Sunday, May 30, 2010

No update Monday - Happy Memorial Day!

Few things are as immutable as the addiction of political groups
to the ideas by which they have once won office.
John Kenneth Galbraith

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/29/10 -

5/28/10 -

San Andreas-like fault found in eastern U.S., from New York to Alabama, may be 500 million years old. For 30 years geologists have been puzzled by a remarkably straight magnetic line that runs between New York and Alabama along the Appalachians. A more recent aerial magnetic survey of the Alabama end of the line suggests that it's probably a 500-million-year-old San Andreas-style fault that appears to have slipped 137 miles to the right in the distant past.
If so, it's no surprise that the most dangerous part of the eastern Tennessee seismic zone is right next to part of this magnetic line and has the second-highest earthquake frequency in the eastern United States. "It's most likely a strike-slip fault. But it's all buried. It's almost a needle in a haystack.”
The fact that the fault has not cut through the layers of earth above it and shown itself on the Earth's present surface suggests it's not active and so people can probably rest easy. However, the fault and fractures related to it are not incapable of quakes. In fact they are perfect places for stresses in the crust to be released, so long as they are weakened by water. This is, in fact, the likely secret to how all big and small mid-continent quakes can happen, so far from the more active and obvious zones where tectonic plates are smashing together. “The crust is full of fluids and looking for an excuse to break."

Major earthquake to hit Greece, if you can believe the frogs - Millions of frogs flooded Greece Thursday, specifically Athens. Traffic was disrupted, chaos caused. Eye witnesses claimed it looked like a "carpet of frogs"
It is well known that when frogs flood an area then there is a major earthquake on the way, at least that is what history shows us. Last year in Italy frogs started to gather days before a major earthquake hit Italy and killed almost 300 people. In 2009 when the earthquake hit Italy, a biologist studying the frogs in the area just before the earthquake hit, found that the toads fled to places of safety where they won't be washed away by floods or be injured by falling trees and other dangers. In 2008 frogs also predicted a major earthquake when they moved in the millions, a few days later parts of China experienced a massive earthquake that killed more than 10,000 people. (video)
Turks fear Greek toads of doom - They may just be looking for food and greener pastures. But in Turkey, the sudden movement of hundreds of thousands of frogs that forced authorities in neighbouring Greece to close down a major highway is seen as a sign that a devastating earthquake may be nigh. Earlier this week, a massive number of frogs, estimated by local authorities to be in the millions, flooded a road near the town of Langadas in northern Greece, about 200 miles west of the Greek-Turkish border. Police closed down the highway east of the city of Thessaloniki completely for two hours on Wednesday after some cars slid off the road as drivers tried to avoid hitting the animals. A day later, traffic was still slowed down by the frog migration, which was expected to continue for several days.
“Frogs on the highway – earthquake at the door”, said a headline in the Turkish Aksam newspaper. The newspaper pointed to recent findings by British scientists saying that there may be a connection between strange behaviour of frogs and a subsequent major earthquake. Toads at a site 46 miles from the Italian town of L’Aquila started showing “a dramatic change in behaviour” five days before a quake hit the L’Aquila region last year, “abandoning spawning and not resuming normal behaviour until some days after the event”. “It is unclear what environmental stimuli the toads were responding to so far in advance of the [earthquake], but reduced toad activity coincides with pre-seismic perturbations in the ionosphere, detected by very low frequency radio sounding."
Scientists say there is no way to predict earthquakes. But the public in Turkey, a country where tremors occur in some region almost every day and where around 20,000 people were killed by a massive quake in 1999, is very receptive to reports of alleged breakthroughs in earthquake prediction, especially if those observations are connected to unusual natural phenomena. After the 1999 quake in northwestern Turkey, which struck in the middle of the night, reports said animals like wolves and dogs displayed an unusual and excited behaviour shortly before the catastrophe.
People also look into space to find hints of a coming quake. Because the 1999 quake occurred just six days after a solar eclipse, a new eclipse in Turkey in 2006 triggered fears that another quake was about to hit. People in a central Anatolian province left their homes and moved into tents as a precaution, but the earthquake failed to materialise.
Greek authorities were quoted as saying that the toad movement near Langadas was a yearly event and that there was nothing to worry about. But that did not keep Turkish newspapers from drawing a connection between the hopping frogs and impending disaster.
Almost the entire territory of Turkey is though to be earthquake-prone, but although scientists say that Turkey’s metropolis Istanbul, a city of at least twelve million people, will probably be hit by a major earthquake at some point in the coming decades, authorities and citizens alike are slow to take safety measures. Tens of thousands of buildings in Istanbul, including schools and hospitals, are thought to be too weak to withstand a major tremor, and streets marked as emergency lanes to be kept open at all times for rescue teams to get through in case of an earthquakes are routinely clogged up by traffic and illegally parked cars. One estimate says around 70,000 people could die in an Istanbul quake.


