Entries in West Coast (6)


Record Temperatures Hit West Coast

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The West Coast is preparing for what could be another three days of record temperatures, as Saturday’s heat has created dangerous conditions from California to Texas.

According to ABC Meteorologist Ginger Zee, Saturday saw record temperatures across the region. The temperature in Needles, Calif. reached 123 degrees, the highest ever in June. Sacramento, Calif. made it up to 107 degrees, San Antonio, Texas hit 108 and it was 119 in Phoenix. Salt Lake City has already seen four days of temperatures near 105 degrees.

That heat is expected to continue over the next few days. Las Vegas is expecting an all-time high of 117 degrees while Death Valley, Calif. will look to live up to its name with a scorching 129 degree temperature.

This heat is dangerous. One person is dead in Las Vegas, and dozen more have been hospitalized for heat-related illness. A woman in San Diego had to be air rescued after the heat made her sick while on a hike. Volunteers in Houston are bringing the homeless water and ice.

 Residents are advised to stay out of the sun and keep hydrated


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Powerful Santa Ana Winds Blast Southern California

A tree knocked down the canopy at a Shell station in Pasadena on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. KABC-TV(LOS ANGELES) -- The fiercest Santa Ana winds in a decade swept through Southern California Wednesday night, knocking down trees and causing extensive power outages and scattered flight delays.

High wind warnings were also issued for Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Arizona, and early Thursday winds of over 90 mph in Utah overturned semi-trailer rigs and left 30,000 homes and businesses without power, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In southern California, nearly 200,000 customers were without power Thursday morning, Southern California Edison told KABC-TV, while the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water said 87,000 customers were in the dark. The San Gabriel Valley was especially hard-hit by the outages, and the Pasadena area was strewn with downed trees.

The storm -- carrying winds of up to 60 mph in LA and up to 140 mph in the mountains -- is expected to peak on the West Coast Thursday and continue through Friday. The National Weather Service warned that winds as high as 80 mph are expected in higher-elevation areas near LA Thursday. Heavy snow hit the Rockies, the Weather Service said, and the storm system is heading for the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley this weekend.

The Weather Service said there was a "significant fire threat" in southern California, and officials in the LA area said they were worried. "When you get 60, 70, 80 mile-an-hour winds, if a fire were to get established, because the brush is still dry even though we had some rain recently, it's going to be very difficult to stop," Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage told KABC.

At Los Angeles International Airport, power failed Wednesday night for about an hour, stranding waiting passengers in the dark. More than 20 inbound flights had to be diverted because of debris blowing around on the runways, KABC TV reported.

By Thursday morning, aircraft were landing again.

Trees fell on freeways, on a gas station in Pasadena, and in front yards. In Van Nuys, a homeowner told KABC that he thought it was an earthquake at first when a huge tree fell over in front of his home.

"All of a sudden I heard this huge rumbling sound and then the ground actually shook bad, and I wasn't sure if it was an earthquake or what was going on, and so I ran out to the front of the house and here is this 150-foot tree...I mean thank God it didn't fall toward our house," said the homeowner, Chris Drury.

Several school districts announced shutdowns Thursday in the San Gabriel area, though schools in the LA Unified district were open.

The Santa Ana winds are a fall phenomenon on the West Coast -- triggered when dry winds blow west from the desert and squeeze through the mountains.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan's Tsunami Debris to Hit US Sooner Than Expected

Sankei via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March created lasting images of houses, boats, cars and entire neighborhoods pulled out to sea. It also caused a massive sea of debris -- up to 20 million tons of it, all of it potentially toxic -- in an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

Now, seven months later, that floating debris is on a direct collision course with the Pacific Coast of the United States -- and it might be coming sooner than expected.

“Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day,” oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer told ABC News.

Early computer models predicted that the debris would not hit the United States for two to three years.  But a Russian training ship, the STS Pallada, following a map of the computer models, hit an extended field of debris in mid-Pacific, close to Midway Island, a U.S. territory about 1,700 miles from Hawaii.

The ship’s encounter with the 1,000-mile-long mass of tsunami debris came in September -- 300 miles ahead of schedule, and nearly 2,000 miles from the site of the tsunami in Japan.

The ship’s crew found a battered, 20-foot fishing boat marked “Fukushima,” the same spot in Japan that was ground zero for the tsunami.

The Pallada’s crew sailed through the debris, surrounded by everything from appliances and televisions to furniture, all of it now headed straight for Hawaii.

The first of it is expected to hit Midway Atoll this winter, then Hawaii in early 2013, and the U.S. West Coast -- mainly Washington and Oregon -- in early 2014.

Experts now estimate that lighter objects will wash ashore Midway’s beaches this winter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Earthquake: East Coast Cities Not Prepared, Say Experts

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) -- Eastern earthquakes, such as the 5.8 magnitude quake that hit Tuesday, are rare. There has not been a quake this strong in Virginia since 1897. "I can't remember an event that large on the East Coast," said Paul Segall, a Stanford geophysicist who studies earthquake faults. He called Tuesday's shaker "a significant earthquake for that part of the world. It could do significant damage."

