Friday, May 21, 2010

To know the height of a mountain, one must climb it.
Augustus William Hare

*No update Sunday - I'm off to a wedding.*

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/20/10 -

Cyclone 02A was 1117 nmi SW of Karachi, Pakistan.
Cyclone LAILA was 477 nmi ESE of Bombay, India.

Cyclone Laila weakened today after battering India's southeastern coast with several days of torrential rain and high winds that claimed 26 lives.

A cluster of thunderstorms gathering over the Arabian Sea gradually strengthened into Cyclone Two on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds were estimated to be near 55 mph when the storm-force cyclone brushed past the small island of Socotra, which is claimed by Yemen. Forecasters at the U.S. Military Joint Typhoon Warning Center initially projected that the storm would pass up the heavily traveled Gulf of Aden oil route that connects the Indian Ocean with Persian Gulf terminals. But the storm suddenly veered southwestward and made landfall on the tip of the Horn of Africa, located on Somalia’s northern coast. The storm lost force while bringing beneficial rainfall to the remote region.


A large rotating cyclone of cold water is pushing into the southern body of the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current and now appears likely to destabilize or even sever the current and the oil it contains from its connection to Florida. While the BP PLC oil spill has begun to enter the current ( a powerful stream that could transport a small part of the slick to the Florida Keys in about a week) there are also signs that less oil - at least on the surface - has taken the turn south than was feared.
Over the past weeks, small ocean flows spinning off the body of the Loop Current, known as cyclones or eddies, have pushed and prodded the Gulf slick. In particular, one counterclockwise eddy east of the oil's main body has determinedly dragged the crude toward the main current, resulting in its current entrainment. However, imagery now has shown that, while filaments of oil have escaped into the current, "the main pool of oil is remaining up there in the eddy" and not progressing south." More importantly, satellite shots showed that an eddy farther south along the Florida coast is expanding in size and strength. That cyclone appears likely to destabilize or even sever the Loop Current, greatly reducing the oil threat to the Florida Keys and beyond.
Such a beheading is common to the current, which becomes more unstable as it pushes deeper into the Gulf of Mexico. Typically, a forceful counterclockwise cyclone near southwest Florida "punches through the Loop Current," severing the flow from its connection to the Atlantic. "It looks like that kind of scenario is imminent." After a severing, the warm rotating water of the Loop Current's head -- called a "ring" -- begins to flow west toward Texas. But the ring can dawdle, too, and sometimes reattaches with the main current.
It is too soon for East Coast residents to breathe a sigh of relief, however. Oil is still bobbing 120 miles off Tampa's coast, captured in the northern eddy, and before the Loop Current expires -- if it does -- it could still surge north and entrain more of the oil. Or it could be caught in a ring and flow westward. The oil tendrils -- which federal officials have called a "sheen" -- are extremely visible on satellite imagery, suggesting that there is heavier oil present in the northern eddy than has been suggested. The government may be employing some "wishful thinking" when they call it a sheen. Also, there is little certainty about how much oil has been captured by the Loop Current in deeper waters. Since much of the oil has been broken up by dispersants and is unlikely to reach the surface, it will tend to spread sideways through the Gulf. "Based on the size of the plume and the estimates that we're hearing of what is being injected at the bottom, this is a very large problem."
While the Loop Current may be headed toward a severing, that will not stop oil from slowly spreading across the Gulf, especially when the hurricanes begin to hit. Some of the oil is almost certain to affect countries like Cuba and Mexico. "This is a problem that we'll have to deal with for years, as opposed to months."


Bizarre white faced monster washed ashore in Canada - A BIZARRE animal corpse has washed up on a Canadian beach. Locals in a small Canadian town have been stumped by the appearance of the bizarre creature.
The animal, which has a long hairy body with bald skin on its head, feet and face, has prompted wild internet speculation that it is a more evolved version of the famous 'Montauk monster'. The creature was discovered by two nurses in the town of Kitchenuhmaykoosib in Ontario, Canada, while out on a walk with their dog. When the dog began sniffing in the lake, the two women started investigating, before the dog pulled the dead animal out. After taking some photographs of the odd animal, the nurses left it alone. When locals decided to go back and retrieve the body, it has disappeared.
'The creature's tail is like a rat's tail and it is a foot long.' The body of the creature appears to look something like an otter, while its face - complete with long fang-like teeth, bears a striking resemblance to a boar-like animal. Even the local police chief is baffled, saying: 'What it is, I don't know. I'm just as curious as everyone else.'
Many people have suggested the animal could be a new 'Montauk monster' - due to the similarities between these photographs and those of a different creature which washed up in Montauk, New York, in 2008. The animal, which quickly earned the nickname the 'Montauk monster', thanks to the beach's location next to a Long Island government animal testing facility, has never been officially identified - although the general consensus is that it was some kind of racoon. However, other bloggers have speculated that the new creature discovered is a type of chupacabra, or 'goatsucker'. The chupacabra is rumoured to inhabit parts of the U.S., with several hundred eyewitness accounts over the past few years. But despite these sightings, the majority of biologists and wildlife experts believe the chupacabra is a contemporary legend. (photo)


JUPITER - In a surprising development that has transformed the appearance of the solar system's largest planet, one of Jupiter's two main cloud belts has completely disappeared. "This is a big event. We're monitoring the situation closely and do not yet fully understand what's going on." Known as the South Equatorial Belt (SEB), the brown cloudy band is twice as wide as Earth and more than twenty times as long. The loss of such an enormous "stripe" can be seen with ease halfway across the solar system. "In any size telescope, or even in large binoculars, Jupiter's signature appearance has always included two broad equatorial belts... Anyone who turns their telescope on Jupiter at the moment, however, will see a planet with only one belt -- a very strange sight."
Astronomers noticed the belt fading late last year, "but I certainly didn't expect to see it completely disappear." The belt may not actually be gone, but may be just hiding underneath some higher clouds. Without the SEB present, Jupiter's Great Red Spot is surrounded by almost uninterrupted white.
Jupiter's atmosphere is a mysterious place which would benefit from exploration. No one knows, for instance, why the Great Red Spot is red — or what has sustained the raging storm for so many years. Neither does theory explain why the twin equatorial belts are brown, nor why one should vanish while the other remains. "We have a long list of questions."
This isn't the first time the SEB has faded out. "The SEB fades at irregular intervals, most recently in 1973-75, 1989-90, 1993, 2007, 2010. The 2007 fading was terminated rather early, but in the other years the SEB was almost absent, as at present."
The return of the SEB can be dramatic. "We can look forward to a spectacular outburst of storms and vortices when the 'SEB Revival' begins. It always begins at a single point, and a disturbance spreads out rapidly around the planet from there, often becoming spectacular even for amateurs eyeballing the planet through medium-sized telescopes. However we can't predict when or where it will start. On historical precedent it could be any time in the next 2 years. The revival will likely be sudden and dramatic, with planet-circling groups of storms appearing over the space of just a week or so." (photos)