As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge

Hurricane Kills 166 People, Curbs Power in Southern Africa Image credit: Students walk past a mudslideb in Manicaland Province, Mozambique following a cyclone on March 17. Photographer: Zinyange Auntony/AFP via Getty Images Full story:

As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge

As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released when a whole town burns and the wind would soon blow away evidence.  He drove the roughly 100 miles to Paradise, located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, from his laboratory at the University of California, Davis, only to be refused entrance under rules that allow first responders and journalists – but not public health researchers – to cross police lines.

It was the second time Bein says he was unable to gather post-wildfire research in a field so new public safety agencies have not yet developed procedures for allowing scientists into restricted areas…


El Niño Conditions Strengthen, Could Last Through Summer

El Niño conditions strengthened in February and are now expected to persist through the spring and summer, according to an outlook issued by NOAA on Thursday.

NOAA forecasters said there’s an 80 percent chance weak El Niño conditions will continue through the spring, with a 60 percent chance of continuation through the summer. The El Niño advisory issued in February remains in effect.

El Niño conditions occur when sea-surface temperatures in a region of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific are at least 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than average in the preceding month and last, or are expected to last, for three consecutive months. In addition, the atmosphere over the tropical Pacific also needs to exhibit certain characteristics…

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