Strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years made landfall this morning

September 20, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico earlier today as a Category 4 storm . While it had weakened from a Category 5, officials still warned the hurricane is dangerous – forecasters said there could be life-threatening winds blowing for 12 to 24 hours. Governor Ricardo Rossello told the Associated Press, “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.” Maria hit the southeast coast of Puerto Rico this morning with 155 miles per hour (mph) winds, and could destroy power infrastructure and homes, compelling the government to rebuild dozens of communities, according to the Associated Press. Rossello said, as of Tuesday night over 4,400 people and 105 pets were in shelters. That number increased to 11,229 people and 580 pets by 5AM, according to a tweet from the governor. Related: Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever When the hurricane is measured by wind speed, Maria ties for the eighth strongest storm in the history of the Atlantic . Hurricanes tend to move north or south of Puerto Rico, so the island often avoids a direct hit. 1932 was the last time a Category 4 hurricane made landfall there, and in 1928, the island experienced the strongest storm to hit it: San Felipe, with 160 mph winds. The Washington Post said Maria had already blown over islands to the east with over 160 mph winds – on the island Guadeloupe, officials attributed the deaths of two people to the hurricane. At least two people were reported missing near the island of Desirade. As of Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane warning was in effect “for the Virgin Islands, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, where Maria is expected to bring dangerous wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall .” Via the Boston Globe and The Washington Post Images via NASA/NOAA GOES Project and National Hurricane Center

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Strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years made landfall this morning

Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever

September 5, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm , and could be one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning that Irma could potentially be catastrophic, with winds whirling at 180 miles per hour – so strong that they are showing up on earthquake monitoring equipment. Even worse, the NHC said there’s an increasing chance the storm will slam into  Florida . With sustained winds of 180mph, #Irma is now stronger than Katrina was at its peak. A monstrous, horrific storm. pic.twitter.com/jCwe4XTPxS — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 5, 2017 With the United States still reeling after Tropical Storm Harvey , communities are bracing for another catastrophe as Irma is looking like it will impact Florida later this week or during the weekend. But there are also many other islands it could hit on its way to the United States. Irma could affect the Leeward Islands as an “extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane” soon, according to NHC . It could also impact the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Related: 1,200 dead, millions homeless due to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh NHC said it’s too early to determine Irma’s direct impacts on the continental United States, other than an increasing chance it could affect the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys. Florida governor Rick Scott doesn’t seem to be taking any chances. He declared a state of emergency in Florida after a Monday advisory update. He’s activated 100 National Guard members and 6,000 stand ready. He’s spoken with President Donald Trump , and the Orlando Sentinel said Trump activated pre-landfall emergency declaration so federal funds and resources will be available. Scott said, “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared…while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.” According to the Orlando Sentinel, most forecast models indicate the whole state of Florida could feel the hurricane’s impact. NHC urged everyone in hurricane-prone areas to “ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.” Via the Orlando Sentinel and the National Hurricane Center Images via Wikimedia Commons and the National Hurricane Center

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Category 5 Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever

Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

August 31, 2017 by  
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Melting Arctic ice and spiking temperatures don’t just affect the northernmost part of Earth. According to Cornell University professor Charles Greene, they can also impact storms , like Hurricane Harvey, that are thousands of miles away – prompting them to stall or meander. He said in a statement, “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Just like Superstorm Sandy , Arctic warming likely played an important role in making Hurricane Harvey such an extreme killer storm.” Greene said warming in the Arctic slows jet streams, or global air currents, impacting the nature of big storms like Harvey, which so far has poured around 24.5 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana. Researchers can be reluctant to say exactly how climate change might have altered a certain storm, though many agree rising sea levels can cause higher surges, while higher temperatures in the air and sea surfaces will thrust more water into the atmosphere, which then falls as precipitation. Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Gizmodo spoke to several other scientists, and at least one, climate scientist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unsure warming had a significant role in Harvey. Penn State University climate scientist Richard Alley told Gizmodo, “Mostly, this is weather – big, dangerous weather, but still weather. But, because of global warming the ocean is a little higher than it otherwise would be, and that made the storm surge higher.” Meanwhile Greene compared Harvey to Superstorm Sandy, which also lingered instead of swerving out to the ocean as he said 90 percent of most late-season hurricanes do. He said, “ Houston would have suffered much less damage if Category 4 Hurricane Harvey had just crashed through the city and petered out in West Texas. But instead, the storm system is stalled in place and just continues to dump record amounts of rainfall from the Gulf on the city.” Via Huffington Post South Africa and Gizmodo Images via NASA and Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West

