Category Archives: Weather

American Memorial Day 2016 – Rhone American Cemetary, Draguignan France

Been here before and always loved it. This year a little different: Thunderstorms rolling through the region. Ceremony moved to high school gym. But still impressive. Congratulations to Mrs. Alison Libersa who manages the cemetary for the American Battle Monuments Commission. It still was a roaring success. 

It is a bi-lingual event. Some speakers are more bi-lingual than others. Mr. Richard Strambio, Mayor of Draguignan, is one. Besides his staff serves a great lunch.

Highlight of the event is United States of America participation. This year was General Arlan M. DeBlieck who is the “mission support” guy for US in Europe. He brought the Navy European Band with him. A great choice!

Like most ceremonies, all kinds of presentations. For instance, the Riviera Chapter of Democrats Abroad France lays a memorial wreath.

Thank you also to the French Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Interior, including regional, departmental and communal governments.

Amtrak to test restoration of rail service lost since Katrina

Amtrak is planning to test the feasibility of restoring rail service on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Florida that has been dormant since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago.

Trains on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited route, which used to run between Los Angeles and Orlando, have ended in New Orleans since the 2005 storm, which wiped out tracks along the Gulf of Mexico.

Amtrak is planning to operate a test train on the route, which includes stops in Alabama and the panhandle of Florida before it heads south to Orlando, to examine the feasibility of restoring the service, the company announced this week. The train will run from New Orleans to Orlando on Feb. 18-19 with Amtrak leaders and elected officials, according to Amtrak officials.

The company said “the goal of the invitation-only trip is to examine the existing CSX railroad infrastructure and to better understand rail’s economic, cultural and mobility opportunities.”

“We want to work with community leaders and CSX,” Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. “Additional regional economic development can come from shared infrastructure investments on a timeline to better connect the region to the rest of the country and more than 500 other Amtrak destinations.”

A recently completed study showed restoring the rail service between Louisiana and Central Florida would attract between 138,300 and 153,900 passengers annually.

The study, conducted by Amtrak for the Southern Rail Commission, also showed it would cost $5.48 million to operate a daily roundtrip train on the shuttered Gulf Coast route if states chip in under a 2008 law that allows Amtrak to contract with local governments to provide increased service on shorter routes.

The cost would rise to $9.49 million if additional service is instituted between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., under the proposal.

Other options that were studied include operating two daily trips from New Orleans to only Mobile, with bus connections from there to existing Amtrak service in Jacksonville, Fla., and operating the one daily New Orleans-to-Florida trip under Amtrak’s long-distance route structure.

The study said the long-distance proposal would attract 69,100 passengers and cost $14.4 million per year to operate.

Advocates of restoring the dormant Gulf Coast rail service have been hoping to convince Amtrak of the feasibility of the route since a provision authorizing the study was included in a highway funding bill that was passed by Congress last year.

“The Gulf Coast region is home to numerous regional, national and global tourist destinations and events, including New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, the theme parks of central Florida, Gulf Coast beaches and casino gaming/resorts,” the authors of the feasibility study wrote in the begging of their report.

“Major league sports teams, NCAA bowl games, three cruise terminals with weekly mass-market cruise ship departures and convention opportunities also draw visitors to communities in the region, while military bases and major defense contractor facilities bring business and military travelers,” the report continued. “Reintroduction of rail passenger service to this market presents numerous marketing opportunities and Amtrak has the marketing capability to assist in promoting any service which is implemented.”

The 1,995-mile Sunset Limited is one of Amtrak’s national, or long-distance, trains, which have been dubbed money-losers by critics for years. The truncated route between Los Angeles and New Orleans carried 105,000 passengers in the 2014 fiscal year, the lowest total of any long-distance Amtrak service, according to figures released by the company.

Amtrak supporters have defended the losses on national routes such as Sunset Limited by arguing that subsidizing long-distance trains in parts of the country with little air service is a big part of the reason Congress created the company in the first place.

 

Best Amtrak routes for snow lovers

The best part about train travel is watching the world pass by at ground level. For snow lovers, a winter rail journey offers a bonus chance to revel in the winter landscape from the comfort of a window seat.

