Powerful Midwest Derecho Slams Trees and Buildings, Knocks Out Power to More Than a Million
A powerful series of thunderstorms roared across the Midwest on Monday, downing trees, damaging structures and knocking out power to more than a million people.
The storms, which produced winds of more than 100 miles per hour, formed a phenomenon known as a derecho, a long-lasting, far-spreading windstorm caused by a series of thunderstorms, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).
"This is our version of a hurricane," Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini told The Associated Press.
Who had this on their #2020 bingo card? https://t.co/bcYgY36AgA— Victo☈ Gensini (@Victo☈ Gensini)1597101094.0
While derechos usually occur one to two times a year, they do not usually blow as hard as Monday's storm, National Weather Service (NWS) scientist Patrick Marsh told The New York Times. He compared it to the "Super Derecho" of 2009. Gensini, meanwhile, said it would emerge as one of the strongest in recent history and one of the most extreme weather events of 2020.
The storm system began in southeast South Dakota and eastern Nebraska Monday morning before blasting through Iowa, northern and central Illinois, southern Wisconsin, southwest Michigan, Indiana and northwest Ohio, The Weather Channel reported.
Winds of up to 100 miles per hour ripped through Marshall County, Iowa, leading to several injuries and extensive property damage, the county's homeland security coordinator Kim Elder told The Associated Press.
Elder said the storm blew over trees and cars, downed power lines, ripped the roofs off of buildings and started fires. All told, a third of customers in Iowa were without power, according to CNN.
"Everybody in town is without power except those with a generator," Marshalltown, Iowa Mayor Joel Greer told The New York Times. Greer declared a state of emergency for the city, which he said was still recovering from a 2018 tornado. "It hit us at a time when we were just getting back on our feet," Greer said.
Check out images of storm damage sent by viewers across central Iowa. https://t.co/nr4KD4ZbVS #iawx #SevereWX https://t.co/y4rm2uEbBJ— WHO 13 News (@WHO 13 News)1597084779.0
The storms entered the Chicago area around 3:30 p.m. according to NBC 5 Chicago. They downed trees and knocked out power to more than 500,000 ComEd customers.
"Much of northern Illinois has pockets of damage with downed trees, debris, and powerlines blocking roadways," NWS Chicago tweeted.
A wind gust of 92 miles per hour was reported near Dixon, Illinois, about 100 miles west of Chicago, The Associated Press reported.
Hold on #chcago here she co.e 80mpg winds @nbcchicago @fox32news https://t.co/vsGhDG0N1t— Michael Kinsch (@Michael Kinsch)1597093259.0
Monday's derecho was formed by unstable, wet air that had remained over the Midwest for several days, The Associated Press explained.
"They are basically self-sustaining amoebas of thunderstorms," Gensini said. "Once they get going like they did across Iowa, it's really hard to stop these suckers."
It is unclear what impact the climate crisis will have on derechos, as the SPC explained:
A warmer planet at first glance would appear to be more conducive to the development of the intense thunderstorms that comprise derecho-producing convective systems. But thunderstorm updrafts require the presence of strong vertical temperature gradients; any warming occurring at the surface likely also would occur aloft. Thus, the net change in instability due to thermal changes likely would be minimal. And, although a warmer environment implies greater atmospheric moisture content and conditional instability (instability related to the release of latent heat during condensation), all other factors remaining equal, the increased moisture likely also would yield more widespread low-level cloud cover. Such cloudiness would negatively impact storm initiation and derecho development. What is more certain is that the band of enhanced upper-level flow that encircles the planet --- the jet stream --- would contract poleward in a warmer world. Because derechos tend to form on the equatorward side of the jet stream along the northern fringes of warm high pressure ("fair weather") systems, it is reasonable to conclude that the corridors of maximum derecho frequency would shift poleward with global warming.
Derechos, however, interact with other extreme weather conditions related to a warming planet. Marsh warned that the power outages could have a negative impact on vulnerable people in the region dealing with high heat. He said the power outages also compounded the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"[I]t becomes dire pretty quickly," he told The Associated Press.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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