Monday, January 24, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Residents of a string of towns in the north-west of Australia's Victoria state were evacuating their homes Monday as flood defenses failed in the face of waters flowing towards the continent's largest river. Around 60 towns across AN AREA LARGER THAN DENMARK to the north-west of the state capital, Melbourne, have been hit by floods as heavy rain from recent weeks makes its way across broad floodplains to the Murray River. Earthworks holding back river waters were collapsing in some areas, bringing fast-flowing inundations of towns in the farming region. "The levees are failing. Water is entering the area now. The area will be inundated in the next 12 hours," Victoria's State Emergency Service said in a flood bulletin issued to residents of Murrabit West early Monday. The town is trapped between the Murray and one of its minor tributaries.
Evacuees were being diverted towards flood relief centers in towns near Swan Hill, a city of around 10,000 on the Murray's south bank where floodwaters from the Murray and its tributary the Loddon are expected to mingle and peak around Thursday or Friday. Towns in the Loddon Valley including Kerang, with nearly 4,000 residents, were isolated by the rising floodwaters.
Flooding that hit Australia's north-eastern state of Queensland over the past month has affected 28,000 properties and costs could run to 20 billion Australian dollars (US$19.8 billion). The flood disaster is now moving across southeast Victoria state, where driving rains have forced swollen rivers over their banks. The State Emergency Service has warned that a vast inland sea about 55 miles (90 kilometers) long northwest of the Victorian capital of Melbourne will continue coursing inland for the next week until it spills into the Murray River.
The State Emergency Service said Monday that 76 towns in Victoria have been affected by flooding, with 1,770 properties suffering some water damage. Another five to 10 towns are still in the floodwaters' northern path across flat wheat-growing country.

**It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me,
but it can keep him from lynching me,
and I think that's pretty important.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/23/11 -

Cyclone ANTHONY was 581 nmi E of Townsville, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 1573 nmi NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

AUSTRALIA - The wild summer weather, caused by the La Nina phenomenon, was showing no sign of abating, with a cyclone and a tropical low expected to bring more severe conditions. Warnings of strong winds and high seas follow the death of a man at Stanwell Park, south of Sydney, on Friday after a sandbank collapsed and a rip dragged him out to sea. With just over a month left of summer, the Bureau of Meteorology has signalled more wet weather and cyclones are on the way, following record-breaking floods in Queensland and on the east coast. The season has also seen snow on Mount Wellington in Hobart, a heatwave in Perth and hot conditions in Adelaide.
Yesterday, the bureau issued a high seas weather warning for areas off the northeast coast of Queensland as tropical cyclone Anthony lurked in the area. The cyclone was responsible for heavy rainfall on the north Queensland coast at the weekend, and this led to minor flooding of three rivers. The cyclone poses no immediate threat to the Queensland coast and was moving in an easterly direction fairly rapidly at 35km/h.
There is a possibility the cyclone could turn around and head back west tomorrow or Wednesday. More tropical cyclones are expected in March, their peak season.
While the rains have temporarily eased over southern Queensland, further flooding is expected in towns in western Queensland. The weather bureau is warning of high flood levels in the southeast Queensland town of St George until at least the end of this week, while flood levels further downstream at Dirranbandi and Hebel will remain high well into next month. Floodwaters at St George have dropped slowly over the past fortnight since a peak of 13.2m two weeks ago, but have returned with a peak yesterday of 12.5m.
In the Northern Territory, there was a severe weather warning in place last night as a tropical low approached just off the Kimberley coast. People in the western Darwin-Daly district area were warned to expect damaging winds, heavy rain, ABNORMALLY high tides and large waves.

