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Climate + Environment
Water Wars: Southwestern United States Running out of Water
July 24, 2014

A new study from NASA and the University of California suggests the entire Southwestern United States may be in for some major trouble in the very near future.

Picture of Lake Mead's falling water level

Over the last decade, much of the water that the Southwest depends on has been depleted to levels that may soon cripple the entire region

This month Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, dropped to its lowest level since it was filled after the completion of the Hoover Dam in the 1930’s. In fact, it’s getting so bad that the lake is now dropping at a rate of one foot a week.

Historic Drought & Unrelenting Migration of People Could Spell Disaster

The entire southwest region of the United States, most of which is a desert to begin with, is in the middle of a historic 14-year drought. The extreme drought conditions, combined with an unrelenting migration of people into areas that were never meant to sustain this much development, have caused water levels in Lake Mead to drop over 130 feet since the year 2000.

Lake Mead water level

10 years ago almost everything in this picture would have been under water. Just 2 months ago, the truck in this picture would have been 10 feet under water.

Lake Mead provides fresh drinking water to over 20 million people in southern Nevada, southern California and Arizona. Things are so out of control that the two intake pipes that provide water to Nevada could soon be above water, which has local water officials rushing to build a third emergency intake pipe. Without these water intake pipes, Las Vegas would not exist. FULL ARTICLE

 
Warmup to Bring Flooding, Roof Collapse Risk Midwest, East
February 18, 2014
warming weather roof collapse risk

In addition to the warmup bringing a break from winter this week, rain and rising temperatures will also bring the potential for flooding and roof collapses.

Temperatures will climb into the 40s over much of the Upper Midwest, New England and the upper part of the mid-Atlantic on multiple days during the balance of this week. Some locations in the Ohio Valley and the lower part of the mid-Atlantic will reach the 50s to near 60 degrees for a day or two.

However, due to the snow on the ground, mild air and rainfall expected, some problems are likely.

According to National Weather Service Hydro-Meteorologist Ted Rodgers, "We do not anticipate enough rain and natural melting for major flooding at this time, but sporadic minor flooding incidents are possible."

 
Has Fukushima’s Radioactive Wave Already Hit California?
January 07, 2014
Predictions that Fukushima’s radioactive ocean plume would hit the west coast of the U.S. sometime in 2014 may have already come to pass, with a new video showing Geiger counter readings of background radiation at a beach in San Francisco over five times the safe level.
 
'Polar vortex' snowstorm plunging America into record-breaking cold snap
January 07, 2014
polar vortex 2014

The coldest weather conditions for two decades show little sign of relenting in parts of America, as forecasters predict freezing temperatures could make today the coldest on record in the 21st century.

It sounds like a plot device from a bad disaster movie, but for vast swathes of North America, the weather phenomenon known as a “polar vortex” has become all too real, bringing misery to millions across the US and Canada, along with the lowest temperatures seen in almost twenty years.

More than 3,000 flights had been cancelled across the region by 10am yesterday morning. A further 3,700 had already been cancelled during the weekend. Schools were closed in major cities such as Chicago and St Louis, and residents advised to remain indoors.

 
Epic Ice Storm Possible; Millions Could Lose Power
December 05, 2013
The forecasts are coming into agreement on a major ice storm over the next week, one that could last for several days, causing “regional” power outages, according to our latest news story (hi-res map). Indeed, some of the ice amounts that the forecasts are printing out are extreme. [PATRIOTRISING]
 
Radioactivity from Japan flowing toward U.S. West Coast
November 04, 2013
fukushima radiation disaster west coast
Ocean water contaminated with radioactivity from the Japanese (Fukushima) nuclear power plant disaster (March 2011) is headed for the U.S. west coast. It is expected to hit us in 2014. But some radioactivity is already near our coast, affecting sea life.
A Stanford study has shown that all PBFT [Pacific BlueFin Tuna] caught off the West Coast of California had 10 times the usual amount of radioactive cesium present prior to the Fukushima event in March 2011. (News Source)
And there have also been reports in Canada of high levels of radioactivity in other types of Pacific ocean fish. [PREPBLOG]
 
