One Daily Parker reader sent me this clarification that the big hole in CA-92 preventing people in Half Moon Bay, Calif., from reaching Silicon Valley is not, technically, a sink hole:
The first thing to know about that sinkhole that opened on Highway 92 on Thursday: It’s not a sinkhole:
Geologists make a distinction between sinkholes, which require a particular blend of soils — limestone, salts, gypsum and other components — and caverns that appear with water due to engineering failures, aging infrastructure or simply not building enough capacity to handle the kind of runoff experienced in San Mateo County this month. They also note it’s a distinction without a difference for anyone stuck in traffic.
“Even scientists can’t always agree whether we want to call them sinkholes,” said Randy Orndorf, a research geologist for the USGS in Reston, Va., who is known as the sinkhole expert within the service. “I think about 20 years ago when I started doing research, we tried to say these are infrastructure failures and people still wanted to call them sinkholes.”
For the most part, sinkholes are limited to regions of karst terrain, which underpin about 25 percent of the United States land mass. Sinkholes are most common in these areas, where the underlying soil simply dissolves in water. Sinkholes are most common in Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, according to the USGS. No one knows how many sinkholes develop in a given year because most likely occur in remote areas.
(The photo caption really summarizes things well: "Geologists say this isn't a sinkhole, but they acknowledge it doesn't really matter what you call it.")
Thanks for filling us in, USGS. (Actually, I love this kind of journalism. What can you say about rain in California? Let's dig into the issue! [Sorry.])
And every time I think about sinking, I sink of this:
Staring out a window at the Terminal A parking garage at DFW Airport, I pause to check my email. Top of the pile I see this lovely report from MSNBC:
Californians should brace for flooding and possible landslides as “heavy to excessive rainfall” is expected over the weekend and into next week, forecasters warned early Saturday.
With recovery efforts continuing in parts of the state which was battered by storms earlier this week, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin that a couple of Pacific storm systems were forecast to impact the West this weekend “bringing heavy lower elevation rain, significant mountain snow, and strong winds.”
The first system would approach the coast Saturday and move inland, the bulletin said, adding that there were “multiple slight risks of excessive rainfall,” that could lead to localized instances of “urban and small stream flooding as well as mudslides.”
What does NWS say about downtown San Francisco?
Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 1am, then rain likely, mainly between 1am and 4am. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Low around 9. West wind 14 to 16 km/h, with gusts as high as 32 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 5 and 7.5 mm possible.
Rain, mainly after 10am. High near 12. Southwest wind 11 to 18 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between 2.5 and 5 mm possible.
Rain. Low around 8. East southeast wind 19 to 29 km/h decreasing to 5 to 15 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 40 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 cm possible.
Rain, mainly before 10am. High near 12. Breezy, with a west northwest wind 26 to 35 km/h, with gusts as high as 47 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2.5 mm possible.
A 20 percent chance of rain before 10pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 7.
Sunny, with a high near 12.
Lovely. Perhaps I'll get my morning coffee before it starts to rain again tomorrow?
I can't remember ever taking an umbrella to California, but I'm packing one today. So instead of the sunny and cold weather I've usually experienced in San Francisco, the forecast calls for wet and cold weather every day I'm there, with the sun coming out right after I leave.
Here in Chicago, we've had just 20% of possible sun this month, which WGN points out has completely obscured that we have 15 minutes more daylight than we had at the solstice. On the other hand, so far we've had the 4th-warmest January in history, with significantly above-normal temperatures predicted through the end of the month.
At least I'll see the sun on my flight today...
As we in Chicago enjoy (?) the 12th consecutive day with above-normal temperatures, and look forward to another 10 at least, it turns out ExxonMobil's own scientists predicted global temperature rises 40 years ago:
In the late 1970s, scientists at Exxon fitted one of the company’s supertankers with state-of-the-art equipment to measure carbon dioxide in the ocean and in the air, an early example of substantial research the oil giant conducted into the science of climate change.
A new study published Thursday in the journal Science found that over the next decades, Exxon’s scientists made remarkably accurate projections of just how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. Their projections were as accurate, and sometimes even more so, as those of independent academic and government models.
Yet for years, the oil giant publicly cast doubt on climate science, and cautioned against any drastic move away from burning fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change. Exxon also ran a public relations program — including ads that ran in The New York Times — emphasizing uncertainties in the scientific research on global warming.
In the new study, Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes of Harvard, and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute, carried out a quantitative analysis of global warming projections made or recorded by Exxon scientists between 1977 and 2003.
Those records, which include internal memos and peer-reviewed papers published with outside academic researchers, make up the largest public collection of global warming projections recorded by a single company, the authors said.
Overall, Exxon’s global warming projections closely tracked subsequent temperature increases of around 0.2 degrees Celsius of global warming per decade, the study found.
The company’s scientists, in fact, excluded the possibility that human-caused global warming was not occurring, the researchers found.
And yet, people still believe businesses that tout research favorable to their own interests. Does this remind you of anything?
