NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tropical Storm Cristobal continued to weaken early Monday, after the lopsided storm crashed ashore in Louisiana and ginned up dangerous weather farther east, sending waves crashing over Mississippi beaches, swamping parts of an Alabama island town and spawning a tornado in Florida.
Cristobal made a Saturday afternoon landfall between the mouth of the Mississippi River and the since-evacuated barrier island resort community of Grand Isle, with 50-mph (85-kph) winds.
Making landfall well under hurricane strength, the storm had begun weakening as it moved inland late Sunday night — but heavy rainfall and a storm surge were continuing along the Gulf Coast, posing a threat across a wide area into the Florida Panhandle.
At 1 a.m. CDT Monday, the storm was centered about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans, packing slowed winds of 40 mph (64 kmph). With its drenching rains, Cristobal — moving north-northwest at 10 mph (16 kmph) — was expected to keep inundating the northern Gulf Coast well into Monday but the National Hurricane Center in Miami said it would likely weaken into a tropical depression within the “next several hours.”
Cristobal’s forecast path takes it inland through southeast Louisiana Monday, continuing north into Arkansas and Missouri by Tuesday, moving over Wisconsin on Tuesday night and into Canada by Wednesday, according to the latest advisory.
In New Orleans, the question was how much rain would fall and whether there would be enough breaks in the bands of heavy weather for the beleaguered pumping system to meet its latest test of keeping streets free of flood waters.
Coastal Mississippi news outlets reported stalled cars and trucks as flood waters inundated beaches and crashed over highways. On the City of Biloxi Facebook page, officials said emergency workers helped dozens of motorists through flood waters, mostly on U.S. 90 running along the coast.
In Alabama, the bridge linking the mainland to Dauphin Island was closed much of Sunday. Police and state transportation department vehicles led convoys of motorists to and from the island when breaks in the weather permitted.
Forecasters said up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain could fall in some areas, with storm surges up to 5 feet (1.5 meters). The weather service warned that the rain would contribute to rivers flooding on the central Gulf Coast and up into the Mississippi Valley.
“It’s very efficient, very tropical rainfall,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in a Facebook video. “It rains a whole bunch real quick.”
Rising water on Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans pushed about 2 feet of water into the first floor of Rudy Horvath’s residence — a boathouse that sits on pilings over the brackish lake. Horvath said he and his family have lived there a year and have learned to take the occasional flood in stride. They’ve put tables on the lower floor to stack belongings above the high water.
“We thought it would be pretty cool to live out here, and it has been,” Horvath said. “The sunsets are great.”
Elsewhere in south Louisiana, water covered the only road to Grand Isle and in low-lying parts of Plaquemines Parish at the state’s southeastern tip. “You can’t go down there by car,” shrimper Acy Cooper said Sunday of one marina in the area. “You have to go by boat.”
In Florida, a tornado — the second in two days in the state as the storm approached — uprooted trees and downed power lines Sunday afternoon south of Lake City near Interstate 75, the weather service and authorities said. There were no reports of injuries.
The storm also forced a waterlogged stretch of Interstate 10 in north Florida to close for a time Sunday.
Rain fell intermittently in New Orleans famed French Quarter on Sunday afternoon, but the streets were nearly deserted, with many businesses already boarded up due to the coronavirus.
Daniel Priestman said he didn’t see people frantically stocking up as in previous storms. He said people may be “overwhelmed” by the coronavirus and recent police violence and protests. They seemed “resigned to whatever happens — happens,” he said.
At one New Orleans intersection, a handmade “Black Lives Matter” sign, wired to a lamppost, rattled in a stiff wind as the crew of a massive vacuum truck worked to unclog a storm drain.
The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans said the city’s aging street drainage system had limits, so residents should avoid underpasses and low-lying areas prone to inevitable street flooding.
Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, had called for voluntary evacuations Saturday of some low-lying communities because of threatened storm surge, high tides and heavy rain.
President Donald Trump agreed to issue an emergency declaration for Louisiana, officials said.
Associated Press reporter Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg, Florida, contributed to this report.
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Cyclone Nisarga made landfall at around 1 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) with wind speeds of up to 110 kph (68 mph), according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
The cyclone, which formed in the Arabian sea on Tuesday morning, hit Alibag town, south of Mumbai.
Cyclones in that part of the country are relatively rare — Mumbai, India’s financial center and home to 18 million people, was last hit by a major storm in 1948.
The arrival of Cyclone Nisarga on Wednesday comes as Maharashtra grapples with India’s worst coronavirus outbreak. Hospitals are struggling to treat an influx of patients as the confirmed number of cases in that state passes 72,300, with more than 2,400 deaths.
Ahead of landfall, the cyclone strengthened to the equivalent of just below a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane, or a Severe Cyclonic Storm in the West Pacific.
The states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, and the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu along India’s west coast are likely to be the most impacted by the storm. The biggest threat will come from intense rainfall that could lead to deadly flooding in and around Mumbai and surrounding areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Storm surges of approximately one to two meters (3.3 to 6.6 foot) are likely to inundate low-lying areas of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts, the IMD said.
Evacuating coronavirus patients
As Maharashtra struggles to contain the virus, about 1,000 patients with suspected Covid-19 were evacuated from a field hospital on Tuesday and taken to other facilities.
The Maharashtra government has set up several “jumbo facilities” to act as isolation centers for suspected coronavirus cases. “The sheds can easily withstand the rain but it is the wind speed that I am worried about and I don’t want to endanger anyone,” Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of the state said in an address on Tuesday.