Explosive eruptions shook two huge volcanos in Central and South America on Friday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and disrupting air traffic as ash drifted over major cities. Guatemala's Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks Thursday afternoon, blanketing the country's capital with ash and forcing the closure of the international airport. A television reporter was killed by a shower of burning rocks when he got too close to the volcano, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Guatemala City.
Meanwhile, strong explosions rocked Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano, prompting evacuations of hundreds of people from nearby villages. Hot volcanic material blasted down the slopes and ash plumes soared 6 miles (10 kilometers) above a crater that is already 16,479 feet (5,023 meters) above sea level. Winds blew the ash over the country's most populous city, Guayaquil, and led aviation officials to halt flights out of the Pacific port and from Quito to Lima, Peru. Neither of the eruptions was expected to disrupt airports in neighboring countries like Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano did in Europe.
In Guatemala, at least 1,910 people from villages closest to the Pacaya volcano were moved to shelters. Some 800 homes were damaged in the initial eruption late Thursday. A second eruption at midday Friday released ash in smaller amounts from the mountain. In Guatemala City, bulldozers scraped blackened streets while residents used shovels to clean cars and roofs. The blanket of ash was three inches (7.5 centimeters) thick in some southern parts of the city. The government urged people not to leave their homes unless there was an urgent need.
The most active of Guatemala's 32 volcanos, Pacaya has been intermittently erupting since 1966, and tourists frequently visit areas near three lava flows formed in eruptions between 1989 and 1991. Eruptions at Tungurahua, 95 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, buried entire villages in 2006, leaving at least four dead and thousands homeless.
The death toll from the eruption of the volcano in Guatemala
has risen to at least three people. Two villagers from El Bejucal and a reporter were killed as a result of Thursday's eruption of the Pacaya volcano. The three victims were crushed by rocks strewn by the volcano.
The Guatemalan President declared a state of calamity
for 15 days and called for calm as the eruption spread ash over the capital, prompting evacuations and shutting down the city's international airport. Four people were missing as evacuations continued. At least 1,800 people have been placed in shelters after four villages near the volcano were evacuated. The states of Guatemala, Escuintla and Sacatepequez were hardest hit. "The scene was chilling. All night, it was raining sand!" Pacaya had been dormant for a century until 1965, when it erupted again. Pacaya's eruptions usually last about six hours, but Thursday's was IT'S STRONGEST BLAST IN MORE THAN A DECADE with plumes of ash reaching almost 5,000 feet above the volcano's peak.

Scientists raised the alert level for Cleveland Volcano in Alaska's Aleutian chain after satellite data indicated thermal anomalies. The Alaska Volcano Observatory on Tuesday, May 25, raised the level to advisory status. There is no real-time seismic network at the volcano. Scientists say unrest there is frequent, and short-lived explosions with ash plumes up to 20,000 feet can occur without warning and may not be detected by satellites. Cleveland is about 940 miles southwest of Anchorage, on a remote and uninhabited island in the Aleutians chain. The last significant eruption of the 5,676-foot volcano began in February 2001 and eventually produced a lava flow that reached the ocean. There were minor eruptions in January, June and October 2009.

