PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES: The partly cloudy refers to the clarity of NOAA’s crystal ball used for determining July rainfall in Florida. Forecasters are calling for equal chances of above-normal, normal, or below-normal rainfall for the state and in fact for much of the U.S. Texas and Louisiana, the northwest, and New England are in for a drier month, forecasters said. Only the Desert Southwest is likely to have a wetter-than-average July, they said. Temperature-wise, much of the eastern and western U.S. should have a warmer-than-average July, with the exception of the Rocky Mountain States and the coastal southeast. Still, South Florida and the Keys are headed for an unusually warm month, according to the Climate Prediction Center’s new forecast issued Thursday. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)
PLAN B FROM OUTERSPACE: NASA has issued with a new plan on how Earth can avoid — or deal with — a catastrophic asteroid impact. The strategies were discussed in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
In a remarkable understatement, Levitcus Lewis, chief of the FEMA National Response Coordination Branch, characterized a major asteroid strike as “a low probability but high consequence event” for which “some degree of preparedness is necessary.”
The NASA and FEMA approach was detailed on Space.com, and at the same time the full plan — National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan was published by the White House.
An asteroid strike is not far-fetched. Small asteroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere regularly, where they put on a spectacular sky show as they disintegrate and burn out. But large asteroids can have a catastrophic impact, not only on the area that it hits, but on the planet’s climate years down the road.
An asteroid that hit Siberia in 1908 was the largest ever recorded, measuring about 100 feet. If an object of that size hit New York City it would impact a three-state area.
The asteroid that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was 62 feet wide. It injured more than 1,200 people and damaged thousands of buildings as far as 58 miles away.
The government’s new plan is to increase detection methods of both smaller and larger objects. It also calls for new methods of deflection if an asteroid is headed toward impact.
There are more than 8,000 near-Earth objects of at least 460 feet, and 95 percent of them have been catalogued by astronomers. After analyzing their tracks, scientists have concluded that none of them pose a threat to the planet in this century.
Of course, it’s that other 5 percent that keeps the experts awake at night.
It’s official — summer began at 6:07 a.m., when the sun reached its northern-most point over the Tropic of Cancer. That’s about 70 miles south of Key West. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)