Friday Fotos: Powerful and beautiful Niagara Falls

October 11, 2013

niagara falls-smFor this week’s Friday Fotos we’re sharing some interesting views of Niagara Falls ~ esp. in video at bottom.

According to Wikipedia, Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.

From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls (on the Canadian side) and the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls (on the American side). The international boundary line was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but the boundary has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction.

Some interesting facts from Niagara Falls Canada

  • The Falls at Niagara are about 12,000 years old
  • Falls were formed when melting glaciers formed massive fresh-water lakes (the Great Lakes) one of which (Lake Erie) ran downhill toward another (Lake Ontario). The rushing waters carved out a river in their descent and at one point passed over a steep cliff like formation (the Niagara escarpment). From the original falls going over the Niagara Escarpment, the water began to wear its way back up the river. The path that it left is known today as the Niagara Gorge (a deeply-cut and very scenic river path).
  • Currently, Niagara Falls wears its way back another approximately 1 foot/year.
  • The Niagara River flows at approximately 35 miles/hour (56.3 kilometers/hour).
  • The Horseshoe Falls are 180 feet (57 meters) high and allow 6 million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water over the crestline every minute during peak daytime tourist hours (that is about a million bathtubs full of water every minute!)

The following photos are from Niagara Falls Canada and Niagara Falls USA

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Falls from the Skylon elevator

niagara falls night

The Falls at night

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Falls on USA side

We also found an amazing vid by questpact who explains “this video was taken from an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operating in US and Canadian Restricted Airspace. Operating a UAS in this airspace presents a hazard to other aircraft and people and requires specific approval of the FAA and other agencies.”

His video provides some fascinating aerial views of Niagara Falls from his remote control helicopter. Enjoy! j & B


Colorado floods (photos plus resources for victims and tips on how you can help)

September 23, 2013

flood-co homes2-smThe recent floods in Colorado destroyed about 2,000 homes in 17 counties, especially in hardest hit Boulder and Larimer counties.

Floodwaters have also damaged about 200 miles of road and 50 bridges, causing more than $2 billion in property losses and are blamed for spills of about 27,000 gallons of oil in northern Colorado oilfields.

As of today (23-Sep-2013), the confirmed death toll stands at eight and the number of missing has dropped to six, according to officials.

We’ve compiled some photos of the devastation from the National Guard and DoD archives, and including several links and resources at the bottom for those dealing with the disaster, as well as those who want to help communities impacted by the floods and landslides.

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U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Joseph K. VonNida

flood-co evac ng

U.S. Soldiers evacuate fifth-grade students from Firewood Elementary and the Denver public school system from Cal-wood and Balarat Camps during search and rescue operations from homes between Boulder and Lyons, Colo., Sept. 14, 2013. Colorado and Wyoming National Guard units were activated to provide assistance to people affected by massive flooding along Colorado’s Front Range. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner/Released)

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner

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Jamestown, Colo., Sep. 15, 2013 — The small mountain town of 300 has been cut off because of Boulder County flood. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams deployed to the state to help in Search and Rescue operations. Steve Zumwalt/FEMA

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault

Individuals in Colorado’s Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan and Weld counties can apply for assistance and locate a Disaster Recovery Center

Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD) have launched a website with data for people wanting to help those impacted by the Colorado floods and wildfires at www.helpcoloradonow.net

Also please read It’s A Disaster! Now what..? to learn more about the declaration process, tips on what to do (and not do) to help disaster victims, and more.

Our hearts go out to the families and businesses dealing with the disasters in Colorado and elsewhere around our planet. Remember … emergencies and disasters happen each and every day so learn how to prepare for and recover from various types of scenarios by downloading some free preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book and please share them (and this post) with others.

Take care and stay safe out there, j & B

Sources: ABC News , DoD  and FEMA 


Never Forget (photos and video tribute to 9/11 Ground Zero Responders)

September 8, 2013

ground zero 9-11 patchAs we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on our country, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the 2,977 lives lost…

  • 2,753 victims at the World Trade Center (including 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, and 8 private EMTs);
  • 184 who died at the Pentagon;
  • and 40 at Shanksville, PA.

There have also been about 1,000+ responders who have since passed due to 9/11 related illnesses from working at Ground Zero.

People often forget terrorist attacks against our nation began long before the 2001 attack and, with all the unrest around the world, we will continue to deal with threats going forward. But we need to remain calm about the threat of terrorist attacks since they are a low risk possibility, and we should all be vigilant.

Our company works very closely with first responders across the nation so we ask you to please remember the sacrifices many responders and volunteers gave so willingly on that day – and everyday – to keep us safe. Never forget…

ground zero 9-11 robert pears

Credit: Robert Pears Photography

ground zero via seal of honor

Photo via Seal of Honor FB page

ground zero fema-2

Credit: FEMA

ground zero fema-1

Credit: Andrea Booher/FEMA

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Credit: FEMA

ground zero FL USAR fema

Credit: Michael Rieger/FEMA

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Credit: NY Daily News

And if you have an hour to spare, watch 9/11: Ground Zero’s Responders (2001) – A film by Lou Angeli — Narrated by Kathleen Turner. Angeli’s description on Youtube… “Within minutes of the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11/01, emergency personnel and volunteers from around the nation responded to New York’s call for help in what is considered by many as the greatest rescue mission ever. When everything could have totally fallen apart, these remarkable people revealed to the world the true meaning of the American Spirit.”


On the front lines of California’s Rim Fire

August 31, 2013

rim-fire-nightfire-usfs-mike-mcmillan-smThe massive Rim Fire burning in and around California’s Yosemite National Park is now the largest U.S. wildfire in 2013 and currently the nation’s top priority as many residents remain evacuated as of Saturday morning (31-August).

As of Sat evening, Inciweb is reporting the Rim Fire is 222,777 acres and 40% contained with over 5,000 personnel battling the blazes, and officials are projecting they may have full containment by late September.

Unfortunately this beast is human-caused and, although investigators have not determined the official cause yet, a local Fire Chief has indicated it may be the result of illegal pot growers.

According to National Parks Service Fire and Aviation Mgmt, as many as 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from…

  • campfires left unattended
  • burning of debris
  • negligently discarded cigarettes
  • off-road vehicles
  • firearms + exploding targets
  • intentional acts of arson

The remaining 10% are started by lightning or lava. In addition, wildfires caused by lightning burn an average of 5.5 million acres annually.

Acreage burned comes from a variety of factors…

  • climate shift to a hotter, drier West after decades of cooler weather
  • pine beetle infestations that create more fuel to burn
  • decades of fire suppression

Even though it seems like much of the western U.S. is burning, the National Interagency Fire Center reports 34,388 fires have burned almost 3.8 million acres in the U.S. from January 1 – August 31, 2013 … which is well below the 10 year average of 54,072 fires that burned 6 million acres for this same time period.

Below are some amazing shots of the Rim Fire and the incredible Hotshots and firefighters working the front lines…

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View From Pilot Peak Lookout / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

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The National Park Service (NPS) fire crew is helping to protect the Giant Sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, about 16 miles (26 km) west of Yosemite Village on Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park. Credit: USFS

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Fire Crews construct fireline / Credit: USFS-Mike Mcmillan

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Silver State IHC on South Flank / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

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Credit: USFS

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Credit: USFS

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Melted Power Meter / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

Please review and share some safety resources from our partners at U.S. First Responders Association…

Wildfire Mitigation tips

Tips for Fire Safety in the Wilderness This Summer

Protect Yourself and Others from Wildfire Smoke

and visit USFRA’s Wildland Fire Prevention and Safety group to learn more.

Stay safe and have a great weekend all! j & B


Cool but weird sea critters (and new Oceanographic channel coming to Wisecast TV)

August 23, 2013

Pink Sea-Through Fantasia sea cucumber Laurence Madin / Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionOur good friends and partners at Wisecast Television are launching a new XPLORE Channel called “The Oceanographic”, a free 24-hour channel dedicated to showcasing the work and purposes of many organizations involved in oceanography and related ventures.

Wisecast TV’s new Oceanographic channel, sponsored in part by Fedhealth, will offer programming from dives and new technologies to studies of ocean dynamics that help satisfy underwater curiosities and empowers viewers to understand more about the ocean realm.

In honor of this channel, we wanted to share some cool and strange sea critters in today’s Friday Fotos segment.

lizard island octopus photo Julian Finn / Museum Victoria

Photo: Julian Finn / Museum Victoria via ScienceIllustrated

Back in 2010 scientists from 80 nations collaborated to assess the diversity and abundance of species in the world’s oceans, undertaking 540 expeditions and countless hours of research. The Census of Marine Life, which took over a decade to complete, contains observations on more than 120,000 marine species, from giant squid to 38,000 types of bacteria found in one litre of seawater. The above Lizard Island Octopus is just one striking specimen discovered at the Great Barrier Reef.

Blob sculpin Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Blobfish (Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center) via NatGeo

The blob sculpin’s name may not be flattering but it does capture a bit of the animal’s essence. The 2-foot-long (60-centimeter-long) fish is rather reclusive and not often seen, but blob sculpins have been known to dote on their young. Scientists have observed males guarding rocky seafloor nesting sites, filled with hundreds of pale pink eggs, in mile-deep waters off the California coast.

sharp-toothed pacu fish Photo: Henrik Carl

Photo: Henrik Carl via Latimes.com

A sharp-toothed pacu fish was recently caught in the Danish-Swedish strait of Oresund, putting swimmers on edge because of its resemblance to a piranha. But Scandinavian fish experts say this fish is a mostly vegetarian cousin of the piranha munching on fruits, nuts and the occasional fish or small invertebrate. But its human-like teeth are sharp enough to chomp through a fishing line or even a finger, according to a release put out by the university. They also have advised swimmers that if they do venture in the water they should “keep their pants on.”

sea critters-leafy-sea-dragon photo by DCL

Image Credit: DCL

Leafy Sea Dragon is one of the few sea creatures with its own built-in camouflage. The tiny fins that are used to propel our leafy friend forward are impossible to see, giving the illusion that you are merely watching some seaweed lazily float by. So the next time you see a chunk of seaweed … notice the beauty of it, yes. But also notice that you may just be witnessing one of the weirdest sea creatures in the world.

sea critters-banded piglet squid photo by seathos

Photo: Sea-Thos

The Banded Piglet squid swims “upside down” compared to other squid, leaving him resembling a Muppet with his tentacles as the hair, the syphon as the nose, and his patterning appearing to be a smile. These cute little guys live at least 100 m below the surface. Because of those incredible depths, it has to create its own light from the photophores underneath its eyes. Unfortunately, because it lives so far down, not much is known about its life cycle or eating habits.

See more strange sea creatures on Discovery Science, NatGeo and The Daily Green … and learn more about Wisecast TV and their free IPTV channel offerings at www.wisecast.tv.

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Perseid fireballs are peaking soon (esp Aug 12-13, 2013)

August 9, 2013

perseids fireball NASAWe are fortunate enough to live in a “dark skies” community so we see amazing objects in our night skies like meteors, the Milky Way, the Big and Small Dippers, International Space Station and satellite fly-bys, and much more.

This weekend stargazers will be treated to the annual Perseid (per-see’-id) meteor shower that can be seen with the naked eye (in other words, no telescope required!)

According to NASA, the Perseid meteor shower comes from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in early- to mid-August, Earth passes through a cloud of dust sputtered off the comet as it approaches the sun.

Bill Cooke and his team at of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office have been tracking fireball activity since 2008, and they have built up a database of hundreds of events to analyze. The data point to the Perseids as the ‘fireball champion’ of annual meteor showers.

Since 2008, the Perseids have produced more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The Geminids are a close second, but they are not as bright as the Perseids. "The average peak magnitude for a Perseid observed by our cameras is -2.7; for the Geminids, it is -2," explains Bill Cooke. "So on average, Geminid fireballs are about a magnitude fainter than those in the Perseids."

Since 2008, the Perseids have produced more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The Geminids are a close second, but they are not as bright as the Perseids, according to Bill Cooke at NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

Although the fireball action runs from mid-July to mid-August, Space.com reports the peak activity will be on the nights of August 12 and 13 between the hours of 10:30 PM to 4:30 AM local time.  Before midnight the meteor rate will start out low, then will increase as the night wears on, peaking before sunrise when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky.

The Perseid meteor rate from dark-sky sites could top 100 per hour during peak so get as far away from city lights as possible to enjoy the magical light show.

We hope you enjoy today’s Friday Fotos and NASA’s ScienceCast Perseid Fireballs video (also below) and check out some links at the bottom to learn more.

perseid meteor shower david kingham photography

Credit: David Kingham/DavidKinghamPhotography via Space.com

perseids nasa sciencecast

perseids nasa sciencecast

Above 2 photos are screenshots from below NASA video

Also check out a breathtaking photo of a Perseid meteor during an aurora … and learn more about meteors, astroids and other events in the night skies at http://science.nasa.gov or www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch or www.space.com .

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Dancing across the water (surreal waterspouts)

July 26, 2013

waterspout noaaLast week we saw a photo of an incredible waterspout near Tampa Bay Florida (included below) and thought this would be a great topic for today’s Friday Fotos post.

Waterspouts are spinning columns of rising moist air that typically form over warm water.  The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts, with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle per NASA.

According to NOAA Ocean Facts waterspouts fall into two categories…

Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.

Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms. While tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm, a fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity.

If a waterspout moves onshore in the U.S., the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, as some of them can cause significant damage and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely go far inland.

But enough talking already … here is a tiny sampling of some beautiful twisted water dancing formations…

waterspout albania photo by roberto Giudici

4 (of 10 sighted) waterspouts near the coast of Albania 1999; Credit & Copyright: Roberto Giudici via CSU

waterspout grandisle louisiana photo by adam frey

Grand Isle, Louisiana June 2013; Credit: Adam Frey via WWLTV

waterspout bahamas photo by NOAA

Waterspouts in the Bahamas Islands Credit: NOAA’s NWS Collection

Tampa Bay Florida waterspout photo by joey mole via NASA

Gorgeous waterspout near Tampa Bay Florida July 2013; Image Credit & Copyright: Joey Mole via NASA

Below video shows a series of powerful waterspouts near New South Wales coast. Several powerful columns of swirling air could be seen blasting along the water’s surface near the coastline. Australia’s Channel 7 claimed the spouts reached heights of up to 600 metres (nearly two thousand feet), but dissipated as they neared land.

Find more waterspout photos and info in NOAA’s Photo Library or on Islandnet.com

Stay safe & have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


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