Forget about "Snakes on a Plane”; we're more concerned with snakes in the yard. Even though snakes are nowhere near as prevalent as our irrational fears would have us think (assuming you don't live smack dab in the middle of rattlesnake territory), if you're a homeowner with a bit of landscape or yard under your direction, you may encounter snakes on occasion.
That should be no biggie, according to experts at the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.
"As a general rule, snakes are just as frightened of you as possibly you are of them and often they move as quickly as possible in the other direction," the extension noted. Venomous snake bites are rare and you can readily take steps to treat them. If you're an avid gardener, you may even want snakes in your slice of the great outdoors, since they dine on rodents and insects and can actually help protect you from garden pests.
Not buying it? You can try to keep snakes out of your home life. Just understand that even the best measures are not 100 percent foolproof, according to America's Wetland Resources, which is based in the South.
"There are no magic or absolute solutions," AWR asserted. "There are no poisons or repellents that work, though some new 'breakthrough' is occasionally advertised. Horsehair ropes and trails of mothballs have consistently tested negative, and pest control operators have no answers."
But there are still plenty of valid ways to limit, or possibly eliminate, a slithery presence in your yard, garden or home. Here are five tips from the pros on how to keep snakes out of your yard:
1. Seal crevices. Closer to your home, seal the openings where snakes like to set up house. "Check the clearance of door bottoms, weep holes, openings where pipes enter, cracks and spaces under eaves," AWR recommended. "Don't neglect storerooms and sheds."
AWR added that sealing enough openings to make a difference is much more difficult if you own a raised wooden home.
2. Tidy up the yard. Snakes might choose to live on your property or simply travel through, according to AWR. You want to make your property as inhospitable as possible, so concentrate on ridding it of any places snakes would consider good spots to hide. Remove debris, from piles of boards, tin, sticks and leaves to flat boats on the ground and piles of bricks or stone, AWR advised, and keep vegetation cut back.
3. Stop serving the snake's preferred menu. It's a win-win. When you take away potential hiding places for snakes, the spots where rat and mice families like to congregate are also eliminated. But take this one step further, AWR advised, and take further steps to get rid of the rodents that snakes like to snack on. You may want to involve a pest control agent, but you definitely want to practice anti-rodent hygiene, including not leaving pet food out for more than an hour or so, closing trash cans tightly and securing compost in a sealed container.
4. Combat the climbers. If limbs from a neighbor's yard hang over your fence, snakes may use them as an entry to your place. Consider working with your neighbor to get them trimmed.
5. Consider the snake-proof fence. If you live in an area where one or more venomous snakes are common, you may want to invest in a snake-proof fence, according to NCSU. "Small areas where children play can be protected from all poisonous and most harmless snakes with a snake-proof fence," it noted. "However, the cost of the fence may make it impractical to protect an entire yard."
Make a fence by burying 1/4-inch mesh wire screening 6 inches underground and building it up 30 inches, instructed NCSU.
"It should slant outward at a 30-degree angle from bottom to top. The supporting stakes must be inside the fence and any gates must fit tightly. Tall vegetation must be removed along the fence, both inside and outside."
It's costly, but you can snake-proof the entire yard with a concrete chain wall that extends six inches or so below the surface, noted AWR.
"If you already have a wooden fence and the boards are very close together, a good solution is to snake-proof the bottom."
One fairly cheap way is to use 1/4-inch hardware cloth cut in strips wide enough to overlap the bottom of the fence so it can be tacked securely and extend down into a narrow trench six inches deep.
AWR added another word of caution for either snake-proof fence design. (Spoiler alert: It's nightmare inducing.) "Many snakes climb by looping over objects and the above described design may virtually eliminate their entry," it noted. "Others, however, can crawl up vertical surfaces if they are rough, such as the trunk of a tree or a brick wall (including the side of a house)."
To overcome this creepy climbing capability, you can place a foot-wide ledge made of wood or metal flashing along the outer side at the top. "This structure makes the snakes lean out away from the wall and it will lose its grip and fall."
After all this snake talk, AWR does have one bit of great news. "Snakes are rarely abundant in any one location."
And if all your efforts fail and snakes do make their way into your yard, AWR recommended the ultimate fail-safe.
"The best thing you can do for yourself and family is to teach everyone to respect snakes and to be on the lookout for them," according to the AWR website. "Remember, don't touch it with your hands. Use a shovel to place the snake in a deep bucket with a cover. The chances of your encountering a venomous species is remote, but possible enough to always by careful!"
The full moon passed through the Earth’s shadow to create a total lunar eclipse. The moon appeared reddish, hence the name “blood moon.” Totality, when the moon was entirely inside the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, lasted about 1 1/4 hours.
NASA officials shared a live stream of the event Wednesday on NASA-TV.
Wednesday's full moon was also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. It was the first of two blue moons in 2018.
It marked the first blue moon total eclipse in America since March 31, 1866.
A California lawmaker’s proposed bill that would greatly affect the food industry is facing heavy criticism.
According to Calderon’s bill, a server who offered a plastic straw to a restaurant patron without first being asked would face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans,” Calderon argued in a press release. “AB 1884 is not ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”
The bill reportedly would apply only to waiters in sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast food establishments. Calderon also expressed his intention to dump the bill’s harsh penalties, according to Reason.
Despite the reasoning, several have criticized the proposed legislation as an example of government overreach.
Some even offered their own suggestions.
Others have accused the bill of being inspired by unreliable data on the number of plastic straws the public uses.
The fireball lit up the sky just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The dashboard cam video was shared by Mike Austin as he was driving north on I-75 near Bloomfield Hills, north of Detroit, Michigan.
The fireball also was seen from northwest Ohio and southwest Ontario, Canada.
It is not known whether the meteorite dissipated in the atmosphere or made it to the ground or into Lake Michigan.
Have you noticed it’s cold?
The recent freezing weather across most of the country has wreaked havoc on wildlife, including sea turtles along Texas' Gulf Coast. According to Texas Monthly, the turtles have been suffering from hypothermia, leading them to float near the surface of the water and putting them in danger of being eaten by predators or hit by boats.
The good news, though, is that emergency crews are helping nurse the turtles back to health. According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, as of Tuesday afternoon, rescue crews had found 41 “cold-stunned” sea turtles in the water along the coast.
In December, the Texas State Aquarium took in more than 100 hypothermia-stricken turtles to rehabilitate them.
“What we are seeing right now in the United States is just … well … wait for it … winter,” wrote Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric science program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society.
Shepherd wrote that he would urge people to keep in mind that “weather is mood, climate is personality” and that weekly weather patterns say little about longer-term climate change.
It came about 12 hours before Trump tweeted that forecasts were calling for record cold New Year’s Eve temperatures.
Shepherd wrote that even as climate warms, the seasons will always change to winter and yield frigid weather, snowstorms and blizzards. After all, he said, winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it revolves around the sun.
Concludes Shepherd: "For now, the message for this week and the next seven days is that winter is reminding us that it still exists and always will even as our climate warms. Prepare accordingly, stay warm and help others."
A heartbreaking video of a skeletal polar bear scavenging for food in a desolate landscape is going viral online. The clip of the bear, which was released by the National Geographic channel, is gut-wrenching.
>> See the clip here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)
Photographer Paul Nicklen, who has been with National Geographic for 17 years, says recording the video was even more heartbreaking. He’s spent his life filming bears and estimates that he’s come across about 3,000 of them, but the animal in his latest video was unlike the rest. In an article about the clip, Nicklen recalled, “We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks.”
Nicklen says he’s often asked why he didn’t do something, but he explains, “Of course, that crossed my mind. But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” He added, “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”
The internet has definitely felt the gut-punch of the video, which sparked an outcry. Actor Kumail Nanjiani offered one off-hand solution to the problem:
Unfortunately, animals seem to have a very bleak future in front of them. The No. 1 threat to the world’s 22,000 polar bears is climate change, according to a World Wildlife Foundation report. The bears spend the winter months on the ice, where they do a lot of laying around and a whole lot of eating seals; they fast during the summer. But as the winter months have become warmer, it takes longer for the ice to reappear each season, meaning that the animals have less time to eat, and they have to fast for a longer stretch of time. In short, no ice means no seals, which could soon mean no polar bears.
