This week's Blue Dot is a classic episode. Our nation's fleet of weather satellites are one of our greatest orbital assets. They provide the data that is fed into sophisticated computer models which are then used by forecasters to give us accurate 5 to 7 day outlooks on the weather. In November, the Joint Polar Satellite System or JPSS-1 was launched with amazing instrumental capabilities. In the image above, you can see the smoke plumes from the devastating Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in California history.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Long after the retardant drops end and the hot shots and news crews move on, the danger across wildfire burn scars remains. Special teams of geologists, biologists, soil scientists, and hydrologists are dispatched to assess damage, plan fixes and identify potentially fatal hazards. 

There’s an ancient association between the botanical world and art inspired by it. This week on Cultivating Place, we kick off a four-part series in which we hear about the process, purpose and passions of five different artists all expressing their love for plants through their artistry.

Today we hear from the bold and the heroic when we’re joined by botanical illustrator Kate Blairstone of Portland, Oregon, followed by a conversation with international urban muralist, Mona Caron. Join us.

Albert Lam

This week we head up the road to revisit Joshua Tree, about an hour north of Coachella Valley and party-central Palm Springs. Temperatures are 100-plus most of the summer, so this isn’t most people’s idea of an ideal summer retreat, though on the plus side: in summer, you can grab a prime camp spot even on weekends without a reservation. In winter it’s crazy-popular (meaning, congested), so spring and fall can be the best for Joshua Tree.

An all new commuter bus route, linking Redding with downtown Sacramento is about a year and a half away, according to Dan Little Executive Director of Shasta Regional Transportation Agency. Funded by grants, officials envision four daily round trips aboard fast, comfortable, zero-emission, Wi-Fi enabled buses.

A similar proposal linking Butte County with Sacramento was rejected.

Marc Albert

Following another lengthy and acrimonious hearing, the city council in Chico declared a shelter crisis Tuesday night, opening the door to financial help from Sacramento aimed at easing homelessness.

It took close to two hours to wade through the claims and counter claims in an overflowing chamber, but in the end the council narrowly approved the declaration on a 4 to 3 vote with conservative Andrew Coolidge joining the liberal bloc.

In Redding more greenery may start sprouting up around town.

The city council will consider Wednesday accepting a $41,500 grant from the McConnell Foundation to purchase and plant more street trees.

The council will also consider an amended contract creating semi-permanent locations for catering trucks in Carnegie Park. The proposed two year contract could be renewed four times.

Finally, the council will also consider a 7.5 percent raise for City Attorney Barry DeWalt.

The meeting gets underway Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Kimball Medders / Amazon

Author Kimball Medders grew up on military bases in Europe and Ethiopia with parents who were overseas teachers. His memoir, The Italian Lesson, recounts his adventures as a military brat and sailor.  After serving in the Navy, he returned to college in Sacramento, then later taught inmates in Susanville for 23 years, retiring from that job in 2009.

One lane of Redding’s Hilltop Drive will be closed Tuesday and other nights over the next month, as Pacific Gas and Electric Company workers replace a natural gas main. Work extends from East Palisades Avenue to Rockaway Drive. The northbound curbside lane will be closed between 6 p.m. through 7 a.m. Nightly work continues through November 2nd. Work is limited to Monday nights through Friday mornings.


Suzi Rosenberg

City leaders in Chico are scheduled to once again consider the declaration of a shelter emergency at their meeting Tuesday. The move would allow the city to designate places that homeless people could legally occupy, even if the structures fail to comply with building codes.