Courtesy Public domain (via Dartmouth)An outbreak of cholera in Haiti is causing doctors and other aid workers concern. Cholera is an infection of the intestines caused by Vibrio cholerae a bacteria often found in contaminated food or drinking water. The bacteria can spread through crowded and unsanitary areas via contact with feces of infected persons. Cholera outbreaks often take place in crowded and impoverished areas, or in war zones. Symptoms include severe abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, vomiting and rapid dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be deadly within 24 hours. When detected, treatment involves replenishment of lost fluids and electrolytes. Improved sanitation and personal hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of the disease. So far, cholera has killed more than 300 people in Haiti, and most of the nearly 4000 recorded cases have occurred in the region of Arbonite, a rural area unaffected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated much of the country last January. The outbreak has been slowing lately, but officials are concerned it could still spread through the hundreds of refugee tent camps located in the overcrowded capital of Port-au-Prince.
Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsHundreds of people are still missing and feared drowned from the tsunami triggered by the large earthquake that struck Indonesia earlier this week. So far 340 deaths have been blamed on the 10-foot waves that washed over many of the tiny and remote islands in the Mentawai chain. The tsunami warning system set in place after 2004's devastating tsunami apparently malfunctioned due to vandalism to some of its expensive sensors. But local officials say the tsunami came on so quickly that even if they had been functioning the warnings would have been useless. Four hundred people are still missing, and several aftershocks, coupled with changing weather conditions have made search and rescue efforts difficult. Meanwhile, to the east on the island of Java, Mount Merapi, has erupted again and is adding to Indonesia's woes. Some scientists think the two disasters may be linked.
In the quest for developing better building methods to withstand hurricane winds, this experiment with about 100 high-powered fans shows what happens to a non-hurricane-proofed home vs. one that's using special building methods. It's estimated the winds got up to 96 mph in this test, equal to a Category 2 hurricane.
Alright, it's absolutely beautiful outside today. So what's up with this predicted flooding?
Remember all that rain the week of September 20th? (We got 2-4" here in the Twin Cities, but areas to the southwest of us got as much as 10".)
Courtesy National Weather Service
It all had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was the Minnesota River. Why does that affect us here in St. Paul? Take a look at another map:
Courtesy NASA (Landsat)
Remember: rivers don't necessarily flow south. The reddish line is the Minnesota River. The blue is the Mississippi. And that little blip just north of where the two rivers come together is downtown St. Paul. (The yellow elipse is the area of highest rainfall.)
All that rain is flowing right past us. And it should be impressive. The river's at 15.4' this morning (moderate flood stage), and predicted to crest at 18' (major flood stage) on Saturday morning. But the recent spate of lovely weather means that the flooding should pass quickly--today's prediction has the water level back under 17" by Monday morning.
St. Paul police have closed all the river roads and parks, and are discouraging people from walking down by the river. But you can get a stellar view of everything from outside the Museum on Kellogg Plaza, or inside the museum from the Mississippi River Gallery on level 5.
Twin Cities TV meteorologists can only dream about reporting on this. It's pretty amazing footage of a fire tornado forming in Brazil in an area experiencing wild fires.
Courtesy Nadir B
United Nation claims more than four million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly 3 weeks of flooding.
The number of Pakistani flood victims in need of urgent humanitarian relief has risen from six million to eight million, the U.N. said."
Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods. Getting safe drinking water to many millions of people is urgent.
"We could have up to 140,000 cases of cholera," Sabatinelli (WHO) said. "We are preparing ourselves for that."
The after effects of this Pakistan flooding are worse than the 2004 Tsunami or the earthquakes in China and Haiti. Rebuilding roads, bridges, and buildings, and providing food, water and shelter to the many millions of flood victims is going to take billions of dollars.
This made all the weekend news clips, but here's a little more extended version of the storm chaser video of the Wilkin County. Minnesota, tornado from Saturday.
Tropical Storm Alex, which formed over the northwestern Caribbean Sea out of a westward-moving tropical wave on Friday and Saturday (June 26 and27), emerged overnight into the Bay of Campeche from the Yucatan Peninsula. Since emerging from that landmass as a tropical depression (signifying sustained winds weaker than 35 knots), it has strengthened back to Tropical Storm status. Current forecasts place it as a hurricane — possibly major — near the northern Mexico Gulf Coast later this week.