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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yellowfin tuna caught off Mexico expected to be largest ever landed


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A yellowfin tuna caught by John Petruescu in Mexican waters aboard the SanDiego-based Excel is expected by the crew to become the largest yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel.

The Excel, which had been fishing at remote Hurricane Bank (960 miles southwest of San Diego), will arrive at Fisherman's Landing early Sunday morning and only then will the official weight be known.

However, in a satellite telephone interview, skipper Justin Fleck revealed that the yellowfin "taped out" at 459 pounds, not the 400-pound mark that has been shared all week on the vessel's Facebook page.

The lesser estimated weight was provided in case the tape measurement formula, which is not always accurate, was way off the mark and the fish ended up weighing considerably less when placed on the scale Sunday at Fisherman's Landing.

"You can also add that it's because some of us are a little bit superstitious about these things," Fleck joked.

The current International Game Fish Assn. all-tackle world record is a 405-pound yellowfin caught in 2010 by Mike Livingston aboard the Vagabond west of Baja California, off Magdalena Bay.

In September, Guy Yocom of Dana Point, California, caught a yellowfin weighing 427.5 pounds while fishing out of Cabo San Lucas on Baja California's tip. That catch has yet to be approved by the IGFA as an all-tackle record.

Last April, Robert Pedigo caught a yellowfin weighing 427.9 pounds but it did not qualify for a record because a crew man had touched the rod during the fight.

Petruescu's tuna, likewise, cannot qualify as a world record because a deckhand briefly grabbed the rod at the bow to help manage the tuna around the anchor. "Had we known how big it was obviously we would have let him try to do that himself," Fleck said.

But if the fish weighs 428 or more pounds it will become the largest yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel. (Petruescu, who is on his first-ever 16-day sportfishing excursion, used a live skipjack tuna and battled the yellowfin for two hours.)


That'll be a big deal among those in the saltwater big-game fishing circles. It almost certainly will weigh at least 400 pounds and that in itself is impressive, considering that before Livingston caught his behemoth the previous world record, involving the catch of a 388-pound, 12-ounce tuna, had stood since 1977.


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Monday, October 1, 2012

At least 36 dead after Hong Kong ferry sinks after collision

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - At least 36 people died and dozens were injured when a ferry carrying more than 120 revelers on a company outing collided with another ferry and sank near an island south of Hong Kong on Monday night, in one of the city's worst maritime accidents.

The ferry belonging to the Hongkong Electric Company, controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, was taking staff and family members to watch fireworks in the city's Victoria Harbour to celebrate China's National Day and mid-autumn festival when it hit the other ship and began sinking near Lamma island.

Survivors said they had little time to put on life jackets before the ferry flooded, trapping passengers.

"Within 10 minutes, the ship had sunk. We had to wait at least 20 minutes before we were rescued," said one male survivor, wrapped in a blanket on the shore.

 Some survivors said people had to break windows to swim to the surface. "We thought we were going to die. Everyone was trapped inside," said a middle-aged woman.

HongKong Electric, a unit of Power Assets Holdings which is controlled by Asia's richest man Li, said the boat had capacity to hold up to 200 people.

The tragedy was the worst to hit Hong Kong since 1996 when more than 40 people died in a fire in a commercial building.

The other ship, owned by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Holdings, suffered a badly damaged bow in the collision but made it safely to the pier on Lamma, an island popular with tourists and expatriates about a half-hour boat ride from Hong Kong.

Several of its roughly 100 passengers and crew were taken to hospital with injuries.

"After the accident, it was all chaos and people were crying. Then water began seeping in and the vessel began to tilt to one side and people were all told to stand on the other side and everyone started putting on life jackets," a male passenger who was on the Lamma ferry told reporters.

Hong Kong is one of the world's busiest shipping channels, although serious marine accidents are rare.

The waters around Hong Kong were busy on Monday with numerous passenger ferries, private leisure boats and fishing vessels out to watch the city's fireworks, but it is unclear why the two ferries collided.
 
"Our ferry left Lamma island at 8.15 pm to watch the fireworks display out at sea, but within a few minutes, a tugboat (ferry) smashed into our vessel," Yuen Sui-see, a director for Hongkong Electric, one of the city's two main electricity generators, told reporters.

A spokeswoman for Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry said they were assessing what had happened.

"Our captain is not well and we have not been able to talk to him so far," the spokeswoman told local television.