But the bad news: Even smaller quakes could cause damage, because East Coast cities aren't as earthquake-ready as their West Coast counterparts.

A magnitude 4.5 shaker hit the area in 2003.

"Basically, the building stock in the Eastern part of the United States is not built for seismic shaking like we are in California," he said. "For that reason alone, we would expect more damage."

Asked where the vulnerabilities lie, he said, "The kinds of buildings we would worry about are unreinforced masonry: unreinforced brick or unreinforced stone or concrete that doesn't have enough rebar in it."

States along the Pacific Coast have strong rules for what buildings must be able to withstand. Newer buildings in California are buttressed but also designed to sway instead of snap if the ground shakes beneath them.

Older Eastern cities -- such as New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston -- have many more buildings made of brick, which can crumble in a violent earthquake. There's been no impetus to upgrade them.

Around Washington, D.C., where there was significant shaking and many evacuations, there's "a lot of old brick buildings built before anybody worried about those kinds of things," Segall said.

"People haven't invested in retrofitting as we have in California," he said.

For cities along the East Coast and in the Midwest, which had some of the historically strongest quakes that occurred in 1811-12 along the New Madrid fault, forcing the Mississippi River to begin flowing north for a while, Tuesday's quake may be "a good warning."

Disaster plans for most East Coast cities are less focused on quakes than other potential disasters.

"It's not good," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. "Because resources are limited, because emergency agencies have had to make budget cuts, they have to make tough choices and plan for what's most likely.

"In California, that would mean focusing on earthquakes," he said. "In New York, that would mean worrying about coastal storms and terrorist attacks.

"But that doesn't mean there's no chance of something else happening. You're picking and choosing what to plan for. And essentially, you're taking a shot."

Some 80 million to 90 million Americans are estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to live in seismically active areas. But the Eastern United States is very different from the West. Its faults are older and the shaking can be felt further away from the epicenter.

Among the most significant U.S. quakes outside the West Coast was the Cape Ann, Mass., earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755, with an estimated magnitude of 6.0 to 6.3. It knocked down chimneys and stone fences and produced the most damage around Cape Ann and in Boston, especially in a landfill around the city wharfs. It could be felt from Halifax, Nova Scotia, south to the Chesapeake Bay. People aboard a ship 200 miles off the coast of Cape Ann felt the quake and feared they had run aground.

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck western Ohio on March 9, 1937, cracking a schoolhouse, breaking chimneys and walls, reducing the output of oil and gas wells and creating new springs where old springs had run dry. That shaker could be felt in tall buildings of Chicago, Milwaukee and Toronto, as well as in Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

On Tuesday, hospitals around the earthquake region contacted by ABC News did not report injuries. But they often seemed puzzled when asked, "Did you feel it?"

"YES! In Morgantown, W.V.," went one emailed answer. "Never felt anything like that before...all shook up!"

"We felt the tremor in Columbia, S.C.," said another. "I was sitting at my desk and felt the quake. It was weird."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rain, Winds, Snow Wreak Havoc Along West Coast

Photo Courtesy - Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- West Coast residents are mopping up Thursday from another round of extreme weather that brought strong winds and heavy rain Wednesday to Southern California and blizzard conditions to Arizona.

Parts of Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona are under blizzard warnings Thursday morning, and some areas can expect more than a foot of snow as the storm moves into Colorado.

Southern California residents are still recovering from the last week's storm that brought nearly a year's worth of rain in a week.  Motorists faced downed trees and rolling tumbleweeds resulting from strong winds on Southern California highways and a mudslide closed parts of the 91 freeway at the Riverside County border, according to the California Highway Patrol.  Local engineers are warning communities of the threat of more mudslides and flooding.

In the San Bernardino County town of Highland, homes were already buried in mud from last week's storms.

As a result of the storms, California's acting governor, Abel Maldonado, sent a letter to President Obama requesting a disaster declaration for the state.

While the rain and snow has moved on in California, cold temperatures and strong winds remain in the storm's wake.  A wind warning has been issued for Thursday night into early Friday morning for the passes and canyons near Los Angeles, where near-hurricane strength winds are possible.´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


West Coast Braces for Heavy Rain, Snow

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/KABC-TV Los Angeles(LOS ANGELES) -- The west coast is getting hit with the first of what is predicted to be a series of strong storms over the next four to five days. California is forecast to get heavy rains and strong winds, with significant snow totals in parts.

Mudslides are of concern in the Los Angeles area where K-rail concrete barriers have been assembled in parts to defend homes from the flow of water. Areas east and west of the city are expecting a foot or more of rain.

Snow could reach up to 10 feet in parts of the Sierra, while it's expected to total nearly a half-foot around Tahoe, an area which could see 15 inches by the middle of next week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio