29 rescued from flooding in N.J.’s largest city

NEWARK — Emergency responders — some using a boat and amphibious vehicle — rescued 29 people stranded by flood waters in Newark Friday, officials said. The flooding, brought on by torrential downpours, was mostly reported in the city’s East Ward. Newark firefighters used a Zodiac boat to reach some stuck motorists while the Office of Emergency… Continue reading 29 rescued from flooding in N.J.’s largest city

A cool, cloudy finish to April for N.J. as roller coaster temps continue

Forget about a warm finish to the month of April. Saturday’s blast of heat already moved out of New Jersey, pushed out by a cold front that will stick around for the day on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. A set of cold fronts moving through the region are responsible for the quick change… Continue reading A cool, cloudy finish to April for N.J. as roller coaster temps continue

Oroville Dam: Residents ready for use of spillway again

Oroville – With water soon set to flow down the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam, some residents are cautiously confident in repairs and haven’t checked the newly minted evacuation plans yet.

The Department of Water Resources announced Monday that spillway flows would resume “on or around March 17,” for the first time since being shut off Feb. 27.

 

New evacuation plans are in place in case something goes wrong and residents in Oroville, Thermalito, Gridley, Biggs and other areas along the Feather River need to evacuate again. Residents can find the zone they belong to with an interactive map at www.buttecounty.net/oem.

Officials took to the drawing board following the one-hour evacuation order for more than 180,000 residents Feb. 12, caught off guard by erosion which threatened failure of the emergency spillway weir. Lack of preparedness resulted in disarray as some citizens were stranded and highways were congested.

The Sheriff’s Office is hosting meetings this week to inform the public of the new evacuation plans, with the first one taking place Thursday in Gridley. In Oroville, several residents have not seen the new maps yet available online.

Edward Pochay, 49, said evacuation plans are not a concern for him. Pochay is the resource director for the Oroville Rescue Mission and when the orders were issued last month, he was one of the people who stuck around in the flood zone.

“People want to point fingers,” Pochay said. “The truth of the matter is I’m not one to panic.”

He said he has confidence in the work going on at the dam because of all the money that’s gone into it. Pochay also knows some of the contractors and can vouch for their competence.

“I have a lot of faith in everything that’s in place,” he said. “Do you think all that time and energy is going into anything that’s going to fail?”

 

Some are a little more uncertain.

Tashina Green, 28, runs a sober living facility in Oroville where she has lived for four years, she said. When the orders were issued, some of the residents she took with her were extremely emotional and anxious, though she, a self-described adrenaline junkie, was excited as they headed for refuge in Sacramento, she said.

Green said she is pretty confident the spillway will be safe to run in the next few days. She hasn’t seen the new evacuation plans yet, though their existence makes her feel better.

“I feel mostly like it’s going to be OK,” she said.

Though she’s keeping a suitcase packed, just in case.

“I’m pretty confident I can get out quick,” Green said.

Devon Carsen, 27, lives in Forbestown outside the evacuation zones, but frequents Oroville. He does construction work and said it’s been frustrating and perplexing to follow the damage and repairs at the dam.

On one hand, there’s the over-arching bureaucratic element, and then, there’s the emergency aspect — with hundreds of thousands of people at risk, Carsen said. Federal and state funds have to be spread out for various infrastructure projects, but in that balance, something like this can happen.

“What’s more important infrastructure than the tallest dam in the U.S.?” he asked.

Carsen was in Sacramento when the orders were issued and stuck it out there for a few days. He said he hasn’t seen the new evacuation orders yet.

Use of the spillway is necessary again because of rising levels at Lake Oroville, with runoff and snowmelt, are surpassing the capacity of the Hyatt Powerhouse, which was releasing outflows of 12,900 cubic-feet per second Wednesday morning, the Department of Water Resources reported.

The spillway has been shut down since Feb. 27, after the lake had been drawn down more than 50 feet from the emergency spillway lip and since, the department and contractors have worked to remove debris – originally estimated to be 1.7 cubic yards – from the bottom of the spillway. The department reported Wednesday morning that approximately 1.2 million cubic yards of material had been removed from the bottom of the spillway.

The debris pile up was restricting the department from using its additional resource for releasing flows: the Hyatt Powerhouse.

The department got the plant up and running March 3 and slowly ramped up the outflow nearing the plant’s full capacity with five operating units of about 13,000 cubic-feet per second, or cfs. This has been sufficient to manage inflows but soon the rising lake levels because of runoff and snowmelt will require use of the spillway again.

There’s a sixth unit in the power plant that would allow releases in excess of 16,000 cfs, but it’s been out of service for years.

The magnitude of the emergency was realized Feb. 7 as a gaping hole emerged in the main spillway, growing into massive erosion across and down the spillway and the sides of the structure. But with heavy rainfall and snowmelt on the way, the department had to continue to let flows down the damaged spillway.

