Tropical Cyclone Gita is a monster Category 4, and it’s hammering Tonga

Angela Fritz, The Washington Post Published 11:04 am, Monday, February 12, 2018 Trees are stripped bare and roofs are torn off on the largest, most-populated islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tropical Cyclone Gita is on a rampage, whipping up destructive winds and storm surge in the Polynesian state. A New Zealand reporter is in Tonga, holed up in a hotel. She told her home station that, on the small islands in the middle of the ocean, "you're completely at its mercy." "Compared to storms at home, this just doesn't compare," Barbara Dreaver told the station. "It's like someone screaming out of control, the palm trees are bent over sideways, there's a lot of variables in play." Local Channel Now Playing: Now Playing Raw video: Man stabbed in the chest during fight at a South Side hangout 21 Pro Video Raw Video: Fatal wreck on Northwest Side 21 Pro Video SAPD: Multiple injured after River Walk bar fight spills into street San Antonio Express-News Listen: Recorded Uresti interview played at federal trial San Antonio Express-News Driver smashes into H-E-B truck San Antonio Express-News 10 of the Most Scenic Places in Texas PopularMechanics O'Connor soccer Terrence Thomas/San Antonio Express News 10 of the Most Scenic Places in Texas PopularMechanics Cat jailbreaks dogs San Antonio Express-News 3 masked suspects slay teen in revenge shooting, police say San Antonio Express-News The cyclone's eye brushed south of the islands in southern Tonga on Monday night, local time. The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which issues forecasts for the Western Pacific, said winds were around 145 mph at the time. Gita will remain at least a Category 4 - perhaps strengthen to a Category 5 - as it tracks west toward southern Fiji. It is not expected to directly strike Fiji's populated islands. By Thursday, Tropical Cyclone Gita is expected to turn south away from Vanuatu and New Caledonia and continue to track out to sea. The Continue Reading

Improperly disposed flammable liquid sparks fire in east Colorado Springs

0 View Comments The Colorado Springs Fire Department is reminding community members to properly dispose of flammable liquids after floor finishing liquid sparked a fire in east Colorado Springs. At about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Colorado Springs Fire Department received a report of a structure fire at a single- story, single-family house under construction at 2705 Lark Drive. When fire crews arrived, they saw smoke emitting from the eaves of the home. Fire department spokesman Capt. Brian Vaughan said bystanders told firefighters that the kitchen was on fire, and fire crews had the fire knocked down within five minutes of arriving. Related: Firefigthers knock down fire near I-25 and Garden of the Gods Road No one was inside of the home at the time of the fire, and no firefighters were injured. Fire investigators determined that the fire was accidental and caused by the improper disposal of applicators used with a floor finishing product. The applicators soaked with the liquid were left inside of a plastic trash bag, causing it to heat up and eventually combust. The fire department is reminding people that flammable liquids, including gasoline, kerosene, lacquers, paint thinner, paint solvents, hair spray and certain cleaning fluids can be fire hazards because their vapors can easily ignite. Oily and solvent-wet rags should be stored in a tightly-sealed metal container or hang them outside to dry before discarding. Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma upgraded to category 4, with ‘life-threatening’ storm surge seen for Florida

Hurricane Irma gained strength as it broke loose from Cuba and was upgraded to a category 4 storm in the early morning hours Sunday. One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes of the last century is roaring toward the Florida Keys with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, and the National Hurricane Center warned that it's bringing a "life-threatening storm surge" that will stretch up the west coast of Florida. As of 2 a.m. Eastern Saturday, the eye of Irma was 70 miles from Key West, moving northwest toward the Keys at 6 miles per hour. It temporarily weakened to a category 3 storm while over Cuba before churning back out to sea. The NHC issued storm surge warnings for the Keys, and for Tampa Bay on the state's west coast. Surge warnings also were in effect for the area from North Miami Beach southward around the Florida peninsula, as well as for the area between the South Santee River and Jupiter Inlet. "A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations," the NHC said. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, which is built around a huge bay that cuts into the mainland, has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in nearly a century. The National Weather Service said earlier on Saturday that "major hurricane force winds" were expected to batter the Keys on Sunday at daybreak, with wind speeds still well over 100 miles per hour making their way up the state's western coast. Florida officials have issued mandatory Continue Reading

At least four children killed at Brazil day care after security guard doused them with flammable liquid and set fire

