Ontario has now recorded its 10th tornado of the season as a twister touched down east of Ottawa Monday evening.The tornado, which Environment Canada ranked as a weak EF0, had wind speeds between 90-110 km/h as it formed over Pine View Golf Course, just east of the city core. According to CBC News, the staff at the golf course said between 20 and 30 trees were brought down.[ Related: U.S. supercomputer now doubles power for hurricane forecasts ]„It’s bizarre because it’s about a 30-yard-wide path, almost a straight line, diagonally through the property,” Scott Mikkelsen, a staff member at the course told CBC News. „On either side of that 30-yard-wide path, things are untouched.”
Play VideoRaw: Flames at Florida Gas Plant After ExplosionAP Canada 0:49Play VideoExplosions Rock Fla. Gas Plant, Workers MissingAP Canada 1:08View PhotoLaw enforcement officers arrive at a command post near the site of an explosion at …TAVARES, Fla. – A series of explosions rocked a central Florida propane gas plant and sent „boom after boom after boom” through the neighbourhood around it. Eight people were injured, with at least three in critical condition.John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said early Tuesday there were no fatalities despite massive blasts that ripped through the Blue Rhino propane plant late Monday night.Officials initially scrambled to find more than a dozen employees after the explosions.”Management is comfortable saying all of those they knew were there tonight have been accounted for,” he said.Tavares Fire Chief Richard Keith said possible causes of the explosion may be either equipment malfunction or possibly human error. Sabotage was not suspected.One person injured in the explosion was listed in critical condition at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital and three others were listed in critical condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Herrell said some others drove themselves to area hospitals.The Blue Rhino plant, which is northwest of Orlando, refilled propane tanks typically used for barbecues and other uses. There were some 53,000 20-gallon tanks at the plant on Monday.Herrell said a crew of 24 to 26 people was working the overnight shift when the explosions occurred around 10:30 p.m. Monday.Tuesday morning, smoke still billowed from a storage container on the property, which consists of a couple of warehouses next to each other. The parking lot was littered with thousands of blackened 20-gallon propane containers. Nearby, three 30,000-gallon tanks of propane sat untouched. Officials said hoses designed to spray water on the large tanks in case of fire, didn’t go off as planned.Firefighters had to wait about four hours before they could go near the fire because the conditions were so dangerous.Video footage on WESH-TV in Orlando showed fires burning through trucks used to transport propane tanks, which were parked at the plant. The fire sent plumes of smoke into the air hours after the blast.Keith said the explosions shook his house several miles from the plant. „It truly sounded like a car hit our house,” he said.Herrell said about 50 homes were evacuated Monday night but residents were allowed back in about four hours later.Marni Whitehead, 33, who lives less than a mile from the plant, said she was in bed ready to go to sleep when she heard a loud boom.”It was like a car had run into my house, is what I thought had happened,” she said.She ran outside and saw other neighbours outside and then they saw the explosions.”We knew right away it was the plant, the propane plant,” Whitehead said. „After that, it was just sort of panic.”Whitehead likened the explosions to Fourth of July fireworks. „And it was just boom after boom after boom,” she said.Herrell said officials believe the fire was contained and wouldn’t spread to another part of the plant.According to the Leesburg Daily Commercial, the plant was built in 2004 and employs fewer than 50 people.
(Reuters) – U.S. fuel logistics company World Fuel Services Corp said on Tuesday it has „serious objections” to being ordered by the Quebec government to help pay for the cleanup of the devastating railway crash in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, on July 6.The provincial government of Quebec signed a legal order on Monday obliging the U.S. operator of the train, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) Railway, and World Fuel Services, whose subsidiary sold the light crude oil carried by the train’s tanker cars, to foot the bill.The crash, North America’s worst railway disaster in two decades, killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the small lakeside town of Lac Megantic.”World Fuel Services will continue to meet any and all obligations it may have with respect to the accident; however, we have serious objections to the legality of the order,” the company said in a statement.”We intend to promptly discuss these issues with the relevant authorities.”The tanker train had been parked for the night when it broke loose and sped away, driverless. It derailed and crashed in the Lac Megantic, where it exploded into a fire ball.World Fuel Services said it was surprised by the government action as it was the first time the government had said the company bore any responsibility.Cleanup crews have begun to recover an estimated 5.7 million liters (1.5 million U.S. gallons) of oil from the nearby lake, river and ground. Quebec Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet promised on Monday that taxpayers would not have to pay for it.Lac-Megantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche complained on Tuesday that MMA had not paid the companies MMA hired to help clean up after the calamity. She told a news conference the town has so far paid about C$7.8 million ($7.57 million) for the work and that it has given notice to MMA for a second time that it needs to be reimbursed.Although World Fuel Services has sent its own experts to monitor the cleanup of oil from the disaster site, it said that work is being controlled by MMA and local authorities, who have given it limited access.MMA has not yet commented publicly on the government order, but was also expected to respond formally on Tuesday.MMA laid off at least five more workers in Quebec on Tuesday, on top of 19 who were dismissed earlier this month because of reduced activity since the accident, according to Radio-Canada.($1=$1.03 Canadian)(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway)
