Sunday's science stories

Oct 17, 2020 - Science

NOAA estimates damage from August derecho at $7.5 billion

Grain bins damaged from the derecho in Marshalltown, Iowa, in August. Photo: Daniel Acker/Getty Images

The derecho that struck parts of Iowa and Indiana on August 10 resulted in roughly $7.5 billion in damages, per an October update to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric's database of billion-dollar weather disasters.

Why it matters: Based on that estimate, the Corn Belt storm complex was the most economically devastating thunderstorm event in U.S. history, though its losses are still being tallied, so the total may be revised in the future, per the Washington Post.

Oct 17, 2020 - Science

Cameron Peak Fire becomes biggest blaze in Colorado history

Heavy smoke rising from the Cameron Peak fire near Fort Collins, Colorado, on Oct. 5. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Cameron Peak Fire near Fort Collins, Colorado, is now the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history, burning more than 173,000 acres.

Why it matters: Over 1,300 personnel are currently responding to the fire, which is 57% contained. Mandatory evacuations are in place in parts of Larimer County and northern Colorado is under several fire danger alerts due to low humidity and high winds.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 17, 2020 - Science

Researchers build machine to extract drinkable water from air

MIT's prototype water harvesting device. Photo: Alina LaPotin

Researchers developed a workable, solar-powered device that can extract drinkable water directly from the air, even in desert regions.

Why it matters: If the technology can be made commercially viable, it could help alleviate water scarcity in some of the world's driest regions.