Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strange underground rumblings in Guatemala - Emergency authorities said Wednesday they are on watch for sinkholes and other possible problems in Guatemala, where heavy rain has already caused two rivers to overflow and a tropical storm led to the deaths of more than 150 people in May. Tropical Storm Agatha and heavy rain that followed it caused a dramatic sinkhole in Guatemala City, and officials say they are concerned that others may develop because of the current downpours. An emergency official said his office has received numerous calls from nervous residents who say they have heard strange underground rumblings. The concerns are being investigated.
Forecasters are predicting rain for the next 48 hours, with heavy showers in the afternoons and evenings. And officials are keeping an eye on two nearby disturbances in the Pacific Ocean that could develop into tropical storms.

**I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I
am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/16/10 -


PHILIPPINES - The Philippine Coast Guard has deployed three “special operations” teams to Taal Lake in Batangas to conduct maritime patrols and assist in the evacuation of volcano island residents. The teams, composed of divers and other maritime search-and-rescue specialists, will reinforce personnel of Coast Guard detachments in the lakeside towns of Talisay and San Nicolas. Yesterday morning, Coast Guard personnel joined the Talisay Mayor in conducting an “information drive,” urging volcano island residents to evacuate to the mainland. They also advised both foreign and local tourists not to take short trips to Pulo, or volcano island to view the crater. Phivolcs has raised the alert level in the Taal Lake area to 2 as it also warned that Taal, the volcano closest to Metro Manila, was acting up. Alert level 2 means magma was rising “which could eventually lead to a volcanic eruption.” The other signs that an eruption was imminent was if islands around the volcano rose and water levels on the shore became lower. During the past two weeks, an undisclosed number of high frequency-type volcanic earthquakes has been detected in the lake area. But majority of Pulo’s 6,000-plus residents have refused to leave their homes unless forced by government authorities. There are six villages in the island - Tabla, San Isidro and Balantoc in Talisay; Alas-as and Pulang Bato in San Nicolas; and Calawit in Balete, another lakeside municipality.
The volcano, which has a total of 47 craters, has been on alert level 1 since Nov. 23, 2005. Taal has erupted 33 times in the past. Its last eruption was on Oct. 3, 1977, but its most violent was on Sept. 28-30, 1965.

Tropical depression 02E was 216 nmi ESE of Acapulco, Mexico.

A tropical depression has formed in the Pacific off Mexico's southwestern coast and a tropical storm warning was issued for the area. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the tropical storm warning is for the coast of Mexico from Punta Maldonado to Acapulco. A tropical storm watch was in effect for west of Acapulco to Zihuatanejo. The depression has maximum sustained winds near 30 mph (45 kph). Forecasters say some gradual strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours and the depression could become a tropical storm by Thursday. The depression is centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south-southeast of Puerto Angel.

The possibility that System 92L in the Atlantic Ocean will bloom into the Atlantic's first tropical storm is now minimal because of strong westerly winds. On average, the first tropical storm of the season forms on July 9th. The first hurricane forms on average on August 10th.


CHINA - At least 42 people have died and 36 are missing after torrential downpours in southern China triggered heavy floods, and authorities warned of more rain to come. More than 100,000 residents were evacuated from their homes due to the floods, which damaged 7000 houses and caused economic losses of 830 million yuan ($US120 million). The provinces of Fujian and Sichuan, in China's southeast and southwest respectively, as well as the southern region of Guangxi were the hardest hit. Torrential rains that started battering parts of southern China on Monday were expected to continue for the next three days. Local authorities were warned to prepare for more flooding and disasters such as landslides. On Tuesday, 23 people were killed when part of a mountain made loose by heavy rain cascaded onto a construction site in Sichuan, slamming into tents where workers were sleeping. It was not clear whether they were included in the reported flood death toll.

- At least 42 people have now been killed by landslides and flash floods in southeastern Bangladesh and dozens more are missing. Most of the southeast experienced heavy rainfall with 24.2 centimetres (9.5 inches) falling in many areas in 24 hours. In the worst affected area of Teknaf - which is on the border with Myanmar and home to hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya refugees - at least 25 people were killed and six missing. "All the roads are under water. We can't reach areas where thousands of people are trapped by the floods." Around 15,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps - both legal and illegal - around Teknaf have been affected by the floods. "Hundreds of bamboo shacks have been washed away by the rains." Conditions are dire in the unofficial camps where people have been without food for two days since the heavy rain began. "Flash floods are the worst thing that could have happened to us. People are living under the sky and we haven't had food for two days as we can't cook in the rain with no shelter."
Further down the coast, at least 13 people - including six soldiers - have died in the southern resort area of Cox's Bazaar. An army barracks at the foot of a hill was destroyed by a landslide, with all the soldiers on duty and at least 20 army vehicles buried in the mud. The rescue effort was progressing slowly as the landslides had blocked key roads across the Cox's Bazaar and Bandarban districts. Weather officials have forecast further rains due to a major depression in the Bay of Bengal.

