Hurricane Willa makes landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast
Hurricane Willa has made landfall near Isla Del Bosque, Sinaloa, on the western coast of Mexico, approximately 50 miles south of Mazatlán. The storm will quickly weaken over the next 24 hours as it makes its way across the Sierra Madre range and becomes a rainmaker for northern Mexico and Texas on Wednesday.
[Previous story, published at 8:22 p.m. ET]
Conditions on Mexico's Pacific coast worsened Tuesday as a Category 3 hurricane began bringing life-threatening storm surges, rain and wind to cities there.
The center of Hurricane Willa and the storm's hurricane-force winds were almost ashore, but first ravaging waves were battering the coast in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Mexican weather authorities said those two states and Durango and Jalisco were going to have torrential downpours. Landfall, when the center of the storm moves over land, would be around 9 p.m. ET.
Willa, once a Category 5 hurricane, had weakened, but it still had sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kilometers per hour).
The eye of the storm swirled Tuesday morning about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south-southeast of Mazatlán.
"Life-threatening storm surge, wind, and rainfall (are) spreading onshore," the US hurricane center said.
After landfall, Willa is expected to weaken quickly as it runs into the mountains, and it will be a rainmaker by the time it crosses the US-Mexico border Wednesday.
Forming Saturday, Willa went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in two days in what the hurricane center called "explosive" strengthening. In one 24-hour period, its winds spiked by 80 mph.
Forecasters are concerned about storm surge and rainfall.
"Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.," the hurricane center said. "Rainfall will cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides."
Rainfall totals could reach 18 inches in portions of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
Willa has been a danger for forecasters as well. An aircraft with the Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunters was forced to turn around Monday over concerns for its onboard equipment after a lightning bolt from one of Willa's outer rain bands blasted it, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In a tweet Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he has asked the National System of Civil Protection to take all steps necessary to protect those in the hurricane's path as well as those affected by Tropical Storm Vicente, a weaker system tracking south of Willa that's also primed to make landfall Tuesday. Vicente likely will be a tropical depression by the time it comes ashore, the hurricane center said.
Airlines have started moving out of Willa's path. Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights at the international airport in Puerto Vallarta, a resort city in Jalisco state. American Airlines has canceled its flights in Mazatlán, about 275 miles to the north.
Willa's landfall will come three years to the day after the strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast, Patricia, a Category 5 storm, made landfall in Jalisco.
The back-to-back systems of Willa and Vicente have helped make the 2018 hurricane season in the northeast Pacific one for the record books.
The season is now the most active hurricane season on record using a measurement called accumulated cyclone energy, which combines the number of storms and their intensity through their lifetimes to give an overall measurement of tropical activity in a given region.
There have been 10 major hurricanes this year, including Willa, tying 1992 as the most major hurricanes in the northeast Pacific in one year.
Increasing numbers of major hurricanes, along with a greater propensity of storms to undergo "rapid intensification" are expected consequences of warmer ocean waters resulting from climate change. The ocean waters off Mexico's western coast are running 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late October.
Rapper Jon James is killed when an airplane stunt for a music video goes wrong
During a music video shoot in Vernon, British Columbia, on Saturday, the rapper -- whose full name is Jon James McMurray -- was walking on the wing of a Cessna as it was in flight.
He walked too far out on the wing and made the small aircraft go into a downward spiral, his management team said.
"Jon held onto the wing until it was too late, and by the time he let go, he didn't have time to pull his chute. He impacted and died instantly," Ryan Desrochers with the management team told CNN in a statement.
The pilot was able to control the plane and land safely. No one else was injured, reported CNN partner CBC.
According to his management team, Jon James was an accredited professional skier, but left the snow for the music studio after multiple injuries, including a broken back and shattered heel.
"He died filming for a project he had been working on for months. He had trained intensely for this stunt," his management team said in the statement.
He is survived by his wife, parents and brother.
"He filled everyone around him with positivity, and never spoke poorly about another person. He truly had a heart of gold," the statement said.
'Extremely dangerous' Category 4 Hurricane Willa nearing Mexico's Pacific coast
Willa weakened slightly Monday afternoon, but the National Hurricane Center warns it is still expected to be a dangerous major hurricane when it slams into Mexico's central Pacific coast on Tuesday.
Willa's maximum sustained winds ticked down from 160 mph to 145 mph, bringing the hurricane down from Category 5 strength to Category 4. Its current intensity is about the same as Hurricane Michael's when it made landfall in Florida's Panhandle less than two weeks ago.
The National Hurricane Center has marveled over Willa's "explosive" strengthening since it formed over the weekend. It became a tropical storm on Saturday morning and was a Category 5 hurricane in less than two days. As of Monday morning, Willa had swelled by 80 mph in just 24 hours.
