STORMS - Tuesday January 11, 2005





According to the Worldwatch Institute, in 1998 alone, severe weather caused more than 30,000 deaths and close to $90 billion in damage. Hurricanes ravaged coastlines, tornadoes plowed through the United States with record force, and rain battered crops and left Do you have what it takes to be a storm chaser? Identify tornadoes and other weather events in this activity. millions of people homeless worldwide. What causes such severe weather? Can we prepare ourselves for these disasters?

Powerful storms such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are generated when warm, light air rises quickly into higher, colder levels in an unstable updraft that can reach over 100 miles per hour. Each type of storm forms under specific conditions; hurricanes occur over moisture-rich oceans and coastlines, for example. They draw their energy from warm ocean waters. Understanding the conditions that give rise to powerful storms is the key to preparing for their devastating effects.





Emergency water supplies Hexham


Waves lash Oban seafront Scotland







Several parts of the UK are being hit by severe weather, with strong winds and flood warnings in place.  More than 3,000 people are already without power in Scotland after parts of the country were hit by storms.  The Met Office has issued severe gale warnings for Northern Ireland, northern England, and Scotland.


With possible widespread damage to trees and buildings and coastal flooding at high tides, it warned against unnecessary travel.  Scotland was likely to be hit by winds of up to 100mph, the Met Office warned.  The Scottish Executive has been advised by the power firms that electricity supplies to 35,000 people could be disrupted.  Meanwhile, up to 10,000 homes in Hexham, Northumberland, lack running water for a fourth day due to weekend storms.


The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings for several areas. During the weekend, three people were killed and two went missing after torrential rain and gales swept north England and elsewhere. Thousands of people were evacuated from flood-stricken Carlisle, in Cumbria, and are unable to return home after adverse conditions at the weekend. About 3,000 homes across the county are still without electricity.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Environment Minister Elliot Morley told MPs local authorities could claim financial help for the clear-up following the recent floods.  He paid tribute to emergency services who helped flood victims cope in the aftermath of "truly exceptional amounts of rain" and offered his condolences to the family of those who lost their lives.







 Cruise liner caught in a tsunami






Winds of up to 124mph have been lashing parts of the UK, killing three drivers and leaving thousands of people without power.  The brunt of the bad weather was felt in Scotland, where 60,000 people were without electricity after gales sent trees and telegraph poles toppling. 


Northern England and Northern Ireland were also badly hit by the high winds, which blew over two trucks, claiming the lives of two motorists.  One lorry toppled off the Foyle Bridge in Londonderry, onto the banks of the River Foyle.


The A1 from Edinburgh to Newcastle was closed north of Berwick after a collision involving a lorry and a car.  The car driver, a man, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which happened near Eyemouth. The lorry driver suffered minor injuries.


Warnings of high winds prompted Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria to send home hundreds of office staff until Thursday.  Buildings at the plant suffered external damage from weekend winds.


BBC Weather forecaster Tori Good said: "Winds gusting up to 100mph have been forecast, with the most intense storm-force winds likely to batter the north coast of Northern Ireland and north-west Scotland."  "Even areas further south could be at a significantly high risk too," she added.


Another driver was killed when his articulated vehicle was blown off Foyle Bridge in Londonderry.

In Tayside, a van driver died when his vehicle and a lorry were in collision on the A90.  The motorist was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident, which happened near Forfar.


The northwest of Scotland and the Scottish islands are taking the brunt of the weather.  Gusts of 124mph were recorded on North Rona, while winds reached 105mph on Barra, both in the Western Isles.  Around 10,000 homes in the Northumberland market town of Hexham were left without water.




Lorry blown off Foyle Bridge Londonderry





Air and rail travel are expected to be affected by the strong gusts on Tuesday and trees are expected to be blown down.  On Tuesday afternoon, four flood warnings were in place in England and Wales, together with an additional 40 flood watches.  And the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued 12 flood warnings, as well as 18 flood watches.  Ms Good added: "The worst of the stormy winds are forecast to take their grip through Tuesday afternoon and evening.