Tropical Cyclone Wilma passes, no major damage to American Samoa - Little damage was caused by the storm even though the eye of the cyclone hovered over American Samoa for about an hour. Officials started alerting residents of Cyclone Wilma days before it hit. It appears the message was heard with no reports of injuries or major damage. Most of the damage from tropical cyclone wilma affected the eastern side of American Samoa.
"The cyclone came northeast so mostly on the eastern side of the island that was got hit strong." The National Weather Service says winds reached up to 60 miles per hour with higher gusts. There are reports of mudslides and power outages, but overall, the damage from the storm were minor, unlike what happened in September 2009, when an earthquake generated a powerful tsunami, killing several hundred people. The American Samoa Government was criticized for not having a warning siren system. This time, officials made sure to get the word out early about Wilma. Homeland Security officials were ready in case evacuations were ordered. "When we got there people were still in their homes.The shore, I mean the waves, were a little bit high and it really came ashore and it almost got to the houses." As a precaution, officials opened 10 shelters. "Few villages on the east side and few villages on the west that were badly damaged." They expect American Samoa to get more effects of the storm in the coming days. "We are anticipating winds from the northwest and those are usually typical strong gusty winds, I'm sure the clean-up will begin as soon as the west winds get through." Forecasters say Wilma could weaken significantly as it approaches New Zealand.


AUSTRALIA - Authorities ordered evacuations after levees failed about 30km from Kerang, and Swan Hill braced for the worst from a virtual inland sea that stretches 40km across and 90km in length.
As neighbouring communities are evacuated into Swan Hill's fortress against the rising tide which stretches up to 90km, Swan Hill revealed that vital sand bags had been stolen. “We’ve got selfish people out there, who are diminishing the efforts of … most people who have pulled together for the good of everybody. If we win on the front line, we protect everybody (but) if the resources aren’t there, then we’re going to lose. They’ve actually taken sand bags off the levy. We’ve placed piles of sand in strategic locations so we can bolster defences and whole piles of sand have disappeared. As a community leader, I’m absolutely disgusted that someone could do that.”
Swan Hill's 10,000 residents face an anxious wait as a vast inland sea, estimated at more than 3000 sq km in size, approaches the city, while Queensland continues to clean up after their devastating floods. The wait for the expected 4.8m peak later this week was the worst aspect. "There is a level of anxiety. People have seen the images of the Queensland floods on television, but we face a different situation. This is a slow moving mass of water... It's a slow inland sea moving to the Murray River."
Meanwhile the search for victims of the inland tsunami in Queensland's Lockyer Valley continues, with the grisly discovery of a child's remains and another body over the weekend bringing the official toll to 20. As families anxiously wait for news of their missing loved ones, residents and volunteers are continuing the clean-up in devastated towns. Aout 26,000 homes in Brisbane had been damaged by recent flooding and 3000 in Ipswich.
Crops of fruit and vegetables were also decimated by the torrential rain, meaning consumers are likely to be hit with higher prices at the checkout. Big supermarkets are contemplating the mass import of fruit and vegetables to keep prices down instead of supporting Australian producers and selling water-damaged crops. Supermarkets were urged to stock the "ugly but beautiful" food. "Now is the time to be supporting our Australian farmers. Just because there might be some blemishes on the outside of the fruit, doesn't mean it won't taste as good as it normally does." The news comes as Westpac says they could force mortgage customers to buy flood insurance in the wake of the crisis that has engulfed the eastern states and destroyed thousands of Queensland homes. The recovery taskforce continue to work around the clock, cleaning and repairing the worst hit areas.

BRAZIL - Officials in Brazil say more than 800 people are now known to have died in floods and landslides in the south-east of the country this month. More than 400 people are still missing after torrential rain caused whole hillsides to collapse. The Brazilian government has said it will set up an early warning system to alert communities of impending danger. The flooding is considered the WORST NATURAL DISASTER BRAZIL HAS EVER EXPERIENCED.
The worst affected town has 324 dead. The number of missing has been declining as forensic experts identify more bodies, but rescue workers fear the full extent of the disaster is not yet known, with some remote communities still only reachable by helicopter. Funeral workers said some dogs were guarding their owners' graves for days. Volunteers in Rio de Janeiro held an adoption fair in the hope of re-homing some of the 5,000 animals left without owners as a result of the disaster. Emergency workers say their priority is to make sure no new deaths occur. They are warning of the risks of contaminated water.


DID YOU SEE THAT FIREBALL? is seeking reports of a possible fireball or other bright lights in the sky over North America on Jan. 18th around 4 am EST. The area of particular interest extends from Lake Michigan to southern parts of Ontario and upper New York state. Did you see anything? Submit your reports to