A report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that 2011's natural disasters each caused at least $1 billion in damage. Ranging from blizzards to brushfires, the collection of natural phenomena is costing American taxpayers in total $52 billion.
"In many ways, 2011 rewrote the record books," said Chris Vaccaro, a NOAA spokesperson, in an e-mail. "It's taken a huge financial toll with high economic losses and a heavy loss of life with more than 1,000 weather-related fatalities and more than 8,000 people injured."
Vaccaro said his organization has overseen data collection on disasters as varied as blizzards, heat waves and floods since 1980. He said that a major factor in increasing damage and fatalities was La Nina, a cyclical climate pattern that reroutes typical storm patterns, sending them in unfamiliar directions. He said they hit high-population centers they'd normally leave alone. more >>
After nearly two years of serving in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is completing the mission and chaplains are set to come home, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reported Wednesday.
More than 120 chaplains spent 22 months in the devastated country, after arriving in Haiti immediately following the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Chaplains typically stayed for two-week periods and were rotated in and out regularly, said Keith Stiles, deployment manager of the Rapid Response Team.
“We were in clinics, orphanages and school. We worked with Samaritan’s Purse at the shelters … we ministered to Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in the camps at night,” said Stiles. more >>
The 2011 hurricane season ends Wednesday leaving 120 people dead and causing over $11 billion in damage, according to estimates.
The season produced 19 named tropical storms – well above the average of 11 in a given season and representing the third-highest total since records began in 1851, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Seven of the tropical storms grew into hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher with top winds of 111 mph and greater). A tropical storm is named if and when wind speeds reach 39 mph, and a storm is called a hurricane if and when winds reach 74 mph. more >>
Hurricane Rina, which is expected to hit Mexico by Thursday, passed the coast of Honduras Wednesday and is headed towards Yucatan peninsula, according to The Weather Channel's Hurricane Central.
After losing most of its force over Mexico as forecast, Rina might end up reaching southern Florida and staying in the area over the weekend, where it will likely weaken into a tropical storm, experts say.
"Rina's small size means it is impossible today to specify which, if any, land areas on Yucatan will receive hurricane conditions," the channel's hurricane expert, Dr. Rick Knabb, stated on the website. more >>
The Washington Monument, one of the grand attractions in Washington, D.C., will be closed indefinitely, the National Park Service announced Monday.
In August, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake caused more damage to the monument than had previously been disclosed.
Video taken by a security camera during the earthquake showed the monument shaking violently and debris falling from the structure. The scene left visitors scared and running for cover, but there were no injuries caused by the incident. A copy of the video can be seen at http://www.nps.gov/wamo/washington-monument-earthquake-update.htm. more >>
Tropical Storm Maria has emerged from what once was Tropical Depression 14 after it reached storm strength in the eastern Atlantic on Wednesday.
Maria is the 13th named storm of the 2011 hurricane season.
“We’ve got the 13th named storm of the season and it’s in an environment that isn’t conducive to explosive strengthening,” said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, to Bloomberg. “In fact, we have it as a tropical storm through the end of the five-day forecast period.” more >>