The field hospital in Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai has capacity for over 1,000 patients, all of whom are being shifted to other hospitals, he added.
Ahead of landfall, India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deployed 20 teams in Maharashtra, 16 teams in Gujarat, and two teams in other nearby areas.
Thousands of people living in flimsy or makeshift homes along the low-lying coast have been evacuated, according to a statement from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs.
More than 50,000 people living along the coast of southern Gujarat have been evacuated, Harshad Patel, Gujarat’s Relief Commissioner said. In Mumbai, the state authorities along with NDRF have evacuated more than 60,000 people from coastal districts, according to Kishor Raje Nimbalkar, Relief Commissioner of Maharashtra.
The IMD is expecting major damage to thatched houses and huts, as well as to power and communication lines.
Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said 35 schools are being used as temporary evacuation shelters for citizens.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged residents in affected areas to take all possible precautions.
“Took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions in parts of India’s western coast. Praying for everyone’s well-being. I urge people to take all possible precautions and safety measures,” Modi said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Tropical Cyclone Nisarga comes two weeks after powerful Cyclone Amphan slammed into India’s eastern coast, killing at least 90 people in India and neighboring Bangladesh, leaving millions without power, and causing more than $13.2 billion dollars in damage.
One night in late January, Canadian Jacob Cooke found himself in Jiangsu province in China, desperately trying to find seats on a plane leaving the country and promising his brother, Joseph, he’d make it to Vancouver.
For more than a decade, they had run a business called WPIC Marketing + Technologies with an ocean between them, helping brands from Canada and, eventually, all over the globe launch e-commerce operations in China.
But that night, panic was washing over China after news channels started reporting on the highly contagious outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan province. There was little information about who was most vulnerable, how the virus spreads or what symptoms to expect, but fears were aroused. Soon, trains were shutting down, hotels were closing their doors and slowly, but surely, ways out of the country were disappearing.
“There was definitely not enough information,” Jacob said. “You didn’t know what to believe, you just wanted to get far enough away from it.”
Jacob also worried about his family, including his wife and their two young sons, aged five and nine, who had travelled from their home in Beijing to visit her family in Jiangsu for Chinese New Year, since it looked like they might be stuck there. After spending hours on the phone, he secured seats on a plane leaving Shanghai for Vancouver, and then tracked down a driver to make the six-hour trek to the airport.
Seven weeks later, after Jacob and his family made it safely back to Vancouver, the situation has in many ways reversed: Canada, and most of the western world, are desperately trying to stop the spread of coronavirus, with new measures being announced almost on an hourly basis that shut down parts of the economy, while China is in recovery.
It’s still not clear how the deadly virus will be contained, or what its ultimate toll will be, so the horizon in Canada and elsewhere remains too dark to look for silver linings.
Yet if the worst does not come to pass, the Cooke brothers and others who hold deep business ties to China can see how the global connectivity of our economies may help both countries.
An economic recovery is now taking shape in China. Self-isolation is starting to end, people are returning to offices and work in factories has largely resumed its pre-coronavirus level of activity.
FedEx Corp. on a March 17 conference call said 90 to 95 per cent of large manufacturers in China are now open, as are about two-thirds of small manufacturers. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong and Shanghai SE Composite Index both ended the week on a positive swing after brutal declines since the start of the year.
But as supply chains and demand for goods ramps up in China, they’re slowing elsewhere. Yet there were signs of life even in the depths of China’s outbreak.
Joseph Cooke, president of WPIC, said it’s been a strange year in China. Online sales usually dip during the new year celebration, but they remained steady this year, perhaps because people in self-isolation indulged in “retail therapy,” he said.
As the weeks in lockdown progressed, online sales in China accelerated as brick-and-mortar retail stores stay closed. That also provided a lifeline for many Canadian companies, particularly those that need to move seasonal inventory, WPIC chief executive Jacob Cooke said.
“China coming back online is great for Canadian companies,” he said. “With retail closed here, for example, and a lot of stuff being seasonal, it’s got to move somewhere or it’s going to become useless.”
Some companies’ quarterly earnings reports are already bearing that trend out.
China coming back online is great for Canadian companies
For example, Nike Inc. chief executive John Donahoe on Wednesday reported that his company’s e-commerce sales in China increased more than 30 per cent during the last quarter, even as it had closed 5,000 stores in the country during most of that time.
Other parts of China’s economy appear to be returning to normal as well, offering a potential lifeline to companies from Canada and elsewhere needing to sell their goods.
“I was talking today to someone who was in Beijing and she said, ‘Here’s the thing, there was a traffic jam and I had lunch with someone, and it’s the first time I’ve had lunch with someone in weeks,” said Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council.
She said the key to China’s resumption of regular business activity is that everyone has been “incredibly conservative about social distancing and people are taking that very seriously.”
That has benefited Canadian companies with operations in China as well.
For example, Toronto-based Neo Performance Materials Inc., which turns rare earth and rare metal-based materials into magnets and other products used in cars and high-tech devices, operates four factories in China, all of which are now operating and shipping goods again.
None of its 1,100 employees there have contracted COVID-19, but the company has said it implemented precautionary measures including temperature checks of its workers.
On a March 12 earnings call with analysts, chief executive Geoff Bedford said the supply chain is largely functional again, with his factories able to procure all the raw materials they need.
Still, it’s not all good news. China is still experiencing the repercussions from the lockdown period, including declining demand.
