First off, we had severe weather in the northwoods last night and several reports of trees down, power outages, and even vehicles at campgrounds being damaged, however we have not received any pictures of the event yet. If you know of anyone who was affect or if you have any pictures, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org we can have a look. From the storm reports and what Brian told me, it appears some of the worst damage occurred around the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage area in southern Iron county. Springstead, Lac Du Flambeau, and Minocqua were also hit. Because the areas are a couple hours from Wausau, it is unlikely that a member of our newsteam will be heading up there to record the damage. It is also a relatively long distance from the NWS offices of Duluth and Green Bay so there is no guarantee that the weather service will be out there to survey the situation or confirm a tornado touchdown. So it might be up to you (readers/viewers) to document this storm. If you have any videos or pictures, let us know.
Next I wanted to touch upon some good news, kind-of the theme of my blog entries this week (except for the severe weather of course). The good news is about the Gulf Oil Spill. It has been a tragic spill that cost lives (the 11 who died in the explosion and all the animals) money, and time. It is one of the worst oil spills in a long time, but as of now, it does not look like the greatest environmental disaster in the history of the world – as it has been portrayed many times in the media. Some commenters on environmental websites even claimed that 10% of the world’s population would die because of the oil spill. That is not going to happen. Perhaps you have missed the good news, but ever since last Thursday (nearly a week now), oil clean-up crews have not been able to find any oil on the surface. Some people are speculating that there are large amounts of oil under the surface but that is yet to be proven. The “large plumes” of oil that were reported last month were plumes of teeny-tiny droplets of oil. The plumes could not be seen by the naked eye, only with special detecting equipment. These “large” plumes were the ones forecast by some very limited computer models to affect the east coast and even northern Europe. Kristen mentioned that she did not see any oil at Venice Beach (FL) during her recent visit. This is also the report from residents up and down the west coast of Florida, except the far western Panhandle. Let us hope that the sun, heat, waves, and microbes are continuing to destroy the remaining oil at a good pace. So how did the reporting on the oil spill get so over-the-top. I suspect it was because the media created a “villian” in BP and Tony Heyward and because the U.S. government limited access and reporting about the oil spill. Without accurate data, the media and environmental websites ran wild with catastrophic predictions.
Before commenters come in and write a lot of vile things, let me again say that the oil spill was big and it has been tragic. There was, is, and still could be additional widespread environmental damage around the marshes of southern Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. It certainly has been traumatic for residents along the Gulf Coast. However, it has not been as big a catastrophe as was portrayed in the mainstream media, plus some good news is emerging (no oil on the surface for a week).
Big events like this should serve as a lesson in hyperbole. Overstating the facts can lead to hysteria and poor policy decisions that can sometimes compound an already bad situation.
Have a good Wednesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on July 28, 2010