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

niagara falls2

Falls from the Skylon elevator

niagara falls night

The Falls at night

niagara falls us

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

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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

rim-fire-nps-fire-crews

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

rim-fire-usfs-3

Fire Crews construct fireline / Credit: USFS-Mike Mcmillan

rim-fire-Silver-state-ihc-usfs-mike-mcmillan

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

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Credit: USFS

rim-fire-2

Credit: USFS

rim-fire-melted-meter-USFS

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


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


Beautiful views from above (photos of North America from NASA satellites and ISS)

July 19, 2013

cleveland alaska volcano by nasa“Space … the final frontier” are famous words from a fave show of many boomers, Gen-Xers and others.

And while NASA provides us with many breathtaking photos of our solar system and beyond, they also share incredible shots of our planet from their satellites and by astronauts in the International Space Station.

We hope you enjoy today’s Friday Fotos with a short description of each provided by The Weather Channel and NASA. And remember these are just a tiny sampling of earth’s amazing beauty so check out some links below to visit TWC and NASA photo galleries.

 grand canyon national park photo by nasa
The Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft provided this spacebird’s-eye view of the eastern part of Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona in this image, acquired July 14, 2011. (NASA)

crater lake national park Oregon photo by nasa

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Landsat 5 acquired this image on September 9, 2011. Vegetation is green, bare ground is brown, smoke is white and water is blue. (NASA/GSFC/Landsat)

everglades national park photo by nasa

Everglades National Park in southern Florida is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Known as the ‘river of grass,’ the Everglades wetlands and wooded uplands host a variety of endangered species including crocodiles, manatees, and panthers. (NASA)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park appalachians photo by nasa

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridge line of the Appalachian Mountains in the southern United States. The border between Tennessee to the west and North Carolina to the east runs vertically through the middle of the park. (NASA)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park photo by nasa

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. On March 5, 2011, one of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kilauea—surged with flows of fresh lava and the opening of a new fissure. The eruption touched off a forest fire that burned for much of the month and threatened one of Hawaii’s protected rain forests. (NASA)

bahamas photo from international space station

The south end of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas shimmers in turquoise waters in this 2002 photo from the International Space Station.

See more amazing photos on The Weather Channel site  or visit NASA’s Earth Day gallery and NASA Image Gallery

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


Snow plows in July?? (NM storm dumps over a foot of hail clogging roads)

July 12, 2013

hail piles up city street santa rosa fdThe Weather Channel reports a lone thunderstorm dumped over a foot of hail in the town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico last Wednesday evening (July 3, 2013), leaving a surreal sight the day before the Fourth of July.

Photos from the Santa Rosa Fire Department showed snow plows clearing city streets clogged with accumulated hail drifts. According to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, hail up to golfball size pelted the city around 6:00 p.m. MDT.

Although this sounds strange, accumulating hail is not uncommon in the High Plains according to TWC. Northeast New Mexico sits in what meteorologists call “Hail Alley“, a swath from southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado to northeast New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, where large hail falls on average at least three days a year.

And, considering much of the country is sweltering with intense heat, we thought this might be a “cool” set of Friday Fotos to share.

hailstorm santa rosa police vehicle new mexico state police

A police vehicle navigates a hail-clogged street in Santa Rosa, N.M. on July 3, 2013. (Credit: N.M. State Police)

hail santa rosa photo by nm state police

A few of accumulated hail on a street in Santa Rosa, N.M. on July 3, 2013. (Credit: N.M State Police)

record hailstone vivian sd nws

As fyi … above is the record-setting hailstone that fell in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. The hailstone broke the U.S. records for largest hailstone by diameter (8 inches / 20 cm) and weight (1 pound 15 ounces). Credit: NWS Aberdeen, SD

TWC writes some other unusual hailstorm events include:

  • April 11, 2012 (Dumas, TX): The volume of both hail and rain overwhelmed a shallow gully, or draw, near the U.S. 287 bridge, piling the water and ice mass into massive drifts up to 10 feet high, trapping vehicles and forcing closure of the road for 12 hours.
  • August 14, 2004 (Clayton, NM): Up to 16-foot hail glaciers. Some ice cover lasted almost a month…even in late summer!
  • May 9, 1994 (Dalhart, TX): Up to three-foot hail drifts shutdown U.S. 385 for almost one month

We also found a short video by TWC’s Dr Greg Forbes explaining how thunderstorms produce hail.

