Firefighters are waging war against 17 wildfires that cover 200,000 acres in California this week. Front-line dispatches suggest that, at least at times, they’ve lost the battle. The bodies of two children were found under a wet blanket with the remains of their great-grandmother hovering over them. Three firefighters and one bulldozer operator are dead. More than 700 homes have burned to the ground. Crews have struggled, at least in part, because they have never seen fires behave like this before.
Archive for date: July 30th, 2018
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A recent study is helping researchers understand the role of wind in the largest forest fires. Megafires are large, hard-to-manage burns with big economic costs. “These big fires are really hard to deal with,” said Natasha Stavros with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.
Last spring, Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought that caused over $5 billion in damage to agriculture as well as substantial impacts to fisheries, infrastructure, human health, and vegetation. The drought was not only severe, but it also spanned the winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17, which had unusual and unexpected precipitation that affected the drought’s evolution.
The Hoover Dam is one of the crown jewels of American infrastructure. It was one of the most ambitious projects of the early 20th century, requiring millions of cubic feet of concrete and tens of millions of pounds of steel to build a dam that could provide electricity to 1.3 million people. Millions of people visit the dam every year. It’s even been immortalized in song.
Sea surface temperatures in Southern California — especially spots in San Diego like Solana Beach — have been unusually warm for weeks. The National Weather Service issued a computer graphic late Monday that shows where the hottest temperatures are being recorded (the areas in red.) “Water temperatures from lifeguards are 72 to 78F and this is shown in satellite imagery depicting much above normal readings (anomaly) in the California Bight,” the weather service said on Facebook.
Painful, inaccurate water bills have eroded trust in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department. However, the city says it is committed to earning that trust back, vowing to fix major problems. They’ve launched a tool customers can use immediately to take control of their water usage and bills.
The recent audit on the city’s sky-high water bills was under review Monday. The San Diego City Council’s audit committee held a special meeting to look into it after more than 2,700 incorrect water bills were sent out last year. In that special meeting Monday morning, the committee reviewed performance audits on the Public Utilities Department’s water billing operations. This all comes months after hundreds of San Diego residents were over charged for water usage.
Water rates in San Diego will increase just over 2 percent on Wednesday, part of a five-step incremental spike over four years that will amount to a compounded rate hike of 35 percent. The rate increase comes one week after an audit found 2,750 individual water bills last year were incorrect and had to be readjusted because of errors by meter readers.
A year ago, the active ingredient in Roundup, the nation’s most widely used weed-killing herbicide, was added to California’s official list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The state’s warning about glyphosate followed a similar caution issued by the World Health Organization and coincided with hundreds of lawsuits across the country focused on the herbicide. The first very jury trial to involve Roundup recently started in San Francisco —the plaintiff is a groundskeeper who believes he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by using the weedkiller on the job.