jueves, 16 de agosto de 2012

Extreme Weather

Weather Gone Wild

Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately. What’s going on?


By Peter Miller
Photograph by Sean R. Heavey, Barcroft Media/Landov

The weekend forecast for Nashville, Tennessee, called for two to four inches of rain. But by the afternoon of Saturday, May 1, 2010, parts of the city had seen more than six inches, and the rain was still coming down in sheets.
Mayor Karl Dean was in the city’s Emergency Communications Center monitoring the first reports of flash flooding when something on a TV screen caught his eye. It was a live shot of cars and trucks on Interstate 24 being swamped by a tributary of the Cumberland River southeast of the city. Floating past them in the slow lane was a 40-foot-long portable building from the Lighthouse Christian School.
“We’ve got a building running into cars,” the TV anchorman was saying.
Dean had been in the “war room” for hours. But when he saw the building floating down the highway, he says, “it became very clear to me what an extreme situation we had on our hands.” Soon 911 calls were coming in from every part of the city. Police, fire, and rescue teams were dispatched in boats. One crew in a skiff headed out to I-24 to pluck the driver of an 18-wheeler from the chest-high water. Other teams pulled families off rooftops and workers from flooded warehouses. Still, 11 people died in the city that weekend.

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 Panorama composed of four images; Sean R. Heavey, Barcroft Media/Landov

A deluge falls from the core of a thunderstorm near Glasgow in July 2010. “I felt like if you could stand in the middle and look up, you'd see straight into the heavens,” says photographer Sean Heavey.

 Photograph by Daniel Bryant

The biggest dust storm in living memory rolls into Phoenix on July 5, 2011, reducing visibility to zero. Desert thunderstorms kicked up the mile-high wall of dust and sand.

Photograph by Larry W. Smith, European Pressphoto Agency/Landov

A flaming fence post marks the trail of a forest fire near Bastrop on September 5, 2011, during a record drought and heat wave. The fire, which destroyed 1,685 houses, may have been sparked by dead pine trees falling onto power lines.

Photograph by Martial Trezzini, European Pressphoto Agency/Landov

Frozen spray from Lake Geneva entombs cars, trees, and a promenade during a severe cold spell in February 2012. An unusual dip in the polar jet stream, which looped as far south as Africa, brought Arctic air and deep snows to Europe, killing several hundred people.

Photograph by Rick Murray

Jamey Howell and Andrea Silvia had just heard that church was canceled when the flood submerged their Jeep near Nashville on May 2, 2010. The teenagers clung to the roof rack for more than an hour and then—as their parents watched helplessly—let go. A mile downstream they struggled onto a riverbank, alive.

Photograph by Scott Olson, Getty Images

Fortified by a levee, a house near Vicksburg survives a Yazoo River flood in May 2011. Snowmelt and intense rains—eight times as much rainfall as usual in parts of the Mississippi River watershed—triggered floods that caused three to four billion dollars in damages.

Photograph by Digitalglobe

On April 27, 2011, the U.S. was hit by 199 tornadoes, a single-day record—but there's no clear evidence, scientists say, of a long-term rise in tornado frequency. The 190-mile-an-hour twister that carved a sharp path across Tuscaloosa missed the University of Alabama football stadium (upper left) by a mile, then threaded between a large mall (X-shaped building at center) and the main hospital, which was soon treating victims. The tornado killed 44, then roared northeast to the Birmingham area, where it killed 20 more.

 Photograph by Mike Hollingshead

“It was really cranking,” photographer Mike Hollingshead says of this 130-mile-an-hour twister. But to him, that was not a clue to run the other way. A dedicated storm chaser, he shot this funnel on June 20, 2011, outside Bradshaw, where it derailed freight-train cars.

Photograph by China Daily/Reuters

Rainwater cascades onto a Chengdu resident rushing up a flight of stairs from an underground garage. An unusually severe downpour on July 3, 2011, flooded streets and knocked out electricity in the city, which is the capital of Sichuan Province in central China.

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