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LINN COUNTY, Mo. – An EF-2 tornado was on the ground for more than 30 miles Sunday in north-central Missouri that hit a propane supplier and left some without a home.
Linn County Emergency Management Director Shelby Creed said the tornado was on the ground as it traveled across the entire county for 31 miles.
“I really wasn’t sure how bad it was until we got out there today and did some preliminary damage assessments and actually got to see how bad it was,” Creed said Monday.
The tornado touched down around 4:30 p.m. after residents in Linn County were on high alert for severe weather.
“We then paged out the effective fire departments to activate the storm spotters, then set off the sirens for the effective towns in Linn County,” Creed said.
The National Weather Service spent Monday surveying the damage before confirming it was an EF-2 tornado that hit Purdin, the north-central part of the county. A propane business known as MO Energy Propane was hit, throwing the office building off its foundation. The 120-mile per hour winds tossed empty propane tanks around. On Monday, the property was covered in shingles, wood pieces, parts of the steel structure, and office supplies.
Along Missouri Route 5 across from the propane business, the tree line was covered in debris like shed siding, installation, and other objects. A home on Expo Lane, about a mile southwest of the propane business, was ripped apart; the entire roof, garage, and shed were gone. Family members of the homeowners said the couple was down in the basement when the tornado hit.
“There was quite a bit of damage,” Creed said. “I’m really surprised we did not get more calls. There’s quite a bit of damage to houses, some trees, outside buildings, and power lines.”
The tornado traveled for more than 30 miles before stopping at the county line. Creed said the county is still assessing all the damage.
“It’s a pretty rural area where the storm went through so in the rural areas, everybody kind of takes care of themselves and their neighbors so they really did not call 911 or the admin line,” Creed said.
By Monday afternoon, friends, family, and neighbors came together to pick up the pieces.
“Make sure you have a plan, you have a bag or a tote ready in case you do need to seek shelter and know where you can seek shelter,” Creed said.
Once complete, the county hopes to pass the damage assessment off to the State’s Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to see if state aid is needed.
Owners of the propane business did not want to go on camera but said luckily the tanks on the property were empty.
Fortunately, no was in Linn County was hurt from Sunday’s storms. Creed said the American Red Cross is in the county assessing damage but those who lost their home or have damage are staying with family and friends.
“There are community members that are very helping to their neighbors in Linn County,” Creed said. “It makes it a lot easier.”
Barely a month after Nazi Germany surrendered in 1945, war-weary American soldiers from the renowned 10th Mountain Division “ski troops” — who had trained for World War II at Colorado’s Camp Hale — held a ski race on a spectacular peak in the Julian Alps, near the border of Italy and what was then Yugoslavia.
In Italy’s Apennine Mountains, they survived fierce clashes with German forces that claimed the lives of 992 of their comrades. They had fought heroically on Riva Ridge, Mount Belvedere and through the Po Valley to Lake Garda, where Benito Mussolini had a villa. Terrible images of battle were all too fresh in their minds, but holding a ski race seemed like a good way to celebrate the lives that had been spared. Despite the horrors of mountain combat, they had not lost the love for skiing and mountaineering that drew them to Camp Hale three years earlier.
The story of the 10th — its cold-weather training in the mountains between Vail and Leadville, its fierce battles in Italy and the improbable giant slalom at Mount Mangart on June 3, 1945 — is told in a new historical documentary written, produced and directed by Chris Anthony, a professional skier and member of the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame. The 70-minute film — titled “Mission Mt. Mangart, the Mighty Story of the 10th Mountain Division” — premiered on Veterans Day at Boettcher Concert Hall in an event that included a performance by the Colorado Symphony. It will play at several Colorado venues during ski season.
Anthony, who is well known to Colorado skiers for more than two dozen appearances in Warren Miller films as a daredevil big mountain skier, is often overcome with emotion when recalling how the movie came to be made and the reactions it is eliciting. He falters when describing what happened after a screening for 300 troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., the current home of the 10th Mountain Division, when a two-star general summoned Anthony to the stage. Anthony saw the general had difficulty composing himself.
“I walked up there and he told me that on their uniforms on the left arm is the 10th Mountain Division patch, but if you have a 10th Mountain Division patch on your right arm, that means you’ve seen combat,” Anthony said. “He tore the combat patch off his right arm and handed it to me.”
“Mission Mt. Mangart” captures the fun-loving character of the troops training at Camp Hale and the tragedy of war, using lots of archival footage and first-hand accounts from men who lived through it.
