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So Fine

Steve Scolnik @ 4:30 PM

Temperatures are on the chilly side, but it's a fine sunny day in the Washington metro area for the beginning of astronomical winter. (Meteorological winter began on December 1 and runs through February.) Like yesterday, temperatures are struggling into the upper 30s at mid afternoon, but the winds have swung around to a more southerly direction, leading to milder temperatures by the end of the week.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Lows tonight under mostly clear skies will range from the mid 20s in town to the upper teens in the colder 'burbs. Tomorrow will have a few scattered clouds and highs near 43.

Tropical Review

Note: Wind speeds corrected to show knots, not mph

The National Hurricane Center yesterday released their Tropical Cyclone Report on Katrina. The storm was "the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes to ever strike the United States. . . Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history." The analysis reveals, on the other hand, that the storm was only a Category 3 at landfall. The maximum wind was 150 knots on the afternoon of August 28, the day before Louisiana landfall. Winds were 110 knots on landfall at Buras, Louisiana on the morning of the 29th, and they were down to 105 knots at the second Gulf landfall on the Mississippi/Louisiana border. You can read the complete report, along with the available reports on several other 2005 storms, at the NHC web site.

Image of Katrina near maximum intensity from National Hurricane Center.

Not So Fine

Proving once again that science is outweighed by pure political force, the Administration has refused to lower the annual limits for "fine particulate matter", otherwise known as soot, which is generated by motor vehicles and power plants, among other sources. WaPo reports today that the decision by the EPA overrides the recommendations of its scientific advisory panel. The article goes on to point out that more than 2000 studies since 1997 have shown that fine particle pollution is connected to a number of illnesses. The American Lung Association is quoted as saying that about 60,000 Americans die each year from pollution-related illness. (That's right, nearly 20 times the number who have ever been killed by foreign terrorist attacks in the U.S.) NPR also covered this story on Morning Edition. Public comment on the EPA's proposal is open for 90 days.

White Christmas

Harold Meyerson surveys some of the cultural background of "White Christmas", the song, in his op-ed column in today's WaPo.

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