“We are seeing signs of slowing downstream demand from our customers, particularly for supply chains that are located within China,” Bedford said on the call.
He noted that more than 60 per cent of Neo Performance’s sales are related to the automotive industry, including vehicles manufactured for the Chinese domestic market, which is one particular area where demand is softening. But he also noted that trend was already happening the previous year.
Aurora, Ont.-based auto-parts manufacturer Magna International Inc. on Thursday reported that it expects softening demand in China, though its customers there are ramping up again after extended downtime throughout February. Meanwhile, many of its customers in North America and Europe have reduced production rates or temporarily closed.
Overall auto sales in the world’s biggest vehicle market dropped 79 per cent in February, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which does not expect demand to normalize until the third quarter.
WPIC’s Jacob Cooke said Canada’s economy is intricately linked to China’s economy, even if diplomatic spats and trade wars are decoupling the two countries on cultural and political levels.
“They are completely intertwined,” he said. “If either of those pieces go down, it just creates huge problems for the global economy.”
Jacob was in China as it entered the peak of its outbreak and now he’s back in Canada as the coronavirus takes hold here, giving him some insight into how conditions are progressing in both countries.
“This has sort of been the whole process for me,” he said. “You’re basically experiencing it in cycles: you’re either cycling to further and further lockdowns or you’re opening up.”
Right now, Canada and the United States are still cycling to further lockdowns as the number of new cases detected continues to grow daily. But Jacob and his brother Joseph both said it only takes a bit of good news to swing momentum in the other direction.
“I’m feeling like it’s very quiet in Vancouver, and people are staying home,” said Joseph. “Let’s hope we curb the spread.”
Severe gales and heavy rain are sweeping across the UK as travellers face disruption from Storm Ciara.
Airlines have cancelled dozens of domestic and international flights, while several rail firms have urged passengers not to travel.
Ferry passengers also face delays and cancellations, while drivers have been warned to take extra care.
Amber weather warnings for wind and heavy rain are in place for most of the UK, with gusts of up to 90mph expected.
Heathrow Airport said it had taken the joint decision with its airline partners to minimise the number of flights cancelled at short notice.
British Airways has cancelled some flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City, while Virgin Atlantic has posted a number of cancelled flights on its website.
Network Rail has imposed a blanket speed restriction of 50mph across the network on Sunday, warning passengers to only travel by train that day “if absolutely necessary”.
It said there was the potential for damage to overhead lines and tracks caused by debris or fallen trees.
The rail firms which issued “do not travel” warnings for Sunday were Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Great Northern, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express.
A gust of 86mph was recorded in Capel Curig in Snowdonia, Wales, overnight. High winds reaching 70mph have already caused travel disruption in Scotland and several bridges have been closed to high-sided vehicles.
In Perth, three people were hurt after part of a pub roof collapsed, though none of them was seriously injured.
Meanwhile, Southeastern train services have been disrupted by a trampoline blowing onto the line.
An amber warning for wind is in place across much of England and Wales until 21:00 GMT on Sunday. The Met Office advises wind-blown debris and large waves could pose a danger to life.
Yellow weather warnings now cover the whole of the UK until midnight on Sunday.
An amber warning for rain is in place in parts of Scotland, meaning homes and businesses are likely to be flooded and some communities could be cut off by impassable roads.
Weather warnings guide
YellowSevere weather possible, plan ahead, travel may be disrupted
AmberIncreased likelihood of impact, eg travel delays, power cuts
Source: Met Office
The heaviest rain is expected over high ground where 50-70mm is expected, with as much as 100mm in a few locations.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued more than 50 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – in Scotland, while there are 22 in place in England, and seven in Wales.
Gusts of 50-60mph are expected quite widely across inland areas as the storm passes over the country, reaching 80mph in coastal areas – particularly in south-east England and northern Scotland.
Other effects of the storm include:
The London Winter Run 10k – due to be attended by 25,000 runners – was cancelled
Horse racing at Exeter has been called off
London’s eight Royal Parks, which include Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, will close on Sunday
RHS Garden Wisley is closed on Sunday
The Dartford Crossing in Kent is closed to traffic on Sunday
P&O has cancelled some ferry services between Dover and Calais
In January, Storm Brendan swept into the UK, leading to power cuts and travel disruption.
This year’s storm names have already been chosen, with Dennis due to be the name for the next storm.
Have you been affected by Storm Ciara? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursa[email protected].
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Thousands of B.C. Hydro customers remained without power Thursday after a winter storm whipped across the South Coast Wednesday, causing road and school closures, travel alerts, and ferry cancellations.
By 9:30 a.m., B.C. Hydro said crews were making good progress, with just over 6,000 customers without power in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Earlier in the morning, more than 15,000 customers were without power.
At the height of the storm Wednesday, hurricane force winds of up to 150 km/h blew across Howe Sound, knocking down trees and power lines, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“Crews made good progress overnight restoring power to most customers affected from yesterday’s heavy snow and winds. Crews will continue to work to restore remaining customers throughout the morning and the rest of the day,” B.C. Hydro said, in a statement Thursday.
B.C. Ferries has resumed sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo after some were cancelled earlier Thursday because of the wind.
Most public schools, universities, and colleges in the region were open again Thursday after a rare snow day Wednesday, with some districts reminding parents that if they felt it was not safe to drive then to keep their kids home. Some remained closed, however, including all public schools in Chilliwack and Mission. Many private schools also remained closed.
TransLink said early Thursday that conditions have improved and crews worked overnight to fix some of the problems that occurred Wednesday.
TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said transit users should expect service to be slower than normal, and budget extra travelling time.
He also said that because the streets remain icy, HandyDART will remain at essential service levels only.
As of 2:15 p.m., a snowfall warning was still in effect for parts of the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford. Environment and Climate Change Canada said bands of heavy snow could bring up to 10 centimetres of snow. Once the bands move through, a chance of flurries continues in the afternoon.
A snowfall warning has ended for the rest of Metro Vancouver.
A blizzard warning for the Sea to Sky Highway also remained in effect Thursday, with authorities warning drivers to avoid the highway unless necessary.
As temperatures are expected to warm up this weekend, with rain in the forecast, and highs of around 6 C or 7 C on Saturday and Sunday, there are concerns about flooding.
David Campbell, head of B.C.’s River Forecast Centre, which issues flood advisories, said they are monitoring the situation closely but don’t anticipate any serious flooding in the Lower Mainland.
There will likely be issues with street drainage, water pooling on roads, and maybe some minor flooding of basements, he said.
Campbell said there are more concerns, however, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where significant rainfall is in the forecast.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transport late Wednesday warned that conditions may lead to bridge closures given the weather conditions on the Port Mann and Alex Fraser bridges.
Transit users are asked to go to alerts.translink.ca to check which routes are closed or delayed.
Wednesday’s wild weather led to several major routes being closed as travellers faced dangerous driving conditions, delays and heavy crowding on SkyTrain. Buses jack-knifed, snarling traffic, and B.C. Ferries cancelled afternoon sailings because of anticipated high winds.
It was a busy day for ICBC, with 1,882 dial-a-claim calls in Metro Vancouver on Wednesday, though that number was significantly down from the day before, when 2,773 people placed calls. The highest number of calls over the last week was on Friday, when 5,075 customers called in a claim. ICBC notes that not every call represents a claim.
Emergency crews were also stretched over the last few days. Though Emergency Health Services said it responded to a higher number of motor vehicle accidents in Metro Vancouver on Monday (77 incidents) and Tuesday (43 incidents) than during the big snow storm on Wednesday, when it responded to 34 car accidents in the region.
There was an uptick, however, in the number of cold exposure calls. BC EHS said they responded to 11 such incidents on Wednesday, compared with six on Tuesday and five on Monday.
Many commuters waited for buses that did not show up in freezing weather, with wind chill factors forecast at – 11 C, while others swapped their bikes for a pair of skis to get to work.
The conditions prompted TransLink and the B.C. government to issue rare statements early Wednesday asking people not to travel unless necessary.
On Thursday, however, the message was downgraded, with a statement asking motorists in Metro Vancouver to exercise caution on the roads and to be prepared for winter driving conditions.
Icy sidewalks, curb ramps, and bus stops were being cleared of ice and snow Thursday by Vancouver city crews. The city said it feared the roads would become icy once the snow turned to rain. Staff were also busy clearing catch basins in anticipation of possible flooding on the weekend.
Vancouver has spent approximately $1.5 million on snow response, with approximately $500,000 spent on salt, according to a statement from the city Thursday.
The next snowfall is expected Friday evening through Saturday morning, but accumulation is expected to be washed away with rain by the end of the weekend.
Last night’s system brought some very strong winds to the South Coast – up to 150 km/h through Howe Sound! Lots of power outages & trees down. Winds are gradually easing this morning.#BCStormpic.twitter.com/Z2ASBrdgIh
Here’s a rundown of what happened across the region on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
Environment Canada re-issues snowfall warning, then issues wind warning
After cancelling an earlier snowfall warning around 9 a.m., Environment and Climate Change Canada issued another warning around noon. The latest warning forecasts up to 10 centimetres over higher elevations of the region late in the afternoon – just in time for the evening commute.
At 1 p.m., Environment Canada issued a wind warning, stating a deep low pressure system crossing Vancouver Island on Wednesday night would bring up to 90 km/h winds to Metro Vancouver. The winds are expected to ease by Thursday morning, however, damage to roofs is expected.
Overnight, there will be a slow transition to rain in areas closer to the water, however the cold air will remain in place over the North Shore, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, as well as northern sections of Langley and Surrey.
The snow is expected to ease to scattered showers or snow flurries Thursday.
Meanwhile, a snow warning for the Fraser Valley was changed Wednesday afternoon to a winter storm warning as a combination of wind chill values, blowing snow, and the potential for freezing rain were expected to cause hazardous conditions. Environment Canada said the wind chill was expected to be around – 20 C in the region and that driving visibility could near zero with the blowing snow.
A wind warning remained in effect for Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, with gusts of up to 90 km/h anticipated in some areas Wednesday evening.
The city of Vancouver reminded homeless people that warming centres would be open through the night, and that all pets and carts were welcome.
Meantime, much of the province was under a winter storm or extreme cold warning on Wednesday.
Wind, snowfall, and winter storm warnings were in effect for much of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, while some parts of the Interior and northern regions of B.C. were under extreme cold warnings.
Bitter Arctic winds in Dease Lake, for example, were expected to create a wind chill factor of – 50 C or – 40 C in other areas such as B.C.’s Peace Region.
B.C.’s Central Coast and Inland regions are under an Arctic outflow alert, with “severely” cold wind chill factors of – 20 C.
Buses delayed and SkyTrain stations closed due to track issues, crowds
Due to the heavy snowfall, TransLink warned of “significantly slower service” on the transit system Wednesday.
