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  • Zeta leaves more than 1.9 million customers without power and at least 2 dead after battering Gulf Coast

    More than 32 million people are under tropical storm warnings from the Gulf Coast to the mid-Atlantic Thursday morning as former Hurricane Zeta rushes northeast.

    Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm Wednesday before weakening to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 60 mph as of 5 a.m. ET Thursday.

    The storm has killed at least two people and cut power to more than 1.9 million utility customers across the South.

    As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Zeta's center was near the state line in northern Alabama and Georgia, about 65 miles to the west of the Metro Atlanta area lashing parts of both states with winds gusting over 70 mph.

    The right financial plan from Northwestern Mutual helped Dr. Dawne Collier turn the pandemic into an opportunity to successfully shift her business online.

    The storm was picking up momentum -- traveling at 39 mph -- and the National Hurricane Center says an even faster northeastward movement is expected later Thursday.

    "On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move across portions of the southeastern US this morning, across the Mid-Atlantic states this afternoon, and emerge over the western Atlantic by tonight, it said Thursday morning.

    Storm surge warnings

    Zeta's fast advance means the system won't lose much energy, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. This will allow Zeta to keep tropical storm intensity with strong winds throughout its course to the Atlantic.

    Zeta is expected to bring strong gusty winds, isolated tornadoes and heavy rain with the potential to produce flash flooding overnight.

    Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been discontinued for all of Louisiana and the Mississippi coast, but coastal areas of Alabama have been warned the storm surge threat remains due to remnant winds left in the wake of the hurricane.

    At least 32.7 million people from the Gulf Coast toward the Carolinas were under Tropical Storm warnings Thusday morning. The last time metro Atlanta was under such a warning was October 2018 as Hurricane Michael passed over the region.

    As Zeta moved inland across the South, it caused substantial power outages across several states. More than 1.9 million utility customers were in the dark in Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.US.

    Many of the outages were in Louisiana, where the first death attributed to Zeta was reported Wednesday.

    Louisiana still recovering from earlier storms

    A 55-year-old man was electrocuted by a downed power line, the Louisiana governor's office, citing the Orleans Parish coroner.

    New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell tweeted that residents should stay home overnight.

    "STAY INSIDE: Can't stress enough how dangerous the roads are right now in #NOLA. Widespread downed trees & power lines. Also, many traffic lights are out. If you MUST drive tonight, be extremely cautious & treat intersections with lights out as four-way stops. #Zeta," she wrote.

    The city tweeted an image of a downed power line and warned that lines could be live.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Thailand - Flood misery persists in 4 provinces, severe along Moon River

      Persistent flooding in four provinces, with more homes along the Moon River in Phimai district of Nakhon Rachasima inundated in the early hours of Friday.

      Water discharged from the Lam Takhong dam and overflow from the Moon River sent water flooding into Jabok village in tambon Krabueng Yai of Phimai district.

      More than 40 houses and a local temple were swamped as the water quickly rose to about one metre deep.

      Residents struggled in torch and lantern light to keep their possessions safe, their movements hampered by water up to their waists.

      Ornrat Phimpru, head of Jabok village, said water discharged from the Lam Takhong and rain from the typhoon that moved into Vietnam had filled local waterways that emptied into the Moon River. Water overflowing from Lam Phra Phloeng dam also flowed into the Moon River through its tributaries, and it burst its banks.

      The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on Friday reported that flash floods, runoff, landslides and storms had affected a total of 34 provinces across the country from Oct 7 to Oct 30.

      The flooding had drained in most areas, but persisted in parts of Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachin Buri, Surat Thani and Suphan Buri.

      In northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province, flooding persisted in nine districts - Pak Chong, Pak Thong Chai, Chok Chai, Non Sung, Muang, Phimai, Chalerm Phrakiat, Chakkarat and Sung Noen.

      In eastern Prachin Buri province, two districts of Sri Maha Phot and Kabin Buri were still inundated.

      In southern Surat Thani province, two districts of Khian Sa and Phun Phin were still flooded.

      In central Suphan Buri province, three districts of Song Phi Nong, Muang and Bang Pla Ma were submerged.

      Landslides caused by flash floods and runoff had affected four provinces of Chumphon, Phuket, Satun and Krabi, the department said.

