Florida is once again under siege from an invasive species. This time, residents are facing a deluge of slime and droppings brought on by the giant African land snail. The mollusks, which were first spotted in the Miami-Dade area in September 2011, can grow as large as a rat and love to eat everything in their path, from gardens to stucco walls. The snails are also known to carry a parasitic lungworm that can cause a form of meningitis in humans. Fortunately, no such cases have been reported so far.
Authorities have had little luck trying to determine the source of the infestation. One possibility is a Miami Santeria group, a West African/Caribbean religion known for using giant land snails in their rituals, but it’s more likely they were simply unintentional hitchhikers in some tourist’s luggage. "If you got a ham sandwich in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, or an orange, and you didn't eat it all and you bring it back into the States and discard it, at some point, things can emerge from those products," warned Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Roughly 1,000 snails are being caught each week, 117,000 in total since they first appeared, but it’s unlikely to halt their march of destruction. A single snail can produce over 1,200 eggs in a single fertilization cycle. The last snail infestation, which occurred in 1966, took 10 years to quell and cost the state $1 million.
Experts gathered in Gainesville last week to discuss ways to eradicate the snails. No conclusions were reached, save for bombing the state into dust and “seeing how the snails liked that.”
Boston University posted an announcement on their web site claiming that the third unidentified victim is a graduate student who was watching the race with two friends near the finish line. The student’s name may be released “pending permission from the family.”
5:45 p.m. EST
From the White House: “The President will travel to Boston [Thursday] to speak at an interfaith service dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday's bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon."
5:25 p.m. EST
FBI agent Richard DesLauriers at an early evening press conference:"Regarding who might be suspected in this event, the investigation is in its infancy.... Some of our activity you might see, some of it you won't... At this time there are no claims of responsibility... the possibilities are wide open."
A Facebook event has been created to organize a walk that would complete the last five miles of the course.
In light of today's tragedy, let's remember, honor, and stand up for all those affected by the incident that occurred at the 117th Boston Marathon. We invite everyone to join us on Friday, April 19 at 4:30pm to walk from BC to Boston to stand united. For anyone who did not get to finish, For anyone who was injured, and For anyone who lost their life ... we will walk. We will walk to show that we decide when our marathon ends.
In a separate post, CNN says they have spoken with a "senior U.S. official" who says there is no indication that al-Qaeda is involved. Fox News editor Jon Passantino is reporting that the Saudi student whose apartment in Revere, MA was searched by police earlier today has been cleared as a suspect.
Differing reports on the state of cell service in Boston. Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis said, "Minus some mild call blocking on our Boston network due to increased traffic, our service is operating normally."
The third "explosion" in the JFK library was just a fire. It started in the mechanical room and is now out. All staff and personnel are accounted for.
6:15 p.m. EST
President Obama spoke for several minutes and did not answer questions: "We still do not know who did this, or why."
Fox 29claims to have confirmed that a "person of interest" is in custody regarding the bombings. No mention of nationality.
5:40 p.m. EST
Outside'sBob Parks had just completed his first Boston Marathon when the first bomb detonated across the street. He said the explosion seemed to come from the side of a building. The force of it caused a temporary stampede.
New York Postsay they have confirmed from "law-enforcement sources" that 12 are dead. They also say that authorities have identified a suspect—a Saudi national—and are keeping them under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital. No other sources have reported this.
The Boston Globe has reported the exact locations of the two unexploded devices. One "on the glass footbridge over Huntington Ave near Copley place," the other "reported near the Harvard #MBTA station." Police have also cordoned off a block of Commonwealth Ave. Reports of a suspicious package.
Corresondent Whitney Dreier, who was entered in the race, is reporting from a hotel on lockdown. She says that 2 are dead and 28 injured. After the two initial explosions, police have detonated a third explosive device.
Reports are flooding in of multiple explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two separate detonations were reported near the Boston library. There is no word yet on who or what is responsible.
In a rare on-the-job tragedy, a veteran avalanche forecaster was killed in a snow slide Thursday afternoon. The Utah Department of Transportation employee was checking the stability of a snowpack in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range.
Craig Patterson, 34, often went on solo trips to assess safety conditions around the Brighton and Solitude ski resorts. Rising afternoon temperatures can sometimes lead to shifting on steep slopes around Kessler Peak, so Patterson was gauging the changing snow conditions.
His death is unusual considering his preparedness and the rarity of job-related deaths for avalanche forecasters. Only two other American forecasters have died on the job, according to the American Avalanche Association.
"I feel like I'd be capable of doing the job, but I just don't want to go and screw up the team time trial or whatever," Dombrowski told VeloNews.
Over the winter, Sky put Dombrowski on its tentative roster for the Giro d'Italia, a surprising move since his longest race before had been the amateur Girobio, or "Baby Giro".
Besides a nagging knee injury which Dombrowski blamed on a new bike, Sky management cited the young rider's inexperience with team tactics. "We don’t want to put too much pressure on him to perform,” Sky general manager David Brailsford said. “We don’t want to have him thinking, ‘Ah, I’m going to mess it up for Brad Wiggins, he’s not going to win the Giro.'"
A female snowshoer died hours after she was dug out of the snowpack on Saturday and a man remained missing on Monday after avalanches struck the Cascade Mountains in Washington following a heavy snowstorm.
The other Saturday avalanche took place near Granite Mountain, according to the Seattle Times.
Officials knew for sure that a man was missing at the Granite Mountain site, where an avalanche caught three snowshoers, all from South King County, and carried them 1,279 feet at a top speed of 53 mph, said Sgt. Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff’s Office. That level of detail was available because at least one snowshoer was outfitted with GPS.
Two injured men, in their 30s, emerged from the snow, but their companion did not, Larson said.
About 50 rescuers with dog teams searched for the man, who is about 60. But they battled “horrible” conditions, Larson said, and wound up suspending the search sometime around 8 p.m.
The Northwest Avalanche Institute rated avalanche conditions as "high" at Snoqualmie Ski Resort before the predicted storm.
“Because of the cold temperatures, the snow underneath is relatively well frozen and stable,” said Paul Baugher, director of the Northwest Avalanche Institute. “But there’s a poor bond between the new snow coming down and old snow, which is very hard and slippery. That produces soft slabs of very sensitive snow.”
The woman's death is the first reported avalanche fatality of the season in Washington, and the 17th in the United States.
Wikimedia via China Crisis
Boy Dies in Crevasse Fall While Snowmobiling
The accident occurred in Alaska's Hoodoo Mountains
Shjon Brown was snowmobiling with his father Saturday in Alaska's Hoodoo Mountains—about five miles north of the Arctic Man Classic—when he disappeared from sight after rounding a slope. Brown's father was watching from a hillside and traced the boy's tracks to a moulin, a hole formed when water carves a hole through a glacier.