News roundup for Tue, Nov 15, 2022

In short:
  • East Coast and Gulf Coast on alert for more tropical activity, while the south and east US could flood.
  • EIA expects US gasoline prices to start falling in Nov and be flat through 2023.
  • Some Generac generators recalled after finger amputations.
Wheat products, lunch meat, lettuce, and eggs are more expensive; US gasoline prices could start to fall in Nov; Excess inventories could mean big discounts this holiday season

The price of certain foods has peaked, but prices of cereals, baked products, lunch meat, lettuce, and eggs have risen:

The average retail price of most fertilizers continues to trend downward:

Via DTN

EIA expects US gasoline prices to resume their decline in November, as refiners increase production to meet distillate demand and gasoline inventories begin increasing. Prices could stay relatively flat for the rest of 2023.

Via EIA

One silver lining of inflation? Excess inventories. We could expect some huge discounts, this holiday season.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 will be dominant, and are resistant to antivirals; Moderna’s bivalent booster works well against Omicron variants; US Covid emergency declaration in place until mid-Jan

The new BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants made up 44% of new cases last week, and are expected to become dominant soon. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are resistant to Evusheld and likely to bebtelovimab as well, leaving people with compromised immune systems vulnerable.

Moderna’s new data shows that its bivalent Covid booster works better against Omicron variants than its original booster:

Try avoiding reinfections, as each infection carries more risks:

The US will keep its Covid public health emergency in place at least until mid-January. HHS has estimated that as many as 15 million people could lose Medicaid or CHIP once the programs return to normal operations.

2020 vibes: Cruise liner with 800 Covid cases docks in Sydney.

East Coast and Gulf Coast on alert for more tropical activity, while the south and east US could flood; Wildfire smoke causes chronic problems; CA saw an increase in dry wells this year

Accuweather warns that East Coast and Gulf Coast residents should be alert for more tropical activity. Flooding could be a concern for portions of the southern and eastern US, regardless:

Record low temps are expected this weekend. Here’s How to survive winter emergencies. And here is how to prepare a winter survival kit last minute.

Mold and contaminants left after flooding may pose health hazards. Here are steps you can take before a storm, as well as after flooding.

Wildfire smoke is causing chronic problems in Americans (paywall). Chronic exposure to wildfire smoke can cause asthma and pneumonia and increase risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart failure, and sudden death. Northern California sees more underweight and premature infants when wildfires rage. Most vulnerable are the very old and very young.

Here are the latest installments of a series that analyze different regions around the US in terms of climate change risks and future: Finding safe haven in the climate change future: The Southeast. And Finding safe haven in the climate change future: The Midwest.

California’s wells have been drying up faster this year, and thousand rely on trucked water and water bottles to survive (paywall). This year the state saw 1,351 dry wells, nearly 40% over last year’s rate and the most since 2014. The bulk of these outages cut through the San Joaquin Valley, where residents compete with deep agricultural wells for the rapidly dwindling supply of groundwater. Central Valley could see about 8,000 dry wells in the next few years.

Oregon passed a bipartisan bill to inform residents about their wildfire risks. The backlash was explosive because homeowners fear the state will devalue their properties by publicizing their fire risk.

Biden and Xi Jinping taking “baby steps” to improve relationship; Classified intelligence shows UAE tried to influence US politics

Here are NPR’s four takeaways from Biden’s meeting with China’s Xi Jinping. And WaPo’s coverage. Both leaders seem to be keen on restoring channels of communication and repairing relationships, and this meeting is considered a “baby step” towards improving relations.

CIA director warned Putin’s spy chief against the use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine (soft paywall). Military analysts and nuclear experts have questioned whether Russia would use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. And, if Russia took such drastic measures, some of its global allies, including China, might turn against it.

Classified intelligence shows that the UAE has engaged in an extensive effort to influence US political decisions. The UAE has exploited the US’ reliance on campaign contributions, its predisposition to lobbying firms, and lax enforcement of disclosure laws.

The rest

6500-watt and 8000-watt Generac, HomeLink and DR portable generators have been recalled after reports of finger amputations when trying to move the unit. The article has more details and a list. Here’s our review of Best gas-powered portable generators.

Heat pumps are supposed to be energy efficient, but can they save you money? The video notes have plenty of resources about heat pumps:

For the new folks that might not know, we have a Discord server! Discord is where we meet for everyday chit-chats, while the forum is best for knowledge that is meant to be accessible for longer.


