The state of Maryland’s plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay will not only cost billions of dollars, but it continues to frustrate local officials who have to implement it.
Frederick County’s share for one part of the plan alone — renovating older neighborhoods to reduce stormwater runoff — could cost up to $4.3 billion, according to Shannon Moore, the county’s acting manager of sustainability and environmental resources.
“The problem is that the limits established by the state put a heavy burden on municipalities and citizens,” Moore said.
The burden, she said, “is not possible from a feasibility or cost perspective.”
As part of a federal mandate to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) determined how much counties need to lower the amount of pollution they contribute to the bay, and local officials have to figure out how.
The state’s cleanup plan, or the “Watershed Implementation Plan,” is divided into two phases, the first of which was released in December 2010.
According to the plan, Frederick County and its municipalities need to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants; hook up septic systems to treatment plants; renovate older developments to reduce stormwater runoff; and change some farming habits to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that ends up in the bay.
Hooking up a septic system to a sewer line could cost $13,000 per house, according to an April 2011 study by the Sage Policy Group on behalf of the Maryland Builders Association.
And the costs of renovating older housing developments with separate stormwater management systems could run as high as $4.3 billion, Moore said in an email.
Using a state computer program to help determine costs, Moore said that the county could not meet the goals of removing nitrogen and phosphorus from urban areas, even if the county retrofits 100 percent of all urban land.
“The state has been promoting stormwater retrofits very heavily, but they are not cost-effective or efficient,” Moore said.
State officials acknowledge that the costs are high — the state projects $10 billion for phase one — but insist that the cost to each county has not been determined.
“Everyone is worried about costs, and they will be high, but we don’t know what they are yet, and we are looking at ways to reduce the costs, and are also looking for additional funding sources,” said Richard Eskin, director of science services administration at MDE.
The program Moore used to estimate the cost to Frederick is only meant for establishing “what-if scenarios,” according to Eskin.
According to Sage Policy Group report, the state’s estimates are conservative, do not represent the final cost, and will not assure that reduction goals are met.
Stricter than mandated
An added aggravation, many officials say, is that Maryland is pursuing a more aggressive schedule than required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA, by executive order from President Barack Obama to abide by the federal Clean Water Act, put states in the 64,000-square-mile watershed of the Chesapeake Bay on a pollution diet, targeting reductions for 2025.
Maryland is pushing for 2020, and is leading the way, Eskin said, because it has the most to benefit by the bay’s restoration. “It makes sense to get it sooner rather than later,” he said.
Del. Kelly M. Schulz (R-Dist. 4A) of New Market said the state is skirting the question of cost. “If the state was being honest, it would say the funding would come from an increase in taxes because the revenues aren’t going to show up miraculously,” she said in an interview.
Schulz said she is working on building a coalition of stakeholders to present a unified front during the 2012 session of the Maryland General Assembly.
Local politicians are also reaching out to elected officials on the federal level.
Frederick city Alderman Shelley Aloi (R) is working with the Washington Area Council of Governments to create a coalition across counties to lobby the U.S. Congress to either change the deadlines or provide funding for the plan.
Frederick city is on the hook for $21 million in upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant, in addition to stormwater changes. Some of the funding will come from a state grant.
Still, Aloi questions the effectiveness of the mandated upgrade. “The problem is that what is being required has no scientific data to indicate that once we do what they’re requiring, that it’s even going to work,” Aloi said in an interview.
Frederick Alderman Karen L. Young (D) wants to lobby the state to at least change the deadlines for implementation so that they are commensurate with those established by MDE.
As vice chair of the legislative committee of the Maryland Municipal League, she said municipalities are just starting to figure out the impact of the state requirements, and have a lot more questions about the plan.
Meanwhile, MDE is working on phase two of the watershed implementation plan, due to the EPA on March 30.
That plan, Eskin said, will answer questions about the operational aspects of the bay restoration. MDE plans regional meetings, webinars and hands on training for those involved in preparing local plans.
“Hopefully, the plan will be consistent with local priorities and visions,” Eskin said. “We are anticipating very significant improvements in local streams as a result and in local water supplies by recharging the watersheds, which will benefit before it benefits the bay.”
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The state of Maryland’s plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay will not only cost billions of dollars, but it continues to frustrate local officials who have to implement it.
