A slow-moving winter storm has struck the West Coast, flooding highways in Los Angeles and prompting rare blizzard warnings in Southern California.
In its first-ever blizzard warning, the National Weather Service in San Diego said the San Bernardino County mountains could see 3 to 5 feet of snow through Saturday morning.
Blizzard warnings were also issued for Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Saturday afternoon. Up to 5 feet of snow is possible with some isolated areas seeing between 7 and 8 feet. The National Weather Service’s Los Angeles office issued its last blizzard warning on February 4, 1989.
Heavy rain fell Friday afternoon in Los Angeles and flooding shut down numerous thoroughfares the area. The NWS issued a flash flood warning for the city – the second highest level of flood warning from the NWS, only topped by a flood emergency.
Up to 5 inches of rain could fall across lower elevations of the greater Los Angeles area while the mountains could see 6 inches. In the San Diego area, up to 3 inches of rain is possible in lower elevations while the mountains could get 7 inches.
Over 6 million people are covered by the flood warning, including downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Burbank and Santa Barbara.
“This storm system will be unusually cold, and snow levels will be very low. In fact, areas very close to the Pacific Coast and also into the interior valleys that are not accustomed to seeing snow, may see some accumulating snowfall,” the National Weather Service said early Friday.
“The worst impacts from flooding and blizzard conditions occur Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, when any non-essential or non-emergency travel should be postponed!” the San Diego weather service said.
The storm has put more than 20 million people under flood watches and more than 30 million people under high wind alerts across Southern California – roughly two months after the state endured rounds of deadly flooding. The highest gusts in the warning areas could reach 75 mph.
Up to 6 inches of snow is possible across lower elevations and up to 3 feet could fall on the region’s highest peaks before conditions begin to improve by Friday evening as the storm slips to the south.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains could see up to 6 feet of snow Friday into Saturday and in Nevada, a blizzard warning for northwestern Nye County will be in effect Friday morning through early Saturday.
“Heavy snow, winds gusting as high as 60 mph, will cause zero visibility due to blowing and drifting snow,” the weather service warned.
Snow has already hit the Santa Cruz Mountain, resident Ngugi Kihara told CNN on Friday.
“We never seen this much snow up here,” Kihara said. “We woke up to it. It started yesterday but picked up a lot overnight. Lots of trees are falling and all the roads around us are closed. Power is out and has been mostly gone since Tuesday.”
As the storm struck the West, a ferocious, multiday winter storm began to subside after wreaking havoc in several states across the West, northern Great Plains, the Great Lakes region and New England.
Over 640,000 utility customers in Michigan are without power in the state, according to poweroutage.us and DTE, one of Michigan’s largest electric providers, said it won’t get most of its customers back online before Sunday.
Twenty percent of DTE’s customers were without power as of Friday afternoon, DTE CEO Jerry Norcia said in a press conference. This is more than 480,000 customers according to poweroutage.us.
By the end of the day on Friday, the company expects to restore power to 200,000 customers. By Sunday the utility hopes to bring nearly all customers back to service, Norcia said.
Wayne County is currently the hardest hit area with over 227,000 customers offline due to this week’s winter storm. Nearby Oakland County has another 112,000 without power.
The forecast low temperature in the Detroit area Friday night is 23 degrees, according to the NWS.
Several counties in Wyoming went into search-and-rescue mode after more than 40 inches of snow fell in the southern parts of the state over the course of several days and motorists were trapped in heavy snow, the state highway patrol said on Twitter.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, saw more than 13 inches in a three-day period this week. More than 160 vehicle crashes were reported statewide, and dozens of cars spun off roads Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Minnesota State Patrol said in a series of tweets.
Minneapolis officials have declared a one-day snow emergency beginning Friday, and city crews have been plowing and treating streets.
Since the storm began Monday evening, cumulative snowfall reached dozens of inches in some cities, including 48 inches in Battle Lake, Wyoming, 32 inches in Dupuyer, Montana, and 29 inches in Park City, Utah.
