Connect with us

Science

Northern California wildfire spawns rare firenado

Published

on

Northern California was alerted to a rare tornado warning unlike any other by the National Weather Service — a fire tornado.

Sure enough, a fiery tornado was spotted shortly after the warning on Saturday near the Nevada border, where a large wildfire, winds and extreme temperatures combined to create a dangerous storm.

The Reno office of the National Weather Service knew the mixture of 60 mph winds with pyrocumulonimbus clouds from the Loyalton Wildfire could produce a fire-induced tornado. The forecasters warned the conditions posed “an extremely dangerous situation for firefighters.”

“The Loyalton Fire to the east of the Sierra Valley exploded most impressively this afternoon, with a very large pyrocumulus and reports of fire tornadoes,” the NWS warning said. “Due to the possibility of very strong fire-generated winds and extreme fire behavior with danger to fire personnel, a tornado warning was issued to heighten awareness in the area of the fire.”

The wildfire has charred 20,000 acres in Lassen County, California, as of Sunday morning and has ignited serious concerns and sparked evacuations on Saturday for portions of Sierra, Lassen and Plumas counties.

Firenados are created when rising hot air from a fire becomes twisted by winds changing direction, much like the more common land tornado. The difference between a regular tornado and the firenado, however, is that winds combine with smoke plums to create especially dangerous conditions.

“In terms of the ingredients, the intense heat of wildfires already causes large, billowing columns of rising hot air and smoke, but what causes them to turn into “pyrocumulonimbus”, or thunderstorm clouds caused by wildfire smoke, has to do with the state of the atmosphere above the fire,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.

Typically in the west, the air is very dry, so the air simply doesn’t have enough moisture for the rising air above the fire to turn into clouds, you just see all of the ash and embers and dust from the wildfire itself. But Sojda explained that if the atmosphere above a wildfire gets an influx of moisture, then the rising air and smoke can also form clouds as it rises and cools.

“A storm system off the California coast helped push some extra moisture into Northern California, enough to allow the rising air and smoke from the Loyalton Fire to turn into clouds and eventually a towering thunderstorm,” Sojda said.

“Localized wind currents caused by a combination of the thunderstorm, the intense heat from the fire, and the shape of the valley around the fire and storm helped cause the storm to rotate, just like a supercell thunderstorm that are famous for causing tornados in places like the Great Plains,” Sojda said.

Sojda warns, this poses an extreme danger.

“Not only can these “pyro-thunderstorms” cause wind damage and tornadoes just like a more traditional severe thunderstorm, but they can also cause the fire to behave very erratically and spread very quickly. Embers blown about by the gusty thunderstorm winds can also start new fires. Since it is a thunderstorm, there is also the threat of lightning, which can start new fires, but can also be dangerous to firefighters without shelter who are trying to fight the fire,” Sojda said.

“Firenadoes are an extreme weather phenomenon that can occur with rotating fire columns,” NWS Reno wrote on Twitter. “As extreme as this behavior is, the #CarrFire had an extreme example of this.”



Source link

Science

Apple recalls shipment of iPhone 6 Plus due to photo glitch

Published

on

CUPERTINO, Calif., Aug. 23 (UPI) — Apple has recalled a shipment of its iPhone 6 Plus due to a technological glitch that produces blurry photos in the device’s camera, the company announced.

The recall affects a small number of iPhone 6 Plus devices, Apple said in a statement, which have demonstrated a glitch in the iSight camera.

Apple said it’s “a component that may fail causing your photos to look blurry.”

Apple created a web page where users can enter their phone’s serial number to determine if they are affected by the recall.

The iPhone 6 and larger iPhone 6 Plus were released last September.



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

‘Invisible’ words reveal common structure among famous stories

Published

on

Aug. 7 (UPI) — Storytelling requires a narrative arc, but the trajectory of a dramatic arc isn’t always obvious.

By tracing the abundance of “invisible” words — pronouns, articles and other short words — researchers were able to identify patterns shared by a diversity of stories, from Shakespeare to Spielberg, according to a study published Friday in Science Advances.