      Seven provinces were hit by storms - Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Kanchanaburi, Phangnga, Chumphon and Ubon Ratchathani - that damaged 77 houses in 35 villages. Three people in Sing Buri province were reported to have been injured.

      The situation had since eased, the department reported.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Typhoon Goni: Philippines orders evacuations as world's strongest storm of 2020 approaches

        Philippine officials ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents in the southern part of the main Luzon island on Saturday as a category 5 storm, that is the world's strongest this year, approached the Southeast Asian nation.

        Typhoon Goni, with 133 miles sustained winds and gusts of up to 164 mph, will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.

        Pre-emptive evacuations have started in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. While Albay provincial government also said it would order residents in risky areas to leave their homes.

        "The strength of this typhoon is no joke," Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station.

        Last week, Typhoon Molave killed 22 people in the country, mostly through drowning, in provinces south of the capital Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni.

        Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second highest Covid-19 infections and deaths in southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia.

        Relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment are already positioned in key areas, Filipino Grace America, mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, told DZBB radio. "But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient."

        Local officials canceled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail.

        Typhoon Goni, moving westward at 12 mph from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 14 provinces nearby on Saturday evening, and threats of floods and landslides.

        Another typhoon, Atsani, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Colorado is fighting the worst wildfires in its history

          The 2020 wildfire season has already broken records in classically hot and dry California, but nearby states are also seeing historic blazes this year.

          Colorado, in particular, is dealing with several record-breaking fires. The Guardian reports that since May, 624,000 acres have been burned by various wildfires, which also killed two people and damaged more than 550 buildings, totaling upwards of $195 million in damages.

          Multiple areas have been placed under mandatory evacuation orders, with some beginning to ease as firefighters gradually contain the flames.

          “From all recent observations we have of wildlife seasons, this one is off the charts,” Becky Bollinger, a climatologist and drought specialist at Colorado State University, told reporters.

          State data show that there are at least six fires currently burning throughout the state, with most west of Denver. Two of the more destructive incidences are the East Troublesome Fire and the Cameron Peak Fire.

          The Cameron Peak Fire is the largest in state history, according to The Denver Post, with state data revealing it has scorched 208,663 acres so far and is 64 percent contained as of Oct. 29. The fire began on Aug. 13.

          The East Troublesome Fire, started on Oct. 14, is catching up to the record-breaking Cameron Peak Fire as it sears through 193,774 acres as of Oct. 29, at only 32 percent containment. It is now the second largest wildfire in state history.

          Both fires are considered products of various unfavorable weather conditions, including strong winds, dry conditions and hot temperatures to exacerbate existing dry fuel loads like grass, sage and lodgepole pine.

          Officials have not determined exactly how the fires were started.

          Poor atmospheric conditions have also stoked many of the rampant California wildfires, although faulty electrical equipment is suspected to be involved. Much of the Western U.S. states are also experiencing extreme droughts, and weather data from September revealed it was the hottest September on record, setting up conditions for wildfires to ignite.

          “The weather drives the fire and the fire changes the atmosphere that in turn feeds back on the fire,” Janice Coen, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, told the press.

          The Guardian also notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has registered western fire seasons as 78 days longer than they were in the 1970s.

          While the weather conditions and dead flora serve as ample fuel for wildfires, experts are also concerned that human-driven climate change is resulting in more deadly fires.

          “Individual things like a bad hurricane season, bad flooding or bad wildfires are not that surprising because literally every climate scientist predicted these things would happen,” Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a senior research associate at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, told NBC News. “But seeing all these things happen in one year — in some cases, simultaneously — is shocking and does make me worried about what the next 10 years are going to look like.”:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Typhoon Goni hits Philippines with 350,000 in evacuation shelters

            Super typhoon Goni has killed four people in the Philippines after ferocious winds caused power outages and infrastructure damage. About 350,000 people were evacuated from its projected path, including in the capital, Manila, where the main international airport was ordered closed.

            Goni made two landfall in two places in the Bicol region, where four deaths were reported, said provincial Governor Al Francis Bichara, including one hit by a tree and a five-year-old washed away after a river overflowed.

            Video footage by news channels and on social media showed rivers overflowing and some dikes destroyed, submerging villages in Bicol.

            Bichara also received reports of volcanic mud flows, as well as electricity supply and communication service outages.

