Environment

Several live cold-stunned green turtles from Cape Lookout Bight
NC Sea Turtle Project

155 sea turtles were rescued off North Carolina’s coasts and beaches this year and treated for “cold shock,” caused by low water temperatures.  That’s more than usual, and about half the animals are still recovering. Wildlife officials reported a record number of sea turtle nests last summer. They say it's not likely high numbers will be seen again this season because the same turtles don't typically come back to nest every year.

Historical State, NCSU Libraries

  The Hofmann Forest is referred to as the "crown jewel" of forestry research in North Carolina, and it’s one of the main educational sites for forestry students.

A new map detailing high-risk habitat areas for land-based wind energy projects has been posted online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new map detailing high-risk habitat areas for land-based wind energy projects has been posted online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The National Weather Service in Raleigh says much of central and western North Carolina are under a hazardous weather outlook for Wednesday.
National Weather Service / noaa.gov

Snow in the forecast Wednesday is a reminder that bad weather can hit North Carolina at any time.  This is severe weather awareness week across the state and officials are urging the public to be prepared.  Meteorologist Nick Petro says a statewide tornado drill will take place Wednesday morning.

A map showing NC counties in moderate drought or abnormally dry
NC Drought Management Advisory Council

In the latest report from the US Drought Monitor just eight North Carolina counties are listed as being in moderate drought. At the end of December there were 65 - out of 100 counties in the state - that were classified as in moderate drought. The report released Thursday also lists 19 counties as abnormally dry.

A proposed expansion of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is running into opposition with some local leaders. 

Refuge leaders say the expansion is necessary to preserve the ecosystem that supports a wide range of wildlife, including migrating birds, black bears and red wolves.

"New Lake is a naturally occurring lake out there, but we currently only have about 80 percent of it within the refuge boundary," says refuge manager Howard Phillips. 

The 'Chevy Volt' is one of the more popular 'Plug-in' electric vehicles in North Carolina.
Leoneda Inge

A new readiness plan aims to help the state of North Carolina prepare for hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in the next decade.  The state’s first Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) readiness plan was created through the 'NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea (M2S).' 

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. Friday for the Triangle and Triad areas.
National Weather Service / noaa.gov

The National Weather Service says a winter weather advisory remained in effect for central North Carolina through 10 a.m. Friday.  Forecasters say freezing rain will shift to rain through late morning in the Triangle and Triad.  Meteorologist Nick Petro says temperatures will hover around the freezing mark.

"We're going to have to watch out for local slick spots, mainly on bridges and overpasses first, and as we get to the late morning, temperatures will then rise back above freezing," Petro says.

Firefighters from around the world meet Monday in Raleigh to discuss how to improve the way they battle wildfires.  The International Association of Wildland Fire hosts a conference this week that focuses on better communication and learning the behavior of wildfires as a few ways to contain them.  Organization spokeswoman Paula Nelson says those techniques can vary in North Carolina, where the landscape can shift rapidly from dense forest to peat bog.

"Each of those takes specific skills, so the local people are the ones you really turn to," Nelson says.

wind turbines
Board of Ocean Energy Management

The Kitty Hawk town council has adopted a resolution to keep any proposed offshore wind energy turbines out of sight.  Council members forwarded the resolution to federal regulators as a plea to protect the natural beauty of the Outer Banks. 

Acacia is expecting a baby in early summer
Tom Gillespie, N.C. Zoo

    

On Valentine’s Day, the North Carolina Zoo announced that one of its three female gorillas is expecting a baby. If the pregnancy is successful, this will be the third baby gorilla born at the State Zoo in less than a year.  The two other female gorillas both gave birth last August.

Loggerhead sea turtle
Wendell Reed, via Flickr, Creative Commons

The Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, or "NEST", is running out of money. The group relies on donations to rescue sea turtles along  the North Carolina coast, and they are struggling to deal with a large number of turtles that became hypothermic when a cold snap cooled shallow water quickly.

The first of three City Council subcommittee meetings takes place Monday morning as lawmakers begin drafting a new tree ordinance for the city. Strong turnout is expected from residents, many of who were outraged last month after Duke Energy cut down dozens of trees in residential neighborhoods.

Bahama Pintail Duck
Snowman radio via Flickr, Creative commons

In 2009, Sylvan Heights Bird Park received a call from the US Embassy in Trinidad, asking them to help restore two species of nearly-extinct native ducks, the White-Faced Whistling Duck and the Bahama Pintail. Four years later, they are celebrating the successful introduction of individuals of both species back into Trinidad, a promising sign for the health of native populations.

NC DOT

Triangle areas are experiencing sleet, freezing rain and -- in some parts snow -- as part of a winter weather system quickly passing through.  While the falling precipitation is expected to end this evening, the slick conditions it will leave behind may cause issues for drivers into tomorrow morning.  NC DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Garifo says maintenance employees are planning for long shifts today.

Slushy Day Ahead

Jan 25, 2013
noaa.gov
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for much of central and western North Carolina.  Meteorologist Phil Badgett says snow and sleet could cause slippery road conditions Friday afternoon.

