Stories tagged On this day

Tell us about something that happened today in history, and make it relate to current science.

Naturalist Charles Robert Darwin, one of the most influential scientists of the 19th century, died on April 19th in 1882. Read more about him here, and here, and here.

Yuri Gagarin in Sweden in 1964
Yuri Gagarin in Sweden in 1964Courtesy Public domain (via Wikipedia)
Fifty years ago today, 27 year-old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human to be launched into space. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin and the Soviet Vostok-1 spaceship were sent skyward for a 108 minute ride above and around Earth. He made a single orbit around the planet before returning to earth where he received a hero's welcome and became an instant celebrity world-wide. The feat accelerated the so-called Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States. A mere eight years later, US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Unfortunately, Gagarin didn't live to see that day, having died the year before in a crash while test-flying a Soviet MiG jet.

Gagarin bio on Wikipedia

Disaster junkies, prepare to be disappointed.

Hydrograph: 4/11/2011, 5pm
Hydrograph: 4/11/2011, 5pmCourtesy Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service

The National Weather Service says that the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul has crested, again, at 18.71'. (Previous crest was on 3/30 at 19.1'.)

Forecasters say that the river will remain at this level for a few days before falling at the end of the week. And they caution that the model only includes precipitation anticipated in the next 24 hours. A lot of rain in the next few days could cause the river to rise. Again.

The river level here at downtown St. Paul has been going down since the crest on 3/30 at 19.1'. We're holding now at about 17.3', and the National Weather Service predicts that the trend will bottom out tonight at around 17.2' before the river starts rising again. We're expecting a second crest at about 19.5' on the evening of 4/10, but that prediction doesn't take into account any rain we might get later on this week. Stay tuned...

We've peaked

by Liza on Mar. 30th, 2011

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.

Buildings on Harriet Island: 2011 crest, March 30: 19.1 feet
Buildings on Harriet Island: 2011 crest, March 30: 19.1 feetCourtesy 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.

Stay tuned...

James Hutton: Founder of Modern Geology.
James Hutton: Founder of Modern Geology.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.

James Hutton biography

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.

3-23-11, 8:30pm forecast: In this ONE respect, winter's comeback is a good thing...
3-23-11, 8:30pm forecast: In this ONE respect, winter's comeback is a good thing...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.

Plot showing 7-day forecast issued at 8:45 pm, 3/20: 18.3' is WAY lower than 26.4'. But this forecast doesn't take into account the rain/snow we're going to get this week. A heavy rain could take us back into record territory.
Plot showing 7-day forecast issued at 8:45 pm, 3/20: 18.3' is WAY lower than 26.4'. But this forecast doesn't take into account the rain/snow we're going to get this week. A heavy rain could take us back into record territory.Courtesy Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

The Moon: This week's full moon is the largest and brightest since 1993.
The Moon: This week's full moon is the largest and brightest since 1993.Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Because of the elliptical shape of the moon's orbit, tonight's full moon will appear the largest it has since 1993. Read about it on NASA's site, and see it in a sky near you.

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.

3-16-11 flood forecast
3-16-11 flood forecastCourtesy National Weather Service

Click on the image for a larger view.