Unit 6 Disasters
News Report 1
This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English. I’m Bob Doughty. And I’m Barbara Klein. Our subject today: Severe Ocean Storms.
September is usually the worst month for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. At least ten named storms have formed there this year. The hurricane season continues
until the end of November. The total number of major storms this year has been above average. There were three major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The latest
hurricane to strike land was called Hurricane Ike. It was a huge storm, stretching out across a thousand kilometers when it struck the southern coast of the United States last month. Hurricane Ike caused major flooding and destroyed thousands of homes. It also left millions of people without power in Texas. The storm killed at least thirty people in nine states. The situation was even worse in the nation of Haiti, which has been severely damaged
by several storms this year.
About ninety ocean storms form each year around the world. These powerful storms are called hurricanes when they form in the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Pacific Ocean. They are called typhoons in the northwestern Pacific, and cyclones when they develop in the Indian Ocean.
Severe ocean storms in the northern half of the world generally develop in late summer or early autumn near the equator. Storms can result when the air temperature in one area is different from that of another. Warmer air rises and cooler air falls. These movements create a difference in the pressure of the atmosphere. If the pressure changes over a large area, winds start to blow in a huge circle. High-pressure air is pulled toward a low-pressure center.
Severe ocean storms happen less often in the southern hemisphere. There, the season of greatest activity is between December and March. South of the equator, the winds flow in the same direction as the hands on a clock. North of the equator, they flow in the opposite direction.
Storms can get stronger as they move over warm
ocean waters. The strongest, fastest winds of a hurricane are found in the eye wall. This is the area that surrounds the center, or eye, of the storm. The eye itself is calm by comparison, with light winds and clear skies. Wind speeds in severe ocean storms can reach more than two hundred fifty kilometers an hour. Up to fifty centimeters of rain can fall. Some storms have produced more than one hundred fifty centimeters of rain. These storms also cause high waves and ocean surges. A surge is a continuous movement of water that may reach six meters or more. The water strikes low coastal areas. Surges are commonly responsible for about ninety percent of all deaths from ocean storms.
News Report 2
This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English. I’m Bob Doughty. And I’m Shirley Griffith. On
our program this week, we will tell about the science of
Tornadoes have been observed in many parts of the world. But the storms are most often found in the United States. American weather experts say this year may set records for tornadoes and tornado deaths.
A tornado is a violently turning tube of air suspended from a thick cloud. It extends from a thunderstorm in the sky down to the ground. The shape is like a funnel: wide at the top, narrower at the bottom.
Tornadoes form when winds blowing in different directions meet in the clouds and begin to turn in circles. Warm air rising from below causes the wind tube to reach toward the ground. Because of their circular movement, these severe windstorms are also known as twisters. The most severe tornadoes can reach wind speeds of three hundred twenty kilometers an hour or more. In some cases, damage paths can stretch more than one kilometer wide and eighty kilometers long.
With a tornado, bigger does not necessarily mean stronger. Large tornadoes can be weak. And some of the smallest tornadoes can be the most damaging. But no matter what the size, tornado winds are the strongest on
Earth. Tornadoes have been known to carry homes, cars and trees from one place to another. And they can also destroy anything in their path. Tornadoes have been
observed on every continent except Antarctica. But weather experts say the country where they are most common is the United States. Each year, the United States has more than one thousand tornadoes.
On average, tornadoes cause about 70 deaths and 1,500 injuries in the United States each year. But weather experts say 2008 may set records for tornadoes and tornado-related deaths. Officials have already reported more than 115 such deaths this year. This has been the deadliest year for the violent windstorms since 1998.
Weather experts say unusually severe weather this winter and early spring may be to blame. Starting on February 5, 87 tornadoes struck the Tennessee Valley and central United States over a 24-hour period. Those storms resulted in 56 deaths. The experts also note that several tornadoes struck areas where large numbers of people live, causing more deaths and injuries.
