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Hurricane Michael and the Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael is scheduled to make landfall this afternoon. Last night it gathered strength and was designated a Category 4 storm. CBS reported (no link due to autoplay video):

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Hurricane Michael is packing even more punch: It strengthened into a Category 4 storm early Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. According to the NHC's latest advisory, Michael could produce a life-threatening storm surge as high as 13 feet and dump as much as a foot of rain in some places.

Florida, Alabama and Georgia are in states of emergency. 375,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. [More...]

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Hurricane Florence Rips the N.C. Banks

Hurricane Florence is here. It is brutal, and it's just getting started.

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence, a large and dangerous Category 2 storm, landed on the North Carolina coast Thursday morning. Winds were already gusting to 70 mph and sea water was surging ashore along the Outer Banks, washing over roads. It marks the beginning of a prolonged assault from wind and water, which — by the time it’s over — is likely to bring devastating damage and flooding to millions of people in the Southeast.

The Weather Channel has incredible video of the waves already crashing into homes.

Last night I read the waves could be taller than an 8 story building.

Here's a live video from the shores of Myrtle Beach, S.C. [More...]

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Those Santa Ana Winds

With the disastrous fires and high winds occurring this week in California, you don't need a calendar to know it's October -- season of the Santa Ana winds. I've been writing about them here for 10 years. From my post in 2007:

The Southern California fires are all over the news. Every time I see hear the words "the Santa Ana winds" I start thinking about writer Joan Didion (who just happens to be my favorite author) and how she captured the phenomenon with such great imagery in Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), her book about Haight Ashbury during the summer of 1967.

To give you a flavor, I've tracked down some of what she wrote and quote below:

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Hurricane Nate Readies for Landfall Tonight

Hurricane Nate is on track to make landfall this evening.

The storm is now packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It is moving speedily to the north at 26 mph.

Hurricane warnings are in place from Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama border with Florida. This includes the city of New Orleans, which has prompted the mayor of the Crescent City to issue mandatory evacuations for parts of the area.

What a brutal year for hurricanes. Here is the 10:00 am forecast.

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Puerto Rico Still Not Receiving Aid: Gridlock

Thousands of shipping containers are in stand-still mode in Puerto Rico, preventing their contents with much needed supplies and food from reaching the people.

Nearly 100 percent of the island remains without power, and about 91 percent of cell sites are out of service, according to the most recent Department of Energy and FCC reports.

More on the distribution problems from NPR here. They can't distribute fuel. [More...]

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Puerto Rico Slammed by Maria, Electricity Gone

Hurricane Maria did not spare Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria churned across Puerto Rico Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years, knocking out power and water to nearly the entire population and leaving people huddled in buildings to ride out powerhouse winds that have already left death and devastation across the Caribbean.

"On the forecast track, [Maria] would be the most destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico history," tweeted Eric Blake, a forecaster at the Hurricane Center.

The island is completely without electricity now. The New York Times has more.

There are flash flood warnings now for large parts of Puerto Rico. [More...]

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Earthquake in Mexico City, More Than 200 Killed

More than 200 bodies have been pulled from the rubble of Mexico City. The photos and videos from Spanish station news last night were horrifying. A school collapsed with children inside.

“There are around 600 children at the school,” said Elena Villaseñor, 44, a neighbor who was managing the notices. “We don’t know how many children are still inside. They were in classes. The school was full.”

[More...]

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Hurricane Maria Devastates Dominica

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica causing widespread devastation.

The Caribbean island nation of Dominica sustained “mind boggling” damage from Hurricane Maria, its prime minister said Tuesday, after the storm hit with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour that ripped roofs off buildings, including his own home.

The storm has regained Category 5 strength and appears to be headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

(Thanks to commenters for correcting me that Dominica is not the Dominican Republic. I've changed it.)

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Florida Hurricane Irma Updates

One of my favorite songs mentioning hurricanes -- from Zachary Richard's 1992 Snake Bite Love album:

Iíve been waiting here since this morning,
Iíll wait as long as it will take.
Down in the old town of the city of New Orleans,
With my heart so heavy it might break.