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Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

August 30, 2017 by  
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People battling flooding and destruction in Texas after Tropical Storm Harvey face yet another hazard: fire ants . Photos on social media show patches of ants floating together through floodwaters – and though this behavior isn’t entirely unheard-of, the insects are said to be naturally aggressive and have caused alarm among locals. Floating rafts of fire ants could pose a new threat to people struggling in the aftermath of Harvey around Houston . Fire ants are native to South America, coming from floodplains near the Paraguay River, so they already know how to handle waters. They form a large raft with their bodies, with ants on the bottom keeping the ones on top dry, and air pockets between the them allow the whole thing to float. Larvae and the queen are kept dry on the very top. Related: 6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey The ants came to the United States back in the 1930’s, and have also made their way to China, Australia, and Taiwan, where they are described as an invasive species. According to The Guardian, the fire ants are extremely aggressive – they will sometimes attack as a group. They can sting people, and in some cases the sting can lead to a secondary infection. Allergic reactions have even led to death – potentially causing dozens of deaths in America. Louisiana etymologist Linda Bui has also conducted research that suggests fire ants release higher venom doses and become more defensive during floods. Etymologists observed similar raft behavior from fire ants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . But photos of the ants banding together in Houston have understandably led to panic, such as one dramatic image of a huge swarm in Cuero, southwest of Houston. University of Texas curator of etymology Alex Wild said he’d never seen anything like the swarm in Cuero during his entire career researching ants. Via The Guardian Images via screenshot and Fox Keegan on Twitter / Bill O’Zimmermann on Twitter

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Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

Dog rescues drowning baby deer in the most adorable video youll see today

July 18, 2017 by  
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We already knew dogs are saviors to humankind – but it turns out they are heroes to other species as well! Recently a golden retriever named Storm rescued a baby deer from drowning off the coast of Long Island, New York . The dramatic ordeal was captured on video and has since gone viral – check it out below. This past weekend, Storm was out for a walk with his caretaker Mark Freeley when he “plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck and started swimming to shore,” according to CBS New York . In the video, Freeley can be heard saying, “Storm is trying to save this baby deer — I think he’s trying to save him.” Upon realizing that Storm was, in fact, saving the 3-month-old fawn’s life, Freeley started offering words of encouragement to the dog. “Storm, bring him in! Storm, bring him in! Good boy, Storm, bring him in!” he yelled. The golden retriever dragged the dog to the beach, where it immediately stood up, scurried away, then collapsed. This prompted Storm to chase after it — again. Freeley encouraged Storm to leave the fawn alone as the dog nudged its body and pawed its leg. After receiving a call, Frank Floridia with the Strong Island Animal Rescue League rushed to the beach. There, he found the fawn “completely disoriented.” Out of distress, it rushed into the water again. Erica Kutzing, the animal rescue’s co-founder, told The Washington Post : “They tried to encourage Storm to go back into the water, but the deer was so far out that Storm could not see the deer.” Once they saw the deer’s head was underwater, Floridia jumped into the water to rescue the animal. According to the activist , “It was a do-or-die situation.” Fortunately, the deer made it. Related: Living green bridge keeps wildlife safe from a busy highway According to Kutzing, deer can swim – even in the Long Island Sound – but it’s likely the fawn was spooked and too young to be able to survive in the water. Fortunately for the animal , Storm was nearby to save its life and alert humans to its struggle. Via The Washington Post Images via Mark Freeley