But snow was not the storm’s only culprit. Severe icing was also a danger.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, recorded 0.65 inches, while Fransville, Wisconsin, measured 0.75 inches of ice.
And in New England, icy conditions likely contributed to a massive 15-vehicle pileup on the Massachusetts Turnpike Thursday night, according to a tweet by the Massachusetts State Police.
The chain-reaction crash involved multiple personal vehicles and tractor trailers, officials said. Troopers, firefighters and EMS responded to the incident and multiple victims had to be transported to the hospital, according to the tweet.
As northern regions of the country were measuring snowfall and ice accumulation, parts of the Southeast were experiencing record-high heat.
More than 50 daily record highs were recorded in the Southeast Thursday.
Torrential rain has triggered flooding and landslides in coastal areas of Brazil’s southeast, killing at least 36 people and displacing hundreds of others.
In Sao Paulo state, television and social media footage from the town of Sao Sebastiao on Sunday showed entire neighbourhoods under water, debris from hillside houses swept away by mud, as well as flooded highways and cars destroyed by fallen trees.
The town, 200km (124 miles) north of the city of Sao Paulo and where many people from the capital spend the holiday weekend ahead of the Christian festival of Lent, was one of the hardest hit, as a record 600mm (24 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours, city officials said.
At least 35 people died in San Sebastiao, according to a statement from the Sao Paolo state government. A seven year old girl was also killed in the neighbouring town of Ubatuba, news reports said.
Sao Paulo state Governor Tarcisio de Freitas declared a state of emergency in five towns along the coast.
His government said 566 people had been displaced or made homeless.
Carnival events were cancelled in Sao Sebastiao, Ubatuba, Ilhabela and Bertioga.
“Our rescue teams are not managing to get to several location; it is a chaotic situation,” said Felipe Augusto, Sao Sebastiao’s mayor.
“We are working at nearly 50 residences that collapsed under the force of the water and there are still people buried,” he told GloboNews.
More than 100 firefighters were working on the scene, with the aid of helicopters, according to local media.
Amid the loss and destruction, authorities said a boy aged two was rescued from a sea of mud, as was a woman who was giving birth.
Weather forecasts show heavy rains are set to continue in Sao Paulo’s coastal area, challenging rescue workers and raising the prospect of a higher death toll.
The federal government ordered the mobilisation of several ministries to assist victims, restore infrastructure and start reconstruction work.
Operations at the port of Santos, South America’s largest, were meanwhile interrupted amid gusts of wind exceeding 55 kilometres per hour (34 miles per hour) and waves of more than one metre high on Saturday, according to a local news outlet.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on his social media account he will visit the main affected areas on Monday.
Lula said government at all levels would work to “take care of the injured, look for missing people and restore roads, energy and telecommunications”.
The US will back Ukraine in its fight against Russia for "as long as it takes", US President Joe Biden has said on an unannounced visit to Kyiv.
"We have every confidence you're going to continue to prevail," he said.
Mr Biden's first trip to Ukraine as president came days before the first anniversary of Russia's invasion.
He said that Russia's President Vladimir Putin had been "dead wrong" to think Russia could outlast Ukraine and its Western allies.
He met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the pair visited a memorial to soldiers who have died in the nine years since Russia annexed Crimea and its proxy forces captured parts of the eastern Donbas region.
Mr Biden's presence was intended to reaffirm America's "unwavering commitment to Ukraine's democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity", according to a White House statement.
He had taken a 10-hour train journey from Poland to reach Kyiv in secret, later returning to Poland. Russia was informed about the trip a few hours before President Biden's departure for "deconfliction purposes", a US official said.
After the visit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new package of security assistance for Ukraine valued at $450m (£373m), including ammunition for howitzers and the Himars rocket system, Javelin missiles and air surveillance radars.
The US will also provide Kyiv with an extra $10m in emergency assistance to maintain Ukraine's energy infrastructure, Mr Blinken said.
A new wave of sanctions against individuals and companies "that are trying to evade or backfill Russia's war machine" will also be announced later this week.