            In Quezon, Governor Danilo Suarez said power supply was cut in 10 towns as Goni toppled trees.

            Between 19 million and 31 million people could be affected by the typhoon, including those in danger zones and in metropolitan Manila, the disaster management agency said.

            “There are so many people who are really in vulnerable areas,” said Ricardo Jalad, who heads the government’s disaster-response agency. “We’re expecting major damage.”

            The storm hit in the early hours of the morning with sustained winds of 215 km/h (133 mph)and gusts of 290 km/h (180 mph). It was blowing west toward densely populated regions, including Manila, and rain-soaked provinces still recovering from a typhoon that hit a week ago and left at least 22 dead.

            “Within the next 12 hours, catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall associated with the region of the eye wall and inner rain bands of the typhoon will be experienced,” the Philippine weather agency said in an urgent advisory.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Tropical Storm Eta forms, ties record for most named storms

              Tropical Storm Eta formed in the Caribbean late Saturday, tying the record for most named storms in a single Atlantic hurricane season.

              The system reached maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) late Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. It's centered 270 miles (435 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

              Forecasters expect Eta to become a hurricane by Monday. The system is forecast to be near the northeastern coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras by Monday night. A hurricane watch was issued for parts of both countries. Eta was moving west at about 15 mph (24 kph).

              Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. However, this is the first time the Greek letter Eta is being used as a storm name because in 2005, after the season ended meteorologists went back and determined there was a storm that should have gotten a name, but didn’t.

              Hurricane season still has a month to go, ending Nov. 30. And in 2005, Zeta formed in the end of December.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Typhoon Goni: ‘strongest storm in history’ heads for Vietnam after tearing across Philippines

                Super Typhoon Goni ripped off roofs, felled trees and left thousands of homes without electricity as it tore through the Philippines’ main Luzon island on Sunday, killing at least 16 people and forcing about 390,000 more to evacuate.

                It made landfall before dawn, slamming into the eastern island province of Catanduanes before weakening as it crossed several other provinces. Goni is now headed to the South China Sea where it will gather strength before hitting Vietnam.

                “Goni is the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone” in history, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and co-founder of Weather Underground.

                The previous record was held by Super Typhoons Meranti and Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2016 and 2013, respectively. Goni is the world’s third category 5 storm this year, he said on Yale Climate Connections’ website.

                At least 10 people died in Albay province, including a 5-year-old girl, with some being swept away by raging waters, according to the region’s disaster risk-monitoring agency. Another six died in Catanduanes, while one person is believed to have drowned in Laguna, a province closer to the capital.

                Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to Manila from his hometown of Davao on Monday and conduct an aerial inspection of some of the worst hit areas, his spokesman Harry Roque told a news conference. Duterte had been in Davao when the typhoon struck, prompting some public criticism.

                The super typhoon had gusts of up to 310km/h and destroyed up to 80 per cent of homes in several towns in Catanduanes, Senator Richard Gordon, chief of the Philippine Red Cross, told DZBB radio station.

                Catanduanes, a province of 275,000 people, was cut off, with communication and power lines down, said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Goni affected 2.1 million residents in Luzon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, and over 50,000 homes were without power on Monday.

                The power outage may lead to problems in the cold management of Covid-19 test kits and specimen, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said. He asked local government to deploy safety officers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in evacuation centres. After Indonesia, the Philippines has the highest number of coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

                Thirty-three airports, including Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, were cleared to resume flights at 10am on Monday.

                “The pandemic has made this much more complex, but we have been preparing for this situation,” Gordon, the Philippine Red Cross chairman, said in a statement.

                The cyclone comes days after Typhoon Molave lashed the Southeast Asian nation, leaving at least 22 dead and causing a minimum of 1.8 billion pesos of damage to crops, before heading to Vietnam. Goni is following a similar route.

                The latest storm damaged 1.1 billion pesos (US$23 million) worth of crops and affected the livelihood of 20,000 farmers, adding to the almost 2 billion pesos in damage caused by Typhoon Molave.

                Goni moved away from the main Luzon Island on Sunday night at a speed of 20km/h. Another storm, Atsani, may make landfall in the Philippines later this week, the weather bureau said.