Bruce Campbell, who reported to Camp Hale when he was 18, is one of the few veterans of the World War II ski troops who is still alive. Now 98, his baritone is one of the voices in the film’s narration, including this observation on the mood of the 10th when the guns finally fell silent.
“You would have thought that, upon hearing that the war had ended for us that we would be cheering and firing weapons and hollering,” Campbell says. “But there was a far more somber reaction because we were tired and the war was over for us. It was a short period of combat but very intense, and we couldn’t help but think about wounded soldiers and, of course, those killed in action.”
And yet, only 32 days after German forces surrendered Italy, the 10th decided to have a ski race. They had been repositioned in the Julian Alps, in what is now Slovenia, to deter Yugoslavian dictator Josip Tito from moving into Italy. Few knew about the race when Anthony learned of it by chance seven years ago. He set out not only to tell that story but to re-create the race for the film.
Anthony learned the idea for the race on Mangart came from Karl Stingl, a 10th Mountain soldier who was struck by the grandeur of the peak while running military messages back and forth over nearby Predil Pass. Stingl was born in a German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia and learned to ski there as a boy. His parents sent him to the U.S. in 1937 to live with a relative because they sensed war was coming. He joined the 10th in 1942, becoming one of the many European-born skiers and mountaineers who joined the elite infantry unit at Camp Hale, including two famed Austrian mountaineers and ski racers, Toni Matt and Friedl Pfeifer.
As Anthony says in the movie, “When the opportunity came to utilize the skills they learned to fight for their new country against the tyranny destroying their homelands, they signed up.”
The Mangart race was won by Walter Prager, a Dartmouth ski coach and native of Switzerland who was a two-time world downhill champion before the war. Finishing second was Steve Knowlton, a longtime Coloradan who famously used to describe himself as “the first ski bum in Aspen.” He competed in the 1948 Olympics, opened a night club in Aspen and was instrumental in founding Colorado Ski Country USA, serving as the organization’s first director.
“He was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire and got the call, or heard about it, and rode his motorcycle west to Camp Hale to join up,” said one of his sons, Reid Knowlton, in a phone interview with The Denver Post.
After the war, former 10th Mountain ski troops helped found ski areas all over the country including Aspen, Vail and Arapahoe Basin. Despite the bloodshed they had seen while fighting in the Alps, the spirit of skiing and the mountains still burned within them.
“It might have saved them,” said Knowlton, who saw Anthony’s film at the Boettcher. “That was their playground, their comfort, everything they knew. I think they were able to hold onto that. They were young guys, having fun. They had to go fight, but they kept their passion alive, and that may have helped diminish or limit the PTSD that others in subsequent wars have had to deal with.”
There is something almost eerie about how Anthony came to make the film. Visiting the home of an Italian friend at the friend’s home in Colorado decades ago, Anthony saw a picture of Mangart and it cast a spell on him. He decided he had to see that mountain in person, and he made numerous trips there in the years that followed. It became like a second home.
“From the first time I laid eyes on Mount Mangart, it felt as if I had some sort of spiritual connection with the mountain,” Anthony said. “It’s as if my life had been designed to take this journey and share this story.”
Janez Kavar, a retired general in the Slovenian mountain troops, heard about Anthony’s frequent visits to the region, and in 2014 he left a manuscript for him at a hotel where Anthony stayed whenever he was there. Kavar previously had been to Colorado on research missions, visiting the Denver Public Library and the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail to learn more about the 10th. At the museum, Kavar saw Anthony’s “Climb to Glory.”
The manuscript Kavar left for Anthony became the seed for the film, and in 2017, Kavar helped Anthony re-create the race on Mount Mangart. Townspeople turned out to help clear the road of rockfall and avalanche debris.
“All these townspeople, current mountain troops and retired (troops) in their 80s showed up in period gear from the ‘40s and we re-created the race,” Anthony said. “It had been raining for weeks. The day we had the permit (to film), blue skies. The next day it started raining again. There’s no way I was getting away from this story. Now I was married to it, and I had to deliver on it.”
The scope of the film grew, and along the way Anthony discovered the stories of Deborah Bankart and Cruz Rios. Bankart toured the U.S. with an Army-funded ski film, helping recruit skiers and mountaineers to join the 10th, and later served on the Italian front lines in the Red Cross. Her segment is narrated by Olympic downhill champion Mikaela Shiffrin. Rios was one of 300 Mexicans and Native Americans who served in the 10th, and after learning to ski at Camp Hale, became a lifelong skier. Color film he shot during the war appears in “Mission: Mt. Mangart.”
