Weather

As wildfire closes in, New Mexico residents prepare to flee

Wind-whipped flames are marching across more of New Mexico’s tinder-dry mountainsides, forcing the evacuation of area residents and dozens of patients from the state's psychiatric hospital as firefighters scramble to keep new wildfires from growing. The big blaze burning near the community of Las Vegas has charred more than 217 square miles. Residents in neighborhoods on the edge of Las Vegas were told to be ready to leave their homes. It's the biggest wildfire in the U.S. and is moving quickly through groves of ponderosa pine because of hot, dry and windy conditions that make for extreme wildfire danger. Forecasters are warning of extreme fire danger across New Mexico and in western Texas.

Kansas tornado generated 165 mph winds as it destroyed homes

The tornado that damaged more than more than 1,000 buildings in south-central Kansas generated winds up to 165 mph and carved a path of destruction nearly 13 miles long. The National Weather Service said the tornado that caused extensive damage Friday mostly in the Wichita suburb of Andover and injured several people rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale it uses to assess tornadoes. Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said that at least 300 to 400 buildings were destroyed by the storm as part of a total of 1,074 buildings that were damaged. The Weather Service said the tornado was on the ground for 21 minutes Friday evening.

Firefighters battling New Mexico blaze brace for wind

Calmer weather conditions in northern New Mexico have helped over 1,000 firefighters battling the nation's largest active wildfire. But fire managers warn of windy conditions expected in the coming days, and officials urged residents to remain vigilant for further possible evacuation orders. A fire operations official says the fire's rapid growth forced crews on Friday to repeatedly change positions because of dangerous conditions. No injuries were reported. The official says improved weather Saturday aided firefighting efforts. The fire has burned at least 166 homes. Wildfires also are burning elsewhere in New Mexico and in Arizona. 

Bulldozers, aircraft used to fight fire near New Mexico city

Calmer weather conditions in northern New Mexico are helping over 1,000 firefighters battling the nation's largest active wildfire. They are trying Saturday to prevent it from getting closer to the state's small city of Las Vegas, where ashes fell. Strong winds pushed the fire Friday across some containment lines and toward the city of 13,000. A fire operations official said the fire's rapid growth to 152 square miles forced crews Friday to repeatedly change positions because of dangerous conditions. No injuries were reported. The official says improved weather Saturday would allow air support for ground crews as bulldozers clear containment lines. The fire has burned at least 166 homes.

Tornado rips through Kansas, causes severe damage

Officials say a tornado that barreled through parts of Kansas destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and buildings, injured several people and left more than 15,000 people without power. Authorities say more than 1,000 buildings were affected when a strong twister swept through Andover on Friday evening. In the daylight Saturday, emergency crews found a more widespread path of destruction than was earlier estimated. There were no fatalities or critical injuries despite the widespread destruction. Officials said only a few injuries had been reported. In Sedgwick County, three people were injured, including one woman who suffered serious injuries. Search and rescue operations continued Saturday with more than 200 emergency responders from 30 agencies. 

More evacuations expected near dangerous Southwest wildfires

Thousands of firefighters are battling destructive wildfires in the Southwest as more residents are preparing to evacuate into the weekend in northern New Mexico. Strong winds in bone-dry conditions have made the blazes especially difficult to contain. The biggest fire in the U.S. grew Friday east of Santa Fe to more than 117 square miles. Gusty winds grounded aircraft and crews lost some of the containment they had established in recent days. About 1,000 firefighters on the lines, and officials say more air and ground support is on the way. Experts say some of the wildland timber is drier than kiln-dried wood.

Dry Southwest braces for stiffer winds, 'epic' fire danger

Thousands of firefighters have continued to slow the advance of destructive wildfires in the Southwest. But they're bracing for the return of the same dangerous conditions Friday that sparked and spread the wind-fueled blazes a week ago. At least 166 residences have been destroyed in one rural county in northeast New Mexico since the biggest U.S. fire started racing through small towns northeast of Santa Fe last Friday. Winds gusting up to 50 mph are forecast Friday in the drought-stricken region. Fire behavior experts say it's a recipe for disaster where timber the size of a 4-by-4 piece of lumber has a fuel moisture drier than kiln-dried wood.

Historic Black town lies one hurricane away from disaster

Historic Princeville, on the banks of the Tar River in eastern North Carolina, is one hurricane away from disaster. The town, which stakes its claim as the first in the U.S. founded by Black Americans nearly 140 years ago, has flooded many times. Two hurricanes 17 years apart created catastrophic flooding in the town, which was built on swampy, low-lying land. The town also has endured racism, bigotry and attempts by white neighbors to erase it from existence.  Now, with an ever-changing climate, the future is uncertain. Hurricanes are likely to be more intense, and melting glaciers are causing sea levels to rise, making more flooding inevitable. 

Buffeted by weather, a historic Black town strives to endure

Historic Princeville, on the banks of the Tar River in eastern North Carolina, is one hurricane away from disaster. The town, which stakes its claim as the oldest in the U.S. founded by Black Americans nearly 140 years ago, has flooded many times. Two hurricanes 17 years apart created catastrophic flooding in the town, which was built on swampy, low-lying land. The town also has endured racism, bigotry and attempts by white neighbors to erase it from existence.  Now, with an ever-changing climate, the future is uncertain. Hurricanes are likely to be more intense, and melting glaciers are causing sea levels to rise, making more flooding inevitable. 

Added crews making progress on Midwest, Southwest fires

Fire crews that took advantage of a break in the weather in their battle to contain large fires in the West and Plains states fear the return of stronger winds could spread the flames further. Officials say a southwestern Nebraska wildfire that killed a former volunteer fire chief last week and destroyed several homes is about half contained. Officials say strong winds blew into southwest Nebraska Tuesday but crews were able to keep the fire within its original perimeter and no new injuries or damage to building was reported. Crews in the West continue working to corral blazes in northern New Mexico that have charred a combined 225 square miles over recent days. Several small villages are threatened and evacuations remain in place.

Newark resident: Power plant 'Not just, not right, not fair'

Residents of a pollution-choked neighborhood in New Jersey’s largest city say they're tired of being used as a dumping ground for projects that foul their air, yet exclude them from the economic benefits of industry. In an online public hearing Tuesday night, people from Newark’s Ironbound section denounced a plan by a sewage treatment plant to build a backup gas-fired power plant. It's designed to keep the plant operating when the power goes out, and prevent a repeat of a huge spill when the power cut during Superstorm Sandy. Residents of the Ironbound say the cumulative effects of decades of industrial pollution there have been devastating.