EDM Wednesday Briefing: Hurricane Newton, California Wildfires, DC Metro, CA Metrolink, Sri Lanka, Houston, Zika
Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 7, 2016: Hurricane Newton makes a second landfall in northwest Mexico and sets its sights on Arizona, the Saddle Fire causes additional mandatory evacuations, the Gap Fire burns in Klamath National Forest with plenty of fuel, Washington, D.C.'s Metro experiences multiple issues, a Metrolink commuter train in California strikes a semi-trailer, Sri Lanka develops a web-based disaster reporting system, CAL FIRE says that the Chimney Fire is contained, a tanker in the Houston shipping channel catches fire, and more non-travel Zika cases appear in Miami.
- A second landfall by Hurricane Newton occurred early Wednesday morning near Sonora in northwest Mexico. It quickly weakened into a tropical storm. Newton made its first landfall near Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday morning as a Category 1 Hurricane, with 78 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 116 mph. After its second landfall, the system is forecast to move inland and north, producing significant rainfall for New Mexico and Arizona.
- Hurricane Newton is expected to weaken quickly once it moves inland, but the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for Tuscon, Arizona that extends through Wednesday evening. Heavy rains, strong thunderstorms, and dust storms are possible with Newton, whose winds are still likely to be anywhere from 30-40 mph, which is tropical storm strength. Officials announced that sand bags were available at several locations around Tucson for residents to pick up and use to safeguard their homes ahead of the approaching storm system.
- As of Tuesday morning, the Saddle Fire burning in Butte County, CA caused new evacuations to be ordered, closed roads, and prompted the closure of Concow Elementary School. At least three structures were destroyed and an additional 300 others were being threatened by the fire that began on Pentz Road as five individual fires. Officials opened an evacuation center on Notre Dame Boulevard, while livestock assistance is available from the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, and a small animal shelter is open in Oroville. More than 350 firefighters are working to contain the blaze; the cause is still undetermined.
- Another wildfire in California has already consumed almost 28,000 acres and continues to burn in the Klamath National Forest. The Gap Fire is burning in Siskiyou County, and mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents on both sides of Highway 96, including the town of Hamburg. More than 2,000 fire fighting personnel are fighting the fire, which was approximately 30 percent contained on Tuesday evening. The Forest Service noted that the fire is burning in an area that has a heavy fuel load due to the lack of previous fire activity.
- Riders commuting on the Metro in Washington, D.C. suffered from significant delays Tuesday morning as at least two separate issues caused service disruptions. The Blue and Orange lines were most impacted, along with Red and Yellow, with the Blue line experiencing an issue with the track outside the Van Dorn station. Equipment servicing the Orange line derailed at the Dunn Loring station, causing trains to single track, while the Yellow line experienced delays due to congestion from the Blue line trains that were delayed.
- Near Los Angeles, in Sun Valley, 21 people with minor injuries were transported to local area hospitals after a Metrolink commuter train heading south struck the very end of a semi-trailer that was sitting on its tracks. The train was carrying 187 passengers when the train struck the vehicle, but according to fire officials, the driver of the truck was not injured. The train only suffered minor damage, and was able to resume service about an hour later. Details regarding what caused the crash have yet to be determined.
- To improve upon its response and recovery processes, Sri Lanka is seeking to install or upgrade appropriate infrastructure in order to enhance mitigation efforts and reduce its risk to disasters and climate change. To assist with this, Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center (DMC) is developing a web-based disaster damage and loss reporting system. Recent funding from the World Bank’s Climate Resilience Program will cover the $110 million dollar cost of the web-based system.
- CAL FIRE officials reported that the Chimney Fire, burning in San Luis Obispo near Lake Nacimiento, was 100 percent contained as of Tuesday. The fire consumed 46,433 acres, destroyed 49 homes and damaged an additional 21 homes and eight structures before officials were able to bring it under control. According to officials, the fire that broke out on August 13 near Chimney Rock Road and Running Deer Road was not intentionally set, but the cause of blaze is still under investigation.
- In Houston very early on Tuesday, the Coast Guard was notified that a tanker, the Aframax River was on fire after its bunker tank was punctured. Officials estimated that there may have been about 90,000 gallons of low sulphur diesel in the punctured bunker, most of which burned up in the fire. The shipping channel was closed most of the day on Tuesday, reopening late in the afternoon. Ongoing cleanup will be handled by OMI Environmental Solutions with Coast Guard oversight. The incident is still under investigation by local officials who will work in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
- According to health officials, Florida now has a total of 56 reported Zika virus cases with the recent confirmation of seven new cases that are not related to travel. Six of the cases are from the Miami Beach area that has been identified as active for Zika transmission, and the other case is from a location within Miami-Dade County.
— Tucson DOT (@Tucson_DOT) September 7, 2016