Anthony intends for the movie to be used as programming and fundraising for the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative, a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities and field trips for financially challenged schools and youth programs. The film has won numerous cinema awards in Europe, including recognition from the Cannes World Film Festival.
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By Patrick Sisson, The New York Times Company
Jordan Fisher was troubled. Every variety of the Red Bull energy drink comes in a similar metallic can, and his company’s camera system, which tracks products that customers pick up in stores, was having trouble distinguishing them.
This obstacle was one of many that his company, Standard AI, faced while retrofitting a Circle K convenience store in Tempe, Arizona, with computer vision software, which tracks every item that customers pick up so they can simply scan their app-enabled phone to pay as they leave, eliminating the checkout line. A network of more than 100 cameras can identify any of the thousands of similarly sized candy bars or beverages grabbed by customers, including cans of Red Bull, now identifiable thanks to a combination of geometric projections and higher-resolution cameras.
This tracking of consumer activity within the store — where shoppers look and linger, with cameras capturing their interactions and their near-misses — is part of a growing effort to use data collection to make commercial real estate more efficient.
“Checkout is kind of the killer app, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Fisher, CEO of Standard AI, which hones camera accuracy in high-volume, high-density environments. “You have a system that understands where people are in real time, down to the centimeter. It’s all about utilization of real estate.”
From the invasion of big-box stores to the ascendancy of e-commerce and, most recently, pandemic lockdowns, physical retail may seem stuck in perpetual crisis. But in-person shopping is still very popular and the subject of significant investment. (Retail tech investment hit a record $31.5 billion in the second quarter this year.) Amazon has spent generously on physical retail, including $13.4 billion on the acquisition of Whole Foods, and the development of its Just Walk Out system, which kick-started a race for cashierless checkout among grocery stores and retailers.
The added layers of technology in stores and entertainment venues — crowd-tracking cameras, information gleaned from smartphones, tallies of neighborhood foot traffic and sophisticated demographic data — aim to replicate the data measurement and analysis of the online experience.
But privacy advocates are sounding the alarm about the technology as Big Tech is under increased scrutiny. Congressional testimony from the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, in October has intensified calls for new regulations to rein in Silicon Valley giants.
Complicating efforts to address privacy concerns is a lack of regulatory clarity. Without an overarching federal privacy law or even a shared definition of personal data, retailers must sort through layers of state and municipal rules, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act, said Gary Kibel, a partner at law firm Davis+Gilbert who specializes in retail privacy.
Technology companies counter the pushback by noting that their systems are designed to limit what they collect and anonymize the rest. For instance, Standard AI’s system does not capture faces, so they cannot be analyzed with facial recognition technology.
The growing volume of data on consumer and crowd behavior is having significant implications on real estate design. It is making even physical space more interactive for marketers.
WaitTime, an artificial intelligence crowd-counting startup backed by Cisco Systems, is used by venues such as Dodger Stadium and the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. At the FTX Arena, where the Miami Heat play, digital messaging on concourse entrances powered by WaitTime tells fans not just where to find food and drinks but the length of the lines.
In today’s market, “data eliminates the risk,” said Ken Martin, executive director of global sales at Cisco, adding that crowd-tracking technology could guarantee a high return on investment.
The increased use of crowd-counting technology is part of a wave of changes that industry experts say sports and other entertainment venues will use to improve security and crowd flow and allow mobile and contactless ordering.
“The pandemic pushed people who weren’t using this technology over the edge,” said Sanford D. Sigal, CEO of NewMark Merrill, which owns more than 80 shopping centers, and chair of BrightStreet Ventures, a firm that develops retail technology. “Is this technology aspirin, that you take when you’re feeling bad, or penicillin, where it saves your life? Today, it’s definitely penicillin.”
Many industry observers suggest that these methods can improve performance, but there are doubters.
“I’m a fan of fact-based decision-making, but there are a lot of charlatans promising things that aren’t reasonable in terms of outcomes,” said Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School.
Proponents argue that data can make a difference in decision-making by streamlining the leasing and scouting of new locations. Detailed information about how customers use parking or specific stores helps landlords and property owners better curate their malls and shopping centers.
“It’s not that the data is so out of touch with intuition. It’s that the data is real and gives brands the extra push they need to open a store,” said Adam Henick, a founder of Current Real Estate Advisors, which focuses on social media and data analysis.
He compared the adoption of data in real estate to MLB’s recent embrace of more aggressive defensive alignments, using statistical analysis to shift fielders for every batter. It is the same game but played with much more strategy and certainty.
