Nature is crazy. Here’s footage from surveillance cameras at First State Bank in Parkersburg, Iowa. The first video shows a house across the street being destroyed, and the second shows several different views of the bank itself being blown apart from the inside out. Incredible footage!
Some people will do anything to try and be famous. This guy, William Bernstein of Virginia Beach, has started his own fake news studio (done by green screen) and posts daily videos to CNN’s citizen reporting service called iReport. Honestly he scares me. Watch how he freaks out as he goes to provide “exclusive coverage” of the Suffolk tornado. He acts as if there’s a tornado right next to his car, but it’s actually just a thunderstorm. He loses it at about 53 seconds into the video. Too funny. Click here to watch.
As I posted about two days ago, there was a huge tornado outbreak across southeastern Virginia on Monday. Colonial Heights, although faced with an estimated $2 million in damage, faired much better than Suffolk, with $18 million in damage. The Colonial Heights tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service as an F1 with winds of up to 112 MPH (The “F” stands for the Fujita Scale, which rates tornadoes on a scale of F0-F6) and the Suffolk tornadoes were mostly F3 intensity, with winds up to 206 MPH. The devastation was widespread down there, but remarkably no one was killed (I reported on Monday that one person was killed, but later found out, along with the news sources, that the death was unrelated to the tornado).
Now I don’t believe things can be cursed, but the Colonial Heights Wal-Mart sure has some bad luck. It’s now a Sam’s Club, but so many things happened to it as a Wal-Mart it’s almost inconceivable. There’s a theory that the place is cursed because someone was killed there in the Garden Center shortly after the place opened in late 1989 or early 1990. Shortly after, the Garden Center was flattened by either downdraft winds from a severe thunderstorm or a weak tornado. In 1993, Virginia’s most intense tornado to date (still), an F4 with winds up to 260 MPH, ripped through the store, killing two employees and a customer. Monday, the F1 tornado took the exact same directional path, 400 feet from the former Wal-Mart (now Sam’s Club). I don’t think there was any major damage to the Sam’s Club, but what is it about that store and Dimmock Square that so many tornadoes have come through? The place is a freaking tornado magnet!
Like I said, I don’t believe in curses, but check out fellow blogger Carrie had to say about the place even before Monday’s events. This is baffling to me. It’s so crazy this place could be hit by tornadoes three times when Virginia barely has measurable tornadoes, much less catastrophic ones like this.
It was a really big deal when the Southpark Mall opened in my hometown. The land on which the mall was being built was privately owned and barren, save for a lawnmower store (guised as a shack), a few swampy plants and maybe a farm animal or two. I have vague memories of my father telling me that the landowner also had a snake farm on this property, but that seems too exotic for Small Town, Virginia. Then again, a snake farm is just the type of feature my small town would boast.
It was highly rumored (amongst the kids at my elementary school) to be the biggest mall in Virginia and possibly even the country. I should say that this is a one story mall with only 4 “major” stores: Dillard’s, Hechts, Sears and JC Penney’s. We even didn’t get a Gap, a mall staple, until 2001 years ago, and it went out of business and in its place a store called Man Alive opened. (ManAlive sells spiky high heeled sneakers and oversized “Lets Get Crunk” t-shirts and is just down the way from the kiosk that sells confederate flag and NASCAR paraphernalia.)
The mall opening was a huge event. There was a search light, balloons, free Chick-Fil-A samples and human mannequins. HumanMannequins! They posed, perfectly still, wearing parachute pants, ruffled skirts and 1988’s finest double breasted suits, for hours on end. The next day in class, no one was talking about the actual mall or the many stores contained within. We were all arguing about whether or not the human mannequins ever blinked. I don’t think they did.
Shortly after the mall opened, they built the World’s Busiest Wal-Mart adjacent to the mall (At least it was rumored to be The World’s Busiest Wal-Mart amongst the kids at my middle school). This meant we didn’t have to travel to the Bradlees in a next town over to get our B-B guns and Fisherprice record players. Unfortunately, this Wal-Mart was cursed.
In either 1989 or 1990, a man walked into the Wal-Mart and shot and killed his ex-wife, a Wal-Mart Employee, in the Garden Section. This was a really big deal because a) a man walked into the Wal-Mart and shot his ex-wife to death in the Garden Section and b) this was only the second or third murder that my home town had ever experienced. The third or fourth happened on Mall property as well. Everyone (my classmates) was talking about the Wal-Mart Garden Center ghost. I shuddered every time I drove by Wal-Mart or drank a Sam’s Choice Cola. But time passed and the Wal-Mart became busier than ever.
Shortly after that fatal shooting, in May 1990, a terrible storm brewed over the Wal-Mart, damaging the very Garden Section where that poor ex-wife was murdered. There was a continuing debate at CHHS as to whether or not it was a tornado or just a very bad storm, but it was confirmed to be an F2 tornado. Thankfully only minor injuries were sustained. Wal-Mart employees worked overtime to cover the gaping roof with a tarp and clean up all the stray kiddy pools and terra cotta shards. Within days, the Wal-Mart was back in business. But that wasn’t the end of it. Bad things come in threes.
On a Saturday afternoon, in August 1993, a huge F4 tornado, (Virginia’s worst tornado, according to the 1994 High School yearbook), plowed through that Wal-Mart and put it on the national news for its casualties (three) and injuries (198). I derived a lot of pleasure from the attention I got when my friends found out my brother was in the mall when it happened and helped people out of the rubble. Plus, just moments before the twister touch-down, my father and I had just driven past the mall on I-95 on our way to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit my aunt. And my mother was on the turnpike bridge and was gusted into another lane, just missing the path of a Mack truck. The tornado nearly leveled the Wal-Mart– along with a MJDesigns craft store, a mattress warehouse and the tree where Pocahontas saved John Smith, to name a few.
