Buzzfeed says I’m “old” if I remember using these. Yes, I’m old. But, remembering is unnecessary. I used one this morning while taking 6 weeks of household trash to the Public Works Transfer Station for our end of the county. In my 1994 Dodge Power Wagon pickup truck.
Had it since new. Still runs just fine. Does what it’s supposed to.
On the second day of April, the skies were clear over the San Francisco Bay Area and the view from atop the sun-drenched Mount Umunhum in the South Bay spread across a sea of green shrubs and trees carpeting the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains.
It was a beautiful sight, but a team of researchers from San Jose State University’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center — the only wildfire research center in California — noticed something wasn’t quite right.
“I was shocked when we went up there because usually in April we have a lot of new growth and old growth, and we didn’t see any new growth on the shrubs,” said Craig Clements, a SJSU professor and director of the center. “We weren’t seeing any of the lighter colored, bright green new growth sprouting out of the growth. Usually we take clippings of new stems and there weren’t any. This has never happened.”
Clements shared an image (above) from the expedition on Twitter and wrote, “The lack of rain this season has severely impacted our chaparral live fuel moistures. Wow, never seen April fuels look so… dry. No new growth anywhere in this Chamise. April is climatologically the highest live FMC of the season. Very Scary!”
FMC refers to “fuel-moisture content” — a measure of the ratio of moisture to combustible material in brush and trees that indicates how prone they are to burning. And the image up top is an area ready and waiting for wildfire.
Texas came uncomfortably close to another round of rolling blackouts Tuesday night because grid operators misjudged the weather.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s grid, had counted on a mild cold front sweeping the state, lowering demand for power. It didn’t happen. As a result, demand on the grid was about 3,000 megawatts higher than anticipated — or the equivalent of 600,000 homes.
The forecasting error, coming as 25% of power generation was off line for seasonal repairs, was another grim reminder of the vulnerability of Texas’s grid. Two months ago, a deep winter freeze knocked out almost half the state’s generating capacity, leaving millions of people in the dark for days. But Tuesday’s weather was hardly extreme, and the close call has raised questions about whether the grid operator, known as Ercot, can prevent a repeat of the February energy crisis.
“It’s a disgrace for a power grid in modern times to struggle to keep the lights on during a mild day,” said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University.
No doubt that comment is echoed by millions of Texans who wonder who’s in charge and why haven’t they been fired by now. No, not just the Electric Reliability Council. Throw in the State Legislature and the feeble hacks inhabiting the governor’s mansion and outbuildings.