Brokers can more easily winnow potential locations to a handful of spots based on local demographics and the mix of nearby stores, said Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, which provides location intelligence and demographic data for retailers.
“Now you truly understand the demographics that come to a location, actual foot traffic, the value of co-tenants and their traffic, a far richer understanding of a location,” said Kevin Campos, who runs the retail technology fund at venture capital firm Fifth Wall. “It’s a more informed conversation between a landlord and a potential tenant.”
Placer has roughly 800 customers in commercial real estate and retail, including top brokerages and developers such as Tishman Speyer and Marcus & Millichap. The Placer data has been a go-to tool for measuring returning shoppers this year, offering week-old insights where earlier methods would lag behind three or four months, said James Cook, director of retail research for the Americas at JLL, a commercial real estate brokerage.
The growth of data mining has attracted more entrepreneurs, who are eager to create a more data-informed experience for retail brands.
Leap, a New York startup, operates boutique stores in several states for small, often digitally native, direct-to-consumer brands, handling their real estate, design work and even data analysis, said Amish Tolia, a co-CEO of Leap. For example, Goodlife Clothing, an online retailer, hired Leap to operate its two Manhattan locations.
“I look at this business in a digital way, and they look at it the same way,” said Andrew Codispoti, Goodlife’s co-founder and co-CEO. “They’re becoming experts in more and more places around the country, where to grow, based on your data as a brand.”
The option to open a turnkey location is a big selling point, but Leap also amalgamates shopping patterns — including local e-commerce sales, foot traffic and neighborhood demographics — across all of its locations. This allows it to pick ideal tenants and even tell them the most profitable merchandise to display.
“Leap is effectively going to own a data set nationally that’s truly meaningful to retailers and to real estate owners,” said Henick of Current Advisors, which has helped Leap find Manhattan locations for retailers. “It can give brands comfort with their success rate in a given location.”
Data mining and analysis are becoming key tools to help retail and entertainment recover from the pandemic-induced downturn, he added.
“If you’re spending dollars, don’t you want to spend them as accurately as possible?” Henick said. “I think that’s the benefit of data.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
By Roy Furchgott, The New York Times Company
Despite the promise of two-hour flights from New York to Los Angeles, the supersonic airline industry never really got off the ground. That is largely because of physics: specifically, the sonic boom, the thunderclap noise made when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, which essentially doomed supersonic aviation as a viable business.
In 1960s-era tests, booms reportedly broke windows, cracked plaster and knocked knickknacks from shelves; in 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration forbade civilian supersonic aircraft from flying over land. Planes could go supersonic only over the ocean — most famously, the Concorde, the sleek British-French passenger plane that flew a handful of routes in less than half the average time. But potentially lucrative overland routes were off-limits, restricting supersonic travel’s business prospects.
NASA and aviation entrepreneurs, however, are working to change that, with new aircraft designed to turn the boom into a “sonic thump” that is no louder than a car door being slammed 20 feet away. That may induce the FAA to lift the ban, which could allow for two-hour coast-to-coast supersonic flights.
“The main reason NASA is working on this is to enable regulation for supersonic flight,” said Craig Nickol, NASA’s low-boom flight demonstration project manager. “The main objective is to open up new markets.”
The supersonic age dawned Oct. 14, 1947, when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier while piloting the rocket-powered Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert. In the following decades, the barrier was also broken by a succession of military jets, once by a passenger airliner (during a test flight of a Douglas DC-8 in 1961) and, ultimately, by regular commercial service from the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 and the Concorde, both long defunct.
The far more successful Concorde mostly traveled trans-Atlantic routes at about $6,000 to $7,000 per ticket for a 3 1/2 hour flight in a cramped, noisy cabin, which was nonetheless considered glamorous. The Champagne-and-caviar flights were discontinued in 2003 after 27 years of intermittent profitability and one crash that killed 113 people. What the Concorde’s chief pilot called “the airliner of the future” was consigned to the past.
But the possibility of a supersonic renaissance was arriving even as the Concorde was on its way out. The slide rules and log tables used to design it had been pushed aside by supercomputers, which enabled engineers to test and tweak virtual aircraft designs comparatively cheaply and quickly.
That is exactly what DARPA, the research and development wing of the U.S. Defense Department, and NASA did in 2003 with the Shaped Sonic Boom Experiment, which confirmed that computer-designed modifications to a Northrop F-5E jet would hush the sonic boom in the way the software forecasted.
“We flew it and measured it, and our model predicted the boom very well,” Nickol said. “It was the first time we could prove that we could shape the sonic boom in a way we could predict.” That demonstration set the course for research to follow.
Taming the boom is complicated. Air has substance, which an aircraft slices through, much as a boat moves through water. A plane pushes air aside as it flies, creating ripples of air pressure. As an aircraft approaches the speed of sound, pressure builds up on surfaces like the nose and tail, creating waves of high pressure in front and low pressure behind. At the speed of sound, waves pile up and combine to reach the ground as an abrupt change in pressure that is heard as that thunderclap sound.
“It’s the change in the pressure that makes the sound,” Alexandra Loubeau, a NASA acoustics engineer, said. And that boom happens not just when a plane first breaks through the sound barrier; it also trails the jet continuously, like a boat’s wake.
NASA research led to the X-59 QueSST (for Quiet Supersonic Technology), a needle-beaked aircraft with lift and control surfaces spread over the 100-foot fuselage, of which 33 feet are nose.
The shock waves of a sonic boom cannot be avoided completely, but by minimizing the surfaces where pressure builds up — like the air intake and control surfaces — and spreading them over the length of a fuselage, shock waves can be reduced, shaped and aimed.
“You can modify the aircraft to alter what the wave looks like when it hits the ground,” Nickol said. “What we are doing is trying to spread those waves out and make them weaker.”
NASA is not alone in trying to reestablish supersonic travel. Blake Scholl, CEO of the Denver-based company Boom Supersonic, has declared an audacious goal of delivering passengers anywhere in the world within four hours for $100. He said Boom would begin with international transoceanic supersonic service so that it would not have to worry about noise or wait for regulation changes, although domestic routes would mean more passengers, giving the business “a huge boost, a factor of two or three times in opportunity,” he said.
Scholl added that he thought that just making faster aircraft would not create a sustainable supersonic business; planes must also be faster, cheaper and eco-friendly. The effort “has to be 100% carbon-neutral,” he said.
In his view, speed, economy and reduced emissions can be achieved through cleaner fuels and new engines designed expressly for supersonic flight. This approach contrasts with that of the Concorde, which used “converted military engines that were super-inefficient and rip-roaring loud,” Scholl said. (There are no realistic estimates on how or when such engines will be available.)
These engines — as well as modern materials, building methods and efficiencies introduced since the 1970s supersonic vogue — would let Boom operate for 75% less than the Concorde, Scholl said, although he added that his goal was to be 95% less expensive. Even so, he estimated initial fares at about the cost of a business-class ticket.
“Still a long way from $100,” he acknowledged.
A handful of companies have proposed private supersonic business jets to whisk international bankers, CEOs and hedge fund managers around the globe in swift, exclusive opulence. But despite the stated intentions of established players such as Gulfstream and credible upstarts like Spike Aerospace, private supersonic jets have yet to streak across the skies.
The chief barrier appears to be economic. It is the norm for aircraft to take longer and cost more to build than projected, and private supersonic jets are no exception.
NASA has government backing and shares much of its research so that any aerospace company can benefit from it, although it does not work with any specific airline or manufacturer. But without government financing, it is tougher for companies like Gulfstream and Boom.
There is a cautionary tale in the experience of Aerion Supersonic, a company of aviation veterans that was underwritten by billionaire Robert Bass, in partnership with Boeing, and that claimed preorders of $11.2 billion. Unable to raise enough cash to keep the doors open, Aerion shut down in May and is now being liquidated in a Florida court.
While supersonic travel would be a boon to international trade, there are too many unknowns to predict its viability as a business, said Bijan Vasigh, who teaches economics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
“Are there 50 people a day who want to fly to London?” he asked. “Do we know how much people are willing to pay?”
He added: “We do our best analysis, but everything in the future could change. The best economist cannot find the answer.”
Adam Pilarski, an aviation economist and consultant, agreed that the numbers were uncertain, but he still expects to see supersonic aircraft produced, although not by a major aircraft manufacturer.
“It will make all of their other planes obsolete,” he said.
Instead, he looks to a maverick outfit on the order of Elon Musk’s venture with Tesla or Space-X.
“When Musk started going to space, who believed him? Nobody!” Pilarski said. “The CPA type thinks, ‘How much people will pay?’ Who cares?”
Although Pilarski predicts eventual success for a supersonic airline, he is reluctant to place any bets.
“Will Blake Scholl make it?” he asked. “I don’t know; he is a nice boy. But would I put my money on it, and grandchildren’s education fund on it? No.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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