TIME weather

10-Year-Old Saves Father’s Life With Facebook Post

If you can't call 911, social media isn't the worst idea

A 10-year-old girl in West Virginia may have saved her dad’s life with a Facebook post after a tree fell on him during a storm last Tuesday.

Brianna Vance’s father, Gregory, was sitting on the porch in front of their house with two friends when a large tree uprooted by a storm fell down on top of them, ABC News reports. The storm took down mobile phone signals and the house doesn’t have a landline, but the younger Vance was still able to get online and record a Facebook message calling for help.

“The lightning crashed and hit a tree by our porch and my dad’s almost dead,” she said in a tearful video upload. “He needs an ambulance please. Please call one for us if you have a signal. We live in a yellow house.”

After someone saw her plea and called 911, a rescue crew showed up to free the men, who were sent to a hospital after an hour-long rescue. Once there, they were treated and eventually released.

“This is the real hero, that little girl,” said Lt. Tim Granger of the Henlawson Fire Department. “I hope she gets recognized for her heroism.”

[ABC News]

TIME weather

Relax, Polar Vortexes Aren’t Going to Become the New Normal

A new study suggests that the warming of the Arctic will actually lead to consistently warmer autumn and winter days in the U.S. and Europe

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The polar vortex that plagued much of North America during the winter of 2014—in which Arctic air dipped unusually southward—caused icily low temperatures, school closures and transportation delays, and had many believing climate change was only going to lead to more cold-weather extremes in the future.

But not so fast. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the warming of the Arctic will actually lead to fewer deep freezes over the next century. The lead author, James Screen, is a climate researcher at the University of Exeter and contends that the warming Arctic will, in fact, lead to consistently warmer weather. “Autumn and winter days are becoming warmer on average, and less variable from day to day. Both factors reduce the chance of extremely cold days,” Screen says.

Although Screen doesn’t deny that last winter was indeed extremely cold, he stresses that weather is variable and that the frigid weather can’t be blamed on some fundamental shift in the polar jet stream. “I don’t think we necessarily need explanations for the past winter other than that’s just weather,” Screen told Mashable.

TIME Environment

Here’s What We Can Expect From El Niño This Year

The El Niño weather phenomenon that has previously devastated the Western Pacific and parts of Australia now has a 90% chance of striking again this year.

The El Niño weather phenomenon that has previously devastated the Western Pacific and parts of Australia now has a 90% chance of striking again this year according to a recent report by the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). This weather anomaly is characterized by an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean and has caused intense hurricanes and drought in the past. But what can we expect from the phenomenon this summer?

South Asia will likely be hit first with heavy rain and flooding. Drought conditions in Australia and a drop in the fish population off of the west coast of South America will follow. El Niño also damages the agricultural industries in countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean such as Indonesia, and the Philippines. Efforts are currently being made in some of these regions to lessen the impending impact that El Niño will have.

The results of the El Niño events in 1997-1998 were by far the worst in recent history, but unlike thunderstorms and snowstorms forecasters have little ability to predict how intense future El Niño episodes will be. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) it is also near impossible to pinpoint the exact dates that El Niño will begin.

Within the next month more details regarding El Niño and when it will begin will become clearer. In the meantime people around the world will begin to gather resources and prepare themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

TIME Asia

This Is a Really Bad Time to be a North Korean Weather Forecaster

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Hydro-meteorological Service in this undated photo released by North Korea's KCNA in Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the hydrometeorological service in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on June 10, 2014 KCNA/Reuters

The Brilliant Leader wants accurate weather forecasts, and he wants them now. No pressure, comrades

North Korea’s weather forecasters had a rough day at the office.

The country’s hydrometeorological service received a public telling off by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to state newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Kim criticized the weather service’s methods, saying it produced “incorrect” forecasts, needed to “fundamentally” improve equipment and lacked “modern and scientific” approaches to its work.

During his tour of the facilities, he said the agency was “very important” but needed to “rapidly and kindly provide information about weather’s influence.”

While so-called “field guidance” tours are common for North Korean leaders, government officials are rarely scolded in public.

The BBC reports that Kim’s last reproach came in May 2012, following a visit to a theme park in Pyongyang.

TIME weather

Baseball-Size Hail Rains Down on Nebraska as Thunderstorms Inundate Midwest

Severe Weather
A car with its windows damaged by hail hangs over a creek following a severe thunderstorm in Blair, Neb., Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Nati Harnik—AP

Wild weather sweeps across the Midwest

Hard rain and hailstones inundated large swaths of the Great Plains on Tuesday as officials issued tornado watches in Nebraska that will continue late into the evening in the Cornhusker State.

“Storms may contain very heavy rain, large hail and a few tornadoes,” warned the National Weather Service in a bulletin posted on its website on Tuesday.

Baseball-size hail reportedly fell across northeast Nebraska on Tuesday, causing extensive damage.

The hail knocked out car windshields in affected areas, while the roof of at least one hotel in Missouri Valley, Iowa, was ripped off by high winds, according to CNN.

The National Weather Service predicted that another string of heavy thunderstorms is likely to move across the heartland from the Texas panhandle to western South Dakota on Wednesday.

TIME

New Mexico Forecast: 100% Chance Of A Grasshopper Storm

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Weathered and rusted thumbs down sign post Getty Images

Nope

If you live in New Mexico, you may want to invest in a serious umbrella. Or consider moving to another state.

A few nights ago, the National Weather Service noticed a mysterious mass moving around on the radar around Albuquerque, NM. It looked like rain, but it wasn’t raining. They thought their equipment was on the fritz and even called in a repairman, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. The strange masses were detected for four straight nights about 1,000 feet over Albuquerque, according to the National Weather Service, but it wasn’t an equipment malfunction. Nor was it a UFO nor a Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs flying cheeseburger situation. Turns out, it was the stuff of nightmares: a giant swarm of grasshoppers.

Chuck Jones, a local meteorologist, went hiking in West Mesa, New Mexico, where the radar clusters first appeared. “As soon as you walk toward the first volcano out there, there’s tens of thousands of them,” Jones told the Albuquerque Journal. “You can hardly take a step without being concerned about crushing them.”

The apocalyptic swarm may have missed their chance to make this year’s Passover holiday that much more realistic, but they have been making a steady appearance in Albuquerque for the last few nights and wreaking havoc on residents’ gardens. According to the AP, last year’s monsoon season paired with a relatively dry winter created the ideal environment for the grasshoppers to multiply, hatch and populate our nightmares.

While grasshopper storms are horrifyingly Biblical, they still have nothing on this mosquito tornado photographed in Portugal.

[Via The Oregonian]

MORE: Female ‘Penis’ Found on Brazilian Cave Insects

MORE: Some Insects Drink Animals’ Tears

TIME weather

Hurricanes With Female Names Kill More People, Study Finds

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Kei Uesugi—Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that people subconsciously assume storms with feminine names will be less dangerous, and therefore take fewer precautions

Hurricanes given female names tend to be more deadly than hurricanes with male names because people subconsciously assume storms with feminine names will be less dangerous, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at six decades worth of death rates from U.S. hurricanes and found that hurricanes with female names were more deadly because people think they sound less threatening and therefore take fewer precautions to protect themselves.

A hurricane’s name is unrelated to how fierce it will be, but if people are subconsciously making protective decisions based on gendered storm naming, that could be a problem. The researchers found that the more feminine a storm name, the more fatalities it caused. The report suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charley to Eloise could triple its death rate.

“In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave,” said study co-author Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in a statement. “This makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent.”

In a second part of their study, which is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers asked participants about fake hurricanes with names like Hurricane Alexandra or Hurricane Alexander. Again, the participants rated the female-named storms as less risky.

The researchers note that some clear gender stereotypes are likely at play here, although they are not necessarily negative toward women. People may just be viewing men as more aggressive.

Of course, this is one of the first studies to make this finding, and the results are only preliminary. Jeff Lazo from the National Center for Atmospheric Research has poured cold water on the study’s findings, stating that in the past hurricanes always had female names and there are many other reasons hurricanes are deadly besides whether or not people adequately protect themselves.

TIME weather

El Niño Could Mean a Disaster-Free Hurricane Season

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially kicks off on Sunday, which means for the next six months the East and Gulf coasts of the U.S. will be on the lookout for the next big Andrew, Hugo or Katrina. As it happens, the U.S. is in the middle of a record-breaking hurricane drought. It’s been 3,142 days since the last major hurricane — defined as Category 3 or above — made landfall in the U.S. (That was Hurricane Wilma, which hit southwest Florida in October 2005 and was the most intense cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, with sustained winds of 185 m.p.h.) That’s an unprecedented streak, going back to 1900 — the longest drought before the current one was nearly 1,000 days shorter.

Don’t expect that drought to end anytime soon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast that the Atlantic’s hurricane season will be in the normal to below-normal range, with nine named storms (the long-term average is 12) and three hurricanes (the average is six or seven). Only one of those hurricanes is expected to reach Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 m.p.h. (179 km/h). NOAA says there’s a 1-in-5 chance that a major hurricane could actually make landfall along the East Coast — and not a Katrina in the bunch.

One of the reasons why the Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be so mild is because of something happening in the Pacific, thousands of miles away. Scientists are predicting that we have a better than even chance of developing an El Niño event within the next six months. El Niños occur when the waters of the equatorial Pacific undergo unusual warming, which in turn affects atmospheric circulation and weather around the world. That includes hurricanes in the Atlantic: El Niño increases the strength of westerly winds across the Atlantic, which creates a lot of wind shear. (Wind shear is the difference between speed and direction of wind over a short distance.) That high wind shear can disrupt tropical storm systems before they’re able to gather a lot of power, which makes it difficult for major hurricanes to form.

El Niño isn’t always good news for storms — hurricanes actually get stronger in the eastern Pacific during El Niño years. And the eastern Pacific hurricane season, which began on May 15, has already seen its first storm — Amanda, which attained maximum wind speeds of 155 m.p.h. (249 km/h), making it just below a Category 5 hurricane. It also makes Amanda the strongest eastern Pacific storm ever recorded in May, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season — and especially for the west coast of Mexico, which bears the brunt of those hurricanes.

And there’s no guarantee that the skies will stay quiet over the Atlantic either. Hurricanes don’t have to be Category 3 or above to cause major damage. Sandy was barely a Category 1 hurricane by the time it made landfall in the Northeast in October 2012, yet its sheer size and rainfall — as well as the fact it squarely hit the most populated section of the country — caused nearly $70 billion in damage. And previous El Niño years saw strong storms, including 2004, when four strong hurricanes hit Florida, and 1992, when Hurricane Andrew caused $26.5 billion in damage. After all, as NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said last month: “It only takes one destructive storm to make for a very bad season.”

TIME weather

The Most Destructive U.S. Hurricanes of All Time

As the 2014 hurricane season begins, TIME looks back at the most damaging storms to barrel down on the US.

Hurricanes have been menacing the U.S. as long as anyone can remember, but the monetary damages the storms have caused has increased in recent years, as this TIME photo collection shows. The devastation from Hurricane Sandy — later dubbed a “Superstorm” — rang in at $65 billion, leaving 72 people dead and more than 6 million homeless.

Does that mean hurricanes are getting more powerful or more common? Not necessarily. While many atmospheric scientists believe that climate change may strengthen tropical cyclones—higher temperatures at the ocean tend to feed hurricanes—the power of the storm isn’t the only factor in the extent of the damage. Far more important, at least for now, is the increase in the number of people and the value of the property in coastal areas that are perennially vulnerable to major hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina was so expensive not just because it was powerful, but because it landed directly on top of a major American city—and one that was clearly unprepared for a storm of that magnitude.

The more people and property we put in harm’s way, the greater thee damage any storm will cause. If climate change really does give hurricanes an extra kick—and if we do nothing to slow global warming or prepare for the effects—damage will be incalculably greater.

TIME Bizarre

Man Captures Video of Himself Getting Hit By Lightning

Now what are the chances he can do it twice?

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There’s a one in 10,000 chance you will get struck by lightning in your lifetime. What’s the probability of catching it all on video?

While it’s probably more likely for storm chaser Scott Sheppard than most other bystanders, it’s still pretty incredible that he caught himself getting struck by lighting in a storm in South Dakota Tuesday. Luckily he’s doing alright—the bolt hit his arm and then the ground.

Watch the scene unfold in the video above.

(h/t: Daily Dot)

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