A second, much larger volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it may be about to erupt, scientists have warned. Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused cancellations of thousands of flights in Europe because of a giant ash cloud, there has been much speculation about neighboring Katla. "Analysis of the seismic energy released around Katla over the last decade or so is interpreted as providing evidence of a rising ... intrusive magma body on the western flank of the volcano...Earlier seismic energy release at Katla is associated with the inflation of
the volcano, which indicates it is close to failure, although this does not appear to be linked to seismicity around Eyjafjallajökull...We conclude that given the high frequency of Katla activity, an eruption in the short term is a strong possibility. It is likely to be preceded by new earthquake activity. Presently there is no unusual seismicity under Katla."
Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson has warned governments around Europe that a significant eruption at the volcano is close. "We [Iceland] have prepared ... it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over Europe and the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption." Katla has a crater three times as big as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
Too early to declare end to Iceland eruption - It is too early to declare the end of the eruption at Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano even though it has not spewed ash since the beginning of the week, experts said on Thursday. "Usually, volcanic eruptions fade out gradually but that's not the case here. The eruption (under the) Eyjafjallajoekull (glacier) stopped quite abruptly so we're a bit hesitant to make any statements yet. We need more time to figure out what is happening there...Although there are currently no signs of the eruption starting again, we still can't be sure. But we are keeping a close eye on Eyjafjallajoekull, there's still some activity there but it's minimal. We also detect small changes in the GPS monitors, showing us that there is still some movements in the volcano but they are very, very small."
The ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which crippled international air travel in April, held a shocking secret: an UNEXPECTED electric charge. Ash plumes directly over erupting volcanoes have been known to generate lightning, and electrically charged ash has been found in previous plumes up to 30 miles (50 kilometers) from their source volcanoes. But according to a new study, electric ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano was found a record 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) away from the eruption.
At that distance, it wasn't energy from the eruption itself that charged the ash. Based on the average size and shape of particles in the ash, "any initial charging that occurred would have decayed away many times over." In fact, ash from deep in the volcanic plume was still charged 32 hours after being spewed from the Iceland peak, which suggests that the charge was self-renewing, the scientists say. The discovery means that many volcanic ash plumes might be electrified, which could have implications for the air-travel industry. Prior research done with weather balloons had shown that desert dust storms can become electrified through a process of particle collision that is not yet completely understood. The same phenomenon may be at work with volcanic ash. Electrified ash could theoretically pose a risk to air traffic, because charged particles might interfere with radio transmissions. Also, if charged ash penetrates an aircraft cabin, it could create an electrostatic hazard to passengers and internal systems.

Tropical depression AGATHA was 90 nmi NW of Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Tropical Storm Agatha kills 16 in Central America - Torrential rains brought by the first tropical storm of the 2010 season pounded Central America and southern Mexico, triggering deadly landslides. The death toll stood at 16 Sunday, but authorities said the number could rise. Agatha formed off the coast of Guatemala on Saturday. Tropical Storm Agatha was dissipating over the mountains of western Guatemala, a day after it made landfall near the nation's border with Mexico with winds up to 45 mph (75 kph).
Although no longer even a tropical depression, Agatha still posed trouble for the region: Remnants of the storm were expected to deliver 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain over southeastern Mexico, Guatemala and parts of El Salvador, creating the possibility of "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides." The rivers in the country's south were flooding or close to it. 4.3 inches (10.8 centimeters) of rain had fallen in Guatemala City's valley in 12 hours, the MOST SINCE 1949.
As of Sunday morning, 69,000 people in Guatemala had been evacuated, many to shelters. Some lost their homes the previous day in a landslide on a hillside settlement in Guatemala City that killed four people and left 11 missing.
Four children were killed by another slide in the town of Santa Catarina Pinula, about six miles (10 kilometers) outside the capital. And in the department of Quetzaltenango, 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Guatemala City, a boulder loosened by rains crushed a house, killing two children and two adults. Other evacuees were moved from their homes to avoid potential slides officials feared might still come. A three-story building in northern Guatemala City fell into a sinkhole but there were no reports of victims.The community of Champerico had received 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) of rain in 30 hours. "It rained in one day what it usually gets in a month." Authorities have not been able to reach Champerico by "air, land or sea."
In El Salvador, President Mauricio Funes declared a "red alert," the highest level of emergency, after rains delivered by Agatha triggered at least 140 landslides throughout the country and killed two adults and a 10-year-old child. The exact cause of their deaths was unclear. The Acelhuate River that passes through the capital, San Salvador, had risen to dangerous levels and was threatening to overflow into city streets.
In Honduras, national emergency agency Copeco reported one man was crushed to death by a wall that collapsed in the town of Santa Ana, near the capital of Tegucigalpa. Flooding and slides destroyed 45 homes in the country and prompted authorities to evacuate 1,800 people.
Before the rains, Guatemala already was contending with heavy eruptions from its Pacaya volcano that blanketed the capital in ash and destroyed 800 homes. As if the eruption of the volcano Pacaya erupting not enough, Guatemala had two earthquakes all at the same time.

