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   BEIJING (AP) — A strong earthquake in a dry, hilly farming area in western China knocked down power lines and damaged scores of homes early Monday, killing at least 47 people and injuring nearly 300, the local government said.

   The quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province, a region of mountains, desert and pastureland. Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights but little major damage and little panic. Tremors were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 177 kilometers (110 miles) north, and as far away as Xi'an, 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the east.

   "You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren't any cracks in the walls. Shop assistants all poured out onto the streets when the shaking began," said a front desk clerk at the Wuyang Hotel in the Zhang County seat about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the epicenter. The clerk surnamed Bao refrained from identifying herself further, as is common among ordinary Chinese.

   With a population of 26 million, Gansu is one of China's more lightly populated provinces, although the New Jersey-sized area of Dingxi has a greater concentration of farms in rolling hills terraced with fields for crops and fruit trees. Dingxi has a total population of about 2.7 million.

   The deaths and injuries were reported in Min County and other rural southern parts of the municipality, Dingxi Mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV. Tang said damage was worst in the counties of Zhang and Min, where scores of homes were damaged and telephone and electricity services knocked out.

   Su Wei, leader of a 120-member rescue team from the paramilitary People's Armed Police, told state broadcaster CCTV that they were on their way to the epicenter, but progress was being slowed by mud and rock slides blocking the road.

   The Chinese Red Cross said it was shipping 200 tents, 1,000 sets of household items, and 2,000 jackets to the area and sending teams from both Lanzhou and Beijing to help with relief work and assess further needs.

   Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.

   The government's earthquake monitoring center said the initial quake at 7:45 a.m. (2345 GMT Sunday) was magnitude-6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude-5.6.

   The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The center said it struck about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) beneath the surface, while the Gansu provincial earthquake administration said it was just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) deep.

   The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the initial quake as 5.9 and the depth at 10 kilometers (6 miles).

   Initial measurements of an earthquake can vary widely, especially if different monitoring equipment is used.

   Dingxi is about 1,233 kilometers (766 miles) west of Beijing.

   China's worst earthquake in recent years was a 7.9-magnitude temblor that struck the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2008, leaving 90,000 people dead or missing.

Published in National News

   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Waves of violent weather spawning high winds and tornado have torn through the St. Louis area, downing trees and power lines and sending gamblers rushing from a casino floor. There were no immediate, confirmed reports of injuries.

   The storms that began pounding the region around 6:30 p.m. prompted numerous tornado warnings, with at least a few confirmed sightings from Montgomery County about 70 miles west of St. Louis into St. Louis County itself. Many homes were damaged in St. Charles County, specifically at Whitmoor Country Club and other nearby subdivisions.

   Emergency management officials say the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights lost its roof.  Investigators did find the building structurally safe.  The casino is set to reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.

   Rich Gordon, of Jefferson City, says he was on the casino floor when he heard a loud "boom" and officials evacuated the floor. Windows were blown out of the casino and metal power poles outside were snapped off at the base.

    Audience members at Friday night's Circus Flora performance were moved from under the big top to the nearby VA shelter during intermission in the city's Grand Center Theater District. 

Published in Local News

   The National Weather service is trying to determine if storm damage in parts of St. Clair County Thursday evening was caused by straight line winds or a small tornado.  

   The county Emergency Management Agency reports that the worst damage was in Marissa, Illinois, about 40 southeast of St. Louis.   That's where there were several unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down about 7:00 p.m.  

   Marissa resident Alice Steinheimer was still shaking when she spoke with Fox 2 News after the storm knocked down several trees on her property. She said it was a frightening evening. "It was scary, believe me," she said.  "I thought we was havin' a tornado. And I don't like them tornadoes."  

   Steinheimer said the tree damage is overwhelming.  "Oh my God, it's something," she said.  "I don't know how I'm going to get this mess cleaned up."

   Several car and homes were also damaged in the Marissa area.

 

Published in Local News

   SHAWNEE, OK (AP) - Hearing on the radio that a violent storm was approaching her rural Oklahoma neighborhood, Lindsay Carter took advantage of the advanced warning, gathered her belongings and fled. When she returned, there was little left of the community she called home.

   Several tornadoes struck parts of the nation's midsection Sunday, concentrating damage in central Oklahoma and Wichita, Kan. One person was killed near Shawnee, Okla., and 21 injuries were reported throughout the state.

   Victims and emergency responders might not get much of reprieve as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center was forecasting similar weather for Monday over much of the same area.

   The worst of the damage Sunday appeared to be at the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park located amid gently rolling hills about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

   "It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."

   Hoke said he started trying to help neighbors and found his wife's father covered in rubble.

   "My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.

   Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since last Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.

   "There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said. "This is the worst I've seen in Pottawatomie County in my 25 years of law enforcement."

   Carter had heard on a radio broadcast that a storm that had originated southwest of Oklahoma City was headed toward Shawnee.

   "We got in the truck and left," Carter said. With upward of 30 minutes' notice for Pottawatomie County, Carter had time to leave one of the few frame homes in Steelman Estates — and most of her house was intact when she returned.

   "I walked up, and the house was OK. Part of the roof was gone," she said.

   The scene was different a short distance away.

   "Trees were all gone. I walked further down and all those houses were gone," she said.

   Booth said a 79-year-old man was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates, but the sheriff didn't have details on where he had lived.

   "You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Booth said. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.

   "It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," he said.

   Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

   Following the Oklahoma twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.

   A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park. At the nearby intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 177, a half-dozen tractor-trailers were blown over, closing both highways for a time.

 
Published in National News

   Just a week after severe storms brought damaging wind and tornadoes to the St. Louis area, the threat of more dangerous weather is in the forecast.  Hazelwood residents continue to clean up after a twister ripped through their community last week. But their mayor is hoping they'll now shift focus from patching roofs to preparing for the next round of storms.  