                An average of 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines every year, which is likely to complicate the nation’s fight against the coronavirus as hundreds of thousands of people are evacuated from typhoon-hit areas. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Southeast Asian nation and killed more than 6,300 people.

                Despite Sunday’s devastation, more than 242,000 hectares of land planted with rice and with equivalent production of 1.07 million tonnes have been saved thanks to to early warning systems, the Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Sunday.

                Another typhoon, Atsani, entered the Philippines on Sunday afternoon and may hit the northern tip of Luzon later this week, according to the weather bureau.

                “The damage is extensive,” Christopher Dy-Liacco Flores, former mayor of Guinobatan town in Albay, said by Facebook Messenger. Flooding reached 16 feet deep. “Bridges have been washed away, flood control structures destroyed. Electric poles have fallen, roads destroyed and our agriculture is ruined.”:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Hurricane Eta nears Category 5 strength and is expected to bring catastrophic damage to Nicaragua

                  It took only 24 hours for Eta to go from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane, and it is likely to only get stronger as it approaches Nicaragua.

                  From 7 p.m. Sunday to 7 p.m. Monday, Eta's wind speed more than doubled. As of 10 p.m. EST Monday night, the storm was about 45 miles from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, with sustained winds of 150 mph.

                  The slow moving and rapidly intensifying storm, the latest in an active Atlantic hurricane season, has the lowest pressure of any storm in this season -- a sign of its strength, according to CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. As the 28th named storm, it ties the record for the number of named storms in a single season set back in 2005.

                  "Eta has become an impressive November hurricane as it continues to undergo rapid strengthening," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday afternoon.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Emergency Responders Heading for Typhoon Goni’s Ground Zero as New Storm Emerges

                    Bicol – Teams from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are assessing the conditions facing hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Typhoon Goni and preparing to deliver urgently needed supplies to survivors in remote islands hardest hit by the most powerful storm of 2020, as local residents prepare for a new storm later this week.

                    “The typhoon caused massive damage, powerlines are down, and the roofs have been blown off government evacuation centres,” said Conrad Navidad, head of IOM Philippines’ Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit.

                    “We’re hoping our staff will be able to travel to islands that were Ground Zero tomorrow to deliver supplies, including personal protection equipment (PPEs), and continue their assessments of the needs of the many people who have been displaced.”

                    Goni slammed into Luzon Island on Sunday packing sustained winds of 225km/h. Philippine government partners reported today that more than one-third of the 712,197 people affected live in Bicol Region, and further 95,484 are in Calabarzon.

                    IOM is working to mobilize local-hired assessors to support the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on data collection for the Displacement Track Matrix to provide valuable information about the specific needs of displaced populations and facilitate better targeted assistance by government, UN and other partners.

                    Overshadowing the response is the presence of COVID-19. UNOCHA reports that there are some 425 active COVID-19 cases in Bicol Region. “In the current emergency it is extremely difficult for people who have been forced from their homes, who have seen their lives and businesses ruined, to follow the well-established and understood physical distancing and hygiene measures that are required,” said Navidad.

                    IOM is prioritizing the delivery of PPEs, including 200,000 face masks, 20,000 bottles of sanitizer, 2,000 face shields, 300 shelter grade tarpaulins and 500 modular tents to DSWD and the Philippine Coast Guard.

                    Officials are also tracking the progress of a new storm over the Pacific Ocean, Atsani, which is expected to reach the Philippines this week.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Furious Category Four hurricane Eta smashes into Nicaragua

                      Eta smashed into Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday, unleashing fierce winds that tore up trees and ripped roofs off dwellings.

                      The hurricane, which intensified rapidly from a Category 1 storm on Monday over the warm waters of the Caribbean, hammered impoverished indigenous communities along the coast, already pummeled by high winds for the previous 10 hours.

                      “The edge of the eye of the storm is already beginning to touch down,” said Marcio Baca, head of Nicaragua’s meteorology institute.

                      Packing 140 mile per hour (225 kilometer per hour) winds, Eta tore up trees and ripped roofs off homes in Bilwi, the biggest town on the northeastern coast, also known as Puerto Cabezas.

                      “We spent the whole night with strong gusts of wind, accompanied by rain,” Kenny Lisby, head of a local radio station, told AFP. “It’s possible there will be quite a lot of destruction.”