Oroville Dam: Asbestos found in spillway rock; dust controls increased

Oroville – Naturally-occurring asbestos has been found in the rock formations and in the air near the damaged Oroville Dam main spillway, according to a press release.

Although California Department of Water Resources said risk to workers and the surrounding community is minimal, dust-control operations are being increased. Air quality will continue to be monitored at the work site and nearby neighborhoods.

Bob McLaughlin, Butte County Air Quality Management District assistant air pollution control officer, said because some air quality tests came back positive, the area is being treated like a contaminated site.

“Absolutely any time there’s potential for public exposure to asbestos it’s a concern,” he said. “It’s either there, or it isn’t. If it’s there, you do everything you can to minimize dust emissions. You have to assume it’s everywhere (at the site). … You need to be very diligent and proactive in protecting public health.”

California Department of Water Resources said it was discovered in “limited areas” during the debris removal operation, and will be addressed “safely and successfully” with standard operating procedures.

The common mineral is found all over California, in 42 of its 58 counties, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Serpentine, which contains asbestos, is actually the state rock.

Asbestos is a human carcinogen, however, and can cause lung cancers, including mesothelioma, if airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled. It’s for this reason that naturally occurring asbestos can be a cause of concern if it is crushed or similarly disturbed.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” DWR has submitted a dust-control and air monitoring plan to the Air Quality Management District.

Control measures already in place include wetting the soil, using wet drilling methods and utilizing rumble strips on roads to reduce dirt collection on heavy equipment. Plans include washing trucks and tires, using personal air monitors and increasing how many air samples are collected.

 

DWR said it will continue to work with air quality officials, geologists and safety officers to monitor risks as work continues.

McLaughlin said the Air Quality Management District is working with DWR on additional monitoring to determine if there are “ambient levels of asbestos that would be a concern.” DWR is doing everything they can to minimize dust emissions, he said. The Air Quality Management District’s role is to protect the public, and they will make sure DWR and contractors are proceeding cautiously and operating under state-required airborne toxic control measures.

If people have concerns or see an excess of dust in the area, they can contact the Butte County Air Quality Management District at 1-855-332-9400.

There is a county air monitor located by the staging area, providing a live update of emissions in the area at bcaqmd.org. Though that only includes information about dust levels, not asbestos.

OTHER UPDATES

Meanwhile, the damaged main spillway is expected to brought into use sometime Friday. DWR has scheduled a 9 a.m. press conference on the matter.

The spillway has been shut down since Feb. 27, after Lake Oroville had been drawn down more than 50 feet from the emergency spillway lip. Crews working on the debris pile that built up at the base of the spillway have removed 1.24 million cubic-yards of material as of Thursday morning, according to DWR. The pile was originally estimated at 1.7 million cubic-yards.

Releases from Lake Oroville through the Hyatt Powerhouse remain at 12,900 cubic-feet per second, while inflows are fluctuating in the neighborhood of 19,000 cfs.

As a result, the lake level continues to rise, and was at 863.49 feet above sea level at 5 p.m. Thursday. That’s an increase of about 8 1/2 inches in 24 hours.

The flow in the part of the river past Oroville was increased from 10,700 cfs to 13,700 cfs Thursday afternoon, according to DWR, and releases from the Thermailto Afterbay outlet were shut off.

Ramping up the rhetoric

North Korea threatens “merciless” attacks on U.S. forces as they beef up presence in the region.

The U.S. military confirmed Tuesday it will deploy drones capable of carrying missiles to bases in South Korea, as it strengthens its military presence in the face of ever more aggressive missile and nuclear testing by North Korea.

The secretive kingdom warned again Tuesday that it is willing to launch “merciless” attacks against U.S. forces if they infringe on North Korea’s “sovereignty and dignity.” The ominous statement comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to rise – with some experts speculating that dictator Kim Jong Un is not simply testing out missiles but rather preparing for possible nuclear war.

 

The Grey Eagle drones will add “significant intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability” for American and South Korean forces, a statement said. The deployment of the drones, which are capable of carrying Hellfire missiles, comes just a week after the U.S. began assembling its advanced anti-missile system known as THAAD, which is designed to protect South Korea from missiles launched by Pyongyang.

North Korea’s latest warning was a reaction to a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, joining South Korean forces on Tuesday as part of annual exercises that involve hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both countries.

The exercises, dubbed Foal Eagle, are seen by North Korea as a dress rehearsal for an invasion. “If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea, and underwater,” the North’s state news agency KCNA said.

The KCNA statement went on to say that aircraft from one of the carriers had flown along a course near North Korean airspace “to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army.”