As of 7 a.m., there were nearly 200 transit alerts for buses, and an alert saying SkyTrain is significantly impacted because of the weather.
Commuters were told to expect crowding on trains and at SkyTrain stations. TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy says station attendants will be on board trains to monitor guideways and limit emergency braking on the system, which can be caused by heavy snowfall or ice build up.
Several SkyTrain stations – including King George, Sapperton, Braid, and Bridgeport – were closed Wednesday morning for a brief time due to switch or track issues. Those stations were re-opened shortly after noon.
The Canada Line was also placed on hold for some time but was up and running again later in the day though at reduced frequencies, according to TransLink.
Transit users were told to expect lengthy delays because of switch and door issues caused by freezing temperatures. Trains were also moving at a slower speed.
TransLink said their 60-foot articulated buses have more trouble operating in the snow than the 40-foot buses. This is because articulated joints can cause jack-knifing in winter conditions, with the back end of the bus being more likely to get stuck while turning.
Photos on social media showed a group of people pushing an articulated bus that had jack-knifed at Hastings Street and Boundary.
Dan Mountain, a spokesperson for TransLink, said it was one of several buses that had trouble Wednesday.
“Road conditions are causing some buses to get stuck. It was a large snow event and we thank municipal crews for working hard to improve conditions,” he said, in an email.
Mountain said during extreme weather, TransLink implements a snow desk which liaises with municipal partners to recommend which roads most need snow removal and clearing.
The snow desk employees collect information from transit supervisors, support workers, and bus operators before sending that information to municipal partners as a recommendation, he added.
HandyDART is operating at essential service levels, meaning all trips other than those deemed essential will be rescheduled.
Murphy says customers are asked to consider whether they need to travel today, and if there is a need, whether they could consider travelling outside of rush hours, as commutes will take significantly longer than usual.
Snow snarls highway driving, Highway 1 closed
Severe whiteout conditions on Highway 1 forced authorities to close a section of Highway 1 from Lickman Road to Sumas in the Fraser Valley early Wednesday. Drive BC says Highway 7 can be used as an alternate route, but conditions are still extreme.
Also, some counterflow lanes were shut down early Wednesday at the Alex Fraser Bridge and Massey Tunnel, as was the Barnston Island Ferry.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation warned drivers not to travel in Metro Vancouver and in the Fraser Valley Wednesday if possible. A travel advisory also applied to Vancouver Island on Highway 1 from Nanaimo south to Victoria, as well as Highways 14, 17 and 18.
“Those who must travel are asked to use extreme caution and drive to the conditions. The ministry advises travellers to expect winter conditions for the rest of the week,” a travel advisory stated.
Several other highway alerts are in effect, including a blizzard warning for the Sea to Sky Highway.
“Blizzard conditions with gusty winds and visibility frequently near zero in snow and blowing snow are expected or occurring, warned Environment and Climate Change Canada on Wednesday.
Cold Arctic air will continue to funnel through Howe Sound producing strong northerly winds of 90 to 110 km/h near Bowen Island into the evening, the agency said.
The agency says drivers should postpone non-essential travel until conditions improve.
“If you become stranded in a vehicle do not leave. The vehicle offers a form of protection from the cold. A single person walking through the snow is harder to find than a stranded car or truck. Protect yourself from wind, cold and disorientation by staying sheltered, indoors or with your vehicle,” the warning stated.
BC Ferries cancels sailings
BC Ferries cancelled many of its Wednesday afternoon sailings, including routes between Vancouver and Victoria and West Vancouver and Nanaimo, because of heavy snow and high winds in the forecast.
Southeast winds of 70 to 90 km/h will develop in Greater Victoria early in the evening and spread to the Southern Gulf Islands, East Vancouver Island – Duncan to Nanaimo, southern and western sections of Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast later in the evening, BC Ferries said, in a travel alert.
While BC Ferries cited “hurricane force winds” as the reason for cancelling its sailings, winds must be sustained for one minute at 119 km/h to be classified as a hurricane.
The company asked customers to avoid travel is possible, and to check the website for travel advisories.
Horgan picks snow blower over wood chipper
On a lighter note, B.C. Premier John Horgan tweeted out a photo showing the fountain frozen at the B.C. Legislature, saying that he hoped everyone was taking extra time with their travel and joking that the Legislature should have “got a snow blower instead of a wood chipper.”
With more snow on the way for much of BC, I hope everyone is taking extra time when they head out.
At the Vancouver International Airport, crews worked to clear and maintain runways, taxiways and aprons to ensure planes could take off safely.
Passengers were advised to check their flight status before attempting to make their way to the airport in case of delays and cancellations, and to allow extra time when making the journey.
Don Ehrenholz, vice president of engineering at YVR, said there were about 30 to 35 flight cancellations on Wednesday, but mainly regional airlines flying to Victoria or Seattle, where there was also heavy snow. International flights were unaffected by the snow storm.
He said they have crews working 24/7 to keep the runways clear, and they are ploughing and de-icing every hour.
Airline passengers were advised of delays because all planes had to be de-iced before takeoff, and Ehrenholz said anyone travelling through the airport should check their flight schedule and budget extra time.
Metro Vancouver school districts closed for the day
All schools in the region were closed Wednesday because of extreme weather, including all universities and colleges. Many daycares shut their doors as well.
ICBC provides tips for drivers
While authorities were asking people not to drive Wednesday, ICBC said those who do need to drive should follow these tips:
1. Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions only. Adjust your driving in winter conditions. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on snow-covered or slushy roads.
