Typhoon Cobra on radarDec. 17, 1944:  Weeks after winning the decisive Battle of Leyte Gulf over the Japanese Navy, U.S. Admiral William Halsey’s third fleet loses three ships and 790 men to Mother Nature.  Typhoon Cobra hits the fleet, sinking the destroyers Hull, Monaghan, and Spence.  Halsey’s battleships and aircraft carriers survive, as does his second-in-command, Admiral John S. McCain, the grandfather of future Presidential candidate John McCain III. At right, a radar image of the typhoon taken on Dec. 18.

Dec. 17, 1963:  U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the first version of the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Dec. 17, 2009:  Two manufacturers of flame retardant chemicals reach a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to phase out a product that has been discovered to be toxic. The chemical decaBDE, used to suppress fires in electronics and fabrics, can accumulate in fatty tissues and breast milk.  Laboratory tests show that decaBDE can impair brain function, and is a potential cancer-causer.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.