Fukushima Disaster Worsens: Another Leak into the Pacific
October 23, 2013
fukushima disaster
More troubling news is coming out of Japan, as officials admit another large radioactive spill has just occurred at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Late last month, we reported on how the Fukushima Nuclear Plant was continually leaking radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean; now TEPCO, the plant’s operator, has confirmed  yet another major leak. According to TEPCO, heavy rains caused radioactive waste, containing a source of beta radiation, to overflow over containment barriers that were setup to contain the nuclear waste. In August, these same containment tanks leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water into the surrounding area.
 
Australia declares fire emergency
October 20, 2013
australia fire emergency
A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales as Australian firefighters battle bushfires that have already destroyed more than 200 homes. The announcement comes as conditions look set to deteriorate with soaring temperatures and strong winds expected to fan the flames in the coming days.

The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, has been the worst-hit region with some fires still raging out of control. Officials say they are the worst fires the state has seen in 40 years. New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell said the declaration would give emergency services additional powers over the next 30 days which could include cutting gas and power supplies if needed.
 
Fukushima: New Leak Causes Truly Massive Radiation Spike
October 18, 2013
fukushima radiation
Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said on Friday they detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances – including strontium – at the site, a level 6,500 times higher than readings taken on Wednesday, NHK World reported. The storage tank leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water in August, some of which is believed to have found its way into the sea through a ditch. The well in question is about 10 meters from the tank and was dug to gauge leakage. TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected. Officials at TEPCO said they will remove any contaminated soil around the storage tank in an effort to monitor radioactivity levels of the water around the well.

The news comes after it has been reported a powerful typhoon which swept through Japan led to highly radioactive water near the crippled nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea. On Wednesday TEPCO said it had detected high levels of radiation in a ditch leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected heavy rains had lifted contaminated soil.
 
Japanese doctors ordered to cover up mass radiation sickness across population
October 10, 2013
fukushima radiation disaster
A substantial number of Japanese have suddenly begun suffering nosebleeds that some reports indicate are likely tied to radiation poisoning from the damaged nuclear plants at Fukushima.

The reports are based on a series of tweets, allegedly from Japanese citizens who report the nosebleeds, along with photos of blood-soaked rags and bandages. Many of the reports are flowing through Facebook. If true, the damaged Fukushima plant continues to wreak havoc

One site says that Japanese doctors who have been treating those afflicted by the massive radiation released when the plant was damaged by a major earthquake-caused tsunami on March 11, 2011, know that their patients have radiation sickness, but they are being prevented from discussing it publicly.
 
Water scarcity by 2030: True for every second person on earth, UN says
October 08, 2013
earth water shortage 2030
About a half of the global population could be facing water shortages by 2030 when demand would exceed water supply by 40 percent, says United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Opening the Water Summit in Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday, the UN chief warned against unsustainable use of water resources.

Water is wasted and poorly used by all sectors in all countries. That means all sectors in all countries must cooperate for sustainable solutions. We must use what we have more equitably and wisely,” Ban said, as cited by the UN website. -- “By 2030 nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity. Demand could outstrip supply by 40 per cent.”
 
South Dakota blanketed by several feet of snow as storms hit Great Plains
October 05, 2013
snow storm 2013 start
In the span of 24 hours, the scenic Black Hills in South Dakota were coated in up to three and a half feet (1.1 meters) of wet, heavy snow. South Dakota is one of several Great Plains states to have been hit hard by a storm system that has caused millions of dollars in damage. A National Weather Service meteorologist, Katie Pojorlie, said the snow was expected to end later on Saturday, giving people a chance to start digging out from the unusual, record-setting early fall snowstorm.

But wintery weather wasn't the only thing wrapped into the powerful cold front, as thunderstorms brought heavy rain, hail and as many as nine tornadoes to Nebraska and Iowa. Fifteen people in northeast Nebraska were injured in a tornado on Friday, and three died in a car accident on a snow-slicked Nebraska road. Forecasters said the front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild and probably very wet weekend for much of the central and south-eastern US.
 
Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert: Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life
October 04, 2013
yellowstone super volcano 2013
Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at a record rate.  In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year.  The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano – the largest volcano in North America.  Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable.

A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would render much of the United States uninhabitable.  When most Americans think of Yellowstone, they tend to conjure up images of Yogi Bear and “Old Faithful”, but the truth is that sleeping underneath Yellowstone is a volcanic beast that could destroy our nation in a single day and now that beast is starting to wake up. The Yellowstone supervolcano is so vast that it is hard to put it into words.  According to the Daily Mail, the magma “hotspot” underneath Yellowstone is approximately 300 miles wide…
 
Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant operator says another tank leaked toxic water
October 03, 2013
Japan Fukushima toxic water leak
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday another tank holding highly contaminated water overflowed, probably sending the liquid into the Pacific Ocean, in the second such breach in less than two months.

Recent site mishaps have returned Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, to the spotlight, calling into question its ability to execute a complex cleanup that could last decades. The company has vowed to monitor the tanks more closely and improve its water management. Amid mounting international alarm, Japan's government stepped in last month and said it would fund efforts to improvement water management at the plant.
 
Shutdown May Hinder California's Rim Fire Cleanup
September 30, 2013
california wildfire government shutdown
One of the worst wildfires in California's history continues to burn in Yosemite National Park, where employees will be furloughed if the government can't pass a budget tomorrow (Oct. 1). The Rim Fire has burned more than 257,000 acres (1,040 square kilometers) and is 92 percent contained. (Containment means the fire can still burn, but the flames are trapped within a perimeter, with little chance of escape.)

Very little is left of the extreme blaze, which consumed entire canyons. Now, a few hot spots char the ground in Yosemite National Park, where Park Service policy allows nonthreatening fires to burn themselves out, renewing the forest. "It's burning at very, very low intensity," said Michelle Carbonaro, fire information officer for the Rim Fire. "We suspect they're not calling it [as] out because there are some unsettled weather patterns coming that could stir up fire activity," Carbonaro told LiveScience.
 
Map reveals the countries with the world's worst air pollution
September 25, 2013
air pollution map
  • Nasa used global pollution data compiled by UNC
  • Dark brown areas show where more people die prematurely from air pollution than light brown areas
  • Blue areas are regions where pollution levels have improved since 1850 - such as the southern states of the U.S.
  • The most polluted area is shown over Asia, in particular China, but Eastern Europe also has high levels of damaging soot, dust and car fumes

Air pollution is said to account for 2.1 million premature deaths worldwide, according to new research, and mortality rates can vary widely between certain countries.
 
Disaster Danger : Read the Clouds Like a Meteorologist
September 03, 2013
dangerous weather clouds
Growing up, especially in the South, you hear plenty of “old wives tales” about weather.

“If you see the underside of leaves, it’s about to storm.” -- “If cows are lying down in a pasture, it’s going to rain.” 

There’s really no scientific evidence to support those colloquialisms, but there is a way you can look to the sky to determine an impending change in the weather. How? By examining the clouds.
 
Fukushima's Radioactive Ocean Plume to Reach US Waters by 2014
August 30, 2013
fukushima US waters 2014
A radioactive plume of water in the Pacific Ocean from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will likely reach U.S. coastal waters starting in 2014, according to a new study. The long journey of the radioactive particles could help researchers better understand how the ocean’s currents circulate around the world.

Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016. Luckily, two ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan — the Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension — would have diluted the radioactive material so that its concentration fell well below the World Health Organization’s safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident. But it could have been a different story if nuclear disaster struck on the other side of Japan.
 
"Farmers' Almanac" predicts a "bitterly cold" winter
August 26, 2013
winter 2014 predictions
The Farmers' Almanac is using words like "piercing cold," "bitterly cold" and "biting cold" to describe the upcoming winter. And if its predictions are right, the first outdoor Super Bowl in years will be a messy "Storm Bowl."

