Experts confirm winter broke records for snowfall in Switzerland

snow in the Alps

    

Following three years with little snow, the Swiss winter of 2017-18 brought exceptional quantities of the white stuff – but only in the mountains.

Record snowfall, avalanches and horror storms were all part of the picture from December right up to the end of April, when 10 people died in three separate bad weather incidents.

The Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF/WSL said on Thursday that overall it had been one of the longest and whitest winters for 30 years at elevations above 1,500 metres.

In November, December and January it snowed intensively. From the end of December until the end of January between 2.5 and five metres of snow fell at locations above 2,000 metres.

Most snow fell in the canton of Valais with the ski resorts of Saas-Fee and Zermatt both recording their highest snowfall for 70 years in January.

The extreme weather resulted in Zermatt and several other villages being cut off from the outside world for days on end.

It was a completely different story in the plains, SLF/WSL said, with half the usual amount of snowfall below 1,000 metres.

January was extremely warm – the warmest since recordings began in 1864 – and any precipitation fell as rain at lower levels.

The risk of avalanches reached its peak in January with the avalanche research centre issuing its highest risk warning for an extended area on January 22nd – the first time it had done so since 1999.

A fatal avalanche hit Vallon d'Arbi in March.

    

Valais and Graubünden in particular experienced major avalanches during this month.

By the end of April over 250 avalanches had been recorded that resulted in damage, the institute said.

And there was a heavy human toll: 26 people died in 19 avalanches.

The long-term average is 21 avalanche deaths in a winter.

All those who died were engaged in winter sports.

Source Article from https://www.sott.net/article/384668-Experts-confirm-winter-broke-records-for-snowfall-in-Switzerland

6 people, incl 2 children, killed by brutal winter storm on US East Coast (PHOTOS)

A six-year-old boy was killed after a falling tree struck him while he was sleeping in his home in Chesterfield County, Virginia, according to authorities cited by AFP. In the southern Virginia county of James City, a 44-year-old man died when a tree fell on the truck he was traveling in.

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree in Putnam Valley, New York. Two more people met the same fate in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The sixth victim was an elderly woman, 77, who was killed after being hit by a large tree branch in Kingsville, Maryland, according to Baltimore County Police and Fire Department.

The East Coast has been pummeled by extreme weather, with Winter Storm Riley leaving more than a foot of snow in the western and northern parts of New York. Heavy rain has descended on coastal areas, resulting in flooding alerts being issued from New Jersey to Massachusetts.

Winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings and high wind warnings are in effect from the Northeast to the Mid-Atlantic, according to the National Weather Service. The state of Massachusetts has seen more than 100,000 power outages, with authorities warning that additional power cuts are likely. Some coastal communities have been ordered to evacuate, with nearby homes expected to receive extensive damage.

The situation has also led to the cancelation of more than 3,000 domestic and international flights, according to the website FlightAware. More than 2,400 others have been delayed.

Ground transportation has also been affected, with Amtrak announcing that all services along the northeast corridor have been suspended for safety reasons. Motorists have also become stranded along the East Coast, and federal government offices in Washington DC have been closed.

Winter Storm Riley is expected to weaken by early Saturday. Until then, residents of the East Coast are being advised to remain cautious and abide by local weather alerts and advisories.

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Winter Political Games 2018: ‘National discrimination against Russia’

A last-minute appeal from 45 Russian athletes and two coaches against a ban preventing them from competing in the Winter Olympics has failed

The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s secretary-general announced the ruling with just hours to go before the Games got underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

As some of the people banned have no prior doping convictions, investigative journalist Dave Lindorff said he thinks “a lot of it has to be politics.”

Lindorff recalled that other countries had been accused of “nationally-run doping campaigns” but their teams had not been banned.

“The individuals who don’t pass tests obviously are banned or have their medals taken away if they are found to have been doped earlier,” Lindorff continued.

He pointed out that this kind of ban on a whole team “reeks of an attack on the nation rather than individuals who are cheating.”

