Bulgaria struggles with flood damage and begins to count cost
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The number of great white sharks off the U.S. Atlantic Coast appears to have increased since the early 1990s after conservation measures were introduced to halt their decline, a U.S. government scientist said on Saturday.Scientists for the National Marine Fisheries Service presented the findings in a study published this month in the PLOS ONE online journal.Tobey Curtis, one of the government scientists who worked on the study, said in an interview his team could only capture trends in shark abundance and the study could not be used to estimate the total number of sharks in the Atlantic’s northwest region, which extends from the U.S. East Coast.”We don’t know what portion of the total population we’re documenting,” he said.But Curtis said the findings suggested an „optimistic outlook” for the recovery of the species, which is an apex predator and one of the largest fish in the oceans. The study’s authors described their study as based on the largest white shark dataset yet compiled from the region.The findings were based on data stretching back about 200 years, including population surveys, fishermen’s logs and newspaper clippings recording sightings of the elusive creatures.Extrapolating from the varied data, the scientists said that for much of the 1970s and 1980s the abundance of sharks in the northwest Atlantic was on average about 70 percent lower than in 1961, the year they chose to use as a benchmark.They speculated the decline was caused by a growing commercial shark fishing industry, which harvested their fins and jaws for use in food and folk medicine.The decline was reversed in the 1990s after conservation measures were introduced, including a 1997 federal law banning the hunting of great white sharks.”Since protections were put in place, the population appears to have started recovering,” Curtis said.In 2009, the most recent year they studied, the abundance of sharks was 31 percent lower than it was in 1961, Curtis said.In a separate paper also published in PLOS ONE this month, researchers found the great white shark population is likely growing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.The group, led by George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, pegged the entire population of white sharks along the California coast at more than 2,000 and likely rising.The study’s authors challenged the conclusions of a 2011 Stanford University study that found alarming low numbers of the predators off the central California coast.Burgess also was involved in the study of shark abundance in the Atlantic Ocean.(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)
Ebola spread due to ‘relaxation’ of efforts
Question: We have around 530 cases of hemorrhagic fever, mostly from the Ebola virus, in the region, compared to 225 at the end of April. How do you explain this leap? Answer: We have had since March 21, when the epidemic was declared in Guinea, a first wave that has started to diminish. Since the start of May we have had a sort of resurgence with an increase in the number of cases and notably also with an epidemic which has spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. We are seeing a second wave of cases for West Africa. Q: How do you explain this new peak? A: When the epidemic started, it was a little under-estimated, so that the states took a while to really prepare themselves. At the end of April, we started to see a decrease in the number of cases and we maybe saw a relaxation by the teams in the three countries, and this relaxation allowed things to restart. In addition, there were some problems with the affected populations which were sometimes not fully listened to.Q: Were the right measures implemented?View galleryThe owners of a small restaurant, in Kobakro, outside Abidjan, hold up the different types of meat a … A: The most important things are monitoring and communication. States are getting better and better but the problems of communication continue. The medical corps on their own cannot stop this epidemic. It is only with the help of the population that we can fight this epidemic and stop it. Q: What are the specific features of this epidemic? A: The epidemic is pretty much identical in the three countries. What’s really important in this epidemic is that the majority of cases are cases of human-to-human transmission, by contact, especially during care, but also during funerals because it is particularly when victims are deceased that Ebola is present around the body. Q: How did the epidemic spread? A: The epicentre of this epidemic is in the forested border zone around the town of Gueckedou (in the south of Guinea) and now it has spread to the district of Kailahun in Sierra Leone and the district of Lofa in Liberia. It has been spread most of all by people who travel to Conakry or Monrovia for healthcare. These people travel a great deal. As soon as they are sick with the symptoms, even if they know that it might be Ebola, they will go see friends in one town or another and that’s how the disease spreads. Q: Why is it important for the authorities and humanitarian agencies to communicate with the populations? A: One case can restart an entire epidemic. So these dramatic measures, which are not put in place for other diseases like meningitis or measles, are hard for the populations to understand. In an area where the quality of health services are not optimal, the populations have struggled to understand why we were asking them to make such an effort and probably we have not been able to explain both the disease and the means of control to the populations. Q: What is the latest assessment of the WHO? A: As of June 17, we had 528 cases of Ebola, including confirmed, probable and suspected cases. Included in these 528 cases are 337 dead. All the deaths are confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola. At the level of the international community, Doctors Without Borders, WHO and other international partners have mobilised 100 to 160 international experts who are on the ground and who are working hard. In Conakry, for patients admitted (to hospital) we have been able to reduce the mortality rate to 40 percent.