  • 9 Comments

    • Amy S.

      Thank you Carlotta for another great news roundup.  I look forward to them and am ALWAYS impressed by how good they are! I really appreciate how much work must go into them.

      I’m not sure if my comment belongs in this space, maybe it belongs as a “Forum” post, but I noticed the reference to a tweet by AccuWeather. I’m curious where other followers like to get their weather news? What has worked best for others? (I avoid AccuWeather . . . It is my understanding that they use NWS data for profit and have tried to prevent the public from direct access to data gathered by the NWS/NOAA.)

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      • brekke Amy S.

        I like WeatherBug (app or .com) Admittedly, I haven’t researched their origins, but I’ve always been happy with their free services. The have some educational programs/grants that they do and if someone wants their annual “premium” service, it is less than $10/year. I’ve never upgraded and find their lightning strike information very useful. 

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      • Colorado Jones brekke

        I use weather.gov (NOAA) to get a general overview of the weather, particularly for backcountry hiking, snowshoeing, and camping trips.  When “off-grid” I use the NOAA FM frequencies on my ham radio.

        If I want an hour-by-hour breakdown of the weather OR a long-term forecast, then I generally use Accuweather, which seems to work well enough.  Though, I suspect there are probably better options.  

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      • Robert LarsonContributor Colorado Jones

        I like weather.gov / NOAA as well. From the little I looked into other stations, many just take their data from weather.gov and put it on their site along with ads and trackers which I don’t like. 

        Something you can do is to pull up five different weather apps/websites on your computer or phone, wherever you are most likely to look at it, then eliminate which ones you don’t like purely because of their user interface. Then use them all for a few weeks and see which one is most accurate for your location. One might have their weather sensors closer to your house than another so will be able to give you more accurate info.

        For example, last night I checked the forecast and it said it wouldn’t start snowing near me until 11. The closest and best sensor that they base their data off of is like 40 miles away from me and there are many mountains in between me and that sensor. When I woke up there were a few inches of snow. Maybe the weather just changed or maybe they didn’t in fact get any snow at that sensor. 

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Amy S.

        I didn’t know about AccuWeather, thanks for telling me.

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    • atlanticrando

      Heat pumps are great. Our province and power utility has really been pushing them and offering incentives for a number of years now, and they’re now quite mainstream up here. A side benefit is that most of us in Northeastern climes wouldn’t have previously had air conditioning, and a heat pump helps take the edge off the increasingly erratic summer weather.

      One caveat about the video: the animation is kind of misleading. Heat pumps exploit the temperature differential of the air, but they don’t actually exchange fresh outside air. 

      From personal experience, the style of the home does indeed make a huge difference, and sometimes they just don’t work well because there isn’t really a good path for air circulation, such as in some older homes with a lot of small rooms, etc. A secondary heat source is also usually helpful for colder climates. Kind of like a lot of baseboard heat, heat pumps are nice, but there just isn’t anything quite like a nice big woodstove to really heat the floors, etc.

      In the place I’m renting, there’s a woodstove as backup/for very cold days, but the main heating is from the thermal storage units (ETS) and heat pumps, which are also interesting depending on what incentives your utility or government may offer. In this home, the ETS units have replaced the electric baseboard heaters and do most of the work on colder days, whereas the heat pumps are often most appropriate for slightly cold days and autumn weather. An ETS is basically a big pile of bricks with an element inside, and if your utility offers time-of-day pricing, they warm overnight while power is cheap (half price, here), and then slowly discharge the heat over the course of the day.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff atlanticrando

        Thank you for teaching me about heat pumps Carlotta and atlanticrando, I had never even heard of them before. 

        I wonder if that would be a better option for a solar powered off grid location because of how efficient it is than say getting your propane delivered once a year. You also would be more resilient to fluctuations in gas prices. 

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      • That’s an interesting question. I would venture some people focused on green homes do just that, but I’m not sure if it would be ideal for more of a fully off-grid place unless you have quite a bit of solar capacity. I’m not positive, but I think you’d still be dealing with a wattage requirement equivalent to running at least one major appliance. 

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    • JB

      Read a nice article this morning about a village being built in Salt Lake City Utah featuring tiny homes for people who struggle with chronic homelessness. It is a nice place they can live while giving them employment opportunities so they can become financially self-sufficient. I love seeing people help each other out and not just enacting laws to make their lives more difficult or shipping them to other areas to get rid of them.

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