We’ve talked a couple of times before about using corn to produce ethanol, and how this increases the demand for corn and thus the price. Well, now there’s more bad news: the recent flooding in the Midwest is wiping out some farmers’ fields, reducing this year’s corn crop and pushing prices to an all-time high.
The final missing panda at a wildlife reserve near the epicenter of the Chinese earthquake from last month has been found dead. It was crushed under a collapsed wall at the Wolong Reserve. It's likely that all the remaining pandas will be moved to other locations are the Wolong site has suffered severe damage. Click here for previous posts on the earthquake's impact on pandas.
Here's a video link to the incredible footage of Lake Delton near the Wisconsin Dells suddenly draining after a dam broke on Monday. And here's a full newspaper report with photos and maps from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. The story includes this unsual quote: "It's pretty hard to put a water ski show on when there's no water on the lake." And here's the link to a great photo that shows what happened geologically -- the dam to the left is still okay but a sogged sandy bank between the lake and Wisconsin River in the center gave way, releasing the lake's backed up water. Once the water broke through the lake bank, it took only about three hours for the lake to drain dry.
Courtesy JoeIf you are interested in tracking hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms, etc. there is a cool gadget available for your Google hompage (and probably others) that allows you to view, track and interact with maps that show the most current active of these tropical weather systems. Its an interesting way to keep up and monitor the systems - and remind yourself that they happen all over the world. The one I use is here but I am sure there are others that are similar.
Courtesy Eric Manríquez T. (Instituto Geográfico Militar).The massive volcanic eruption in Chaiten, Chile, has now passed a month's worth of spewwing ash and rock into the sky. Here's a great photo of the eruption going in its fourth week. People and farm animals were evacuated in the opening weeks of the eruption. Now, emergency workers are evacuating salmon on a fish farm that could become contaminated from toxic materials in the ash mixing with their fish farm water.
The region normally experiences heavy rainfall about this time every year, but meteorological authorities said this was the worst in five decades.
Flooding has affected many cities in the Pearl River Delta -- home to many export manufacturing plants -- and the western part of Guangdong province. (Reuters via Yahoo News)
Storms dumped as much as 10 inches of rain on already-soggy central Indiana on Saturday, threatening dams, inundating highways and sending the Coast Guard to rescue residents from swamped homes. (The INDY channel)
A powerful line of storms in Wisconsin dropped baseball-size hail on central and southeastern parts of the state, blowing roofs off homes and knocking down trees and power lines. CNN
The storm leveled eight barns at a turkey farm near Menahga, MN. killing thousands of turkeys. No human deaths have been reported.
Courtesy USGSThe Tangjiashan “quake lake”
formed by a landslide during China’s devastating May 12th earthquake is draining slowly thanks to a sluice constructed by engineers there. Fears of the lake bursting from its earthen dam pushed authorities to find a quick and effective way to release the pressure building from the backed-up water. More than a million people living in the area were under threat of being inundated with millions of cubic meters of water.
As work crews start construction of a second drainage channel, engineers are closely watching downstream riverbanks and bridges for any sign of stress from the surging waters.
The 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed over 60,000 people and more than 17,000 are still missing.
USA Today has an interesting follow-up on the Hugo tornado that struck last week. While there's a lot of massive destruction, there are also a lot of weird, finese things that happen, too.
Courtesy NOAAIn the Twin Cities area, we’ve had some pretty impressive hail storms lately, at least if you’re measuring by frequency and intensity. Today’s Star Tribune has a nice round up on our surge in hail activities.
So what is hail any way, besides the sound of green to auto glass replacement and body shop companies?
Hail is formed when storm clouds supercool water droplets into frozen masses around particles of dust. The formation of thunderstorms is the ideal circumstance for creating hail. Updrafts in the storm’s formation blow the hail up into the thunderhead for a little while. Then the hail descends in the cloud, collects more moisture and becomes a bigger piece of ice when another updraft blasts it back up into the thunderhead. When those updrafts subside or the ice gets too big and heavy, the hail comes pelting back down to Earth on us, our vegetation and cars.
In the U.S., “Hail Alley” is located there Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming converge. Worldwide, deadly hail storms have been recorded in India and China.
Before you start to think our recent hail storms here in the Twin Cities have been impressive, consider these storms:
• Around the 9th century, several hundred pilgrims were killed by a massive hailstorm in Roopkund, Uttarakhand, India.
• July 11, 1990, in Denver, Colorado, softball-sized hail destroyed roofs and cars, causing $625 million in total damage.
• April 14, 1999, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, $1.5 billion was done spread across 20,000 properties and 40,000 vehicles. In addition, more than 25 aircraft were damaged at Sydney Airport.
• July 19, 2002, Henan Province, China, resulted in 25 dead and hundreds injured.
• June 22, 2003, saw the largest hailstone on record fall in Aurora, Nebraska, It has a 7-inch diameter and a circumference of 18.75 inches.
Itching to learn more about hail? Here's a link to the Wikipedia page of all things hail.