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Sat, 10 Dec 2022
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Igloo

Deep freeze, heavy snows blast US; holiday travel snarled

Mother nature vented her wintry fury on much of the United States and Canada Tuesday as arctic blasts and blizzards sparked deadly crashes, snarled air traffic and closed highways in one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) issued winter weather advisories and winter storm watches for large swathes of the United States including in the Chicago area in the midwest which has been in the grips of an extreme cold snap for nearly a week, with temperatures plunging to below zero (negative 17 degrees Celsius).

Dozens of delays or cancellations were reported Tuesday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the country's second busiest, where hundreds of flights have been cancelled over the past week as the city was slammed by blizzard conditions.

Agony for holiday travelers was also reported at several other airports as the storms in the Northwest and Midwest caused a ripple effect across much of the rest of the country, snarling holiday air traffic at major airports in San Francisco; Houston, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; New Jersey and New York, officials said.

Cow Skull

Bison Are Back, But Can They Survive?

Image
© AP
Bison walk toward the corral during the recent annual roundup at The Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska, Okla.
An estimated 60 million bison roamed the prairie when Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. By 1900, only hundreds were left after herds were slaughtered for meat, pelts and sport. Although there are now half a million bison in the United States, researchers have discovered that most of them carry cattle genes - placing the animals at risk.

In the Oklahoma Flint Hills, an autumn moon set on The Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve as scientists and cowboys gathered at dawn recently for the annual bison roundup. Instead of horses, wranglers climb aboard trucks. They rumble toward a herd of 2,600 bison standing quietly in a nearby pasture. They drive part of the herd into a tight group, and then stampede them into a holding trap.

The shaggy beasts' heaving breath swirls through the corral into a thick, white fog. Over the next 10 hours, ranch hands use plastic paddles to spank the bison through a maze of alleys and corrals toward their annual physical.

bison
© AP
Over the next 10 hours, ranch hands use plastic paddles to move part of a herd of 2,600 bison through a maze of alleys and corrals toward their annual physical.
In turns, each bison slams into the examination chute. A brace closes around its neck and heavy grates squeeze it still. A bull is checked for injuries, given a shot and weighed. He stands 6 feet at the shoulder and weighs almost 2,000 pounds.

The huge bison huffs with anxiety. Up close, he seems prehistoric - his shaggy brown head hangs low beneath a humped spine, curved horns showing bits of blood. Preserve director Bob Hamilton says he may look like a bison, act like a bison and even smell like one - but he's a cattle hybrid. And if he carries maternal cattle DNA, that could impair his metabolism and his offspring.

Cloud Lightning

Active 2009 Atlantic hurricane season predicted

Another forecaster predicted an active 2009 Atlantic hurricane season on Tuesday, six months ahead of the tropical cyclone period that begins on June 1.

WSI Corp. predicted 13 tropical storms in the 2009 season and said seven would develop into hurricanes.

The long-term average during the six-month season is for 10 or 11 tropical storms and six hurricanes.

WSI, based in Andover, Massachusetts, forecast that three of next year's hurricanes would be dangerous storms with a rank of Category 3 or above on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Such storms feature sustained winds of at least 111 miles (178 km) per hour.

Butterfly

Condor chick found dead: Male was one of three born in wild this year

One of three condor chicks raised in wild nests was found dead by scientists Sunday after the big bird's radio transponder emitted a "mortality signal," according to Ventana Wildlife Society senior wildlife biologist Joe Burnett.

Biologists from the society's condor recovery project in Big Sur found the lifeless body of a wild California Condor chick lying in thick brush beneath a tall stand of redwoods, only a half mile from its coastal nest site.

The wild male chick, known as No. 475, was recently observed making short flights in the nest area, which is normal behavior for a 9-month-old condor, Burnett said.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake - Italy

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake - Italy (Map)
© USGS
Location map - Italy

Magnitude: 5.3

Date-Time:
* Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 15:24:23 UTC
* Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 04:24:23 PM at epicenter

Snowman

Will Canada see its first white Christmas since '71?

The first day of winter brought wind-chill warnings, snow and a bevy of storms to cities across Canada on Sunday, potentially laying the groundwork for the first cross-country white Christmas in nearly four decades.

Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV Newsnet that "it looks like a very good chance" it will be a white Christmas for all parts of Canada for the first time since 1971.

Binoculars

Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth

Conservationists have found a host of new species after discovering uncharted new territory on the internet map Google Earth.

new forest
© Tom Timberlake/RBG Kew
A British-led expedition found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount Mabu
The mountainous area of northern Mozambique in southern Africa had been overlooked by science due to inhospitable terrain and decades of civil war in the country.

However, while scrolling around on Google Earth, an internet map that allows the viewer to look at satellite images of anywhere on the globe, scientists discovered an unexpected patch of green.

A British-led expedition was sent to see what was on the ground and found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount Mabu.

Cloud Lightning

Canada braces for more heavy snow

Canada has been blanketed in snow from coast to coast after severe winter storms hit transport and left tens of thousands of homes without electricity.
BBC Canada snowstorms
© BBC News
Canada may see its first coast to coast white Christmas for 37 years

Strong winds and snowfall have hampered relief efforts, with meteorologists forecasting more bad weather to come.

"It's a widespread and severe winter storm and it's not over yet, with these high winds expected to continue for some time," a Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman told the Canadian Press news agency.

Cloud Lightning

Winter storms hit western, eastern U.S.

Seattle - Winter storms walloped much of the northern stretches of the United States on Sunday, leaving holiday travelers stranded and causing power outages as blizzards and freezing rain struck parts of the East and West.

The second winter storm in three days blew across the U.S. Northeast on Sunday, the official start of winter. It delayed flights and snarled traffic on the final weekend day before the Christmas holiday.

In the West, the Seattle area and other parts of Washington state were hit on Saturday night, with the heaviest blast in a week of snow storms.

As 5 to 9 inches of snow fell, scattered power cuts were reported and whiteout conditions from heavy snows and high winds forced the closure of Snoqualmie Pass, a key route over the mountains east of Seattle on highway I-90.

Conditions there were "just a complete whiteout blizzard" on the pass, Washington State Patrol trooper Dan McDonald told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper via cell phone from his patrol car. "I've never seen anything like this. The side winds are probably easy 70 mph. They're taking us off the road."

Bizarro Earth

Great fireworks, shame about the toxic fallout

Image
© Stephen Giardina / Alamy
Avoid the green ones.
When those fireworks light up the sky on New Year's Eve, be careful not to breathe in too much smoke. A study of the fallout from a New Year display in Austria shows for the first time that the fireworks can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma because they shoot out harmful aerosols.

Georg Steinhauser and his colleagues at Vienna University of Technology analysed fallen snow before and after a display in the village of Saalbach. Fireworks often contain metal salts to give them colour, such as barium for green flashes and strontium for red. The researchers wanted to find out whether any traces remained, clinging to snowflakes. If they did, it would mean the particles were present in the smoke from the fireworks and could be breathed in by spectators.

"We found huge amounts of barium in the snow," says Steinhauser (Atmospheric Environment, DOI: link). Concentrations were typically 500 times higher than in snow samples taken from the same sites before the display. Barium poisoning is known to constrict the airways, so inhaling it could aggravate asthma symptoms, says Steinhauser.