Hurricane Jose becomes a Category 4 storm as Irma continues wreaking havoc

Hurricane Jose — the storm forming in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Irma — was upgraded to Category 4 status, the National Hurricane Center said Friday. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane recorded Jose’s winds topping out at 150-mph, and the storm is considered “extremely dangerous.” Jose presents a new danger as it moves 18 mph toward the Leeward Islands. Antigua and Barbuda, already ravaged by Irma this week, are back on hurricane watch. “I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to know that further damage is imminent,” said Frankie Thomas, an inspector with the Royal Air Force of Antigua and Barbuda. The same is true for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, two French territories in the Caribbean that were also decimated by Irma. Projections indicate Jose could hit the islands by Saturday. Puerto Rico, where three people were killed this week amid Irma’s wrath, currently expected to dodge the fame fate from Jose. The storm will likely head north and to the east once it hits the Virgin Islands, go into the Atlantic Ocean and lose strength. Irma, which has killed at least 13 people, was downgraded to a Category 4 storm Friday morning. Its winds and storm surge are still considered menacing, however, as it plows toward Florida. It’s the first time two Atlantic Ocean storms were recorded with 150-mph winds at the same time, Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach tweeted Friday. With News Wire Services Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma slams Turks and Caicos, weakens to Category 4 on path to Florida

CAIBARIEN, Cuba  — Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday and Cuba evacuated tourists from beachside resorts as the fearsome storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed at least 11 people, with Florida in its sights. Waves as high as 20 feet (6 meters) were expected in the Turks and Caicos. Communications went down as the storm slammed into the islands, and the extent of the devastation was unclear. The first hurricane warnings were issued for parts of southern Florida as the state braced for what could be a catastrophic hit over the weekend. Following in Irma’s wake was Hurricane Jose, with some of the islands hit hardest by Irma in its expected path. Irma weakened from a Category 5 storm to Category 4 on Friday morning with maximum sustained winds near 155 mph (250 kph), but it remained a powerful hurricane. Irma rolled past the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday and spun along the northern coast of Cuba on Friday morning. Thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the Cuban coast Thursday in anticipation of 20-foot storm surges. Buses loaded with tourists began streaming out of Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and other keys dotted with all-inclusive resorts. All residents of the area were under mandatory evacuation orders from the Cuban government, which was moving tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastline. French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands where at least 11 people were dead and thousands homeless. Warships and planes were sent with food, water and troops after the hurricane smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world’s most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations. The first islands hit by the storm were scenes of terrible destruction. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday that four people were confirmed dead and Continue Reading

Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm with more than 130 mph winds

The worst storm to strike the U.S. in more than a dozen years strengthened Friday as it barreled into the Texas Gulf Coast with lashing rains and screaming winds clocking in at more than 130 miles per hour. Hurricane Harvey, upgraded to a Category 4 storm, is expected to bring catastrophic flooding and ravaging winds, officials warned. It made landfall just north of Corpus Christi around 9:45 p.m. “Texas is about to have a very significant disaster,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long.   After the initial storm surge, the massive system was expected to pretty much park itself in the region and dump biblical rains for up to a week, experts said. “It’s unprecedented,” Dr. Marshall Shepherd, former president of the American Meteorological Society, told the Daily News Friday. “It’s going to just sit and spin and spin and dump rain for up to seven days.” He said the hardest-hit coastal areas could get 3 to 4 feet of rain while highly populated Houston could get drenched with 2 feet.   “For Houston, even 2 feet could be catastrophic because it’s already flood-prone with lots of impervious surfaces and parking lots,” he said. Shepherd said the fact that Harvey will possibly hold over one area for so long sets it apart from other highly damaging storms like Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, and Sandy, which walloped New York and New Jersey in 2012.   “The difference is night and day,” he told The News. “Most of the damage associated with Sandy was from storm surge and flooding coming in from the ocean.” Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people, wreaked havoc on the Big Easy after toppling levees. Harvey’s sustained 130 mph winds and storm surges up to 12 feet could 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

Meteorological monsters: Only 3 Category-5 hurricanes have ever hit the U.S.

It's been 25 years since a Category 5 hurricane struck the U.S., and Irma could potentially become just the fourth storm of that strength to barrel into the states.Hurricane Irma is a monster storm in the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph. Only one Atlantic hurricane on record, Allen in 1980, contained stronger winds, at 190 mph. The only Category 5 hurricanes to hit the U.S. are Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969 and an unnamed storm in 1935. Hurricane Irma: What we know now and where it's headed next Emergency kits: How to prepare for a hurricane After tearing through the Caribbean, Irma could potentially slam into the U.S. by the weekend or early next week. However, it's expected — for now — to lose some steam, becoming a Category 4 before it nears the U.S.The five hurricane categories of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale are defined solely by wind speed, and don't take storm surge, heavy rain or barometric pressure into account. Any hurricane with winds of 157 mph or greater is a Category 5. More: How your smartphone can help in an emergency More: What you need to know about flood insurance These monster storms cause "catastrophic damage," the National Hurricane Center said. Category 5 hurricanes destroy a high percentage of homes, often causing total roof failure and wall collapses. Fallen trees and power poles isolate residential areas. Power outages last for weeks or months. And areas can be uninhabitable for the same time frame. 1935 'Labor Day' hurricaneThe strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S. roared into the Florida Keys on Sept. 2, 1935. The storm was later nicknamed the Florida Keys or Labor Day hurricane because of where and when it hit. The hurricane rushed ashore as a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 185 mph as it crossed the Florida Keys between Key West and Miami.The Continue Reading

All eyes on Hurricane Irma as storm hits Category 4

While it's still too early to predict an exact track for Hurricane Irma, forecasters have a message for residents of the East and Gulf coasts: Start preparing now.Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday afternoon declared a state of emergency for the state's 67 counties. He issued the executive order to give local governments time, resources and flexibility to prepare for Irma, now a Category 4 hurricane. Tuesday updates: Hurricane Irma strengthens to Category 5 storm, Irma "could go through quickly or slowly," AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel said. "We're not sure." Still, he suggested people in the potential line of the storm take action. "Have emergency supplies ready," he said. Retail traffic across Florida's Treasure Coast, north of Miami, indicated residents were doing just that. By Monday afternoon, shelves of water had been emptied at Walmart in Vero Beach, and a water-filling station stayed busy at Peter's Hardware Center in Palm City.Mark Dixon said he had wanted to spend Labor Day grilling thick ribeye steaks in his Stuart, Fla., backyard.“I’m not worried about the hurricane,” Dixon said. “But my wife is.”So instead of manning his grill, Dixon joined other Stuart residents standing in a long line at the propane stand outside B&A Flea Market, picking up their tanks and inching them forward every few moments.Across the Florida peninsula, electrical contractor Randy Lossa of Fort Myers was watching Irma's progress closely. He had stopped at Home Depot to buy some wood to build his stepdaughter a platform bed.“We don’t prepare until three days prior,” the veteran hurricane survivor said. “So much could change. We’ve been following it.”Lossa said, because of his job, he already has a generator and he and his wife stocked up on water earlier in the season. Any other preparations will wait until the storm's path is Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida Keys as Category 4 storm

MIAMI — Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday at Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys as a mammoth, Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.The storm marks the first time in U.S. history that two consecutive Category 4 hurricanes have hit the U.S., following Hurricane Harvey in Texas last month. Irma also represents Florida's first major hurricane landfall since Wilma in 2005.Irma will make at least one more official landfall along the west coast or panhandle of Florida during the day Sunday or early Monday. The monstrous storm's northern eyewall reached the lower Florida Keys early Sunday, and a  weather station in on Key West measured a gust of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said at 9 a.m.Earlier Sunday, the National Weather Service tweeted "the worst winds are yet to come." Irma was forecast to pick up speed later Sunday, and the storm's eye was expected to move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight. Irma should then move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia on Monday afternoon, the hurricane center said.Hours earlier, a shift in its projected track put the Tampa Bay area in line for a direct hit and triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for another quarter-million people. The new track, farther west than earlier projections, would make the Tampa-St. Petersburg area the bullseye for a major hurricane for the first time in almost a century.Forecasters warned of 10- to 15-foot storm surges in the Naples area and 5 to 8 feet around Tampa-St. Petersburg.Irma had been downgraded to a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds but gained strength as it crossed the warm waters between Cuba and the Keys. The National Hurricane Center said major hurricane winds were expected over the Florida Keys by daybreak with the eye arriving mid-morning."THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS," the National Weather Service said in a tweet. "NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE."Wind Continue Reading

