Ice storm knocks out power to 220,000 in US Midwest

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Snow and ice storms across the U.S. Midwest knocked out power service to more than 220,000 homes and businesses in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio early Friday, local utilities reported.

The storm left 161,000 customers out in Indiana, 47,000 out in Illinois and 15,000 out in Ohio. The utilities said the outages would likely grow as the storm marches across the Midwest toward the Atlantic Coast.

Read moreIce storm knocks out power to 220,000 in US Midwest

Frigid Storm Closes California Freeways, Drops Snow in Malibu


Dec. 17: An ambulance rolls over and crashes in the snow in El Mirage, Calif. AP/The Sun

LOS ANGELES –  Snow snarled major mountain highways and even dusted Malibu on Wednesday as a cold storm hit parts of California. One person was killed by a wind-related helicopter crash, and an overflowing river on the U.S.-Mexico border led to the evacuation of nearly two dozen people, rescues of about 50 horses and the deaths of four others.

Styming thousands of commuters and travelers, snow shut Interstate 15 over 4,190-foot Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles and roads through the San Gabriel Mountains connecting metropolitan Los Angeles to the commuter suburbs of Palmdale and Lancaster in the high desert to the north.

Interstate 5, a major trucking and travel route connecting Southern California with the Central Valley and Northern California, stayed open over 4,144-foot Tejon Pass most of the day, with on-and-off Highway Patrol escorts, then finally was shut down in the afternoon as conditions deteriorated. Massive backups developed below all the passes.

Read moreFrigid Storm Closes California Freeways, Drops Snow in Malibu

Snowstorms cause chaos across Europe’s ski resorts

Ski resorts temporarily closed this week after heavy snowfall sparked avalanche warnings in the Alps.


Mark Wilkinson’s flat in Val d’Isere following heavy snow on Sunday night

Ski resorts across Europe were forced to close temporarily this week after snowstorms brought chaos to the region.

Almost a metre of snow fell overnight on Sunday sparking avalanche warnings in many European resorts.

In Val d’Isere, France, skiers were trapped in the resort on Monday amid fears of an avalanche on the road down to Bourg-Saint-Maurice after 80cm fell.

In Alagna, Italy, the resort was forced to close after more than a metre of fresh snow fell, while in Zermatt, Switzerland, only four ski lifts were open after 80cm of snowfall. Saas Fee was cut off for three days due to a high avalanche risk, but the road re-opened today allowing cars and supplies into the resort.

A spokesman for the Ski Club of Great Britain said that some resorts in Europe had seen the heaviest December snowfalls for at least 10 years.

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One-third of Boulder’s deer infected with chronic wasting disease

A new study shows one out of three mule deer in south Boulder suffers from chronic wasting disease – and those results mean the traditional approach of killing infected animals to fight the disease probably won’t work, researchers say.

Chronic Wasting Disease Study Results (PDF)

“Everything that’s been tried to control chronic wasting disease really fails in the face of that kind of infection rate,” said Heather Swanson, a wildlife ecologist for Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department.

Read moreOne-third of Boulder’s deer infected with chronic wasting disease

Ice Storm cuts power to more than 1M in New England


Car and driver are stopped in Derry, N.H. on a road littered with fallen trees and wires after an overnight ice storm Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. The ice storm knocked out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses in New England and upstate New York, and authorities say it could take days for all of them to get service back. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – An ice storm knocked out power to more than a million homes and businesses in New England and upstate New York on Friday, and authorities say it could take days for all of them to get service back.

The storm brought rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow through the night, and in some areas, including hard-hit New Hampshire, the miserable mix was continuing Friday.

The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared states of emergency Friday morning, and schools were closed and travel disrupted across the region. New Hampshire’s court system canceled all hearings and trials for the day.

Read moreIce Storm cuts power to more than 1M in New England

Mt. Rainier puts on a show

Our little dry streak is about to come to an end. But if you looked at Mt. Rainier today, you would have known that already.

Take a look at some of these incredible clouds captured over Mt. Rainier today. The one above was taken by Tim Thompson. The one below, by David Embrey:

Those are called “lenticular clouds” They’re caused when the air flow is just right so when it flows over Mt. Rainier, the air gets pushed upward where it cools and condenses into clouds. Depending on how smooth the flow is, you can get some amazing clouds formations as we’ve seen so far today.

It’s usually a sign of rain within 24 hours because typically the moist flow that precedes a storm around here is the perfect set up for these clouds.

Read moreMt. Rainier puts on a show

Dry South Australia buys in water

The dry bed of the Hume Weir, Murray-Darling basin Australia is facing its worst drought in a century

Australia’s driest state has decided to buy in water supplies amid fears it will run out next year.

South Australia said it had spent tens of millions of dollars to ensure Adelaide, Australia’s fifth-largest city, and the state had enough water.

State Premier Mike Rann described it as a “prudent and sensible” measure.

Drought has become a regular occurrence in South Australia, which already receives the least rainfall of any Australian state.

Lack of rainfall and a sharp reduction in the amount of water flowing into the Murray River meant the state could not guarantee water levels for 2009.

The state’s water security minister, Karlene Maywald, said she had purchased 61 billion gallons (231 gigalitres) of extra water for 2009.

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It’s official: Men really are the weaker sex

Evolution is being distorted by pollution, which damages genitals and the ability to father offspring, says new study. Geoffrey Lean reports

The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals.

The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.

Backed by some of the world’s leading scientists, who say that it “waves a red flag” for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have “gender-bending” effects.

It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.

“This research shows that the basic male tool kit is under threat,” says Gwynne Lyons, a former government adviser on the health effects of chemicals, who wrote the report.

Wildlife and people have been exposed to more than 100,000 new chemicals in recent years, and the European Commission has admitted that 99 per cent of them are not adequately regulated. There is not even proper safety information on 85 per cent of them.

Read moreIt’s official: Men really are the weaker sex

Manila is sinking, say experts

MANILA, Philippines-Manila, the Philippines capital and one of Asia’s most populous cities, is sinking and may go the way of Venice unless its people stopped pumping ground water for bathing and other needs, experts warned Thursday.

The phenomenon of subsidence, caused by the drying up of aquifers as a result of over-extraction of water, threatens not only Manila but also nearby areas that have also seen rapid migration and development, said Fernando Siringan.

The geologist from the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines did not give the rate of sinking, saying only that the metropolis of 12 million people faced potential water and marine product shortages, flash floods, and even infrastructure damage.

“Originally, the Italians never planned to make Venice a city permanently submerged in seawater. It was built above water, on the valley of Italy,” Siringan said in an article posted on the environment and natural resources department website.

“But because the Venetians were so much dependent on groundwater, the subsidence was tremendous; the place later became submerged in water. But the Venetians adapted very well, and so they did not destroy the structures of Venice,” Siringan said.

Ramon Alikpala, head of the government’s National Water Resources Board, said the subsidence problem was complicated by the fact that large areas of the city are actually situated below sea level.

“There is already saltwater intrusion in some parts of Metro Manila because of over-extraction and the lack of recharging of the aquifer,” he said.

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