Ohio Valley and the Northeast May Be Getting Snow This Week
After the Midwest got their first dose of frigid weather on Halloween, parts of the Ohio Valley and Northeast are expected to receive their first snowfall on Thursday. But it’s unlikely to cause any snow days.”A thin stripe of light snow, possibly mixed with light freezing drizzle, could stretch from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and interior Northeast,” according to the Weather Channel.Although it is still too early to predict how much accumulation, if any, it will most likely be on the lighter side on the east coast as temperatures will not dip below freezing, however Buffalo, N.Y. and Cinncinatti, O.H. is expecting 23 to 26 degree weather.Meanwhile, the desert plains and the desert southwest will likely see rain and thunderstorms on Wednesday.Although winter weather conditions always has the potential to affect travel plans, at this point, it doesn’t look like this snowfall will cause any major travel delays across the country.But if the first sight of snow is inspiring you to think ahead to winter trips, check out Travel + Leisure’s ideas for bucket-list worthy winter travel, affordable snow bunny destinations and the best places in America for people who love winter.
Halloween storm dislodges vessel abandoned for 101 years in Niagara Falls Mark Puleo•A 101-year fixture at Niagara Falls may be on the move. After a heavy Halloween storm moved through the area of the North American landmark, a popular tourist attraction within the park was dislodged.An 80-foot iron boat, nicknamed the „Iron scow” or the „Niagara scow,” has been planted upon the rocks of Horseshoe Falls since 1918.”On August 6, 1918, a dumping scow broke loose from its towing tug about 1.6 km up river with Gustav F. Lofberg and James H. Harris aboard. The men opened the bottom dumping doors and the scow grounded in the shallow rapids only 600 metres from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls,” Niagara Parks writes on its website. „With the cooperation of The Niagara Parks Police, The Niagara Falls Fire and Police Departments, The U.S. Coast Guard and recently returned WWI veteran, William ‘Red’ Hill Sr., the two men were successfully rescued the next day by breeches buoy on a line shot out from the roof of the adjacent power house.”
|In this Nov. 1, 2019, photo provided by Niagara Parks, a century-old barge has shifted slightly in the St. Lawrence River above the Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. Parks officials are monitoring the iron scow, which grounded in 1918, that briefly broke loose during a storm last week. (Chris Giles/Niagara Parks via AP)|
The rescue of Lofberg and Harris became recognized folklore in the surrounding region and the efforts of Hill earned him widespread acclaim. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal for his rescue and the Parks Commission installed a plaque in his honor in 2018.
Years after the grounding, a salvage mission was deemed infeasible and the boat was left to sit on the rocks, where it had endured over 100 years of wind and rains. Over the past century, the boat has significantly deteriorated due to the rushing waters, which can reach up to 65 km/h (40.3 mph).
However, last Thursday’s fierce weather was the first to move the vessel from its rocky home. The Halloween storm brought severe winds that reached 94 km/h (58.4 mph) on Thursday night along with about 35 mm (1.37 in.) of rain reported at nearby Buffalo Niagara Airport.
„It could have been the way the wind came down the river,” Niagara Parks CEO David Adames said to CBC. „If it came down at a high enough gust, at that point in time, it might have hit the side of the rusted structure and it was enough to move it.”
|Drone footage captured the vessel in 2018 to celebrate its centennial grounding.|
Visitors and officials alike now fear that the scow could be sent toppling down the falls. The dramatic evolution of the scow’s positioning will happen slowly, but officials say there is no timeline for when it might go over.
While Adames said his staff doesn’t believe the scow to be in present danger, its rusted state presents an uncertain future in the face of other strong storms.
„Will it stay in place? Well it’s been stuck there for 101 years and it appears to have sort of flipped on its side and spun around, it’s not in the exact same spot it was yesterday,” Jim Hill, senior manager of heritage at the Niagara Parks Commission, said in a video posted on Friday. „We think it’s about 50 meters down river from its original location… It could be stuck there for days or years, it’s anyone’s guess.”
Californians have recently endured the dual hardships of wildfires and mass power outages meant to prevent them, not always effectively.
Now comes word that desert communities in the Golden State could be at risk of flooding.
What’s next, locusts and pestilence?
Well, it’s not quite that dire, but a recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers serves as a reminder that everyone is at the mercy of Mother Nature, and preventive measures can go a long way toward sparing life and property.
