Archive for July, 2012
By Samantha Wohlfeil
A man was arrested on investigation of rape, first-degree domestic violence assault and battery, domestic violence residential burglary, and theft, early last week.
D J Lorenz, 22, was booked into Whatcom County Jail by the Lummi Nation Police Department around 11 p.m. July 24. As of Tuesday, July 31, he was still listed in the Whatcom County Jail roster.
The Bellingham Herald has tried contacting the Lummi Nation communications office several times since Lorenz was booked, but as of Tuesday afternoon, July 31, no information about the arrest or the incident had been provided.
Lorenz’ criminal history includes three class B felonies for theft, residential burglary, and burglary, and a class A felony for robbery, according to court records.
The Herald will post an update if further information is received.
By Ralph Schwartz
A new study released today by Environment Washington links global warming to the increasing frequency of extreme rainstorms, but a local weather expert warns that this may not be right.
The 43-page study, “When It Rains, It Pours” (available here) analyzes data taken across the United States showing that the frequency of the most severe storms has increased by 30 percent, from once a year to once every nine months or so. It also concludes that the amount of rain coming out of the biggest storms has increased by 10 percent.
The report takes this data and makes two claims, one bolder than the other:
1) These trends (more frequent severe storms, higher rainfall amounts in the biggest storms) are not random.
2) These trends are caused by global warming.
The first claim is pure statistical analysis. The report shows it is reasonable to believe that something other than the random ups and downs of the weather is causing the increased rainfall.
The second claim relies on the argument that warmer temperatures bring more evaporation and enable the atmosphere to hold more water vapor. This produces bigger clouds capable of more severe storms, Environment Washington spokeswoman Samantha Cramer said.
The report also cites previous studies that linked global warming to enhanced rainfall, including those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its global warming research.
The panel may have concluded (with what they call “medium confidence”) that severe storms will occur more frequently across the globe as the atmosphere warms. That doesn’t mean the Environment Washington study backs that up, according to Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Mass is among the large majority of scientists who agree that global warming is happening. But the atmosphere is too complicated to draw such easy connections between a global phenomenon such as global warming and weather patterns over the past six decades, he said.
“This is something you’ve got to be really careful about,” Mass said about this connection.
It’s “a little bit of a stretch,” he said.
Mass hadn’t read the latest report but was conversant in it; he had read closely an earlier version of the study, which had many of the same results. He even duplicated the study’s results in his own research, which looked at rainfall trends along the west coast.
But if this trend is real and not random, and if it’s not caused by global warming, then what could be causing it?
“There’s all kinds of things happening. All kinds of natural variability,” Mass said. He gave as an example snowfall amounts in the Cascade Mountains. A colleague at the University of Washington was claiming a decade ago that smaller snowpacks in the Cascades since the 1950s were a sign of global warming. Mass countered that there was another, natural climate phenomenon at work. In fact, the snowpack in the Cascades has not changed over the past 30 years.
In other words, your conclusions can depend significantly on the time period you choose to look at. There’s no compelling reason to believe Environment Washington’s time period, 1948 to 2011, is dominated by the global warming effect.
Not that this should provide fodder for global-warming deniers. Mass said it’s “pretty clear” global warming is real.
“And the main effects are ahead of us,” he said.
By Caleb Hutton
Via police scanner traffic:
9:50 a.m. Delivery truck crash on Interstate 5 in Bellingham. From our Twitter feed:
#policescanner: UPS truck crashed on I-5 northbound near Sunset overpass. It was blocking one lane, now clear. No serious injuries.
— Bellingham Herald (@BhamHerald) July 31, 2012
10:10 a.m. Elderly man at Eagle Ridge Assisted Living, 5370 Barrett Road, assaulted his wife and choked another patient. He was running around “naked and covered in feces.” Law enforcement was en route last I heard.
11 a.m. Truck vs. cyclist crash at F and West Holly streets. The bicyclist, 17, had some “banged-up knees,” but otherwise seemed fine. The crash was blocking part of the road.
By Samantha Wohlfeil
Fire crews were able to put out a Chevrolet Caprice that caught fire Monday morning, July 30 at Haxton Way and Kwina Road.
The fire was caused by a vehicle malfunction, said Chief Dean Whitney of Whatcom County Fire District No. 8. The driver was not injured, but the car was totaled.
The driver reported that smoke started coming out through vents in the dash before the fire, Whitney said.
Via scanner traffic: About 8:10 a.m. Monday, crews were dispatched to reports of a vehicle on fire in a field off Haxton Way at Kwina Road. Reports of traffic backing up on Kwina Road.
Reports the fire was nearly extinguished were made about 8:19 a.m.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — A Tacoma man may face charges after an outburst over a reading light on a flight from Honolulu to Bellingham International Airport early Saturday, July 28.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary and five sheriff’s deputies responded to deal with the man when the plane touched down.
According to Leary:
The Alaska Airlines plane had lifted off from Honolulu while it was still dark out.