Planet Healer Obama Calls It: In 2008, he declared his presidency would result in 'the rise of the oceans beginning to slow' -- And By 2011, Sea Level
Wednesday, September 21, 2011By Marc Morano – Climate Depot
President Barack Obama can take a bow. As Obama struggles with poor polling numbers, persistent high unemployment, the possibly of a primary challenge within his own party and a stagnant economy saddled with massive deficits and debts, one area where he can claim success is his prediction that he would slow sea level rise.
Obama -- in similar fashion to baseball legend Babe Ruth calling his home run during the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series -- called it successfully on sea level rise.
Obama declared in a June 8, 2008 speech, that his presidency will be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Obama's prognostication occurred during his victory speech in St. Paul for the Democratic Party nomination.
Climate Depot can now announce it is official. Earlier this month, the European Space Agency's Envisat monitoring, global sea level revealed a “two year long decline [in sea level] was continuing, at a rate of 5mm per year.”
In August 2011, NASA announced that global sea level was dropping and was “a quarter of an inch lower than last summer.” See: NASA: 'Global sea level this summer is a quarter of an inch lower than last summer'
The global drop in sea level followed NASA's announcement that sea level around the U.S. was declining in February 2011.
Most surprising, despite the fact that Obama said he would only “slow” the rise of the oceans, his presidency has presided over what some scientists are terming an “historic decline" in global sea levels. Obama appears to have underestimated his own powers to alter sea level.
Even more impressive for President Obama is the fact that just six months into his presidency, sea level started its historic reversal. In July 2009, sea level was already showing a “slowdown and was “still flattening.” See: Sea Level Rise: An Update Shows a Slowdown & See: Global Sea Level Updated at UC – still flattening'
President Obama's success in lowering sea level has not gone unnoticed. The skeptical website Real Science, made sarcastic note of Obama's “healing of the climate” and his sea level accomplishment on June 3, 2011.
“No hurricanes have struck the US since Obama became president, temperatures and sea level have dropped, and we have had record snow,” Real Science noted. “Reservoirs are filling up – and all of the damage [President George W.] Bush did to the climate has been healed. Obama should declare 'mission accomplished' and take credit!” Real Science concluded.
[The August 2011 Hurricane Irene ruined Obama's perfect record when it comes to U.S. land falling hurricanes. Many scientists question whether Irene should have been categorized as a hurricane. See: The Chosen One? Obama Presides Over A Hurricane Free Presidency: 'First president to have not had a hurricane make landfall on US soil' ]
Can Obama control the Earth's Thermostat Next?
It remains to be seen whether President Obama will enjoy the same sea level and hurricane success when it comes to future global temperatures. In 2009, Obama was part of a UN effort to limit the Earth's future temperature rise to no more than 2°Celcius. See: We're Saved?! Politicians at UN Announce They Will Control Earth's Thermostat! Climate Deal 'sets a cap on worldwide temp increases at no more than 2°C
In July 2009, Obama was also part of the G8 leaders “historic breakthrough” where they agreed to the “goal of keeping the world's temperatures from rising more than 2C.” See: Controlling Nature? Obama backs 'historic breakthrough' in G8 climate talks - 'Agree to goal of keeping the world's temps from rising more than 2C' - July 9, 2009 & Climate Depot's Morano: G8 Leaders embrace 'climate astrology' - Trying to control Earth's thermostat is 'madness of our age' - July 10, 2009
President Obama has also claimed he can "block the Sun's rays to end global warming." In addition, Obama made the completely scientifically indefensible claim that the Waxman-Markey climate bill in 2009 would stop global temperature increases of up to five degrees! Obama said on June 25, "A long-term benefit is we're leaving a planet to our children that isn't four or five degrees hotter."
Politicians efforts to control global temperatures have been met with ire from Award-winning Princeton physicist Dr. Will Happer. See: Princeton Physicist: 'The idea that Congress can stop climate change is just hilarious' - Warns of 'climate change cult' - July 8, 2009
Other analyses have compared Obama's efforts to dictate the Earth's temperature akin to primitive cultures attempts to control the weather. See: Which is more plausible? Ugandans blame drought and disease on the 'angry gods' or More 'Educated' Western Leaders blame SUVs and 'cell phone chargers?!'
Obama's Commerce Secretary Ray LaHood has warned Americans that they better “pay” up or face extreme storms. See: La Cosa Climate: Commerce Sec. Warns: Americans Need 'To Pay' Or Face Mother Nature's Wrath -- Pay up or face 'floods, droughts and rising sea levels' - July 17, 2009
Watch 2008 Video of Obama announcing he will 'slow' sea level rise
Flashback 2008: Obama commands the seas! My presidency will be 'the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal'
'No hurricanes have struck U.S. since he became president, temps & sea level have dropped -- record snow' -- 'All of the damage Bush did to climate has been healed!'