At least four children and a teacher were killed at a day care center in Brazil after a security guard doused them with flammable liquid and then set a fire. The horrific attack happened Thursday at the Innocent People day care center in the town of Janauba, CNN reports. Local officials have not released the victims' identities but said the children were between the ages of 1 and 4. Several outlets reported Friday that the death toll had risen to six children killed. Authorities have identified the security guard as 50-year-old Damiao Soares dos Santos. According to BBC, Santos poured a flammable liquid over several people inside the day care before starting a fire. He also set himself on fire, police said. Santos died from his injuries at the hospital. About 25 people, mostly children, were injured in the attack and are being treated at local hospitals for burns. BBC reports that some of those who were injured may need to be airlifted to specialized trauma centers in the state capital of Belo Horizonte. "I deeply regret this tragedy with the children in Janauba," Brazilian president Michel Temer tweeted. "I want to express my sympathy to the families. I, who am a father, imagine that this must be a most painful loss. We hope these things will not happen again in Brazil." Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the brutal attack. Local media outlets reported that Santos had been working at the day care center since 2008 and was recently fired. He allegedly came to the center Thursday to turn in paperwork before starting the blaze. The mayor of Janauba, Carlos Isaildon Mendes, declared seven days of mourning for the victims. Continue Reading

Harvey barrels into Texas as Category 4 hurricane

By Brian Thevenot CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Reuters) - Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast on Friday as a Category 4 storm, bringing life-threatening winds and the likelihood of catastrophic flooding as the most powerful storm in over a decade hit the mainland United States. The hurricane made landfall northeast of Corpus Christi around 10 p.m. CDT (0300 GMT) with maximum winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km per hour). The storm is expected to move slowly over the Texas and Louisiana coasts for days, with forecasts for storm surges of up to 13 feet (4 meters) and over 3 feet (90 cm) of rain. As many as 6 million people were believed to be in Harvey's path, as is the heart of America's oil refining operations. The storm's impact on refineries has already pushed up gasoline prices while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lifted some rules on gasoline to reduce shortages. Fueled by the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Harvey became the first Category 4 hurricane to wallop the United States since Charley in 2004 and the first to hit Texas since Carla in 1961. About 30 miles (45 km) from Corpus Christi and moving northwest, Harvey caused scattered power outages both on the coast near Galveston and 100 miles (160 km) inland. Donald Trump, facing the first large-scale natural disaster of his presidency, said on Twitter he signed a disaster proclamation which "unleashes the full force of government help" shortly before Harvey made landfall. While thousands fled the expected devastating flooding and destruction, many residents defied mandatory evacuation orders and stocked up on food, fuel and sandbags, drawing the ire of local authorities. "We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number," Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios told reporters Friday, according to media reports. "We hate to talk about things like that. It's not something we like to do Continue Reading

Three mentally disabled brothers dead in house fire; cops treating case as homicides after finding flammable liquid

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — Three mentally disabled brothers were found dead in a house fire that appears to have been fueled by a flammable liquid in several spots. The deaths are being treated as homicides because of the discovery of the flammable liquid. Police haven't ruled out that one or more of the brothers may have started the blaze Thursday in Shenango Township, and stressed that there's no immediate threat to the public. Richard Fombelle, 57; Robert Fombelle, 56; and Daniel Fombelle, 50, had lived alone in the home since their mother died. Nearly everyone else who lives on the secluded, dead-end road is related, including the men's aunt, who lives next door. Family members contacted Friday declined to comment. "The aunt next door could smell smoke around 5 o'clock this morning," state police Cpl. Jeffrey Martin said Thursday. "They investigated in her house and couldn't find anything. It wasn't until 7:30 (a.m.) when someone passing the house actually saw the fire." A relative who called 911 said the brothers were mentally disabled, but police and family members haven't specified their disabilities. Township fire officials initially said they found nobody inside the house, even after searching the basement. The bodies were found hours later, close to one another in a portion of the basement not immediately accessible, police said. Autopsies were expected Friday, though investigators suspect the men died from smoke inhalation, Lt. Eric Hermick said. Police couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday, but they told reporters at the scene that the case is suspicious and being treated as a homicide case pending further tests on the evidence and more investigation. A dog trained to assist in arson investigations determined the fuel used to start the fire also was found inside a vehicle outside the home that burned. Some fuel was spilled outside the Continue Reading

Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico at Category 4 with 155 mph winds