“Over the years, these ‘invisible’ words have been found to be related to a whole mess of psychological processes — how people use small words like articles and pronouns tell us about a person’s mental health, thinking style, their social status, and even how well they get along with other people,” study lead author Ryan Boyd told UPI.

“In many ways, it was a natural progression to look at what these words can tell us how the nature of stories,” said Boyd, a lecturer in behavioral analytics at the University of Leeds.

For the study, Boyd and his colleagues used a range of statistical techniques to analyze the abundance and distribution of invisible words in 40,000 fictional texts, including short stories, novels and movie scripts.

The analysis revealed a common structure — a so-called narrative curve — featuring three distinct phases.

During the “staging” phase, authors use prepositions and articles in greater abundance, peppering their prose with “a” and “the.” These words are more useful at the beginning, when authors must set the scene and provide the audience with basic information.

The middle phase is defined by plot progression, which is revealed by a greater abundance of auxiliary verbs, adverbs and pronouns — or interactional language. During this phase, “the house” from the staging phase becomes “her home” or “it.”

During the third phase, cognitive tension is ramped up as the narrative arc reaches a climax. As the author guides the reader or viewer through the process of conflict resolution, cognitive-processing words like “think,” “believe,” “understand” and “cause” begin to crop up in greater numbers.

Researchers found this three-phase narrative shape remained consistent, regardless of a stories length.

“A 25,000 word story has the same shape as a 250 word story,” said Boyd, lead author of the new study. “It seems, then, that we are able to do a good job of structuring our stories in an optimal way regardless of how much space we have to do it in.”

The researchers set up a website showing the shapes of staging, plot progression and cognitive tension in eight texts at The Arc of Narrative website.

The patterns left by invisible words proved both good and bad stories — tales spun by amateurs, as well as professionals — utilize similar structures.

“Our results confirm what people have long believed about stories,” Boyd said. “Like DNA, we knew about it long before we could actually see it and measure it. With these new methods, we are able to see and measure the ‘DNA’ of stories and understand them in more objective, scientific ways.”

According to Boyd, studying the patterns of stories can offer insights into cognitive processes unique to humans.

“What these story shapes seem to tell us is that we have, to some degree, evolved to process information in certain ways,” he said. “We need to understand the ‘who’ and ‘what’ in order to understand the ‘why’ of our everyday lives and the lives of others.”

The authors of the latest story are already mining text for other language patterns that might help researchers determine whether a story-teller is telling the truth, or perhaps reveal the secrets to a “good” story.



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Florida Current study confirms decline in strength of Gulf Stream

Published

on

Aug. 7 (UPI) — New research suggests the strength of the Florida Current, which forms the beginning of the Gulf Stream, has weakened considerably over the last century.

The findings, published Friday in the journal Nature Climate Change, corroborate the predictions of several models that suggest the Gulf Stream has slowed over the last several decades.

The Florida Current is a thermal ocean current that flows from west to east around the tip of Florida, joining the Gulf Stream off Florida’s east coast.

Scientists have been tracking the strength of the Florida Current since the early 1980s — not long enough to identify multi-decadal or centennial trends.

To better understand the current’s historical changes, Christopher Piecuch, researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, decided to study the relationship between coastal sea level and the strength of near-shore currents.

While researchers have only been measuring the Florida Current for a few decades, scientists have been recording sea level data since the early 1900s. Piecuch was able to use the data to predict historic changes in the strength of near-shore currents.

“In the ocean, almost everything is connected,” Christopher Piecuch, sole author of the new study, said in a news release. “We can use those connections to look at things in the past or far from shore, giving us a more complete view of the ocean and how it changes across space and time.”

The statistical analysis performed by Piecuch showed the Florida Current and Gulf Stream are the weakest they’ve been during the last 110 years.

The findings are in agreement with ocean current models that suggest climate change has caused a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, of which the Gulf Stream is a part.

Piecuch said he hopes his research will help other scientists use coastal current data to study changes in bigger currents like the Gulf Stream.

“If we can monitor something over the horizon by making measurements from shore, then that’s a win for science and potentially for society,” he said.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending