David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Hurricane Alex’s Outer Bands Battering South Texas

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It’s the first time a hurricane has churned through the Gulf of Mexico during an oil spill so there are many unknowns tonight as to how Hurricane Alex will affect coastal areas.

Alex strengthened this afternoon as it takes aim at the Texas / Mexico border and it’s expected to strengthen to a Category 2 storm before making landfall Wednesday night.

As of 11 a.m., the National Hurricane Center says Alex was moving WNW at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH.

Hurricane warnings have been posted from Baffin Bay, Texas, southward to La Cruz, Mexico.  Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the warned area within the next few hours.

The storm’s rotation poses a risk of tornadoes this evening.  The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for southeastern parts of the Texas coast until 8 p.m. [local time].  Flooding rains, damaging winds sustained at 90 MPH, with higher gusts, can be expected as well as severe thunderstorms, flash floods and tornadoes.

Differing Opinions About Alex’s Impact on Oil Spill

Hurricane Alex is not expected to directly hit the areas currently dealing with the BP oil spill in the Gulf; the storm will pass far to the southwest of the spill.  But meteorologists fear the outer wind fields and rotating feeder-bands could be strong enough to push more oil further inland in coastal areas already devastated by the affects of the spill.  Waves up to 15 feet could crash onto beaches as far away from the impact zone as Florida; possibly pushing the thick crude further onto the white sand beaches that line the Gulf coast.

Other researchers hope the storm will cause the opposite effect; stirring up the oil and pushing it further into the Gulf.

As I mentioned, this is an unprecedented event so no one really knows what the hurricane will do with the millions of gallons of oil spewed so far.

Oil and gas operators in the Gulf have begun evacuating rigs within the path of the hurricane.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement told reporters Tuesday 28 platforms and 3 rigs have been shut down; that’s nearly a quarter of the Gulf’s oil production and 9 percent of its natural gas production.

Rough seas have caused BP to bring their skimming boats to safe harbor, putting a delay into the oil spill clean-up efforts.  While those boats are out of commission, the oil will continue to spill, unchecked, until it’s safe to get the vessels back to the spill site.

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June 30, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Least 5 Killed In Midwest Tornado Outbreak

By: David Shepherd [ dshepherd@wtwo.com ] –  Sunday, June 06, 2010

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes plow through the Midwest overnight killing at least 5 people and leaving a path of destruction 100 yards wide.

In Millbury, Ohio, rescue workers continue their search for victims in the rubble of shattered homes Sunday.  It’s too soon to tell whether anyone else is missing.

The storms hit around 11 p.m. Saturday night with heavy rain, wind, hail and tornadoes.  The storm swept through a small farm town,

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narrowly missing a heavily populated suburb of Toledo.

The violent storms damaged at least 50 homes and another 50 were severely damaged.  School buses and police cars were tossed in a mile long trail of devastation.

5 people, including 1 child, were killed.  Police say, among those killed, a person standing outside of the police department and a motorist.

In Michigan, it was a terrifying night as violent weather ripped off siding on a nuclear plant.

Nuclear Plant Automatically Shut Down as Storms Blew Through

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant

Severe storms that blew through Michigan caused damage to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in the southeastern part of the state.  Per design, the plant shut

down as the high winds ripped off siding from one of the buildings there.

Investigators

were called in to inspect the plant to make sure there was no further damage.  A public information officer for Monroe County tells NBC News the plant was expected to go back into operation soon.

Power was knocked out to about 35,000 people nearby during the storms but it’s not clear if it was directly related to the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

In Dundee, Michigan, 11 people were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.  Meteorologists with the National Weather Service are looking into reports of a tornado touchdown there.

More than 12 people were hurt in Dwight, Illinois where 10 homes and 40 mobile homes were destroyed.

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment