WINTER OF 2001-2002

by  Dee Finney



Midwest Storm Blamed for 15 Deaths
Thu Jan 31, 5:27 PM ET

By JOSH FREED, Associated Press Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Commuters battled ice-glazed roads and heavy snow Thursday after the year's first real blast of winter weather swept across the Plains and Great Lakes. At least 15 deaths have been blamed on the slick roads and freezing temperatures.

  Heavy snow and freezing rain stranded airline passengers, shut down schools and left thousands without electricity across the Midwest on Thursday. The Michigan Legislature called off its session after forecasters warned freezing rain would continue into evening.

About 270,000 customers were without power in the Kansas City area, 200,000 lost power in Oklahoma, and at least 63,000 others were without power in Michigan and Indiana.

"That makes this easily the worst storm we have ever experienced," said Kansas City Power and Light spokesman Tom Robinson. "We need our customers to be prepared that this could last several days."

The storm had dumped 17 inches of snow on O'Hare International Airport in Chicago by early Thursday, causing some cancellations and delays. Northwest Airlines and United canceled all Wednesday flights in and out of Kansas City International Airport; Delta scrubbed some flights, and more delays were expected Thursday.

The blustery weather interrupted an unseasonably warm winter, with several states reaching record highs just days earlier.

"Winter is back," said Dennis Burkheimer of the Iowa Department of Transportation. "Put away the golf clubs."

The National Weather Service said the storm system, centered over the Mississippi Valley, would move northeast through the day and night pushing more snow, sleet and freezing rain into New York.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden declared a state of emergency for the west-central and northern parts of the state, giving the areas access to state funds. Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes also declared a state of emergency; city officials estimated they had spent $1 million already on the storm.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating declared disasters in 27 counties, allowing state funds to be used for aid.

"I urge anyone in areas hit by this ice and sleet storm to stay off the roads if possible," Keating said.

Oklahoma officials said entire cities were without power, as heavy ice toppled trees and downed power lines. Shelters were set up for those without heat. In Perry, decades-old elm and pecan trees snapped under the coating of ice and littered the streets.

"All you could do was hear these trees snap and crack. Some of them sounded like shotguns," said resident Blanche Hunt.

Hundreds of schools were closed Thursday in Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and New York.

Parts of Iowa had up to 13 inches of snow by early Thursday, with up to 8 more inches forecast in parts of the state. More than a foot of snow fell across New Mexico's high country.

Kansas Gov. Bill Graves closed state offices, and the Legislature canceled meetings, the first time weather kept state lawmakers home in nearly four years. Graves said state buildings would open late Thursday, and New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson also told state workers to report late for work.

In Indiana, an ice storm knocked down trees and power lines.

"When it was dark you could see blue flashes around my neighborhood ... line breakers or transformers exploding," said Dave Miller, mayor of Elkhart, Ind. "It almost looked like blue lightening."

Branches crashing through power lines created a 10-fold risk of fires in Kansas City, Fire Chief Smokey Dyer said.

The National Weather Service also issued a flood watch for southeast Missouri, where forecasters worried that steady rains on top of saturated soil would create flooding.

At least 14 people died in traffic accidents that were blamed on the weather, including three people in Nebraska, three in Oklahoma, three in Illinois, two in Kansas, two in Iowa and one in Missouri.

In California, an elderly woman who wandered from a nursing home was found dead of apparent exposure as a rare dusting of snow arrived in Malibu and other low-lying areas of Southern California.

While drivers and air travelers had complaints, others enjoyed winter's arrival.

Georgia Batchos, of the Chicago suburb of Monee, said she plowed her driveway twice but found the snow delightful.

"It's beautiful. I was admiring everything falling down and settling on the branches," she said.

Tuesday January 29 5:55 PM ET

Storms in Europe Kill at Least 17

By SUE LEEMAN, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Powerful gales battered northern Europe, killing at least 17 people as the wind ripped roofs off houses, disrupted traffic and shipping and left thousands of homes without power Tuesday.

Winds gusting at up to 120 mph tore through Britain and Ireland on Monday before heading across Scandinavia, Germany, Poland and Russia overnight, meteorologists reported.

In Britain, seven people died in gales that centered on northern England and Scotland. Scottish Hydroelectric said 8,000 homes remained without electricity Tuesday.

Engineers worked through the night to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes after high winds closed bridges, caused numerous road accidents and brought the area's rail network to a virtual standstill.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued 12 flood warnings while the Environment Agency had 23 flood warnings in force across Wales and England.