According to Lindorff, “the thing is that the Olympics are not just what they are made out to be: the celebration of amateur athletes. It is big money.”

“People who win these gold medals become endorsers of products and can make a fortune. It is a huge life change. If you have worked that hard to get to the top and then it is taken away from you, it isn’t just national honor, it is incomes.”

Source Article from https://www.rt.com/news/418323-russia-doping-winter-olympics-cas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Father Of Otto Warmbier Will Attend Winter Olympics In South Korea: Report

Fred Warmbier, the father of an American who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea, will attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, later this month, The Washington Post reported on Sunday. He will travel to the country as a guest of Vice President Mike Pence.

Warmbier’s son, Otto, died last June after suffering brain damage while in the custody of the North Korean government. The younger Warmbier was in a coma for around 15 months before he was returned to the United States, although it’s unclear how he sustained the injuries that brought on the condition. Officials in Pyongyang said the coma was brought on by a mix of botulism and sleeping pills, although an autopsy could not confirm the cause of the brain damage, which a coroner called extensive.

Pence is expected to speak about continued pressure by the U.S. against North Korea in an effort to curtail the regime’s ambitions of crafting an arsenal of nuclear weapons capable of reaching America, the Post reported. His presence ― at the end of a five-day trip to Asia ― comes as the North is expected to send athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time in years, including a joint team with the South in women’s ice hockey.

The Warmbiers recently attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address as guests of the White House. In his speech, Trump spoke about Warmbier’s imprisonment and called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “cruel” and “depraved.”

“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires truly us all,” Trump said. “Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with total American resolve.”

Warmbier’s parents have been harsh critics of the North Korean government since their son’s imprisonment, and accused the Obama administration of not doing enough to ensure his return. Warmbier, then 21, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he was convicted of stealing a propaganda poster while on a group tour to the country in early 2016. His parents were unable to speak to him during his entire imprisonment, and were only told of his condition in the hours before he was returned to the U.S.

In an interview three months after his death, Warmbier’s father condemned the actions of the North and slammed the Kim regime as torturers.

“We’re here to tell you North Korea is not a victim,” Fred Warmbier said on Fox News. “They’re terrorists. They kidnapped Otto, tortured him, they intentionally injured him … He was blind, he was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked as if somebody had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.

His wife, Cindy, said the North had “destroyed” her son.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Source Article from https://www.yahoo.com/news/father-otto-warmbier-attend-winter-062548096.html

‘Arctic invasion’: Huge winter storm, freezing rain wreaks havoc in Moscow (PHOTOS)

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A tree branch laden with snow killed one and injured two in the Russian capital on Saturday, the capital’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote on his VKontakte social network page. He said that the weight of the snow had caused some 2,000 trees to fall across the city. 

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The storm dumped more than 43cm of snow on Moscow and the precipitation continues, according to Sunday’s data from Gidrometcentr, the Russian national meteorological service.

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Six more weeks of winter, says Canada’s famous albino groundhog

Wiarton Willie saw his shadow this morning, which means the cold weather will stick around.

Canada’s most famous groundhog, Wiarton Willie, has spoken. He saw his shadow, which means there will be six more weeks of winter! The little albino prognosticator made his announcement just past 8 o’clock this morning, whispering to the mayor of the town of Wiarton, Ontario, who translated it from the Groundhogese, which apparently is a prerequisite for the job.

The crowd was delighted by Willie’s prediction. Prior to the announcement, an informal poll had revealed that the majority of attendees were hopeful winter would continue for another six weeks. I share their sentiment. As someone who loves bitter cold temperatures, I surely hope Willie is right about this.

It was frigid in Wiarton today, with the wind chill bringing the temperature down to -25C (-13F). Despite this, an impressive crowd gathered for the Groundhog Day festivities. It kicked off with fireworks at 7 a.m., an unusual sight in the early morning darkness and pretty much the greatest way to start any day. At the main stage, a fiddle-guitar duo entertained the growing crowd, later replaced by a DJ playing top 40 tunes and accompanied by a troupe of dancers. The crowd tried to stay warm by dancing along, our collective breaths making white clouds of steam in the air all around, as we waited for Willie’s appearance.