'Reservoirs are filling up –and all of the damage Bush did to the climate has been healed. Obama should declare 'mission accomplished' and take credit!'
Obama's 'Climate Astrologer': Energy Sec. Chu claims he knows 'what the future will be 100 years from now'
Faith-Based Climate Astrology: Women hit by global warming head to Capitol Hill: 'We have freezing temps when we shouldn't have freezing temps' -- 'We didn't know what was happening...We blamed God' -- But then they 'learned that human activities are one cause of climate change'
NASA: Sea Level Declining Around The US
NASA: 'Global sea level this summer is a quarter of an inch lower than last summer'
Breaking: Sea Level Continues Its Historic Decline -- 'Envisat shows that the 2 year long decline is continuing, at a rate of 5mm per year' -- September 15, 2011
Obama Heals The Climate! 'No hurricanes have struck U.S. since he became president, temps & sea level have dropped -- record snow' -- 'All of the damage Bush did to climate has been healed!' -- 'Reservoirs are filling up –and all of the damage Bush did to the climate has been healed. Obama should declare 'mission accomplished' and take credit!'
Presto! Just 2 1/2 years in office & Obama Lowers Sea Level! 2011: Sea Level Plummeting: Lowest Level Since At Least 2004: 'Dropping through the floor. Europe's Envisat satellite 'shows that sea level is lowest it has been since they started collecting data in 2004'
The Chosen One? Obama Presides Over A Hurricane Free Presidency: 'First president to have not had a hurricane make landfall on US soil'
Flashback 2009: 'Welcome to the delayers': Obama's 'half-hearted climate efforts' welcomed by skeptics -- 'Obama seems to approach climate issues as nothing more than a 'check box' issue'
We're Saved?! Politicians at UN Announce They Will Control Earth's Thermostat! Climate Deal 'sets a cap on worldwide temp increases at no more than 2°C'
La Cosa Climate: Commerce Sec. Warns: Americans Need 'To Pay' Or Face Mother Nature's Wrath -- Pay up or face 'floods, droughts and rising sea levels' - July 17, 2009
Click here to view original article
Monday, September 26, 2011
“You got me!” grinned the Governor.
He’s talking about video shot by WBZ of Mr. Patrick leaving his Milton home this morning with his assigned state trooper at the wheel for the routine drive into work in his SUV.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports
The Governor himself recently declared this “Car-Free Week,” urging people to ditch their autos in favor of public transportation, biking, walking, or at the very least carpooling — espousing the environmental and health benefits of that switch.
WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller takes a look back at politicians who were less than enthusiastic about following their own advice.
“It’s a little bit of hypocrisy,” observed one commuter.
We asked some regular folks if the Governor was ‘talking the talk’ instead of ‘walking the walk.’
“If he’s going to tell people to do something,” says another man, “he should try to do it himself. That’s the way I see it.”
“I carpooled this morning with my trooper,” says the Governor with a chuckle, “We both had to come together.”
He’s joking — and he’s not.
Of course, the Governor does have legitimate security, time, and logistics concerns.
He makes lots of stops on and off the beaten path — with a small entourage in tow — and some folks were willing to cut him some slack on that account.
“Going without a car has issues,” one woman told us. “It depends on where you’re going — where you have to be. It’s not always practical. I think you can still sell a message even if you’re not able to do it yourself that day.”
Indeed, the Governor was quick to urge people not to follow his lead.
“Look, it’s a great initiative for people who can make the most of it,” Patrick told reporters. “I hope they will and I hope during the course of the week to make the most of it, too.”
“Car-Free Week” in Massachusetts is actually an expansion of “World Car-Free Day” — which is Thursday.
A thousand cities in 40 countries are taking part.
The Governor says he’s got a crazy schedule this week, but will make good on his pledge to follow the spirit of the initiative — when he can.
The Red Line, by the way, is within walking distance of his house — one of three “T” stations within a half mile of home.
“He should be a role model for everyone,” one man told us.
“I got the gotcha question,” the governor admitted. “Believe me, I’m going to do my best.”
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Positive Growth Alliance members and interested parties:
We urge you to study the picture of the Chesapeake Bay in this message to see how EPA neglect is likely killing the Bay as we speak. Torrential rains caused by Hurricane Irene a few days ago caused historic flooding in Pennsylvania. Now the mud, silt, and phosphorus is descending from the Susquehanna River (top of the picture) in a deadly plume that will likely smother bay grasses, oyster beds, and other delicate habitat for years to come.
