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Earthquakes Rattle Northern Italy, Raising Fear of Collapses
Fires raging out of control in southern France
Weekend News Today
Source:  Reuters
Mon Aug 21,2000 -- Fireman on Sunday were fighting to get control of the worst forest fires for more than a decade in the Ardeche region of southern France.  Flames ravaged almost 1,700 hectares of mountainous pine forest after strong winds spread the fire Saturday evening.  "We have not had a fire on this scale in the region since 1987," a spokesman for the firefighters told France Info radio.  Several dozen residents were temporarily evacuated as almost 1,000 firemen and soldiers struggled to contain the fire with the help of aircraft that began dousing the blaze with water early in the morning.  "The fire is still not under control.  Nearly 3,000 hectares of pine forest are still under threat," said another spokesman for the firemen.  During the afternoon, smaller fires started in western France, where houses were evacuated in the Loire Valley.  Firemen were also struggling to put out two fires that have ravaged 500 hectares of forest around Ajaccio, the capital of the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Fire year 2000 now in the top 5
Weekend News Today
Source:  National Fire News
Mon Aug 21,2000 -- As of August 20th, there were at least 98 large fires that are currently burning 1,293,768 acres across nine western states, including Texas and Florida.  Some of the large fires received rain, helping crews with containment efforts.  Two more military battalions from Kentucky and North Caroling have been ordered and should arrive on fires in Montana around August 25.  Gusty winds are forecast today for portions of Montana, and parts of Wyoming can expect low humidities, winds and dry lightening.  To date this year, 5,459,245 acres of land have been burned in 68,791 large fires.  The ten year average through August 20 is 2,520,963 acres burned in 57,968 fires.
Editor's note:  Below are the past record fire years, from the time when forest fighting had enough ability to actually fight the fires.  So the records we can compare with are the ones charted for us in "Total Fires and Acres 1960-1999."  Everyone is waiting to see if we'll surpass these standing records with such an early start to this years' fire season.  With today's great technological advances, with all the firefighters from here and other countries, with all the added volunteers in the air and ground help, that's the incredible part about how much land has still been burned this year, with even all that.  On that note, it's surprising it ever got even close to the old records, as far as we've come with technology today.  Now, see the top fire year records below, with fire year and total acres burned:
1.  1988 7,398,889
2.  1963 7,120,768
3.  1996  6,701,390
4.  1969  6,689,081
5.  1999  5,661,976 *see update below!
*Aug. 21st fire news update:  For the year 69,322 fires have burned 5,669,328 acres.  The 2000 fire year just jumped into the top 5,as we beat out last year's season count so far, with still awhile to go this fire season.
Scientists say tornadoes are getting worse
Weekend News Today
Source:  TLC special & NOAA
Mon Aug 21, 2000 -- 1999 was a record breaking tornado season.  Scientists say tornado seasons are getting worse.  They explained that 1999 broke record after record, as it also started unseasonably early that year.  In January alone, they knew something big was already up.  Not only did the number of tornadoes that month break the record, but they more than TRIPLED the record, with their preliminary count at 169.  It was later determined that the final count of tornadoes for that month was actually much higher.  It ended with 212 for the month of January.  Those who lived through the devastation of the 1999 tornadoes tell stories of astonishing bravery and miraculous survival.  There were so many unusual, surprising, and record breaking tornadoes over the last 2 years, along with the incredible amount of F3s-F5s.  The 1998-year set the ALL-TIME record for the most tornadoes in a year, with incredible 1424 tornadoes.  The 1999 season was close behind, with the final count at 1343.
Caught this one on the discussion thread.  Didn't give a URL or source tho'!
While most of Britain basked in summer sunshine on Monday, one corner of England lived through four seasons rolled into one.  The town of Hull shivered under 5 ins of snow yesterday as freak storms brought a blast of winter in the middle of August!
Homes and businesses are mopping up after being hit by a freak storm which caused up to five inches of snow, hail, torrential rain, lightening and even a tornado.
The storm affected the area between York and Hull, flooding at least 60 properties, forcing businesses to close and disrupting rail services after York railway station was hit by lightning four times within a few minutes.
"It's one day in August we will soon never forget," said a local.  "The churches are full tonight!"

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