Kris and Bob write: "Paul, when do you think we'll have our first 30-degree night in October? We're trying to stall winterizing our travel trailer, but yet not ruin it with frozen lines." Um.. I'd like to hear more about that travel trailer. Might come in handy as I explore lukewarm southern states in a few months? My goal is to nap in all 50 states.
Twin Cities Marathon. I'm sorry. A few T-storms may return next week with an August-like warm front.
"Hysteria is Starting to Spread": Puerto Rico is Devastated in the Wake of Hurricane Maria. Vox has the harrowing details: "...Hysteria is starting to spread,” Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, mayor of Manati, a town on the North shore, told the Associated Press. “The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity. … We need someone to help us immediately.” But the list of woes is much longer. An untold number of homes are irreparably damaged. Infrastructure is badly damaged. People aren’t working. The storm was particularly costly for the agriculture industry: “In a matter of hours, Hurricane Maria wiped out about 80 percent of the crop value in Puerto Rico,” the New York Times reports. Even the National Weather Services Doppler weather radar station on the island has been destroyed. That’s the radar that helps meteorologist see where thunderstorms and other weather systems are moving in real time. “Not having radar does make future storms more hazardous,” says Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research..."
Disconnected by Disaster: Photos From a Battered Puerto Rico. The Atlantic has a story that shows Maria's impact on Puerto Rico: "Five days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, its devastating impact is becoming clearer. Most of the U.S. territory currently has no electricity or running water, fewer than 250 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers are operational, and damaged ports, roads, and airports are slowing the arrival and transport of aid. Communication has been severely limited and some remote towns are only now being contacted. Jenniffer Gonzalez, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that Hurricane Maria has set the island back decades..."
Is This the Worst Hurricane Season Ever? Here's How it Compares. Relatives of people who died in the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 might beg to differ. Details via TIME.com: "The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history is also the most fatal hurricane to date. In 1900, inaccurate predictions, combined with poor warning systems, left Galveston, Texas vulnerable to a hurricane that killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Twenty-eight years later, an estimated 2,500 people drowned when a Category 4 hurricane caused Lake Okeechobee in Florida to overflow, deluging the surrounding area with 10-to-15-foot floods. The 10 deadliest hurricane seasons include only one from within the past 50 years: 2005, when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed the levees in New Orleans and inundated the city, killing more than 1,000 people..."
How You Can Help Hurricane Victims in Puerto Rico. We all need to step up and help fellow Americans. PBS NewsHour explains how you can help: "...Most organizations are asking for cash, rather than supplies, so they can route help to where it’s needed most more quickly. Here are some of the largest groups with campaigns underway:
- United for Puerto Rico (spearheaded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico)
- Center for Popular Democracy
- Hispanic Federation’s “Unidos” page
- Former U.S. presidents have expanded their One America Appeal to include recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- All Hands Volunteers
- Catholic Relief Services
- Direct Relief
- Save the Children, which focuses specifically on the needs of families and their children.
- Global Giving has a $2 million goal for victims of Hurricane Maria..."
Photo credit: "Soldiers of Puerto Rico’s national guard distribute relief items to people, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico." Photo by REUTERS/Alvin Baez.
Puerto Rico's Grid Needs a Complete Overhaul. CityLab has the story; here's an excerpt: "...Even before this most recent storm, Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure was precarious. “It was already unsustainable; it was a terrible mess,” says Judith Enck, the former EPA administrator for Region 2, which includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Even if you had a modest wind storm, people would typically lose power for days at a time.” Enck identifies dual culprits: power plants that required fossil fuels, and “rickety old transmissions.” Puerto Rico’s existing energy infrastructure relied primarily on oil or coal. And despite unreliable and unsustainable power sources, she adds, residents were paying some of the highest utility rates in the country..."
Harvey is Scaring Houston Straight on Flood Safety, But Dallas May Take Longer. The Dallas Observer has some interesting perspective on flood risk in Dallas: "...We have the same system, only more dangerous. If only one of our immense regional reservoirs fails, the toll in human lives would be staggering. As a special project in The Dallas Morning News by George Getschow revealed two years ago, a failure of the aged and decaying Lake Lewisville Dam would put 431,000 lives in immediate jeopardy. An upstream dam failure at any of the three major reservoirs that flow directly into downtown Dallas must be stacked against the old and rickety system of flood safety levees along the Trinity River through downtown. In 2009, the Corps of Engineers rated that entire levee system as “unacceptable,” the most stupidly abused term in contemporary public double-speak. What they really meant was, “no good,” “unsafe,” “won’t do the job,” “grab your water-wings and paddle as fast as you can...”
