Thursday, June 3, 2010

In a mist the heights can for the most part see each other;
but the valleys cannot.
Julius Charles Hare

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/2/10 -


ECUADOR - Volcanic activity in the Tungurahua Volcano, located around 130 kilometres away from Quito, intensified Wednesday, with explosions and other sounds that scared locals. Hundreds of people sought to escape the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano Wednesday, just days after the evacuation of around 2,500 locals. Residents further sought to move some 420 head of cattle away from the volcano, because pastures have become covered with ash. The Tungarahua's eruptive process started in 1999, although the level of alert has varied since then. Four years ago, a strong eruption caused damage to roads and agriculture.

VANUATU - Authorities in Vanuatu say ash from a volcano that erupted earlier this week is an increasing health threat to islanders and to water supplies. The cloud from Mount Yasur has billowed some two kilometres high and has affected flights in neighbouring New Caledonia. Some local people who live near the base of the volcao, have reported mild illness. Water in some parts is contaminated. Seismologists are continuing to monitor the safety situation and at this stage there's been no direction to evacuate people en masse, but tourists have been banned because of falling lava and burning rock.

ALASKA - Cleveland volcano in the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska is showing signs of unrest. The Alaska Volcano Observatory says there was a small ash emission from Cleveland Volcano on Sunday evening and satellite images received Monday indicated flows coming from the volcano's upper flanks. The volcano 939 miles from Anchorage is on an uninhabited island. Scientist say it will continue to be closely monitored for new signs of unrest. Short-lived explosions with ash clouds or plumes exceeding 20,000 feet above sea level are frequent on Cleveland, which last showed signs of unrest in the fall.

Cyclone PHET was 563 nmi SW of Karachi, Pakistan.

Tropical cyclone Phet barreled toward the coast of the Gulf Arab state of Oman on Wednesday, strengthening quickly on its way to becoming a powerful category five storm. Phet was not expected to make landfall in Oman, but should instead turn to skim parallel to the Sultanate's shore before roaring northeast toward Pakistan. Phet was a Category 3 storm on Wednesday [now 4], with sustained winds of over 130 mph. It was expected to become a Category 5 storm, the most powerful with winds of over 156 mph, in the next 24 hours. Phet would lash Oman's eastern region shores with hurricane-strength winds through Friday before moving northeast. It was expected to weaken before coming ashore just south of Karachi as a Category 3 storm on Sunday.
Phet - Authorities in Pakistan and India were taking precautionary measures Wednesday as the tropical cyclone over the Arabian Sea threatened to make landfall within a day. "It could intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm and move slowly in north-westerly directions in the next 24 hours, and then recurve north-eastwards towards Gujarat and the adjoining Pakistani coast." The storm was centred about 1,000 kilometres from Gujarat state on India's north-western coast, and was expected to bring heavy rainfall to coastal areas beginning today. Fishermen were warned not to venture into the sea. Boats were ready to evacuate residents of a harbour island and along the coast, while schools would be converted into disaster centres. More than 350 people died in July 2008 when tropical storm Yemyin roared ashore in Pakistan's southern province of Balochistan with winds of about 130 kilometres per hour and heavy rains, causing floods which inundated hundreds villages.

The tropical storm that battered Central America over the weekend drove the price of coffee higher Tuesday. Guatemala and El Salvador were hit hard by a tropical storm in recent days, which could damage production or delivery of coffee. "A lot of traders are looking at the possibility of fungus or disease affecting the crop." However, it's still not clear that production will be affected.


AUSTRALIA - Houses have been destroyed, up to 2000 homes are without power and two injured people have been taken to hospital after a powerful storm tore through Lennox Head on the NSW north coast. A waterspout hit the township about 7.30am, causing widespread damage and chaos. 12 homes have been demolished by wind and hail. Another storm front is approaching the area, potentially causing major problems for those whose homes have already been damaged. "Weather in the area is still very severe with offshore water spouts threatening to come on shore. We are expecting flooding to develop soon and may last for several days." The Pacific Highway is cut between Ballina and Byron Bay by flooding.
The freak storm is likely to be just the first of many today. More waterspouts and violent thunderstorms are likely to leave a trail of destruction throughout the day as the deep-low pressure trough which caused the Lennox Head twister moves south. A mini-tornado swept down the main street of Lennox Head. "It went towards the pub, hit the pub and the roof's come off the pub and then proceeded into the street behind the pub and it's really just destroyed that street to pieces. All the telegraph poles are down, houses are just, you know, destroyed really. It's gone onto the caravan park at the end of that street and ripped the caravan park to shreds."

