Bridge collapse. Washington state officials heaved a big sigh of relief Thursday night after finding no fatalities following the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge across the Skagit River. The bridge suddenly fell into the water around 7 p.m., plummeting two vehicles into the icy water. Rescue crews quickly pulled survivors to shore. If the bridge had collapsed just hours earlier, at the peak of rush hour, the end result could have been more tragic. The state trooper who arrived first on the scene said it was “a miracle” only two vehicles were traveling on the bridge at the time. Authorities believe the collapse began after a semitruck with an oversized load struck a steal beam at the side of the bridge. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.
Unruly passengers. Britain’s Royal Air Force scrambled fighter jets this morning to intercept a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet en route to Manchester, England, from Lahore, Pakistan. After the plane landed, police arrested two men on suspicion of endangering an aircraft. According to Wajid Hasa, Pakistan’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, the two passengers “got into an altercation with air stewardesses and threatened to blow up the plane.” The flight attendants contacted the pilot, who radioed air traffic control. All 297 passengers are being screened, along with the aircraft, but so far, no explosive devices have been found. An official with the airline said the incident should be a lesson to unruly passengers. I’ll say.
Moral courage. During a commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, President Barack Obama urged graduates to do everything they can to prevent sexual assaults and help restore the country’s trust in the military. Following several high-profile incidents involving sexual assault, the military has pledged to prevent attacks, although leaders are resisting efforts to take prosecution decisions out of the hands of commanders. The president also told graduates the country needed more than their honor and strength: “Even more than physical courage, we need your moral courage.”
Weather forecast. Today the National Hurricane Center announced plans to emphasize storm surge reports in future forecasts. The agency has weathered some criticism during past storms, including last year’s Hurricane Sandy and 2008’s Hurricane Ike, for not giving coastal residents enough warning about the danger rising water posed. For decades, hurricane prediction models focused mostly on wind speed, but starting with Hurricane Katrina, storm surge began to do more damage than gale-force winds. Under the new system, forecasters will talk about storm surge height, not depth, and will use color-coded maps to show areas of inundation. The new forecast models could come in handy this year. On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its prediction of an above-average hurricane season. It was the last forecasting group to release models, and they all agree coastal residents should prepare for a wild ride this year.