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California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought

January 13, 2017 by  
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Californians may finally receive some relief from the drought they’ve grappled with for five brutal years. Recent storms drenching the state with rain and snow could enable at least Northern California to leave the drought in the past. National Weather Service specialist Tom Fisher said Southern California is seeing the highest rainfall “in at least five years,” while Northern California experiences their highest rainfall “in at least 10 years.” The United States Drought Monitor said Northern California has at last escaped the drought, but Southern California is still grappling with dry conditions. About 30 percent of that region is still experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. Other officials warned it may be too early to claim a full victory over the drought, as California weather conditions can change. Los Angeles Department of Water Resources spokesperson Ted Thomas said the state sometimes begins with a wet winter, only to see dry conditions prevail later on in the season. According to the US Drought Monitor, over 26 million people are estimated to live in areas still dealing with drought. Related: 713 trillion gallons of water discovered under drought-stricken California The extreme conditions have inspired California farmers to come up with creative ways to store water . Terranova Ranch general manager Don Cameron flooded the ranch’s vineyards during the winter, allowing all that water to seep underground to replenish aquifers. As it rarely rains during California summers, and during the drought farmers couldn’t obtain the water they needed from surface reservoirs, they often had to pump water out of the earth to water their crops. But as the drought persisted, wells dried up, and aquifers were depleted. Cameron’s idea worked – the water sank into the ground and didn’t harm the crops on the way down. Other farmers are working with University of California, Davis groundwater hydrologist Helen Dahlke to apply the innovative yet simple method of water management as storms dump water on the state. Cameron told NPR, “This is going to be the future for California. If we don’t store the water during flood periods, we’re not going to make it through the droughts.” Via Phys.org and NPR Images via James Daisa on Flickr and Bob Dass on Flickr

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Hurricane Hermine downgraded to tropical storm after wreaking havoc in Florida

September 2, 2016 by  
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Hurricane Hermine made landfall shortly after 1:30 a.m. local time in northwest Florida , and has continued on its northeasterly path toward George and the Carolinas. As is common with late season hurricanes in Florida, Hermine lost a tremendous amount of energy after hitting land, and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Still, the storm brought enough wind and rain to cause widespread power outages, and many residents evacuated their homes in flood-prone areas, taking refuge in community hurricane shelters overnight. Prior to making landfall, the Hermine was a Category 1 Hurricane, the weakest in the five-level ranking system used to classify storms, with top wind speeds of 95 miles per hour. The front end of the hurricane caused storm surges early Thursday evening in Alligator Point that rose as much as six feet. Despite the winds and rising waters, only minor damage was reported there. Once the storm made landfall, though, it wreaked havoc on the power grid, leaving 100,000 customers in Tallahassee without power—but officials expect to have the affected substations back online within a few hours. Related: Unchecked global warming could bring the worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century Weather officials are urging residents in the storm’s path to take advisories seriously. Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm, Hermine still carries threats from wind and excessive rain. Officials in Florida have asked residents to stay off the roadways, so that emergency and utility crews can work to clear downed trees and power lines over the next several hours. Tornado watches were issued for Georgia and parts of South Carolina and North Carolina and until 4 p.m. EDT Friday, and several downspouts were reported in the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm continues moving northeast, it is expected to travel up the East coast through the Carolinas before heading back over the Atlantic Ocean sometime Sunday morning. There, the storm could gather more strength before pounding the Mid-Atlantic coast with even more rain and high winds. The National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Hermine is the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years. Although many storms have pummeled the state with wind and rain, Hermine is the only hurricane-strength storm during that time period to actually cross over the state. Via The Weather Channel Images via NOAA and The Weather Channel

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Hurricane Hermine downgraded to tropical storm after wreaking havoc in Florida