Update, 6:30 a.m.Hurricane Maria is just 35 miles from Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, and is packing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph as it makes first landfall on the island near Yabucoa, on the southeast coast.The National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm touched down around 6:15 a.m. and will pass through the entirety of the island before continuing up near the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday.Maria is moving northwest at 10 mph, bringing wind gusts of up to 113 mph to the area of Yabucoa Harbor, the city reported.  Original Story:As two storms churn in the Atlantic, Floridians are reminded that hurricane season isn't over yet. Hurricane MariaAn "extremely dangerous" and "still strengthening" Hurricane Maria is set to hit Puerto Rico by tomorrow. Days after forming, Maria now boasts 175 mph winds and is 165 miles away from San Juan. Maria could bring storm surges between 6 and 9 feet to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Maria made landfall on the island of Dominica Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds of 160 mph, before briefly downgrading to Category 4 with 155 mph winds as it moved over the island. Maria's Category 5 strength returned Tuesday morning. The latest forecast cone for Maria shows the storm tearing through Puerto Rico Tuesday and into Wednesday before moving northwest over or just north of the Bahamas on Friday and into the weekend.The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are under a hurricane warning, and dangerous flash floods and mudslides are expected with heavy rainfall. Gabordi: Tell us your stories of kindness, courage and heroism during Irma More: A week after Irma, cleanup, hope for power continues Maria began as Tropical Cyclone 15 on Saturday before organizing into a tropical storm by the evening that day. By 5 p.m. Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma slams Cuba, takes aim at South Florida as Category 4

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Hurricane Irma was downgraded to Category 4 status early Saturday as the storm slammed Cuba with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, the National Hurricane Center confirmed.As of 5 a.m. ET Saturday, the eye of the storm was still moving over Cuba's Camaguey Archipelago, the National Hurricane Center said. The center of the storm was located about 245 miles south-southeast of Miami and was moving to the west at 12 mph, the National Hurricane Center added.Authorities pleaded with residents of the Florida Keys to evacuate in the few remaining hours before Hurricane Irma’s arrival, warning that storm surges and high winds pose a particular risk to the string of low-lying sandbar islands tailing off Florida’s southern tip. Officials also scrambled to provide fuel for hundreds of thousands of residents trying to flee northward or to local shelters."This is a catastrophic storm the state has never seen before," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said as he made another plea for residents to heed evacuation warnings. “If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk," he said, according to The Associated Press.Miami International Airport announced on Twitter that "there were no scheduled flights for Saturday and Sunday," adding that the last flight departed late Friday night. More: Hurricane Irma: Where is the Category 5 storm now Related: Florida volunteers step in to prepare for Hurricane Irma Current tracking shows the center of the storm moving near Cuba's north coast on Saturday, near the Florida Keys early Sunday morning, and then traveling near the southwest coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.Forecasters warned that its hurricane-force winds were so wide they could reach from coast to coast, testing the Continue Reading

Hurricane Katia weakens to a Category 3 storm after briefly becoming a Category 4

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Katia has weakened to a Category 3 storm as it moves across the Atlantic Ocean after briefly becoming a Category 4 system.U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Katia's maximum sustained winds early Tuesday have decreased to near 125 mph (205 kph). The hurricane center says some fluctuation in strength is possible over the next 24 hours followed by slow weakening.U.S. in the coming week, but the hurricane center says large swells from the hurricane could affect the East Coast, Bermuda, the Greater Antilles and parts of the Bahamas over the next few days. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Florida teen doused with flammable liquid and set on fire; 3 juveniles held

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - A 15-year-old was badly burned after other teens doused him with a flammable liquid and set him on fire. Authorities were investigating whether he was attacked because he had stopped someone from stealing his father's bicycle the day before. Michael Brewer was hospitalized with burns over three-quarters of his body after the attack at a Deerfield Beach apartment complex Monday afternoon. Three juveniles were in custody, but their names and ages were not released. The boy's brother-in-law, Danny Martinez, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Michael is in serious condition but doing okay. Michael was burned on his torso and arms, Broward County sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said. Family members said most of his hair, including his eyelashes, had also been burned off. He had refused to attend classes at Deerfield Beach Middle School on Monday because of an incident Sunday when he stopped someone from stealing his father's bicycle, Martinez said. A juvenile was arrested Sunday, but authorities don't know whether that arrest was connected to the attack, Leljedal said. Instead of going to school, Michael went to the apartment complex to visit a friend. He told deputies that while he was sitting by the swimming pool, he was splashed with a flammable liquid and set ablaze. A neighbor heard his screams for help and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said Malissa Durkee, Michael's sister. The teen then ripped off his shirt and jumped into the pool. Michael is expected to remain hospitalized for five months, Martinez said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading