Bumper Snowfall to Start Early Ski Season in Europe: ‘One of the best starts I can remember’

The slopes in Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta. © Andrew Corbley

Last week, ski resorts from the French Alps right the way down to the Dolomites are reporting over 3 feet, or a meter of fresh powder, kicking off an early start to the skiing season.

It was assumed that Europe’s favorite winter pastime was going to be delayed after a persistently warm October, but November temps fell to a crisp 1990s sort of climate.

In dozens of locations across the Alps, towns and communes experienced 2 meters of snow, or over 6 feet, falling on them in just 24 hours.

Big resorts in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria have all moved the opening date of the season up at least a week to November 18th. This includes big resorts like Tignes and Val Thorens in France, Passo del Tonale, Temu, and Madonna di Campiglio in Italy, Kitzbühel in Austria, and Davos, Zermatt, and Verbier in Switzerland, with the latter opening three weeks earlier than last year.

“Storms have been piling into the Alps for the last two weeks, with snow accumulations of more than 100cm quite widespread now on the upper slopes,” managing director of Ski Solutions holiday company, Ian McIlrath told Travel Weekly.

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“This will ensure a solid base for the winter ahead, and with a lot more snow in the forecast, it’s shaping up to be one of the best starts to the winter ski season that I can remember.”

Some ski resorts lower down the mountains have been forced to close as the climate changes, and like the record snowfall in California and Utah last spring, the news comes as a nice reminder that you can always count on the weather, precisely because you can never count on the weather.

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Flying Car You Can Park in Your Garage Lifts Off on Maiden Voyage: Meet the $200,000 Switchblade

The Samson Sky Switchblade – SWNS

Last year, GNN reported on the Samson Switchblade, a street-legal car that had received its airworthiness certificate from the FAA, and was ready to begin testing.

Last week, a veteran pilot took the Switchblade up on its maiden flight; driving it to the airport, deploying its wings and tail, and taking off for a 6-minute flight 500 feet above the ground.

The highly-anticipated two-seater received 2,300 reservations from 57 countries and all 50 states in the US, and the news of the successful maiden flight will likely see that grow.

Here’s exactly how it works. It needs an airport runway to take off and a private pilot’s license to fly. It uses unleaded gasoline rather than leaded airplane fuel and needs three minutes to switch into flying mode.

The aircraft can then be flown to the airport nearest your destination at up to 200mph and within a range of 450 miles. It can reach altitudes of 13,000 feet supposedly. Once landed, it folds in its wings and tail and is small enough to be parked in a normal garage.

“Today is the culmination of many years of hard work and persistence to make the vision of a flying sports car a reality,” said Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky CEO and designer of the Switchblade. “This puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we’re receiving.”

The Samson Switchblade in Flight – SWNS via Samson Flight

The Samson Team will use flight test data to finalize production engineering and build several production prototypes.

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The Switchblade comes in two kit types, a $180k model that permits a pilot to operate in clear weather conditions, and a $200k version to fly under different weather conditions, including flying into clouds and with zero visibility.

All models are shipped in a kit format, and must be assembled by a professional.

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Perhaps the closest competitor to the Switchblade is the AirCar, a Slovakian flying car that received its own airworthiness certificate.

“AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars,” its creator, Professor Stefan Klein, said last year. “It is official and the final confirmation of our ability to change mid-distance travel forever.”

WATCH it take off… 

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Good News in History, November 16 – Good News Network


66 years ago today, Hall of Famer Bill Russell registered the single-game record for most rebounds with 49 as the Boston Celtics beat the Philidelphia Warriors 111-89 at Boston Gardens. It was Russell’s second season with the Celtics, after starting the previous one in a dynasty featuring 5 future Hall of Famers. Against the Warriors he broke the record for corralling 40 rebounds which had never been done before, but he registered another 9 for good measure. READ what happened next… (1957)

Bill Russell when he signed for the Celtics in 1957

Russell averaged 16.6 points per game and a league-record average of 22.7 rebounds per game, creating a sense that there was no player more talismanic to the team in the league, and it won him the MVP award that year. While the Celtics didn’t win the Finals that year, (some say because Russell picked up an injury in game 3) the next season Russell eclipsed these averages and they won the Championship at a canter after setting a record for regular season wins.

