EDM Wednesday Briefing: Hurricane Madeline, Tropical Depressions, Japan, United Airlines, Listeria, Hepatitis A
Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 31, 2016: Hurricane Madeline sets its sights on the Big Island of Hawaii, tropical trouble is brewing for Florida's Gulf Coast and the East Coast of the U.S. from Florida to the Carolinas, Typhoon Lionrock makes landfall in Japan, more wildfires burn in California, a Listeria outbreak is detected in vegetables in southern states, a United Airlines flight encounters severe turbulence, and a Hepatitis A outbreak is linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt.
- Hurricane Madeline, now just a Category 1 storm producing winds of about 90 mph and set to impact the Big Island of Hawaii, may weaken further as it approaches, but is still forecast to be a hurricane when it nears the island. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a hurricane warning for the island ahead of the storm's approach. According to the projected path, the storm's eye is expected to skim along the southern portion of the Big Island late Wednesday or in the very early hours of Thursday morning. Other islands in the chain are under a tropical storm watch, including Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, but the NWS is cautioning residents to monitor the system for any potential changes that may impact their local area.
- Tropical storm warnings for North Carolina and the Outer Banks were cancelled late Tuesday night after Tropical Depression 8 made a turn farther out toward sea. Although it is forecast to possibly upgrade to a tropical storm, the likely impacts for the coast of North Carolina are gusty winds and rainfall amounts of about one to three inches, with isolated pockets of up to five inches possibly affecting far eastern portions of the state, including the Outer Banks.
- Tropical Depression 9 is churning in the Gulf of Mexico and a hurricane watch has been issued for the coastal regions of north Florida, between the Anclote River to Indian Pass. The National Weather Service issued a Tropical Storm Warning from the Anclote River to the Walton/Bay County line. Forecasters noted that the system also shifted slightly on Tuesday, likely having a greater impact on South Carolina and Georgia. The storm's central pressure is at 1004 millibars, and is forecast to gain strength into Wednesday, likely developing into a tropical storm. The NWS recommends that interests along the East Coast, from Florida to the Carolinas, monitor the storm for any changes that could impact the region.
- On Tuesday afternoon in northern Japan, Typhoon Lionrock made landfall near Ofunato, bringing heavy rains of two to four inches in most areas. Twelve inches were recorded northwest of Tokyo, in a town called Chichibu. At least nine people have died as a result of the storm - their bodies found inside a nursing home that had been impacted by flooding. Large swells, heavy rains, and strong winds occurred with the system, which brought about the cancelation of more than 100 flights and caused evacuation orders for thousands of people prior to its making landfall on Tuesday afternoon. Since record keeping began in 1951, this is the first typhoon to make landfall directly in the area.
- Yet another wildfire has erupted in California, this time in Cherry Valley, near Beaumont, in Riverside County. Named the Bogart Fire, the rapidly moving fire spread quickly, causing officials to issue the evacuations of about 400 homes, or nearly 700 residents, as more than 300 firefighters worked to contain the fire and prevent structures from burning. Helicopters and air tankers were also assisting in the fight, although some of the air resources were being released Tuesday evening. As of 8:30 pm on Tuesday, the blaze was only about 10 percent contained, although some of the evacuation orders were being lifted.
- Another food recall due to a possible Listeria contamination has been issued, this time by the food manufacturer: Country Fresh, which supplies grocery stores such as Harris Teeter, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie. After a product being sold at a store in Georgia tested positive for Listeria bacteria, several of the vegetable products are being recalled by the company, including precut onions, mushrooms, and peppers. The states affected by the recall are across the south and include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
- United Airlines flight UA-880, enroute to London's Heathrow Airport from Houston, made an emergency landing after it encountered unexpected, severe turbulence, according to a statement issued by the airline. The plane diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland, where 16 people have been transported to University Hospital Limerick by ambulance, including 14 passengers and two crew members.
- Early Wednesday, Germany's federal police evacuated Piers A and A+ after a "suspicious passenger" bypassed the security checkpoint, resulting in a security breach. Loudspeakers in the airport asked passengers to immediately leave the building, and reports indicated that the airport would require all passengers to go through the security check again to "ensure that the terminal is secure." Inbound and outbound flights were delayed at the airport, and police were unsure if the security bypass was intentional.
- On Tuesday evening, a NY Waterways Water Taxi ferry boat enroute to Jersey City struck several kayakers in the Hudson River, injuring at least 5 people. One person, the kayaking instructor, suffered what appeared to be a partially severed arm. The captain of the ferry was tested for alcohol and drugs by the Coast Guard -- both came back negative. Visibility may have played a part in the accident which is still an active investigation.
- Authorities linked a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A to frozen strawberries from Egypt. The outbreak occurred after Tropical Smoothie Café locations throughout Virginia unknowingly served the tainted strawberries in smoothies, which reportedly caused the infection of at least 50 people, 44 of whom reside in Virginia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that Hepatitis A is difficult to investigate due to its long incubation period - anywhere from 15-50 days, which delayed a public notification, likely resulting in additional people being infected. The strawberries were immediately removed from the Tropical Smoothie Café locations following notification from officials and have been replaced with new sources originating from California and Mexico.
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) August 31, 2016
— UNISDR (@unisdr) August 31, 2016
— ABC News (@ABC) August 31, 2016