In Scotland, two people died when the wind overturned tractor-trailers, and a man was killed and a woman injured by a falling tree outside a hotel.

In northern England, two drivers and a passenger were killed in three accidents in which trucks were blown over or off the road. A woman was killed by a piece of stone carving that fell from a church in York.

In northern Germany, gales brought down trees and tore the roofs from a number of buildings including a 32,000 square-foot hall in the port city of Bremen, where a man was killed by a flying tree branch. Another man was killed when he lost control of his car in high wind and hit a truck.

Falling trees killed a man in Oranienburg, near Berlin, and a 78-year-old woman in Wuelfrath, near Duesseldorf. In Travemuende, on the Baltic coast, the wind blew a ferry into a tugboat and both ran aground.

Rescuers were searching for a motorist whose car was swept off a road by floodwater from the river Main near Coburg.

In western Poland, two men were killed when their car hit a fallen tree, and one person was killed by a falling tree. In Konon, a lamp post fell on a woman riding a bicycle, killing her.

Two thousand Polish communities remained without electricity Tuesday.

In the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, two people were killed when high winds blew a tree onto their car.

In Scandinavia, high winds felled trees and electricity poles and disrupted shipping, but no one was reported injured.  

Cold Rain/Snow Northwest,Warm Cen U.S.
Fri Jan 25, 8:02 PM ET

James Wilson, Sr. Meteorologist


A strong and very cold system will dominate much of the West this weekend. Western Washington and northwest Oregon have picked up 1 to nearly 4 inches of rain in the last 48 hours while the Cascades have added several additional feet of snow. The leading edge of the rain will move into central California overnight and Saturday and into southern California Saturday night and Sunday. Snow levels will drop to a very low few hundred feet in western Washington and 500 feet in western Oregon. The Cities of Seattle and Portland will have their first snow of the season. There is a snowfall potential of 2 to 4 inches around the hilly terrain of Seattle with such low snow levels. Will we see snow showers around the Space Needle in Seattle? It is a possibility with this cold system. Snow levels in northern California will drop from 4000 feet now to 1000 feet on Saturday and 500 feet by Sunday morning. Snow levels in central California will drop from 6000 feet now to 3000 feet Sunday and possibly as low as 1000 feet by early Monday. Winter storm warnings are in effect for the Siskiyous and the Sierra. In southern California, snow levels will drop from 6000 feet over the first half of the weekend to 4000 feet by Monday. As the cold air continues to come in aloft, thundershowers are possible in western portions of Washington and Oregon overnight into Saturday. Snow also will continue to increase over the Great Basin and the northern and central Rockies. Winter storm warnings are in effect for the mountains of Idaho and Montana. Strong chinook winds continue in Montana and Wyoming. Livingston, Mont., has gusted as high as 75 mph. Winds are gusting to over 50 mph in Wyoming. The winds will diminish this weekend but an arctic high will dive into Montana and Wyoming bringing back a real winter chill!


The torrential rains of Wednesday and Thursday have dwindled to showers along the Southeast Coast and northern Florida. While Tennessee and Mississippi remain swamped with only gradually receding flood waters, the 1-to-2.5-inch rains in drought-ridden northern Georgia and northwest South Carolina certainly helped the surface moisture and helped the water sheds feeding Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell. Except for a few residual showers in coastal Georgia and northeast Florida, the South will be dry through Monday. Temperatures will be on the rise to spring-like levels over the weekend. Colder air will then move into Oklahoma and the Ozarks on Tuesday and into Texas and Tennessee midweek. Heavy rains and possibly strong thunderstorms will redevelop from eastern Texas and Louisiana to Tennessee with the possibility for a wintry mix of precipitation in the southern Plains. The rain will likely sweep into the Southeast by Thursday.


A quiet pattern will lock in with only a few snow showers possible over the weekend in northern New England and northern New York. High temperatures will continue to be 10 to 15 degrees above average, and will leave everyone wondering what ever happened to winter. By the middle of the upcoming week some wet and eventually wintry weather could move in, as the western storm gradually shifts eastward. This new storm will bring a new batch of overdue arctic air back into the picture by the end of the week. The ski areas will appreciate that but will your wallet for your heating bill like that? So far we have been getting by with little need for major heat. That will change as mother nature reminds us that Ole Man Winter is waiting in the wings in Canada and Alaska.