Category 4 Hurricane Earl menaces East Coast; set to soak Labor Day weekend

Hurricane Earl began to menace the East Coast Tuesday, stirring up the seas and promising a soggy and potentially dangerous Labor Day weekend. The Category 4 storm is not expected to make landfall, but will howl up the Eastern Seaboard at week's end, bringing high waves, soaking rains and damaging winds. "We do not have a forecasted landfall but we do expect impacts along the coast," said Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate. "Evacuations may be required if storm doesn't turn," he said. "Today is the day to make sure you have your family disaster plans, that you check your supplies." A hurricane watch - one step down from a warning - is likely to be posted later today for parts of the mid-Atlantic coast, according to the Weather Service. The city could begin to feel the first effects of the storm as early as Thursday night, but the worst will come Friday and into Saturday, forcasters say. The current model only gives New York a 5%-10% chance of facing winds over 75 mph, but even tropical force winds can wreck havoc. A fierce thunderstorm knocked down nearly 100 trees in Central Park last August and a rainstorm this March cut power to more than a million people in the tristate area. "I don't think there's anybody at the shore right now who doesn't understand that a hurricane is coming up the coast," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) asked the Army Corps of Engineers to look out for damage to the Belt Parkway and homes along the Brooklyn and Queens coast. At 11 a.m., Earl was 1,070 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras and moving northwest at 14 mph. The storm was 200 miles wide and packing sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, with far stronger gusts. Airports across the Caribbean were closed, stranding vacationers in Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Power was out on the islands of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. Earl will hit the northeast Continue Reading

‘Lemonade for Texas:’ Oak Creek kids spend last days of summer vacation raising money for Hurricane Harvey victims

OAK CREEK - Just a few days before the first day of school, kids in Oak Creek spent some of their last hours of summer vacation helping out victims of Hurricane Harvey.  "We had school orientation last night. It's so busy," said Amy Szymanski. "But we were like, you know what, people in Texas would be thrilled to be worried about things like school orientation right now." Szymanski wanted to do something after seeing the devastation that has raged in southeast Texas from Hurricane Harvey, impacting many people whom she knows from work.The Category 4 hurricane hit the state Aug. 25 and has caused around $180 billion worth of damage, according to early estimates. So, Szymanski decided to reach out to local moms on Facebook to see if they and their kids wanted to join in helping raise money for victims of the record-breaking storm. In just a day, dozens of people were ready to help.  Related: Charting Hurricane Harvey's jaw-dropping size and destruction Related: Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas. See the wreckage from a drone "I think it's horrible," said Avery LaMere, 13. "I'm glad I can help do anything I can." LaMere and his friends set up a coffee stand at 6:45 a.m. Aug. 31 and 15 minutes later he said they had already started getting a rush. By the end of the morning, they had raised $300. Later that afternoon, when they were selling lemonade, the total rose to more than $500. Other families had also set up lemonade and juice stands in their neighborhoods that afternoon, with all the donations going straight to help victims of Harvey through a GoFundMe page."I think everybody wants to do something, but nobody really knows how to do it and how to do it so the money gets to where they want to go," Continue Reading

Houston Strong: Astros deliver first World Series championship to post-hurricane Houston

LOS ANGELES – Just moments after he grabbed the World Series MVP trophy, celebrating the Astros’ first championship, George Springer referenced the patch on his jersey, with his franchise’s iconic star and “H” at the center.Houston Strong became a rallying cry and, many in southwest Texas hope, a destiny.“I’m so happy to be a part of it, to bring a championship back to a city that desperately needed one,” said Springer, who hit a record five home runs in the series.This was a World Series triumph like few others, where narrative met reality and the Astros managed to do what they stated, but perhaps never fully believed themselves: Win a championship for a region devastated by Hurricane Harvey. MORE FROM GAME 7 Nightengale: Astros complete stunning rise, win World Series Correa proposes to girlfriend after winning title Fans hit Corpus Christi stores for gear after team clinches After Harvey, Astros knew they were playing for Houston and beyond And not long after the Astros’ 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7, it was announced the victory parade would be held Friday in Houston. While the route won’t include streets flooded by Harvey, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner credited the Astros for giving “thousands of people having to rebuild, repair their homes” a much-needed distraction and sense of pride.Winning the World Series wasn’t everything – the city still faces a long recovery – but it was big.“For the city of Houston, this was personal,” Turner said at a Thursday news conference in Houston. “It has been personal. This was a ‘we’ moment for the city of Houston. This World Series - this championship by the Astros - has brought this city together like never before. Everyone was rooting for a singular purpose and that was for the Astros to win.”The Category 4 hurricane brought winds in excess of 130 Continue Reading