                      Winds tore down the concrete perimeter walls of the town’s baseball stadium, and left a trail of fallen trees as dazed cattle and domestic animals wandered through the streets, AFP reporters said.

                      The Nicaraguan government reported no immediate fatalities, while authorities in Honduras said that a child died in a collapsed house.

                      The US National Hurricane Center warned the effects of Eta could be catastrophic for the region.

                      “Life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding, and landslides expected across portions of Central America,” it said, including Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands.

                      “The center of Eta is expected to make landfall along the coast of Nicaragua within the hurricane warning area this afternoon,” the NHC said Tuesday.

                      Eta is forecast to move inland over northern Nicaragua and central Honduras through Wednesday and into Thursday.

                      – Devastation –

                      At the request of the government, the UN World Food Programme said it had sent 80 metric tons of food for distribution in the region.

                      “We joined forces to respond immediately, pre-positioning food for the people affected. Our staff have also deployed to the hurricane impacted area so as to support the national response with logistics and telecommunications support,” said Giorgia Testolin, WFP Representative in Nicaragua.

                      Some 100,000 people live in Bilwi and adjacent communities along the coast, mostly inhabited by indigenous Miskito and Mayagna people who are among the poorest in Nicaragua.

                      The hurricane is likely to have a devastating effect on their main livelihoods of fishing and agriculture, the UN agency said.

                      As the surface layer of oceans warm due to climate change, hurricanes are becoming more powerful and carry more water, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities, scientists say.

                      Storm surges amplified by rising seas can be especially devastating.

                      The government said it had evacuated 20,000 people from the coast to shelters inland.

                      The governments in Nicaragua, with more than six million people, and neighboring Honduras, with more than nine million, have warned populations in the path of the hurricane to prepare as best they can.

                      In Honduras, a small girl died when a house collapsed in the El Carmen slum in northern San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city, where Eta caused flooding that forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, relief agencies said.

                      Heavy rains lashed the Caribbean ports of La Ceiba and Tela, where authorities evacuated more than 100 people, as water levels rose dangerously in local rivers.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • New storm threatens Philippines days after Super Typhoon Goni

                        The Philippines is bracing for a severe tropical storm that’s expected to hit its northern tip days after Super Typhoon Goni left.

                        Storm Atsani will likely strengthen into a typhoon with peak intensity of 120 kilometers per hour as it passes over the vicinity of Batanes province or Babuyan Islands early Friday, the Philippine weather bureau said. It is forecast to accelerate over the South China Sea and head to Vietnam on Saturday.

                        Super Typhoon Goni, the world’s strongest storm this year, killed at least 20 people, left thousands homeless and damaged 6.8 billion pesos ($141 million) worth of infrastructure and agriculture, according to the Philippines’ disaster risk-monitoring agency.

                        An average of 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines every year, which will likely complicate the nation’s fight against the coronavirus as thousands of people stay in cramped evacuation sites. In 2013, Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Eta Expected to Track Toward South Florida; Life-Threatening Flooding Continues In Central America

                          Eta is expected to restrength over the Caribbean Sea this weekend and could approach South Florida early next week after bringing flooding rainfall to Central America over the next few days.

                          Eta has become very disorganized due to its interaction with the mountainous terrain of Central America. Catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding could occur in some parts of Central America through this weekend, according to the NHC. Landslides are possible in areas with mountainous terrain.

                          Eta could dissipate for a time as it tracks farther inland through Central America, but that doesn't mean the forecast for this system comes to an end.

                          The remnant spin and energy from Eta are expected to emerge over the northwest Caribbean Sea on Friday. That's when Eta could reorganize into a depression or storm, as depicted in the latest forecast above from the National Hurricane Center.

                          Eta will be steered northeastward initially once it moves back over the northwest Caribbean beginning Friday. That's because Eta will be pushed in that direction by the interaction with the counterclockwise flow around an upper-level low-pressure system located in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen in the graphic below.

                          Eta is expected to interact or even combine with the upper low by this weekend. That could allow Eta to be pulled northward to just south of or even over the southern Florida Peninsula as a tropical or subtropical storm by early next week.

                          Eta could then be pulled westward into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by both that same upper low diving southward in the Gulf and an upper-level high-pressure system over the eastern states. Eta may meander for a few days before it is drawn northward by an upper-level trough.

                          Assuming Eta does get pulled back over the eastern Gulf, instead of simply crawling north across the Florida Peninsula, it would then make a final landfall likely somewhere along either Florida's Gulf Coast or the northern Gulf Coast later next week, as it finally accelerates ahead of an approaching frontal system.

                          No matter what eventually happens, parts of the Florida Peninsula are expected to see some bands of heavy rain associated with Eta's moisture as soon as Sunday that could lead to local flash flooding. Rainfall is also possible ahead of Eta due to an increase in tropical moisture with a moist, easterly flow.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Weakened Eta drenches Central America; at least 57 dead

                            SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — The rain-heavy remnants of Hurricane Eta flooded homes from Panama to Guatemala Thursday as the death toll across Central America rose to at least 57, and aid organizations warned the flooding and mudslides were creating a slow-moving humanitarian disaster across the region.

                            The storm that hit Nicaragua as a mighty Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday had become more of a vast tropical rainstorm, but it was advancing so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America remained on high alert. Forecasters said the now-tropical depression was expected to regather and head toward Cuba and possibly the Gulf of Mexico by early next week.

                            On Thursday afternoon, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said a water-soaked mountainside in the central part of the country had slid down onto the town of San Cristobal Verapaz, burying homes and leaving at least 25 dead.

                            Two other slides in Huehuetenango had killed at least 12 more, he said. The president initially said more than 50 people had died in slides, but the individual incidents he cited did not reach that total. Later, David de León, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said there were reports of 50 people missing in the Verapaz slide, but government rescue teams had not reached the site.

                            Earlier Thursday, five others had been killed in smaller slides in Guatemala.

                            Giammattei said on that 60% of the eastern city of Puerto Barrios was flooded and 48 more hours of rain was expected.

                            Guatemala’s toll was on top of 13 victims in Honduras and two in Nicaragua. Panamanian authorities reported eight missing.

                            Eta had sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was moving north at 8 mph (13 kph) Thursday. It was centered 85 miles (140 kilometers) northwest of La Ceiba, Honduras.

                            In Honduras, National Police said Thursday that six more bodies had been found, bringing that country’s toll to 13. The bodies of two adults and two children were found after excavations in a mudslide that occurred Wednesday in the township of Gualala, and two boys aged 8 and 11 died in another mudslide in El Níspero.

                            Earlier, residents found the body of a girl buried in a landslide Wednesday in mountains outside the north coast city of Tela. In the same area, a landslide buried a home with a mother and two children inside it, according to Honduras Fire Department spokesman Óscar Triminio. He said there was also a 2-year-old girl killed in Santa Barbara department when she was swept away by floodwaters.

                            Hundreds of residents of San Pedro Sula neighborhoods had to abandon their homes before dawn Thursday when water from the Chamelecon river arrived at their doorsteps.

                            Miguel Angel Beltran, a security guard from the city’s Planeta neighborhood, said his district was lost and many people were missing or drowned.

                            “We rescued my brothers, all the family from a balcony, a three-story building,” he said. “How is it possible that a government has done nothing to warn people.”

                            His family lost everything and had nowhere to go, he said. The few boats rescuing people had no motors and struggled against the current, he said.

                            Marvin Aparicio of Honduras’ emergency management agency said 41 communities have been cut off by washed out roads.

                            Luis Alonso Salas, a 45-year-old construction worker, stood on high ground at a gas station where people who fled their homes picked over a pile of donated clothing.

                            “It was terrible, I lost my whole house, I couldn’t take anything,” he said. At 1 a.m. water was up to his neck. He said others in his neighborhood were still waiting for rescuers in boats from atop their roofs.

                            Maite Matheu, country director for the international humanitarian organization CARE, said Thursday that some 2 million Hondurans could be directly impacted by the storm.

                            “The situation that we are seeing today is very, very alarming,” she said. “Mainly the people and families that need to be evacuated right now. There are dozens of families in some towns in the Sula valley who are on their roofs and are asking to be evacuated.”

                            She said Honduras’ government did not have the capacity to rescue people.

                            Giammattei, Guatemala’s president, said his Honduran counterpart Juan Orlando Hernández requested help, but that blocked roads made it impossible to do so.

