Reading Around the Internet, January 11, 2016

Good morning — we have a beautiful, cold morning here in Cape Girardeau. It’s a welcome change to the rainy weather we had all weekend.

A few noteworthy items popped up late last week and over the weekend around the Internet that I know various readers may find interesting:

Toxic Torts

There’s an interesting discussion about a toxic tort case in The New York Times Magazine, titled “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” Lawyer Rob Bilott has been working to expose a very long history of chemical pollution. Nathaniel Rich describes the history behind the case as well as some of the legal maneuverings. For those interested in groundwater issues as well as toxic tort litigation, it’s both a fascinating and frustrating read: fascinating, because of the manner in which the case came to Bilott and his commitment to it; frustrating, because there remain so many unresolved issues after years of litigating.

The Mississippi River Flood

As the flood that caused so much damage here in Missouri and in Illinois moves southward, the Army Corps of Engineers continues to activate flood works in various areas. Yesterday, they opened the gates on the Bonnet Carré spillway in Louisiana. This spillway is activated in order to allow waters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain. The goal is to keep the river below the 17 feet (the levees in New Orleans protect the city up to 20 feet). If the Morganza spillway needs to be opened, the earliest that will occur is October 13th. They expect the river to crest tomorrow. WeatherUnderground has some great coverage. If you click through, be sure to also check out their discussion of the subtropical storm that appears to be forming in the Atlantic.

Also, NASA has released images of the New Year’s Flood. For those of you particularly interested in flooding along the river the images are very interesting. If you scroll down, you’ll see that they have also provided links to various other sites that may be of interest, including the National Weather Service’s review of the event.

Huge Bushfire Creates Weather System in Western Australia

Finally, this story caught my eye. There’s a huge blaze in Yarloop, Western Australia that has (it appears), created its own weather system. Courtney Bembridge at ABC News ( reports on it, describing the ways in which this weather system is making it more difficult to fight the fire. Because the heat of the fire is rising to meet moisture in the atmosphere, lightning storms have formed. The story explains the process, with graphics and is well worth taking the time to read.

Mississippi River Commission High-Water Inspection…

Greetings from snowy Cape Girardeau!

We are in the midst of a three-day snow break at Southeast Missouri State University…  Which is giving me time to finally catch up on lots and lots of things. And, many thanks to Logan Strother, who has kept things going here at the blog while I managed some other issues. If you haven’t been reading his posts on physical takings, you really should! He’s doing a great job.

For my readers along the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River Commission has scheduled its annual high-water inspection trip. For those of us in USACE’s Memphis District, there are two public meetings scheduled:

March 23 at 9 a.m. in New Madrid, MO (City Front)

March 24 at 9 a.m. in Memphis, TN (Beal Street Landing)

The meetings are open to the pubic. The agenda, as posted in the link above, is:

1.  Summary report by president of the Commission on national and regional issues affecting the US Army Corps of Engineers and commission programs and projects on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

2. District commander’s overview for the commission on current project issues in the respective district area.

3.  Presentations to the commission by local organizations and members of the public giving views or comments on any issue affecting the programs or projects of the commission and the Corps of Engineers.

The Memphis District posted their announcement on March 3rd. Again, if you click the link above, it’ll take you to their post.

This is an opportunity to learn about the various projects going on in the area, as well as an opportunity to present your views if you have an interest in any of the programs or projects of the commission and USACE in the area.