For Winter 2016, Amtrak has identified five rail routes that promise great seasonal scenery.

California Zephyr, Chicago – Emeryville (San Francisco): This route passes the Rockies and Lake Tahoe.

Adirondack, New York – Montreal: See the frosted Hudson Valley as the train makes its way to Canada.

Empire Builder, Chicago – Portland/Seattle: Glacier National Park in the wintertime provides some stunning sights.

Lakeshore Limited, Chicago – New York: Frozen lakes and snowy shores are the main attraction on this route.

Vermonter, Washington, D.C. – St. Albans, Vt.: Nothing says “snow” like Vermont.

Winter storm threatens Cape Cod with up to 18 inches of snow

The second winter storm in four days to hit the Northeast centered on New England on Monday, bringing howling winds and coastal flooding and threatening Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts with up to 18 inches of snow.

The storm could last into Tuesday, when New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation presidential primary is held. The storm was accompanied by high winds that brought scattered power failures, as well as coastal flooding from south of Boston to Cape Cod and Connecticut. A major surface road in south Boston was closed by flooding late Monday morning.

By Monday afternoon, Cape Cod and the islands appeared to have met the conditions for a blizzard, the National Weather Service said. Much of the rest of Massachusetts and most of Connecticut were under a winter storm warning and could get as much as 10 inches of snow. Boston could see 6 to 10 inches.

The storm led to accidents, including in Connecticut, where a charter bus crashed and fell on its side on Interstate 95 in Madison. At least 30 people were injured, including six of them critically.

In Rhode Island, crowds of mourners lined the streets amid bitter temperatures and falling snow to bid farewell to former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, whose hearse was carried by horse-drawn carriage from City Hall to the city’s Roman Catholic cathedral.

Other parts of the Northeast, including Northern New England and the New York City area, was expected to get much less snow. New York City, Philadelphia and northern New Jersey could get 2 to 3 inches from Monday into Tuesday night, the weather service said.

The snow meant unpleasant outdoor work for some people.

Sean Nardone, a custodian for the U.S. Postal Service, was scheduled to spend the day shoveling and treating the front steps of several post offices south of Boston.

“I don’t like it very much,” Nardone said as he tossed rock salt on the steps of the Whitman post office while a howling wind blew.

“I hope global warming friggin’ helps out this winter,” he said. “I hate to sound selfish, but I could use some warmth.”

Raj Patel, who co-owns a convenience store in Whitman, said the storm is good for business.

“It’s convenient for the neighborhood. We are always open for them. In past storms, we’ve sold out of milk right away. Milk, bread, water — a lot of people walk from their homes, so we stay open,” he said.

Communities across the region closed schools and issued on-street parking bans.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker closed state offices in nine counties Monday, and state courts were closed in 10 counties.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which was crippled by a series of historic storms during Boston’s record-breaking winter last year, was operating on a normal weekday schedule with winter routes in effect for buses. Although there were delays, no major problems were reported.

Restoring confidence in the MBTA’s reliability is important, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said.

“That’s what we all lost faith in last winter,” she said. “I think every storm where the T is able to run service pretty well, I hope, will help to restore that (faith).”

Boston’s Logan Airport remained open, but hundreds of inbound and outbound flights were canceled.

Ferry service to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard was suspended.

So Where Is The SNOW? Is A White Christmas on the Way ?

Pictured above is the snow plow (in French:  Chasse-Neige) that belongs to the Chemin de Fer de Provence railroad that runs between Nice, France and Digne. It is parked quietly on the turntable in Annot (midway between the two cities) just waiting for the dispatcher to call a crew.

 

Isola 12-17-15 at 02.16 PMAbove is the reason: this in noted ski resort ISOLA 2000. The trails and slopes have man-made snow, BUT look at the top of the mountains.

Same conditions in North America. Lots of railroad snow equipment just sitting and waiting on a quiet track waiting for a dispatcher to call a crew.

Cities and railroads are ready. But AccuWeather thinks no White Christmas.

the weather pattern is dashing the hopes of many for a white Christmas this year.

