Jul 21, 2018

Go deeper: Experts argue the Missouri boat tragedy was avoidable

A candlelight prayer vigil in Branson, Missouri. Photo: Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The fatal duck boat tragedy in Missouri that killed 17 on Thursday could have been prevented, director of the University of Georgia's Atmospheric Science Program, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, writes in Forbes.

The big picture: President of Ripley Entertainment Inc., which owns the duck boat tours, said that the storm responsible for capsizing the boat "came out of nowhere," per CNN. But a thunderstorm warning was issued around Branson, where the incident occurred, approximately 30 minutes before the boat sank.

Warning signs
  • The storm was traveling at 55 mph before it reached the lake, CNN reports. The highest wind gusts in the area clocked in at 63 mph.
  • The severe thunderstorm had been forecast for days. Shepherd points out that the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center warned of "thunderstorm clusters" and "severe wind risk" on Tuesday, two days before the incident.
  • There were life jackets on board, but Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader didn't confirm if passengers were wearing them, Reuters reports.
What they're saying
  • Shepherd writes: "It is 2018, not 1901. The meteorological community has advanced weather satellites, weather radar and models. Storms like this do not 'come out of nowhere.'"
  • Meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma, Kevin Kloesel, agreed that the storm did not come "out of nowhere."
  • Meteorologist Brian Monahan — from WSB-Atlanta, an ABC affiliate — tweeted: "Absolutely negligent to have put that boat in the water. This severe weather threat was forecast for DAYS."

Go deeper

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices closed in correction territory on Thursday, down over 10% from their recent record-highs amid a global market rout.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.