Science

Science
12:46 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

New species of spider discovered in Seattle

This new species of crab spider was discovered on Foster Island in the Washington Park Arboretum
Burke Museum

A new species of crab spider was found last spring by Rob Crawford, curator of arachnids for the Univesity of Washington's Burke Museum.  He discovered it on Foster Island in the Washington Park Arboretum.  Seattlepi.com reports a team of students will soon be scouring the island for more information.

Just as intriguing as a new discovery is the question raised by Knute Berger of Crosscut who wonders about the effect a newly discovered spider could have on the Highway 520 expansion.  The highway cuts across Foster Island.

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Science
5:14 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

Shallow New Zealand quake a warning to Pacific Northwest

Brick facades collapsed in Seattle's Pioneer Square during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
FEMA

Experts in the northwest warn the deadly earthquake in New Zealand was similar to what might happen here. 

The quake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, a city comparable in size to Spokane, along a fault-line that was unknown until last September. That's when an even larger quake hit New Zealand -- but with limited damage, since it was centered farther from any city. Authorities in Christchurch were predicting the death-toll would rise to 300.

In recent years, scientists have found evidence of shallow faults across the northwest, such as the Seattle fault that runs beneath Qwest Field and roughly follows Interstate-90.

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conservation
5:35 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Point Defiance tiger goes to Dallas

Java, a 12 year old Sumatran tiger at Point Defiance Zoo
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Java, a 12-year-old, an endangered Sumatran tiger, is leaving his home at Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to find love at the Dallas Zoo. His keepers tried to mate him with the zoo's female tiger, Jaya, but that didn't work out and she mated with Java's brother, Bali, instead. Jaya gave birth to cubs Bima and Mali last May.

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Medicine
5:30 am
Mon February 14, 2011

Busiest emergency rooms – not where you might expect

The new Good Samaritan medical tower in Puyallup includes an Emergency Department that nearly doubles the size of the old ER. It opens Thursday, Feb. 17.
Photo Courtsey of Good Samaritan

New emergency rooms keep opening around western Washington. It's part of a trend.

On Thursday (Feb. 17th), Swedish Medical Centers will open a free-standing Emergency Department in Mill Creek, between Seattle and Everett. And, on the same day, MultiCare opens a new medical tower at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup -- which has the busiest ER in Pierce County. 

It turns out, the busiest ER’s in Washington are mostly outside the biggest cities.

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Weather forecasting
12:19 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Work starting on Washington coastal Doppler radar

Langley Hill (in blue square at top of image) between Copalis and Ocean Shores will be the site of the National Weather Service's new coastal Doppler radar station.
Google Earth

The National Weather Service expects to have a Doppler radar station operating by September on the Washington coast to give forecasters a better look at Pacific storms.  KBKW radio reports that Doug McDonnal with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said they've always had a blind spot in Grays Harbor County.

Construction should begin in the next few months at the site at Langley Hill in northern Grays Harbor County.

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Health Care
5:08 pm
Wed February 9, 2011

Obama’s chief defender of health care law in Seattle

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was in Seattle this week, to hear about local efforts to make the medical system more efficient.

Sebelius is in charge of implementing the new national health care law – and defending it. The Affordable Care Act has been under fierce attack by Republicans and their allies. Democrats and their supporters recently hired political strategists to launch a campaign in defense of the law.

At the same time, Sebelius has been trying to sell it across the country, alongside sympathetic mayors and governors. 

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diversion from jails and hospitals
4:01 pm
Mon February 7, 2011

Alternative for mentally ill in crisis stirs debate

A proposed crisis center in Seattle shares S. Lane St. with single-family homes.
GoogleMaps

Crisis centers for the mentally ill are gaining popularity across Washington, as a way to help people and potentially save taxpayers' money.  They’re an alternative to jails and emergency rooms. 