Due to the strong El Niño unfolding, many places that typically have a good chance of seeing snow on Christmas Day will miss out this holiday.

This includes the East Coast I-95 cities, where meteorologists say chances are slim.

“There’s just not going to be enough cold air to support accumulating snow,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

In the meantime, we have a good WebSite or two where you can see a lot about railroads with snow!!!

8 hurricanes that almost packed the punch of Patricia

Hurricane Patricia is now the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the eastern Pacific Ocean — and made landfall with 165 mph winds.

The storm is now rated a category 5, the highest on the Saffir–Simpson scale. Before landfall, it had sustained winds of 200 mph, and gusts of up to 250 mph. “This makes Patricia the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility, which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins,” said the National Hurricane Center. Patricia currently has a minumum central air pressure of 880mb, the lowest air pressure ever recorded in that region. It had “weakened” to 160 mph late Friday, according to the hurricane center.

In fact, Patricia is so powerful, the name Hurricane Patricia may be retired.

US Air Force pilots from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron out of Mississippi experienced that power first-hand. They flew directly into Patricia. This storm is so powerful, it even made the pilots uneasy.

“They had quite a bit of turbulence going through the ‘eyewall’ which is the area of the strongest winds right before the center,” Lt. Colonel John Talbot, the squad’s chief meteorologist, told PRI’s The World. “They had a hard time fighting the aircraft and they were ready to head back after their three passes.”

Here’s a look at some other powerful hurricanes in the area, and how they compare to Patricia:

Hurricane Allen, 1980

Labor Day Hurricane 1935

Hurricane Gilbert, 1988 

Hurricane Linda, 1997

Hurricane Mitch, 1998 

Hurricane Wilma, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, 2005

1959 Mexico hurricane

 

Read more and see some great pictures

 

 

East Coast railroads prep for Hurricane Joaquin

Railroads, transit agencies and local governments along the East Coast have begun prepping for heavy rains resulting from Hurricane Joaquin, which is expected to move northward through the Atlantic Ocean over the coming days.

Yesterday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials announced preparatory measures being taken across New York City’s subway system, including filling sandbags, preparing and distributing generators, ensuring vehicles are fueled, and scheduling staff members.

If the storm continues toward New York City, the MTA can deploy covers for the 540 openings into the subway system in Lower Manhattan, agency officials said in a news release.

Additionally, MTA crews have installed large sand bags at the Coney Island Yard.

The agency’s two commuter railroads — Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad — are monitoring electrical grids and substations “with heightened awareness,” agency officials said.

“It is too early to say whether the railroads would need to suspend service if a powerful storm strikes our region,” MTA officials said. “If flooding is predicted, the railroads would move trains away from low-lying storage areas

Meanwhile, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also announced that it had begun severe weather preparations, including positioning nearly 4 miles of flood barriers to protect transportation facilities. Additionally, the port is ready to deploy 170 generators and pumps to ensure service continues.

At the same time, Norfolk Southern Railway yesterday issued a service alert to customers about potential service disruptions.

“Weather advisories have been issued reporting potential heavy rainfall and widespread flooding in many low lying areas throughout the East Coast,” NS officials said in the service alert. “Norfolk Southern will monitor operations closely and take every precaution to protect shipments that may be affected in these areas.”

Picturesque French Riviera hit by deadly flash floods

In a matter of minutes, torrential rains transformed the postcard-perfect French Riviera into a terrifying flood zone, leaving at least 16 dead, trapping hundreds of railroad passengers and halting car and train traffic Sunday along the mud-drenched Mediterranean coast.

President Hollande thank elected officials, police, firemen, and volunteers. Forgot to mention the many “public works” employees of Alpes-Maritimes Conseil General (county government). Guess they get their overtime in three months for a thank you.

RivieraFlood02

Victims were found dead in a retirement home, campsites, and cars submerged in a tunnel. Residents, stunned by the ferocity of the brief downpour Saturday night, described it as the worst flooding they’d ever seen — so dramatic that President Francois Hollande paid an emergency visit Sunday to promise government aid for victims.