Summer Solstice: The Science Behind the First Day of Summer
By Chrissy Warrilow Published: Jun 21, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT weather.comWhat is the Summer Solstice?For much of the country, temperatures have already reached well into the 80s since at least early May. Meteorologically speaking, summer has already started since atmospheric researchers consider June 1 as the first day of the summer season.But astronomically, the summer solstice, more commonly known as the first day of summer, will arrive Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 6:51 a.m. EDT.(MORE: 10 Ways to Enjoy the Longest Day of the Year)Why the Seasons?
(NOAA/NWS)The Science Behind the Summer Solstice The change of seasons can be attributed to the tilt of the earth’s axis and the earth’s revolution around the sun.Recall that the earth spins on a tilted axis, and that the angle of the tilt is 23.5 degrees from the earth’s geographical poles. This tilt allows for direct sunlight to be aimed at various latitudes of the earth with every revolution around the sun (one revolution is approximately 365.25 days).During the summer, the northern hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight because the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun. On June 21, the sun’s rays will be located directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, a line of latitude located at 23.5 degrees north of the equator.Summer Solstice(Image: NASA)For areas north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun will be at its highest point in the sky at noon on June 21, and those locations will experience their longest amount of daylight of any day this year.For example, in Dublin, Ireland (latitude of 53.3 degrees), the sun will rise at 4:57 a.m. local time on June 21 and will not set until 9:57 p.m. local time. That’s 17 hours of sunlight.Meanwhile, in Dallas, Texas (latitude of 32.8 degrees), the sun will rise at 6:20 a.m. local time and will set at 8:38 p.m. local time — a total of 14 hours and 18 minutes.Soon after the summer solstice, the length of daylight in the northern hemisphere will gradually grow shorter each day until the winter solstice in December, when the shortest amount of daylight occurs.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Summer Solstice Around the World 1 / 8 Summer Solstice Around the WorldGetty Images A visitor scans the skyline and harbour of Sydney from a viewing platform at the Sydney Tower Eye in Sydney, Australia. (Eugene Tan/Hausmann Communications via Getty Images)
Twin Cities Flooding Causes Mudslide Near University of Minnesota Medical Center
By Sean Breslin Published: Jun 21, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT weather.comMudslide Causes Cliff Collapse Near Hospital Heavy rain and flooding caused a hill to give way along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota Thursday, forcing a road closure and evacuations from a nearby hospital.Deputy Fire Chief Todd White tells the Star Tribune that the slide occurred around 7 p.m., sending a 100-yard swath of the bluff onto the road and river below. He says about 6 to 8 feet of mud were left on the West River Parkway, which was partially closed. No one was injured, though the first reports of the mudslide came from drivers who were nearly carried away by it, reports MyFox9.com.(MORE: The Latest on the Multi-State Flooding Emergency)Engineers inspected the buildings located along the bluff, including the hospital, and determined that they were still structurally sound thanks to their location atop bedrock.The report also mentioned the hospital’s oxygen tanks were originally thought to be threatened by the mudslide, which removed part of the ground on which they rested. It was later determined that those tanks were resting on firm ground and would not be at risk. On Friday, a hospital spokesperson announced that the tanks would be vented and emptied, which will be very loud and produce a visible cloud, according to MyFox9.com. The Pioneer Press reports 20 administrative employees of the hospital were evacuated from a building near the oxygen tanks as a precaution. Patients were not affected.West River Parkway will remain closed through the weekend for cleanup, but officials do not believe the roadway suffered any structural damage, according to CBS Minnesota.The mudslide comes after torrential rain and flash flooding in the area Thursday.Minneapolis/St. Paul saw 4.13 inches of rain fall on Thursday, which set a daily rainfall record for any day in the month of June. The Twin Cities is also in second place for the wettest June with 10.76 inches, the record is 11.67 inches set in 1874. The Mississippi River at St. Paul is forecast to reach major flood stage this weekend, which could result in additional road closures.(MORE: Minneapolis Forecast)Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Flooding Strikes the Plains and Midwest1 / 7Canton, South Dakota
