Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5/21 Tug rescue, BC waters, BC owls, train traffic, Jet noise, caterpillars, Marysville flood

Milky Way above the Chilean desert observatory
Look Up In The Sky And Live Big
Adam Frank writes: "We live in a galaxy of 100 billion stars. That's a one-hundred-thousand million suns, joined together by their mutual gravity in the shape of disk, all swirling around a common center. A 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy and how many have you seen in the last week? How many have you stopped to notice? The sad truth is that most of us (myself included) live in the midst of city glare. On any given night it feels like we can barely see a handful of stars (OK, maybe handfuls of handfuls). Worse still, lost in our worries, we barely look up and let the light of those few cosmic emissaries we can see work their magic and get us out of our heads..." (NPR)

Ship towed to Port Angeles for repairs after stalling in Strait
The MV Westwood Columbia was moored to a pier in Port Angeles Harbor on Tuesday, a day after losing power in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca north of Neah Bay on Monday. The 650-foot green cargo ship — an unusual-looking vessel featuring a large, square structure in its midsection — reported a loss of propulsion at about noon, said Lisa Copeland, state Department of Ecology spokeswoman. The container ship, which is based in the Bahamas, was carrying lumber and other cargo outbound through the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Canadian waters when the failure occurred. “It took less than an hour for the tug [from Neah Bay] to reach them,” Copeland said. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Three rivers, two creeks on B.C.’s endangered waterways list
Dams, acid leachate and a hazardous waste treatment plant are among the threats that have placed three rivers and two creeks on the annual list of British Columbia’s most endangered waterways. The Peace, Fraser and Similkameen Rivers, together with Pennask and Callaghan Creeks, were selected from nominations made by the 100,000 members of the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Glimmer of hope for B.C.’s endangered owls
A flourishing barred owl population is being sacrificed to help with recovery of endangered northern spotted owls in southwestern B.C. The number of spotted owls known to exist in the wild in southwestern B.C. has increased by four in the past two years to 14 amid a wide-ranging management program that has included the killing and large-scale relocation of its chief competitor, the barred owl. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Bellingham meeting: Money for railroad overpasses nowhere to be found
Overpasses to separate vehicle traffic from railroad tracks would help prevent many of the headaches caused by increased rail shipments, but there is little or no money available for such costly overpass projects. That was one of the messages that the Washington State Transportation Commission heard Tuesday, May 20, at an all-day session in City Council chambers. The seven-member group collects information on state transportation issues and makes recommendations to the State Legislature, among other things. Paul Roberts, board secretary of the Association of Washington Cities, told commission members that state and federal governments have shown little interest in stepping up to pay for "grade separations," or overpasses that eliminate the traffic backups that can result when trains block busy streets and roads. A single railroad overpass can cost $15 million to $30 million, Roberts said, and few local governments can come up with that kind of cash. John Stark reports. (Bellingham Herald)

New feature on county website tracks Navy jet noise
Islanders can now report noise from military jet aircraft on a new application on the San Juan County website. It’s proven to be popular, with 14 reports registered in less than 24 hours after the application went active in the afternoon of May 15. Visitors to the website can enter their own observations and access prior entries by clicking on the red dots on the map. Steve Wehrly reports. (San Juan Journal)

Growers at war with intense caterpillar infestation
Western tent caterpillars have infested the branches of deciduous trees in abundant numbers this year, bringing unsightly white webs and leaf-munching larvae to the attention of growers across Skagit County.... “Sometimes you get one or two (caterpillars) off a limb. This year you can get 30 off a limb. It’s been terrible,” said Alan Merritt, owner of Merritt Apples in Bow. Mark Stayton reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Deluge in Marysville a '100-year event'
The unseasonable rainstorm that struck the Marysville area late Sunday was “a 100-­year event,” a city official said. The sudden downpour backed up storm drains, flooding streets, and water rose to two feet deep in some areas. According to the Marysville Public Works Department, the city received 2.61 inches of rain in the first 65 minutes. At its peak, the storm cell produced rainfall of 2.48 inches per hour. The total from the storm was 3.40 inches. Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen called the storm “extremely unique.” Brenna Holland reports. (Everett Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 233 AM PDT WED MAY 21 2014
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. SW SWELL 2 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
NW WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING NE 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS AFTER MIDNIGHT. SW
 SWELL 2 FT AT 15 SECONDS.

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