MYANMAR - Floods and landslides have killed at least 46 people in northwest Myanmar and rescue workers are evacuating residents affected by the incessant rains. The deaths occurred Tuesday in northern Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh, which had been battered by heavy rain for two days. Local authorities were continuing to aid victims and trying to open a key road damaged by the torrents. Bridges also were washed out in the region. 28 people were killed when houses built on mountains collapsed due to landslides in Buthidaung, 360 miles (576 kilometers) northwest of Yangon and 18 others died in Maundaw, south of Buthidaung. Flooding is common during the monsoon season that typically starts in late May. Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May 2008, leaving more than 140,000 people dead or missing.


Potentially Damaging 2011 Meteor Shower - NASA is assessing the risk to spacecraft posed by the upcoming 2011 Draconid meteor shower, a seven-hour storm of tiny space rocks that has the potential to ding major Earth-orbiting spacecraft like the crewed International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope. There has been some variation in the projected intensity levels of the 2011 Draconids by meteoroid forecasters. But spacecraft operators are already being notified to weigh defensive steps. Current meteor forecast models project a strong Draconid outburst, possibly a full-blown storm, on Oct. 8, 2011.
The Draconids do present some risk to spacecraft. They could potentially become the next significant event in low-Earth orbit as far as meteoroids are concerned. The yearly Draconids are not known for their bright meteor displays. A Marshall Space Flight Center Meteoroid Stream Model based on radar and optical observations of past Draconid showers suggests that the maximum rate will be several hundreds per hour. A significant fraction of spacecraft anomalies produced by shower meteoroids are caused by electrostatic discharges when meteoroid meets satellite. And while no spacecraft electrical problems were reported during the strong Draconid outbursts of 1985 and 1998, the lack of past anomalies should not be taken as carte blanche for satellite operators to ignore in 2011. The chance of electrical anomalies is low, however, due to the Draconids slow speed.
The International Space Station is heavily armored against orbital debris. That being the case, "we don't expect anything to go wrong there...Even if the Draconids were a full-scale meteor storm I would be confident that the space station program would take the right steps to mitigate the risk." For the Hubble Space Telescope, if its operators deem the risk high enough, they will point the observatory away from the Draconid radiant – the point from which the shower appears to emanate. "Any time you take a mitigation strategy, like changing a spacecraft's attitude or turning off high-voltage, that incurs risk as well." The spacecraft threat from meteor showers in the past – particularly the 1998 Leonids – produced more hype than hypervelocity impacts. "We're like the weather reporters...our forecast changes...and the general trend is always downward." Still, caution is the watchword. "Because we can now forecast them, we have a way of putting it. If you are hit by a sporadic [meteor], it's an act of God. If you are hit by a shower meteoroid, it's an act of negligence."

BALL OF FIRE? - A Canadian meteorite expert says a strange ball of fire that landed in a P.E.I. farmer's field last Saturday was not from a meteor. A man said he was sitting on his front yard when he saw a ball of fire land in his field. He said it was about the size of a football. On Tuesday, after examining the site northeast of Summerside, the expert said he was disappointed but not surprised to discover that a meteorite was not the cause of the fire. "We had a slight hope, I gave the estimate as one chance in a thousand there was a meteorite." Fire officials recovered a handful of what looked like ash. A meteorite looks like a rock, with metallic bits in it. The substance found by firefighters was too flaky to be a meteorite. "Most meteorites would not break up into totally just flakes of stuff, which is what that looked like." The last meteorite recovered in Atlantic Canada was found in 1959.
P.E.I.'s fire marshal,said he's not sure what fell from the sky in Grahams Road. He said it may have been a flare or a firecracker, but no one in the area saw anything that would match that type of activity. "If it were going to lead somewhere, to us having to come up with a definitive answer, we're just going to have to accept the fact that we had an incident here and we can't explain it away." The investigation is over and the origin of the ball of fire will remain a mystery.