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Thousands of Flights Canceled as Storms Sweep Across the East Coast

Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled in the wake of severe storms that pummeled the East Coast over the weekend. According to FlightAware, more than 330 flights were canceled, and another 1,400 were delayed as of Tuesday morning.

The figures reflect the ongoing travel disruptions caused by turbulent weather in the Eastern U.S. Midday on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tweeted that they were working to avoid delays and cancellations.

“The FAA is re-routing aircraft around the storms heading to the East Coast as much as possible. Soon we will likely have to pause departures in and out of East Coast airports, including NYC, Philly, DC, Charlotte and Atlanta. Monitor http://fly.faa.gov. #FAAWeatherSad

By the end of the day Monday, however, 8,200 flights were delayed, and 1,600 were canceled. On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines had to cancel 100 flights, consisting of around 3% of its total schedule, and another 226 were delayed. There were 20 flight cancellations and 22 flight delays at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Atlanta, Newark Liberty, and Boston Logan are a few of the other major airports experiencing a moderate number of cancellations and delays.

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The recent storms left nearly 400,000 homes and businesses without power in large regions along the East Coast. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail also led to the deaths of two people, damaged structures and homes, and left dozens of drivers stranded for hours.

People were trapped in their cars for up to five and a half hours in Westminster, Maryland. State police reported that severe weather on Monday caused power lines to fall onto vehicles. Crews worked for hours to de-energize the power lines so drivers could leave the scene.

On his way home from work, Jeffrey Campbell told CNN he was trapped for hours when a utility pole collapsed in front of his vehicle onto other cars, leaving exposed live wires on the ground on either side of his truck. A wire knocked his exterior mirror off the side of his car. “It’s just poles coming down one after the other,” Campbell said.

Authorities shared that no injuries were reported, but 33 adults and 14 children had to be rescued.

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Tom Tomovich, a resident of Hockessin, DE, told 6ABC-TV that the storms ripped the roof of his house off.

“We saw the clouds coming and could hear a rumbling in the distance. We went into the house, and we were on the first floor, and before we could blink an eye, the winds just came right through the back of our house.”

The size of hailstones from Monday night’s storms in Caroline County, VA, came close to breaking state records. One hailstone, measured at around 4.75 inches, is the third largest ever found in Virginia. The last time hail this size hit the state was in the 1960s.

The initial storms affecting Philadelphia to Atlanta on Monday have since calmed. However, in the Southeast and New England, millions of people may face severe weather on Tuesday.

In a Facebook live briefing, National Weather Service meteorologist Christ Strong said, “This does look to be one of the most impactful severe weather events across the mid-Atlantic that we have had in some time.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 220,000 homes and businesses still do not have power in five states, with around 125,000 customers residing in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Hail Storm

Golf Ball-Sized Hailstones Fall in Australia

Over the past several weeks, Australia has experienced extreme wildfires which threaten wildlife all over the continent and continue to this day. Now, another extreme weather event has befallen Australia, as golf ball-sized hailstones have fallen from the sky in Canberra, destroying vehicles and threatening human safety and property. The hail arrived alongside severe thunderstorms, which left two tourists in the hospital after they were struck by lightning. The hail has already caused serious damage in Australia; glasshouses in which studies on crop sustainability were being conducted were destroyed by the hail, ruining the scientific endeavors conducted in the building and leading the Insurance Council of Australia to declare the storms a “catastrophe.” 

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Given the apocalyptic nature of the wildfires that have destroyed large swaths of the country, the rain provided by the storms is welcome, but the destructive hail it brought only contributes to more misery in a country besieged by recent rare and extreme weather events. Unfortunately, such weather events are likely to continue throughout the coming years and decades, as scientists believe that the weather was made much more powerful by the effects of climate change, which will only worsen over the next century irrespective of whether humans eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions, which itself seems unlikely. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of “giant” hailstones in advance of the storm, but it was impossible for people to prepare for the destruction that the hail wrought upon the city of Canberra and the surrounding areas. The hail injured a large number of birds, many of which were brought to vets by concerned passersby.