This particular Willie is new to the job. His predecessor passed away in September 2017, after 11 years of making annual predictions. This is an impressive amount of time, considering that a groundhog’s life expectancy in the wild is only four years. At the time of his passing, mayor Janice Jackson said of the old Willie:

“He was a real sweetie. It was really fun working with him. He clearly responded to people around him and especially his caretaker. It was really remarkable how bonded he was to his caretaker. Willie’s daily care regimen coupled with living in a safe and protected environment allowed Willie to reach the ripe old age of 13.”

The town always has an understudy ready to go. In this case, the new Willie was found two years ago in Ontario’s Oro-Medonte township, spotted by a child in his backyard. He was removed to Wiarton in preparation for today, when he made his big debut.

Wiarton Willie crowd© K Martinko — A crowd gathered despite -25C weather

The new Willie was wide awake and curious in his glass box when he was brought out on the stage. He poked around in the straw and seemed unperturbed by the spotlights and cameras rolling around him.

Willie’s prediction for six more wintry weeks matched that of his southern colleague, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, but differed from Shubenacadie Sam, Canada’s other famous groundhog from Nova Scotia. Sam, in fact, made headlines today by attempting to climb the fence of his enclosure and make a run for it, only to be blocked by a nearby news reporter.

While groundhogs’ accuracy at predicting spring’s arrival is known to be poor in real life (Melissa wrote yesterday that Punxsutawney Phil has only a 52 percent success rate), the tradition of celebrating them continues — and I maintain that having something to celebrate in the dead of winter, cold and darkness notwithstanding, is important.

Wiarton Willie’s big day is something my kids and I look forward to each year. If it weren’t for him, what other reason would we have to bundle ourselves up till we resemble snowmen and head outdoors to watch fireworks, dance outside, and drink hot chocolate first thing in the morning?

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/animals/six-more-weeks-winter-says-canadas-famous-albino-groundhog.html

How to take care of your hair this winter

During cold weather, doing less to your hair will benefit it more.

Cold weather can be really hard on hair. It turns the hair shafts brittle, making them more prone to breakage and spit ends. It dulls natural shine and causes color to fade. Avoid winter-induced bad hair days (and large salon bills!) by learning how to take care of your hair during cold weather. Here’s some advice.

Less heat: We tend to use heated appliances more often in the winter, which isn’t great for hair. Take more time on your blow-dry so you don’t have to do it as often.

Wash less: Winter is a great time to train yourself to go longer between washes. Use hats and hairstyles to push those limits. You’ll be thanking yourself when the warm weather returns.

Protect with oil: Add some heavy moisturizing oil to your conditioner, such as olive or jojoba oil, in order to get that extra boost. Use a few drops of oil on your ends each day to keep them from splitting. Rub a small amount onto your palms and smooth over your head to reduce frizz. Read: Use oil to nourish your hair naturally

Pre-condition your hair: Give your dry tresses and scalp a thorough massage with coconut oil prior to washing. Let sit for up to an hour, then shampoo as usual. Your hair will retain some of the oil.

Use a weekly moisturizing mask: A mask is a prolonged conditioning treatment that locks in moisture and gives smooth shine to tired locks. You can easily make a mask at home, using ingredients in your pantry. See this list of 6 homemade hair masks that serve a variety of purposes, or check out 12 All-natural hair moisturizers that you can DIY.

Wear a hat: Protect your hair from the cold by covering up when you head outside. One suggestion is to line your wool, cotton, or other coarse-knit winter hat with an old silk or satin scarf to reduce split ends. Or you could just wrap your hair in a scarf before putting on a hat.

Dry your hair thoroughly: Never go outside with wet hair. Cold air makes damp hair more prone to breakage and also causes color to fade more quickly. Take time to dry it completely before running out the door.

