While the East has been dealing with a powerful Nor’easter that dumped several inches of windswept rain along the coast, and up to 2 feet of snow in the interior, the West has been baking in record heat. The heat is spreading eastward into the Plains states, but it will be short-lived there, eventually settling in the southern tier of the U.S. later this week.
West Texas, which was ground zero for scorching weather last summer, is likely to see temperatures approach or eclipse the century mark this week.
During the past seven days, 746 daily record-high temperatures were set or tied, along with 400 daily record-high minimum temperatures, according to the National Climatic Data Center. According to Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, the 113°F measured at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, Calif., on April 22 was tied for the hottest April temperature ever recorded in the U.S.
View of the records set on April 22, using Climate Central's Record Temperature Tracker. The red dots indicate warm temperature records, while the blue dots show cold temperature records.
Masters wrote: "Nearly every weather station in the Inter-mountain West has broken, tied, or come within 1- 2°F of their all-time record April heat record since Sunday. Most notably, the 113°F measured at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, Calif., on April 22 was tied for the hottest April temperature ever recorded in the U.S. According to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the hottest reliable April temperature ever measured in the U.S. was 113°F in Parker, Ariz., in 1898. A 113°F reading was also taken at Catarina, Texas in April 1984."
Also impressive is the fact that 99 monthly record-high temperatures were set or tied during the past week, along with 22 monthly record-high minimum temperatures. (These records and more can be looked up using Climate Central's Record Temperature Tracker.)
This warm wave follows the warmest March on record in the Lower 48 states—when more than 15,000 warm-temperature records were broken during a lengthy heat wave that affected nearly every state east of the Rockies.
The heat has been especially noteworthy in two places known for their sizzling weather during the summer months: Phoenix and Las Vegas. On April 22, Phoenix tied its all-time record-high temperature for the month when the temperature reached 105°F. Yuma, Ariz., hit 106°F on the same day, a record daily high for that location. Phoenix also set warm minimum temperature records. The low temperature at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport only fell to 74 degrees on April 23, beating the old record for the date of 71, set in 1997.
As for Las Vegas, the high temperature of 99°F on April 22 tied that city's all-time high-temperature record for April. This was also the earliest 99 degree reading on record, occurring two days earlier than the previous record of April 24, 1946.
More record warmth was expected Tuesday from northeast Montana southward to the Plains states, with conditions heating up in Texas during the next few days. A storm system is expected to move into the West during the next few days, bringing cooler temperatures, along with rain and mountain snows.
So far this year, there have been more than 26,000 warm-temperature records set or tied in the U.S., compared to about 2,600 cold-temperature records set or tied. In recent years, record daily highs have been outpacing record daily lows in a pattern that has been shown to be inconsistent with natural climate variability alone.
So far, this year is consistent with that trend, since daily record highs have been far outpacing daily record lows, with an even more lopsided picture for monthly record highs compared to monthly record lows. If the climate were not warming, one would expect the longer-term ratios to be, on average, closer to 1-to-1.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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