A woman on the plane was using an overhead light to read. A 50-year-old man sitting behind her asked if she could off the light so he could sleep, but the reader declined. That set off an argument.
The man, who was travelling with his grown son and daughter, went to the flight attendants and demanded his neighbor turn out the light. The attendants explained the woman could keep it on.
That sent the man into a tirade. He started shouting expletives at people on the plane. He also threatened to be a nuisance to the woman, by hitting the back of her seat again and again.
He didn’t make any explicit threats to hurt anyone or blow the plane up — but he did drop a few F-bombs.
After deputies spoke with him in Bellingham, he was allowed to go home to Tacoma.
“He’s not a flight risk,” Leary said.
His name was not released.
The FBI and federal attorneys will investigate whether the man will face criminal charges for causing a major disruption on the plane. A total of 86 passengers were on the flight.
By Caleb Hutton
This video popped up on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page Friday evening, July 27, with the note, “WCSO on patrol?”
At first staff at the sheriff’s office posted they weren’t sure who created the video (or the patrol car “skin”), but an informant had told them it was on YouTube.
In a later reply to the posting, Carmine Clemente took responsibility for the video.
By Caleb Hutton
Seattle DogSpot blogged this YouTube video of a “puppy kindergarten” this week.
Among the students, a handful of Miniature Australian shepherds recovered from an alleged puppy mill near Ferndale. The owner of the property, Kenneth Martin Cassell, denied the animal abuse charges when I spoke with him in April.
The dog blog notes, “They appear to be doing really well!”
Update: Laura Clark, director of the Whatcom Humane Society, informs me Cassell’s trial should begin either Aug. 13 or 20.
(Fair warning: Might want to turn down or mute your speakers.)
By Caleb Hutton
A crash on northbound Interstate 5 involving a minivan, a pickup and two cars stalled traffic for about an hour south of Ferndale late Thursday, July 26, but nobody suffered serious injuries.
About 9:45 p.m., a northbound Mazda minivan in the left lane was slowing down to let traffic merge, just south of the Slater Road exit, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary.
(Because of construction, the right lane was blocked off with big, orange traffic cone barrels.)
A Ford pickup behind the Mazda didn’t slow down in time and clipped the back left corner of the minivan, Leary said.
That caused a chain reaction: The minivan spun off to the right side of the road. The driver of an approaching Volvo F80 slammed on the brakes. The Volvo spun out and went into the median. A Honda Civic skidded into some debris on the freeway.
Both lanes were blocked until about 11 p.m.
One person was taken to St. Joseph hospital as a precaution, for something that “really wasn’t even an injury,” Leary said.
The Ford driver, who is from Acme, was ticketed for speed too fast for conditions — a blanket infraction that can be used for traffic and weather conditions.
“People, once they’re in a construction zone, need to slow down,” Leary said. “We’re thankful there were no workers there at the time.”
In Washington state, fines double in a construction zone. Crews have been installing fiber optic cables along that stretch of Interstate 5.
The Mazda and the Honda had British Columbia plates. The Volvo driver was from Bellingham.
Posted by Zoe Fraley
Text provided by the Blaine Police Department, with minor edits for style.
Wednesday, July 11
9:55 a.m.: An inventive lad managed to get his little legs so tightly jammed into a well reinforced playground swing seat that he could not escape. A Border Patrol agent patrolling nearby came to the boy’s aid and also called police. In the end it took four officers and a set of bolt cutters to free the dangling youngster from his self-made restraints. A medic unit checked him over, pronounced him healthy, and turned him over to the waiting arms of thankful parents.
12:12 p.m.: A lady driving in Blaine spotted a 1989 Dodge truck she saw tied to a parked car hauler and recognized it as one that had been stolen from her father out in the county. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed the theft report, and Blaine Police secured the stolen vehicle. The pickup was turned back over to its rightful owner. The owner of the car hauler was located. He explained that he purchased the pickup from a couple at a Bellingham restaurant who offered to sell it for a very, very low price. Investigation continues.
Friday, July 13
12:08 p.m.: A city employee working near a car wash facility spotted a traveler emptying his motor home septic tank into a storm water catch basin. Police were called to the scene and detained the driver for investigation of illegal dumping. The man was apparently smart enough to drive a large vehicle but still claimed an innocent lack of common sense. It appeared evident that what he lacked was any reasonable excuse for his actions, and he was advised to expect a criminal summons from the city prosecutor.
Tuesday, July 17
5:03 p.m.: The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office advised they had probable cause to arrest an area resident on assault and drug charges. Blaine Officers developed information about the man’s whereabouts, and with the help of Border Patrol agents they arrested the 20-year-old man hiding in a shed near a house on F Street. He was booked into jail on charges of third-degree child rape and providing drugs to a minor.
Monday, July 23
3:06 p.m.: A business owner called to report an equipment theft that occurred at the business some time over the past few days. An officer arrived to investigate and identified possible suspects. The investigation continues.