And although the second and final tornado didn’t actually happen in the Garden Section, it did blow contents of the Garden Section all over the store and into some people’s heads. Cue Twilight music.
Officials finally accepted that the Wal-Mart was cursed, because they razed the original Wal-Mart and built a new, improved and blood-freeSuper Wal-Mart about a quarter of a mile away in the new Southpark Commons development area. The new Wal-Mart is just down the street from the World’s Largest Arby’s.
Look around. Mother Nature’s biggest gift to us all this time of year (ha) is out in full force. It’s nasty. It’s yellow. It’s all over everything. It’s tree pollen. Ever since I was a little guy, I’ve always hated Spring because it means one thing: pollen. I used to be so allergic to it that I’d barely be able to function this time of year. I had all sorts of nasal symptoms, not to mention I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t sleep, and the likes. I’ve always wondered why we can be so allergic to something so natural that God put here on this earth, but I digress. But this year I’ve (knock on wood) been fine. Someone told me this is because every seven years your allergies change. Something to do with cell regeneration? I don’t know. I know nothing about that kind of stuff. But someone comment and enlighten me.
Anyway, the stuff is still nasty. It’s all over my car, in my room after I had a window open just one night, it’s turned one of my black cats yellow who just goes on our screen porch, and on and on. It’s everywhere. Of course it rained off and on for two weeks straight but as soon as the pollen came out we don’t get a drop. We need a good soaking rain to wash this crap away!
It’s absolutely critical that we do something right now to save our planet from certain peril. An eye-opening new special on global warming will air tomorrow night on the National Geographic Channel. It’s called “Six Degrees Could Change The World.”
In it, some of the world’s top experts on global warming lay out what to expect as the earth warms over the next century:
At 1 degree Celsius, most coral reefs and many mountain glaciers will be lost. A 3-degree rise would spell the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, disappearance of Greenland’s ice sheet, and the creation of deserts across the Midwestern United States and southern Africa. A 6-degree increase would eliminate most life on Earth, including much of humanity.
How do we fight this impending doom? Several people have some very creative, yet expensive ideas. There is hope yet. Check out the following ideas:
Simulating Volcanic Eruptions
The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines sent an estimated 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide high into the stratosphere. Winds proceeded to spread it all over the planet, forming a high-level haze that reflected back light from the sun and reduced global temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius. Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen has proposed simulating the Pinatubo effect by using artillery guns or balloons to inject sulfur into the atmosphere. (Rockets filled with sulfur could also do the trick). Crutzen calculates that the cooling effect would begin within six months and last for up to two years. Artificially duplicating Mount Pinatubo’s effects each year might cost $250 billion, though Crutzen says a relatively affordable $25-$50 billion worth would be enough to make a difference. A major downside is the possibility of creating acid rain or wreaking havoc with global weather patterns, as the eruption of the Indonesian volcanic island of Krakatoa did in the 1880s.
Lenses In Space
University of Arizona astronomer Roger Angel has suggested using non-polluting, magnetically-powered vehicles—a concept that NASA is already exploring—to transport trillions of lenses made of silicon nitride film into space and deposit them near inner Lagrange point 1, an area where the combined effect of gravity of the Earth and the Sun would keep them in the same place relative to Earth’s rotation. The lenses would be about three feet across but incredibly thin, weighing about a gram. Rather than blocking sunlight, they would bend some of it slightly away from Earth, reducing the amount of energy transmitted by about 2 percent. Manufacturing the immense quantity of lenses and putting them into space—some 20 million launches would be required—make Angel’s idea a lengthy and pricey one, but he has estimated that the cost would average out to $100 billion annually over the lenses’ 50 year lifetime. The lenses would also be difficult to turn “off” if necessary, and could lead to uneven cooling effects.
Turning Pollution Into Baking Soda
Burning coal to generate electricity is one of the planet’s major sources of carbon emissions. To cope with their seemingly insatiable demand for electric power, the U.S., China, and India plan to build 850 new coal-fired plants by 2012, which will spew five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol nations aim to eliminate. Many believe that carbon sequestration, in which carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks are trapped and stored, is the best answer. But most ideas for what to do with the carbon dioxide—such as pumping it into manmade caverns—would be costly, and there’s always the risk that the gases will escape. That’s where a Texas-based startup company, Skyonic, and its innovative new carbon sequestration technology, gets involved. Plastic mesh sheets capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by a power plant, which is then mixed with sodium hydroxide to produce harmless baking soda. Solids are easier to store, and since the baking soda produced is high-grade, it can be recycled for industrial applications or even used for baking. Texas utility Luminant installed a pilot version of the technology at its Brown Steam Electric Station in 2006, and Skyonics is now designing a system that it hopes to install on a large 500-megawatt power plant in 2009.
Wow… it’s actually finally raining. On my way down to VCU it started pouring. They said on the weather that we might get an inch of rain tonight. We need it so badly. It was weird even seeing dark clouds, much less rain coming out of them. I can’t even remember the last time it rained. Maybe mid-August? Tori mentioned last night that it seems like everytime we are on or about to be on mandatory water usage restrictions, we get a soaking rain that puts a big dent in the drought. It seems to be true. Anyway, you know why this is happening, right? I hadn’t washed my car in months and I spent an hour yesterday washing it and Windexing the windows inside and out, not to mention cleaning everything inside and vacuuming all the carpets. Murphy’s law!