US89 In Arizona Closed Due To Geological Event

A 500-700 foot section of US89 in Northern Arizona has crumbled according to the Arizona Depart of Transportation “US 89 to remain closed as ADOT assesses damage“. ADOT has also posted some video on youtube “US 89 Pavement Buckle (February 20, 2013)” showing how impressive the damage is.

While the Arizona Department of Transportation is still trying to determine what exactly happened to cause the ground to shift beneath US 89 Wednesday morning (Feb. 20) the agency continues to assess the significant damage to the highway. Geotechnical engineers are currently evaluating the stability of the mountain slope, approximately 25 miles south of Page.

“This area encompasses close to 500 feet of damaged pavement, but we had the opportunity in the plane to circle the area twice and it looks like the settlement could be a lot larger,” said Robert Samour, ADOT senior deputy state engineer of operations. “The area over the guardrail drops off a couple hundred feet; we saw some cracking in the soil down the slope, so I would say that this is probably a 500- to 700-foot section that we’re going to have to take a good look at for settlement.”

US 89 will remain closed for an extended period of time. There is no timetable to reopen the highway, which has over 150 feet of pavement that buckled approximately four to six feet.

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Holloman Drones Demoed On Civilian Vehicles

In the New York Times article ““The Drone Zone“, Drone aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico were demoed for the press by targeting (but not firing on) civilian vehicles on the highway.

Holloman sits on almost 60,000 acres of desert badlands, near jagged hills that are frosted with snow for several months of the year — a perfect training ground for pilots who will fly Predators and Reapers over the similarly hostile terrain of Afghanistan. When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.

“Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?” a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Laser Guided Bullets

Sandia labs Laser Guided Bullett
Sandia labs Laser Guided Bullett
The four-inch-long bullet has actuators that steer tiny fins that guide it to its target. Photo by Randy Montoya from Sandia Labs

Sandia Labs scientists had developed laser guided bullets. Really they are mini guided missals.

Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.

Obama Visted Intel In Chandler, Az

U.S. President Obama Speaks at Intel's Fab 42

President Barack Obama to Arizona speaking at Intel’s Fab 42, a state of that art chip manufacturing plant under construction in Chandler, AZ on January 25, 2012. from Intel Photos on Flickr

AZCentral.com has three articles about President Obama visit to the Intel site in Chandler on Thursday.

Obama or Intel haven’t made any friends with the construction workers according to the article “Obama’s visit tests readiness at Intel“.

One necessary requirement for hosting the president was shutting down construction for a day on the Fab 42 site, which didn’t sit well with all of the project’s roughly 3,000 active workers.

Some complained that they would not be paid for the unscheduled day off.

Jones said the one-day hiatus would be handled the same as if a thunderstorm had rolled into town Wednesday. A make-up day will be scheduled, and crews will be paid to work that day, instead, Jones said.

Apparently the 6000 people that came to see Obama’s speech had to stand for hours and many got sick doing so according to the article “Thousands wait for hours to see Obama“.

He would not be the only one on whom the day took a toll. Some left in wheelchairs, some walked out on their own, but clearly even a perfect January day can be a bit overwhelming after standing in the sun for hours on end.

There was the expected political nonsense from people who didn’t vote for Obama in the article “Leaders: Obama had no role in Intel project“.

Weninger said he sees the president’s visit as a political move by Obama to take credit for the Intel project. “I respect the president and am happy he is coming to Chandler and highlighting Intel and our great business community,” he posted on his political Facebook page. “I’m just saying it’s not true if he insinuates that his policies led to this expansion. It didn’t. When you couple his press release with the visit a day after the State of the Union, it’s hard to come to a different conclusion.”

Wired Magazine On The Southwest Megafires

Wired.com’s article “Megafires May Change the Southwest Forever

The plants and animals of the southwestern United States are adapted to fire, but not to the sort of super-sized, super-intense fires now raging in Arizona.

The product of drought and human mismanagement, these so-called megafires may change the southwest’s ecology. Mountainside Ponderosa forests could be erased, possibly forever. Fire may become the latest way in which people are profoundly altering modern landscapes.

The two closest fires to me are still burning. The Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez Mountains near Las Alamos is at 92,735 and is close to being the largest fire in New Mexico. The Pacheco Fire near Santa Fe and the Pecos Wilderness has burned a measly 10,000 acres and is 24% contained.

The Donaldson fire is much more south of me but has burned over 43,000 acres.

We are getting signs of Monsoon weather.

Pacheco Canyon Fire In Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico Pacheco Canyon Fire As Seen From Rio Rancho by gregjsmith, on Flickr
Santa Fe, New Mexico Pacheco Canyon Fire As Seen From Rio Rancho

Say hello to New Mexico’s newest fire, the Pacheco Canyon Fire In Santa Fe. The fire was visible from my house in Rio Rancho on the day it started but I haven’t been able to see it since Saturday. On Sunday there was too much smoke from the Arizona Wallow fire to see much of anything.

InciWeb says the fire has burned over 3000 acres and describes it as extreme.

Wallow Fire Progression

Wallow Fire Progress

AZCentral has a Wallow Fire Timeline which shows an interactive map of the Wallow Fire progression. It is about to cross the New Mexico border and US 60.

In May I drove from Arizona to New Mexico via US 60. I couldn’t help but think that the whole place was going to burn down, it was dry everywhere.

US 60 32

US 60 24

Meanwhile the smoke continues to roll in every evening into the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho areas.

Wallow fire smoke as seen in Rio Rancho, NM

It doesn’t look like there is any end to this fire and I can’t image how they are going to get it under control. It is 0 percent contained.