Heavy snow shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine in the Tejon Pass this morning. The major north-south freeway was closed at 4:30 AM, but even prior to that, California Highway Patrol had to assist motorists to get through the steep area. Authorities were suggesting motorists try the 101 North as an alternate route, as there was no indication that the I-5 would reopen soon.
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Several roads in the Angeles National Forest were also closed by snow.
The National Weather Service had a winter storm warning out for Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that will remain in place through 4 AM on Friday. Heavy snow was falling in the Antelope Valley, including Palmdale and Lancaster.
By 2:15 PM, all roads to and from Big Bear were closed due to heavy snowfall.
The storm is not expected to continue through Friday, and there is a risk of mudslides and flash flooding, particularly in areas affected by the recent wildfires.
Downtown Los Angeles received 1.12 inches of rain as of 1 AM on Thursday.
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Let’s call killer hurricanes what they really are: Cat 6 | Opinion
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you probably know in at least general terms the famous five-category Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale It defines Atlantic Basin hurricanes on the basis of sustained wind speeds at a hurricane’s core (within the eyewall) and likely damage levels.
Category 1 ranges from 74 to 95 miles per hour; Category 2 is 96-110 mph, Category 3 (which starts the “major hurricane” range) is 111-129 mph; and Category 4 runs from 130-156 mph. While they’re all different, the average range for those four categories is just shy of 20 mph.
The problem is Category 5, which is set at 157 mph or higher. Category 5 has no top, no upper limit, and scientists and the media calling a storm a “strong” Category 5 really doesn’t communicate much, at least to the public.
Where does “strong” begin and, more important, where does it end? And then what?
The idea of a Category 6 for hurricanes has already seen some discussion in scientific circles, including by The Weather Channel, but it’s time for the scientific community, in cooperation with the media, to lead a much broader public discussion. To help trigger this discussion, what if Category 5 storms were capped at 179 mph (a healthy range of 22 mph), and Category 6 storms set as 180 mph or higher?
The historical record actually bears out creating a Category 6. The “Great Labor Day Hurricane” in 1935 reached 185 mph when it hit the mid to upper Florida Keys, and in 1980 Hurricane Allen hit 190 mph sustained. Later, Mitch (1998), Rita (2005) and Irma (2017) reached 180 mph. Gilbert (1988) and Wilma (2005) reached 185 mph, as did this year’s Dorian when it parked over and devastated the northwestern Bahamas.
The point is that we already have had Cat 6 storms. Then, should the (heaven forbid) need arise for a Category 7, Category 6 storms could be capped at 199 mph, with Category 7 starting at 200 mph. Let’s hope that isn’t necessary, although in 2015 Hurricane Patricia off the west coast of Mexico hit an astounding 215 mph before rapidly weakening against the interior mountains.
Opening a more-public discussion of at least a Category 6 for Atlantic Basin storms has some urgency. Climate-change scientists are arguing for increasing numbers of more intense storms in coming decades. That is, storms with sustained wind speeds of 180 mph should no longer be viewed as extremely rare. While not common, we will likely see those higher wind speeds more often, so as difficult as it is to say, we have to begin to prepare — physically, operationally and psychologically — for “Cat 6s.”
California snow-bound highway reopens but storm snarls Thanksgiving travel
Scroll back up to restore default view.(Reuters) – A powerful winter storm pounded parts of the United States on Thursday, bringing heavy snowfall that forced the closure of a major Southern California highway during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.Interstate 5 through the Grapevine area, a mountain pass, was shut down in both directions early on Thursday morning and the California Highway Patrol said on Twitter it was working to clear stuck vehicles as snow kept falling.The highway, a major artery connecting Southern California to the rest of the state, was reopened later in the day, although more snow and rain were still forecast.The winter storm was expected to bring heavy snow in the mountains and high winds across much of the Western United States before moving toward the Great Plains late on Friday, the National Weather Service said.The agency added that areas of southern California and Arizona could see heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding. Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of Wyoming and South Dakota.
On Wednesday, scores of vehicles became stuck on Interstate 5 after a so-called bomb cyclone – a supercharged winter storm caused by a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure – dumped up to four feet (1.2 meters) of snow in mountainous areas of the Pacific Northwest.
The U.S. Midwest was also hit hard by a storm that clobbered Denver on Tuesday, with airports in Minneapolis and Chicago suffering hundreds of delays and cancellations.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Tom Brown and Sandra Maler)
The fiery blast inside a distillation column at the Port Neches, Texas, TPC Group facility on Wednesday injured three workers, blew locked doors off their hinges and spewed a plume of toxic chemicals for miles (kilometers).
The plant manufactures petrochemicals used to make rubber and resins, and the volatile organic compounds in the explosion’s smoke can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea, the pollution regulator Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said. No impact to water was reported.
The plant, 90 miles (145 km) east of Houston, has a long history of environmental violations and has been out of compliance with federal clean air laws for years, according to the Texas Tribune and state records; it was also declared a high priority violator by the Environmental Protection Agency.
State agencies are monitoring air quality. Police are patrolling the evacuated communities to prevent looting.
TPC spokesperson Sara Cronin said that it was uncertain when the fire would be extinguished or the chemicals burned off but pointed the public to the company’s emergency response website at www.portnechesresponse.com.
The explosion was the fourth major petrochemical fire in the region this year.
Early on Wednesday morning, people more than 30 miles (48 km) away from the complex were shaken awake by the 1 a.m. CT (0700 GMT) blast, sources familiar with the fire-fighting and rescue operations said.
The blast collapsed a roof over the plant’s control room, sending workers fleeing, and damaged its fire-fighting system.
Some homes close to the plant also sustained heavy damage, and police went door-to-door early in the morning to check if residents were injured, said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
(Reporting by Michelle Conlin in New York)
Thanksgiving storm blankets Southern California mountains with snow, delays holiday travel
A Thanksgiving Day storm brought a near definite end to the fire season in Southern California, as well as disruptive snow to people driving through the region’s mountains.
„Thanksgiving started on a stormy note for many across Southern California as heavy rain and thunderstorms moved across the region. Many areas across the LA Basin picked up a quick 0.50 to 0.75 of an inch of rain this morning,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg. „Due to the heavy rainfall across Southern California, flooding was reported in several areas around the Los Angeles Basin.”
The storm moved south from Northern California into Southern California, dousing the state in the early hours of Thursday morning. The National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory for the coastal Los Angeles County, and a flood advisory for the county soon followed. Surrounding counties have been set on flood watch into Thursday evening.
Flood advisories were issued for Ventura and Los Angeles counties on Thursday morning as rain rates reached 0.2 to 0.4 of an inch per hour with local rates of 0.5 of an inch per hour, according to the NWS. To put this into context, Los Angeles typically receives around an inch of rain in all of November.
By Thursday afternoon, Long Beach had received 2.17 inches of rain, surpassing the 1970 record of 1.93 inches.
The NWS warned of the possibility of mud and debris flows near the burn scars of the recent Getty Fire and Palisades Fire.
The storm wrecked havoc on Thanksgiving Day travel, inundating roads and slowing speeds on the highways. Waters rose near San Diego, submerging roads in at least two feet of water in some areas.
Hail fell near Goleta, a coastal city in southern Santa Barbara County, California, as a heavier burst of rain moved through the area.
The rain turned to snow at higher elevations of roughly 3,000 feet, shutting down roadways such as Interstate 5 at Parker Road and the Grapevine. The highway fully reopened by 3:15 p.m. PST.
The Fort Tejon California Highway Patrol was kept busy through the morning, clearing stuck vehicles as snow continued to fall.
Palmdale, California, an area just north of Los Angeles, received snow at the low elevation of 2,600 feet. Around 10:30 a.m. PST, a weather spotter reported 6 inches of snow to the NWS along with several large tree limbs down in Leona Valley, an area west of Palmdale.
The Mt. Baldy Fire Department reported 10 inches of snow at the altitude of 5,000 feet on Mt. Baldy.
This system is forecast to continue across the West, bringing cold rain into parts of Nevada and Arizona and snowy conditions into high elevations from Utah to Montana.
A second storm is forecast to follow into the weekend, bringing more rain to the lower elevations of California, while unloading snow over the mountains. Some of the Sierra Nevada region could see feet of snow pile up in the higher elevations.
Combined, these two storms are expected to extinguish the fall fire season across California but also a start to a potentially wet winter.
A fire that spread through the fourteenth floor of a high-rise apartment in Minneapolis, Minn. early Wednesday morning has left five people dead and four others, including a firefighter, injured.
Firefighters responded to the blaze at about 4 a.m., and said in a statement issued on Wednesday morning that that they took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire, which broke out in a building located at 630 Cedar Ave South.
It was a “very tragic night at the beginning of the holiday weekend,” said John Fruetel, chief for Minneapolis Fire in a press conference streamed on local news channel KSTP, an ABC affiliate.
Fruetel said units on the fourteenth floor were “very heavily damaged” are “probably going to be uninhabitable.” He said it appeared the fire had been “burning for a while” before firefighters arrived. Fruetel added that there had been a lot of evacuations as firefighters worked to contain flames in the 24-story apartment building.
The Minneapolis Fire department tweeted while personnel were on the scene that heavy smoke had reached the sixteenth and seventeenth floor and that one resident on the 21st floor was “refusing to evacuate.”
Heavier smoke reported on floors 16 and 17. Crews are attempting to ventilate via the roof systems. Residents confined in an apartment on the 14th floor evacuated to the 12th floor. Fire reported out on the 14th floor.
— Minneapolis Fire (@MinneapolisFire) November 27, 2019
Crews picking up a resident on the 13th floor via elevator who is unable to evacuate via the stairs. Resident on the 21st floor is refusing to evacuate. Crews going to check if safe to shelter in place.
— Minneapolis Fire (@MinneapolisFire) November 27, 2019
Four of the five deceased civilians were “found on the fourteenth floor and were pronounced dead on the scene,” Minneapolis Fire said in its statement. Another victim died in an area hospital, where he was transferred after he was found in a stairway. The victims’ identities have not yet been confirmed.
Paris (AFP) – European ministers met Wednesday in Spain aiming to defend its top space ranking against challenges from the United States and China, and increasingly from industry disruptors such as Elon Musk’s Space X.
Ministers of the 22 European Space Agency (ESA) member states gathered in Seville to discuss a request for 14.3 billion euros in funding, some four billion euros more than in the previous 3-year budget.
The European Union has already agreed to provide 16 billion euros and now the crucial question is what to spend it on.
„There is a desire to do more, to have a more ambitious scientific programme and to develop our infrastructure to match our ambitions,” ESA spokesman Philippe Willekens told AFP last week.
In a fast changing environment, „Europe must pay attention to remain the leader in those sectors it already is and to continue to conquer new markets,” Willekens added.
In recent years, Europe has established itself as a major space player, with its very heavy Ariane 6 rocket launcher the latest off the production line and the Galileo GPS system operational.
But this position is now „threatened,” the Institut Montaigne think-tank in Paris says, as global competition increases, led by the United States and China who have poured massive amounts of money into the industry, both civilian and military.
„Europe does not have the structural advantages of the Americans and Chinese because it does not have a single, shared objective,” said Isabelle Sourbes-Verger of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
„Europe has the same problem it has always had — what justifies spending more on space?”
– ‘New Space’ challenge –
Europe must answer these questions just as new players such as Space X and a host of others, mostly American, have begun to emerge, shaking up the industry.
This „New Space” evolution has seen Musk for example develop reusable launchers for dramatically smaller yet more powerful satellites, many designed for the „connected world” of driverless cars and countless other aspects of everyday life on earth.
Some experts fear that Europe is simply not competitive enough to get into these new markets, never mind holding on to what it already has.
Ariane 6 is a particular cause for concern, with French state audit officials recently describing its economic model as „presenting some risks” given ferocious competition from Space X which in 2017 took Arianespace’s global satellite launch crown.
Space X has forced down costs sharply, developing a reusable rocket which the Europeans thought initially to be impossible, the officials said.
Worse still, Europe „at this stage has only developed the building blocks which will allow, in due time, to acquire” this re-usable technology, the auditors said in a report.
Arianespace head Stephane Israel insists that Ariane 6 is „just the beginning” and the rocket programme „opens a cycle of innovations which will have to be accelerated.”
At the same time, Ariane 6, whose first flight is scheduled for next year, will not be competitive in the long-run unless there is a high rate of launches, which will depend in turn on „numerous institutional orders,” he said.
US government orders account for some 80 percent of Space X’s scheduled work, he recalled.
Israel noted in this context recent supportive comments by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Europe should favour European launch options.
Sourbes-Verger at CNRS cautioned that „space is not a commercial industry like any other — making money with a launcher is ambitious.”
Europe should therefore continue to focus on „original projects and on developing its strong points,” such as in scientific space efforts, she added.
I’m a gold bear. That means I don’t think investors should be storing significant amounts of their savings in the barbarous relic.
You can hear me opine at length on the reasons why in this podcast I did with Tracey Ryniec…
Gold is Hot: Should Investors Be Buying?
Since that recording was published on September 4, the SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) is down 6% and my favorite industry is up over 15%, with some key stocks sporting gains of 50-75%.
I’ll cover that explosive sector in a moment, right after I tell you what recent event has made me even more bearish on gold.
Astronomers have been studying a large metals-rich asteroid named Psyche in the rocky belt between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars which could contain enough gold to make everyone on the planet a billionaire.
Psyche, discovered by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis on 17 March 1852 from Naples and named after the Greek mythological figure, is one of the ten most massive objects in the asteroid belt. At over 200 km in diameter, it contains a little less than 1% of the mass of the entire asteroid belt.
Most importantly to our discussion here, Psyche is thought to be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet, and is the most massive metallic M-type asteroid. If you know anything about the molten metal core of Earth, you will not be surprised to imagine what Psyche could possess as astronomers have measured and estimated its density to be consistent with that of other metallic asteroids.
According to radar and other sophisticated observations, Psyche appears to have a surface that is 90% metallic and scientists think that these metals are mostly iron and nickel. And this is where the speculation arises that its potential abundance of dense metals could also consist of sizable amounts of gold and platinum.
One estimate is that Psyche, roughly the size of West Virginia, contains over $5,000 quadrillion ($50,000 trillion) of gold at current prices near $1,500.
What if a space-based mining mission were set up on Psyche that could start bringing back tons of new gold?
That amount of new supply would certainly put a dent in gold prices, now wouldn’t it?
Well don’t worry gold investors because that’s a long way off.
Oh wait — NASA just called and said „Hold my Krugerrand.”
Mission to Psyche in 2022, Gets There in 2026
„Astronomers on Earth have studied 16 Psyche in visible and infrared wavelengths, as well as radar, which suggest Psyche is shaped somewhat like a potato. Observations indicate that its dimensions are 173 miles by 144 miles, by 117 miles.”
Those measurements are where I took my cue to compare Psyche’s size to West Virginia at 24,000 square miles (173 x 144 = 24,900sm).
Psyche takes about five Earth years to complete one orbit of the Sun, but only about four hours to rotate on its axis and complete a Psyche “day”. Since scientists wonder whether Psyche could be an exposed core of an early planet that lost its rocky outer layers due to a number of violent collisions billions of years ago, they are extremely curious to begin the first mission to investigate a world of metal rather than of rock and ice.
We cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly and so this mission will offer a window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.
More from NASA…
„This intriguing asteroid is now the primary target of the Psyche mission. Targeted to launch in August of 2022, the Psyche spacecraft would arrive at the asteroid in early 2026, following a Mars gravity assist in 2023. Over 21 months in orbit, the spacecraft will map and study 16 Psyche’s properties using a multispectral imager, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a radio instrument (for gravity measurement). The mission’s goal is, among other things, to determine whether Psyche is indeed the core of a planet-size object.”
Obviously, NASA’s scientific mission has priorities that have nothing to do with finding and mining precious metals. But that doesn’t mean commercial space explorers haven’t been chomping at the booster rocket to set foot on some metals-rich rocks, after asteroid ownership was made legal for US companies in 2015.
But the only firm with any reasonable shot at participating in that future might be Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and not just because the Tesla (TSLA) founder is well-funded and „bold,” as we learned from the 2016 book by space exploration pioneer Peter Diamandis. In Bold, Diamandis profiled the extra-planetary visions of Musk, Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin.
But Musk is the first to begin mastering a key technology essential for landing on outer space asteroids with his Falcon Heavy craft that can also return to Earth’s atmosphere and land.
Martin Elvis, an astronomer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas in 2018 and told the audience that he believes Falcon Heavy has the potential to make asteroid mining a significant commercial reality by increasing the number of asteroids that could be landed on by an order of magnitude.
According to Ryan F. Mandelbaum writing for Gizmodo in 2018, Elvis said of Musk’s rocket technology “Instead of a few hundred, we may have thousands of ore-bearing asteroids available.”
We may not see the first ounce of gold from outer space for another 10 years or more. But when we do, it could be cataclysmic for the price of the yellow metal.
The Journey to Alnylam
Now let’s talk about the industry that will create more millionaires than gold in the next decade. If you remember the podcast with Tracey in September, or you made an excellent guess, you might know that I’m talking about Biotechnology.
Since that chat, where I discussed some of my special reports like The Century of Biology, one of my favorite investments CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) is up 50%. And my Healthcare Innovators portfolio has an 80% gain as we adjusted our cost basis even more favorably during the October dip under $40.
And even the more diversified, and thus more conservative, ETFs (baskets of stocks) for the industry group are up over 15%, like the Nasdaq Biotech Index (IBB) and the equal-weighted S&P Biotech ETF (XBI).
That’s because CRSP wasn’t the only thing moving in Biotech. We also saw Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) launch over 30% after receiving FDA accelerated approval for their treatment for sickle cell disease.
And then there’s Alnylam (ALNY), up 45% since mid October after receiving its second FDA approval to treat a rare genetic disease using RNA interference therapies.
I first identified ALNY as a promising Biotech investment in 2013 when it was trading under $30. It has quadrupled since then to nearly $120 and so I’m very glad I put my Healthcare Innovators members back in the stock at $80 last month.
ALNY is named after Alnilam, a large blue supergiant star some 2,000 light-years distant in the constellation of Orion. It is estimated to be 275,000 to 832,000 times as luminous as the Sun, and 30–64.5 times as massive.
We won’t be traveling there any time soon. But in the time it takes the NASA mission to land on Psyche, ALNY shares could quadruple again.
You won’t get that from gold in the next 7 years.
This is an exquisite coincidence for me as a gold bear who thinks it should be worth less than $500 an ounce — while I also believe that Alnylam could at least triple in a longer journey to 2026 by virtue of its leading platform R&D in RNAi.
The Genomic Revolution
Whenever I talk about „the century of biology” or the prospects for genetic and cell therapies, I tell people they should be excited to be living right in the middle of this revolution.
Even if you don’t have capital available to invest or time to research the companies, the research and discoveries being made are world-changing. There will be ethical challenges with gene editing and the costs associated with advanced therapies.
But there will also always be wonder to behold on the bleeding edges of science.
And so one plea I also make to new Biotech investors is the one I made recently on an episode of The Paper Traders podcast…
Navigating The Healthcare Industry: Science Fiction Turns to Reality
In that chat I made the case very strongly that every investor should at least buy a Biotech ETF like IBB, XBI, or the ARK Genomics ETF (ARKG). This accomplishes at least two things: first, you are invested in the industry with very low risk, and second, you expose yourself to learning about the top ten companies within the ETFs.
Or I should say, I at least hope you become curious about them.
Because becoming more curious about science and technology is never a bad thing.
And it may actually become a necessary thing in the next few decades. I know this is a wild idea to most because the presidential candidate who intrigues me most, is among those least likely to win as too few citizens care about his ideas or vision: Andrew Yang.
Yang really understands the power of technology like AI, automation and even Biotech that are about to drastically change the world. He also knows that education is the most important institution we need to be reinventing to help people respond creatively to these unstoppable revolutions.
To understand why I think he has greater vision than any other candidate, see these 2 podcasts/articles…
What to Do Before the Machines Take Over
Facebook Faceplant: First AI Failure, More to Come
You may not agree with Yang’s Freedom Dividend (a proposal along the lines of Universal Basic Income), where every citizen would receive a monthly check for $1,000.
But after you listen to my podcasts and read my articles above about what is coming with AI and other advanced technologies that the rich and powerful will control, you might pay more attention to what he is saying.
Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist for Zacks Investment Research where he runs the Healthcare Innovators portfolio.
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Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe is facing „man-made” starvation with 60 percent of the people failing to meet basic food needs, a UN special envoy said Thursday after touring the southern African country.
Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, ranked Zimbabwe among the four top countries facing severe food shortages outside nations in conflict zones.
„The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering a man-made starvation,” she told a news conference in Harare, adding that eight million people would be affected by the end of the year.
„Today, Zimbabwe counts amongst the four highest food insecure states,” she said after an 11-day tour, adding that poor harvests were compounded by 490 percent hyperinflation.
„A staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity” in rural areas due to a drought that has affected harvests, she said.
Another 2.2 million people in urban areas also faced food shortages and lacked access to minimum public services, including health and safe water.
„By the end of this year… the food security situation is expected to worsen with an estimated eight million people requiring urgent action to reduce food consumption gaps and save livelihoods,” she said, describing the numbers as „shocking”.
Zimbabwe is in the grips of an entrenched economic crisis, pervasive corruption, poverty and a crumbling health system.
The economy, crippled by decades of mismanagement under former president Robert Mugabe, has failed to rebound under Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over following a military-led coup two years ago.
– ‘Full-blown social unrest’ –
„Political polarisation, economic and financial problems and erratic climatic conditions all contribute to the storm of food insecurity currently facing a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa,” Elver said.
She warned that food insecurity heightened „the risks of civil unrest and insecurity”.
„I urgently call on the government and the international community to come together to put an end to this spiralling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown social unrest,” she said.