While the hailstorm lasted just thirty minutes, it badly damaged hundreds of cars and buildings, according to The Guardian. Fortunately, no deaths were reported, although two people were treated for minor injuries from the hail. As a result of the storm, 20,000 houses and buildings lost power in the south-east part of the country. The winds from the storm were so powerful that they ripped branches from trees and knocked over trees, in some cases causing people to be trapped in their cars on the road as felled trees blocked their path. Additionally, the National Museum of Australia experienced serious damage as the storm tore off part of the building’s roof, caused leaks in hallways, and damaged shade cloths, leading the building to close its doors. According to the Insurance Council of Australia, more than 11,000 claims have been filed in connection with the storm. 

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And as if these extreme weather events weren’t enough, the weather has also brought huge dust storms to the country, which were so powerful that they blocked out the sunlight. New South Wales was particularly affected, and citizens shared videos of the tremendous storms on social media, drawing significant attention online. People around the world have chipped in to help Australia in the aftermath of these wildfires; for instance, runners are participating in a virtual race for charity in order to raise money to benefit the country. With hope, calm weather will return to Australia soon, and the country will have a chance to recover. 

Making Wine

Climate Change Hurting France’s Winemaking Industry

Climate change has become a major epidemic in our world. The Amazon Forest is on fire along with California, it’s been snowing in the Midwest since September, our oceans are filled with plastic, and the North Pole is beginning to look like a beach resort. Environmental impact aside, the world’s economies that rely on our planet’s many ecosystems are also in a rapid decline. France is the most recent area of the planet that’s having an economic crisis as a result of climate change, and its happening to one of their most lucrative industries – wine-making. 

The wine industry is built around vineyards and growing nice, healthy grapes that will later be turned into eclectic wines. Now, according to the National Public Radio, French vineyards are being negatively impacted by erratic weather patterns and long periods of heat which lead to drought. It’s not as though vintners aren’t used to seasonal changes and drastic shifts in temperature, however, they’ve never experienced it at the level that’s occurring now. 

“Because of the grapes. They show us the change. Especially in alcohol. The alcohol level has been getting higher in the last five years. These days, the alcohol content by volume can reach 15%, when [I] was a boy, it was maximum 12 [% ABV]. It’s causing me some problems when I start the vinification process, because I have to use new yeast to avoid too much alcohol. It’s really new for me,” said Remi Couppé, to NPR, a fourth-generation winemaker who crafts wine at, grand cru St. Emilion with his brother. 

Higher alcohol content is due to an increase in seasonal temperatures. The escalation causes the grapes to have a larger amount of sugar in them, and therefore a higher alcohol percentage is produced during the fermentation process. During fermentation, yeasts convert the sugar from the grapes into ethanol, the alcohol in wine, so the more sugar, the more ethanol is produced. 

Additionally, Couppé discussed how changes in soil along with the temperatures, have caused new small flowers to begin to grow on the grape vines. This can become a problem because if those flowers are mixed in with the grapes when they’re being broken down and fermented, they can add different flavors to the wine than intended. Also, a big part of the harvesting process is known as “stripping,” (NPR), in which workers strip the leaves off of the vines as a means of getting more sun exposure to the grapes, and it also makes harvesting and separating the grapes from the vine easier. However, with an increase in temperature and UV exposure, the leaves need to stay on to protect the grapes, thus making the harvesting process even more tedious. 

Vineyard workers have to also consider other extreme conditions that occur besides the heat. Rainstorms are becoming heavier and longer, along with spells of cold weather and drastic temperature drops, which are causing the unexpected worry of hailstorms.

“In the past couple of years, some chateaux have been banding together to fight the increasing frequency of hailstones. We’re now hooked up to radar systems that let us know when a hailstone-charged cloud is approaching. So we launch some helium balloons together, and on those balloons we attach hygroscopic salt. The balloon is sucked into the storm cloud and the hygroscopic salt burns, transforming the hail into rain,” says Vine-master Nicolas Poumeyrau to NPR.

Vine-masters all around France are also pulling their focus more on the grapes that can withstand more extreme temperatures and changing their watering patterns to favor the vines that are stronger. They’re also attempting to infuse more irrigation systems among the vineyards to ensure all plants are hydrated consistently. Additionally, this past July the French wine governing body, the INAO (Institute National de l’Origine et de la Qualité), approved the use of seven new grapes for certain categories of Bordeaux wines specifically, one of the most lucrative wines that is exported from France, (NPR).