2. Headlights on. Use your headlights in poor weather and reduced visibility – not only at night – to help you see ahead and be seen by other drivers.
3. Watch for other road users. Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road particularly when visibility is poor.
4. Prevent a skid. Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly. If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don’t brake—this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.
5. Check your vehicle. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Check the condition of your windshield wiper blades and replace them if they’re worn out. Top up wiper fluid for clearer visibility and carry extra washer fluid in your vehicle. Fill up your gas tank. Pack an emergency kit and make sure it includes a flashlight and extra batteries.
6. Plan ahead. Check road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca before heading out.
BC Hydro prepares for possible storm events
While power outages in the Metro Vancouver area were at a minimum on Wednesday, BC Hydro is preparing for possible storm events heading into the remainder of the week.
“While we prepare for storm season year-round, we’ve taken extra measures ahead of this particular storm, and crews are on standby to restore power should the lights go out,” the company said in a statement.
“Because it is difficult to predict how much damage a storm may cause to the system and how long a power outage will last, it is important for customers to be prepared for an outage.”
Residents were reminded to check their emergency kits and ensure they are stocked with a flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, three days’ worth of ready to eat non-perishable foods and bottled water.
Anyone who sees a downed power line is reminded to stay back and report it to 911.
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Dec. 5, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
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The House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing over the Ukraine scandal on Wednesday — and much of the internet was talking about Pamela Karlan, a bespectacled 60-year-old Stanford University law professor. Karlan, a leading constitutional scholar and voting rights expert, was one of four legal scholars chosen to discuss the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.” Aside from being a semi-frequent NPR guest, hers was not a name previously widely heard outside legal circles.
[See also: “Democrats outline potential articles of impeachment against Trump” in the Los Angeles Times]
So why was seemingly everyone talking about her?
There are two reasons — one involved a savage rebuking of the House Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, and the other a probably ill-advised mention of the president’s son Barron Trump.
The first came early on in the proceedings, when Karlan excoriated Rep. Doug Collins for insinuating that she was unprepared for the proceedings. “I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts,” she shot back. And that was far from her only bout of verbal sparring with House members during the hearing.
[See also: “Lawmakers are studying ‘what’s impeachable.’ Do you know?” in the Los Angeles Times]
Karlan’s second viral moment came a little later, when the law professor invoked the name of Trump’s teenage son while discussing the limits of presidential power, saying, “while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” The comment was either a relatively harmless pun about a topic that shouldn’t have been mentioned, or a morally egregious offense, depending on whom you ask. It drew a Twitter rebuke from Melania Trump, and Karlan apologized for it later in the proceedings.
Who is she?
By the end of Wednesday’s hearing, CNN was calling Karlan “a new hero for liberal law professors across the country” for her sharp testimony in favor of impeachment. But the lefty law professors of the country might quibble with the designation of their admiration as new. Karlan, who has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, has long been lionized in the left-leaning legal community for her case work, outspoken nature and championing of gay rights, criminal defendants’ rights and voting rights. She also founded the U.S. Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford, which was the first of its kind at any law school.
The New York Times described her as “an Antonin Scalia for the left” back in 2009, when her name was being tossed around as a potential Obama Supreme Court nominee. There was speculation at the time that Karlan, who identifies as bisexual, might become the first openly LGBTQ Supreme Court nominee.
“Would I like to be on the Supreme Court? You bet I would,” she said during a commencement address in 2009. “But not enough to have trimmed my sails for half a lifetime.”
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
A consultant who wanted to ban feeding homeless people has been tapped to lead the agency that coordinates the federal government’s response to homelessness. The shift in leadership at the federal level comes as President Trump has repeatedly vowed to crack down on street encampments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere in California. Still, it remains unclear what Robert Marbut’s appointment will mean for California, home to the nation’s largest homeless population. Legally, the Trump administration has limited options to open shelters or use police to clear encampments — although there is some appetite among L.A. County residents to have law enforcement be more involved. Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a law Wednesday that will crack down on campaign contributions from real estate developers, despite warnings from critics who said it had been too watered down to curb the power of political spending. Los Angeles Times
Why are symbols of the Cuban revolution plastered on a cluster of apartment buildings in Santa Monica? Meet the 86-year-old landlord who pays tribute to Cuba and her pro-Castro ideals through her rental properties. Los Angeleno
With Sen. Kamala Harris out of the race, where do her celebrity donors go next? The Hollywood primary continues… Los Angeles Times
L.A. will pay $4 million to end a lawsuit from a woman whose car plunged into a sinkhole in Studio City. The gaping hole abruptly opened up under her car near the intersection of Woodbridge Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard in 2017. Los Angeles Times
These L.A. homes come with a $1-million property tax bill. Yes, you read that right. (And yes, property taxes need to be paid by Tuesday to avoid a penalty.) Here are the 12 L.A. homeowners expected to cough up at least seven figures, and their respective mansions. Los Angeles Times
New USC President Carol L. Folt is standing behind Mike Bohn and the process that led the new athletic director to retain head football coach Clay Helton. USC football fans are less enthusiastic, to say the least. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
California’s campaign watchdog agency has suspended a long-standing policy banning its members from contributing to federal candidates after one commissioner donated to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. Los Angeles Times
Pasadena is suing itself to try to remove a cannabis initiative from next year’s ballot. “Yes, this is highly unusual,” said the local paper. Pasadena Star-News
CRIME AND COURTS
Body-camera footage shows a police officer firing repeatedly as a 15-year-old runs into an orchard in a rural part of the Central Valley near Ceres. The officer fatally shot the boy after a high-speed car chase. Modesto Bee
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Tainted romaine lettuce from California’s Salinas Valley has been linked to 102 illnesses in 23 states, health authorities reported Wednesday. Los Angeles Times
The four victims of the Fresno mass shooting will be laid to rest this month with traditional Hmong funerals. Here are some ways to support their families. Fresno Bee
There will be only one video rental store left on the Central Coast after the beloved John’s Video Palace closes its doors in Atascadero later this month. San Luis Obispo Tribune
The Angels and Anaheim have reached a deal for the team to stay in city through 2050. Los Angeles Times
Upgrades will silence San Francisco’s emergency sirens for the next two years. Yes, there are still text alerts, but not everybody gets them. “If you do receive the alerts, it’s really important to check on your neighbors to make sure they got it as well.” San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles: cloudy, 65. San Diego: partly sunny, 67. San Francisco: cloudy, 59. San Jose: cloudy, 62. Sacramento: cloudy, 60. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Michael Bettendorf:
“Last month, my Berkeley-born daughter, now at UCLA, invited me to see Brian Wilson speak on the UCLA campus. I struggled to explain to her what it was like growing up in Iowa and listening incessantly to Beach Boys records on the tiny record player in my room, images of fantasy-world California flooding my head. When I got admitted to Cal in 1987, of course I came to Berkeley; I found the fantasy real, and I never left. I told her: ‘Brian Wilson is probably the reason I live in California. And, by extension, the reason *you* live in California.’ ”
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.