HUNGARY - Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes across Hungary amid widespread flooding for the second time in a fortnight, emergency services said on Wednesday. Although heavy rainfall abated overnight, much of north-east Hungary remains on high alert, with several rivers still expected to rise to record levels. By morning, 17 villages in the north-eastern Borsod County had been cut off after roads were submerged, and the Hungary-Slovakia border crossing at Satoraljaujhely was closed to traffic. Some 2000 people had to be evacuated on Tuesday from their homes in Paszto, 70 kilometres north-east of the capital Budapest, as a reservoir threatened to overflow. This situation comes just a fortnight after floods in Hungary's WETTEST MAY ON RECORD saw many homes destroyed and left at least two people dead.
A smaller number of evacuations were reported Wednesday in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Croatia. Seven hundred Roma were forced to leave their settlements in Slovakia's north-east, while 15 were being evacuated from their homes in southern Slovakia Wednesday. In the Czech Republic, dozens of people were evacuated in parts of the country's north-east. The body of a man was found in a flooded part of the south-eastern city of Zlin, but the circumstances of his death were still being determined. In Croatia, hundreds of people were evacuated in eastern parts of the country because of flooding due to rising river levels.


BP boss admits that the oil giant had not been prepared for a deep-water leak, as its latest bid to contain the Gulf of Mexico spill hit a snag. "What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool-kit." Although he said BP had been "very successful" in keeping oil away from the coast, he accepted it was "an entirely fair criticism" to say the firm had not been fully prepared for a deep-water oil leak. "After the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, the industry created the Marine Spill Response Corporation to contain oil on the surface...The issue will be to create the same sub-sea response capability." The oil spill, caused by an April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers, is closing in on the Florida coast. BP's latest effort to contain the spill, now the worst in US history, involved using a saw to cut through the fractured riser pipe, but this became stuck.
The magnitude of the environmental and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico will take 20 years to calculate -- and the oil spill has yet to be stopped. BP has given up trying to plug the gushing well altogether and is attempting to cap the leak, then siphon off most, but not all, of the crude spewing out 5,000 feet below sea level. Then there is nothing more to do but wait until a new well to divert the oil is completed in August. Meantime, oil was sighted 9.5 miles off Florida's Panhandle near Pensacola on Wednesday. The slick was predicted to reach land by this weekend.


H1N1 in skunks suggests wildlife transmission - In perhaps the first documented pandemic H1N1 infection in wild animals, researchers from British Columbia confirmed the virus in two skunks found dead at a mink farm. Some minks had respiratory symptoms, but no testing was done. Farm workers did not report flu-like illness but could have had asymptomatic infections. Researchers said skunks could play a role in interspecies transmission and should be included in wildlife flu surveillance.

Bumper Kenya maize harvest contaminated by toxins - There is growing alarm among Kenyan farmers about a government announcement that 2.3m bags of maize were unfit for human consumption. Health experts say the maize contained high levels of lethal aflatoxins, which have killed at least one child. The government has pledged to buy and destroy the contaminated maize. The crop was harvested in the drought-and famine-prone Eastern Province and went bad because farmers lacked the appropriate storage facilities. The east of Kenya is regularly hit by drought and food shortages. But heavy rains last year prompted a bumper harvest. Farmers were not expecting so much maize and did not know how to store it properly. Maize can be hit by a toxic fungus if it is not stored properly. There have reportedly been more cases of maize-related food poisoning, and farmers are still not sure what is safe to eat. The government was offering to buy the maize for much less than it was worth.