The season after that, Russell shattered his own rebound record by putting up 60 in a game against the Syracuse Nationals. To this day, Russell owns 3 of the top 4 personal rebound records in the NBA, while he and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players in NBA history with more than 20,000 career rebounds + the only ones to average more than 20 rebounds per game throughout their respective careers.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The vacuum tube was invented by English physicist John Ambrose Fleming, a key component of early radios–often considered the beginning of electronics (1904)
  • The US and the Soviet Union established formal diplomatic relations (1933)
  • LSD was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland (1938)
  • China released Wei Jingsheng, a prominent pro-democracy dissident, after detaining him for 18 years for “counterrevolutionary” activities—he was deported to the US where his foundation works to improve human rights and freedom in his homeland (1997)
  • Bill Clinton became the first serving U.S. President to visit Vietnam (2000)
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement (2010)

And 35 years ago, Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to lead a Muslim state when she was elected the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the first open election there in more than a decade. A liberal and secularist, she also led the center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to victory in 1993 as a champion of democracy and women’s rights.

Following United States-brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections, emphasizing civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence, but during a political rally in 2007, she was assassinated by Islamist extremists. She wrote an autobiography, Daughter of Destiny, and before her death authored Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. (1988)

And, 49 years ago today, John Lennon hit No.1 with his catchy single Whatever Gets You Through The Night—his only number 1 solo tune in the U.S. Elton John sang harmony and played piano on the session, and while in the studio, he bet Lennon that the song would top the charts, with its energizing horn section. Such was Lennon’s skepticism that Elton secured from him a promise to appear on stage if the record hit number one. The Beatle, indeed, kept his side of the deal and appeared live with Elton at Madison Square Garden on November 28—and it was Lennon’s last major concert appearance.

According to This Day in Music, they played three songs together: I Saw Her Standing There, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and, of course, Whatever Gets You Through the Night. WATCH the original music video featuring John Lennon’s drawings animated by Yoko Ono… (1974)

78 years ago today, UNESCO was first formed to promote world peace by uniting countries through education, the arts, sciences, and culture. Fostering universal respect for all nations, UNESCO (which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has 193 member states sponsoring projects that improve literacy, provide technical training and education, advance science, and preserve regional and cultural history.

Machu Picchu in Peru by Pedro Szekely, CC license

UNESCO’s claim to fame is its protection of landmarks that hold cultural or natural importance. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites are masterpieces of human creative genius and landmarks of nature. Designated as significant, with outstanding value to humanity, there have been 1,154 sites protected across 167 countries, so far. Italy is the country with the most sites chosen, 58 selected areas, and China closely follows with 56—all preserved for future generations.

Mali mausoleum – UNESCO / F. Bandarin

UNESCO has also launched global movements, such as Education For All, to further advance its core objectives. (1945)

31 years ago today, the Hoxne Hoard was found in Suffolk. The Hoxne Hoard is the largest collection of late-Roman gold and silver found in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere within the Roman Empire. In 1993, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard, found by metal detectorist Eric Lawes, at £1.75 million (about £3.79 million in 2021).

The Hoxne Hoard on display at the London Museum. CC SA 4.0. Mike Peel

Found in an oak chest, the coins of the hoard date it after CE 407, which coincides with the end of Britain as a Roman province. Cooperation between experienced private metal detectorists and archeologists resulted in the further excavation of the field in Suffolk where the hoard was found, and revealed hundreds of other Roman metal objects, mostly coins, but also box fittings, which are assumed to be part of the chest it was buried in.

A single post hole was found by archeologists, but otherwise no evidence of a structure of any kind was turned up—the post hole is assumed to have been a marker to remind where the chest was.

569 gold and 14,272 silver coins were found, struck in dies all across the empire, from northern Germany to eastern Turkey. The hoard also contained many pieces of golden jewelry, but which may have represented the “reserve” items rarely or never used from the collection of a wealthy woman or family.

Some of the most common types of jewelry are absent, such as brooches, pendants, and earrings. Items set with gems are notably missing, although they were very much in the taste of the day.

