Welcome to the Oct. 14, 2011, edition of the Friday Weather News Roundup:
• Officials at the University of Maryland are standing by their decision yesterday to blast students with tornado sirens and tornado text alerts despite there being no NWS tornado at the time. The university's police spokesman said that their ultra-heightened response was based on looking at maps and talking with "this guy" from Accuweather. This is the second time that Accuweather has wound up in the Friday Weather News Roundup, having been caught earlier giving temperatures in Death Valley that were as much as 15 degrees off.
• On the other hand, Accuweather's Valerie Smock posted a nice story today about Hurricane Hunter aircraft, so there's that.
• The EPA has estimated that a bill just passed by House Republicans could kill 20,000 people prematurely with pollution. The bill allows urban incinerating companies to "burn tires, solvents, plastics, oil sludge and other toxic-laden substances for profit without any oversight or reporting requirements." Republicans say the jobs the bill saves makes it worth the health risks.
• Japanese engineers investigating a high level of radiation in a Tokyo neighborhood discovered that it was not fallout from the Fukushima disaster. Rather, it seemed to be emitting from bottles that somebody had stored underneath a house as well as a wood fence, according to the Japan Times. Phew... maybe? Says the Times: "The Wednesday announcement by Setagaya puzzled some experts. The wooden fence is apparently emitting the radiation, but radioactive materials usually build up on the ground."
• Remember Tropical Storm Lee? I somehow missed this wonderful video that a USGS camera took of Difficult Run in a forest near Vienna during Lee's deluge. Watch how fast that stream powers up to flood stage: