Severe weather, the Heisman Trophy, comet Leonard: 5 things to know

December 11, 2021
Severe weather, the Heisman Trophy, comet Leonard: 5 things to know


Severe weather sweeps across parts of the US

Parts of the Midwest and the South are waking up Saturday to the aftermath of deadly weather that pummeled the region the night before. An apparent tornado ripped through an Arkansas nursing home late Friday, killing one person and injuring several others. In southern Illinois, at least 100 emergency vehicles descended upon an Amazon warehouse after its roof and a wall about the length of a football field collapsed from storm damage. There were reports of workers trapped inside the warehouse, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many people were hurt. At least one fatality was also reported in Missouri.

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Heisman Trophy awarded to college football’s best player 

Every indication heading into Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy ceremony is that Alabama sophomore Bryce Young will be the latest quarterback and the latest star from the Crimson Tide to take home the award for the best college football player of the year. After a strong close to the regular season, Young distanced himself from the competition and took hold of an unpredictable and largely uneventful Heisman race that seemed open to as many as five or six contenders deep into November. The list of finalists includes three quarterbacks and one outlier: Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is the second defender to be voted a Heisman finalist in three years, following Ohio State defensive end Chase Young in 2019.

Services for Bob Dole conclude Saturday in Kansas 

A day after a funeral in Washington attended by some of politics’ biggest figures, more memorials are in store Saturday in former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole’s home state of Kansas. Public memorials are scheduled in his hometown of Russell in the morning and then in the state capital of Topeka in the afternoon, according to local media. His remains will then be flown back to Washington for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Dole died in his sleep last Sunday morning at age 98.

Sequoia National Park opens Giant Forest that survived fire

Sequoia National Park will reopen its Giant Forest area on Saturday, three months after a Northern California wildfire prompted extraordinary efforts to protect the grove and destroyed thousands of other redwoods. The Giant Forest includes the General Sherman tree, the largest living thing on Earth by volume. The grove had been closed since mid-September, when a fire complex caused by lightning tore through the Sierra Nevada. Fire crews took extreme measures to protect the largest and oldest trees in the Giant Forest. They wrapped trunks in a fire-resistant foil, set up sprinklers, raked flammable matter from around the trees and dropped fire-retardant gel onto the tree canopies, some of them 200 feet (60 meters) above ground. 

You can see the brightest comet of the year as it approaches Earth

Looks like space was saving its best for last in 2021, as the newly discovered comet Leonard nears Earth. The comet, one of the most visible this year, can be observed in the morning sky using binoculars or a telescope through Sunday. On Saturday, it will be 21.7 million miles away from Earth, the closest it will get to the planet. If you are able to get away from light pollution, you’ll have a better chance to see it. Although recently discovered, the comet won’t be sticking around for long. Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi said Leonard is a long-period comet, meaning it doesn’t come around often. In fact, the comet hasn’t passed by Earth in over 70,000 years, and after it passes by the sun, it will be ejected from our solar system, never to be seen on Earth again. So if you can catch a peek at it now, it’s worth it! 

The Associated Press contributed to this post. 


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