London and Emma Farge in Geneva; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson

https://www.reuters.com/business/enviro ... 022-07-15/
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Re: ON THE TIMES WE ARE NOW IN

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THE HILL

"UN warns two largest US water reservoirs at ‘dangerously low levels’"


BY SHARON UDASIN

08/03/22

The United Nations warned on Tuesday that the two biggest water reservoirs in the United States have dwindled to “dangerously low levels” due to the impacts of climate change.

The situation has become so severe that these reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are on the verge of reaching “dead pool status” — the point at which water levels drop so low that downstream flow ceases, according to the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).


Without such flow, hydroelectric power stations would cease to operate, jeopardizing the electricity supply for millions in the region, a statement from the agency said.

“The conditions in the American West, which we’re seeing around the Colorado River basin, have been so dry for more than 20 years that we’re no longer speaking of a drought,” said Lis Mullin Bernhardt, an ecosystems expert at UNEP.

“We refer to it as ‘aridification’ — a new very dry normal,” Bernhardt added.


The Colorado River system supplies water to more than 40 million people and irrigates about 5.7 million acres of agriculture.

The system serves seven states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and California — as well as Mexico.

Scientists have already estimated that Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which are fed by the river, will plunge to 25 percent of their capacity by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, only about 10 percent of the Colorado River’s natural flow, which has been heavily diverted throughout history along its 1,400-mile course, now reaches Mexico.

As the western water crisis continues to deepen, water cuts will be introduced throughout the region, but experts warn that these actions may not be enough, according to UNEP.

“While regulating and managing water supply and demand are essential in both the short and long term, climate change is at the heart of this issue,” Maria Morgado, UNEP’s ecosystems officer in North America, said in a statement.

“In the long term we need to address the root causes of climate change as well as water demands,” Morgado added.

The combined impacts of climate change and overconsumption have exacerbated the crisis, as frequent droughts and temperature rises confront an expanding population, the UNEP statement said.

While the situation may be dire in the American West, the agency stressed that what is happening in the region is indicative of a wider global trend.

Across the world, hundreds of millions of people are impacted by climate change as drought and desertification become “the new normal,” according to UNEP.

“We are talking about a 20-year period of drought-like conditions with an ever-increasing demand on water,” Bernhardt said.

“These conditions are alarming, and particularly in the Lake Powell and Lake Mead region, it is the perfect storm.”

https://thehill.com/policy/3586269-un-w ... ow-levels/
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