Yayoi Kusama covers Philip Johnsons Glass House in red polka dots

September 2, 2016 by  
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Built in 1949, the Glass House is a modern and minimalist masterpiece designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence on a 49-acre estate in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Glass House opened to the public in 1996 and has hosted tours, art installations , and even music performances. Ms. Kusama, a contemporary of Johnson, was invited by curator Irene Shum to install the “Narcissus Garden”—a work first created in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale—as part of a celebratory event. “Narcissus Garden” comprises 1,300 floating steel spheres installed in the newly restored pond. The shimmering spheres, each around 12 inches in diameter, move with the wind currents to create a kinetic sculpture that mirrors its environment. Ms. Kusama also added her signature polka-dotted “Pumpkin,” a six-foot-tall shiny gourd located on the opposite side of the home in the hillside meadow. The most notable work of the three site-specific installations is “Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope,” in which Ms. Kusama covered the Glass House with polka dots and added an “infinity room” experience. On display from September 1 through 26, the exhibition breathes new life into the glass-and-steel structure. Over 1,200 low tack adhesive vinyl circles of three varying sizes—12 centimeters, 18 centimeters, and 25 centimeters—were applied to the walls and doors on all four sides of the home. The vibrant “Pepsi Red” of the polka dots creates a sharp contrast against the green landscape. Related: PHOTOS: Tour Philip Johnson’s Famous Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut “My desire is to measure and to make order of the infinite, unbounded universe from my own position within it, with polka dots,” said Ms. Kusama. “In exploring this, the single dot is my own life, and I am a single particle amongst billions. I work with the principal themes of infinity, self-image, and compulsive repetition in objects and forms, such as the steel spheres of Narcissus Garden and the mirrored walls I have created.” + The Glass House Images via The Glass House , © Matthew Placek

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Yayoi Kusama covers Philip Johnsons Glass House in red polka dots

Super Typhoon Nepartak rips through Taiwan, heads for China next

July 8, 2016 by  
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An intense typhoon that meteorologists have called a “near-perfect storm” ripped through Taiwan today, leaving a trail of destruction, dozens injured, and two deaths in its wake. Typhoon Nepartak, which takes aim for China next, pounded the island in torrential rain and wind gusts of over 150 miles per hour. Videos that surfaced across the web show the terrifying storm overturning cars, toppling trees, and even stripping roofs off buildings. Super Typhoon Nepartak developed in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean, the world’s most active tropical cyclone basin that generates a third of all tropical cyclones and some of the strongest storms on Earth. Nepartak is most noteworthy on two counts: first, the tropical cyclone ended a record-tied 199 day stretch without storms in the basin; and, when viewed from above at peak intensity, the compact storm took on a symmetrical shape with a well-defined pinhole eye, earning the storm its “near-perfect” description. Its symmetrical appearance was formed by low vertical wind shear and unusually warm waters, parameters that helped propel the cyclone from a mild storm to a Category 5 super typhoon in just three days. Related: Japan’s Hanazono Kindergarten was designed to keep kids safe during typhoons Nepartak made landfall on Taiwan’s east coast at 5:50 AM as a Category 4 storm on Friday, leaving nearly 50,000 households in Taitung without power. The storm traveled westwards towards Kaohsiung City , then northeast towards Tainan, before it left the island and entered the Taiwan Strait. The capital of Taipei was relatively unscathed, while the east coast sustained the most damage. Nepartak has now been downgraded to a Category 2 as it travels to China and is expected to make landfall in Fujian province before it moves north towards Zhejiang Province. Via Mashable Images via NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response/

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Intensifying hurricane Joaquin may hit the U.S. this weekend, evoking memories of Sandy

October 1, 2015 by  
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Hurricane Joaquin prepares to slam the Bahamas today , but the storm is intensifying and could still pose a threat to the eastern United States coast within the next few days. The category 3 storm has been building steadily as wind speeds increase and the overall pace of the storm quickens. Residents up and down the East coast are watching closely, as the storm could shift its path in the coming days and potentially hit American soil much farther north than originally thought, leading some to draw up memories of Hurricane Sandy , which devastated the Northeast just three years ago. Read the rest of Intensifying hurricane Joaquin may hit the U.S. this weekend, evoking memories of Sandy

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