By Eric Zerkel Published: Jun 21, 2014, 0:57 PM EDT weather.comGiant Sinkhole near World Cup Stadium A sinkhole that opened up last week in the wake of record-breaking rainfall in the World Cup host city of Natal, Brazil continues to expand, swallowing homes and cars and forcing the evacuation of 150 families.More rain fell on the coastal city in three days last week—more than 13 inches worth—than the area usually sees in the entire month of June, sparking landslides, flash flooding and opening up the sinkhole four miles from the Arena das Dunas stadium in a hillside favela, according to the BBC. No one was killed or injured, the Associated Press reports.The Associated Press also reports that some 150 families have been evacuated from the affected area. According to local news reports, some of those families are being sheltered by government agencies and local schools and churches.No permanent plan has been established to relocate the families, but a presidential aide has arrived in the city to organize aid and housing for those affected. Integration Minister Francisco Teixeira told the Associated Press that establishing and providing aid to those displaced took precedent over stabilizing the sinkhole, but that a plan to contain the growing expanse was in the works. In the meantime, officials said they’ll have to condemn and demolish any other homes that are threatened by the sinkhole if it continues to grow.Natal will next host a match between Italy and Uruguay on Tuesday.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Hail Interrupts Belgium’s World Cup Warm-up Game 1 / 7 Belgium vs Tunisia HailstormThe ball lays among hailstones on the field, during the friendly football match between Belgium and Tunisia, at the King Baudouin stadium, in Brussels. (THIERRY ROGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Bulgaria Flooding Kills At Least 12
By Allie Goolrick Published: Jun 21, 2014, 7:25 AM EDT weather.comDeath Toll Rises in Flooding At least 12 people – including 2 children – were killed in torrential rains and flooding in northeastern Bulgaria. An unknown number of others remain missing Saturday.In the Black Sea resort city of Varna, heavy rainfall triggered a massive flood wave in the low-lying district of Asparuhovo, Reuters reports. The rush of water swamped streets and houses with mud and debris and left cars mangled and stacked on top of each other like toys. Roads in and out of the suburb were blocked and tens of thousands were without electricity. (MORE: Floods Rock South Dakota and Iowa)Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev confirmed that ten bodies were recovered from in Varna and two more bodies were found in the northern city of Dobrich, where the River Suha burst its banks, according to the Associated Press. CNN reports that dozens are still missing. In Ashparuhovo, people gathered in the streets crying for lost loved ones or desperately looking for help.”The tragedy is enormous. I am here on a street in the suburb of Asparuhovo. The street is not here, the houses are not here, there are cars on top of each other,” Varna mayor Ivan Portnih said on national radio.A state of emergency was declared in Asparuhovo and rescue workers were helping to relocate flood victims to temporary shelters. The Bulgarian Red Cross was on the scene providing providing drinking water, food and essential supplies to victims.Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, who arrived in Varna early Friday, called the flooding „a huge tragedy.” The government declared Monday, June 23, a national day of mourning.Authorities feared that the swelling of the Suha River could produce a tidal wave in already hard-hit Dobrich, Novinite News Agency reported. But according to the BBC, by Friday night, authorities said that water levels were expected to fall in the coming hours.Away from the northern Black Sea coastline, flooding has impacted a number of towns and cities across Central and Northeastern Bulgaria. A state of emergency has been declared in Veliko Tarnovo and Shumen, and also in the southern town of Pazardzhik. Firefighters had to rescue 11 people from the tops of their houses in Kilifarevo in central Bulgaria, police said. The national meteorological service said rainfall in eastern Bulgaria in the past 24 hours equaled the average amount for a month, and warned that more rain was expected.In late May, at least 40 people were killed in the neighboring Balkan countries of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia after the heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago triggered flooding.Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Flooding Rocks Bulgaria1 / 16People try to save a man from the floods in the Black sea town of Varna, Bulgaria, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/ImpactPressGroup)