Firefighters now have 30 percent of California's Rim Fire contained with full containment expected by Sept 10. While hot weather and aggressive winds have stymied efforts to control the fire, a reversal of climate conditions, combined with increased moisture in the air, have helped firefighters make significant progress.
"[The weather has] given us a greater opportunity to get in there and strengthen our containment lines," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant told The Los Angeles Times.
The weather's role has been critical: in two separate 24 hour periods last week the fire burned 30,000 and 50,000 acres. In contrast, in two days this week, the fire burned 10,000 and 5,000 acres. In total, the fire has destroyed more than 40,000 acres in Yosemite National Park and 187,000 acres overall. more >>
One of California's largest wildfires on record has chased away tourists, entered Yosemite National Park and now threatens a major water supply for the San Francisco Bay Area.
As of Monday morning, the Rim Fire had still only been 15 percent contained, having scorched through 15,000 acres of the parks and rapidly speeding towards Hetchy Hetchy Reservoir and the homes and businesses of nearby Tuolumne City. In total, the fire has burned an extraordinary 150,000 acres.
Currently over 3,400 firefighters are fighting their way through 100 foot visibility, clogged with ash and smoke and battling persistent winds that continue to combust the fire, which began nearly 10 days ago, on August 17. more >>
A new study from LifeWay Research reveals that more than half (57 percent) of Americans become more interested in God when a natural disaster occurs.
About one-third (31 percent) said their interest in God doesn't increase after such catastrophes, the Nashville-based research organization found, and 12 percent were unsure. The study, which was conducted just days after a powerful EF5 tornado ravaged Moore, Okla., on May 20, also revealed that Americans were divided about how they feel toward God "when suffering occurs that appears unfair."
One-third (33 percent) of the 1,040 American adults surveyed said such suffering causes them to put more trust in God. One-quarter (25 percent) said it makes them confused about God and 16 percent said they don't think about God at all during such times. Suffering that appears unfair causes another 11 percent to wonder if God cares, seven percent doubt God's existence, five percent become angry toward God and three percent resent Him. more >>
A conspiracy theorist and libertarian radio personality has claimed that the federal government has the means to use weather phenomenons like tornadoes as weapons.
Alex Jones, author, documentary filmmaker, and overseer of the website inforwars.com, responded to a question from a caller Tuesday regarding the possible existence of "Weather Weapons."
"They spend, the Department of Energy, the last time I checked, $5 billion a year in studying weather modification," said Jones on his Austin, Texas-based radio program, The Alex Jones Show. more >>
A Bible was found among the Oklahoma tornado debris and returned to its owner. Ironically, the Bible was opened to Isaiah, chapter 32, which reads, "A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest."
The Bible, which belonged to Michael Alexander and his fiancé Sheila Spurlin, was found in nearby debris by a storm chaser named Brandon Heiden. He watched helplessly as the storm tore Lance Carter's home apart, then made sure the family was okay after it was all over. Heiden was the first one to notice the Bible and took a picture of it to help it find its way back home.
Gage Ross, a Carter family friend, stopped by to help begin cleaning up; he spotted the same Bible, which was open to a telling verse in Isaiah 32: "A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest." more >>
[Updated 10:45 am, May 21: An earlier version said at least 91 people were dead, but an updated report in The New York Times says that spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner Amy Elliot's figures that at least 51 people were dead and 40 more bodies were being delivered is "no longer accurate." The confirmed death toll is 24.]
As darkness fell on the tornado-ripped community of Moore, Okla., and the severely damaged areas surrounding Oklahoma City on Monday, at least 24 people, including children, were confirmed dead as the search for survivors continued. Many undamaged and secure structures, such as churches, served as emergency shelters for those whose homes were destroyed as the result of the 200 mph winds. Government-funded disaster relief teams were joined by faith-based organizations, some already mobilized from previous disaster efforts, for immediate action.
A frantic search for students, teachers and staff at the flattened Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, which was in the storm's direct path, continued into Tuesday morning. Reports indicate that 75 third-graders were believed to have been huddled when the tornado struck, with seven now confirmed dead, a number of students showing up alive at a nearby church, and many still missing. more >>