Here are five questions addressing a new risk that most Californians didn’t even know existed:
What did the U.S. Army Corps do?
It switched the Dam Safety Action Classification of the Mojave River Dam from low to high urgency of action, meaning steps must be taken to safeguard communities close to the river – such as Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville and Barstow – from flood hazards.
A recent risk assessment determined that, in an extreme weather event, water could flow over the nearly 50-year-old dam and it could breach, endangering 16,000 residents downstream and property valued at $1.5 billion. Flood waters could reach as far as Baker, more than 140 miles away.
What measures must be taken?
The most immediate is raising awareness about the importance of preparation among residents, who are encouraged to assemble an emergency kit, sign up for phone alerts and formulate evacuation plans.
“We’re going to be enacting a lot of emergency-preparedness activities,’’ said Kristen Bedolla, dam safety program manager for the Corps’ Los Angeles District. “As we turn the corner toward winter, we’re definitely going to be more proactive in working with our downstream partners.’’
The agency will also conduct further studies to assess whether the dam – which goes through regular maintenance and upgrades – needs further hardening. Some interim measures are also being considered before the rainy season arrives in the coming weeks.
How big is the risk for Californians?
It’s minimal, but it does exist. The dam is about 200 feet high and its highest watermark ever, 72 feet in 2005, did not reach the halfway point. The emergency spillway has never been used.
Lillian Doherty, chief of the operations division for the L.A. District, said the chances of water flowing over the dam are about .01% percent on any given year.
Why bother, then? Perhaps the names Katrina and Harvey will answer that question. Those hurricanes brought on unthinkable damage, and the Corps wants to take any steps necessary to avoid a future disaster. In February 2017, both spillways for the Oroville Dam in Northern California were damaged by floodwaters, resulting in a crisis that forced nearly 190,000 to flee their homes.
Is climate change a factor?
Of course. Although the Mojave River Dam, built in 1971, has been performing as designed, old weather models no longer accurately predict what conditions to expect. Evidence of climate change has been a motivator in the decision to further assess the dam’s ability to withstand extreme floods.
“That is our mission, to reduce the risk for the communities we serve,’’ Doherty said. “With climate change, we are seeing more severe events on a more regular basis, so being prepared, ensuring that our communities are aware of these risks and preparing themselves is critical.’’
Floods in the Mojave Desert, really?
The Mojave – primarily located in southeastern California and southern Nevada – is regarded as the driest desert in North America, with an average yearly precipitation of less than 5 inches.
The western part is not quite as parched, averaging 6.7 inches, mostly stemming from winter storms rolling east from the Pacific. When that happens, the water can accumulate quickly in areas not used to it.
“We have a very reactive system,’’ Doherty said. “Just a little bit of rain can cause huge flash floods in any area, including the desert. We’ve seen events like that happen, and it’s one of the reasons we’re most concerned. Because we are dry year-round, there’s a lack of sensitivity to the fact that flooding is a true risk that we need to prepare for.’’
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In California, wildfires and power outages might not be only threat
Sao Paulo (AFP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Sunday that „the worst is yet to come” with an oil spill that has affected more than 200 beaches on the country’s coast.
„What came so far and what was collected is a small amount of what was spilled,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with Record television.
He said he did not know if additional oil would impact his country’s coastline, but that „everything indicates that the currents went to the coast of Brazil.”
Oil slicks have been appearing for three months off the coast of northeast Brazil and fouling beaches along a 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) area of Brazil’s most celebrated shoreline.
Crews and volunteers have cleaned up tons of oil on the beaches.
Officials say it not yet possible to quantify the environmental and economic damage from the oil slicks.
The government on Friday named a Greek-flagged tanker as the prime suspect behind the oil slicks.
The ship Bouboulina took on oil in Venezuela and was headed for Singapore, it said.
The space agency Inpe said Friday there might still be oil at sea being pushed by currents and it could reach the states of Espiritu Santo and Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil.
Coming home after wildfire evacuations is a relief for some families, but can spell complete heartbreak for others. Some residents are returning home after California’s largest evacuation in history to find their home and belongings have turned to ashes.
Fires ignited across California and were fanned by strong winds last week — the blazes threatened expensive Los Angeles area homes and the Getty Center, swept through agricultural land, closed the 405 Freeway, and almost burned down a presidential library.
