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Nature's Nightmares
October 18, 2018

The Llano River in central Texas receded on Wednesday, after hitting near-record levels on Tuesday after days of heavy rains. The Llano River, which rose to 30 feet above flood stage, feeds into the Colorado River, and the deluge caused flooding all the way from Llano to Austin. One woman's body was found at a low-water crossing on Wednesday after floodwaters receded, and another person was found dead on the banks of Lake LBJ on Tuesday. At least one bridge, on RM 2900, was washed out completely by the swollen Llano River.

The break in the rains and opened floodgates on dams controlled by the Lower Colorado River Authority helped reduce river levels to just above flood stage on Wednesday, but more rains are expected over the weekend, and with the ground already saturated, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for several counties in central Texas. "We really are not sure if this disaster has fully unfolded," said Llano County emergency management coordinator Ron Anderson. "We could see another rise of the Llano River. Whether or not it will be of historic value or not, we do not know yet."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a disaster declaration for 18 counties affected by the flooding on Wednesday. The Austin American Statesman has more photos and numbers in the video below. Peter Weber

October 2, 2018

On Tuesday, Indonesia's disaster agency raised the death toll from Friday's magnitude 7.5 earthquake and subsequent tsunami to 1,234 fatalities, from 844 dead. Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said nearly 800 people are also severely injured, and two communities, Sigi and Balaroa, are not yet included in the casualties count. Indonesian Red Cross officials tell BBC News that the dead include 34 Indonesian students discovered under a church buried by a mudslide. The earthquake and tsunami ravaged the city of Palu and neighboring areas on central Sulawesi island.

The survivors are struggling with a lack of food, water, fuel, and shelter. The first military evacuation flight left Palu on Tuesday carrying injured victims to East Java. Two more shallow earthquakes, magnitude 5.9 and 6, struck the eastern Indonesian island of Sumba on Tuesday, but no injuries have yet been reported. Peter Weber

September 12, 2018

A missing hiker found dead Monday in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest was probably killed by a cougar, officials said Tuesday. "There's a slim possibly that something else is responsible, but at this point every indication is that a cougar is responsible," Oregon Fish & Wildlife spokesman Brian Wolfer said. Diana Bober, 55, was reported missing on Friday, and her car was found near Welches on Saturday. She had been hiking the Hunchback Trail, which has been closed for now. If DNA confirms the autopsy's conclusion that Bober was killed by a cougar, it would be the first known fatal attack on a human by a wild cougar in Oregon history.

There are about 6,600 cougars in Oregon, and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said Oregon Fish & Wildlife will try to track down and kill the cougar who killed Bober, an avid hiker. Attacks by cougars, also called mountain lions, are very rare, though as cougar populations recover and human development spreads into their habitat, cougar sightings have increased. A cougar attacked two mountain bikers in Washington in May, killing one of them, and California and Colorado have had a handful of cougar attacks in recent decades.

If you do encounter a cougar, the Salem Statesman Journal says, first give it a chance to retreat. If the cat doesn't leave, don't run. Stay calm, maintain eye contact, back away slowly, and pick up any children without turning your back on the cougar or bending down. If the animal appears aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look bigger and clap loudly. And in the unlikely case that the cougar attacks, use anything you have — walking sticks, rocks, your fingers — to fight back. Lauren Serrano and Kelly Andersen at the Orange County Zoo have some more detailed advice below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2018

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Thursday, the third major temblor to rattle the island in just over a week, and security minister Wiranto told reporters the official death toll from the biggest of the three, Sunday's magnitude 7 quake, has reached 319 people. Reporters for The Associated Press witnessed people injured and buildings collapsed from Thursday's aftershock. The Red Cross says it is funneling its resources toward reaching the 20,000 people who haven't yet received any help.

Indonesia says more than 1,400 people were injured in Sunday's earthquake, and more than 156,000 people were left homeless. Lombok is a popular tourist destination near Bali. Peter Weber

July 24, 2018

Starting at noon Wednesday, large sections of Yosemite National Park will be closed due to a nearby fire, park officials announced Tuesday.

Visitors and employees in Yosemite Valley and Wawona must evacuate by then, as all park hotels, campgrounds, and visitors services will be closed; people with reservations at camp sites and hotels will have their money refunded. The Ferguson Fire has scorched more than 36,000 acres of land southwest of Yosemite, and is just 25 percent contained. Smoke is heavy in Yosemite Valley, and visitors have been warned to "limit activity during the periods of poor air quality."

The park is a popular summer tourist destination, with thousands flocking to see El Capitan and Half Dome. Officials say they hope the park will reopen in four days. Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2018

On Saturday morning, the freshwater Green Lake on Hawaii's Big Island was there. By afternoon, it was gone, completely evaporated by boiling hot lava.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano crossed a highway and entered the lake at 10 a.m., and by 3 p.m., the lake was filled with lava and all of the water evaporated, the U.S. Geological Survey says. Green Lake was a major source of freshwater on the island.

"The lava is quite hot, so it boiled away the water," USGS volcanologist Sally Sennert told NPR. "The lava flows, like a stream of water, are going to take the path of least resistance as they flow downhill." Sennert said she does not believe the lake will make a comeback. The volcano had a major eruption last month, and smaller eruptions continue to take place. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by lava, which is moving at 656 yards an hour, and thousands of residents have been displaced. Catherine Garcia

June 5, 2018

The Fuego volcano in Guatemala exploded on Tuesday, sending gas and molten rock down toward rescue workers and residents trying to recover from its eruption on Sunday, which left at least 72 people dead.

The eruption on Sunday was the volcano's biggest one in more than 40 years, Reuters reports, and hundreds of people remain missing. On Sunday, there was no warning that the volcano was about to erupt, but on Tuesday, an alarm went off, giving people more time to escape or take cover. Guatemala's national disaster agency has ordered additional mandatory evacuations near Fuego.

The volcano — one of 34 in the country — is about 30 miles away from Guatemala City, and has been erupting on and off for the last 16 years. Catherine Garcia

May 7, 2018

It's been four days since the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island erupted, and officials can only do so much to further protect residents from the miles-long streams of lava.

Some residents are still inside a neighborhood that was evacuated Sunday night, reports CBS News, and local police have said that they will not enter the area to get those people out.

The eruption started Thursday and has destroyed at least 31 homes and buildings. A series of earthquakes has combined with the volcano's eruption and created major fissures in the ground, while the volcano continues to spew lava. About 1,700 people on the island have been evacuated from their homes, CBS News reports.

In Leilani Estates, emergency management officials warned residents to get out immediately. But police and firefighters aren't entering the area for those who remain because there's nothing they can do to fight the flows, which have traveled 25 miles to reach Leilani Estates.

Officials predict that the lava streams will continue as more vents open up to release the extensive buildup of underground magma. Even residents who aren't in the lava's line of destruction are at risk, as the volcano emits sulfur dioxide, a toxic smoke. Some neighborhoods have been evacuated because of the smoke hazard, which can be deadly. Read more at CBS News. Summer Meza

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