                            Matheu said her organization was helping gather information about the most pressing needs across Honduras. The food supply was a real concern, she said. The country’s road network is badly damaged, airports were closed and much of the Sula valley, the country’s most agriculturally productive, was flooded.

                            “The impact on crops is going to be enormous,” Matheu said. The storm’s impact would only increase the pressure on a desperate population to migrate, she added.

                            In Panama, at least eight people were reported missing after flooding and landslides in the province of Chiriqui, which borders Costa Rica.

                            The U.S. National Hurricane Center forecast that parts of Nicaragua and Honduras could receive 15 to 25 inches (380 to 635 millimeters) of rain, with 40 inches (1,000 millimeters) possible in some isolated parts.

                            When what’s left of the storm wobbles back into the Caribbean it will regain some strength and become a tropical storm again, forecasts show.

                            And then Eta is predicted to slowly move toward Cuba and Florida, or at least close enough to Florida for forecasters to warn of 7 inches of rain for South Florida in the next five to seven days. And next week, Eta could even move into the Gulf of Mexico.

                            “Whatever comes out (of Central America) is going to linger awhile,” said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. “I’m not convinced we’re done with Eta.”

                            That’s because what’s left of Eta still has spin, which is hard to kill off, and that should help it reform, said NOAA hurricane and climate scientist Jim Kossin.

                            Once it reforms and heads toward Cuba, it could meander in the area for awhile.

                            “The winds aren’t going to be the problem. The rains are going to be the problem,” Klotzbach said.

                            Eta will be so big, wet and messy that it doesn’t have to make landfall in already rain-soaked South Florida to cause a mess, Klotzbach said.

                            “Slow-moving sprawling ugly tropical storms can certainly pack a precipitation wallop even if it doesn’t make landfall,” Klotzbach said.:

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                            • Tropical Storm Eta closing in on Cuba and Florida

                              Tropical Storm Eta was nearing Cuba overnight, where it's expected to make landfall Sunday morning and produce "life-threatening" flash flooding before threatening Florida, per the National Hurricane Center.

                              The state of play: Eta was forecast to regain strength later Sunday and "could be near hurricane strength as it approaches and moves near or over Florida," warned the NHC. Hurricane watches were issued for Florida's coast from Deerfield Beach to Bonita Beach
                              and for the Florida Keys.
                              • Eta was moving 125 miles west-southwest of Camaguey, Cuba, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was forecast to produce "dangerous storm surge, flash floods and strong winds" over parts of Cuba and Florida.
                              • The storm was expected to bring 5-10 inches of rain to Cuba, while parts of Florida were expected to get 5-10 inches of rainfall, with isolated areas seeing up to 15 inches of rain, per NHS.
                              Of note: In anticipation of Eta's arrival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in eight southern counties on Saturday "out of an abundance of caution."
                              The big picture: Eta made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday.
                              • It brought torrential rains to parts of Central America, including Guatemala, where rescue crews continued their search on Saturday for over 100 people believed to be buried by mudslides.
                              • Eta weakened to a tropical depression before regaining tropical storm strength earlier on Saturday as it lashed parts of the Cayman Islands and Jamaica earlier.
                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Florida braces for flooding and possible tornadoes after Tropical Storm Eta makes landfall in the Keys

                                The Florida coast is bracing for Tropical Storm Eta after it pummeled the Florida Keys with life-threatening storm surge and flooding.

                                The storm made landfall in Lower Metacumbe Key late Sunday night with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Eta is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by late Monday into early Tuesday as it moves into Florida Bay.

                                More than 23 million people in south Florida are under some type of hurricane or tropical storm advisory, with 21 counties under a state of emergency. As of early Monday morning, more than 30,000 customers are without power as the storm continues north, according to

                                Ahead of the storm, many schools in south Florida were closed Monday and bridges were locked down in anticipation of high winds. Hurricane force wind gusts could remain through Monday afternoon, according to a Hurricane Warning issued by the National Weather Service.

                                Heavy rain and winds will stretch from Miami to Naples through Tuesday, and a storm surge of up to four feet is possible for parts of south Florida and the Keys. Flooding is also expected along low-lying roads and properties across the region as heavy rains -- about three to five inches -- are forecast, with some areas seeing more than a foot throughout the duration of the storm this week.

                                Eta is expected to make landfall again just north of Tampa on Friday as a tropical storm.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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