Even though firefighters worked tirelessly to extinguish multiple fires, they weren’t able to protect everyone’s homes and businesses.
Ken Wilson, the owner of Soda Rock Winery, bought the winery in 2000 and served patrons local wine for 19 years until the exploding Kincade Fire threatened his business.
As of Monday morning, the Kincade Fire has charred more than 77,000 acres of land in Sonoma County, which is located right in the heart of California wine country, since it first ignited on Oct. 23, 2019. It is 80 percent contained.
|Ken Wilson standing in front of what used to be Soda Rock WineryAccuWeather Photo/Bill Wadell)|
Wilson returned from the mandatory evacuation to find his winery in ruins.
„Those steel beams originally came off a bridge, I think in Dry Creek Valley in the 1800s, and you can see they’re all twisted and bent, so it got pretty hot in there,” Wilson told AccuWeather Reporter Bill Wadell in an interview.
|Soda Rock Winery distilled to ashes after the Kincade Fire destroyed his business in Healdsburg, California.|
„A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it for many years so it’s hard to imagine all of those years going away,” Wilson said.
However, Wilson is looking at the glass as half full, despite all of his losses. The flames spared his vineyards, and much of the inventory of wine is stored off-site and is still good to sell. Also, he is thankful his employees are OK.
|Soda Rock Winery before the Kincade fire turned it to dust.|
„I imagine things will get better around here also with the fires. I think that maybe we will have different management in place,” Wilson said.
„We left in our pajamas and that was it,” Bernadette Laos told AccuWeather reporter Bill Wadell in an interview. Laos and her husband, Justo, had heeded evacuation warnings as the Kincade Fire approached.
When mandatory evacuations were lifted, Laos said she hesitated to return home to see the destruction. But when they did return, they found the fire had decimated their home near Geyserville, California, and they began sifting through charred possessions.
It took hours of searching and some help from friends, but Laos told Waldell they were able to salvage jewelry — and her husband’s wedding ring.
|A friend of Bernadette Laos displays jewelry salvaged from her home that was destroyed by the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)|
„I’m still in shock. There’s nothing like going home,” Laos said.
|Justo and Burnadette Laos show a photo of the home they rented that was destroyed by the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)|
Ellie Laks looked across the animal sanctuary founded on her dream to help animals and people alike. A few horses stood calmly in a pasture, waiting patiently at the gate, but thick smoke was rolling in over the mountains. The Tick Fire was rapidly approaching.
„It’s moving very, very fast,” Laks said, a few flames visible from over the mountains. The orange-brown smoke blotted out most of the sky.
With the power out, Laks took to Twitter to call for help in evacuating the 100 or so animals that called the sanctuary home as the Tick Fire crept over the mountainside.
„The Gentle Barn is home to animals who have nowhere else to go because they’re too old, too sick, too lame or too scared to be adoptable,” Laks told AccuWeather in a phone interview.
Dogs, birds, cows, sheep, pigs and other animals that called the sanctuary home were loaded up and driven off to about four different locations. Even a few oddballs like Earl the emu and King the llama had found a new temporary refuge.
Problems with the evacuation arose, however, when animals such as Zeus, an old, 750-pound pig, physically couldn’t step up into a trailer to evacuate. Pigs typically live to 4 to 5 years old, according to The Gentle Barn. Zeus is still kicking at 12 years of age.
The sanctuary also had concerns for one of their older cows, who they feared would have a fatal slip trying to step into the trailer.
And then there was Zoe.
The Belgian draft horse had put on the brakes at the door of the trailer, refusing to leave her home.
„There was nothing wrong with her,” Laks said. „There’s nothing physically challenging for her, she just didn’t want to, and how are you going to make a 2,500-pound horse do anything?”
From the afternoon until midnight, Laks, staff and volunteers worked to load the animals that they could into trucks and trailers. They crated the chickens and turkeys, led the goats by leashes and their horns and carried the sheep before loading the horses and cattle into the remaining trailers. The volunteers that didn’t have trailers and couldn’t lead the animals lined the street at the edge of the five acres, armed with fire extinguishers, jackets, and blankets trying to put out approaching flames.
Weighing their options with the winds starting to ease up, the decision was made to keep animals like Zeus, Zoe and a potbelly pig, named Jellie, at the sanctuary while staying up for the rest of the night to keep an eye on the progress of the flames.
The animals made it safely through the night, but the sanctuary owner said they are praying for the winds to die down and end the threat for flames to spread toward the refuge for the animals.