Photo credit: "Harvey taught Houston that the things it had been told before about flood safety simply were not true." U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West.
M.I.T. Scientists Use Math to Predict the Next Great Hurricane. Yahoo News has an interesting post: "We are looking at the equations for possible states that have very high growth rates and become extreme events, but they are also consistent with data, telling us whether this state has any likelihood of occurring, or if it’s something so exotic that, yes, it will lead to an extreme event, but the probability of it occurring is basically zero,” Sapsis says. Their algorithm isn’t perfect yet, but the researchers hope that their research will help scientists around the world come up with ways to predict and even suppress the kinds of turbulence that can lead to extreme events. At the current rate we’re experiencing extreme weather events, every little bit helps..."
What Would An Entirely Flood-Proof City Look Like? The Guardian imagines how cities may be forced to reinvent themselves in the years ahead: "They call it “pave, pipe, and pump”: the mentality that has dominated urban development for over a century. Along with the explosion of the motorcar in the early 20th century came paved surfaces. Rainwater – instead of being sucked up by plants, evaporating, or filtering through the ground back to rivers and lakes – was suddenly forced to slide over pavements and roads into drains, pipes and sewers. Their maximum capacities are based on scenarios such as 10-year storms. And once they clog, the water – with nowhere else to go – simply rises. The reality of climate change and more frequent and intense downpours has exposed the hubris of this approach. As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation..."
File photo credit: Jordan Anderson, DoubleHorn Photography.
Hurricane-Ravaged Barbuda and Dominica Must "Build Back Better". Reuters explains: "...In the case of Barbuda an “island that has to be built from scratch” getting urban planning right is vital to limit the potential of damage of future hurricanes, Faieta said. This includes building shelters and storage areas for food, water and seeds in safe locations, away from flood-prone areas on high-ground, she said. Improving early warning systems is also important, she said. This includes providing communities with cellphone technology to tell people where to pre-position food and seeds ahead of a hurricane and mapping flood-plain areas. In Dominica, a mountainous island, reforestation will be also important to lessen the hazard of landslides triggered by heavy rains..."
It's Not Just Puerto Rico: 6 Other Caribbean Island Nations Are In Crisis After the Hurricanes. Vox has the story: "...Irma and Maria collapsed the infrastructure, electricity, and communications lines of the British Virgin Islands: The British Virgin Islands were beaten by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria (though Maria caused less damage than some feared). Still, the collapsed infrastructure and knocked out electricity and communications lines were enough to inspire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson to call for a Marshall Plan to help rebuild the British territory. (His own private island, Necker, was not spared by the storms.) “These hurricanes are causing unimaginable destruction,” Branson wrote on his website. A third of Dutch St. Martin’s buildings were ruined: The Island of St. Martin, which is split into two sides overseen by French and Dutch control, was also walloped by Irma. A third of the buildings on the Dutch side of the island were destroyed, and 90 percent were damaged, according to Reuters. So far, more than a dozen people died as a result of the storm, with hundreds registered as missing..."
Primal Screams, Blood and Burns: What Its Like to Survive a Lightning Strike. Here's a clip from a jaw-dropping account at The Washington Post: "...We were struck at the lakeside, each of us channeling various amounts of the bolt that hit the tree at our back, and me and Aidan in head behind our left ears, passing through and across our bodies, until it made explosive contact with the ground,” Lovera later recounted on Facebook. “I have never been more proud of my children, who despite severe burns, punctured eardrums, and much blood, in semiconsciousness, dragged themselves to safety,” Lovera wrote earlier this month. “Aidan's screaming brought me to consciousness, disoriented at seeing the blood clotted on the left of his head, and the blood and burns than ran down my body, and the trauma of seeing Nadia facedown up the hill from me, all of us in severe shock. My clothes had been shredded, burned and fused to parts of my body, and I could not move as I lay on my back...”
File photo: Jorge Silva, Reuters.
What Happens When a Superstorm Hits D.C.? Rolling Stone takes a look at a worst-case scenario for Washington D.C.: "...For scientists like Resio, a big concern is if a storm system in the mountains unfolds just before a major hurricane hits near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then tracks inland, pulling a small mountain of water up the Chesapeake, then up the Potomac. This happened in the Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933, which carried a deadly 11-foot storm surge; with Hurricane Hazel in 1954; Hurricane Connie in 1955; and Hurricane Isabel, a Category 2 storm that hit in 2003 with a nearly nine-foot surge that severed power at two of Maryland's largest sewage treatment plants, sending 96 million gallons of sewage flowing toward D.C. "Isabel is a reminder," wrote David L. Johnson, then assistant administrator for Weather Services, in a government assessment of the storm, "that if the impact of a Category 2 hurricane can be so extensive, then the impact of a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) could be devastating..."