A maritime department spokesman told reporters: "Normally vessels ought to stay and help other vessels in distress. But what we heard was that the other ship had passengers who were injured and needed help."

The nighttime collision sparked a major rescue operation involving dive teams, helicopters and boats that saw scores of people plucked from the sea.

Television pictures showed the red and blue bow of the Hong Kong Electric Company ferry pointing skywards, surrounded by rescue vessels. By Tuesday a large crane on a barge had been connected to the stricken ferry.

"We will continue our search. We also don't rule out that some may have swam to shore themselves and haven't contacted their families and so may not be accounted for," Ng Kuen-chi, acting deputy director of fire services told local television.

The search was hampered by the vessel being partly sunken, poor visibility and too much clutter inside the vessel, Ng said.

Teams of men in white coats, green rubber gloves and yellow helmets carried corpses off a police launch in body bags on Tuesday. Local media reported that children were among the dead.

At one of the city's public mortuaries around 50 grieving relatives gathered, some crying, while others were called into identify the dead.

More than 100 people were sent to five hospitals and nine people suffered serious injuries or remain in critical condition, the government said in a statement.

Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying visited survivors of the collision and pledged a thorough investigation into the crash. Read more

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Senkaku islands Dispute - Japan agree to pay

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Media reports in Japan said the government will pay the Kurihara family a total of Y2.05 billion (£16.4 million) for the islands, which are in the East China Sea off Japan's Okinawa Prefecture but are claimed by both China and Taiwan. 
News that a deal has been struck is likely to provoke strong criticism from the governments in Beijing and Taiwan, as well as potentially triggering renewed outbursts of violence in both countries. 
Tens of thousands of Chinese took to the streets in a dozen cities in mid-August after a group of Japanese nationalists landed on Uotsuri Island and unfurled Japanese flags. Television footage of the protests showed demonstrators ransacking Japanese restaurants and businesses and wrecking Japanese-made cars. 
The Japanese government has declined to confirm that a deal has been signed, with a spokesman telling Kyodo News that the discussions were still under way. 
According to the reports, a senior official met secretly with a member of the Kurihara family on behalf of Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister, on Monday. Under the terms of the deal, the contract to transfer ownership of the Senkakus - which China knows as the Diaoyu islands and Taiwan refers to as the Tiaoyutai chain - will be signed by the family and the Japanese government by the end of this month.  Read more
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grenade injures 41 at Philippines circus

Credit : INQ NEWS
DAVAO CITY, Philippines, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Police say they believe Philippines army troops were the target of a grenade attack that injured 41 people at a circus performance near Davao City.

The head of the city police force said it appeared the attacker was targeting an army installation next to the outdoor court in the village of Fatima where the circus was taking place but the grenade hit a barrier and bounced into the crowd, GMA News said Sunday.

Police Director Ronald De La Rosa told reporters five of the injured were in critical condition, DZMM Raydo Patrol 630 said.

Davao City in the southern Philippines is in an area where communist New People's Army guerrillas have been active over the years, the Mindanao Examiner said

Read more: UPI
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Beijing flood death toll jumps from 37 to 77 overnight

Flood in Beijing
The death toll from last weekend’s torrential rains in Beijing has jumped from 37 to 77, confirming what many residents had feared that the toll could be higher. Beijing authorities explained that the toll increased as more bodies were recovered from the parts worst hit by the unusual  downpour. At least 46 died of drowning as areas across the city got suddenly flooded.

An official assured that a further sharp increase in the death toll was unlikely because the search for missing persons was drawing to an end.

Popular social networking sites had been buzzing since the rains on Saturday that the toll was much higher than what the government was claiming it to be; worse authorities were withholding the actual statistics, some commented.

Many internet users recalled the SARS epidemic in 2003 when city authorities had taken the controversial decision to play down the impact of the fast spreading fatal fever.

Subsequently, the then health minister and Beijing mayor was sacked for covering up information about the epidemic.

This time, citizens reacted to what was perceived as slowness on the part of the government in updating casualty figures.

Even state-run news papers and agencies commented about the public’s erosion of faith in the government about sharing the correct picture about the impact of the rain – the heaviest in 61 years.

“Information transparency has become another big test for the Beijing municipal government after it failed to respond to street talk over "withheld updates" on the death toll from the heaviest rain in 61 years,” admitted state-run news agency, Xinhua.