Government agencies monitoring about climate change are also warning that we could possibly lose polar bears as early as 2050, per a Washington Post report.
More than 15,000 scientists have signed a dire warning letter to humanity, urging society to address major environmental concerns.
"Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out," scientists wrote in the letter signed by 15,364 of their colleagues from 184 countries. "We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home."
Titled as a "Second Notice," the stern warning comes 25 years after similar concerns were expressed in a letter backed by more than 1,700 scientists. However, as the updated warning points out, things have significantly worsened since then.
"Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse," the letter says.
Freshwater resources and vertebrate species have dropped by approximately 25 percent since 1960. At the same time, marine dead zones have increased dramatically by 75 percent and carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 62 percent. The human population has also skyrocketed from 3 billion to roughly 7.6 billion.
Furthermore, human activity has "unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century," the scientists warn.
The only hopeful part of the letter points to the stabilization of the stratospheric ozone layer. According to Newsweek, scientists revealed this month that the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers above Antarctica, is the smallest it has been since 1988.
But this one positive development isn't enough to curb the impending crisis, according to the scientists.
"Humanity is now being given a second notice ... We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats," they wrote.
The scientists said humanity must quickly "limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species ... Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.”
Drastic solutions are required to solve the coming global crisis, according to the scientists. These include phasing out fossil fuels while encouraging renewable energy sources, transitioning to a more plant-based diet, reducing food waste overall and prioritizing reserves for Earth's land, marine, freshwater and aerial habitats.
"To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual," the scientists wrote.
While nations around the world have officially recognized the need to address these concerns and the threat to humanity's existence, the current U.S. administration appears uninterested in heeding such warnings.
President Donald Trump said in June that he would pull the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, joining only two other nations -- Syria and Nicaragua -- which had not signed the international accord.
Since then, Nicaragua agreed to sign the agreement in October, and Syria followed earlier this month.
Instead of addressing greenhouse gas emissions as the Paris accord requires, the White House said it "will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change,” a decision scientists around the globe have warned against.
The U.S. Forest Service is accepting applications for seasonal spring and summer jobs in Oregon and Washington.
Positions are available in multiple fields, including fire management, recreation, natural resources, timber, engineering, visitor services and archaeology.
“Seasonal employment with the Forest Service is a great way to give back to communities, learn new skills, and perform meaningful work,” regional forester Jim Peña said in a news release this week. “If you are interested in working with a dedicated team of people who take pride in managing our national forests, we encourage you to consider joining the Forest Service.”
Applications must be submitted online between Nov. 14 and Nov. 20.
Fifty new simulations of "the big one” show how a magnitude 9.0 earthquake from the Cascadia Subduction Zone could play out.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a fault that sits along the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and two plates colliding could eventually slip, triggering a massive earthquake that could shake the Northwest.
More coverage on KIRO7.com:
A University of Washington research project ran simulations using different combinations for three key factors: the epicenter of the earthquake, how far inland the earthquake will rupture and which sections of the fault will generate the strongest shaking.
The results show that the location at which the earthquake starts matters most, and the scenarios can drastically change depending on where the earthquake hits.
One animation shows a scenario that’s bad for Seattle, in which an earthquake begins off the southern Oregon coast and the fault line breaks north, with seismic waves building up along the way. By contrast, a better scenario for Seattle would actually be an earthquake that begins closer – off the Olympic Peninsula – where the fault line breaks away from the city.
But make no mistake, the magnitude 9.0 scenarios are bad, and models show the ground shaking for 100 seconds. That’s four times longer than it shook during the 2001 Nisqually quake, which, at magnitude 6.8, did plenty of damage and rattled many nerves.
"We know a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred in Cascadia in the year 1700, but we didn't have any seismometers or recording instruments at the time," said Erin Wirth, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington.
Wirth said scenarios show the level of shaking could be 10 times different depending on where the earthquake begins and the direction in which the fault line ruptures.
Past models have looked at one or two scenarios, but this is the first study with 50 scenarios. The point is to show the wide range of possibilities of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The next steps for researchers is to take this information and model the impacts on tsunamis, landslides and tall buildings in Seattle.
They hope that information will help planners and emergency managers prepare for "the big one."
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