SEE THE LATEST PICTURES OF THE MOVEMENT OF THE SILT SMOTHERING THE BAY (choose a date, then click on "view selected")
Was this just a tragic accident with natural causes? NO!!!
Read this article that describes exactly what happened in 1972 as a result of Tropical Storm Agnes. To summarize, Agnes washed countless tons of silt through the flood gates of Conawingo Dam that smothered much of the bay. The article below describes why a comparable storm today would be much worse because the Conawingo dam silt trap is almost full.
QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE
A filled reservoir also poses a greater threat to the Upper Bay in the event of another storm like Hurricane Agnes, which in 1972 scoured huge amounts of sediment from behind the dam and smothered much of the Upper Bay in several inches of sediment, obliterating underwater grass beds and other habitats.
A similar storm today would flush even more material downstream because of the additional sediment buildup.
WHY EPA IS TO BLAME!!
About two years ago, EPA sent incredibly threatening letters to the six states that drain into the bay. (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia) These letters told them in no uncertain terms that there would be draconian punishment for any state that dared to ignore the new mandates contained in their Chesapeake Bay Initiative, supposedly to clean up the bay.
Maryland and Delaware both immediately kneeled to kiss the EPA ring. As best we can tell, both states' Natural Resource Departments (DNREC in Delaware) seemingly offered to do anything EPA wanted, regardless of how much harm it would cause the citizens of their two states. Here's an article that estimates that it will cost the citizens of Maryland alone somewhere between $15 and $30 billion to comply.
We say "supposedly to clean up the bay," because EPA knew the measures it was forcing on the states would be totally overwhelmed by one major storm washing the silt from the almost full trap behind Conawingo Dam. Their Chesapeake Bay Initiative, by contrast, consists of a whole series of measures, many of which we predict will never show any measurable benefit despite absurd costs. In our opinion, EPA's real motive is control, not cleanup!
In fact, just a few weeks ago, in a meeting with EPA, we asked them what they intended to do about the Conawingo trap. Their answer was that they were "starting" to work on a solution. Now, it's almost surely too late. It will take time to evaluate exactly how much damage has been done, but we predict that any possible environmental benefit that might have been created by the Chesapeake Bay Initiative has been more than overwhelmed.
No doubt EPA's response will be that the Conawingo Dam silt reservoir is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers. That may be the case, but EPA is the prime environmental protector in our country. They should have done whatever it takes to resolve the politics of this problem and get the job done.
To ignore the "ticking time bomb" of the Conawingo reservoir while foisting a travesty like the Chesapeake Bay Iniative on states in a possible depression is an example of "government gone wild." We will either elect politicians who will clean up the EPA bureaucracy in the next election or Americans will reap the whirlwind of lost freedoms and a destroyed economy, not to mention a devastated Chesapeake Bay.
Also, as you study the picture, notice how little sediment is coming down the Nanticoke River from Delaware. Overwhelmingly, most of it is coming from the Susquehanna River through the Conawingo Dam.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Despite billions of dollars in federal investment and cheerleading from President Obama, even the most ardent supporters of a transformed, job-generating energy sector based largely on wind, solar and other renewable sources acknowledge that their dreams have not translated into reality. The records for other countries chasing green employment opportunities have been equally unimpressive.
Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, told MSNBC last month that, despite impassioned support from liberal Democrats and environmentalists, “green jobs” initiatives “have been about a lot of talk, and not a lot has been happening on that.”
The absence of a promised boom in environmental jobs has become a talking point among Republicans who are campaigning to unseat Mr. Obama in the 2012 election.
Mr. Obama “keeps talking about green jobs,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said during the GOP candidates debate Wednesday night. “Where are they? Let’s have real jobs.”
Talk of green jobs was conspicuous by its absence from Mr. Obama’s jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. He gave the address on the same day that the FBI raided California solar-energy company Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy and laid off at least 900 full-time employees.
Two years ago, Solyndra was awarded a $535 million federal government loan as part of Mr. Obama’s stimulus package. It is unclear how — or whether — the company will repay its debt or whether it will leave American taxpayers holding the bag. A House committee has scheduled a hearing this week to look into the investment.
Solyndra was the latest in a string of solar bankruptcies this year. Others are New York-based SpectraWatt and Michigan’s Evergreen Solar.
Critics aren’t surprised. Spain and other European countries have embraced green-jobs programs only to see higher-than-expected costs and little payoff. A 2009 study by Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University found that the creation of every green job eliminated at least 2.2 jobs in other industries, the result of a government push toward wind and solar power at the expense of other fuels.
