Here’s a collection of interesting stories from this week that might make you decide not to travel. Sorry about that. I don’t mean to scare you, but always be aware of the risk and try to be as prepared as possible.

Alaskan giant waves

Humans venture into dangerous areas made more so due to climate change. Here’s a news bit that I never thought about before, and adds yet another reason for me to never take an ocean cruise – I’m already terrified of giant waves and norovirus.

Here are some facts about Alaskan cruises:

  1. Scenic views of rock and icy cliffs draw people to the Alaskan fjords.
  2. Tourists enjoy ocean cruises to see these areas.
  3. As climate change ramps up, the icy cliffs are more prone to collapse and heavy rains and permafrost thaw increases the risk of landslides.
  4. Collapses and landslides can generate huge waves in the narrow bays leaving these ships vulnerable to being overtopped with no easy escape.

The conclusions we can take from all that are slightly terrifying. First, while there are many ships visiting these areas, and giant waves have already been observed in the fjords, the odds of a ship being hit are still low. However, the odds could be getting worse. Scientists are trying to inform mariners of the risk and develop emergency plans. It’s unclear how well any escape plans could work when the events happen unexpectedly and so quickly. Source: Hakai magazine

Hail, hail, not all the plane is here

A plane flying from Spain to Vienna, Austria encountered hail when flying through an unexpected thunderstorm that was not showing on radar. The plane flew into the storm about 20 minutes prior to landing. As turbulence affected the passengers, hail hit the plane, utterly destroying the nose cone (really, it’s the radome, apparently) and cracking the front windscreen. The plane did land safely. A few weeks ago, a man was killed due to turbulence on a flight. Unexpected turbulence and heavier storms are expected to increase due to atmospheric instability from climate change. Source: BBC

This type of damage has been documented before, particularly last July.

According to this information, the outer windscreen is not critical, except for visibility, because the second layer is not damaged by hail. Damage to the radome does not affect the capability to fly. Even the engines are designed to withstand impact. So, while this incident looks bad, the plane damage wasn’t extremely dangerous. However, you wouldn’t want to have experienced it.

OW! My nose!

Another fatality by python

There have been multiple incidents of people, albeit those of smaller stature, being attacked and eaten by pythons in Indonesia. Another gruesome find surfaced last week as a woman went missing in the village of Kalempang in South Sulawesi. The woman’s belongings were found as well as a very full 16 ft reticulated python. Their worst fears were realized as her body was inside. It’s not perfectly clear that this happened as described because of the sources and translation issues. But this is not an isolated incident, as other people have been documented as meeting the same fate. Source: CBS News.

The pythons will kill livestock. And, even pet pythons can be dangerous. While there have been a few reports of sightings of reticulated pythons in Florida, it’s not been officially established as an invasive species. The most common python in Florida is the Burmese python, most of which are not gigantic when they are killed. But they can get very big. Not to get too morbid, but, as a fact, humans are tough to swallow due to our shoulders. Children and pets are at greater risk and should not be left alone with large snakes. In the wild, pythons are ambush predators that may hide in trees, striking first, and constricting.

3 thoughts on “News blips: Not trying to scare you

  1. There was a story recently that some reporters in Texas found a pineapple sized hailstone, measuring 7.25 inches.

    I think Mother Nature is trying to tell us something.

  2. Things do seem to be getting chaotic out there, don’t they? Here in Wisconsin where I live we normally see about 22 tornadoes a year. It’s only June and we’ve already had 24. Fortunately none of them as devastating as those hitting the southern states but still scary enough. That comes on top of the warmest winter on record for us. Last summer/fall we were in serious drought conditions. So far this year it’s been wet and cool.

  3. We’ve been deep into one of those Alaskan fjords on a small boat for quite a spell in 2018 and the glacier did not calve; blessedly didn’t think about a possible mini-tsunami while sipping 2 margaritas-made-with-glacier-ice but, yes, a real threat to happen as glaciers catastrophically calve due to melt water underneath. Did see the Air Austria plane with its hail-decapitated nose, tho no info about condition of the cockpit crew behind its shattered windshields. To complement the woman-swallowing python in South Sulawesi, a gator dragged Gloria Serge, 85, into a Fort Pierce, FL, lake where she drowned on 2/20/23 ; another swallowed Sabrina Peckman, 41, in Largo, FL, in Sept 2023; another had a woman in its mouth in Horsepen Bayou, TX, two weeks ago (although someone posts online that the victim is “my aunt robin. She tried to kill herself by drowning and a [sic] alligator got to her.”) Only a matter of time til those too-big-for-pets pythons start racking up similar headlines in the USA.

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