Last night they put up a hurricane warning,
Last night you came into my room.
Around midnight the rain started falling,
I was holding on to you.

Midnight ET: It looks like Miami and Palm Beach were spared a direct hit, but Irma should reach Naples and Fort Myers sometime Sunday. Tampa is in big trouble and the Keys are expected to get hammered at daybreak when Irma makes land contact. Here is the 11 pm ET advisory from the National Weather Service. [More...]

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Hurricane Irma Nears Antigua and Barbuda

Sending good thoughts to those in the Caribbean, who are about to experience the force of Hurricane Irma.

Category 5 Hurricane Irma has become one of the strongest storms recorded in the Atlantic, and is threatening to slam into Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with "potentially catastrophic" force on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Antigua and Barbuda are less than 100 miles from the path of the storm.[More...]

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Matthew's "Eyewall" Approaching Cape Canaveral

The 4 am update from the National Hurricane Center:

WESTERN EDGE OF MATTHEW'S EYEWALL APPROACHING CAPE CANAVERAL...

During the past hour, a sustained wind of 46 mph (74 km/h) and a gust of 70 mph (113 km/h) were reported at Melbourne, Florida, while a gust of 45 mph (73 km/h) was reported at Orlando, Florida.

Miami missed the brunt of Matthew, which has been downgraded to a Category 3 Storm. Even so, the danger from the storm is still very real and serious. [More...]

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Florida Mandatory Evacuations: Matthew Expected to Be Huge

Update: Big Tent Democrat is staying put in the Palm Beach area because his parents won't leave. Follow him on Twitter here -- good photos.

Palm Beach is under a mandatory evacuation order. Hurricane Matthew is expected to be a Category 4 storm before touching down in Florida Thursday night. Right now it's over the Bahamas. (Warning: Auto-play video, it's unavoidable everywhere.) Matthew may also loop back and hit Florida a second time, after heading to the Carolinas. Miami and Broward are in the direct path. Even central Florida (Orlando and Tampa) aren't safe.

The latest update (#32) from the National Hurricane Center: [More...]

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"Hacking Team" Hacked: Exposes Extent of Intercepts

The Hacking Group, a company in Italy which provides tracking software used by the DEA and anti-drug forces in other countries, has been hacked. It's emails have been published, including one that shows the DEA has been intercepting every IP address in Colombia. More here.

VICE reports the Hacking Team is now in emergency mode, urging customers to stop using its products. The Hacking Team's website is here. A spreadsheet showing its customers and revenues is here.

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Trial Over OKC Bombing Videos Ends

The four day trial over Jesse Trentadue's attempt to obtain additional Oklahoma City Bombing videos has ended. The judge reserved ruling.

The FBI presented witnesses today to say the tapes never existed, which was an 11th hour claim. Up until the last few weeks, its defense had been they couldn't find any such tapes.

Oklahoma trooper Charlie Hangar, who arrested Timothy McVeigh, testified his videocam didn't start recording until McVeigh was in the back seat. Trentadue says reports show another version of Hangar's tape exists that shows cars passing by, including a brown pickup truck that belonged to an acquaintance of McVeigh's.

Another FBI witness testified the report about an FBI agent who tried to sell a tape showing McVeigh and John Doe #2 at the Murrah building to CBS and Dateline was a hoax.

[More...]

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Trial Monday on Production of Missing Video From OKC Bombing

Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue has been fighting for years to obtain videos referenced in Secret Service and FBI timelines of the Oklahoma City Bombing investigation. Trial in his FOIA lawsuit (see IntelFiles case page for background) begins tomorrow in federal court in Utah. Trentadue's brother Kenneth died in an Oklahoma detention facility in 1995. The government claimed his death was a suicide. Jesse says the condition of his brother's body shows it was murder.

On Monday, a three-day trial is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on a lawsuit by lawyer Jesse Trentadue. He filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents and videotapes from the bombing investigation — including one tape he believes shows two suspects exiting a Ryder truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the detonation of explosives in the vehicle.

[More...]

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