Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

California, USA – California was battered by winds as high as 115mph: At least one person was killed and thousands were left without electricity as a powerful storm prompts warnings of flash floods and mudslides. The heavy rain brought traffic to a near-standstill on LA freeways and forecasters said tornadoes were possible.

Australia – In Western Australia, Tropical Cyclone Stan brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Pilbara, while a weak monsoon has arrived in the Top End. Stan has since dissipated over land. Meanwhile, a man was killed near Bundaberg in southern Queensland after his car was washed away by floodwaters, just moments after he let his brother out to check on water levels. In south-east NSW, destructive winds during thunderstorms destroyed several homes at Forbes Creek, about an hour east of Canberra.

Indonesia – Flash flood in Situbondo district, East Java destroyed houses Sunday morning after Silowogo river overflew following the heavy rain. The flash flood affected at least 28 houses in Silowogo, 15 houses in Sumberanayar and 100 houses in Melandingam Wetan village in the Bungatan district. Heavy rain also caused landslides in several areas in Agam District, West Sumatra.

Disease

WHO holds emergency meeting on Zika virus

An emergency World Health Organisation committee is meeting on Monday to advise on the response to the Zika virus , as the number of infected people continues to soar .

The committee will decide whether to designate the mosquito-borne virus – which has been linked to serious birth defects – a global emergency meriting immediate coordinated international action, amid criticism that it has been too slow to act .

On Thursday, WHO’s director general, Margaret Chan, said the virus was spreading explosively . The latest figures from Colombia, released over the weekend, backed her analysis, showing 20 297 confirmed cases of the disease in the South American country, including 2 116 pregnant women, making it the second most affected country after Brazil.

According to Colombian officials, the number of pregnant women confirmed to be affected has doubled in a week.

In Brazil, Zika has been linked, although not definitively so, to 4 000 cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with smaller than normal heads, raising global fears about a virus that was previously considered relatively benign.

Concerns have been amplified by the fact that the Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro this summer, when about half a million tourists are expected to visit the city.

The WHO, which says there could be as many as 4m clinical cases of Zika in the Americas – although some experts think the figure could be much higher – is under pressure to come up with a speedy and effective plan of action.

It was in the thick woodland of Zika forest, some 25km from Uganda’s capital Kampala, that the mosquito-borne Zika virus was first discovered in 1947.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Thailand

Wildfires are raging in Uthai Thani national park, Thailand. The fires reportedly broke out on Saturday and spread quickly to at least three spots. It is assumed that plant collectors or hunters might have set bonfires in the course of their activities and left the park without putting them out. The ongoing dry season also provided favorable conditions for the wildfires.

In an effort to prevent wild fires and smog that happen every year in the dry season, Thailand and Myanmar have agreed to increase cooperation in tackling the problem. Thailand has asked the Myanmar military officers to urge Myanmar people living along the Thai-Myanmar borders to stop burning forests and mobile plantations in order to prevent smog during the dry season.

Wildfire – Texas, USA

A wildfire near Canadian River, Texas is now 95 percent contained. It has already burned 1,750 acres. The authorities closed down the section of U.S. 287 between Dumas and Amarillo as they work to contain the flames.