Embrace moisture of all kinds: Drink lots of water and use a humidifier in your room to combat the dryness that comes with winter heating. Don’t worry; it won’t create the kind of humidity that results in excessive frizziness, but rather a soft, moisturized feeling.

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/organic-beauty/how-take-care-your-hair-winter.html

Entertain like a TreeHugger this winter

Host gatherings with friends both outdoors and in your home, while sharing food prep to make it more affordable.

It’s the middle of January. The days are short with minimal sunlight, the air is frigid, and finances may be tight after a month of holiday spending. In other words, there’s a good chance you’re feeling a wee bit depressed and in need of some cheap, cheery entertainment.

We’ve got just the solution for you — TreeHugger-style entertaining that prioritizes get-togethers at home with good friends and/or outdoor playtime that takes advantage of the winter weather. Not only do these suggestions cost very little (compared to a night out), but they’ll add bright spots and priceless memories to an otherwise dreary time of year. Here we go:

Potluck dinner: This is an old classic approach to entertaining that, in my opinion, is not utilized nearly enough these days. A well-organized potluck is a brilliant way to feed a large group of people without anyone having to work too hard. Tell friends to bring an appetizer, salad, dessert, and wine, and take care of the main course. Make it special by setting a country theme, such as Indian, Greek, or Mexican.

potluck dinner© K Martinko — A Mediterranean-themed potluck at my house last summer

Board game night: As the Washington Post says, board game nights are “having a moment.” They’re back in style, which isn’t surprising, knowing how much fun they are. Choose familiar games or those with easy-to-learn rules that guests can review in advance. (Popular choices among TreeHugger staff are Scrabble, Bananagrams, Listography, Cards against Humanity, Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, cribbage.) Set up the game on a coffee table in the living room, surrounded by comfy couches and a cozy fireplace. Bring drinks and snacks into the room, so nobody has to leave for refills.

Crêpe party: This is an idea my sister’s boyfriend just told me about. He used to host crêpe parties at university in Montreal, cooking 500 crêpes a few hours in advance and asking guests to bring toppings. Depending on the time of day, you stand around drinking coffee, mimosas, or wine, eating fully loaded crêpes. It sounds perfect for a winter gathering.

Sledding & hot chocolate: For a kid-friendly daytime party, get your friends together to go sledding. After an hour or two of vigorous outdoor activity, come back to your place for hot chocolate and popcorn. You could do the same with skating; check out your local arena for a sponsored public skating schedule.

Hiking party: Go for a hike with a group of friends (or cross-country ski or snowshoe) in the wilderness. My husband and I often do this with our kids at a nearby provincial park and we turn it into an event by bringing along a camp stove, hot chocolate mix, and coffee. It’s great fun.

outdoor picnic© K Martinko — An outdoor coffee break after a hike along the beach

Lumberjack games: This is something my parents used to do each winter when I was young. They would organize traditional ‘lumberjack’ games that date back a century to pioneer days. Activities involved a three-legged snowshoe race, a race to boil water over a wood fire that each group had to build on their own, a log-rolling race across a finish line, making maple syrup taffy on the snow, and — their odd favorite — trying to walk in a straight line while blindfolded across the frozen lake (it’s impossible). Usually the afternoon’s events were followed by a potluck dinner.

Soup & salad night: Back to the food theme, making soup is an easy way to feed a crowd. Ask guests to bring salads, bread, and dessert, and you’ll have a feast in minutes.

Fondue party: Host a fondue night. Start with a decadent cheese fondue, served with bread cubes and a variety of vegetables and meats. Follow it with a chocolate fondue for dessert. Your guests will be rolling home.

chocolate fondueMichael Pollack — Chocolate fondue/CC BY 2.0

Girls’ craft night: I’ve attended a few of these and they’re always fun. Whether you get together with a group of girlfriends who is each working on her own project, or you organize a single craft for everyone to do, it’s a fun way to pass an evening, especially if it involves wine. Scrapbooking is another good group activity.

