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Hurricane Elsa batters the Caribbean and heads towards Haiti

Storm leaves 3 dead, displaces thousands in Philippines

Tropical Storm Alert_1

A tropical storm left at least three people dead and displaced thousands of villagers in the southern and central Philippines, where it triggered floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.

Forecasters said the storm Choi-wan was blowing off Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro province south of Manila on Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph (56 mph). It was moving northwestward and may weaken as it blows toward the South China Sea on Thursday, they said.

At least three people died, including a 14-year-old villager who rushed with her father to a riverbank to rescue their farm animals in intense rain but were swept away by strong currents in Norala town in South Cotabato province. The father remains missing, disaster response officials said.

A baby died in a landslide that hit a mountainous town in southern Davao de Oro province and a 71-year-old man drowned in Davao del Sur province, also in the south, officials said.

Coast guard personnel rescued villagers who were trapped in houses engulfed in rising floodwater, including in Southern Leyte province, where they carried 40 residents, including children, in waist-deep waters to a gymnasium.

More than 2,600 people were displaced, mostly by floods, in 18 southern villages, including about 600 villagers who moved to evacuation centers. Thousands more were evacuated Tuesday from towns prone to floods and volcanic mudflows in Albay province, provincial safety official Cedric Daep said.

Officials also suspended work in Albay and ordered shopping malls closed to prevent people from converging and increasing the risk of coronavirus infections, Daep said.

More than 3,000 passengers and cargo handlers were stranded in central and southern seaports after sea travel was suspended by the coast guard due to stormy weather. A small cargo ship laden with sand and gravel was abandoned by its crew when it started to take in water near Albuera town in central Leyte province. The crew was safe, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

https://tinyurl.com/jfxbr2t6

India lashed by strongest cyclone to ever hit west coast as it reels from Covid disaster

Cyclone Warning Alert

India was slammed on Monday by the strongest storm on record to reach its west coast, hampering authorities’ response to the Covid-19 crisis in some of the country’s hardest hit regions.

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, a storm with wind speeds equivalent to a high-end Category 3 hurricane that formed in the Arabian Sea, made landfall Monday night local time in Gujarat. It strengthened slightly as it hit the western state with maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 mph), according to the United States’ Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

By Tuesday morning, it had weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “severe cyclonic storm,” according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Photos and videos show highways turned into rivers by the heavy rain, and trees and power lines toppled by ferocious winds. The cyclone has killed at least 26 people across the coastal states of Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, according to state authorities.

The deaths were due to drowning at sea, house collapses, lightning strikes and other accidents linked to the severe weather, according to states’ disaster management authorities.

This comes as India reels from its second wave of coronavirus, which has infected millions and killed tens of thousands since it began in mid-March. Though daily case figures began declining over the past week, Covid-related deaths continue to break record highs and the crisis is far from over — especially in rural areas with fewer resources and medical supplies.

Covid patients were among the hundreds of thousands evacuated from low-lying areas this week as the region braced for the cyclone’s arrival. In Mumbai, 580 patients from makeshift care centers were moved to various hospitals on Friday and Saturday, according to the city’s municipal corporation.

It’s not the first time India has dealt with natural disasters during the pandemic — last year, the country faced cyclones in late May and early June that also prompted mass evacuations.

Back then, however, India’s cases were still relatively low, at fewer than 10,000 a day, and the country was emerging from a stringent lockdown.

This time, India is the global epicenter of the pandemic. Its health care system has collapsed and patients are still dying from shortages of oxygen and other supplies. The government is more fragile and under greater scrutiny than before, as it struggles to contain the outbreak while facing heavy criticism both at home and overseas.

And the cyclone could be just the harbinger of more disaster to come, as India’s months-long monsoon season approaches.

Courtesy of cnn.com

https://tinyurl.com/4rcmywuy

Severe dust storm hammers Karachi, Pakistan, leaving 4 dead

Dust Storm Alert

Photo Illustration

A severe dust storm hit parts of Karachi, Pakistan, with gusty winds and dark clouds on Tuesday (May 18). According to reports, the storm left at least four people dead in roof collapse incidents in several areas in the city.

Courtesy of uk.news.yahoo.com

https://tinyurl.com/yxea48jf

Super Typhoon Surigae to pass near Philippines at Category 5 strength on Sunday

Super Typhoon Surigae satellite image on Saturday. (NOAA)

Surigae has strengthened to the first super typhoon of 2021 as it edges closer to the Philippines. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu indicated its peak winds had risen to 180 mph, equivalent to a high-end Category 5 hurricane. It is the strongest super typhoon ever observed in the western Pacific during the month of April.

The storm is still projected to remain just offshore the Philippines but is predicted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to spread moderate to heavy rains, rough surf and gusty winds, especially to the east coast of the central Philippines, on Sunday into Monday. It is expected to gradually weaken to a Category 4 equivalent storm by late Sunday and Category 3 Monday into Tuesday.

Courtesy of washingtonpost.com

https://tinyurl.com/4nc5btek

Queensland, Australia battered by wild weather as Tropical Cyclone Niran intensifies off Cairns coast

Severe Weather Alert

Wild weather has lashed Queensland overnight as severe storms hit the south-east and a cyclone rampages off the north-east coast.

More than 70 millimetres of rain has been dumped on Brisbane’s CBD and surrounding regions.

In the state’s far-north, Tropical Cyclone Niran has been upgraded to a Category 2 system as it continues to bring gale-force winds and heavy rainfall.

The slow-moving system is hovering about 280km north-east of Cairns.

There’s still a possibility conditions intensify before they ease.

“Tropical cyclone Niran is expected to remain off the north Queensland coast while intensifying over the next day or two,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.

“Although a coastal crossing is not expected, it may extend gales westward over coastal and island communities tonight or on Wednesday.

“In the longer term, tropical cyclone Niran is expected to meander off the north Queensland coast before moving southeastward away from the east coast from Thursday onward.”

The tropical cyclone brings with it gusts up to 100km/h and heavy rain.

Exposed coastal and island communities between Cape Melville and Innisfail, including Cooktown, Cairns and Port Douglas, are most at risk.

The BoM recommends residents listen to advice from the weather bureau and local emergency services over the next two days.

Courtesy of 7news.com.au

https://tinyurl.com/9ws28c4w

Russia’s Crimean Bridge closed for first-ever time due to heavy snow and state of emergency declared

Snow Emergency

For the first time since its completion in 2018, Europe’s longest bridge has been closed due to a heavy snowfall. The Black Sea region is currently going through an uncharacteristic cold spell.

On Thursday night, Crimea saw a snowstorm cover the peninsula, prompting warnings from local authorities to refrain from travel. The bridge itself was shut due to “lack of visibility, heavy snowfall, and strong side winds.”

Construction of the Crimean Bridge started in 2016 and was completed two years later. The multibillion-dollar infrastructure project connects Taman in Krasnodar Region, on the Russian mainland, to Kerch in Crimea. As well as cars, the structure allows for trains to cross. At 19km, it is the longest bridge in Europe.

As of Friday afternoon, around 280 vehicles were stuck on the crossing, with many more in a traffic jam on either side of the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the neighbouring Krasnodar Region. Although it was initially shut in both directions, the traffic police have opened travel towards mainland Russia but won’t allow cars to pass over to the Black Sea peninsula.

According to Taman, the local highway management agency, traffic will be restored after the evacuation of vehicles damaged by the snowfall.

Southern Russia has seen uncharacteristically chilly temperatures in recent weeks. While Moscow is known for its cold winters, Crimea and other parts of the region are normally above zero in February. On Thursday, Kerch saw 27mm of snowfall overnight, almost reaching the month’s norm of 31mm in just one day. However, temperatures are expected to be positive next week.

On Friday afternoon, the peninsula’s authorities decided to declare a state of emergency in four areas.

Courtesy of rt.com

https://tinyurl.com/14yzcghk