Certain stories tend to hit the headlines every summer - hurricanes, drought, wildfire, etc. Checking back issues of the TipSheet can give reporters and producers plenty of contacts, leads, ideas, and angles on these stories. We have organized some of the old summer standbys topically, to make it easier to find and access these back issues. You may think of it as "Summer Re-Runs," but we think you may find it more useful than that.
Some of the links may be expired or contact names obsolete, since we are unable to continually update all our old material. But if you pursue the organizational name in your web search engine, call the organization or agency, or dig up old news coverage from paid archives, you may well find useful info. Each of the topics below can be clicked to reach a separate page of links.
WEST NILE VIRUS/MOSQUITOS
As warm weather arrives, so will the West Nile season. There had been no US fatalities in 2005 as of June 21 - although there were 98 in 2004. Since arriving in the US in 1991, the virus has worked its way west, wreaking most havoc in states where it is new - and people and animals have least immunity.
Last year, the biggest impacts were in states like CA, CO, IL, TX, AR, AZ, NM, LA, MS. The only states where human cases have yet to be reported are WA and AK. States like RI and MA, which had already experienced West Nile in earlier years, were free of human cases in 2004. This suggests that incidence and human mortality may taper off in years ahead as a great portion of the US population becomes immune. For the first time this year, a vaccine is undergoing trial on human subjects (National Institutes of Health release).
Forecasters are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season for 2005 (Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project and NOAA: 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook) - not good news to Floridians still struggling to recover from last year's quadruple battering. The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Recently, climate scientist Kevin Trenberth renewed his assertion that global warming will likely bring more intense hurricanes - reviving a scientific dispute that simmered last year.
Shark stories blossom every summer as news organizations try to prop up sagging profits by whipping up fear based on very little reality. They sound alarms even louder in years when the number of shark attacks declines. Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" begins July 17 this year. Mark your calendar and try to act surprised.
The wildfire outlook is pretty grim for 2005 in much of the Pacific Northwest and large stretches of the Rocky Mountain West due to multi-year drought. The good news - Alaska, which had an especially bad year in 2004, should see less wildfire this year.
Drought is still bad in many parts of the Northwest, and the 2005 outlook is not promising. Even if improvement occurs in hard-hit parts of MT and WY, persistent drought is still forecast for parts of OK, TX, AR, MO, and IL. U.S. Drought Monitor.
Water quality at many beaches will get worse as water temperatures rise in mid-summer, and major dumps of untreated sewage after big storms often bring problems. See the article on beach pollution in the June 8, 2005, TipSheet.
It's a good time to remind light-skinned readers to slather their kids (and themselves) with sunscreen. Expect the Antarctic Ozone Hole story to break in late Aug. or early Sept.
Summer heat and ultraviolet are what cook power-plant and automotive emissions into the finished product: eye-scratching, throat-searing, lung-damaging smog. EPA's new 8-hour smog standard may make it seem worse - or it may actually be worse - the next two months will tell. You can watch the air become unbreathable in real time now - isn't technology grand?