Tell us about something that happened today in history, and make it relate to current science.
The Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul crested this morning around 10:00 at 19.1 feet, making this year's flood the 8th highest flood of record. So far.
Courtesy City of St. Paul
You see, we're not out of the woods yet. There's a good possibility that we may see a second crest, and the extent of that flooding will be determined by how quickly temperatures warm up (and stay warm) and whether or not we get any big rainstorms.
Courtesy Public domain (via Wikipedia)Today is the 314th anniversary of the death of Scottish physician, naturalist, and geologist James Hutton. Born in 1726, Hutton is considered the founder of modern geology and best remembered for his theory of the rock cycle, and of uniformitarianism. His concept of deep time was groundbreaking in its day and shattered the popular Bible-based notion that the Earth was a mere 6000 years old. Hutton died on this date in 1797.
The Mississippi River @ downtown St. Paul is at "action stage" right now - 12.63' - headed to "flood stage" by midnight. Yesterday, it was rising about an inch an hour, but the cold has slowed things down just a bit. And the continued cold means that the river should crest (the first time, anyway) quite a bit lower than earlier predictions. Visit the Hydrological Prediction Service for details, or follow the whole flood saga on Science Buzz.
Courtesy National Weather Service
The National Weather Service has updated the 7-day outlook for the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul. So far, the news is good: we're looking at 18.3' by the end of the week -- equivalent to last year's flood event, and a hassle, surely, but nowhere near the record. However,
"SIGNIFICANT UNCERTAINTY REMAINS ABOUT HOW MUCH SNOW WILL MELT THROUGH
TUESDAY...AND HOW MUCH RAIN AND SNOW WILL FALL...AND HOW MUCH OF THIS
COMBINED TOTAL WATER WILL ACTUALLY MAKE IT INTO THE RIVER SYSTEMS...BEFORE
COLDER AIR MOVES INTO THE AREA LATER IN THE WEEK.
THE CURRENT RIVER FORECASTS ONLY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT 24 HOURS OF FORECAST
PRECIPITATION...HENCE THROUGH 7 AM ON MONDAY. SO THESE FORECAST DO NOT
INCLUDE THE PRECIPITATION EVENT EXPECTED TO IMPACT THE AREA ON TUESDAY
AND WEDNESDAY. ADDITIONAL RAINFALL MAY CAUSE RIVER LEVELS TO RISE EVEN
HIGHER THAN CURRENTLY FORECAST.THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL MONITOR
THIS DEVELOPING SITUATION AND ISSUE FOLLOW UP STATEMENTS."
So stay tuned. The 7-day outlook gets updated as needed.
The Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service has released a new short-term forecast for the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul. (There's still too much uncertainty in the models to make a new crest prediction for the area.) We should see the river rise above flood stage by midday on Thursday, 3/24.
Courtesy National Weather Service
Click on the image for a larger view.
The remaining 50 emergency workers were pulled from the Fukushima Daiichi plant tonight for an hour or so due to a spike in radiation levels. (They're back in, now. For more on just how much radioactivity nuclear operators can be exposed to, read this NYTimes article.) The disaster is now rated a 6 on the 7-point scale. Three Mile Island was a 5; Chernobyl was a 7. 200,000 people within a 12 mile radius of the power plant have been evacuated. Another 140,000 people within a 20 mile radius of the area have been told to stay inside, and a 19 mile no-fly zone has been imposed over the plant. The only good news tonight seems to be that the winds are blowing out to sea, helping to disperse the radiation away from populated areas.
This MSNBC update also includes a good infographic about how much radiation people are generally exposed to.
The Washington Post has a good interactive feature that sums up the crisis.
More in the morning...
UPDATE: Here's an updated video showing the terrifying force of the tsunami that swept across the Japanese city of Sendai. It's not just an unstoppable wave; it's a juggernaut of debris.
Courtesy USGSA monster earthquake hit northern Japan today at 2:46pm local time (11:46pm CST) causing tremendous damage including the triggering of a deadly and devastating tsunami. The images of destruction coming out of the country are both stunning and heartbreaking. Early reports say a 30-foot wave slammed into the city of Sendai washing away houses, cars and other debris – some of it in flames. The city is located about 80 miles from the quake’s epicenter and has a population of over 1 million people. According to the USGS Earthquake site the tremblor occurred at a depth of about 15 miles. The initial shaking is reported to have lasted two minutes, and has been followed by several strong aftershocks. It’s the most powerful quake to hit Japan in 140 years, and there are already reports of 200-300 deaths. But unfortunately that will more than likely rise as time goes on and reports are updated. Tsunami warnings have been issued across much of the Pacific Rim and also Russia. Seven foot waves have already hit Hawaii.
Courtesy USGSA strong earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand toppling several buildings and killing an undetermined number of people. According to the US Geological Survey the magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred at a depth of 3.1 miles near Christchurch, which is New Zealand's second largest city. The quake struck on Tuesday at 12:51PM local time (6:51PM Monday EST), followed by several strong aftershocks. The city's population of 350,00 has been recovering from a similar quake that struck last September 4th.
Courtesy Public domainToday marks the birthday of naturalist Charles Robert Darwin, born February 12, 1809. Darwin's most important work On the Origin of Species was first published in 1859, and laid out his theory of evolution through natural selection. The publication caused an uproar in religious circles at the time, because evolution went against the prevailing biblical notion that all life on earth had come into existence in whole form rather than evolved.
If you'd like to learn more about Darwin's accomplishments, what better way to do so on his birthday than to read his obituary that appeared in the April 29, 1882 issue of Scientific American. Happy birthday, Mr. Darwin!
Darwin's obituary as pdf.