Risks of another U.S. tropical storm; skeptical climatologists concede that the earth has warmed; a deep freeze petrifies Virginia; penguins don oil-proof sweaters.
- A New Zealand yard shop has put out a call for penguin sweaters after a cargo ship spilled oil off the coast of Tauranga. (Charlie / Skeinz)
Welcome to the Oct. 21, 2011, edition of the Friday weather-news roundup:
• Tropical storms: They're still around? Perhaps! Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center are monitoring a suspicious area of storminess in the western Caribbean, where there's a "likelihood that a tropical depression will form during the weekend" as the system moves northward. They give a 60 percent chance that the low-pressure whirlpool will develop into the year's 17th named tropical storm. Could Hurricane Rina be far behind?
• The worst flooding in Thailand in more than 50 years shows no signs of letting up, with at least 320 dead and thousands in shelters. The citizens of Bangkok, which so far has escaped the floods, are freaking out as the city ponders opening its flood gates and triggering a possible "overflow." Elsewhere, needlefish swim in houses and people are on high alert for urban crocodiles after a number of the beasts escaped from illegal croc farms. The photos are depressing.
• Richard Muller, a physicist who criticized the famous "hockey-stick graph" showing warming global temperatures as well as testified before Congress about his doubt that there was any significant warming during the last century, has now concluded that there is warming, coming into line with the larger body of thought. Read more about the new findings of the professor's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature team at New Scientist.
• Winter beckons in D.C. from its mountainous lair. The local National Weather Service has put parts of southwest Virginia and southeast West Virginia under a Freeze Warning tonight for "widespread frost" that could maim or kill any outside crops. Bring in your plants tonight, mountain folk!
• A potent, 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook the waters off of New Zealand's Raoul Island a couple hours ago. So far there have been no reports of damage or injuries but a tsunami warning was issued for the country just in case. Authorities are now trying to contact a handful of conservation staff on the remote island, who mostly handle "pest control work."
• And also in New Zealand, thick, life-smothering oil appears to have stopped leaking for now from the wrecked cargo ship Rena in the Bay of Plenty (of Oil). The fuel that has already hit the waters has snuffed out scores of birds, and the country's environment minister, Nick Smith, recently went on record to say, "There's 355 tonnes in that starboard tank that has the capability to unleash a death wish on another thousand birds."
The obvious solution? Sweaters for penguins! No joke, this tactic has a precedent. This time, a New Zealand yarn shop, Skeinz, is handling the avian-sweater-knitting campaign. The jumpers keep the penguins from eating the toxic oil and preserves their precious body heat. Look: Before's sad penguins. After's happy, Bill Cosbyish penguins!