Thursday, May 27, 2010

Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water.
Zen Proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/26/10 -

U.S PACIFIC NORTHWEST - The risk of a major earthquake striking the Pacific Northwest within the next half-century is greater than once thought, researchers have found using a new series of geological observations. Earlier estimates forecasted that a major earthquake — similar in size to those which hit China, Mexico and Chile in recent months — is likely to strike the B.C. coast once every 500 years. That estimate was based on the long-accepted belief that the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies off the west coast of North America and runs from Northern California up to British Columbia, will trigger one large earthquake for the entire zone.
The west coast sits on the North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates. The plates are moving against each other; when that stress is finally released, a very powerful earthquake will result. But new research has revealed a more complex picture of the fault. Using carbon dating analysis of sediments on the Pacific Ocean floor, researchers have determined that Cascadia isn't one big subduction zone, but rather at least four separate segments. Their findings suggest that, instead of the entire fault rupturing at once, it will break in multiple, smaller parts, more frequently. The researchers predict a higher than a one-in-three chance of a major quake striking the Pacific Northwest within the next 50 years.
The last major earthquake to hit the northern subduction zone — which stretches from Seaside, Oregon, to Vancouver Island — occurred in January 1700, triggering a 10-metre-high tsunami. More recently, in 1946, a 7.3 magnitude quake struck on Vancouver Island. The earthquake was stronger than one in Haiti earlier this year.
The southern end of the fault running from Newport, Oregon to Northern California has a 37 per cent chance of triggering a major earthquake in the next half century, with an average rate of roughly one quake every 240 years.
In the northern end of the fault zone, the forecast is still for one quake every 500 years. But such a northern zone quake is likely to be much more intense and destructive than the more frequent southern quakes. The northern zone faces a 10 to 15 per cent chance of experiencing a devastating mega-quake over the next 50 years.
"We're in that window where we could expect one of these giant earthquakes at any time. We really don't know when they will occur."


A magnitude 7.4 quake off the southern Pacific Ocean island of Vanuatu prompted a tsunami warning for the nearby Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.6, was 22.4 miles deep and centered 133 miles northwest of Santo in Vanuatu. "An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours", but it was not yet clear whether a tsunami had actually been generated. The warning was in effect for the region only and that will not expand to other areas of the Pacific based on the information known so far.

No current tropical cyclones.

THE 2010 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON MAY BE ONE OF THE WORST ON RECORD, US officials warn, amid fears it could deepen an oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and bring new misery to Haiti. An "active to extremely active" hurricane season which starts on June 1 was expected for the Atlantic Basin this year, US officials said. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) said it was predicting three to seven major hurricanes, with eight to 14 smaller hurricanes, and 14 to 23 named storms would hit the region over the next six months. This compares to an average of two major hurricanes, six smaller hurricanes and 11 storms per season.

Cyclone Laila on India's east coast last week decelerated the progress of the monsoon, which is forecast to hit India's southern coast on May 30. The Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting hinted on Wednesday at the possibility of cyclone formation in the Arabian Sea during the first week of June. This would pose a threat to the orderly progress of the monsoon, and would be a throwback to the situation created by Super Cyclone Gonu in 2007.
‘Gonu' is the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea, and is also the strongest named cyclone in the northern Indian Ocean. The second named tropical cyclone of the 2007 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, ‘Gonu' developed from a persistent area of convection in the eastern Arabian Sea on June 1. In a striking coincidence, this is the time band, areas of cyclo-genesis and landfall that the ECMWF is indicating for the storm brewing in the first week of June.
Intense tropical cyclones such as ‘Gonu' are RARE over the Arabian Sea, as most storms in this area tend to be small and dissipate quickly. But this may not be the case anymore, with systems showing an increasing proclivity to form during the onset (as against mid-way into season) of the monsoon when they would have the right environment and attributes to attain maximum strength. The only relief to an otherwise cloudy scenario is the fact that no other major model has indicated formation of any strong system in the Arabian Sea during this period.
Earlier, seasonal rains had hurried into Sri Lanka, just hopping distance from the southern Indian peninsular tip, five days ahead of normal on May 20. The monsoon failed to sustain the ‘lead time' largely because of the antics of party-pooper tropical cyclone ‘Laila' in the Bay of Bengal, which it had not bargained for. The flows have since showed signs of regrouping over the south and adjoining south-east Arabian Sea where convective clouds have been showing up over the past few days. But wind flows have lacked the required speed, orientation and depth. At best, the prevailing flows depict an unruly convergence of southwesterly-to-westerly winds and westerly-to-northwesterly winds. On Wednesday, the Global Forecasting System indicated the onset of rains around May 29.


GERMANY, POLAND - Extreme weather conditions continued to affect parts of Northern and Central Europe. Heavy rains are raising river levels to dangerous heights. One woman in Lower Austria drowned when she was swept away by flood waters. An elderly man died from a heart attack in the same region.
Germany is bracing itself for the worst as rivers in the east of the country continue to rise. Officials in Frankfurt an der Order are desperately trying to reinforce river bank defences in an effort to contain the swelling floodwaters. “On the Polish side, the situation looks much more difficult because our twin town Slubice is about two metres lower than Frankfurt. This means that when a levee breaches, we are not talking about flood levels of 50-60cm but of up to two and a half metres. This means that real damage can be expected, and that is why the mayor called on everyone to leave the town on Friday.” Officials predict the highest alert for the Oder could even be reached as early as today which may have repercussions for Berlin as the Oder feeds the river Spree which flows through the capital.
Meanwhile, Poland’s low-lying Slubice, which is on the front line of any flooding from the Oder, can only hope and pray.


The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has spewed more oil than originally estimated, surpassing the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in 1989 in Alaska to become THE BIGGEST OIL DISASTER IN U.S. HISTORY.
'Top kill' stops gulf oil leak for now - Officials are cautionary but say drilling fluid has blocked oil and gas temporarily. Engineers plan to begin pumping in cement and then will seal the well. As of early Thursday morning, neither government nor BP officials had declared the effort a success yet, pending the completion of the cementing and sealing of the well.


Tylenol recalls - criminal. An FDA official hammered the maker of Tylenol for a pattern of sloppy manufacturing practices that led to a series of recalls in testimony prepared for a House hearing on Thursday. They cited "significant violations" of manufacturing regulations by McNeil Consumer Healthcare. The drugmaker, a division of Johnson & Johnson has recalled products four times in seven months. That included a widespread recall of children's non-prescription drugs on April 30.
In January, the FDA had issued a warning letter to McNeil "expressing serious concerns about the company's control over the quality of its drugs and the company's failure to aggressively investigate and correct quality problems."
Upper management failed to assure timely investigation and resolution of those issues. "A potential criminal liability" exists as a result of the recalls.The FDA "is also considering additional enforcement actions against the company for its pattern of non-compliance which may include seizure, injunction or criminal penalties." The Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports of at least 775 serious side effects from drugs recalled by McNeil.