Some traditional-fuel companies left the country in favor of more level playing fields elsewhere, the report says.
“But amazingly enough, this debate is not over,” said Daniel Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit energy-research organization. Mr. Kish also served more than 25 years on various congressional committees that deal with energy, including six years as chief of staff for Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee.
Mr. Kish and many others think large-scale wind and solar projects are inherently unprofitable, largely as a result of the unpredictability of when the sun will shine brightly enough and when the wind will blow. Without government subsidies, he said, such projects would have no chance of competing with oil, natural gas, nuclear power or coal.
“This is a government-created bubble. I don’t blame the companies trying to rip off the government. What I blame are politicians who refuse to look at the facts,” he said.
Those facts, however, aren’t always easy to discern. Both sides of the argument point to a dizzying array of numbers, charts, graphs and price figures to support their points of view. Environmental groups and wind and solar proponents strongly dispute the King Juan Carlos study and have accused its author, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, of distorting the truth.
Seth Masia, deputy editor of Solar Today, a publication of the American Solar Energy Society, told The Washington Times that solar-panel installations grew 113 percent last year and the industry expects to expand 5.7 percent to 40 percent each year through 2020. The wind industry has grown more than 10 percent annually for the past five years, according to the American Wind Energy Association. It now has manufacturing facilities in 43 states, and the U.S. has gone from producing 25 percent of turbines used domestically to 60 percent in the past several years, said Robert Gramlich, the association’s senior vice president of public policy.
Proponents laud the number of jobs created.
Complicating the debate is that there is no universally accepted definition of a “green job.” While most consider green jobs to be those in the wind or solar industry, Mr. Kish said, some estimates include garbage collectors, pollution-control engineers and water and sewer workers in the equation.
“I’m not aware of any formal definition,” said Anastasia V. Shcherbakova, assistant professor of energy economics, risk and policy at Penn State University.
Renewable-energy proponents say their industries produce benefits beyond job creation. Mr. Gramlich pointed to the local property-tax revenue generated by wind farms, along with royalty payments to owners who lease land for the giant windmills.
In that regard, wind energy has something in common with the booming natural-gas industry, a sector that some decry as the antithesis of clean, renewable fuels. Mr. Gramlich, however, said he doesn’t view oil, gas or coal as the enemy.
“It’s clear that some view us as the threatening, disruptive competition, and they’re fighting us for that reason,” he said. “But we have a very large electricity portfolio with plenty of room for conventional and renewable sources. I don’t see why people are so scared.”
Solar and wind proponents deny that they are entirely dependent on federal investment — such as the $80 billion provided by the administration’s stimulus package — to make their products competitive in the marketplace.
“Our position is that if all subsidies for all forms of energy were eliminated this evening, solar and wind would do very well. Our fuel is free,” Mr. Masia said.
Given the nation’s fiscal crisis, those subsidies are likely to end sooner rather than later. Congress already voted to cut some federal aid to ethanol, and Republicans are eager to do the same with support for wind and solar power.
As with any other industry, Mr. Gramlich said, some companies will prosper and others, such as Solyndra, will end in failure. That will happen with or without federal subsidies, proponents say.
Critics, however, argue that many firms are well aware they can’t make a profit without government help and serve as little more than black holes for taxpayer money in the name of reducing carbon emissions.
Solar and wind “are not cheap,” Mr. Kish said. “They’re not reliable. And over the long run, frankly, they’re a drag on our economy and our way of life. By the time this is done, I would be very surprised if some people don’t end up behind bars.”
Thursday, September 8, 2011
The worst flooding since Agnes in 1972 is just beginning in the valleys of the Susquehanna, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in Pennsylvania and New York.
Over a foot of rain has fallen in some areas. It appears most areas will stop short of levels reached in June of 1972, but there already have been some exceptions such as the Binghampton, N.Y. and in Meshoppen, Pa.
The fire hose of tropical downpours held steady Wednesday and Wednesday night, too steadily for the Susquehanna River, its tributaries and others to handle.
According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews, "At peak, the flow of the Susquehanna River at Marietta, Pa will be almost two times that of the average flow of the lower Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Miss."
The flow of the Susquehanna is forecast at Marietta to reach 500,000 cubic feet per second during Friday.
Water levels on these rivers will challenge record heights, which include those of the first billion-dollar disaster for the U.S.: Hurricane Agnes. Lee and its remnants will be the latest.