I'm on hold with my bank trying to sort out a transaction they seem to have deleted. I've also just sorted through a hundred or so stories in our project backlog, so while I'm mulling over the next 6 months of product development, I will read these:
And my bank's customer service finally got back to me with the sad news that the thing I wanted them to fix was, and we are so sorry, it turns out, your fault. Fie.
Fifty years ago today, Major League Baseball adopted a rules change for the American League that led by increments to the 10th-inning-runner rule adopted last season:
On January 11, 1973, the owners of America’s 24 major league baseball teams vote to allow teams in the American League to use a “designated pinch-hitter” who could bat for the pitcher while still allowing the pitcher to stay in the game.
The idea of adding a player to the baseball lineup to bat for the pitcher had been suggested as early as 1906 by revered manager Connie Mack. In 1928, John Heydler, president of the National League, revived the issue, but the rule was rejected by the AL management.
The NL resisted the change, and for the first time in history, the two leagues would play using different rules. Though it initially began as a three-year experiment, it would be permanently adopted by the AL and later by most amateur and minor league teams.
Major League Baseball continues to believe that more runs means more money, even though the appeal of baseball has always been as a pastime. But what do I know? I was a Cubs fan for 40 years.
The Federal Aviation Administration halted all takeoffs from US airports for about an hour this morning after the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system failed. Planes have resumed flying, but the ripples from this morning's ground stop could take a day or two to resolve. Good thing I'm not flying until Saturday.
Also this morning, Chicago's transit agencies released a new real-time train tracker that finally allows commuters to see where (many) of Metra's trains actually think they are. I tested the site on the Metra line I use most frequently only to find that it appeared stuck—until I discovered that, no, the trains had stopped, because one of them hit a pedestrian in Lakeview, just south of me.
I'm glad Metra finally discovered the Global Positioning System just in time for the service's 45th birthday. If only we funded our transit systems the way we fund highways...if only...
I got a lot done today, mostly a bunch of smaller tasks I put off for a while. I also put off reading all of this, which I will do now while my rice cooks:
- The EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service determined that 2022 was the fifth-hottest year on record, once again making the last 8 years the hottest on record. As North America sees record warmth and record-low snowfall this winter, we can guess how 2023 will end up.
- In no small irony, Illinois was actually cooler than normal last year. I've said before, Chicago will look better and better as the world looks worse and worse.
- Loathsome creep Andrew Tate lost all four of his appeals to Romania's appellate court, so will remain in the country until his trial for human trafficking.
- A report by INRIX Research put London and Chicago at the top of the list of cities with the worst car traffic. Oddly, in a related study, London also ranked 10th and Chicago ranked 20th of cities with the best public transit.
- Delta Airlines' "free" wi-fi reminds passengers of the adage, when someone else pays, you're the product, not the customer.
Finally, I've mentioned heading to San Francisco this coming weekend, has gotten some rain. By "some" I mean over 350 mm of rain in the past 15 days, making it the rainiest two weeks since 1866. The weekend forecast does not look encouraging: rain likely, highs around 12, lows around 9, and yet more rain likely. I have never taken an umbrella to California before. First time for everything, I guess.
And now my rice is done.
The best restaurant in the world will close at the end of 2024 because its chef believes modern haute cuisine has become unsustainable:
Since opening two decades ago, Noma — the Copenhagen restaurant currently serving grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl — has transformed fine dining. A new global class of gastro tourists schedules first-class flights and entire vacations around the privilege of paying at least $500 per person for its multicourse tasting menu.
Noma has repeatedly topped lists of the world’s best restaurants, and its creator, René Redzepi, has been hailed as his era’s most brilliant and influential chef.
This move is likely to send shock waves through the culinary world. To put it in soccer terms: Imagine that Manchester United decided to close Old Trafford stadium to fans, though the team would continue to play.
The decision comes as Noma and many other elite restaurants are facing scrutiny of their treatment of the workers, many of them paid poorly or not at all, who produce and serve these exquisite dishes. The style of fine dining that Noma helped create and promote around the globe — wildly innovative, labor-intensive and vastly expensive — may be undergoing a sustainability crisis.
As the human cost of the industry comes under scrutiny, Mr. Redzepi’s headaches have multiplied, with media reporting and online activism critical of Noma’s treatment of foreign workers and reliance on unpaid interns. In October, Noma began paying its interns, adding at least $50,000 to its monthly labor costs.
In the past two years, Mr. Redzepi and his staff also scaled their last remaining mountaintop, receiving a third Michelin star, and for a record-breaking fifth time, Noma topped the influential World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, making it ineligible for future wins.
I'll be in San Francisco next weekend, home to 29 Michelin-starred restaurants. Should I go to one of them (assuming I can get a reservation)?
For the first week of 2023, Chicago got just 2% of possible sunlight, with no sun at all since last Monday. Normal for January is 40%.
On the other hand, so far it's the 4th-warmest January in history, almost 10°F (6°C) above normal, with the 8-to-14 day forecast predicting much above normal temperatures. Note the top 7 are all in the past 31 years.
Unfortunately those two things correlate strongly. So we probably won't get a lot of sun until it either cools down or warms up. Such is winter in Chicago.
At least we haven't gotten 30 cm of rain, like parts of California...