Illustration credit: John Blackford for Rolling Stone. Photograph used in illustration by Ryan D. Budhu.
California Considers Following China With Combustion-Engine Car Ban. Bloomberg has the story: "The internal combustion engine’s days may be numbered in California, where officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air. Governor Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview Friday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. The earliest such a ban is at least a decade away, she said. Brown, one of the most outspoken elected official in the U.S. about the need for policies to combat climate change, would be replicating similar moves by China, France and the U.K..."
Minnesota Public Hearing Begin for Enbridge's $6.5 Billion Oil Pipe Expansion. Reuters has an update: "...The bulk of the line’s U.S. portion passes through Minnesota, the last jurisdiction to review it. A decision to not grant permission would bar work for construction in state, although the company can appeal, and the current line remains operational. Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said: “We are eager for the hearings to get under way and the facts to be presented. This will be a detailed process, which will show the need for the replacement project.” In a surprise move this month, Minnesota’s Department of Commerce opposed the upgrade, saying refineries in the state and the upper Midwest “are not short of physical supplies of crude oil, and that they have little room to increase total crude runs...”
File photo: "
No, We Cannot Shoot Down North Korea's Missiles. In case you were wondering, Defense One has a sobering evaluation: "...But could we intercept before the missile climbed that high? There is almost no chance of hitting a North Korean missile on its way up unless an Aegis ship was deployed very close to the launch point, perhaps in North Korean waters. Even then, it would have to chase the missile, a race it is unlikely to win. In the only one or two minutes of warning time any system would have, the probability of a successful engagement drops close to zero. “When over Japan, they are too high to reach,” tweeted astronomer Jonathan McDowell, in between tracking the end of the Cassini mission. “You’d have to put the Aegis right off NK coast to have a chance. “It’s actually virtually impossible to shoot down a missile on the way up,” adds Gerry Doyle, deputy business editor for Asia at The New York Times. “Midcourse or terminal are the only places you have a shot...”
September 27, 1983: Late summer-like temperatures arrive in Minnesota with 91 degrees at Montevideo and 90 degrees at Elbow Lake.
September 27, 1895: A 'furious wind' at Pleasant Mound in Blue Earth County blows down grain stacks and corn shocks.
FRIDAY: Blue sky, breezy and cooler. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 65
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, nicer day of weekend. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 48. High: 68
SUNDAY: Periods of rain. Cool and foul. Wind: S 10-20. Wake-up: 54. High: 62
MONDAY: Partly sunny, late day shower risk. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 56. High: 70
TUESDAY: Unsettled, shower or T-shower possible. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 52. High: 69
WEDNESDAY: Warmer front arrives. Hints of August. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 59. High: 81
The Best US Cities to Avoid Effects of Climate Change, According to Report. Austin's Statesman has the story; here are a couple of excerpts: "...According to the report, the Pacific Northwest is the best U.S. region to live to escape the negative effects of climate change, according to Shandas, who said that “their infrastructure tends to be newer and more resilient to major shocks” like heat and rising water. Austin, Texas, about 160 miles from Houston, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, is also among the top 13 cities -- in part because of durable infrastructure as well as plans to combat carbon dioxide levels and offset emissions. Here’s the full list in no particular order:
- Seattle, Washington
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Austin, Texas
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Portland, Oregon
- San Francisco, California
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Chicago, Illinois..."
Birding: To Cope with Climate Change, Birds Need More Time. A story at Cape Cod Times caught my eye: "...As Dr. Charles “Stormy Mayo, senior scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, announced in a radio interview in August, “Changes in weather occurred over millennia, thousands of years — birds, mammals, plants and insects could evolve and deal with this slow environmental change — but climate change today happens faster, in some cases less than 10 years.” Bird behavior and bird environment are becoming mismatched: much of a bird’s life cycle and behavior is closely linked to changing seasons. A mismatch occurs when birds cannot shift their behavior in time to coincide with changes in environment, when food is most available for young and adults. Bird behavior is activated by photoperiodism; plants and insects respond to temperatures. One large-scale study has showed that most birds are laying eggs at an average rate of almost seven days earlier compared to 10 years ago..."