EDM Monday Briefing: PNW Storm, NC Flooding, Wildfires in the West, Hurricane Nicole
Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 17, 2016: A strong storm slams the Pacific Northwest, damage from recent North Carolina flooding exceeds $1.5 billion, firefighters contain the Emerald Fire in California, the Little Valley Fire rages in Nevada, Hurricane Nicole produces large swells and dangerous surf conditions on the East Coast, a ferry capsizes near central Myanmar, graphic imagery shows dual typhoons churning in the Pacific Ocean, and a North Korea ballistic missile launch reportedly fails.
- On Saturday, October 15, a storm made up of remnants from Typhoon Songda slammed into the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon and Washington, bringing excessive, heavy rains, high winds, and tornadoes. The storm was not as bad as originally feared, as it remained slightly farther offshore than predicted, but winds still toppled trees, downed power lines, induced rockslides, and caused significant widespread damage and power outages. A confirmed EF2 tornado also touched down in Manzanita, Oregon.
- North Carolina released its first assessment of damages caused from widespread flooding in the state due to Hurricane Matthew -- a whopping $1.5 billion dollars. The detailed analysis estimated that more than 100,000 buildings - including homes, businesses, and government structures - were damaged, but warn that the estimate could rise as floodwaters recede. Officials derived the estimates from property records, topography, and stream gauges, along with the use of drones and manned aircraft. The death toll in the state is at 26 as a result of flooding and other hazards from Matthew.
- A spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed that the Emerald Fire has been extinguished, but noted that hazardous conditions now exist in areas impacted by the fire. The wind-whipped fire quickly raged through El Dorado County beginning early Friday morning and caused the evacuations of more than 500 homes. Weather conditions complicated firefighting efforts as winds had caused unstable soils in the area, especially along Highway 89. Recent vegetation-management projects were credited with helping to minimize the fire's intensity, as these efforts had removed small brush and forest litter, reducing available fuels.
- A larger and more intense fire is currently raging just across state lines from the Emerald Fire - in Nevada between Carson City and Reno - along Highway 395 in the Washoe Valley. As of Saturday, the fire - dubbed the Little Valley Fire - was only 5 percent contained and had already consumed 3,460 acres, damaged 22 residences, 17 outbuildings. The fire is threatening at least another 500 structures. Heavy area rainfall is also a concern as fire creates unstable soils in burned areas, possibly triggering rockslides and debris flows that may impact highways, including I-580 and Franktown Road along with homes in the area.
- Hurricane Nicole is still churning in the Atlantic with sustained winds of approximately 75 mph and a central pressure of 960 millibars. The hurricane does not pose any danger to land, but the National Weather Service (NWS) indicated that Nicole is generating dangerous high surf conditions along the East Coast of the United States, Atlantic Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles and the Leeward Islands at least for the next several days. The swells are producing rip currents and dangerous surf conditions. The NWS recommended that coastal residents consult local forecasts for the most current conditions. The most recent public advisory also warns that the west coast of Europe and the northwest coast of Africa are likely to be impacted by these swells later in the week.
- Local authorities said that although 154 people have been rescued and another 14 bodies have been recovered, rescue crews are still working to recover others from a ferry that capsized over the weekend in central Myanmar. Officials expressed concern that the death toll could rise significantly since a total of about 250 people, including university students, teachers, and doctors were on the boat when it capsized early Saturday morning. The boat is thought to have been exceeding its carrying capacity by approximately 100 people when it capsized.
- In Fairbanks, AK, a suspect remains on the loose after shooting a police officer and stealing his patrol car. The injured police officer was flown to an Anchorage area hospital for treatment after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. Identified as an 11-year veteran of the police department, the injured Sgt. Allen Brandt was able to radio police dispatch for assistance after being shot. Police found the stolen patrol car several blocks away and have released dash cam video in hopes of apprehending the suspect.
- Graphic satellite imagery shows dual typhoons churning in the Pacific Ocean. Typhoon Karen has already moved through the Philippines, while Typhoon Haima (soon to be Typhoon Lawin) is poised to strike the storm-battered region. Typhoon Karen was a fast-moving but powerful storm that blew through the northern Philippines province of Aurora on Sunday killing at least two and causing the displacement of at least 15,000 people. People sought refuge in more than 130 emergency shelters, while the storm toppled trees, downed power lines, caused power outages, and led to some local flooding in approximately 5 provinces.
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the United Nations is concerned over increased looting and attacks on international relief aid in the Haiti's hardest hit regions. In desperation, some Haitians have been blocking roads and looting aid trucks, including a World Food Program truck near the port city of Les Cayes. Les Cayes was one of the worst impacted cities in the nation and has been one of the hardest to reach due to extensive infrastructure and storm damage. Hurricane Matthew came ashore the Western Hemisphere's poorest country packing winds of 145 mph, decimating villages and towns, causing the deaths of at least 546 people, and destroying at least 175,000 homes.
- On Saturday, North Korea conducted another missile launch of an intermediate ballistic missile, likely a Musudan, that failed immediately after launch near the northwestern city of Kusong. The Pentagon strongly condemned the launch, calling on North Korea to "refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the area." The U.S. also restated its commitment to defend the Republic of Korea and Japan, its allies in the area from any attacks or provocations.
Pacific Northwest escapes worst of storm's fury. https://t.co/9dJqLjE5dz
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) October 17, 2016
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) October 14, 2016
14 dead, scores missing in #Myanmar ferry sinking
— NewsOne (@newsonepk) October 17, 2016
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) October 17, 2016