When the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most bareknuckle defenders during the Russia investigation, attacking his former colleagues in the justice department, people asked: “What happened to Rudy?”
Related: Gerrymandering held sway in Michigan – until citizens fought back
Now, as federal prosecutors tighten a net of criminal investigations around Giuliani, the question has become: “What is going to happen to Rudy?”
The poignancy of Giuliani’s downfall from national hero and presidential candidate to the subject of multiple federal criminal investigations has been often remarked in the past year.
The net tightened again last week when it emerged a grand jury had issued a broad subpoena for documents relating to Giuliani’s international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes including money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“We who admired him for so long expected much more from Rudy Giuliani and his legacy,” Ken Frydman, a former Giuliani press secretary, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece last month. “‘America’s Mayor,’ as Rudy was called after September 11, is today President Trump’s bumbling personal lawyer and henchman, his apologist and defender of the indefensible.”
Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and scoffed at the notion he is in any legal jeopardy – particularly from federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, an office he once led as a star US attorney during Ronald Reagan’s first term. There Giuliani built a reputation for taking on mob bosses and aggressively prosecuting the kind of criminal activity he now stands accused of.
“Me ending up in jail?” Giuliani told the celebrity gossip site TMZ at a Washington airport on Monday. “Fifty years of being a lawyer, 50 years of ethical, dedicated practice of the law, probably have prosecuted more criminals of a high level than any US attorney in history. I think I follow the law very carefully. I think the people pursuing me are desperate, sad, angry, disappointing liars. They’re hurting their country. And I’m ashamed of them.”
But in no version of events does Giuliani appear not to be in big trouble.
The immediate source of his current problems is the work he did in Ukraine over the last two years for himself and on behalf of Trump, who instructed the Ukrainian president to speak to Giuliani in a 25 July phone call.
Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to announce an investigation of Joe Biden, Trump’s chief political rival, according to US officials who testified in the impeachment hearings. In pursuit of his errand, Giuliani contacted current and former Ukrainian prosecutors, multiple Ukrainian presidential administrations and multiple Ukrainian oligarchs, according to testimony.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani offered the oligarchs help with their problems with the US justice department in exchange for help with his project to harm Biden, a charge Giuliani has denied.
Two Soviet Union-born American associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested last month on campaign finance charges, and Parnas is cooperating with investigators. Alongside the prosecutors in New York, the US justice department in Washington is also investigating Giuliani’s conduct, as is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Congress is also after Giuliani, who came in for sharp public criticism in the impeachment hearings earlier this month, when Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch described a smear campaign Giuliani had mounted against her, allegedly because as an anti-corruption advocate she stood in the way of Trump’s Ukraine scheme.
“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” Yovanovitch testified. “What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”
As the pressure on him has intensified, Giuliani’s antics in his own defense have grown increasingly animated. He warned last week that he had collected information that would put his political enemies on their heels.
“I’m also going to bring out a pay-for-play scheme in the Obama administration that will be devastating to the Democrat party,” Giuliani told Fox News.
He even threatened to start an impeachment podcast.
But what matters most for Giuliani right now is his long friendship with Trump, his most powerful protector, which goes back to the late 1980s, when Trump served as co-chair of Giuliani’s first fundraiser for his 1989 mayoral campaign, according to Wayne Barrett, who has written books about both men.
In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Giuliani said: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who was also on the call, then interjected: “He’s joking.”
“We are friends for 29 years and nothing will interfere with that,” Giuliani told TMZ of Trump. “The president knows that everything I did, I did to help him. And he knows it. I did it honorably. I did it legally. I did it in a way that it will embarrass the people who are pursuing me and have nowhere near the integrity and honor that I have.”
Trump has tweeted that Giuliani “may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer”.
In an interview with disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last Tuesday, however, Trump distanced himself from Giuliani.
Analysts watching Giuliani’s case expect that an indictment could be handed down at any moment, raising the prospect of America’s Mayor in handcuffs.
