Typhoon Songda strengthened to a supertyphoon after battering the Philippines and headed for Japan on a track that may pass over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant by May 30, a U.S. monitoring center said.
Songda’s winds increased to 150 miles per hour, the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said on its website. The storm’s eye was east of Aparri in the Philippines at 8 a.m. today, the center said. Songda was moving northwest at 19 kph and is forecast to turn to the northeast and cross the island of Okinawa by 9 p.m. local time tomorrow before heading for Honshu.
The center’s forecast graphic includes a possible path over Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which has been spewing radiation since March 11 when an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems. Three of six reactor buildings have no roof after explosions blew them off, exposing spent fuel pools and containment chambers that are leaking.
“We are still considering typhoon measures and can’t announce detailed plans yet,” Takeo Iwamoto, a spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power Co., said by phone when asked about the storm. The utility known as Tepco plans to complete the installation of covers for the buildings by October, he said.
Japan is regularly buffeted by typhoons and tropical storms during the northwestern Pacific cyclone season. In 2004, eight cyclones passed over or skirted the country’s Tohoku region, where the Fukushima station is located, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The earliest was in May that year. The eyes of two storms passed within 300 kilometers of Tohoku last year, the agency’s data show.
Songda, the name of a branch of the Red River in Vietnam, is the fourth storm to form over northwest Pacific this year. The storm lashed the Philippines as it passed the eastern seaboard, leaving one person dead, according to the country’s disaster council. Songda prompted evacuations of coastal areas and caused flooding that jammed traffic and stranded travelers.
Damage to crops was “very minimal” as most had been harvested before the storm passed, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters today.
The U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center classifies storms as supertyphoons when their maximum sustain winds reach at least 150 miles per hour, according to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a law extending 5 percent pay cuts for himself, legislators, judges and department heads.
Abercrombie signed the bill Thursday that continues the pay cuts for two more years. The Legislature passed the measure earlier this month.
If lawmakers hadn’t acted, they would have received huge raises when their previous two-year pay reduction was scheduled to expire at the end of June.
Legislative leaders have said they needed to share in the pain of government reductions and a sour economy. Lawmakers make about $46,000 a year.
The 5 percent reduction is in line with pay cuts accepted by public employees in a newly approved labor contract between the state government and the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
Sales of Hawaii homes that were in foreclosure slowed in the first three months of the year, but their impact on the state’s housing market remained relatively high, a new report released today shows.
There were 362 homes in foreclosure that were sold during the first quarter, which was down 25 percent from 480 sales in the same period last year, according to the report from RealtyTrac.
However, because there were fewer home sales overall, the share of foreclosure sales rose.
Foreclosure property represented 13.7 percent of all first-quarter home sales, or about one out of seven sales. A year earlier, the figure was 12.4 percent, or about one out of eight sales.
It’s unclear how much of the decline in foreclosure sales may be due to a pullback in foreclosure cases or reduced demand from buyers.
A new law requiring lenders to follow new foreclosure procedures and giving homeowners more options to avoid foreclosure was enacted this month, so it had no direct impact on first-quarter foreclosure sales.
During the quarter, the number of foreclosure filings declined 22 percent. Local foreclosure attorneys attribute the reduction to lenders holding back cases after their loan documentation practices were called into question.
Also during the quarter, overall home sales in Hawaii declined, according to RealtyTrac.
Foreclosure sales have a unique impact on the housing market, in some ways helping attract buyers but also generating downward pressure on prices.
Homes in foreclosure sold for an average $322,317 in the first quarter, according to the report. RealtyTrac said that was 18 percent less than the average for all nonforeclosure home sales.
In the first quarter of 2010, the average discount on foreclosure sales was 15 percent.
The discount, however, is influenced by a variety of factors including the condition, size and location of homes sold, which muddies the comparison between foreclosure and nonforeclosure property values.
RealtyTrac counts two types of foreclosure sales — homes in foreclosure that are sold by homeowners before a foreclosure auction, and homes sold by lenders either at auction or afterward.
Most foreclosure sales in Hawaii during the first quarter were by lenders. A year earlier, most were by homeowners.
Of the 362 sales in the recent quarter, 245 were by lenders. That was up 18 percent from 207 lender sales in the year-earlier quarter.
Homeowners made 117 sales in the first quarter, down 57 percent from 273 sales a year earlier.
RealtyTrac reported data on foreclosure sales from 38 states, but did not have sufficient data for 12 states.
Of the 38 states, 27 had a larger share of foreclosure sales among all home sales compared with Hawaii’s
13.7 percent. The average for 38 states was 27.5 percent, or one for every 3.6 home sales.
In Hawaii, the share of foreclosure sales was greatest on Maui and Kauai, at
29 percent and 25 percent of all home sales, respectively, in the first quarter. On Hawaii Island and Oahu the figure was about 9 percent.
Reach Andrew Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Report Provided by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) Foundation today announced that it awarded $195,533 in grants for eight local health programs and community organizations in the first quarter of the year. They are:
• Friends of Family Specialty Courts – This grant will ensure families receive coordinated care through collaborative case conferencing. Parents, court staff, and social services staff all participate in counseling sessions conducted by a dedicated community coordinator. Family court is an important contact point for screening, identification, and referrals for potentially mistreated infants and toddlers. Grant amount — $100,000.