Improving conditions


"Gales lasted through the night, especially in the northern half of the UK which will stay very windy with further gales the next day."  The problems in Hexham were caused after two water mains supplying the town and surrounding areas were washed away.  A spokeswoman for Northumbrian Water said some supplies would be restored by Wednesday and the rest by Friday.  Householders in northern Wales were hit by flooding and strong winds at the weekend.


Call the Environment Agency's Floodline for flood warnings - 0845 988 1188.


City Under Water  Your Flood Stories  In pictures: Carlisle floods





Carlisle United's Brunton Park flooded pitch




At any given moment, there are an estimated 2,000 thunderstorms in progress over Earth's surface. These storms can vary from relatively mild rainstorms to very damaging storms that feature hail and high wind. Thunderstorms form when warm air rises from Earth's surface and moves upwards quickly into the colder levels of the atmosphere. If conditions are right, tornadoes can form from this rapid updraft. Normally, however, the result is rain, wind, lightning, and thunder.

Without lightning, there would be no "thunder" in "thunderstorm." Thunder is the noise lightning makes as it travels through the air. Lightning occurs during all thunderstorms (though not every time it rains). During a storm, it strikes Earth 100 times each second. More than just a dazzling light show, lightning causes billions of dollars in damage each year.

Lightning forms when updrafts of air carry water droplets, which have a charge, upward to heights where some freeze into ice and snow particles. They form a cloud. As these particles begin to fall back to Earth, charges within the cloud become mixed. The differences in charge are released as lightning. You'll normally hear the sound of lightning a few moments after you see the sky light up. Light travels faster than sound, so if you are at a distance from the storm, lightning and thunder may seem oddly disconnected.  Ordinary objects can become dangerous missiles during a powerful storm.



Lighthouse engulfed by stormy seas





SABC Northern Britain faces gale battering - 43 mins ago

Guardian Unlimited Lorry driver feared dead in gales - 2 hrs ago

Daily Express Lorry Driver Feared Killed In Gales - 3 hrs ago

Daily Mail Driver feared dead after lorry blown from bridge - 3 hrs ago

Irish Times Storm warnings issued as gales of 100 mph forecast - 17 hrs ago * requires registration



Storm knocks out power supplies
11 Jan 05 |  Scotland

North still fighting flood effect
11 Jan 05 |  England

Severe storms set to hit Scotland
11 Jan 05 |  Scotland

In pictures: Storm sweeps UK
08 Jan 05 |  Photo Gallery

'No quick fix' to flood problem
10 Jan 05 |  Wales






 Perfect Storms




Both tornadoes and hurricanes are spinning columns of air capable of causing great damage. There are important differences between these two powerful storms, however. Tornadoes are more localized and typically found on land, while hurricanes can cover vast areas and draw their power from the warm tropical oceans.

Tornadoes range from only a few feet to one mile in diameter and are short in duration (normally only a few minutes long). Though these storms are localized, they can be extremely violent. The wind speed inside a tornado's funnel can exceed 200 miles per hour, enough to turn everyday objects into deadly projectiles. Tornadoes occur all over the world, at every time of the year, but they are most common in the summertime in the midwestern United States. This region's propensity for tornadoes has earned it the name Tornado Alley.

Tornadoes form from thunderstorms, though not all thunderstorms generate tornadoes. An unstable column of warm air rising within cumulus clouds can start to rotate because of changing wind directions at or near the ground. These updrafts alter the air's rotation from horizontal to vertical, creating conditions in which a funnel can develop. If conditions are right and the funnel forms, it can extend to the ground, forming a tornado.



All thunderstorms are capable of producing tornadoes, but detection is still a difficult task. Weather forecasters can identify the cloud features and conditions that normally precede these storms, and they know where they are most likely to occur. However, predicting the exact time, location, and intensity of tornadoes is still very difficult.

Tornadoes threaten areas the size of towns or counties, but hurricanes play themselves out on a much larger stage. These large storms can last for days or weeks and cover thousands of miles of territory. Hurricanes draw their strength from the warm tropical waters of the ocean. Unlike tornadoes, they lose their power source when they leave the ocean. Once on land, they gradually dissipate.







A stormy adventure by Jameson Hunter


The adventures of John Storm


Pirate whalers vesus conservationists trying to save a wounded whale



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