   Mayor Matthew Robinson says he hopes people heed the warning the next time the tornado sirens sound.  "When they do," he said, "obviously you can see what we went through here in Hazelwood.  People need to take shelter, because you never know.  You never know when that train’s going to be coming.”

  The mayor says if temporary tarps are damaged in this next round of storms, there are materials and supplies and volunteers that’ll come out again and help patch them up again. 

  Meanwhile residents in one storm-battered Hazelwood apartment complex are still trying to recover.  That includes Renee Fletcher, who spent  Tuesday gathering her things from her damaged apartment before they could be ruined by more bad weather.

   Fletcher says some things have already been ruined.  "There is significant molding that’s already taking place in the building," she said.  "So definitely, you want to get your things out, but it’s not safe for you to be in there anyway."

   Fletcher had lived at the Teson Garden Apartments when the tornado struck last week.  All nine buildings in the complex were so badly damaged, they've been condemned. Police say residents have until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday  to collect their belongings.  Then the buildings will be closed up for repairs.  Two of the buildings may need to be torn down. 

 

 
Published in Local News
Monday, 25 March 2013 06:42

Sunday snow was a record breaker

It probably won't come as a surprise to many in the metro area, but the spring snowstorm that blanketed St. Louis Sunday set a record. It was the deepest one-day snowfall in March according to the National Weather Service.

The official snow total at Lambert Airport was 12.4 inches, beating the old record by three-tenths of an inch, and snow is still falling this morning.

That old record of 12.1 inches dates back to March 24, 1912.
Published in Around Town
Monday, 25 March 2013 04:47

Sunday snow was a record breaker

It probably won't come as a surprise to many in the metro area, but the spring snowstorm that blanketed St. Louis Sunday set a record. It was the deepest one-day snowfall in March according to the National Weather Service.

The official snow total at Lambert Airport was 12.4 inches, beating the old record by three-tenths of an inch, and snow is still falling this morning.

That old record of 12.1 inches dates back to March 24, 1912.
Published in Local News
Friday, 08 March 2013 03:08

New England braces for late-winter storm

BOSTON (AP) -- Coastal towns in Massachusetts were bracing for powerful waves at morning high tide and commuters were facing a tough drive as a nor'easter offshore was bringing waves of snow, strong wind and water from the Atlantic to New England.

Snowfall of 8 to 12 inches was forecast in central Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island by Friday morning, with 6 to 10 inches in Boston and nearby areas.

"We are watching a conveyor belt of wave after wave of snow coming in over the Atlantic," said Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. "The morning commute will definitely be a challenge," he said, especially for those headed into Boston from the south.

Powerful waves and high winds were expected to cause more trouble than snow.

In Scituate, Mass., a shoreline town about 30 miles south of Boston, emergency management officials were worried about getting through Friday's high tide.

"I think that's going to be very dangerous," said Scituate Police Chief Brian Stewart. He said the town had advised people in flood-prone areas to leave during high tides that began Thursday, when no major damage was reported.

"Why put yourself at risk?" he said. "Folks have been through this before, and they know what happens in these areas. We're recommending that people in areas that have experienced coastal flooding to evacuate three hours before high tide."

In Salisbury, Mass., on the New Hampshire border, officials ordered evacuations for homes along several beachfront streets flooded during a February blizzard.

A coastal flood warning was in effect for east-facing shores in Massachusetts, with possible 3-foot surges at high tide.

"The one we are watching is on Friday morning, after another 12 hours of strong northeasterly winds piling more water up," the National Weather Service's Dunham said.

On Cape Cod, where the storm was expected to be mostly rain, officials were concerned about beach erosion. The area suffered extensive erosion from Superstorm Sandy in October and a major snowstorm last month.

"We've really gotten more erosion in the last six months than we've experienced in the last decade," said Sandwich Town Manager George Dunham. "These three storms are really taking a toll."

Some less severe beach erosion was forecast along the southern Maine coast, and up to six inches of snow in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

In Connecticut, where up to 6 inches of snow was expected by Friday, people were hoping for a break after a snowy winter.

"I'm just wishing we'd be done with snow," said Steve Edwards, a contractor in Newtown. "We just finally saw some green grass."

The late-winter storm buried parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic before sweeping into New England.

In Virginia, three people were killed, including a 22 year old man who died after his vehicle ran off an icy road. Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western Virginia, which had more than 200,000 outages at the height of the storm. The storm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of neighboring West Virginia, closing schools in more than half the state and leaving more than 20,000 customers without power. Two North Carolina boaters were missing offshore after a third crew member was rescued Wednesday.
Published in National News
CHICAGO (AP) - The calendar may read March, but a snowstorm has much of the Upper Midwest looking like December.

A snowstorm that moved through parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota yesterday is zeroing in on Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, with the brunt of the storm expected to hit early today.

Up to 10 inches of snow could fall in the Chicago area, which would easily make this storm the area's largest of the season.

This storm could be particularly problematic for commuters. The National Weather Service says it could snow during both the morning and evening rush hours in Chicago. Emergency officials urge those who don't have to drive to keep their cars in the garage in favor of public transportation.
Published in National News
Missouri legislators are cutting their work week short because of concerns over a winter storm that's expected to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain on much of the state.

The House and Senate usually meet from Monday until mid-day Thursday each week. But with a mixture of ice and snow expected on Thursday, the Senate has decided to quit for the week around noon Wednesday -- early enough to give lawmakers time to get home before the weather hits.

The State House will also give members a chance to leave early, planning only a technical session on Thursday, in which no bills will be debated.
Published in Local News
Page 3 of 4

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