But these short-term treatment centers are also running into hostility. Potential neighbors are unhappy about being next door to a facility where patients arrive by police car and ambulance, in the middle of a mental health or drug crisis.

In central Seattle, an angry backlash of homeowners is threatening to delay the opening of a proposed “Crisis Solutions Center.” The location is on a block near Rainier Avenue and Dearborn, where businesses and stores give way to single-family homes.  

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Weather
5:32 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Why sunny in Seattle means snowy in Chicago

A skateboarder cruises past the Space Needle in Seattle during a sunny day on Feb. 1, 2011.
Gary Davis KPLU News

You might have wondered -- as you gazed out your sunny window and listened to news of record cold and snow sweeping the midwest and East coast -- is there a connection?

Yes, there is.

"Our weather often is the just the opposite of what it is in the eastern part of the united states," says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. 

"When we are cold, like it was just before Thanksgiving, they tend to be warm," says Mass.

The reason we're yin when they're yang, and vice versa, has to do with the jet stream and "ridges" of high and low pressure in the sky, as Mass explains it.

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Medicine
6:02 pm
Tue January 25, 2011

Investigators fault ambulance teams at Seattle Children’s

A nurse may have contributed to a baby’s death, during transport to Seattle Children’s Hospital last September, according to investigators from the Washington Department of Health (DOH). An earlier autopsy said the baby died from natural causes, but state investigators are not convinced. They also say the hospital must improve how it monitors medications in ambulances.

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Science
12:53 pm
Mon January 24, 2011

What's that weather forecast mean? Hard to say (clearly)

A typical online weather forecast from the National Weather Service (for Seattle, as of noon on Jan. 24th).
National Weather Service/NOAA website

You might not have realized it, but weather forecasts have been getting more accurate for the past ten to twenty years. Forecasters have a lot more precision about when and where different weather systems will hit.  But, this isn’t always communicated very clearly.

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Science
3:44 pm
Fri January 21, 2011

Meteorologists bring you ... Weather Fest

You can handle a weather rocket, create a flooding torrent of mud, and learn how to make a cloud inside a one-gallon jar this Sunday. 

It’s all part of a one-day exhibition called Weather-Fest, which pops up once a year as part of the American Meteorological Society annual conference.  The meeting this year is in Seattle, from Sunday through Jan. 27th. 

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Medicine
4:07 pm
Thu January 20, 2011

Hospital courtship: UW Medicine proposes to Valley Medical Center

King County's major medical centers continue jockeying for position in the emerging new health-care world. 

U.W. Medicine and Valley Medical Center proposed this week what they call a "strategic alliance." Valley wants to retain its name, although the news release says Valley would become "part of U.W. Medicine."

Earlier this year, U.W. Medicine took over running Northwest Hospital (in north Seattle), without actually owning the hospital. 

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Science
1:59 pm
Fri January 14, 2011

Menu labels having no effect? Evidence from Taco Time

Being a pioneer in adding calorie and nutrition labels to menus at fast-food restaurants has made King County a good place for researchers to visit.

A team based at Duke-National University of Singapore has been watching consumers at Taco Time restaurants, both in King County and in other counties, and found that adding all that info to the menus appeared to have no impact on people's choices. They published their results today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Public Health
1:41 pm
Thu January 13, 2011

State budget cuts fall on nurses, moms and infants

More than one-third of pregnant women get pre-natal and maternity care through a program facing cutbacks.
Photo by derekb/Flickr

If those cuts don't sound harsh enough, you can add "low-income" and "people of color" to the headline. 

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Disaster Preparedness
10:04 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Earthquake or volcano -- worst case natural disaster?

Snow-capped Mount Rainier looms behind cranes and stacked cargo containers at the Port of Seattle
AP

With massive flooding in Australia in the news, or earthquakes in South America, perhaps it’s no surprise that 2010 was the most deadly year in a generation for natural disasters around the globe.  What’s the worst we might face here in western Washington?

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