• Hawaii Health Systems Corporation – The grant supports the Maui Memorial Medical Center Behavioral Health Partial Hospitalization Program, an intensive interdisciplinary psychiatric outpatient program for patients who lack skills to function independently but do not need the confinement of acute hospitalization. Grant amount — $16,500.
• Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs – The grant supports the printing and distribution of the 2011 Hawaii Directory of Elected Officials, which is distributed to the community. Grant amount — $5,000.
• Hawaii Primary Care Association – The grant supported the Training for Community Health Center Staff session at the Healthcare Financial Management Annual Conference in April. This two-day conference addressed several aspects of health care financial management. Grant amount — $4,158.
• Hui Malama O Ke Kai Foundation – The grant supports the Capacity Building and Organizational Leadership Project, a grassroot intervention in Waimanalo. This project includes an afterschool mentorship program in community service and leadership development, family-based retreats, and “Ohana Night” education sessions, with an emphasis on Native Hawaiian culture. Grant amount — $24,375.
• Ma Ka Hana Ka Ike Building Program – The grant supports the Malama Na Kupuna Program, in which young people build handicap-access improvements and cottages for Hana elders. They work on community health issues, such as overcrowding of facilities for kupuna with disabilities. They also help educate at-risk youth so they can make a difference in their community. Grant amount — $30,000.
• Shriners Hospital for Children – The grant supports the Ho‘olilo Weight Management Program, a multidisciplinary program involving nutrition counseling and physical activity training for children. The program uses assessment and education tools from the Hawaii Pediatric Weight Management Toolkit. Grant amount — $5,500.
• Special Olympics Hawaii – During the grant period, Special Olympics will train athletes, including Neighbor Island athletes, for statewide competitions on May 27, 28, and 29. Because there is a serious shortage of health care screenings available to the intellectually challenged, professional assessments addressing vision, dental, hearing, and osteoporosis fitness will be provided. Grant amount — $10,000.
“HMSA Foundation funding will help ensure that vital youth development and leadership program services can continue within the severely underserved community of Waimanalo,” said Kathy Morris, executive director of the Hui Malama O Ke Kai Foundation.
Another organization expressed appreciation for its Foundation grant. Nancy Bottelo, president and chief operating executive of Special Olympics Hawaii, said, “Funding from the HMSA Foundation will go toward ensuring that yearly competitions, training, and the State Games can continue. These services to our athletes, along with other programs we offer, create change and provide ways to enhance quality of life.”
The mission of the HMSA Foundation is to extend HMSA’s commitment to provide community access to cost-effective health care services, promote health, provide health education and relevant research, and improve social welfare in Hawaii.
“The HMSA Foundation is proud to support worthwhile community health programs across the state,” said Mark Forman, executive administrator of the HMSA Foundation. “Investing in the health of our Islands is really about building healthy families and healthy communities for today and tomorrow. The HMSA Foundation is happy to help in these important efforts.”
The HMSA Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt private charitable organization. It was founded in Hawaii in 1986 as a public foundation with the goal of stimulating research aimed at some of the pressing issues that confronted Hawaii’s health care industry. In 1997, the Foundation was converted to a private foundation to allow for larger contributions from donors, such as HMSA.
Health plan dues from HMSA members and employer groups are not used to fund Foundation grants. Foundation grants are funded with annual investment income earned on its original endowment. For more information on the HMSA Foundation, visit hmsafoundation.org.
Hawaii drivers are among the least knowledgeable about the rules of the road, according to a study by GMAC Insurance.
According to the results of the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, Hawaii ranked 50th in the nation with an average score of 73 percent correct.
Only drivers in Washington D.C. are less able to pass a drivers license test. Drivers in the nation’s capital scored an average of 71.8 percent on tests, the insurer said.
The national results show that almost one in five drivers, or 36.9 million U.S. motorists, “cannot meet the basic requirements” to get a license, according to the statement. The test of 20 questions from licensing exams was given to 5,130 drivers from all 50 states and the capital.
“Taking the test brings a little bit of attention to something that people don’t generally think about,” said Scott Eckman, GMAC Insurance’s chief marketing officer, in an interview. “If we can have people just think twice, it may make them think about rules and maybe pay attention.”
Eighty-five percent of drivers couldn’t identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light. Correct answer: “Stop if it is safe to do so,” according to a version of the test on GMAC Insurance’s website.
Some of the test results may be explained by people learning to drive from family members, Jean Guenguem, co-owner of Dexterity Driving School in the capital, said in a phone interview. Drivers should brush up on the rules every two years, he said.
The national average rose from 76.2 percent in 2010. New York, Mississippi, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland motorists are also at the bottom of the list. Kansans ranked No. 1 with 82.9 percent. The test was given online by the insurer through a research company to licensed drivers, ages 16 to 65.
The national average for the test was 77.9 percent, with below 70 considered failing.
The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the Haleakala Summit now in effect until 6:00 a.m. Friday.
A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.
EFFECTS: East winds of 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts will continue across Haleakala Summit today through tonight.
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.
INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.
The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.
Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.
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