World President Trump Will Make America’s Volcanoes Dangerous Again Forbes 11 hours agoThe United States of America has a major problem, and I’m not just talking about Donald Trump here. A new report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has revealed that out of the 169 hazardous volcanoes in the US, just under half of them are being monitored.That means a good swath of the 321.4 million American populace is at risk of a volcano dumping some pyroclastic flows or lava bombs on their heads and they won’t get much of a warning.Mount Rainier is seen from Air Force One back in 2012. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)If this sounds bad, then you’re right – it is. The US would be put to shame by Japan here, a highly volcanic country that has comprehensively covered its volcanoes in seismometers and volatile sensors, while also using satellites to almost constantly be on the look out for any sign of ground deformation.It’s safe to say that the Japanese government has also ensured that evacuation drills are, well, drilled into the heads of every man, woman and child that live close to any active volcanoes. I’m not sure the same can be said for the US – except for Hawaii, that is.I have a sneaking suspicion that the risks that America’s volcanoes pose to the public is somewhat underappreciated by most Americans. The last major eruption that people will likely point to is the May 1980 paroxysm at Mount St. Helens, which killed 57 people and caused roughly $1.1 billion in property damage.To be fair, this was the last significant volcanic blast in the contiguous US since the 1915 eruption of Lassen peak in California, which put on quite the fireworks show but in which no-one was killed. It’s a history like this that would understandably cause people to be quite laissez faire when it comes to America’s volcanoes.USGS Mount St. Helens’ paroxysm back in May 1980 stunned the nation, and scientists around the world.In fact, the publicity surrounding Mount St. Helens has led to many people thinking it’s the most dangerous volcano in the US. Nestled up in Washington State, there’s no doubt that it will erupt again, but it won’t recreate the rather novel events of May 1980 anytime in the near future – it’ll likely let off a few minor explosions, but it won’t be a catastrophe.Mount St. Helens is part of the Cascades, a series of volcanoes that stretch through the western US like a snake. The fact that Mount St. Helens erupted not too long ago, geologically speaking, is a good sign: it takes stratovolcanoes like this many hundreds or thousands of years to build up enough magma, gas and pressure to erupt quite so devastatingly.Yes, I know – America’s got Yellowstone Caldera, one of the world’s dormant supervolcanoes. An eruption here would devastate the country and much of the world for a multitude of reasons, but don’t worry, it’s not likely to go off in your lifetime, or for many more. In fact, if you’re concerned about a supervolcano going off, you should probably be wary of Campi Flegrei, Italy’s very own colossal cauldron of fiery doom.USGS A lava hose gushing from a collapsed delta on Hawaii’s Big Island.You should actually keep your eyes on Mount Rainier, for example. This 0.5-million-year-old mountain last erupted back in the 19th Century, but far more powerful eruptions took place up to 5,000 years’ earlier. It hasn’t done anything major since, but scientists know it’s building up to something big.If it wasn’t near a huge city, this would still be a problem to passing aircraft and for anyone hiking nearby – but it sits beside Seattle, a city containing around 3.7 million people. If Rainier erupts powerfully enough, respiratory system-chocking ash would smother it, and although pyroclastic flows would likely not reach it, the nearby Puyallup River valley would be covered in lava and ash. When this mixes with water, it forms fast-moving and ultra-thick mudflows called lahars, which often kill more people than the eruption itself.This silent but violent volcano is considered to be so dangerous that it’s on the Decade Volcanoes list, which means that scientists consider it to be one of the 16 most threatening volcanoes in the world. Fortunately, this one’s monitored quite heavily, but there are dozens like it in the US that aren’t.Fortunately, America has got a heck of a lot of incredible scientists, geologists and volcanologists working on pretty much every single one of its volcanoes. Although prediction still remains the elusive Holy Grail for researchers in this field, earth scientists have never had a better understanding of volcanological process than they do in 2017.There’s a major problem though, and this time, it has got something to do with the president. Apart from goofing around with his strangely ominous Coke-ordering button on his desk in the Oval Office and complaining that the job of Commander-in-Chief isn’t as easy as he thought it would be, he has also vowed to slash science funding in the US to historically low levels.Don’t expect President Trump to sign an Executive Order designed to protect Americans from volcanic eruptions or climate change anytime soon. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)Although NASA’s proposed 2018 budget isn’t too shabby, the geosciences will be severely defunded if the budget proposal gets the approval of the GOP-dominated Congress. If it does, then don’t expect the monitoring of America’s volcanoes to improve – in fact, it might get worse.Still, there are lawmakers out there that aren’t keen to see this happen. Just this February, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill to “provide for the establishment of the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System.”“This bill directs the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to establish the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System to monitor, issue warnings of, and protect U.S. citizens from undue and avoidable harm from, volcanic activity,” it reads. Designed to modernize and organize the current monitoring systems of US volcanoes, it also instructs the USGS to set up a national volcano data centre which will be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.This sounds great, and it’s a bill that easily deserves to pass through the House and Senate. Here’s the thing though: it still needs funding, and if Trump’s 2018 budget is approved, then the system may be screwed before it’s even set up.If you defund the sciences, you put American citizens directly at risk; it’s that simple. Your move, Congress.
By Alex Dobuzinskis By Alex Dobuzinskis(Reuters) – Heavy rains and damaging winds struck a broad swath of the U.S. heartland on Saturday, causing power outages for thousands of Oklahoma residents while triggering road closures and flash flood warnings in parts of the Midwest.The downpour, which began on Friday, was so intense the ground could not absorb the moisture, creating a high likelihood of flooding, said meteorologist Kenneth James of the Weather Prediction Center, which is part of the National Weather Service.In the town of Benton, Illinois, floodwaters were reaching the doors of some homes. In neighboring Indiana, parts of Interstate 64 in the southern part of the state were flooded near the town of Ferdinand.Parts of Indiana have received up to 8 inches (20 cm) of rain while areas in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas have been drenched with up to 4 inches (10 cm), James said.In the Oklahoma City area, 40,000 people were without electricity on Saturday morning after winds snapped power lines, the Daily Oklahoman reported. Flooding also shut down sections of Interstate 235 in the city.The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for large swaths of the Midwest and Arkansas and officials urged residents to take them seriously. Evacuations could be necessary if areas along swollen waterways receive widespread flooding.”Flash flooding results in more fatalities than a lot of other types of weather hazards,” James said by telephone.The heavy rainfall in the Midwest is expected to continue on Saturday night and into Sunday. Damaging wind gusts of 60 miles (95 km) per hour are also predicted.On Friday night, a tornado in Lawrence, Illinois, damaged outbuildings and snapped trees, James said.Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, told travelers on Twitter to expect delays and to check their flight with their airline as severe weather moves through the area.Nationwide, delays affected nearly 1,300 flights within the United States or entering or leaving the country, according to tracking service FlightAware.To the west, a storm has dumped snow in Colorado and Wyoming, with the highest accumulation in Lander, Wyoming, which had 33 inches (84 cm), James said.The snowstorm will move into western Kansas later on Saturday.(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Toby Chopra and Matthew Lewis)
Number of Ethiopians needing food aid surges to 7.7 million due to drought