Willa is located about 85 miles south-southwest of Islas Marias, an archipelago off central Mexico's Pacific coast. The hurricane is moving north at 8 mph and is forecast to move "over or very near" Islas Marias early Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Landfall on mainland Mexico is expected Tuesday afternoon or evening.
Storm surge accompanied by "large and destructive waves" are forecast along portions of Mexico's central and southwestern coast. Dangerous surf and riptides are expected along the southern coast of Baja California late Monday.
Rainfall ranging from 6 to 12 inches could spawn life-threatening landslides and flash flooding in portions of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
The hurricane is on track to be one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the Pacific coast of Mexico and its landfall will come three years to the day after the strongest, Hurricane Patricia, made landfall one state to the south, in Jalisco.
Hurricane Patricia went from a Category 5 to Category 4 when it made landfall, but at its peak, Patricia had winds of 215 mph and was the strongest hurricane or typhoon ever observed anywhere on the planet.
Mother Nature may give Mexico a bit of a break with another storm currently right behind Hurricane Willa. Tropical Storm Vicente is also expected to impact the country Tuesday, but farther south than Willa, and the weakening system may dissipate by the time it gets there, the National Hurricane Center said.
The back-to-back systems have helped make the 2018 hurricane season in the northeast Pacific one for the record books.
The season is now the most active hurricane season on record using a measurement called "Accumulated Cyclone Energy," which combines the number of storms and their intensity through their lifetimes to give an overall measurement of tropical activity in a given region.
2018 has seen 10 major hurricanes, including Willa, which ties 1992 as the most major hurricanes seen in the northeast Pacific in one year.
Increasing numbers of major hurricanes, along with a greater propensity of storms to undergo "rapid intensification" are expected consequences of warmer ocean waters resulting from climate change. The ocean waters off the western coast of Mexico are running 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late October.
Jamal Khashoggi died in fistfight at Istanbul consulate, Saudi Arabia claims
After 18 days in which it insisted it had no involvement in the journalist's disappearance, Riyadh asserted that Khashoggi died as a result of the altercation after he had come to the consulate to obtain paperwork needed for his forthcoming wedding.
An announcement carried on Saudi state TV said discussions between Khashoggi and officials at the consulate quickly turned violent, and ended in his death. Those responsible then tried to cover it up, a Saudi statement said.
A source with close connections to the Saudi royal palace told CNN that, in the Saudis' determination, Khashoggi's cause of death was a chokehold or strangulation, but officials provided no evidence to support the conclusion. Turkish officials privately say Khashoggi was dismembered, but his remains have not yet been found.
Saudi Arabian authorities announced a purge of officials, the detention of 18 people and an overhaul of the intelligence services headed by the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- whom US officials privately believe must have been aware of the operation to target Khashoggi.
The question is whether Riyadh's final explanation for Khashoggi's demise is enough for the international community to move on from the grisly episode.
US President Donald Trump indicated he believed it was credible, but emphasized that the US had not yet completed its review of the Saudi investigation.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "deeply troubled" by the explanation, his spokesman said.
Some members of the US Congress, who have the power to force the administration's hand on foreign policy, were derisive. "To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said on Twitter.
The Saudi statement was the first official confirmation that Khashoggi died at the country's consulate in Istanbul nearly three weeks ago, and the first acknowledgment by Saudi Arabia of its role in it.
Khashoggi disappeared after entering the building at about 1:15 p.m. on October 2 to obtain paperwork that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She raised the alarm just before 5 p.m, while still waiting outside.
Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was killed soon after he arrived, and in the face of Saudi denials, leaked gory details of what they believed happened.
Saudi Arabia's statement in the early hours of Saturday morning was the result of international pressure to explain Khashoggi's disappearance, and came after Trump dispatched his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to Riyadh to discuss the case.
According to the Saudi version of events, Khashoggi's death was an accident, a result of a discussion that went awry. What happened next is less clear: the Saudi statement says the group of officials involved in the journalist's death covered up the aftermath, but makes no mention of what happened to his body.
The fallout touches some of bin Salman's inner circle. Five high-ranking officials have been removed from their posts, including the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service. Bin Salman himself will lead a shakeup of the agency.
Trump's first reaction
Trump called the official statement from Riyadh a "good first step" but added that some questions remained about the Saudis' explanation and that talks would continue. Saudi Arabia had been a "great ally in the Middle East," but that "what happened is unacceptable," he added. Trump said he would work with Congress to develop a response to Khashoggi's death, but said that he didn't want sanctions to affect US arms sales to the kingdom.
