The state patrol reported responding to numerous accidents and crashes overnight during icy and snowy conditions in Iowa. From Dec. 21 at noon to Dec. 22 at 5 am, state patrol responded to 70 crashes. Four injuries and no fatalities were reported. The DOT said most primary roads are fully covered.
An increase in wind is expected to worsen roads and driving conditions. A front, which came into Iowa Wednesday night, is expected to bring strong winds, with 40 mph to 50 mph gusts on Thursday. The blizzard and snowy conditions are anticipated to continue until Saturday at 6 am.
Andrew Ansorge, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Johnston, told theDes Moines Register that these conditions are occurring earlier than the forecast had predicted. “It’s not going to be pretty,” Ansorge said. Ansorge also said that traveling is deeply discouraged Thursday and Friday.
According to Public Works Director Jonathan Gano, Des Moines plans to keep snow plows on major roads until the snow stops falling. From there, the plow will move to residential streets once the major roadways are clear and the storm ends.
Lead has been found in the blood of fifty percent of children in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to limit and reduce exposure and illnesses caused by lead through screening more children, training people for a job in lead remediation, and so on.
Carlton Waterhouse, the deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said, “This for the first time represents the agency looking not only to limit the amount of exposure that children and others have to lead, but in fact to make significant improvements and advancements with regards to environmental justice by also addressing disparities, long standing disparities, in terms of who finds themselves adversely affected by lead.”
According to a study last year by The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, the Midwest sees the highest numbers of exposure to lead. The EPA is working hard to reduce levels of lead that can be found in lead paint, soil, and so on. This includes changing the policy guidelines for Residential Soil Lead Guidance for Contaminated Sites and remedying 15 lead Superfund sites.
Waterhouse said, “So we’re very focused on going towards those places that have hot spots, going towards those places and determining what the dominant and primary sources of that are in those communities.”
The large number of birds migrating south for the winter may be transmitting avian influenza, a deadly virus caused by infection. Although it has not been confirmed, two dead wild geese in September and three ducks shot by hunters in August all had the bird flu in Iowa.
The bird flu dates back to 1878 which started in northern Italy and was referred to as the “fowl plague.” In the spring of 2022, the bird flu wiped out 22,851,072 birds in at least 24 states. The spring was the worst famine outbreak since 2015 when over 50 million birds died. The outbreak and inflation drove up prices for eggs, chicken meat, and other products.
“We are certainly aware of the cases showing up in other states and are monitoring the situation closely,” Don McDowell, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said to theIowa Capital Dispatch. “Because migration is beginning again and given that this is caused by migratory and wild birds, it would not be unexpected that there could be additional cases this fall.”
With over 450 birds expected to continue migrating south through the U.S., the most heightened intensities of migration are likely to come through the Midwest.
Corn sweat, a term referred to as plants giving off water through evapotranspiration, is increasing moisture in Midwest air, which is harming crops. The humidity in the air can increase temperatures between five and 15 degrees Fahrenheit over corn fields during mid-July and August.
Midwest humidity isn’t just caused by corn sweat. Climate change has pushed the global surface temperature in 2022 to become the sixth hottest June in 143 years, being 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average. In addition, humidity is accounting for warmer nights because the extra moisture makes it more challenging for temperatures to shift higher or lower.
This corn sweat and increased temperatures from climate change create a possible breeding area for pathogens and pests near growing plants and grain, according to the 2018 National Climate Assessment. Bacteria can cause crops to fail and pests can impact crop growth by feeding on plant roots when humidity increases.
The climate assessment also said increased humidity and precipitation contribute to soil erosion potential and reduces planting workdays because of waterlogged soil.
A derecho swept through parts of Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota on July 5. South Dakota experienced fallen power lines and trees from wind gusts higher than 90 mph. Huron and Miner, states in South Dakota, had wind gusts higher than 95 mph. The derecho that swept intense wind through the Midwest may be linked to climate change.
The derecho on July 5 is a progressive derecho, a summertime-occurring derecho fueled by an area that is hot, dry, and contains strong winds. A similar occurrence happened in August of 2020 when a derecho with extremely high winds hit over 700 miles in 14 hours across the Midwest destroying crops, homes, trees, and more. Meteorology professor at the University of Northern Iowa Alan Czarnetzki said, after the 2020 derecho, human-induced warming of the planet’s surface can increase the likelihood of stronger derechos.
Wind gusts up to 70+ mph, dry cropland, and a thunderstorm with high winds created a haboob, or a large and intense dust storm, in Northwest Iowa on May 13. The haboob was a part of a larger aggregate of thunderstorms traveling through Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and both North and South Dakota. This haboob and other windy conditions in the Midwest cause major problems for soil.
Wind traveling through dry cropland unearths crops and soil in and on the ground. During a study by Texas-based erosion specialist Chris Coreil at the beginning of May, high winds and droughts caused farmers to lose soil anywhere between three to 29 tons per acre in South Dakota. The haboob erosion estimates were similar, with estimates of up to 12 tons of lost soil per acre in South Dakota.