The Tick Fire has been 100 percent contained after it burned 4,615 acres in Los Angeles County over the course of 10 days. The fire claimed 22 structures and damaged another 27.
WILMINGTON, Del. – This year, a little bird signaled a Delaware researcher that the 2019 tropical storm season in the Atlantic Ocean was going to be more active than normal.
“If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense,” said Christopher Heckscher of Delaware State University, who found the link between veery thrushes and tropical storm activity.
“These birds have evolved in concert with storms in the fall, during their migratory period for, theoretically, thousands of years if not more. It would make sense that they would, at some point, get in sync with the climate at a larger global scale.”
For two decades, Heckscher has been studying Delaware’s densest population of veery thrushes, a cinnamon-colored songbird with a spotted chest that migrates every spring from the southern Amazon basin to northern breeding grounds that stretch from Delaware to Canada.
Over the years he has watched and tracked one population of veeries nestling into the forests of White Clay Creek State Park each spring. Even though the species travels thousands of miles for this moment, they only ever raise one clutch, or one successful nest of usually two to four chicks.
“I started to notice that in some years the birds were stopping their breeding season earlier than other years,” the ornithologist, entomologist and environmental science professor said.
He began to wonder why after a few years of shorter breeding seasons. Did they not have enough food? Was it because the weather was too dry or too hot?
Eventually, he started looking at what advantage the birds would have by shortening their nesting season. That’s when he thought to look at tropical storm activity, which occurs along their long migratory route.
“It turns out that in years they stop breeding earlier, there’s more tropical storm activity on their migration route,” Heckscher said. “I thought of that idea, I tested the hypothesis, I looked at the data, but I really wasn’t expecting there to be any relationship there.
„And it was a really strong relationship.”
Nearly 20 years of data showed Heckscher that not only does the length of the veery’s breeding season relate to future tropical storm activity, but the average number of eggs in each nest could also signal whether the season will be normal, slow or overly active. He found that females produce more eggs when an active hurricane season is in store.
“The chances of this relationship being coincidental, in my opinion, are pretty small,” he said. “We don’t know for sure that the relationship is real, but there is a relationship between what the birds are doing and the following tropical storm season.”
In late May, NOAA predicted that this year’s Atlantic tropical storm season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, would be near normal. It called for up to 15 named storms, two to four of which would become major hurricanes.
What’s in a name? Here’s how naming hurricanes works
Meanwhile, the veery thrush data from this spring indicated the season would be a bit more active than normal.
By their next update in August, NOAA changed its prediction for the season and increased the chances of an above-normal season with up to 17 named storms. As of Nov. 1, there have been 17 named storms and three major hurricanes.
The birds had it right all along.
“Which is pretty incredible if you think about it because these birds, the timing of their breeding season is determined in May and June, and that storm activity is happening in September, October, November,” Heckscher said.
Last year, Heckscher published a paper on his songbird and hurricane findings, but the data has yet to be used in NOAA’s forecasting. That won’t happen until researchers such as Heckscher can find some missing puzzle pieces.
His research also will be featured in a Netflix documentary expected to come out next year, he said.
While the link between these thrushes and tropical activity is clear, he said, it remains a mystery how the thrushes are able to sense future weather patterns as accurately or better than advanced meteorological super computers.
Heckscher has a few guesses, but it will take more of research and studies to pinpoint how the birds are able to predict weather patterns for their own safety, and whether other migratory species are able to do the same.
He said there’s a possibility that the birds can somehow sense sea-surface temperatures – a huge factor in hurricane development and strength, on their journey north. Or that maybe precipitation or other environmental factors in their wintering grounds could be providing cues that humans haven’t yet picked up on.
“Whatever it is, it’s something that they’ve already figured it out by mid-May at the latest, really,” he said. “It’s just opened up so many other questions. How do they know this?”
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How NOAA predicts tropical storm seasons
Until researchers can figure out how the veeries predict future weather patterns, public safety relies on the modeling and forecasting provided by federal agencies.
Even after decades of fine-tuning, there always remains a certain level of uncertainty in forecasts, said meteorologist Matthew Rosencrats with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA uses a combination of what experts call statistical and dynamical tools, which look at patterns of sea-surface temperatures and upper level winds, as well as computer modeling, to help predict how many tropical storm systems could develop months in advance.