At an earlier briefing, according to Xinhua, the city government said the rainstorm inflicted a direct economic loss of 11.6 billion yuan (1.8 billion U.S. dollars). “But it did not provide the update on death toll -- a question that mostly concerned reporters at the press conference as well as the general public.”

An article carried in Thursday's edition of The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said though the city government pledged no cover-up of the death toll after the SARS case, but the public's concerns couldn't recede until the final figure was out.

Information disclosure is a dynamic process rather than a static product," it said. "Only by responding to public concerns through various channels in a timely manner, can we better guarantee people's right to know and to a larger extent win the recognition and support of people from all walks of life." Source


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Robin Gibb of Bee Gees dies at 62

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As part of the Bee Gees — short for the Brothers Gibb — they created dance floor classics like “Stayin Alive,” `’Jive Talkin’,” and “Night Fever” that can still get crowds onto a dance floor.  
The catchy songs, with their falsetto vocals and relentless beat, are familiar pop culture mainstays. There are more than 6,000 cover versions of the Bee Gees hits, and they are still heard on dance floors and at wedding receptions, birthday parties, and other festive occasions.  
 
Robin Gibb, 62, died Sunday “following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery (what cause lung canser?),” his family announced in a statement released by Gibb’s representative Doug Wright.  
 
Gibb was the second disco-era star to die this week. Donna Summer — who earned the Queen of Disco title by singing “Last Dance” and “I Feel Love” — died of cancer in Florida on Thursday.  
 
The Bee Gees, born in England but raised in Australia, began their career in the musically rich 1960s but it was their soundtrack for the 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever” that sealed their success. The album’s signature sound — some called it “blue-eyed soul” — remains instantly recognizable more than 40 years after its release.  
 
 
 
The album remains a turning point in popular music history, ending the hard rock era and ushering in a time when dance music ruled supreme. It became one of the fastest-selling albums of all time with its innovative fusion of harmony and pulsing beats. The movie launched the career of a young John Travolta whose snake-hipped moves to the sounds of “You Should Be Dancing” established his reputation as a dancer and forever linked his image to that of the Bee Gees.  
 
 
 
Despite financial success, Robin Gibb and his brothers endured repeated tragedies. Maurice died suddenly of intestinal and cardiac problems in 2003. Their younger brother Andy Gibb, who also enjoyed considerable chart success as a solo artist, had died in 1988 just after turning 30. He suffered from an inflamed heart muscle attributed to a severe viral infection.  
 
Robin Gibb himself took care of his health and, at the time of his death, was a vegan who did not drink alcohol.  
 
Gibb was for decades a familiar figure on the pop stage, starting out in the 1960s when the Bee Gees were seen as talented Beatles copycats. They sounded so much like the Beatles at first that there were strong rumors that the Bee Gees’ singles were really the Beatles performing under another name.  
 
Many late-’60s bands were quickly forgotten, but the Bee Gees transformed themselves into an enduring A-List powerhouse with the almost unbelievable, and certainly unexpected, success of the song “Stayin’ Alive” and others from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack that accompanied the movie.  
 
With this second wind, the Bee Gees sold more than 200 million records and had a long string of successful singles, making their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  
 
“Saturday Night Fever” — actually a compilation album featuring the Bee Gees but including songs by other performers — represented the pinnacle of Gibb’s career, but he enjoyed more than 40 years of prominence as a Bee Gee, as a solo artist, and as a songwriter and producer for other artists.  
 
The Bee Gees consisted of Barry Gibb, the eldest, and twins Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb. Their three-part harmonies became their musical signature, particularly in the disco phase, when Barry’s matchless falsetto often dominated, and they were renowned for their wide-ranging songwriting and producing skills.  
 
The Gibbs were born in England on the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea, but moved to Australia with their parents in 1958 when they were still quite young and began their musical career there. They had been born into a musical family, with a father who was a drummer and bandleader and a mother who liked to sing.  
 
After several hits in Australia, their career started to really take off when they returned to England in 1967 and linked up with promoter Robert Stigwood.  
 
After several hits and successful albums, Robin Gibb left the group in 1969 after a series of disagreements, some focusing on whether he or Barry should be lead vocalist. He released some successful solo material — most notably “Saved by the Bell” — before rejoining his brothers in 1970 and scoring a major hit with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”  
 
The Gibbs then suffered some slack years — searching for a style that could sustain them in the post-Beatles era — and Barry Gibb started experimenting with falsetto vocals, first on backup, and then in the lead position.  
 
