An App Built for Hurricane Harvey Is Now Saving Lives in Florida

Typhoons ‘trick’ Japan’s cherry trees into blooming months early

Some of Japan’s cherry trees have started blooming early. Photograph: Goryu/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The arrival of Japan’s famed cherry blossoms is the cue for groups of office workers to eat and drink, cast off their inhibitions and ponder the transient nature of life against a backdrop of pale pink petals falling to the ground.

But the nationally observed rite of spring has come early, with reports from hundreds of locations that the country’s beloved sakura are blooming several months ahead of schedule.

The Weathernews website said it had received more than 350 reports of premature blossoms, starting on the south-western island of Kyushu and continuing across the archipelago as far north as Hokkaido.

Experts said the flowers’ surprise appearance was probably linked to extreme weather events in Japan in recent weeks, including two particularly powerful typhoons.

Hiroyuki Wada, a tree doctor at the Flower Association of Japan, said the violent storms had stripped many trees of their leaves. One purpose of the leaves is to release hormones that prevent buds from flowering ahead of time.

Wada told the public broadcaster NHK that the unusually warm weather that…


An App Built for Hurricane Harvey Is Now Saving Lives in Florida

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle at 155 miles per hour, flattening neighborhoods, turning subdivisions into rubble, and plunging the coast into darkness. On Friday, Trevor Lewis packed up two trucks with crowbars, chainsaws, sledgehammers, ropes, walkie talkies, and five other guys from Cocoa Beach, where he lives on the east side of the state. As night fell they began the drive up into the worst of the wreckage. By 4 am on Saturday they were responding to their first call for help.

Lewis leads a self-funded search-and-rescue unit made up of off-duty police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. They call themselves Salty Water Rescue Services, and most of them have special emergency training on the high-speed powerboat racing circuit off Cocoa Beach. They’re one of hundreds of volunteer crews that showed up post-Michael to help first responders overwhelmed by 911 calls….

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