And the extreme temperature doesn’t appear to be ending soon. Climate change is causing an increase in precipitation and an increase in droughts, which will harm soil and agricultural practices.
One way to combat these high winds and drought conditions is with a crop cover, which right now, only 3-5 percent in most states own a cover. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released an announcement in January expanding services and opportunities for “climate smart agriculture,” and has a goal of crop covers protecting 30 million acres of corn and soybean land in the U.S. by 2030.
There were Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the afternoon and evening across the Plains Wednesday. Twisters in Iowa, fires in Kansas and damage across the region has been reported today.
There were 118 severe thunderstorms and 71 tornado warnings across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa Wednesday night, the National Weather Service said.
In Iowa, the weather caused power outages, severe damage and at least one death. Iowa State Patrol troopers say a tractor-trailer was blown over in the wind around 8:30 p.m. killing at least one person.
There were more than a dozen tornadoes reported in Iowa, with most seen in the western part of the state. Confirmation of tornadoes and damage assessments will be available in the coming days, said Allan Curtis of the National Weather Service.
Des Moines recorded a 74 mph wind gust at the airport at 8:28 p.m. Wednesday. This was the strongest gust not associated with a thunderstorm seen in Des Moines since 1970, the National Weather Service reported on Twitter.
Accurate damage assessment may take days to confirm, but we know that there are many trees down across Iowa, homes have been damaged and some Iowans are still without power today.
Two companies are looking to build a pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois, but they plan yo utilize a carbon-capture technology at ethanol refineries and moving it to places it can be buried underground. Environmental activists are divided on the issue.
President Joe Biden and some Republican law makers support this type of pipeline. The federal government also has plans to solidify this option by offering tax credits for every metric ton of carbon dioxide sequestered by a company.
The Environmental Protection Agency said storing of carbon dioxide is safe if companies do it carefully. There have not been any fatalities or injuries of workers in the carbon sequestering process.
Brad Crabtree from the Great Plaines Institute told the Associated Press carbon-capture pipelines are a potential way to bridge partisan divides while helping with climate change mitigation.
The process works by injecting the carbon dioxide in its liquefied state, allowing it to become rock. Then, it eventually hardens into minerals or it can dissolve.
Environmentalists remain concerned, however. Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, Carolyn Raffensperger, told the AP she doesn’t know if the technology can be trusted and denounced carbon-capture methods as a climate solution.
The proposed pipeline will go through South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska alongside North Dakota and Illinois if it’s approved.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a case that could exempt small refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standards Program on Tuesday.
The nine justices heard oral arguments in the Hollyfrontier Cheyenne Refining LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association case that questions if small refineries can request exemptions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards that were created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country. The case was submitted for a later decision that will likely come in a few months.
Attorney General of Iowa Tom Miller submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court alongside Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia officials. The 29-page brief asks the highest court to side with the Renewable Fuels Association and deny exemptions for small refineries if exemptions are not in place continuously.
Miller and Attorney General of Nebraska Doug Peterson argue in the brief that the EPAs “recent trend of freely granting small-refinery exemptions has undermined” the Renewable Fuel Standard’s promises of environmental benefits and energy independence.
In the case, the Hollyfrontier Cheyenne Refining LLC argued that they face detrimental financial impacts when forced to buy ethanol and biodiesel at Congress’s demanded levels. Miller and his colleagues argue that the EPA’s willingness to grant exemptions has harmed the Iowa farming and biofuels industry.
In January 2020, a 10 Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and sided with the Renewable Fuels Association, a decision the EPA supported. After hearing oral arguments on April 27th, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to present a decision in July 2021.
A draft of the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy was released on Monday, and Iowa plays an integral role in its success.
North American monarch butterfly populations have decreased by 80 percent in the last two decades, and their numbers are less than half of what is needed to guarantee a sustainable population. The black and gold pollinators spend their winter months in Mexico and southern California and travel to the northern midwest for the summer. Female monarchs lay eggs exclusively in milkweed pods.
Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, said, “The consortium has worked collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan to expand habitat on our agricultural land, urban areas, roadsides, and other public land. We appreciate the many partners that have been involved and are encouraged by the work already underway.”
Iowa’s strategy provides evidence-based recommendations for creating monarch habitat and aims to document all voluntary efforts. 127 to 188 million new milkweed stems are estimated to be planted in Iowa in accordance with the plan.
Given that the vast majority of Iowa land is in agricultural production, the plan’s authors emphasize that agricultural lands must be a part of the solution. The strategy considers both expanding on existing conservation practices and planting milkweed stems in underutilized farm land as viable options. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will decide in June 2019 whether the monarch butterfly should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said, “Iowa falls entirely within the monarch’s northern breeding core. This means that every patch of milkweed habitat added in Iowa counts, and Iowa is perfectly situated to lead the way in conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly. The recovery cannot succeed without Iowa.”