BTW, don’t ignore the weather


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Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running more than three degrees above average, increasing the prospects for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring and potentially stronger hurricane activity in the summer and fall.

The last time Gulf of Mexico waters were similarly warm in 2017, it coincided with an above-average tornado season through the spring, and then Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast at the end of summer…

The annual barrage of tempestuous fury stems from the volatile clash of shifting seasons. As springtime warmth begins to build in the Gulf of Mexico, surges of mild air meander north — only to collide with stubbornly persistent cold shots of winter exiting the Rockies. It’s that collision that brews severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

No matter how you slice it, this is going to be a tough year. Between nature and numbnuts politicians running our federal government, every disaster is likely to be exaggerated by incompetence and unprepared ideologues who believe that not spending money on the needs of citizens is heavenly ordained. Just like kissing corporate butt.

Wuhan reports no new coronavirus cases today — travelers not so good

The central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported no new infections for the first time. However imported cases in China surged by a record number, led by new infections in the capital of Beijing.

The new imported infections also accounted for all of the new confirmed cases in mainland China, placing more pressure on authorities to screen travellers at key travel hubs…

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,928, the health authority said in a statement on Thursday.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,245 as of the end of Wednesday, up by eight from the previous day.

This in from Australia in the last half-hour. Caught a mention of it a short while earlier on Rachel Maddow’s show. No doubt, we’ll have more details in the morning.

The sun does continue to rise. Human beings continue to learn more – some of us – every day.

London Fox = Mammal Photograph of the Year


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The Mammal Society has announced the winners of the (oddly-specific) Mammal Photographer of the Year competition, awarding the top prize to an amateur photographer from East London who captured a local fox staring him down through a car’s windscreen, looking for food…

The overall winner and 2020 Mammal Photographer of the Year is amateur photographer Roger Cox…

Br’er Fox ain’t afraid of any human peering back at him through the windscreen.

NatGeo Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeAaron Huey, @Argonaut Photo

Wolves lead their offspring to new hunting grounds deep in Denali National Park, in Alaska. The Iron Creek pack’s breeding pair breaks trail through fresh snow, with the female leading, writes photographer Aaron Huey. “I watched the pack over the course of three days as they devoured a moose, and then I was lucky enough to catch them as they left that site, crossing this large, unbroken field of snow.”

So beautiful.

A dog and a rare coyote — backyard buddies


Click through to the article and enjoy the video

Every day for a week, the strange, happy visitor would drop to play with her Great Pyrenees. She thought Ruth Bader, the dog, had made a new dog companion. Nope, it was a coyote. And the animal was on the lam.

Researchers with the Atlanta Coyote Project told Vanessa Prior, Ruth Bader’s human, that they had been trying to track down the rare, black coyote for over a month. It had been spotted around the Smyrna and Vinings, Georgia, areas playing with neighborhood dogs…

“It was very friendly,” co-founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project Christopher Mowry told CNN. “It was following people to try to play with their dogs while they were walking them.”

The group, which is made up of scientists devoted to learning more about coyotes living in the Atlanta area, first attempted to find the animal when people started to get a little freaked out by it coming too close for comfort.

They figured it was best for everyone — people, dogs, coyote — to move the animal to a safer place.

No doubt.

There is this black cloud wandering over our planet…


Currently, drifting over the Pacific Ocean

The scientific name is cumulonimbus flammagenitus, but the more common nickname is ‘fire cloud.’ NASA calls them the “fire-breathing dragon of clouds,” according to their website.

One of the largest fire clouds ever recorded has been drifting around the Southern Hemisphere for over a month. Heat and freak thunderstorms generated by Australia’s massive wildfires sent ash and toxic materials high into the atmosphere, where they formed a massive dark cloud of debris. It’s been measured at 15 miles high at some points, and at one point it covered more than 1 million square miles — about half the size of Canada.

NASA has been tracking the massive cloud from space as it slowly drifted over to South America and then looped back toward Oceania where it hovered over New Zealand, turning glaciers brown, and perhaps hastening their melting.

As Australian firefighters get their blazes under control, the cloud has been dissipating. Health experts say toxic chemicals and debris eventually drop back to Earth, through the air or within raindrops, where they can be inhaled or ingested by humans and animals…

And that ain’t all. Click the link above and RTFA.

Leeches may help prevent the next coronavirus outbreak

Using the latest biotechnology, a team led by Professor Douglas Yu of Britain’s University of East Anglia extracted DNA from digested blood in leeches’ stomachs, determined what animals they had fed on, and then produced a model of the distribution of wild animals in the Ailao Shan Nature Reserve in Yunnan province.

The same DNA analysis method could feasibly be used to examine drain water for evidence of illegal wildlife consumed or traded in markets, Yu says…

Wild animals are a reservoir of viruses that, due to their ability to rapidly change genetic make-up, regularly “jump” to other species, including humans…

Until recently, biotechnology couldn’t separate individual bits of DNA in the “soup” to identify which animals they came from. But the latest technology can process multiple DNA molecules at the same time, and it has become a powerful forensic tool.

Without seeing or touching the animals, their presence can be detected from a sample of soil, water – or the remnants of digested blood in a leech’s stomach.

Yu’s team extracted DNA from leeches’ stomachs, then applied sophisticated statistical software that could compare the different DNA sequences against animal DNA sequences in existing databases, similar to how facial recognition software matches an image of an individual face from a set of millions…

The results closely matched the biology of the animals. “The right species were found in the right places,” Yu says. It also gelled with previous records of animal sightings in Ailao Shan. The leeches could be trusted.

Scientific methods don’t really care what country, culture or economic system they operate in. Yes, everything from context to funding vary; but, real data produces a catalog of information that can provide new and revealing information, conclusions.

Good for you, Doctor Yu.

It never ends…Storm Dennis follows Storm Clara


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Storm Dennis, one of the deepest low-pressure centres to have formed in recent years, has brought severe weather to Iceland and many western and central parts of the UK.

Some of the regions now being affected by Dennis were also hit by a preceding storm, Ciara, which brought stronger winds than Dennis but less rain. Nevertheless, rivers were already full and the ground saturated before Dennis’s arrival.

The military has been called in provide assistance in parts of northern England, where rivers have overflowed in recent days.

Click through and check out the photos. The worst waves haven’t hit land [yet?]. They’re up to 100 feet high.