Thursday, April 1, 2010

The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone,
is really, if physics is to be believed,
observing the effects of the stone upon himself.
Bertrand Russell

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
3/31/10 -

Study suggests toads can detect coming earthquakes - British researchers say that they observed a mass exodus of toads from a breeding site in Italy five days before a major tremor struck, suggesting the amphibians may be able to sense environmental changes that foretell a coming quake. Since ancient times, anecdotes and folklore have linked unusual animal behavior to cataclysmic events like earthquakes, but hard evidence has been scarce. A new study by researchers is one of the first to document animal behavior before, during and after an earthquake. The findings suggested "that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system." Initially puzzled by the toads' disappearance in the middle of the breeding season, the scientists tracked the population in the days that followed. They found that 96 percent of males - who vastly outnumber females at breeding spots - abandoned the site, 46 miles (74 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter, five days before it struck on April 6, 2009. The number of toads at the site fell to zero three days before the quake. "A day after the earthquake, they all started coming back. The numbers were still lower than normal and remained low until after the last aftershock."
Several countries have sought to use changes in nature - mostly animal behavior - as an early warning sign, without much success. The city of Tokyo spent years in the 1990s researching whether catfish behavior could be used to predict earthquakes, but abandoned the study as inconclusive. "What happens is somebody observes some strange animal behavior, then there is an earthquake, so they link the two. There are probably plenty of cases in which there is strange animal behavior and no earthquake."


ICELAND - The volcanic eruption near Eyjafjallajökull persists into its second week, with continued lava fountaining and lava flows spilling into nearby canyons. A new rift opened late Wednesday afternoon. About 50 people were saved by three helicopters, one from the Icelandic Coast Guard and two from a private company. The people were moved from the eruption site after the new rift opened at the site of the eruption. The situation is now under control. Tourists have been turned back to Skógar and to Thórsmörk. Snowmobiles at Mýrdalsjökull glacier have been turned back as well. At the moment the inhabitants near the Eyjafjallajökull area are not thought to be in danger. (photo)
One geologist said that the formation of the new rift was similar to that at the beginning of the eruption. The new rift literally opened before the eyes of scientists at the scene. Scientists believe that this could lead to a stream of lava flowing towards Thórsmörk. According to onlookers the new rift seem to be going towards Hvannárgil. The rift is growing little by little. (photo and slideshow)
Early Wednesday, Search and Rescue teams were called out very early in the morning to assist a woman who had got her car stuck in ice and snow trying to cross a glacial river on the way to the Fimmvorduhals volcano. The woman was accompanied by two others. The trio were in an unmodified 4×4 car better suited to road driving than Highland off-roading in heavy winter weather. Rescue teams also had to rescue several cold and exhausted walkers from the volcano Sunday night – the third night in a row. The flow of visitors is currently nearly 24 hours a day. Rescue workers as complaining that visitors are also getting much too close to the active volcano and are preparing to erect some small guide fences in the most dangerous spots. They are likening the situation to a ticking time bomb if people do not start taking better care of themselves. Professional guides are particularly recommended. A slight increase in the volcano’s activity Sunday had continued into Monday; but conditions still appeared to be stable. Stable for an active volcanic eruption, that is.


Giant waves might one day send scientists an 'underwater telegram' via telecommunication cables on the ocean floor. Ocean water interacting with Earth’s magnetic field could create strong enough signals in the underwater cables to alert scientists that a tsunami is on the way. Though tsunamis move tremendous amounts of water at hundreds of kilometers per hour, their passage barely makes a ripple on the surface of the open ocean. But moving huge volumes of saltwater can make another kind of wave below: electromagnetic waves. This effect had been hinted at as early as 1971 and is now routinely used to monitor long-term ocean water flow across the Florida Strait as a measure of climate change. "We have cables already, and setting up a voltage difference measurement system is pretty easy and inexpensive. This can really augment the tsunami measuring system we have already in existence.”

No current tropical cyclones.


U.S. - The WORST FLOODS IN DECADES washed over large areas of the northeastern United States overnight as authorities mobilised emergency services to brace for more to come. In one of the worst hit states, Rhode Island, all non-essential government employees were told to stay at home today. The flooding, which started on Monday, was THE WORST SINCE 1955 in Rhode Island. Another 50mm-100mm of rain was expected there and across much of the northeastern United States today. Total rainfall during the week's storms in the northeast was expected to reach 150-250mm. In Massachusetts, the Governor declared a state of emergency. People were warned away from the coasts. Most of Maine was put on flash-flood watch. The National Weather Service also declared large areas of New York state at risk of flooding.


SCOTLAND - Snow and torrential rain cause chaos across Scotland. Roads are impassable, schools are closed and homes lose power as heavy snows, gale-force winds and blizzards wreak havoc. The "summer-time cold snap" brought snows up to 50cm deep, blizzards and gale-force winds to much of Scotland. On the roads, drivers have been struggling with road closures across Scotland as conditions remain treacherous in parts. Power supplies have been affected for a second day, with at least 15,000 people without power. Trains and ferries were also disrupted by the return of the wintry weather. People living in the north east of the country were among the worst affected, with those living in Aberdeenshire hit the hardest by the snowfall. Cold weather is set to continue on higher ground in the north until the end of the week.
UNITED KINGDOM - Dozens of train passengers have been rescued from a snowdrift and thousands of homes remain without power after heavy snow hit parts of the UK. More than 100 people were stuck on the Edinburgh to Inverness train for six hours after it got stuck near Aviemore. Forecasters say the worst of the snowfall may be over but warned that ice could prove treacherous on roads. In Northern Ireland about 30,000 homes remain without power after an ice-storm knocked out parts of the electricity network. Officers said driving conditions across Northern Ireland were "treacherous".


COLORADO - 3/29/10 - Meteorite-like rock strikes 10 feet from Rist Canyon home. One resident heard a loud swooshing sound late Monday night and felt a gust of wind through the house, but she didn't think too much of it because the log-sided home is heated by three different sources, including a woodstove. But outside, in the morning, they found what appears to be about a 10-pound piece of rock that fell to the ground so quickly that it created a funnel in the ground. Several smaller pieces of rock and small holes were found nearby. They have called Colorado State University to see if researchers are interested in looking at the rock.


Emergency department workers have had the highest H1N1 infection rate among hospital staff, according to a new study - followed by those in pediatrics, ambulatory care, and anesthesiology. Data from five hospitals showed 123 confirmed cases, with an infection rate of 29% in adult emergency departments. As a group, physicians and medical personnel had the highest rate (6.7%), followed by security/transportation (3.9%), housekeeping/food service (2.7%), and nurses/clinical technicians (2.2%).