Hoxne Hoard Jewelry – CC SA 4.0. Mike Peel

The discovery and excavation of the Hoxne Hoard improved the relationship between the archeological profession and the community of metal detectorists which is huge in Britain. Archeologists were pleased that Lawes reported the find promptly and largely undisturbed, allowing a professional excavation.

The Treasure Act 1996 is thought to have contributed to more hoards being made available to archeologists for study. The act changed the law so that the owner of the land and the person who finds the hoard have a strong stake in the value of the discovery. (1992)

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Archaeologists Find 24 Bronze Statues ‘Without Equal’ Preserved in Tuscany for 2,300 Years That 'Rewrite History'

credit Italian Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities

Whilst excavating Roman-era baths in the Tuscan hills outside Siena, archaeologists have stumbled upon what is quite simply one of the most significant discoveries ever found in Italy.

24 bronze statues in perfect condition emerged, sometimes first with a hand, or with a head, from the mud around an area famous for thermal hot springs, along with a hoard of over 5,000 Roman coins in bronze, silver, and even gold.

The incredible statues, which haven’t even turned green with age thanks to the oxygenless environment of the mud, date to the Republican period of the 200s BCE, a time of great upheaval in Tuscany when the Romans were in the process of fully subsuming the Etruscan civilization of the Italian Peninsula which predated them.

The discovery site in the modern town of San Casiano dei Bagni, was once an Etruscan settlement, and the baths were used first by them and by the Romans afterwards until the century of their collapse 600 years later.

The lead excavator, Jacopo Tabolli, a historian at the University for Foreigners in Siena, spared no hyperbole in describing the find—starting by saying it would “rewrite history,” of the Peninsula.

He called it “without equal… the largest deposit of bronze statues of the Etruscan and Roman age ever discovered in Italy and one of the most significant in the whole Mediterranean,” adding that nearly all statuary art from this period is in terracotta.

The statues depict deities like Apollo and Hygieia, a Greek goddess of health first worshiped in Corinth.

credit Italian Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities

The excellent state of the statues has also preserved inscriptions in the Etruscan language and Latin. Some are honors for the gods but there are also the names of important and powerful Etruscan families like the Velimna of Perugia, and the Marcni.

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For the Sindaco, or the mayor of San Casiano dei Bagni, he sees a little more green in the bronzes than the archaeologists.

“This discovery,” he said, “offers San Casciano not only a cultural and touristic opportunity, but a true occasion for rebirth.”

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“There will be born a new museum, that will host the exceptional statues and an archeo-park; two new places that will, for the town, be a real motor of development and add an enthusiasm to young archaeologists around the world who will come to see and work here.”

Before they can return to the museum, the statues were taken to a preservation center in Grosseto.

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Kenyans Flock to Fields and Parks to Ring in 3-Day Weekend for New National Tree-Planting Holiday

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Head of Conservancy Mr. Fred Ogombe planting a tree during the Participatory Forest Management Plan in 2019. CC 2.0. Violet Atieno/CIFOR

Kenyans have a new holiday on their working calendar—something like a Kenyan Arbor Day when citizens are encouraged to go plant two tree seedlings.

It’s part of the nation of 50 million’s plan to contribute to slowing global warming, and the seedlings will be provided to families for free from sponsored nurseries.

While many in the cities will simply be enjoying another day off, BBC and Africa News spoke with several residents who felt happy to contribute to both the macro and micro environmental destiny of Kenya.

“I have come to plant trees here, because our water levels have been diminishing. Even here at the river source, the levels are very low, trees have been cleared,” Mr. Stephen Chelulei told the BBC.

“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get out there and plant a tree because we got to take care of our environment,” said Michael Kisangi, CEO of Soul of Africa Tours and Travel, who spoke to Africa News.

Along with citizens, florists and tree nurseries have been celebrating for obvious reasons.

Tree cover in the country has been reduced through the decades to just 7% of what it was, and the Ministry of Environment hopes that by the end of the next 10 years, that can be increased by about 12%.

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The Environment Minister Soipan Tuya told local Citizen TV the response had been “amazing” with 2 million signups so far on the new app that helps Kenyans to find places to plant the trees, and to ensure they are planting the correct species to the corresponding habitat.

Tuya is expecting double-digit million trees by the end of the rainy season in December, and 15 billion by 2032.

WATCH the story below from Africa News…