A cougar at the NC Zoo
Jeff Owen

Keepers  at the North Carolina Zoo used a snow-making machine to fill a cougar's habitat with snow on Tuesday. With temperatures not expected to get out of the 30's, zoo visitors can expect to see the exhibit snow for several days.

On Tuesday night in Greensboro the temperature is expected to drop into the teens and shelters are expecting to be at or near capacity. Four years ago there was a significant rise in the number of people seeking shelter during the winter months. Greensboro didn’t have enough beds and on many cold nights dozens of people had to sleep on floors. The city responded by opening a half dozen winter emergency shelters for frigid nights like tonight. Reverend Mike Aiken says those facilities opened December 1st and will be packed this week.

Credit Jeff Tiberii

Many residents in Greensboro are upset with Duke Energy over the company's practice of pruning, and in some cases cutting, neighborhood trees. Frustrated citizens started two Facebook groups, collected 15-hundred signatures for a petition and demanded that local leaders step in and help.

Ten Years ago sub contractors for Duke Energy made the rounds in several Greensboro neighborhoods, trimming and cutting trees that were too close to power lines. It sent residents who felt the pruning was too aggressive into an uproar. They complained to elected officials and Duke eventually heard about it, but nothing really changed. In fact nothing really happened at all. Last month crews returned to some neighborhoods for the first time in a decade.

Raleigh utilities officials hope to outpace city growth by unveiling a new phase in wastewater treatment expansion.

City leaders say new residential development and yearly threats of drought warrant a new upgrade at the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Over the years, the plant's capacity has doubled from 30 million gallons of treated water daily to 60 million. 

Lawmakers in Greensboro will create a new ordinance following public outcry over trees being cut down by Duke Energy.

Dozens of residents turned out to a City Council meeting this week to share their frustration over what they describe as unnecessary and aggressive tree cutting measures by Duke Energy. The utility company completely cut down about 150 trees in the last few months, prompting public response.  City Council woman Marikay Abuzuaiter:

The North Carolina Ferry Division says service remains spotty between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
NCDOT

The North Carolina Ferry Division says service remains spotty between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. State transportation officials have been suspending service on a daily basis since a series of storms in November. Ferry Division spokeswoman Lucy Wallace says the channel routinely experiences shallow waters after high winds and heavy rain:

Boat builders on the Outer Banks say they're losing millions of dollars worth of business as the Oregon Inlet remains closed. The water there has been too shallow to allow vessels through since November. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it can not afford the $17 million it needs to dredge the inlet. Some business owners told Dare County Commissioners this week they might relocate if the inlet remains impassible. John Bayliss owns a boat building company in Wanchese.

Dredging crews are set to survey the Oregon Inlet again this morning after they suspended operations due to shallow waters. Officials with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers say strong winds brought more sand into the inlet last week. That prevents crews from using their side-casting dredge. Bob Sattin is the cheif operator for the Army Corps of Engineers in Wilmington:

In Greensboro, a day-long conference today will look at developing and improving new kinds of fuel. The Biofuels Center is bringing together a collection of small business owners, educators and environmentalists. A series of panel discussions will share ideas about forms of sustainable energy, bio fuels and the advantages to local economies. Leif Forer is manager of the Civic and Small-Scale Biofuels Center.

Leif Forer:  "The big picture goal is to get a lot of new biofuels produced in North Carolina and enrich our communities and or environment while doing so."

North Carolinians are remembering a paralyzing ice storm that happened 10 years ago today.

About 1-point-8 million people were without power at the storm's height. Residents, businesses and first responders were all at the storm's mercy. Many of them have learned lessons a decade later. Barry Porter of the American Red Cross says mobilizing before any storm is important

Barry Porter: "We have to get our materials and supplies so we partner with government agencies to know which shelters can be opened. Which ones have power ability on their own."

A new program in Greensboro aims to keep old mattresses from being sent to the dump.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country the City is partnering with Mattress Go Round. The Greensboro company recycles old mattresses and box springs by repairing, sanitizing and rebuilding them for resale. President and Founder of the company Robert Savino says keeping the bulky mattresses out of landfills will save space and money.

North Carolina is seeking to regulate emissions from a big egg-producing facility, using the Clean Water Act. Today the department of Environment and Natural Resources will be in Hyde County Superior Court, where Rose Acre Farms will argue the state can't use water regulations to control air emissions. At issue are pollutants being released through ventilation fans in Rose Acre's hen houses, which contain more than 3 million chickens.

 An organization in Durham that set out to help locals save on their energy bills is expanding its reach.    Clean Energy Durham is five years old.  The small non-profit developed a creative energy-saving model that trains organizations and neighborhood groups and encourages them to tell a neighbor.

Judy Kincaid:  "It builds community within neighborhoods, between neighborhoods and it saves people money."

Judy Kincaid is Executive Director of Clean Energy Durham.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials will find out this morning if the Nor'easter that skirted the Outer Banks yesterday added to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. NC 12 was washed out in several places and covered with sand in others. There was also damage to the tension cables on Bonner Bridge. Dara Demi works for the DOT. She says repairs could take several weeks.

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