Wine & Cheese: The good old wine and cheese model never grows old. Make it more affordable by having each guest bring a bottle of wine or a piece of cheese to contribute. Choose a great playlist and the fun will take care of itself.

Movie night: Instead of meeting friends at the cinema, host a movie night at home. In many ways, it’s more fun because you can come in comfy clothes and lounge on the sofa, wrapped in blankets. Pass around all the delicious snacks you try to avoid during the rest of the week.

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/culture/how-entertain-treehugger-winter.html

Why do we gain weight in winter? Breakthrough study reveals less time in the sun promotes fat storage, as well as making us deficient in vitamin D

Image: Why do we gain weight in winter? Breakthrough study reveals less time in the sun promotes fat storage, as well as making us deficient in vitamin D

(Natural News)
According to scientists, “winter weight gain” could be partly caused by a lack of sunlight exposure during winter.

Researchers from the University of Alberta have announced that the according to the results of their study, the fat cells under our skin shrink once exposed to the “blue light” emitted by the sun.

Peter Light, the senior author of the study, said, “When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”

Light, who is a professor of pharmacology and the director of UAlberta’s Alberta Diabetes Instituteexplains that the fact that individuals who live in a northern climate are not exposed to enough sunlight eight months in a year could be the reason for winter weight gain.

The professor cautions that the results are an initial observation and that exposing one’s self to sunlight can have a negative effect on one’s health instead of being a guaranteed way to lose weight. Light comments that he and his team have yet to determine the “intensity and duration of light” required to activate this particular pathway.

Light believes that their discovery holds potential and that future studies could be built on the results of their study. It might even result in “pharmacological or light-based treatments” for health concerns such as obesity and diabetes. Light also posits that this mechanism could be one reason why the number of fat cells produced in childhood often “stay with us into adulthood.”

He acknowledges that there is a lot of literature that tries to explain why “our current generation will be more overweight than their parents” and that this could be linked to the debate about what should be considered as “healthy sunshine exposure.” (Related: Sunlight emerging as proven treatment for breast cancer, prostate cancer and other cancers.)

The researchers chanced upon the discovery while they were looking into how they can bioengineer fat cells that can produce insulin when exposed to light. The team is studying this procedure in the hopes of discovering a way to make life easier for type 1 diabetes patients.

The study results revealed that the fat cells stored near our skin could be “a peripheral biological clock.” While Light says that it’s too early to tell, it’s possible that the light we receive through our eyes which regulates our circadian rhythm (that directs sleep-wake patterns), could similarly impact “the fat cells that can be found near our skin.” The molecular pathway the researchers discovered was initially identified as “being activated by the eye” following exposure to the blue wavelengths in sunlight.

The pathway could act “in a sensory manner” and that it sets the amount of fat that we burn as the seasons change. People gain weight in winter and it is burned off during summer. This could be an “evolutionary process,” and there is data that supports this. Unlike other mammals, human fat can be found all over the body, just beneath the skin.

Foods that can help you lose weight

Losing weight requires regular exercise and following a healthy diet, but if you’re looking for food that can help you lose weight, check out the list below:

  • EggsEggs are full of high-quality protein, fats, essential nutrients like vitamin D, and choline.
  • Beans — All kinds of beans are high in fiber, which can help you lose weight because it “helps you feel fuller longer.”
  • YogurtYogurt is full of protein and probiotics, which can benefit your gut health.
  • SalmonSalmon is a good source of high-quality protein and it contains a lot of “good” fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a diet full of omega-3 fatty acids can help you feel more full.

You can read more articles about vitamin D-rich foods and healthier food options at Food.news.

Sources include:

ScienceDaily.com

EatingWell.com

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Source Article from http://www.naturalnews.com/2018-01-16-why-gain-weight-in-winter-breakthrough-study-reveals-less-time-in-the-sun-promotes-fat-storage.html