The brothers were at a low point when they went into a French studio to try to come up with some songs for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack at the urging of Stigwood.  
 
The success of those tunes — closely linked to the popularity of the movie, and the power of the disco movement — changed their lives forever, giving them a string of number one hits.  
 
After several years of chart success, the Gibbs spent much of the 1980s writing songs and producing records for other artists, working closely with top talents such as Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton. They also continued touring and releasing their own records.  
 
Gibb also released more solo albums, including “Secret Agent,” during this period.  
 
The band continued in the 1990s, gaining recognition for their body of work with induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  
 
Then came Maurice’s sudden death in 2003. The surviving brothers announced that the name Bee Gees would be retired with Maurice Gibb’s death, although Robin and Barry did collaborate on projects and Robin Gibb continued his solo career and extensive touring despite mounting health problems.  
 
He had to cancel several engagements in 2011, including one with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and he showed an alarming weight loss on his rare public appearances. He was hospitalized briefly in 2011 with what doctors said was an inflamed colon and had surgery for intestinal problems in March, 2012.  
 
One of his final projects was “The Titanic Requiem,” a classical work he co-wrote with his son Robin-John, that the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra premiered in April to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  
   
Robin Gibb remained emotionally attached to the Isle of Man, keeping a house there as well as homes in rural Oxfordshire, England, and Miami.  
 
He also became involved with numerous charities and worked to establish a permanent memorial to the veterans of Britain’s World War II Bomber Command and recorded songs honoring British veterans.  
 
Gibb is survived by his second wife, Dwina, and four children, as well as his older brother, fellow Bee Gee Barry Gibb, and his sister Lesley Evans, who lives in Australia. -- AP

Read more:NST Read more news about Robin Gibb

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dentist pulls out all of her ex-boyfriend’s teeth after split

If you're planning a trip to the dentist, it might not be the wisest decision to make your appointment with the person with whom you just broke up.

A Polish woman is facing three years in prison after she removed all of her ex-boyfriend's teeth during dental surgery just days after their breakup.

"I tried to be professional and detach myself from my emotions," Anna Mackowiak, 34, told the Austrian Times. "But when I saw him lying there I just thought, 'What a bastard' and decided to take all his teeth out."

Marek Olszewski, 45, reportedly showed up at Mackowiak's dental office complaining of toothache just days after he broke up with her. She then allegedly gave him a "heavy dose" of anesthetic, locked the door and began removing all of his teeth one at a time.

"I knew something was wrong because when I woke up I couldn't feel any teeth and my jaw was strapped up with bandages," Olszewski said.

"She told me my mouth was numb and I wouldn't be able to feel anything for a while and that the bandage was there to protect the gums, but that I would need to see a specialist," he said.

 I didn't have any reason to doubt her, I mean I thought she was a professional."

Adding to his trauma, Olszewski said his new girlfriend has already left him over his now toothless appearance.

"And I'm going to have to pay a fortune on getting indents or something," he said.
Mackowiak is currently being investigated for medical malpractice. YahooNews

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tornadoes Hit Texas US

(Reuters) - At least two tornadoes tore through the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area in Texas on Tuesday, ripping apart buildings, tossing tractor trailer trucks into the air and grounding planes in the region.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, according to police, although the storm was still active.

One tornado tossed around trucks like toys in the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air.

"The second trailer is ripped to pieces and thrown 50 to 100 feet into the air," he told Reuters.

National Weather Service meteorologist Amber Elliott confirmed that two separate tornadoes had touched down, one in Arlington, Texas and another in Dallas. Nine separate tornado warnings have been issued by the weather service for the Dallas area so far on Tuesday, she said.

Hail ranging from pea-sized to as large as baseballs pounded Dallas and Fort Worth, the nation's fourth-most-populous metropolitan area with 6.3 million people.

"A house completely demolished. Gas leak in the area," said one comment broadcast on the suburban Arlington, Texas, police scanner, passed along by weather forecaster AccuWeather.
"Motor home blown sideways blocking the street. There is a person stuck inside," another scanner broadcast said.

During the storm all planes were grounded at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, the eighth busiest in the world, because of reports of storms and tornadoes, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said. The airport had reopened by late afternoon.
American canceled all 230 departures from its hub there on Tuesday, and a like number of inbound flights.

