The Amazon Rain Forest Is On Fire

There have been more than 72,000 fire outbreaks in Brazil so far this year, up 84% on the same period in 2018, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research. More than half were in the Amazon. It followed reports that farmers were feeling emboldened to clear land for crop fields and cattle ranches because the new Brazilian government was keen to open up the region to economic activity. The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, instead accused environmental groups of starting fires.

Source: The Guardian

A lot of people took to social media to discuss this developing situation: the Amazon burns every year during the dry season, but this year there are 84% more fires! They are still trying to gain perspective.

African savannas are also burning; they’ve adapted to fires, but humans don’t help. It was reported (can’t see it in the map) that Siberia was on fire since May.

The truly disturbing part about the Amazon is the blantant disregard of the global environment for small, economic gains. Fires are having an impact, and it’s getting worse every year.

Greenland Is Melting

A major heatwave in Greenland could melt 440 billion tons of glacial ice this year. They lost 11 billion tons in 1 day – August 1.

NASA oceanographer Josh Willis points the finger at both man-made climate change, and natural “but weird” weather patterns, and he believes that by the year 2100, ice from just Greenland could cause 3 or 4 more feet of sea level rise.

Source: People.com

Storm Area 51

Joke, Social Experiment or Human Disaster

It all started rather jokingly with a Facebook event entitled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” but then it grew into a massive – 2 million+ people say they’re “Going” – social experiment full of possibilities.

College student Matty Roberts, the creator of the event, came up with the idea after watching the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on June 20, 2019. At some point he started a Storm Area 51 website to capitalize on all this publicity. People even made a song/video or two or three about it.

This rural, rouged, dangerous area is no place for millions of shock visitors. They don’t have the resources to hold that many people; even Las Vegas – 65 miles away – doesn’t have enough capacity for that many people.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee doesn’t expect many people to show up, but he knows what’s possible. “I think this started out as a joke but there may be enough people taking it seriously and it could be a problem,” the sheriff said. “Someone is going to get hurt and people may go to jail. It’s not anything to joke about.” Source: AP

Of course the US Air Force has warned people not to participate in this joke – and do not trespass on government property. The AF operates the Nevada Test and Training Range (Area 51 is part of), and they are ready and willing to “protect America and its assets.”

It all kicks off at 3 AM PDT, September 20, 2019. Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair.

The 2019 Hurricane Season

According to predictions, this year’s forecast calls for a slightly below average season with at least 13 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The reason for the weaker season is the continuation of a weak El Niño.

This year’s Atlantic tropical cyclone names are: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, Wendy.

Andrea

On Monday, May 20, 2019, we had the first named storm of 2019, Andrea Is 1st Named Storm Of Atlantic Hurricane Season. Source: NPR. Andrea was born on Monday and died on Wednesday.

Barry

One year and four days after I wrote about the first storm of 2018, we have the second storm for 2019. Tropical Storm Barry forms in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: KBTX. Barry is expected to strengthen to category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall early Saturday along mid-Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Update 2019-07-13 at 1:00 PM:

Hurricane Barry made landfall near Intracoastal City, LA, as category 1 hurricane Saturday afternoon and quickly dropped back to tropical storm strength.

Wind speed is not what is troubling much of the region. Experts predict possible rains of up to 25 inches in parts of southern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, and the slow-moving storm could create big flooding risks in inland areas like greater Baton Rouge. Officials issued mandatory evacuation orders in communities along the coast, including parts of Plaquemines, Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes. Source: NYTimes

Chantal

Tropical Storm Chantal formed on Tuesday, August 20, about 485 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is moving eastward, and it is not expected to strengthen or make landfall.

Texans Will Soon Carry Guns During Disasters

Earlier this month, the Texas House passed H.B. 1177, a bill that would allow people who are evacuating after a disaster declaration to carry a gun without a license up to 7 days.

On Friday, May 24, the Senate passed their version which shortens the time period to 48 hours, but allows the governor to extend that time if needed.

The new law has to pass the House once more and go to the governor for signature. If signed, it would take effect September 1, 2019. The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27 (today).

As a licensed-to-carry gun owner, I don’t know how I feel about letting unlicensed people walking around with guns during a stressful time. (Guns would be allowed in shelters too – if the shelter owner allows it.) I guess the legislature is trying to extend the castle doctrine during a disaster to stop looting and allow people to travel with protection (?).

memorial day

Memorial Day Ribs 2019

Last year I didn’t make ribs for Memorial Day. I was sad. It was really hot; I think it rained a lot too. But, this year, I am going to make bbq ribs once more – continuing 9 years of tradition (video)

Ingredients

(Meat)
2 slabs (~6 lbs) of baby back ribs

(Rub)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

(Sides)
Potato Salad and Pinto Beans

Put It Together

Barbie made the potato salad and pinto beans. I made the ribs and sausage. The sausage was Slovacek (pre-cooked) sausage so it was easy; put it on the rib pan 30 minutes before they’re done.

Cooking ribs requires patience, but they were easy enough: thaw for 2 hours, cook rubbed ribs 2 hours, cook foil covered for 2 hours, finish naked w/ sauce for 30 minutes.

Results

As always, Barbie’s potato salad was delicious. The beans were very good. The ribs were tender, but I think they dried out (over cooked) a little bit.

beans and potato salad
ribs and sausage

Predictions for 2019 Hurricane Season

Philip Klotzbach, hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, tweeted that this year’s forecast calls for a slightly below average season with at least 13 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The reason for the weaker season is the continuation of a weak El Niño.

So, here’s to 2019. The season begins June 1.

The 2018 Hurricane Season

This year the story so far is wildfires in western states and high temperatures in northern states. There’s several large wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Over the July 4th holiday (it fell on Wednesday) temperatures topped 100° F as far north as Minnesota.

It’s now the second week of July, and we’ve only had one subtropical storm, Alberto. Another storm, Hurricane Beryl, is located about 720 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It was a category 1 hurricane, but it was downgraded this morning to a tropical storm. Last year we had 4 tropical storms by July 4th; first hurricane, Franklin, formed August 9 and hit Mexico the next day.

On Monday another storm formed, Tropical Storm Chris (it’s that circle east of the Carolina’s). It’s expected to make hurricane 1 strength by Tuesday but it is not expected to last long or make problems for people.

I’m sure there’s more storms coming, but for now it’s all quiet – and hot.

UPDATE 07-10-2018:

As expected, TS Chris became Hurricane Chris on Tuesday, July 10, but it is expected to head into the Atlantic and not make landfall. There is a high pressure area on the east coast that is keeping it offshore.

TS Beryl continued to to slowdown and weaken until today it’s no longer a tropical storm; maximum winds 35 mph.

UPDATE 07-11-2018:

Hurricane Chris strengthened to category 2 overnight. It’s continuing on a northeasterly track, and it’s not a direct threat to land.

UPDATE 08-07-2018:

Today, Tropical Storm Debby formed out in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s not expected to make landfall.

UPDATE 08-08-2018:

Hurricane Hector is threatening the Big Island of Hawaii with Tropical Storm force winds. Near the eye, maximum sustained wind speed is 125 mph.

UPDATE 08-09-2018:

Today, the Nation Hurricane Center said that Hurricane Hector is no longer a threat to Hawaii. Also, TS Debby is dissipating to a depression. And just as I thought, CNN reported today that NOAA predicts a “below normal” hurricane season thanks to El Niño.

UPDATE 08-18-2018:

Two days ago, TS Ernesto formed in the middle of the Atlantic. Today the storm is nearing Ireland.

Hurricane Lane, another Pacific hurricane, continues to strengthen and may come close to Hawaii like Hector did.

UPDATE 08-22-2018:

Reports from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center say Hurricane Lane is a strong category 4 (wind speeds of 145 MPH) and could pass dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands. It appears to be strong and slow moving – the worst combination for populated areas.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Oahu
* Maui County…including the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe
* Hawaii County

UPDATE 08-25-2018:

After dumping up to 40 inches of rain on parts of Hawaii, Hurricane Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm today.

UPDATE 09-03-2019:

Today, Tropical Storm Gordon formed off of the southwest coast of Florida – about 10 miles west of Key Largo. Gordon is predicted to strengthen to a hurricane and make landfall along the Mississippi coast Wednesday (9/5).

UPDATE 09-05-2018:

National Weather Service Doppler radar indicates that Gordon made landfall around 1015 PM CDT (0315 UTC) just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border with estimated maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h).

Meanwhile, yesterday about 4:00 AM CDT, Tropical Storm Florence strengthened to a Hurricane Florence in the middle of the Atlantic.

UPDATE 09-09-2018:

Two new storms formed after Gordon blew through and after Florence started cranking it up – Tropical Storm Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac formed off the coast of Africa. Helene is expected to turn north into the Atlantic, but Isaac is headed toward the Lesser Antilles.

Since Wednesday, Florence weakened and then strengthened back into a hurricane. It is now predicted to make landfall on the coast of North Carolina as a category 3 storm.

UPDATE 09-12-2018:

A new potential storm, Invest 95-L, has developed off of the Yucatan Peninsula. The NHC gives the system a 60% chance to develop into a tropical depression between now and Friday (9/14) evening.

Near Hawaii, Tropical Storm Olivia weakened from a hurricane and is expected to make landfall on Maui on Wednesday (9/12).

Hurricane Florence is now category 4 and is expected to make landfall on Friday (9/14) along the Carolina’s.

According to the NHC, Hurricane Isaac will lose some steam and be a tropical storm as it moves into the Caribbean Sea by the weekend (9/15).

Hurricane Helene is still in the open Atlantic and may move toward England or France.

UPDATE 09-14-2018:

Hurricane Florence made landfall this morning near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

Helene weakened to a Tropical Storm yesterday. Isaac is a depression south of Puerto Rico. Tropical Storm Joyce formed in the Atlantic near Helene – there’s no threat to land. Invest 95-L weakened and may be a rain maker for the Texas coast this weekend.

UPDATE 10-01-2018:

Hurricane Sergio formed in the southeastern Pacific this evening. It is not expected to make landfall.

UPDATE 10-03-2018:

Hurricane Leslie formed in the middle of the Atlantic this morning. It is not expected to make landfall.

UPDATE 10-08-2018:

Hurricane Michael formed off of the western tip of Cuba today. It is expected to move north and make landfall near Panama City, Florida, sometime on Wednesday (10/10).

UPDATE 10-10-2018:

Hurricane Michael strengthened to a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 m.p.h (157 is category 5) before it slammed into the Florida Panhandle near Panama City Beach.

UPDATE 10-14-2018:

Remember Hurricane Leslie? She made landfall about 125 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal, today as a post-tropical cyclone with wind speeds of 105 mph. The NHC actually started tracking Leslie as a subtropical storm on September 23! That’s 21 days ago! This storm is one for the books: according to Wikipedia, it’s the 10th greatest duration tropical cyclone (I’ve only lived through 2 others on that list.)

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet for historic summit…

They met in Singapore on June 12, 2018, to discuss nuclear disarmament of North Korea.

Just two weeks ago Pres. Trump sent a letter canceling the summit. These sure are strange times we are living in – he has to be (one of) the oddest president.