“If Rudy’s story ends the way it feels like it’s going to end,” wrote Evan Mandery, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and veteran of New York City political campaigns, “it’s not plausible for anyone who knows or has studied him to say they never saw it coming.”
Wind gusts topped 90 mph Monday in some parts of the Sierra, a preview of a major change in the weather across California that will bring rain and snow across the state for Thanksgiving.
A “broad swath of precipitation” is expected to blanket Los Angeles County and surrounding areas starting early Wednesday, said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The heaviest rain and snow are predicted to fall on Wednesday from the morning to the afternoon. Lighter showers are forecast for Thursday and Friday and could extend into the weekend. Rainfall estimates for this week’s storm call for about 1 to 2 inches for the coast and valleys, and 1.5 to 3 inches for the foothills and at lower elevations of the mountains. A foot or more of snow is possible at higher elevations.
Snow levels are expected to plummet from 4,000 feet on Wednesday to about 2,500 feet by Thursday. This means the 5 Freeway over the Grapevine, along with Highway 14 and Highway 33, will likely see a significant dusting of powder — and with it, the seemingly inevitable traffic snarl, said David Sweet, also a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
San Diego County
The storm will drop a foot or more of snow at the top of Palomar Mountain, nearly a foot on Mt. Laguna, and 4 to 6 inches between the 3,000-foot and 5,000-foot level, affecting Julian, Pine Valley and the Alpine area of Interstate 8, the National Weather Service said.
Some ski resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains could receive as much as 2 feet of snow.
“The snow is going to affect travel in all of the mountain passes in Southern California, including the Cajon Pass on Interstate 15,” said Samantha Connolly, a weather service forecaster.
San Diego County’s coastal area is expected to receive between 1 and 2.5 inches of rain, while areas east of Interstate 15 will receive 2 to 3 inches. Some areas just east of Interstate 5 also could get 3 inches, the weather service says.
The weather service says a winter storm watch will be in effect for the mountains above 3,000 feet from late Tuesday night through Friday evening, and a flash flood watch will be in effect for all areas west of the mountains.
Bay Area/Northern California
Rain is forecast to arrive on Tuesday afternoon and continue sporadically through Thursday, according to Steve Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Francisco. Half an inch to an inch of rain is predicted in the Bay Area.
The snowstorm will begin in earnest Tuesday and last through the holiday. Some parts of the Sierra could see 3 feet of snow by Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the most dangerous period, with snow tapering off by Friday.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the service said. “If you are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday … finish your travels by midday Tuesday.”
Dangerous winds in the Sierra toppled a semitrailer truck, downed power lines and closed a stretch of highway in Southern California on Monday ahead of a winter storm expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow to mountain tops around Lake Tahoe. U.S. Highway 6 was closed due to downed power lines south of Yosemite National Park near Bishop. A wind gust of 94 mph was reported Monday morning at Mammoth Lakes Airport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
At halftime of Harvard-Yale a sit in protesting climate issues has broken out on the field, at least delaying the second half and the way the protest is growing I would be shocked if the game continues. pic.twitter.com/2BWCU2fLuI
Terrified children queuing to see Frozen 2 were shocked when security rushed into the cinema after a mass brawl.
The violence is suspected to have begun during a screening of UK gangster film Blue Story at Star City in Birmingham.
Rachel Allison tweeted: “Just came to see the new Blue Story film, standing in line for snacks when a fight breaks out behind my brother – worst thing is, it’s young girls fighting.
“Police brought batons, tasers and dogs out. Star city now closed.”
One reveller said more than 100 police and 50 vehicles closed down the entertainment complex at about 6pm on Saturday night.
It is thought some 60 to 70 people were involved in a fight at the multiplex venue.
Were you at Star City this evening? Email [email protected]
One witness told Mirror Online: “That’s probably one of the scariest moments of my life. Me and my sister were in a queue to watch frozen, loads of little kids there, all dressed up and everything, then these girls jumped on another girl and loads of these kids just started fighting.
“Armed police came with Tasers. All the people that were fighting run off into the cinema. There’s about 15 to 20 police cars. I’m shaking.
“The police were very aggressive there was lots of little kids there. My sister is 11 and they was pointing the Tasers in our face.”
Another witness said: “This is the most horrifying thing I’ve been involved in I’m scared and I’m 45 little girls dressed in frozen dresses crying and screaming appalling behaviour all over a gangster film set in London.”
Choleigh Mcguire, who was at the complex, told Mirror Online: “I have never seen police so aggressive. Everyone dressed up. They were all crying.
“It was a group of girls started on this one girl. Someone separated it at first.”
People are reporting that around ‘20 police cars’ dashed to Star City to deal with the suspected riot, which is thought to have broken out around 6pm today.
Mr Khan, manager of Pepe’s Restaurant at Star City told said: “I heard shouting and screaming outside the restaurant. I understand a big fight started in the cinema.
“There were so many people running past the restaurant, I’d say around 60 to 70 were involved.
“The police escorted everyone out.
“We’ve heard that the cinema has had to empty the screens and are not letting anyone else in. I guess people who have bought tickets will get a refund.
“Our restaurant is still open, as is the restaurant next door.”
The police are yet to comment on the disturbance.
Top news stories from Mirror Online
Police are redirecting people away from the area and it’s having a knock-on effect on motorists on Watson Road and all roads surrounding the entertainment complex.
People are being advised to steer clear of the area and try to find alternative routes.