Probe: Train driver was on phone, speeding at 95 mph (153 kph), during Spain crashBy Jorge Sainz And Barry Hatton, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 5 hours agoPlay VideoTrain driver said he wanted to die, rescuer saysReuters Videos 1:23Play VideoVideo: Spain mourns train crash victims in official MassReuters Videos 0:51View PhotoFILE – In this July 25, 2013 file photo, a rail personnel worker checks the cabin …MADRID – The driver was on the phone with a colleague and apparently looking at a document as his train barrelled ahead at 95 mph (153 kph) — almost twice the speed limit. Suddenly, a notorious curve was upon him.He hit the brakes too late.The train, carrying 218 passengers in eight carriages, hurtled off the tracks and slammed into a concrete wall, killing 79 people.On Tuesday, investigators looking into the crash announced their preliminary findings from analysis of the train’s data-recording „black boxes,” suggesting that human error appears to be the cause of Spain’s worst railway disaster in decades.The derailment occurred near Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwestern Spain, late last Wednesday. Some 66 people injured in the crash are still hospitalized, 15 of them in critical condition.The accident cast a pall over the city, which is the last stop for the faithful who make it to the end of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that has drawn Christians since the Middle Ages. The crash occurred on the eve of annual festivities at the shrine, which subsequently were cancelled.The disaster also stunned the rest of Spain, with Spanish royals and political leaders joining hundreds of people in Santiago de Compostela’s storied 12th-century cathedral Monday evening to mourn the dead.According to the investigation so far, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo received a call from an official of national rail company Renfe on his work phone in the cabin, not his personal cellphone, to tell him what approach to take toward his final destination.The Renfe employee on the telephone „appears to be a controller,” a person who organizes train traffic across the rail network, said a statement from a court in Santiago de Compostela, where the investigation is based.”From the contents of the conversation and from the background noise it seems that the driver (was) consulting a plan or similar paper document.”The statement on the preliminary findings did not indicate whether such a phone conversation is common between a driver of a moving train and a controller, and it did not say how long the call lasted. It did not name the Renfe official who called the driver, nor did it further describe what plan or document the driver was consulting.The train had been going as fast as 119 mph (192 kph) shortly before the derailment, and the driver activated the brakes „seconds before the crash,” according to the statement. The speed limit on the section of track where the crash happened was 50 mph (80 kph).Authorities have said that a high-tech automatic braking program called the European Rail Traffic Management System was installed on most of the high-speed track leading from Madrid north to Santiago de Compostela — the route Garzon’s train took. But the cutting-edge coverage stops just 5 kilometres (3 miles) south of where the crash occurred, placing a greater burden on the driver to take charge.The Spanish rail company has said the brakes should have been applied four kilometres (2.5 miles) before the train hit the curve.A court spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the boxes „did not indicate any technical failures” contributed to the accident. She spoke on condition of anonymity because court regulations bar her from identifying herself by name.Garzon was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide. He was not sent to jail or required to post bail because none of the parties involved felt there was a risk of him fleeing or attempting to destroy evidence, according to a court statement.Investigators from the court, forensic police experts, the Ministry of Transport and Renfe examined the contents of the two black boxes recovered from the lead and rear cars of the train.But the investigation is ongoing and could last several more weeks. The next steps include measuring the wheels on the cars and examining the locomotive, the statement said, without providing an explanation for those checks.Sniffer dogs will also be used to search for human remains in the wreckage, it said._Hatton contributed from Lisbon, Portugal.
SpaceX wins bid to launch Canadian radar satellitesBy Irene Klotz | Reuters – 4 hours ago By Irene Klotz (Reuters) – Privately owned Space Exploration Technologies was selected to launch a trio of Canadian radar satellites aboard a single Falcon 9 rocket, the company announced on Tuesday.The California-based firm, also known as SpaceX, already is flying NASA cargo to the International Space Station, a permanently staffed research outpost that flies about 250 miles above Earth.Owned and operated by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, the company is also working on a space taxi to fly astronauts to the orbital outpost.A relative newcomer to the U.S. launch industry, SpaceX’s client roster includes communication satellite operators Iridium, Intelsat SA, Orbcomm, Europe’s SES, Hong Kong’s Asia Satellite Telecommunications and Israel’s Space Communication Ltd.Also on SpaceX’s launch manifest are spacecraft for the U.S. Air Force, NASA’s science office and the governments of Thailand, Argentina and Taiwan.”Our tally is nearly 50 launches,” SpaceX spokeswoman Christina Ra wrote in an email to Reuters.So far, the company has flown its Falcon 9 rocket five times, all from its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch site in Florida. The missions include two test flights and two space station cargo runs for the U.S. space agency, which contributed about $400 million toward the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule development.SpaceX’s 12-flight cargo delivery contract with NASA is worth another $1.6 billion. NASA also has a separate $525 million investment in SpaceX to upgrade its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to carry people.SpaceX’s next mission, slated for September, will be to launch a Canadian Space Agency solar science satellite called CASSIOPE from a new launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.Both CASSIOPE and the three-radar satellite now included in SpaceX’s manifest are built by Canada’s MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd, which selected SpaceX for the launches.”SpaceX appreciates MDA’s confidence in our ability to safely and reliably transport their satellites,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.The radar satellite network, which is slated to fly in 2018, is designed for maritime surveillance, disaster management and environmental monitoring.Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but SpaceX’s website lists the cost of a Falcon 9 rocket at $56.5 million.(Reporting by Irene Klotz in Capre Canaveral, Florida; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)
