Bill Reid at the National Hurricane Center provides the latest audio update on Hurricane Alex at 7:00am CDT today.
Highlights: Alex moving slowly, currently 155 miles east of La Pesca, Mexcio, 220 miles southeast of Brownsville, TX. Alex could reach Category 2 strength when it hits landfall overnight tonight. Maximum winds are now 80 mph. Hurricane force winds extend out 25 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend 125 miles north, which means northeastern Mexico and south Texas are in the danger zone. Click here to listen.
A large earthquake hit Mexico this a.m, but the epicenter was far away from the megalopolis capital of Mexico City. That’s good news since it’s the second most populous urban area in the world with 18+ million residents, and earthquakes in Mexico City have are dangerous and deadly.(Tokyo, in case you were wondering, is no. 1, with 28+ million).
Early reports suggest that there was only window rattling in the capital. In rural Oaxaca, where the quake hit, we’re still awaiting news of damage. The latest from the AP.
Alex is a tropical storm today, but it will likely pick up enough strength to get the hurricane label by the time it hits Mexico later this week. It has already caused a few deaths, flooding and mudslides in Guatemala and El Salvador. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that its projected path will likely keep it clear of the oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Read more from the AP here.
It’s been raining for four days in northeastern Brazil with 13 inches having fallen so far, and forecasts are for more Rain. Rivers have swollen over their banks, and dams have burst. Whole villages have reportedly been swept into the rushing water. The BBC reports that in one small village, Muquem, the entire town of 50 people survived by climbing atop two enormous trees. Meanwhile, the town of Rio Largo, in the state of Alagoas, was also destroyed after a dam upstream burst. “A twisted railway, ruins and mud were all that was left of the poor town, where residents searched for survivors,” according to a Reuters report. “It came with so much force, washing away houses in the town. The town of Rio Largo is pretty much finished,” resident Nelson Rodrigues de Franca told Reuters. Read the latest from the BBC, from Reuters, and from CNN International, and video from Euronews.
Time to give some credit to the Food and Drug Administration. They recently went online and ordered some “generic Tamiflu” from a now defunct online drugstore. Alarm bell one is that there is no such thing as a “generic Tamiflu.” Only the real thing is legally marketed at this point. The bogus pills showed up to their offices in an envelope from India, and so being curious sorts the FDA actually went ahead and tested the pills and, you guessed it, they didn’t contain oseltamivir, the active ingredient in Tamiflu. You would probably expect it to be a sugar pill filled with lead, or mercury, or something strange, but here’s where things took a turn to the odd. The active ingredient in the “generic Tamiflu” was cloxacillin, an antibiotic similar to penicillin. So for all those people who think that virus can be treated with antibiotics (they can’t), hey, maybe the Indians are on to something.
In reality, if you’re allergic to penicillin, then you may be allergic to cloxacillin, and according to the FDA, here’s what can happen to you if you accidentally take this. You might get “a sudden, potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, with symptoms that include difficulty breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the throat or tongue, hives, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or a rapid or weak pulse.”
Just because one bogus drug store is gone, doesn’t mean the bogus Tamiflu is, so you can expect it to be popping up on other dubious health sites as we get closer to flu season.
If you’ve come across any of this generic Tamiflu, the FDA would like to know. Contact their Office of Criminal Investigations by calling 800-551-3989, or by visiting the OCI website.
A major storm swept through Oklahoma City this afternoon, local time, dumping six inches of rain in a short period of time, causing several cases of severe flash flooding.
NOAA has just released a weather satellite image snapped at 12:58 local time.
Meanwhile, local firefighters and a civilian who were rescuing a 17-year-old saw their own boat flip just as they were putting a life jacket on the teen. Other firefighters pulled the group of four to safety. Read that story from OKC’s Channel 5 (video on the jump).
Thomas Wopat-Moreau spent last Saturday night partying with some friends in East Fishkill, NY, then something set him off and he left the party in his BMW. He couldn’t get out of their fast enough apparently, since shortly thereafter he launched his beemer 480-feet off the Taconic State Parkway.
Seriously injured, Wopat-Moreau managed to crawl another 150-feet away but remained lost and stranded until Thursday.The State Police used cell-phone records to hone in on his location. “It’s a miracle he is alive,” said State Police Capt. Scott Brown. Read the full story from the New York Daily News.
An analysis by the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows a futuristic time-lapse sweep of gulf oil making its way around the horn of Florida, up the east coast of the U.S. and into Europe. Let’s hope it’s wrong. Read the report that accompanies the video here.
Yesterday, in honor of the start of hurricane season I wrote about the Hurricane of 1938, which defied the cold water north of Cape Hatteras and plowed into the East Coast, killing hundreds, injuring thousands, and destroying tens of thousands of boats and buildings along the coast.
I also pondered what a similar hurricane would in terms of damage today and took a semi-wild guesstimate at $50 billion. I wasn’t even close. I came across this infographic from Air Worldwide, a firm that specializes disaster risk modeling. By their estimates a category 3- to 4-hurricane that swept through New York and New Jersey would cause $110 billion in insured losses, and another $200+ billion in economic loss.
Is the federal and various state governments ready for this type of scenario? Probably not. I’m just saying.
From Galveston, Texas, all along the southeastern coastline to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, residents know it’s hurricane season, and this one has been forecast to be a busy one (although last year’s forecasts were notably wrong). Researchers at Colorado State University are saying there’s a 69% chance of a major ‘cane hitting the U.S this season. In the northeastern U.S. people don’t really think about it, but a devastating hurricane is not out of the question.
The 1938 hurricane that plowed through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont (yes, Vermont) claimed at least 700 lives, injured at least 3,500 more and left 63,000 homeless across the region. It sank 3,000 boats and damaged 75,000 buildings. Adjusted for inflation, the hurricane caused over $15 billion in damages. Today a similar hurricane would do far more damage, perhaps $50 billion or more, for the simple fact of increased population, and the incredible amount of industrial and residential property along the northeast coast.
From my original Popular Mechanics story on the hurricane:
On September 21, 1938, at 3:30 pm a foaming 16-ft. storm surge crashed ashore, spreading two-story-tall waves from central Long Island to Gloucester, Mass., about 250 miles apart. The surge enveloped shore towns, leaving standing water 6 ft. high and killing 29 in the small community of Westhampton, N.Y. The water tossed dozens of boats 300 ft. in from the coast, destroyed hundreds of houses, washed wreckage out to sea or deposited it inland, and scattered cars everywhere. The hurricane’s relentless waves punched a hole through the beach at Shinnecock Bay, cutting it in two and creating Shinnecock Inlet, which still exists today.
As the 120-mile-an-hour hurricane raked across Long Island it pushed a storm surge towards Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In New London, Conn., at the mouth of the Thames River, the storm surge took the Marsala, a colossal 300-ft., five-masted cargo ship, along with its 8- and 10-ton anchors, and slammed it into the town’s dockside warehouses, sparking a fire. Firefighters waded through chest-high floodwater to fight it for the next 10 hours.
In Westerly Rhode Island, one hundred people were killed as the hurricane came ashore and swept 500 homes into the sea. In Connecticut, 97 people were killed as the storm tracked straight up the Connecticut River. In Hartford the river burst its banks and sent water spreading out for miles.
It takes a powerful hurricane, and an incredible coincidence of weather patters for a hurricane to blast through the relatively cold-water past Cape Hatteras, but it’s not impossible.