"I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanctions -- this was a lot of people they're talking about .... I would prefer we don't use as retribution canceled $110 billion worth of work," he told reporters after a roundtable at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Trump said he would withhold further comment until he speaks with bin Salman.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the US acknowledged the Saudi explanation of the "tragic incident" and would "advocate for justice" for Khashoggi.
The apparent circumstances of Khashoggi's disappearance caused worldwide revulsion. Businesses pulled out of an investment conference due to be held in Saudi Arabia next week, and Trump came under pressure to issue an unequivocal condemnation. On Thursday -- before the Saudi statement -- US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced he would not participate in the conference.
Members of Congress could put pressure on the White House to act more firmly. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, accused the Saudis of "buying time and buying cover," calling for an investigation that included US involvement and any Turkish audio and visual records of the event.
"The Saudis very clearly seem to be buying time and buying cover, but this action raises more questions than it answers," the Connecticut Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" Friday night.
Rights group Amnesty International's senior crisis adviser, Rawya Rageh, described the official explanation of Khashoggi's death as being as "far away as possible from transparency" and called for "a neutral and independent investigation" by the United Nations.
Bin Salman loses key ally
Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile in June 2017 just as bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince. In his first Washington Post opinion piece after he left Saudi Arabia, he described the political atmosphere in the kingdom as "unbearable."
His killing at the consulate comes amid a wave of arrests that have targeted clerics, human rights advocates and members of Saudi Arabia's intelligentsia.
The crackdown has largely been led by a powerful security apparatus, known as the State Security Presidency, created and led by bin Salman.
In dispatching Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy intelligence chief, bin Salman has lost a key ally.
Assiri is believed to have been chief architect of the war with Yemen, and was previously the Saudi-led coalition spokesman in the kingdom's war against Yemen's Houthi rebels.
The two-star general's position as spokesman made him a household name and he was soon part of the crown prince's inner circle.
According to several sources, he chose the team involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.
Also dismissed were Royal Court Consultant Saud al-Qahtani, Rashad bin Hamed Al-Mohammady, the head of the General Department for Security and Protection, along with Mohamed bin Saleh Al-Ramih and Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shayee, two high-ranking intelligence officers.
Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn
The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years.
"This is concerning because we know there are so many more problems if we exceed 1.5 degrees C global warming, including more heatwaves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes," Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, said in a statement.
Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C.
Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, the report says.
"The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal," added King.
Consequences of past inaction
The report makes it clear that climate change is already happening -- and what comes next could be even worse, unless urgent international political action is taken.
"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.
Even if warming is kept at or just below 1.5 degrees C, the impacts will be widespread and significant.
Temperatures during summer heatwaves, such as those just experienced across Europe this summer, can be expected to increase by 3 degrees C says the report.
More frequent or intense droughts, such as the one that nearly ran the taps dry in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as more frequent extreme rainfall events such as hurricanes Harvey and Florence in the United States, are also pointed to as expectations as we reach the warming threshold.
Coral reefs will also be drastically affected, with between 70 and 90% expected to die off, including Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off, the report said, "projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change should global warming increase."
The report underlines how even the smallest increase in the base target would worsen the impact of recent natural disasters.
"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems," said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
The report cites specific examples of how impacts of global warming would be lessened with the 1.5 degrees C increase, compared to the 2 degrees C increase:
Global sea levels would rise 10 cm lower by 2100.
The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century, instead of at least once per decade.
Coral reefs would decline by 70% to 90% instead of being almost completely wiped out.
'Possible with the laws of chemistry and physics'
Monday's report is three years in the making and is a direct result of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In the Paris accord, 197 countries agreed to the goal of holding global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C.
The United States was initially in the agreement, but President Donald Trump pulled the country out a year and half later, claiming it was unfair to the country.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degree C is "possible within the laws of chemistry and physics," said Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III. "But doing so would require unprecedented changes."
"International cooperation is absolutely imperative to limit emissions and therefore global warming and its impacts, as well as coordinating effective and widespread adaptation and mitigation," said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a fellow at the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales. "The next few years will be critical in the evolution of these efforts."
One key issue will be negative emissions, large scale carbon-scrubbing technologies that can reduce the amount in the atmosphere and act to counter continued pollution.
According to the report, there are two main ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere: increasing natural processes that already do this, and experimental carbon storage or removal technologies.
However, all methods "are at different stages of development and some are more conceptual than others, as they have not been tested at scale," the report warned.
They will also require considerable political engagement globally, as will reducing the amount of carbon being emitted. Despite the report's dire warnings, there is no indication such cooperation will be doable, particularly given the Trump administration's stance on this issue.
"Today the world's leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what mother nature has made clear -- that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy," former US Vice President Al Gore said.
"Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel industries of the past. The administration is in direct conflict with American businesses, states, cities and citizens leading the transformation."