Environment Canada confirms tornado touchdown east of Fredericton
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnKpZ-57x1E&feature=player_embedded By Scott Sutherland | Geekquinox – Mon, 22 Jul, 2013 4:44 PM EDT For those living earn Grand Lake in New Brunswick, there was little doubt about what tore through the area on Saturday evening, but Environment Canada investigators have now confirmed that a tornado touched down east of Fredericton, right around 7:30 p.m..The storms that swept through New Brunswick on Saturday were part of the same system that caused widespread damage across southern Ontario and Quebec the day before. Although there were some funnel clouds seen during Friday’s weather mayhem, investigators determined that there were no tornado touchdowns in either province. All of the damage, even flipped over cars and trailers, was instead caused by strong gusts from the storms known as ‘straight-line winds’.[ Related: Wild weekend weather causes storm damage, flash flooding ]However, apparently it was a different story when these storms passed into New Brunswick. It was about 7:30 p.m. that a powerful storm swept through the Grand Lake area, east of Fredericton, carving a damage path between 19 and 24 kilometres long (according to the National Post), and Environment Canada investigators have confirmed that the damage was caused by a tornado touchdown.”The damage that we’re seeing here today, and in combination with the video that we saw on the internet, it’s pretty clear this area was hit by a tornado on Saturday,” said Bob Robichaud, a Warning Preparedness Meteorologist with Environment Canada’s Canadian Hurricane Centre, according to Global News.He also added that it may have been a tornado combined with a microburst.”A microburst is essentially a very strong down draft from a thunderstorm and we can’t rule out there may have been one here,” he said. „But, you can have a down burst and a tornado in the same storm.”There’s no word, as of yet, as to how strong the tornado was.[ Related: Tornado or downburst, what’s the difference? ]Matt Rideout, a resident of the area, told CBC News: „We saw that get lifted about 1,000 feet into the air and blown to pieces. We knew it was pretty serious then. Not a regular windstorm is going to lift a 60 by 40 roof up into the sky 1,000 feet and demolish it.”Rideout’s friend, Alex Haché, captured this video of the tornado as it (Warning: Some coarse language used):[ More Geekquinox: Tonight’s full moon is the third ‘supermoon’ of 2013 ]Tornadoes aren’t common for New Brunswick, but they happen a few times each year.Most tornadoes that occur there (and indeed in the rest of Atlantic Canada as well) usually rank up to an F2 on the Fujita scale (which has now been upgraded to the EF — ‘Enhanced Fujita’ — scale). The strongest tornado in the area was apparently on August 6, 1879, when an estimated F3 tornado touched down in the town of Bouctouche, NB, killing five people, injuring 10 others, and destroying 25 homes.Geek out with the latest in science and weather.Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!
Smaller-Than-Expected Gulf Dead Zone Is Still MassiveBy By Douglas Main, Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – 11 hours ago The dead zone that has formed in the Gulf of Mexico this summer is smaller than predicted, but is still larger than average, spanning an area roughly the size of Connecticut. This zone, an area without oxygen and almost completely devoid of life that crops up every summer, covers 5,840 square miles (15,125 square kilometers), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).In June, NOAA predicted the dead zone would be at least 20 percent larger this summer, expecting it to take up at least 7,286 square miles (18,871 square km).Dead zones are the indirect result of nutrients, largely from fertilizer use, running off into rivers and then into bodies of water like the Gulf. Once these excess nutrients reach the ocean, they fuel algae blooms. The algae then die and decompose in a process that consumes oxygen and creates oxygen-free areas where fish and other aquatic creatures can’t survive. This zone can have serious impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries on the Gulf Coast, causing fish die-offs.But the dead zone this summer, the time of year when the phenomenon occurs, is larger than average: Over the past five years, the average dead zone has covered 5,176 square miles (13,405 km), according to NOAA. That’s more than twice the 1,900-square- mile (4,921 square km) goal set by the Gulf of Mexico / Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force, a group that seeks to reduce the size of this lifeless area, according to NOAA.Last summer, the dead zone in the Gulf was the fourth smallest on record, thanks to a drought that gripped much of the central United States; less rainfall means less nutrient runoff. That dead zone measured 2,889 square miles (7,482 square km), an area slightly larger than Delaware, NOAA reported. The biggest dead zone on record came in 2002, when it reached 8,481 square miles (21,965 square km).This year’s dead zone is smaller than predicted due in part to strong winds over the Gulf, which mixed oxygen into deeper waters, according to NOAA.The zone was mapped during a research cruise from July 21-28 and led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. A final survey will take place in mid-August.Email Douglas Main or follow him on Twitter or Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebookor Google+. Article originally on LiveScience.com.