These are the official National Weather Service Hydrological projected levels and current records for key points along the Susquehanna River:
Binghamton, N.Y.: 25.7 feet / 25.0 feet June 2006 Crest has occurred.
Wilkes-Barre, Pa: 39.5 feet / 40.9 feet June 1972 Crest appears to be occurring.
Danville, Pa.: 31.6 feet / 32.3 feet June 1972
Sunbury, Pa.: 32.7 feet / 35.8 feet June 1972
Harrisburg, Pa.: 28.7 feet / 32.6 feet June 1972
Conowingo Dam, Md.: With Gates Open 30 to 37 feet / 36.8 feet June 1972
Less water flow than originally expected from the Juniata River and the West Branch of the Susquehanna is impacting levels of the main stem Susquehanna River from just above Harrisburg on south. Crests have been lowered slightly as a result.
In Luzerne County, Pa. alone, 65,000 people have been evacuated.
Upstream and downstream on the Susquehanna from New York state to Maryland, it is the same story.
If you are told to leave, do so. Do not drive through flooded roadways. We have reports of people drowning in southeastern Pennsylvania this morning. One person was swept away by water only 1.5 feet deep. Another person was trapped inside a vehicle that was overtaken by rising waters.
The American Red Cross has opened multiple shelters in Luzerne, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Bradford and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania for those displaced by the rising waters.
Massive levees along the Susquehanna in much of Wyoming Valley, Pa. protect cities including Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and Forty Fort from water levels up to 41 feet.
Other bands of rain will form tonight. Where they linger flooding can occur in yet more places that have escaped the worst of the situation thus far. This is most likely in portions of Virginia, Maryland and south-cenral Pennsylvania.
Getting to shelters or coming to the aid of friends and family could be difficult, as hundreds of roads, including major highways, were closed due to rising waters. If you cannot get to a shelter, seek out a friend or neighbor on high ground.
The flooding along the Susquehanna and other rivers has closed portions of interstates 80 and 81, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Schuylkill Expressway, Route 322, and other main thoroughfares.
The possibility of many of these major roads remaining closed into the weekend is high, which will impact weekend travel plans, such as for football.
The X-class solar flare — the most powerful type of sun storm— erupted at 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT) on Tuesday (Sept. 6) and hit its peak strength eight minutes later, according to a space weather update by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The flare occurred less than 24 hours after another less intense but still dramatic solar storm.
Several different satellites watched the action unfold, including NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly records high-definition videos of the sun in several different wavelengths.
The Tuesday event registered as an X2.1-class solar flare, while Monday's storm topped out at a still-powerful M5, NOAA officials said. Strong solar flares are classified according to a three-tiered system: X-class flares are the most powerful, M-class are of medium strength and C-class are the weakest.
September solar storms
Researchers are still taking the measure of the big Tuesday sun storm. It may also have produced a coronal mass ejection (CME) aimed at Earth, researchers said, but as of Tuesday evening it was too early to tell.
CMEs are massive clouds of solar plasma that can streak through space at up to 3 million mph (5 million kph). CMEs that hit Earth can wreak havoc on our planet, causing disruptions in GPS signals, radio communications and power grids.
Monday's event, which took place at 9:50 p.m. EDT (0150 GMT on Tuesday), did spawn a CME. It was a relatively slow one, traveling at less than 720,000 mph (1.2 million kph), NASA officials said. And even if this cloud of charged particles hits Earth in a few days' time, it likely won't cause much damage.
"This CME is not expected to cause significant geomagnetic storm activity, and further analysis is currently underway to better refine the CME timing and magnitude," officials at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center wrote in an update Tuesday.
Monday's M5 solar flare erupted from the middle of the sun's disk as seen from Earth's perspective. The explosion caused a slight increase in solar energetic protons about 26,000 miles (41,840 kilometers) above the Earth's surface, NASA officials said.
The angry sun
The powerful storms unleashed on Monday and Tuesday aren't isolated incidents. Solar activity has been ramping up over the last few months as the sun has roused itself from an extended quiescent phase in its 11-year activity cycle.
Just last month, for example, the sun let loose with an X6.9 solar flare, which was the most powerful solar storm since December 2006, NASA scientists said. That storm, which erupted Aug. 9, also generated a CME, but it was not aimed at Earth. Another powerful event, an X2.2-class flare, occurred on Feb. 15 of this year. Tuesday's X2.1 was the third most powerful flare of 2011.
Scientists expect activity in the current cycle — known as Solar Cycle 24 — to peak around 2013.