News: August 2017 Archives

This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I'll never be the same, Eric Berger, Ars Technica

"As a forecaster, what do you tell people when their whole worlds are washing away around them, and things are only going to get worse? I cannot really explain what it was like to walk outside on Sunday morning, in the aftermath of historic rainfall and devastating floods, and contemplate that at least three or four more days and nights of the same rains must come before the Sun will shine again. From a mental health standpoint, the uncertainty this brings adds considerable stress to an already unbearable situation. For many people in Houston, Harvey will be a defining event in our lives. A time when Mother Nature forced a hard reset on us. There are our lives before Harvey and after Harvey. The next time rain clouds form we will ask ourselves, is this really happening again?"

Keith's note: This is a remarkable piece by Eric Berger. I highly recommend that you read it. I've been through a flood as a child where my family's home was hit and with water up to my waist. Lots of important possessions lost and we were not certain if our home was damaged beyond repair. The flood was limited to a small area but it was a flood none the less. There is something relentless about the rising water - it comes out of nowhere and you are utterly powerless to stop it - until it and it alone decides to leave. One of the things we lost were nearly all of the slides and photos of me and my brothers when we were younger. The flood water eroded them before my eyes - all I could do was look at them and remember a few of them (I still do) as they dissolved. You do not soon forget a flood.

I organized a conference at LSU in 2007 "Risk and Exploration: Earth as Classroom" with Sean O'Keefe and spent a lot of time in Louisiana in the prior year. I toured New Orleans a few months after Katrina with local resident Paul Pastorek. Mile after mile we drove past houses that had been stripped of everything inside. Appliances and bathtubs and lumber sat in huge piles in public parks. And that brown water line was everywhere - on everything. I later told my Dad that I had an idea what it was like to be in Europe after the end of World War II. I also spent some time with the folks who manned the pumps at NASA Michoud while their own homes flooded. I asked one guy why he stayed on the job while his home was in danger. He said in a most humble way "It was my job, sir." Paul and I were quite taken with this man and his coworkers and later featured their efforts in our conference at LSU.

Despite the debris and gas lines filed with water and abandoned cars on the streets of New Orleans people were lining up to buy their Mardi Gras bling in a store where the sheet rock had not even been replaced. In and among the devastation you'd see new trailers up on blocks with gas generators or solar panels working for people who decided to fix their homes - like homesteaders in an urban wasteland or brightly colored weeds growing up through the forest floor after a fire. People just do things that go beyond what you expect in such situations. I am certain that this will be the case this time in Texas.

People are just amazing. But as Eric notes this is a life-altering event for millions of people. And this event will exact a toll - even as it inspires people to be the best people that they can be.

NASA's Johnson Space Center Closes Through Labor Day for Tropical Storm Harvey

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will remain closed to all but mission essential personnel through Labor Day due to the effects of now-Tropical Storm Harvey. The center originally closed Aug. 25 and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 5. The center's leadership team continues to closely monitor weather conditions and the overall situation in Houston, and is preparing a full assessment of the center's status once the storm abates."

JSC Today Special: Aug. 29 Tropical Storm Harvey Update

"The Center will be closed until Tuesday, Sept. 5 to all but Mission Essential personnel. The group of Mission Essential personnel will be larger in the coming days due to mission operations and you will be contacted by your organization if you're needed. Please do not come to the center until you hear from your supervisor. Civil servants should look for an email from HR with instructions for excused leave for this time period. Contractors should talk to their contract company management for directions and further information. Harvey is forecast to make a second landfall near the TX/LA state line around sunrise Wednesday. No strengthening is forecast prior to landfall. Impacts to JSC: JSC will continue to see moderate to occasionally heavy rain today into this evening."

- JSC Emergency Management website
- Live webcam at Space Center Houston

Harvey forecast to slam Texas coast as major hurricane with 'devastating' flood potential

"An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects "devastating and life-threatening" flash flooding."

Houston, we have a problem. Or do we?, NASA Sea Level Change

"Since JSC sits just 13 feet above sea level at its lowest part and 22 feet up at its highest ..."

- Heavy Rainfall In Intensifying Hurricane Harvey, NASA
- Watching Hurricane Harvey ApproachTexas From Orbit, NASA

Light Posting This Week

Keith's note: Posting on NASAWatch will be rather light this week. I am taking a few days off. Among other things I will be getting a close-up look at the recently restored portrait of my great9 grandmother at the Yale Center for British Art.

Keith's update: Here are some pictures of me and my great^9 grandmother at Yale today.

Lockheed Martin, which already settled one whistleblower suit at Stennis Space Center for $2 million, hit with another, Louisiana Voice

"With three large cost-plus contracts for testing and maintenance support services, Lockheed Martin has a commanding presence at NASA's primary rocket propulsion facility at the Stennis Space Center just over the Louisiana state line in Mississippi. But as history has shown, the potential for abuse with such large contracts that seem to carry little apparent oversight, is overwhelming. Now two Louisiana residents, one former Lockheed employee and the other a former contract employee for Lockheed, are bringing suit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans under the federal false claims act The two, Mark Javery of St. Tammany Parish and Brian DeJan of New Orleans, claim that they were first given no duties and then fired from their jobs after reporting cost overruns and safety and performance issues."



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from August 2017.

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