The 197-year-old publication that hits newsstands Monday predicts a winter storm will hit the Northeast around the time the Super Bowl is played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. It also predicts a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England.
 
Wildfire closing in on SF Bay area's water source
August 26, 2013
wildifres california
A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted.

Nearly 3,700 firefighters battled the approximately 230-square-mile blaze, the biggest wildfire on record in California's Sierra Nevada. They reported modest progress, saying the fire was 15 percent contained.
 
10 of the world's deadliest animals
August 26, 2013
 
State of emergency in San Francisco as huge wildfire moves into Yosemite
August 24, 2013
california wildfires 2013
A huge wildfire raging on the western boundary of Yosemite National Park was gaining strength on Saturday and led California's governor, Jerry Brown, to declare a state of emergency 150 miles away in San Francisco. Officials fear the blaze could threaten the city's water and power supply.

The week-long fire on the slopes of the western Sierra Nevada mountains is burning across nearly 200 sq miles, threatens 5,500 homes and could push deeper into Yosemite – one of the country's most treasured national parks as well as one of California's most popular tourist destinations.
 
Fukushima Radiation Leak: 5 Things You Should Know
August 21, 2013
fukushima leakage radiation
Japan's nuclear regulator has raised the threat level of a radioactive leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant from 1 to 3 on a 7-point scale. Officials said Tuesday that a storage tank has leaked 300 tons of radioactive water into the ground. The rating upgrade, which has to be confirmed by the United Nations' nuclear agency, would be the first since the March 2011 quake-induced reactor meltdown.

Here are five things to know about the leak and related radiation:
 
Fact or Fiction?: We Can Push the Planet into a Runaway Greenhouse Apocalypse
July 31, 2013
runaway climate disaster
“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice,” the poet Robert Frost mused in 1920. Frost famously held “with those who favor fire,” and that poetic view surprisingly coincides with mainstream scientific consensus about the end of the world, which states the sun will in some seven billion to eight billion years evolve into a red giant star that will scorch and perhaps even engulf Earth.

Yet when that happens, Earth will already have been dead for billions of years, and will more resemble present-day Venus. As the sun slowly brightens over time on its path to becoming a red giant, it will eventually cross a critical threshold in which its luminosity surpasses our planet’s ability to dissipate absorbed radiation out into space. At that point, somewhere between one billion and three billion years from now, Earth’s surface temperature will steadily rise until the boiling oceans throw a thick blanket of steamy water vapor around the planet. All that water vapor, itself a potent greenhouse gas, will raise temperatures higher still to cook another greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, out of Earth’s rocks. The end result will be a “runaway greenhouse” in which the planet loses its water to space and bakes beneath a crushing atmosphere of almost pure carbon dioxide.
 
Heatwaves will make crops produce smaller grains
July 28, 2013
2013 erxtreme heat
"The wheat is usually green at this time, but its already gone brown," says Laurence Matthews, overlooking a bone-dry and dusty field on his 3,000-acre farm near Dorking in Surrey. "It's like a tinderbox: there's a real risk of fire."

The summer heatwave is having a dramatic effect on his crops. "Without water, the plants just shut down," he says. But it is the twists and turns of increasingly erratic weather that is making farming more difficult, Matthews says. "In spring 2012, it was unbelievably dry and hot, then from April it just rained right through to 2013, which made it very difficult to get our crops established."
 
Striking images of lightning storms raining down on Earth
July 26, 2013
lightning from orbit
  • Astronaut Karen Nyberg has captured the images from the International Space Station earlier this week
  • One of her images captured an elusive red sprite, where instead of shooting down towards the ground, lightning explodes in the clouds

Stunning pictures from the top of the world show a unique view of lightning storms as they rain down on Earth. The stellar images take storm chasing to new heights, having been snapped from a space station 400 miles above the Earth. One of the most the impressive images shows the early morning Californian skies above Los Angeles and San Diego aglow with powerful flashes of lighting.

 
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