News Report 1
America Under Attack
The exact number of casualties from Tuesday’s strikes
won’t be known for some time. It is known that 266 people were on board the four planes that were hijacked at Boston, Newark and Washington. There were no survivors.
The World Trade Center is 110 stories high. 400 firms had offices there employing tens of thousands of people. When the planes hit, it’s thought between 10 and 20 thousand people would have been sitting at their desks. Before the collapse of the building, many people did manage to get away, but figures aren’t yet known. So far 55 bodies have been recovered. 260 police officers and firefighters who went into the building after the planes crashed are missing and feared dead.
In the Pentagon, the world’s largest office building, rescuers are still searching the rubble. It’s thought around
80 bodies there have been found but estimates of those who died could go up to about 800.
Investigators already working at the three airports used by the suicide hijackers whose extraordinarily tight time table meant they had control of four aircraft in the sky inside 15 minutes, ensuring a sequence of attacks so rapid, that the authorities had no time to respond.
United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles took off at two minutes to eight in the morning. One minute later an American Airlines plane Flight 11 left also bound for L.A. with another hijack team on board. Two minutes after that, the doomed united Flight 93 to San Francisco set off from Newark. And at ten past eight the final hijack team was airborne from Washington on board American Airlines Flight 77 to L.A. It was the second plane to take off which hit the World Trade Center first. The earlier flight from Boston then came in from a different direction and struck the other tower. The flight from Washington looped back and crashed into the Pentagon. Finally the airliner from Newark came down in rural Pennsylvania possibly bound for the Camp David presidential retreat. The terrorists had done their
homework. At least one of the airports they chose has been recently fined for poor security. To inflict maximum casualties, they targeted long-distance flights with tanks carrying fuel for six hours in the air. Experts say the four hijackings were easy.
“Security in America is putting it probably lightly as lax. Ah, in some places it’s non-existent.”
News Report 2
Japanese Fishing Vessel Sunken By U.S.
As the search continues for nine people missing at sea after a US submarine struck and sank a Japanese fishing boat, relatives of those missing have arrived in Hawaii to be nearer the rescue operation. The captain of the Japanese fishing vessel has accused the submarine crew of standing by and watching as the rescue mission was taking place. US officials have promised to do everything
possible to find out how the accident happened.
The relatives of the missing seamen arrived in Hawaii desperate for news of the search and rescue operation. But more than two days after the boat went down, hopes that any more survivors will be found are beginning to fade. Shock at the freak nature of the accident is beginning to turn to anger. The captain of the fishing boat said the Americans could have done more to help. Hisao Ohishi, Captain of Ehime Maru: The submarine
passed us by as if it was leaving but then it turned around. Then we saw several people appeared at the hatch. Then they lowered a ladder for us, but not a single one of my crew was saved by the submarine. It was just like they stood by and watched.
American officials say the submarine crew could do little because the heavy swell prevented them from opening the hatches. United States Navy and Coast Guard vessels have been searching an ever widening area around the accident site. They’ve been backed up by helicopters and aircraft, but no survivors have been found since the immediate aftermath of the accident. The nuclear attack submarine had been practicing an
emergency surfacing maneuver like this one when it struck the fishing boat. It appears to have burst to the surface without adequately checking if anything was in the way. The fishing boat went down within minutes of being struck. Top United States officials have tried to minimize any damage to close military ties with Japan. Colin Powell: Well we hope there won’t be a negative
effect on our relationship with Japan as a result of the accident. It was a tragic accident we have expressed our apologies at every level from the President through me to the Secretary of Defense through our military commanders. We’re doing everything we can to assist the families. We are going to pay all of the expenses to move them to Honolulu and give them all the information we possibly can.
The commander of the submarine has already been replaced. Japanese officials are now demanding a full investigation to determine how basic safety procedures could have been ignored.
Charles Scanlon, BBC news, Tokyo.
The Navy said today that its ships have been involved in six major collisions in the last twelve months and five