Mr Zelensky said Ukraine's victory over Russia depended on resolve and that he saw such determination in Mr Biden.
"It is now and in Ukraine that the fate of the world order, which is based on rules, on humanity... is being decided," he said.
He also said that the two leaders had discussed the possibility of sending other weapons. Mr Zelensky has repeatedly called for F-16 fighter jets, something the US and other allies have so far stopped short of approving.
Commenting on the trip, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said failure would befall those who, as she put it, "sold their souls to the Americans".
In a scene that added drama to the most high-profile visit to Ukraine since the war began, air raid sirens wailed while President Biden and Mr Zelensky were in St Michael's Cathedral in central Kyiv. The sirens sound regularly in the city.
While other world leaders have visited Ukraine over the past year, the US president's appearance in Kyiv during a war in which American soldiers are not fighting is a show of unity at a time when Russia says Western support for Ukraine is waning.
The visit was welcomed by Ukrainians in Kyiv.
"I'm so grateful for his support - it means so much to us," Roksoliana Gera told the BBC. "I appreciate his courage, that he took on this challenge and came to show the support of the American nation."
Oleksandra Soloviova said the visit showed Russia that "the US supports us and will continue supporting us, with sanctions and military equipment".
The Ukrainian president's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the visit had been strategic as well as historic. "Many issues are being solved and those that have stalled will be accelerated," he said.
The US is one of Ukraine's biggest allies and the state department has so far announced $24.9bn in military assistance.
In January, Mr Biden announced that the US would send 31 battle tanks and longer-range missiles are also on their way.
However, there is a growing political divide in the US over the amount of aid Kyiv should receive in future.
President Biden's visit to Kyiv came ahead of a three-day visit to Poland where he will meet the country's President, Andrzej Duda, and east European members of the Nato military alliance.
In another development, China's foreign minister has said Beijing is deeply worried by the escalation of the war in Ukraine and the danger it could spiral out of control.
Source : https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/18/earthquake-death-toll-surpasses-46000-in-syria-turkey
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took a helicopter tour Sunday of one of the provinces worst-affected by the Feb. 6 earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria and pledged a further $100 million in aid to help the region.
“This is going to be a long-term effort,” Blinken said at Incirlik Air Base, a joint U.S.-Turkish facility that has coordinated the distribution of disaster aid. “The search and rescue, unfortunately, is coming to an end. The recovery is on, and then there will be a massive rebuilding operation.”
President Joe Biden announced $85 million for Turkey and Syria days after the earthquake that has killed more than 44,000 people in the two countries. The U.S. has also sent a search and rescue team, medical supplies and equipment.
The additional aid includes $50 million in emergency refugee and migration funds and $50 million in humanitarian assistance, Blinken said.
The secretary of state is making his first trip to NATO ally Turkey since he took office two years ago. Blinken arrived at Incirlik Air Base, near Adana, on Sunday after attending the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
He toured Turkey’s toured Hatay province from the air with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. He was expected to meet with U.S. and Turkish service personnel, as well as Turkish military families affected by the earthquake.
“When you see the extent of the damage, the number of buildings, the number of apartments, the number of homes that have been destroyed, it’s going to take a massive effort to rebuild,” the top U.S. diplomat said after the helicopter tour.
“The most important thing right now is to get assistance to people who need it, to get them through the winter and to get them back on their feet,” Blinken said as troops nearby unloaded boxes of aid… We’ll stick with it until we get the job done.”
Incirlik, home to the U.S. Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing, has been a crucial logistics center for aid distribution. Supplies from around the world have been flown into the base and sent by truck and helicopter to those in need, including in difficult to reach villages.
Blinken is set to fly to Ankara, Turkey’s capital, later Sunday for discussions with Turkish officials on Monday, including an anticipated meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As well as the effects of the earthquake, Blinken is expected to discuss Sweden and Finland’s efforts to join NATO, which Turkey has delayed.
Source : https://globalnews.ca/news/9498175/turkey-earthquake-blinken/
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