Scary radar animation of Hurricane Michael making landfall

There's something about the detail and dimensionality of this animation that really sends a shiver down my spine. Read the rest

How anarchist organizers in rural Puerto Rico rebooted their power grid after the privatized power company abandoned them

After being hammered by hurricane Maria, the residents of the rural Puerto Rican mountain town of Mariana got tired of waiting for the bumbling, privatized, cash-starved power authority to reconnect them to the grid, so the anarchist organizer Christine Nieves founded Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo, one of a dozen-odd cooperatives across the island to create their own solar grid; by the time the The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority finally put in an appearance, Mariana had had power for two whole months. Read the rest

17 dead after Missouri duck boat sinks

17 are confirmed dead after a duck boat on Table Rock Lake in Missouri sank with 31 people on board. Read the rest

How the Grenfell fire spread

Dozens of people were killed and injured when London's Grenfell Tower went up in flames last year. The fire spread under dangerous ornamental cladding designed to make the aging structure, which lacked sprinkers, look modern. The BBC made a set of graphics to show the terrible speed of the blaze, which leapt up through 20 apartments within 10 minutes.

A resident of flat 195 on the 22nd floor called emergency services to describe smelling smoke, but was advised to "stay inside and keep your door and windows shut".

They kept telling them to stay put for nearly two hours. 72 dead. Read the rest

Drone footage of huge fissure opening behind imminent landslide

The Yakima Herald posted this video, shot by Steven Mack, of a growing fissue on Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima, Wa.

I-82, seen in the footage, is only threatened in "less likely scenarios." The county has pre-emptively declared an official disaster.

The city of Union Gap also declared a disaster, allowing officials to request the help they'll need when the hillside comes down.

The big question remains "When will the slide happen?" State geologists now say they don't expect a landslide event until sometime between late January and early March.

"The honest answer is no one knows for certain. There are a number of possibilities. The most likely scenario is that the landslide will continue to slowly move to the south, where the landslide mass will fall into the quarry pit and accumulate. Monitoring data suggests most of the mass will remain in the pit and on the hillside," the Washington state Department of Natural Resources said on its website.

I've roughly marked the hill that's coming down on this google maps image. Most of it will just fill the quarry you see to the bottom right, apparently.

At least 20 people were killed over the weekend after landslides and flooding in California. Read the rest

How the worst airline accident in history was avoided

My favorite air disaster documentarian, Allec Joshua Ibay, recreated last month's SFO taxiway near-miss, complete with real radio traffic. I skipped the scene-setting in the above embed: an inbound pilot mistaking a taxiway, with a bunch of loaded planes on it, for the runway. Read the rest

Disaster strikes but bride doesn't care

Bus breaks down on the way to the wedding? No problem. Power outage at the reception? The bride did not care. A string of unfortunate events attempted to derail a Virginia bride's big day, but nothing was getting in the way of her happiness. Read the rest

Three-year search for missing flight MH370 called off

Malaysia Airlines flight #MH370 pitched somewhere in the vast oceans west of Australia three years ago, the only evidence washing ashore thousands of miles away. The search for its remains, and those of hundreds of missing passengers and crew, has been called off.

Families of the victims of flight MH370 say a decision to halt the search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished in March 2014 is "irresponsible". ... More than 120,000 sq km (46,300 miles) of the Indian Ocean has been searched with no results. Pieces of debris have been found as far away as Madagascar. But only seven have been identified as definitely or highly likely to be from the Boeing 777.

It's 2017 and they still dress airline pilots up like commodores and let them turn off the transponders. Read the rest

How to land a passenger jet without any flight controls

Allec Joshua Ibay's flight sim recreation of United Airlines Flight 232's loss of all flight controls doesn't skip a second. The unadorned, tick-tock quality of the video makes it surprisingly gripping, not least because of the incredible solution the crew found to their predicament: controlling the plane entirely by raising and lowering thrust from the engines. Even then, they couldn't turn left at all, meaning the slightest overturn right would require an entire 360-degree swoop to get back on target.

Then they had to land it. Read the rest

After 27 years, jury blames UK stadium disaster on police

A UK inquest determined Tuesday that the Hillsborough disaster, a 1989 stadium crowd crush that claimed 96 lives, was the fault of police. The jury's verdict follows decades of tabloid lies and police cover-ups that began immediately after the incident in Sheffield, England, attempting to blame the victims for their own deaths.

After a 27-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated. The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground on 15 April 1989. Nine jurors reached unanimous decisions on all but one of the 14 questions at the inquests into Britain's worst sporting disaster. The coroner Sir John Goldring said he would accept a majority decision about whether the fans were unlawfully killed - seven jurors agreed they were.

The incident, at a huge and decrepit stadium, saw countless fans admitted by police to a standing-only zone with few points of escape. As the situation worsened, according to the jury's verdict, police failed to open gates, caused the crush on the terraces, responded slowly to the emergency, and exacerbated it through their actions.

In the aftermath, police blamed fans and stonewalled the first inquiry, which forced changes to stadiums but lacked the remit to condemn the authorities. Here's how the UK's largest-circulation daily tabloid, The Sun, reported the incident (with its decades-late apology on the right.)

As part of the verdict, police Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was held "responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence."

The video above shows the horror of the crush in still images. Read the rest

How the standard, high-quality disaster-relief tarpaulin came to be

Tarpaulins are critical supplies for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, serving as cover, shelter, carpet and all-round utility infielder. Read the rest

A survivalist on why you shouldn't bug out

Seven years ago, Alex Steffen and I proposed that rather than preparing "bug out bags" you can grab and go with after the apocalypse, we should all have "bug-in bags" full of things we'll use to help our neighbors when the lights go out. Read the rest

Over 60 dead after crane collapse in Mecca's Grand Mosque

Images and video in this post contain graphic images of death, and may be disturbing.

Indonesia's plane crash problem

Another Indonesian passenger jet went down, this time with 54 people on board. Read the rest

Earthquake early warning system gets a $4 million boost from USGS

What if there were a way to warn people right before a big earthquake hits? Earthquake early warning system technology is already serious stuff in Japan, and a system in development for the U.S. just got some serious funding.

Photo of a monstrous hole swallowing a neighborhood

This giant hole is the result of water flowing into a salt mine in Russia. When the soil started shifting in 2005, the government shut off power to the area to encourage residents to leave.

On Tuesday, the mines were evacuated due to shifting earth, and the hole opened up on Tuesday evening. Russian authorities are studying the scene and performing air quality tests to determine whether noxious gasses are being released.

There Goes the Neighborhood Read the rest

Farmhouse narrowly avoids boulder-flattening

A farm in Ronchi di Termeno, Italy, was nearly squashed by titanic boulders that rumbled off nearby mountains in a landslide. One of them destroyed the barn, while another stopped a whisker shy of the farmhouse itself. The furrows the boulders cut through the fields are straight out of a golden age DC comic.

Boulder smashes through Italian farm [BBC]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Images: downsized, cropped thumbnails of photos from the Associated Press) Read the rest

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