LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
6.5 OFFSHORE TARAPACA, CHILE
6.3 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.2 WEST OF MACQUARIE ISLAND
5.6 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 SOUTHEAST OF EASTER ISLAND
CHINA - A stunning "parade" of over ten thousand toads on a street in Chengdu, stretching over 200 meters long, aroused public jitters over possible upcoming tremors on Tuesday in Sichuan province, where a powerful earthquake jolted in 2008, killing tens of thousands. However, animal experts and seismologists refute the earthquake fears, saying the massive toad exodus was merely animal migration, in search of a cooler habitat before the summer heat arrives. (photo)
ICELAND - volcano 'has become more explosive'. The airspace across much of Scotland and Northern Ireland was closed on Wednesday because of volcanic ash from Iceland. The Civil Aviation Authority has warned that the disruption could spread to northern England. (photos)
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical cyclones.
The otherwise disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have an upside: If the slick is still there this summer, the oil could help put a damper on hurricane formation in the Gulf, by putting a barrier between the atmosphere and the ocean. "The oil would have the effect of suppressing evaporation of ocean water into the air. The impact would only be in the genesis of the storm." Once wind speeds reach 40 mph, the oil's effect would be moot, as the storm's stronger winds would break apart the thin layer of oil.
A decades-long dream of hurricane researchers – some would call it a fantasy – has been to come up with ways to diminish the intensity or duration of tropical storms and hurricanes. Ideas have spread the gamut from fanciful to far-fetched, such as cooling the ocean water by dragging icebergs into hurricane formation zones, to dropping nuclear weapons in their projected path. One idea, which seems to make some sense, is to spread some sort of substance over the ocean as a preventative barrier between the ocean and atmosphere. Some have suggested vegetable oil or other similar man-made substances. For better or worse, the oil slick would serve this purpose.
The chances of a hurricane forming in the Gulf in June may not be so outrageous: most tropical storms that form in June tend to develop in the Gulf of Mexico or near the Southeast coast of the USA, as opposed to later in the season, when the formation zones shift out into the Atlantic. However, as far as the oil slick actually affecting a developing storm, "an awful lot would have to come together for that to happen." The federal government's Climate Prediction Center will issue its seasonal hurricane outlook on May 20.
Gulf storms could bring more oil ashore - If a storm passes through the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, it could spray oil on the beach and inland when it makes landfall, weather experts said. "One of the ways we could get more oil on shore is for a strong hurricane or tropical storm that would bring the oil on shore. Also, if it's a strong storm, it could bring oil inland, which could do more damage to the ecosystem."
Hurricane season begins June 1 and goes through Nov. 30. About 210,000 gallons of oil a day has been gushing from a well 5,000 feet under the Gulf. There are different theories on what happens when storms and oil mix, so it's difficult to tell until it happens. "It's kind of an open question. We don't know what would happen, but if they don't clean up the oil spill by September, then we definitely could see some hurricane and oil spill interaction."
HEAVY RAINS, SEVERE STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
CHINA - At least 23 people were killed and more than 160 injured when a tornado struck China's southwestern mega-city of Chongqing today, smashing homes and destroying crops. The tornado hit two rural counties in the giant municipality about 2am (local time). The numbers of dead and injured were still being tallied.
SPACE WEATHER -
NEW MEXICO - 5/3/10 - A lot of people thought they saw a meteor just after 5 a.m. Monday, and they were right. Video from Sandia National Laboratories and a different sky camera in El Paso shows that meteor flying across the sky over New Mexico. There were actually three meteors visible, but that one was the most prominent. It could be seen for four seconds.
TEXAS - 5/4/2010 - A skycamera in El Paso, Texas, recorded the basketball-sized meteorite that lit up the early morning sky Tuesday. (youTube video)
INDONESIA - 4/30/10 - The city’s social services agency is planning to provide support to three families in Duren Sawit district in East Jakarta, whose houses were struck by a meteorite last week at 4pm. The agency had prepared for the humanitarian assistance, but it needed confirmation from the authorized institution about the cause of the accident, which caused severe damages on the houses. “The assistance must wait for the research team’s conclusion that the accident was a natural disaster." ( Damage photo.)
The meteorite is believed to have been the size of a coconut, an outer space expert said. The National Aeronautics and Space Agency said the agency had established the object was a sporadic meteorite. The object was actually part of a space rock that had fallen apart and not the remnant of a comet. The meteorite was known to have a fragile structure and may have disintegrated on impact because the team had not found any object that was still intact at the spot where it reached the ground. The meteorite is the FIRST KNOWN TO HAVE HIT A RESIDENTIAL AREA IN THE COUNTRY. In the past, several meteorites had falled in open spaces such as in Bone, South Sulawesi and Jimbaran, Bali. The house owners were asked to report to the authorities immediately if they found any strange alien objects.