Enjoy the warm now... ARCTIC AIR IS ON THE HORIZON! The Midwest is enjoying record mild temperatures, some 30 degrees or more above average in some locations. The arctic air though is lurking just over the Canadian border. As a disturbances comes out of the western Pacific storm, low-pressure areas will move from the plains to Michigan, each one pulling down more arctic air. The arctic air will take firm control of the Dakotas and northern Minnesota by Monday and a modified version will ooze southward and eastward into northern Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Michigan. A band of heavy snow will streak from the Dakotas to Lake Superior at the opening of the workweek. Colder air will continue to spread across the Midwest Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing the chance for snow and mixed precipitation into the central Plains, Mid-Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes and northern Ohio Valley.

Thursday January 24 11:50 PM ET

Three Dead in Southern Rainstorms

By DAVE BRYAN, Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A storm system blamed for the deaths of three people in Tennessee continued to dump heavy rain Thursday across the South, swelling creeks and rivers and closing numerous roads.

Emergency workers in Lauderdale County, in northern Alabama, evacuated residents whose homes were surrounded by rising water. The county got 4 inches of rain Wednesday and 3 more Thursday.

``Time is going to cure this for us,'' said George Grabryan, Lauderdale emergency management chief. ``It's just a matter of letting that water go where it needs to go.''

Locations north of Birmingham have received up to 7 inches since last Saturday, said John de Block, a National Weather Service  meteorologist. He said the system would move into Georgia and Florida by sunrise Friday.

In Tennessee, canoers found the body of a woman who apparently drowned after leaving her car to look at a swollen creek that was crossing a road. The creek had been as high as 6 feet over the road Wednesday.

``It appears she came up close to check the depth of the water,'' Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe said Thursday.

On Wednesday, a city worker in Cookeville was swept away while trying to unclog a flooded drainage pipe. A man who stopped to help also died.

Forecasters said several rivers throughout the region would flood their banks through the weekend.

Friday January 18 10:13 PM EST

Study: Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Thickening, Not Thinning

A series of troubling reports in recent years have suggested Antarctica is warming and shedding its ice shelves at an alarming rate.

But a new study that used a highly precise image-snapping satellite suggests at least one prominent ice sheet — the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — is in fact getting thicker.

The report, plus other work finding that desert valleys on the continent have cooled recently, appear to contradict predictions that global warming is melting the continent's massive ice reservoirs.

This may seem like good news, but scientists say: Don't count on it. They warn other ice sheets continue to shrink even as this one thickens.

"There's no question that some parts of Antarctica are warming," said Ian Joughin, a geologist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "But it could be this part of the ice sheet is not necessarily sensitive to global warming."

Details of the study by Joughin and Slawek Tulaczyk, a professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. are published in this week's issue of the journal Science .

Mighty Ice Rivers

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough ice to raise sea levels more than 16 feet if it were to melt. Recent concern has centered on whether all or part of this contribution might break off from the continent and flow rapidly into the ocean. Such a rise could flood coastal regions and submerge islands.

One way to measure the mass of an ice sheet is to compare how quickly ice flows into and out of it via ice streams. Ice streams are sections of ice and snow ranging 20-60 miles wide that grind along slippery, muddy beds at an average speed of about a half mile a year.

By measuring ice flow speeds at entrance and exit points of the ice sheets, Joughin and his team determined that one ice stream — Ice Stream C — has ground to a halt while another — the Whillans Ice Stream — has dramatically slowed its drainage into the sea.

If true, that would mean more ice is flowing in than out and the ice sheet's thinning or "purging" phase that has been in effect for the past 12,000 years is now in the process of reversing into a "binge" phase.

As Richard Alley, an ice scientist at Pennsylvania State University wrote in an accompanying Science column, "Perhaps … researchers turned on their instruments just in time to catch the stabilization or re-advance of the ice sheet."

But why would a 60-mile-wide ice stream suddenly grind to a halt? Joughin suspects it's part of a natural cycle.

Slipping on Mud, Stopping on Gravel

After churning large amounts of snow and ice into the sea, he explains, an ice stream thins and loses insulating layers of snow. Those insulating layers normally serve to trap heat from the Earth's core and melt water. As the layers thin, lubricating water refreezes and the flow of snow and ice slows.

"Think of it like sliding on mud versus sliding on gravel," said Joughin. "There's a big difference."

If its ice stream has indeed slowed for good, the Ross Ice Sheet will thicken as long as new ice continues flowing in — and that's exactly what appears to be happening. That would be promising news, if not for another nearby ice sheet — the Pine Island Glacier — where satellite studies revealed last February that about 7.5 cubic miles of ice had eroded in just eight years.