AUSTRALIA - As a second low pressure system descends on the New South Wales Far South Coast, towns are preparing for another burst of severe weather. The Bureau of Meteorology has compared this morning's winds to a category 2 cyclone, with speeds of up to 135km hitting Montague Island, near Narooma. The winds are set to pick-up again, affecting towns further north. More than 10,000 people have been left without power, and electricity wires have collapsed onto local roads. About 50 homes were damaged as windows broke, roofs were torn off and trees fell. A series of offshore low pressure systems is due to cross the south coast today before moving north towards Batemans Bay.


INDIA - India’s annual monsoon, vital for farming and economic growth, has not advanced in the past six days due to last week’s cyclone Laila that played havoc in Andhra Pradesh, but weather officials said there was as yet no cause for worry. According to earlier predictions by the India Meteorological Office, this year monsoon was scheduled to hit the mainland at least a week in advance. However, the monsoon will now hit the mainland on May 30, two days before the normal date of June 1, by entering the southern state of Kerala.
Facing high food prices after the monsoon failed last year, India is heavily counting on normal June-September rainfall to help the government tackle supply side inflation. Monsoon winds were weak, and might need up to two days to strengthen. Officials declare the onset of monsoon only if the rainfall on the southern tip of the country is accompanied by other developments, including a particular level of moisture in the air, the spread of rains and other parameters.
Monsoon onset phase may not last, say experts. The Indian monsoon is the hottest topic among international weather experts, who do not seem to accept India Meteorological Department's onset forecast at its face value. The IMD had said, in its newly-introduced, two-week forecast on Friday, that the onset might happen around Monday, followed by an orderly northward progression of rains along the West coast. The full-scale onset of monsoon would have to wait until June 10, to time with the arrival of the next convective (wet or rain-generating) phase of a Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) wave that travels periodically from west to east. The MJO wave has a major role in precipitating a copy-book onset as distinct from a ‘false onset,' which is likely to unravel around the timeline fixed by the IMD. The MJO has an alternating ‘dry' (suppressed rain) phase, which is currently on play over the equatorial Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, at large.
The IMD had said that the onset would be facilitated by the formation of an ‘onset vortex,' expanded on Saturday to a full-blown low-pressure area. The system might move away from the West coast to North-Northwest, but still would be able to draw in the flows and cause rains; it had said quoting numerical weather prediction models. However, this may not be the case, according to the scientists. They believe that the brewing ‘low' might just prove the monsoon's undoing. The onset, at best, would be transient and may not last longer than a couple of days.
This is because the ‘low' might strengthen rapidly and move away, robbing the monsoon system of much of its energy, denying the mainland any significant precipitation. In fact, these scientists see the system developing as an intense cyclone (to be named ‘Phet') and moving initially West-Northwest and away in a near replication of Super Cyclone ‘Gonu' of 2007. One expert, on condition of anonymity, said that the ‘onset' phase as signalled by the IMD may end sooner than later, under the double whammy of the rogue Arabian Sea cyclone and a ‘dry' MJO phase.
Overall, kinetic energy is seen as only a fourth of what is required for the Arabian Sea to precipitate the onset, and may not improve substantially even with the formation of the vortex.

Rising Pakistani lake threatens villages downstream - An enormous lake created by a freak landslide is about to burst its banks, and experts fear that dozens of villages in northeast Pakistan could be washed away. Many have already been evacuated. Under the worst-case scenario, a 65-foot-high wave would gush down the mountainous district of Hunza all the way to the Tarbela dam - a distance of some 500 miles - through a network of narrow river valleys, ending close to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. The lake was created in January when a massive landslide came down on the village of Attabad, damming the Hunza River. Army engineers frantically cut a channel through part of the lake dam and completed a "spillway" by the middle of May, which aims to provide a safe
channel for the water to drain from the lake back into the path of the river. The lake was 4 feet below that channel late Thursday, but reports said the water was rising about 1 inch per hour. The government has been strongly criticized for not acting before the lake grew so large. A specialist on landslides published a report in March that warned of a possible tsunami if the dam wall suddenly gave way.


AURORA SURPRISE - On Saturday, May 29th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) tilted south and opened a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled a G1-class geomagnetic storm. Northern Lights were sighted as far south as Wisconsin. The storm has subsided now. The next storm is due on May 31st or June 1st when a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. (photo)