Dallas-Fort Worth airport spokesman David Magana said officials ordered passengers away from windows and directed them into stairwells and restrooms.
More than 110 aircraft sustained damage from hail, 400 departures were canceled and 40 incoming flights were diverted, the airport said in a statement.

HOMES DAMAGED, NO ONE HURT

Amethyst Cirmo, a spokeswoman for the city of Kennedale, west of Arlington, Texas said there was at least moderate damage to 40-50 homes there and some businesses were damaged as well. She said a tornado hit the city of 7,000 people, some power lines were down and a water main had broken, but was repaired.

"We have had some pretty severe damage, but we're doing OK," she said.

WFAA television in Dallas aired footage showing residents in one hard-hit neighborhood frantically directing a policeman, who appeared to be searching for people trapped by the storm.
The surrounding streets were littered with fallen trees and other storm-generated debris.
Video of a parking lot of a trucking company showed large trucks piled on top of one another, and some had their roofs ripped off.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez told CNN that there had been no serious injuries so far, but officers had not investigated all of the damaged neighborhoods. Officers also had been dispatched to damaged areas to prevent looting, she said.

The U.S. tornado season has started early this year. Tornadoes have been blamed for 57 deaths so far in 2012 in the Midwest and South, raising concerns that this year would be a repeat of 2011, the deadliest year in nearly a century for the unpredictable storms.

In 2011, there were 550 tornado deaths with 316 lives lost on April 27 in five southern states, and a massive tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, Missouri on May 22.

Tuesday's tornadoes in Texas could prove more costly than a hailstorm nearly a year ago in the Dallas area that caused more than $100 million in insured losses. That April 15, 2011, storm was less damaging in terms of hail and winds.

Insurers have already lost as much as $2 billion during the 2012 tornado season, mostly from a record March 2 outbreak. That follows record-breaking losses of $26 billion during the 2011 tornado season.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

11-Year-Old Girl Dies After Fight With Classmate Over Boy

Health officials and police in Long Beach, Calif., are trying to determine how an 11-year-old girl died after getting into a fight with another girl over a boy.

Joanna Ramos, a fifth grader at Willard Elementary School, died Friday night in the hospital after complaining of a headache.

"She was so nice to me; she was like a sister to me," said classmate Stephanie Soltero, crying. "They were fighting over a boy, just for a boy. It's just stupid."

The two girls and seven onlookers went to an alley off campus after school on Friday, where they had planned to fight, according to Deputy Chief Robert Luna of the Long Beach Police Department. No weapons were used and no one was knocked to the ground.

Police are waiting for autopsy results to determine Ramos' cause of death.
Ramos' classmate said she was complaining about a pain in her head during an after-school program.
"She was crying and saying her head was hurting. She said to the supervisor, the principal on call, she told them that my head was hurting and then she called the parents and the parents took her to the hospital," classmate Justin Robert King Jr. said.

Ramos was unconscious and not breathing when family members took her to the hospital at about 5:50 p.m., according to police. She was rushed into surgery but pronounced dead three hours later.

"There are times when words do not convey a sense of sadness and loss that we feel. This was one of those times. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this tragic event yesterday. It resulted in the death of an 11-year-old girl from Long Beach. It's hard to understand how this can happen. 

If you're like me, you're also thinking of your own children, perhaps your daughter or your granddaughter, and you get a sense of how precious life really is," Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said Saturday.

Outside Willard Elementary School, friends left balloons, candles, stuffed animals, flowers and letters to Ramos. Source ABC News

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Year Of Extreme Weather 2011




Extreme weather came in fast and furious in 2011, with unwavering intensity for all twelve months of the year.

From snowstorms to drought, hurricanes to wildfires, epic floods to heat waves -- 2011 shattered records with “a total of twelve weather and climate disasters,” according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with "each causing $1 billion or more in damages -- and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property.”

The New Year started off with a bang as an unusually intense -- and poorly timed -- January 2011 snowstorm in the Washington DC area left some motorists stranded in their cars for more than 10 hours during an evening commute.

The following month, an even larger, monster winter storm brought Chicago to an utter standstill. The Groundhog Day Blizzard brought two feet of snow to the area, while wind gusts as high as 60 mph piled snow drifts in some spots 10 feet high! Cars were left abandoned on major thoroughfares like Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue. 