Those forecasts are delivered in July and again in August for a season that peaks around Sept. 10, he said.
While Rosencrats said he hasn’t seen Heckscher’s study and data, and researchers would have to pinpoint the physical and biochemical bases that drive the veery’s ability to forecast tropical storms before it could be helpful in a more public way.
“If we could ever figure out the biological and statistical reasoning why, it could be used,” he said. “The wildlife of Delmarva, they’re really important to the whole ecology of the region, to the economy and to tourism.”
Follow reporter Maddy Lauria on Twitter @MaddyinMilford.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware songbird predicts hurricane season weather better than NOAA
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted America’s carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an „unfair economic burden” to the U.S. economy.
Nearly 200 nations signed the climate deal in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change.
„In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model — backed by a record of real world results — showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions, and more secure sources of energy,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The U.S. started the process with a hand-delivered letter, becoming the only country to withdraw. The United Nations will soon set out procedural details for what happens next, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Agreement rules prevented any country from pulling out in the first three years after the Nov. 4, 2016, ratification. The U.S. withdrawal doesn’t become complete until the day after the 2020 election.
President Donald Trump has been promising withdrawal for two years, but Monday was the first time he could actually do it.
Trump’s decision was condemned as a reckless failure of leadership by environmental experts, activists and critics such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
„Donald Trump is the worst president in history for our climate and our clean air and water,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. „Long after Trump is out of office his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement will be seen as a historic error.”
The agreement set goals of preventing another 0.9 degrees (0.5 degrees Celsius) to 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) of warming from current levels. Even the pledges made in 2015 weren’t enough to prevent those levels of warming.
The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020. Because of the expected withdrawal, the U.S. role in 2020 negotiations will be reduced, experts said.
Climate change, largely caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas, has already warmed the world by 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since the late 1800s, caused massive melting of ice globally, triggered weather extremes and changed ocean chemistry. And scientists say, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted, it will only get worse by the end of the century, with temperatures jumping by several degrees and oceans rising by close to 3 feet (1 meter).
Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. In October, he called it a massive wealth transfer from America to other nations and said it was one-sided.
That’s not the case, experts said.
For example, the U.S. goal — set under President Barack Obama — had been to reduce carbon dioxide emission in 2025 by 26% to 28% compared with 2005 levels. This translates to about 15% compared with 1990 levels.
The European Union’s goal was to cut carbon pollution in 2030 by 40% compared with 1990 levels, which is greater than America’s pledge, said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor and chairman of the Global Carbon Project. The United Kingdom has already exceeded that goal, he said.
Many critics of the Paris agreement say America is the leader in cutting carbon emissions, but that’s not true.
Since 2005, the United States isn’t in the top 10 in percentage of greenhouse gas emission reductions. The United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Greece, the Czech Republic and other nations have done better, said Jackson, who tracks emissions.
„The U.S. agreement is not a tax on the American people. There is no massive wealth transfer,” said Climate Advisers CEO Nigel Purvis, who was a lead State Department climate negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. „In fact, the agreement obligates no country to make any financial payments.”
Pompeo said U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13% from 2005 to 2017 „even as our economy grew over 19 percent.”
Then, in 2018, carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.7%, according to the Energy Information Administration, mostly due to extreme weather and the economy.
The reason for the long-term emissions drop is because the U.S. is using less coal and has tightened air quality standards, while Trump is pushing for more coal and loosening those standards, said Michael Gerrard, who heads Columbia Law School’s climate change legal center.
For the U.S. — the second biggest carbon polluter — to be in line with Paris goals greenhouse gas emissions have to drop 80%, not 13%, Gerrard said.
„The Trump Administration’s abandonment of action on climate change gives other countries an excuse not to act either. They ask — if the richest country, the one that has contributed the most to the load of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, isn’t willing to act, why should we?” Gerrard said. „If someone other than Donald Trump is elected, he or she will almost certainly rejoin Paris, and the rest of the world will welcome us back with open arms.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, who made climate change his signature issue, characterized the decision as a mistake but said there was still reason for hope.
„No one person or party can stop our momentum to solve the climate crisis,” Gore said. „But those who try will be remembered for their complacency, complicity, and mendacity in attempting to sacrifice the planet for their greed.”
Matthew Lee in Washington and Edith Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Read more stories on climate issues by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/Climate
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at https://twitter.com/borenbears