Results from another study — release just last week — showed that air temperatures recorded over a 14-year period ending in 1999 declined by one degree Fahrenheit. The cooling defies a global trend spanning more than 100 years in which average land surface temperatures have increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. The scientists could not explain why Antarctica, alone, is cooling, but they point out 14 years is barely a blink in geological time scales.

So scientists are still left wondering if Antarctica's ice is thickening or thinning, warming or cooling … or both.

"It could be that only time can tell," said Abbey. "We just haven't been watching long enough."

Wednesday January 16 4:06 AM ET

Indonesia's Sumatra Flood Death Toll Climbs to 13

MEDAN, Indonesia (Reuters) - The death toll from floods in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra has climbed to 13 with at least five people still missing, officials said Wednesday.

A two-day downpour subsided Tuesday around the provincial capital of Medan but many fear floods will return with further rain because hillsides have been stripped of trees.

``Up until this morning the death toll so far is at 13. Our priority today is to search for the missing five,'' provincial spokesman Edy Sofyan told reporters in Medan, some 885 miles northwest of Jakarta.

Sofyan and other officials have blamed illegal logging for flooding in Sumatra, which also killed at least three people late last month. Logging was a factor when floods hit Nias, a small island off Sumatra, several months ago and killed dozens.

The recent flooding hit areas around Medan but did not reach the more remote palm and rubber plantations dotting this commodity-rich province.

Only some plantations near the Asahan river bank were flooded but traders were more concerned about transportation problems.

``If the water stays high only for one or two days it will not have much impact on the rubber trees. But the damaged roads have delayed transportation of materials,'' said Sarbaini from the Indonesian Rubber Association (Gapkindo) chapter in Medan.

North Sumatra is Indonesia's biggest producing area of rubber and palm oil. It also produces coffee and cocoa.

Indonesia is the world's second largest producer of rubber and palm oil, the third for cocoa and the fourth for coffee.

Friday January 4, 12:00 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Page Update

Weather Alertฎ 2000 Is First ``Homeland Security'' Emergency Warning Receiver

NASHVILLE, TN--(INTERNET WIRE)--Jan 04, 2002-- A new "homeland security" personal emergency warning technology has been introduced to inform Americans about the ongoing terrorism attacks against the United States as well as alert them to imminent local weather emergencies.

Weather Alert(R) 2000 is the nation's first digital receiver for weather warnings and civil emergency messages. It is considered as the "next generation" in NOAA Weather Radio, using a combination of satellite and 900 MHz Flex(R) technology that offers numerous advantages over current analog weather radios, email-based alerting systems, and telephone dial-up notification programs.

"In less than 90 seconds, it broadcasts all urgent watches and warnings from the National Weather Service and emergency messages from the U.S. Emergency Alert System," stated Mike Harris of Page Update, Inc., the national wireless data service that just launched Weather Alert 2000.

"We also distribute urgent bulletins from our own operations center, which includes input from emergency management officials from across the US. It is the only national early-warning system of its kind."

Weather & Civil Emergencies

Residential users as well as schools, hospitals, and businesses will now have instant access to real-time, localized severe weather alerts. These include tornado, hurricane, flash flood, thunderstorm, and winter storm warnings.

National alerts, advisories, and civil emergency messages might include warnings about the anthrax and related terrorism attacks against the U.S. Other localized incidents involving hazardous materials, fires and explosions, and related technological and air-quality emergencies affecting public health and safety also are disseminated.

Compact, Desktop Receiver

The receiver is a compact (4" high by 3 1/2" wide by 1 1/2" deep) self-contained desktop unit with an AC power adapter and battery back-up for power failures. Operated on its included four AAA batteries, it is also portable/mobile.

Subscribers pay $9.95 monthly for the 24/7 Page Update monitoring service; Weather Alert 2000 sells for $129.95 suggested retail. Purchase and product information can be found on the company's website at www.pageupdate.com (or by toll-free phone at 800-743-4989).

Users can easily program Weather Alert 2000 for up to 16 different counties across the country. This enables keeping track of a home location, nearby counties where bad weather originates, business locations, a vacation home, and travel destinations as well as the homes of distant family members, relatives and friends.

Upon receiving a warning, Weather Alert 2000 sounds a very loud 85 dB alert tone for 30 seconds and flashes a high-intensity red LED indicator. It features an eight-line display on an oversized, backlit LCD screen for the message text with an alert time stamp and a large digital clock display with alarm.

Owners of alphanumeric pagers, cellphones, PDAs and other wireless devices also can subscribe to the Page Update alerting system.

 Jesse Rotman
 The Rooster Group





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