This wallop of a storm didn’t just impact Illinois, but many central, eastern, and northeastern states. According to the National Climatic Data Center, it brought insured losses greater than $1 billion and total losses greater than $1.8 billion and unfortunately 36 deaths.

Record-shattering tornadoes
The spring thaw that followed did not evoke calmer conditions to the U.S. In both April and May, devastating record-shattering tornado outbreaks slammed the South, Midwest and other regions. In late April, an outbreak of 343 tornadoes in central and southern states caused 321 deaths. Of those fatalities, 240 occurred in Alabama alone. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak, an EF-5, hit northern Alabama on April 27, killing 78 people.
On May 22, an EF-5 (winds over 200 mph+) tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. It was one mile wide and traveled for 22 miles on the ground. According to NOAA, the Joplin tornado was the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado record-keeping began in 1950. 158 people lost their lives in this weather event.

Scorching summer
Hot and dry would be two good words to describe the summer of 2011: It was a season plagued by drought and extreme heat. Temperatures not only soared, but stayed unbearably scorching for weeks! Dallas, Texas saw 71 total days of 100+ plus temperatures. That’s the highest total number of 100 degree + days the city has ever seen. The Northeast wasn't spared from triple digit temps either. Newark, New Jersey set a new all-time record high of 108 on July 22, shattering the old record of 105 degrees, set on August 9, 2001.

The combination of hot temperatures and lack of rainfall caused Texas to see “its most severe one-year drought on record,” according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “Twelve month rainfall was the driest on record across much of Western, Central and Southern Texas,” he concluded. Many areas saw less than 25% of their annual precipitation.

Raging wildfires and rainfalls
The heat and drought led to a record wildfire season in many states. This occurred in the summer of 2011 and into the fall. Fires that ignited in states like Arizona and Texas were not only enormous in size, but also incredibly destructive. For example, the Bastrop Fire in Texas destroyed more than 1,500 homes and in Arizona. The Wallow Fire consumed more than 500,000 acres, making it the largest on record in the state.

While some areas didn’t receive enough water, others were inundated. In the Ohio Valley, rainfall totals increased by around 300%. This, combined with melting snowpack, caused catastrophic flooding along the Mississippi River. Further north, according to the National Climatic Data Center, “an estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded.”

Mandatory evacuation for New Yorkers
Fast forward to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. An “above average” season was predicted by forecasters at Colorado State University, and it lived up to that prediction. There were 19 tropical storms in the Atlantic this year, making 2011 the 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851. One hurricane that developed in August grabbed the headlines with ferocity. That’s because this hurricane’s forecast track was headed directly towards a major metropolitan city that hadn’t seen a hurricane make landfall since 1985: New York City. For several days in late August, Hurricane Irene had the entire east coast on alert.
On August 26, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made this memorable announcement from City Hall:
“The sun is shining, but don't be misled. There is a very dangerous storm headed in our direction, and it could go slightly to the east or slightly to the west. It could speed up, it could close down, it could grow or diminish in intensity, but there is no question that we are going to get hit with some wind and high water that is very dangerous ... We are today issuing a mandatory -- I repeat the word mandatory -- evacuation order for all New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone A coastal areas in all five boroughs that are at greatest risk of damage relating to Irene.”
It was the first mandatory evacuation the city had ever seen. It was also the first time the New York City transit system was ever shut down in advance of a storm.
Hurricane Irene initially struck the U.S. as a Category 1 hurricane in eastern North Carolina on Saturday, August 26, and then moved northward along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. According to NOAA, “wind damage in coastal North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland was moderate, with considerable damage resulting from falling trees and power lines.” Luckily, the worst case scenario did not occur when Irene made its final landfall as a tropical storm in the New York City area. However, Irene did dump excessive rainfall in the Northeast that caused widespread flooding.

More than 7 million homes and businesses lost power during the storm, and Irene caused at least 45 deaths and more than $7.3 billion in damages.

And winter begins...
Finally, the last month of the 2011 brought a life-threatening early start to winter for residents of the Plains states. In the week before Christmas, a paralyzing blizzard struck the region. White-out conditions caused road closures of highways in Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado on December 19th and 20th. That’s two days before the official start of winter on December 22.

How did this year’s extreme weather impact you? Read More : READ MORE

Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider’s book "Extreme Weather" is available now on her website. Look for it in bookstores across the country, starting January 31.

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