August 17, 2001 – A day of weather extremes. The fire danger in the Pacific Northwest had gone from Bad to Extreme, with wildfires consuming acres to the tune of 600,000 with no end in sight, and in fact it was feared it was going to get much worse in the coming days with the possibility of a fire of Catastrophic proportions looming somewhere. Officials reported 2001 was the second driest on record, with extreme drought conditions, setting up for a scenario that offered a number of really bad conclusions. Likewise, the story in the Gulf of Mexico, where Tropical Storm Chantal was revving up to hurricane strength in the Caribbean with winds back up to 40 miles per hour. Speculation was that Chantal had the potential of being a dangerous hurricane, but was not likely to threaten the U.S.-Atlantic coast. A Hurricane watch was posted in Jamaica, just south of the island over the weekend.
Health officials in Atlanta confirmed that a woman who died there the previous Saturday was actually killed by the West Nile Virus; the first West Nile death reported outside the Northeast. The mosquito-borne virus has killed 9 people in New York and New Jersey since 1999.
A report that air travel might be getting better. According to the Transportation Department, flight delays are down more than 10 percentage points over this summer. Part of the reason, officials say is more realistic scheduling, and also part of it was because passenger volume was down over the previous year and that the weather in general has been better than the previous year, with was the worst in history for airline delays.
And Steve Fossett was foiled again – Fossett, who was making his fifth attempt at a solo balloon flight around the world was forced to land on a Brazilian cattle ranch after passing through what he described as “a minefield of thunderstorms”. Fossett said he was not sure there was going to be a sixth attempt.
And that’s just a little of what was going on, this August 17, 2001 as presented by the CBS World News Roundup: Late Edition.