Stay safe and cool out there .. and have a great weekend! 🙂 j & B


Tribute to our Arizona 19 (and some ways to help families of the fallen firefighters)

July 5, 2013

yarnell hill fire granite mountain hotshotsAs we posted earlier this week, Arizona lost 19 of our elite firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.

On July 1st a caravan of 19 vans took the bodies to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to perform autopsies since the Yavapai County authorities didn’t have the resources to handle so many casualties.

The remains of our Fallen Firefighters will be escorted, with full Honor Guard, from Phoenix to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office on Sunday, July 7, beginning at 10 a.m. PDT. A majority of the route from Phoenix to Prescott Valley is open to the public for those who would like to pay tribute, and the procession route  is available on YarnellFallenFirefighters.com.

Then a Memorial Service will be held Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific.

We wanted to take another moment to honor our Granite Mountain Hotshots with several photos we found on Facebook this week, and provide some links to several organizations that are raising funds for the families of these heroes. Also please take a moment to view a video tribute by elledub1015 at the bottom.

yarnell hill fire photo by andrew ashcraft

The final photo Arizona firefighter Andrew Ashcraft texted to his wife before persishing in the Yarnell Hill fire – from Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots FB page

Yarnell Hill Fire photo by Wade Parker before overcome by fire

Wade Parker sent this photo of a crew mate and the approaching fire by text message to his mother before he and 18 other firefighters were fatally overrun by flames in the Arizona blaze. “This thing is running straight for Yarnell,” he wrote in the 4:04 p.m. text. (Wade Parker / June 30, 2013) via LA Times

prescott fire chain with 19 links

A chain with 19 links hangs locked on the fence outside the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew fire station, Monday, July 1, 2013 in Prescott, Ariz. The chain, left by Slade Graves, has 19 links to signify 19 men linked. Graves said she wanted to give the combination of the lock to the survivor of the team. Photo via FB pg

arizona 19 out of the ashes National Firefighters Endowment

Designed by National Firefighters Endowment via FB

Anthem tribute Arizona 19 from Daisy mountain

Anthem, Arizona tribute to the fallen firefighters, at the top of Daisy Mountain, looking west toward Yarnell. July 4, 2013. via FB

salute to Arizona 19

Photo credit: unknown via FB

How to help the families of our fallen heroes

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Incident Management Team has raised more than $800,000 through three firefighter-endorsed organizations: the 100 Club of Arizona, the Wildland Firefighters Foundation, and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association. Other similar websites have also been created, but their intent or credibility has not been verified. The Team encourages all donors to first check the credibility and confirm their 501C3 status before donating.

The Prescott Firefighter’s Charities is operated by Prescott firefighters, and they are ensuring 100% of any and all donations will go to the families of the fallen firefighters. No money will be diverted for administration costs, advertising, etc. The only exception is a 2.3% processing fee charged by PayPal, which is a lower fee than typical credit card transaction rates. Learn more

Yavapai College is creating a scholarship fund for the children and spouses of the 19 firefighters who died battling the wildfire in Yarnell. Officials at the Prescott school say some of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team members were Yavapai College students and many were in its fire science program. The Granite Mountain Hotshots Scholarship Fund will provide two-year scholarships for the community college education needs of the children and spouses of the fallen firefighters. Read more

A Tribute

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families of the fallen Arizona 19 (a.k.a. Prescott 19), the cities of Yarnell and Prescott, and the entire FF/EMS Brotherhood. Rest in peace…


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