• Studying the effects of fire on steel structures, nuclear plants

    Building fires may reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and the strength of steel structures drops by about 40 percent when exposed to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius; scientists study precisely what happens to the connections between a floor’s steel beams and the building columns when these connections are exposed to intense heat

  • Earthquake moves Virginia nuclear waste casks

    Last week’s earthquake saw caused nuclear waste casks to move up to four inches, and concrete pieces to peel off in concrete bunkers used for storing nuclear waste; the NRC says the casks and bunkers were not damaged, and no radiation leaked out

  • Teams dispatched to inspect Vermont nuclear plant following Irene

    Following the torrential rains from Hurricane Irene on Sunday, federal officials have dispatched inspection teams to examine the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to ensure that the plant has not been compromised; the plant has the same design as the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan which suffered a partial meltdown following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami

  • Automated flash-flood phone alert system developed

    A part of Texas is called Flash Flood Alley because of the frequency and ferocity of flash floods; it stretches from San Antonio through Austin and to Dallas, and includes the Fort Hood military base; researchers develop a system which uses cell phones to give real-time text alerts of flash floods in the area

  • 2011 disasters cause $55 billion in damages in U.S.

    This year’ natural disasters could cost the United States as much as $55 billion; prior to Hurricane Irene, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center estimated that the nine major natural disasters to hit the United States earlier this year caused an estimated $35 million in damages

  • Insurance to cover little of Irene's damage

    Hurricane Irene could be one of the ten costliest disasters in the history of the United States and since much of the damage was caused by flooding, insurance will cover little; in previous storms, insurance companies usually cover about half the total losses, but according to the Kinetic Analysis Corporation, insurers will likely cover less than 40 percent of costs

  • More than $70 million Irene damages in N.C., hits farmers hard

    As North Carolina begins to recover from the deluge of rain and high winds of Hurricane Irene, Governor Beverly Perdue estimates that the storm caused more than $70 million in damages; Farmers near coastal areas were hit particularly hard with many reporting total losses

  • Hurricane's damage estimated at $7 billion

    One private estimate put damage along the coast at $7 billion, far from any record for a natural disaster; most attention was paid to the shore during Irene’s slow ride up the East Coast, but it was inland — even hundreds of miles inland — that the storm’s most serious devastation actually occurred and most of the damage was done by water, not wind; the death toll climbed to thirty-five people in ten states after a number of bodies were pulled from the floodwaters in the Northeast

  • D.C. continues to struggle with orderly evacuations

    Last week’s earthquake that struck less than ninety miles outside of Washington, D.C. exposed the city’s continuing difficulties in effectively evacuating its residents; after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the region, commuters were left stranded for hours as road traffic ground to a halt and trains became overcrowded and delayed due to speed restrictions because of the quake

  • New York's older brick buildings vulnerable

    To get a better idea of just how much damage even a moderate earthquake would cause to unreinforced masonry buildings, earthquae-engineering researchers are reconstructing brick walls like those in New York City buildings that are approximately 100 years old

  • Flood prediction tech simulates rivers 100x faster than real time

    Researchers have applied advanced analytics to river systems, weather, and sensor data, to predict the Guadalupe River’s behavior more than a hundred times the normal speed; simulating thousands of branches at a time, this technology could help provide up to several days warning of a flood, allowing more time for disaster prevention and preparedness

  • Hurricane Irene begins to pummel North Carolina, East Coast braces

    Rain from the outer edges of Hurricane Irene has already begun hitting North and South Carolina’s coast and federal officials are urging residents up and down the East Coast to prepare; Irene is expected to affect much of the East Coast from as far south as the Carolinas to Massachusetts in the north

  • Quake disrupts East Coast cell service

    Tuesday’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia and could be felt across the northeast, exposed continuing weaknesses in U.S. emergency communications networks; residents in the northeast experienced difficulty making calls on their cell phones, despite no reported damage to communications infrastructure

  • Earthquake shakes U.S. East Coast

    A 5.8 tremor shook the U.S. East Coast Tuesday afternoon; the tremor, with its epicenter in central Virginia, was felt as far away as New England; several buildings in New York were evacuated; two reactors in Virginia’s North Anna Power Station were immediately taken off line, and their coolong systems were powered by back-up generators

  • Joplin recovers quickly, schools open on time

    In a show of resiliency and determination, schools in Joplin, Missouri opened on time last week less than ninety days after a devastating tornado leveled much of the town; the tornado’s 200 mile per hour winds tore through Joplin killing 160 people, destroying thousands of homes, and damaging ten schools while completely destroying four others, yet despite the destruction more than 90 percent of Joplin’s students returned to school on time as promised