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On chains, and some weather hijinks

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That's the beauty of -12º F. Within thirty seconds, the air was clear again, and the next shot is the same stern five minutes later.

I love getting boat shots from my father, and I applaud any email interaction from my mother; my parents, like so many I know, were charmingly late to set about with "the email." So it's just plain cute to get emails from them, especially when I see they've mustered the exuberance necessary to fire off a couple forwards. I only get chain forwards from people related to me; it's an acceptable familial tariff, and how else would I keep abreast of colloquial humor, pet fashion, and urban legends?

I remember a time (antes de email & circa Christopher Pike's Chain Letter 1 & 2) when I took the onus of chains as seriously as I took all my grade school friends' sworn secrets (wasn't discretion--or its semblance--the major prereq of young friendships?): I would not tell, and I would absolutely not break the chain. Now I blithely read them and move on with my life. Maybe I'm a cynic and no fun, but I just don't do chain emails or chain myspace posts other chained correspondence. Ok maybe the caveat would be a missing child alert, but that's about it. We've touch on chains before (including rehab resources), but do you have chain-addicts in your life, or are you an active or recovering chain-keeper?

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Matt Tillett, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
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Animals
‘Harvey the Hurricane Hawk’ Returns to the Wild
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Matt Tillett, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Among the devastating news that came out of Houston during the last weekend in August, there was one video that warmed the hearts of those following Hurricane Harvey. A Cooper's hawk startled Texas cab driver William Bruso after climbing into his car and hunkering down before the storm. Now, after receiving care from both Bruso and local wildlife experts, the Associated Press reports that "Harvey the Hurricane Hawk" has been released.

As the video below shows, Bruso assumed that the bird sensed the severe weather approaching and sought refuge in his cab. "He seems to be scared," he said. "He doesn’t know what’s going on. Hurricane Harvey is getting ready to barrel down through over here, and he doesn’t want to leave."

Veterinarians at the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition Wildlife Center later learned that the hawk—which is actually female—had suffered head trauma, likely by flying into something, and this had left her unable to fly. After she refused to leave his side, Bruso took her into his home, fed her chicken hearts, and let her spend the night. Liz Compton of the rehabilitation center came to pick her up the next day.

Following a week and a half of medical care, Harvey the hawk has returned to the skies. According to TWRC, the animal likely wouldn't have survived the storm if she hadn't been given shelter. Texans hoping to catch a glimpse of the viral celebrity may be able to spot her above Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas, where she was released on September 13.

[h/t AP]

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NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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environment
How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?
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NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

For a period in early September, three hurricanes—Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, and Hurricane Katia—were brewing over the Atlantic simultaneously. In the chaos of preparing for the storms to hit land, we would have also had to deal with the confusion of telling them apart, if it weren't for a naming system that's been used for decades.

Prior to the 1950s, Atlantic hurricanes were identified simply by the year and the order in which they occurred. This system was imperfect, however, especially when meteorologists and the media had to keep tabs on multiple storms at the same time. So in 1953, the U.S. began using a list of female names ordered phonetically to better clarify which Hurricanes were coming when. Male names were assigned to storms in 1978, and in 1979 the co-ed database of names we now use to track Atlantic storms was officially adopted.

The list includes 21 names for each year, with names for the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z missing from the lineup. For years when more than 21 storms appear, letters from the Greek alphabet are used to label the extras.

The catalogue has enough names to last six Hurricane seasons, after which it gets recycled. When hurricanes are especially fatal or destructive, those names may be retired out of respect. In those cases, the World Meteorological Organization convenes to decide on a new name to fill the empty slot. Andrew, Katrina, Ike, and Sandy are a handful of names that have lost their place on the list.

Following 2017's historic hurricane season, the World Meteorological Organization will likely be removing at least a couple names from the current roster before it's next used in 2023. While they won't be accepting suggestions, they will make the updated list available for the public to see years in advance.

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