According to Jeffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Foal Eagle is a rehearsal for OPLAN 5015, described as “a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, including its leadership, as a retaliation for some provocation.”

In recent months, the North has carried out several missile tests from various locations around the country. Lewis says that these are not really tests — as North Korea already knows the missiles work — but “what the military units are doing now is practising — practising for a nuclear war.”

On Tuesday, high profile defector Thae Yong-ho, a former minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, said he thought plans were in place for a potentially devastating launch: “A nuclear test which the North is trying to conduct at the Punggye-ri test site will break the country into two pieces.”

Thae added that the environmental pollution that would result if the explosion was not controlled properly in a small country like North Korea would be apocalyptic.

38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said last week that satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site showed substantial tunnel excavation is taking place to allow for a nuclear test of significantly higher explosive yields, perhaps up to 282 kilotons — which is 14 times the size of the previous largest test.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit South Korea Friday as part of his first Asia tour since taking office, which will also see him visit Japan and China. The U.S. position on North Korea is in flux at the moment, with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations last week saying Donald Trump’s administration was re-evaluating its strategy and “all options are on the table.”

Tillerson will hold meetings with senior government officials, including talks with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told reporters that the situation in North Korea would be high on the list of talking points between the two. “At a time when the U.S. administration’s policy review on North Korea is in its final stages, and our joint approach to the North is materializing through meetings of (recent) foreign ministers and nuclear envoys, Tillerson’s visit to Korea is very important and timely.”

Last week the U.S. began deploying its advanced anti-missile system — known as THAAD — along the South Korean border, designed to repel any missile attacks from the North. In response, Pyongyang displayed a show of strength by launching four ballistic missiles at once — suggesting they were practising for an attack on U.S. military bases in Japan.

China will play a crucial role in attempting to ease tensions in the region. It has called on North Korea to stop carrying out its missile tests, while also saying that South Korea and the U.S. should cease their drills – with the state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times saying the drills were sending the North “an explicit radical threat.”

MAJOR DEVELOPMENT: #US to decide on striking #SAA targets

White House press secretary Josh Ernest told journalists at a briefing that Washington does not rule out strikes on Damascus’ forces, even though it is doubtful that this is in the US’ interests. 
Earlier, US media reported that air strikes on military targets of the Syrian government’s army are among the number of possibilities being considered by the US.
The ministry of foreign affairs of Russia recognized that such “leaks” in Western media could be a prelude to real actions, and recommended “colleagues in Washington to cautiously calculate the possible consequences of such plans’ realization.” 
The US ceased direct cooperation with Russia in Syria this week, but US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are still holding telephone talks on the issue.

 

Washington, having announced its decision to cease cooperation, referred to Moscow’s failure to fulfill its obligations. The Russian foreign ministry has rejected these accusations and stated that the US cannot fulfill the responsibilities it took upon itself, including distinguishing between the “moderate” opposition and terrorists in Syria. 
Source: http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/10/major-development-us-to-decide-on.html

#Russia issues chilling warning to US over Syrian Airstrikes

Reports are coming out today that Russia has issued dire warnings to US Officials about targeting Syrian and Russian Forces for Airstrikes in Syria.

The mirror is reporting that: “Russia has ordered the US not to carry out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, warning that sophisticated air defence systems are now up and running.” The Russian Military has also been quoted as saying “Russian army bosses have warned that their anti-aircraft weapons’ radius may be ‘a surprise’ to unidentified planes, helicopters and drones in the area”

 

Could we be just days away from an all out confrontation with Russia? Time will tell! But keep it here for the very latest on what is going on in Syria! We will have more breaking news as it breaks!

Morning Update – October 06 2016

Today is Thursday October 6th 2016. This morning we are tracking a number of things around the world.

 

United States

  • Hurricane Matthew
    • Mandatory Evacuations have been posted for a number of communities along the Florida East Coast
    • As of 2am Matthew was a Category 3 Hurricane clocking winds of 115 mph and a pressure of 954mb
    • Matthew should be making it’s closest approach to Florida Friday AM based on some of the forecast models
  • Election 2016
    • I’ll have my reactions to the Vice presidential debates as well as what to look forward to in the next presidential debate.

Syria

  • After Russia’s Embassy in Damascus Syria was attack Monday The US and Russia ended all diplomatic talks concerning Syria and Russia bolstered it’s Air defenses.
  • Russia is telling it’s citizens that a Nuclear Confrontation with the West could be coming soon and to be prepared
  • Russia is conducting Nuclear Drills to test it’s preparedness consisting of more then 40 million people. The Drills are designed to test everything from it’s notification systems to post attack response.
  • The US is mulling over possible responses to Russia’s Continued airstrikes on Aleppo Syria including Military options.

 

Hurricane Track – Hurricane Matthew Update

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