BUT NOT FOR THREE MONTHS

Helicopters patrolled the area and 27,000 homes were without electricity Sunday after rivers and streams overflowed their banks and fierce thunderstorms poured more than 18 centimeters (6.7 inches) of rain in Cannes and some other areas, according to the Interior Ministry. The Cannes region saw the equivalent of two months of rainfall in less than two hours.

RivieraFlood03

Hollande said the overall death toll by midday Sunday was 16, with three still missing. Government officials gave conflicting reports about casualty figures throughout the day, as emergency services fanned out across the region to check homes, stores and overturned cars for victims.

“It’s not over,” Hollande said, visiting the flood-stricken retirement home in the town of Biot and meeting with emergency workers.

He expressed condolences to families of victims and urged residents to remain cautious, especially on the region’s roads, many of which remained impassable Sunday. He promised aid for residents hit by the flooding and lamented serious damage to local stores and other businesses.

IN THREE MONTHS

Some residents criticized authorities for not doing more to prevent flood damage in the region, which is prized by tourists and residents for its mild year-round climate but which has seen increasing flooding in recent years. Local firefighters and meteorologists said the amount of rain Saturday was unusual for the region this time of year, but were especially shocked by the intensity and speed of the storm.

People were found dead in the towns of Cannes, Biot, Golfe-Juan and Mandelieu-la-Napoule in the southeast.

Three elderly people were killed in the retirement home, Hollande said. Three others were found dead in their car after entering a flooded tunnel, authorities in Golfe-Juan said. Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the dead included victims who had been trapped in a parking lot and campsites.

Winds and rain whipped palm trees along the famed Croisette seaside promenade in Cannes. Some cars parked near the Cannes shore were swept away and overturned by high waves.

In nearby Antibes, campsites along the Brague River were suddenly inundated with muddy water, leaving cars overturned.

Several trains were stopped because of flooded tracks, and traffic remained stopped along the Mediterranean coast between Nice and Toulon all day Sunday. Several roads were closed.

The newly rebuilt Cannes railroad station was completely flooded.

Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims during his weekly Sunday blessing from St. Peter’s Square.

“We express our nearness to the hard-hit populations, including with concrete forms of solidarity,” he said.

The flooding also disrupted a French league soccer match in Nice, forcing the stadium to shut down in the middle of play.

Hundreds of emergency workers were involved in rescue efforts Sunday, helped by bright sun contrasting sharply with the sinister skies the night before.

Massive El Niño growing, say models

A massive El Niño that can be seen on Japan’s Himawari-8 Weather Satellite could mean the beginning of the end to California’s historic drought.

There is growing evidence California could see an even stronger El Niño event this winter than the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California.

Stunning images from Japan’s Himawari 8 Weather Satellite, just activated Tuesday, show what could become a historic El Niño in full bloom.

In recent days, cyclones and typhoons, including one mammoth storm heading toward China with cloud cover the size of Texas, have helped shift the trade winds from west to east, pushing warm sub-surface water toward the coast of South America and making it all but certain an El Niño event will last at least through the fall.

“What we want is just enough water to come in slowly enough for the watersheds to hold that,” “The nice thing is that so many of them are dry that they have the capacity, but the flip side of that is, as anybody knows in a desert climate, is that terrain is just parched and so a lot of that can be runoff if those storms are too warm.”

In this El Niño year, if the models hold up — and climatologists said they seem almost certain it will — it could soon be the beginning of the end of California’s historic drought, even if it may come at a price.

“Yes, El Niño’s great, and it could provide us with relief and replenish some of these reservoirs,”  “The flip side of that is it could mean catastrophic flooding, too.”

 

ElNinoExplanation

 

The MBTA’s Real Map

TRANSLATION — Joke maps of the MBTA, like this one that has been making its way around Twitter this week, might elicit some frustrated chuckles now. But as delays get worse and patience runs out, politicians are scrambling to make sure they aren’t blamed for the T’s performance this winter. First and foremost is Governor Charlie Baker. On Wednesday he demanded that Keolis, the French company that operates the commuter rail, shape up in time for Monday, when school vacation ends. He took a similarly strong tone with transit officials last week. It’s clear the MBTA has become a political hot potato, and Baker doesn’t want to be left holding it.

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