Sunday, August 1, 2010

Have to take a couple of days off for a family reunion - no update Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

**There will come a time when you believe that everything is finished.
That will be the beginning.**
Louis L'Amour

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
7/31/10 -

7/30/10 -

IRAN - A magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit southern Iran on Saturday morning, a day after another moderate quake in the country's northeast left 170 people injured. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from Saturday's earthquake that struck about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Kerman. Friday's magnitude 5.6 earthquake rocked the northern agricultural city of Torbat-e Heydarieh for about 10 seconds. Three villages in the city and 10 others nearby were damaged, and 170 people were injured.
There was concern Saturday because the Torbat-e Heydarieh quake has produced no aftershocks. Tthe head of the Red Crescent Society's Rescue Division said that could mean a larger earthquake is imminent. Iran lies on a series of seismic fault lines and experiences earthquakes almost daily. At times they have devasting consequences, most notably in December 2003, when a 6.6-magnitude quake devastated the ancient city of Bam in southeast Iran and killed at least 30,000 people. Last year, an earthquake struck Hormozgan province in southern Iran, injuring about 700 people in the port city of Bandar Abbas. In 2008, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck in Hormozgan, demolishing nearly 200 villages and killing at least six people. (map)

New theory may finally unravel the mystery of why the New Madrid fault - lying in the middle of the North American continent and not along a tectonic plate boundary - produces large earthquakes like the ones that shook the eastern US in 1811 and 1812. The theory suggests that the energy necessary to produce the magnitude 7-7.5 earthquakes came from stored stress built up in the Earth's crust long ago. Rapid erosion from the Mississippi River at the end of the last ice age reduced forces that had kept the New Madrid fault from slipping and triggered the temblors. The theory is the first to explain how a fault could have had large earthquakes in the recent past but today show no signs of accumulating the forces needed to produce another earthquake.
Movements of the Earth's surface that represent a buildup of energy have traditionally been used to evaluate the potential for an earthquake. As the data was collected, it became evident that such motion was not occurring along the New Madrid fault. With no discernable motions at the surface to explain how the requisite crustal stresses could have built up in this area, these stresses must be left over from past tectonic processes that are no longer active. "The only way to reconcile the fact that this part of the continent is not deforming but is producing earthquakes is for the stresses to have built up long ago. Old geologic processes, such as the opening of the Atlantic and the uplift of the Rocky Mountains, may have squeezed the Midwest. The resulting stress remained stored for millions of years until uplift associated with the Mississippi erosion event led to the unclamping of old faults lying beneath." If this area of the North American continent is preloaded with the stress that can lead to earthquakes, it will be difficult to assess earthquake risk in the region. The fault segments that ruptured are unlikely to have future earthquakes as there is no current means to reload them, but there remains a risk that other faults in the region could experience large earthquakes in the future. "Unfortunately, this stored stress is invisible to us, and the usual methods of measuring strain and deformation to evaluate a spot's potential for an earthquake may not apply to this region. Under these conditions, once an earthquake occurs on a given fault, it's done; but this also means that other faults in the region that appear quiet today may still be triggered." More data needs to be collected to see whether this mechanism applies to similar seismic zones in the world.


The highest mountain in Europe, volcano Elbrus can erupt in the 21st century, Russian scientists from Moscow State University say, but not before 2060. Scientists found a colony of true mosses at Elbrus’s summit which is 5621 meters above sea level. The temperature at this place was +21 degrees Centigrade, while the air was about –20 degrees and even colder. Such an anomaly signals active volcanic processes taking place inside the dormant volcano. Researchers also mention other signs of postvolcanic activity of the mountain: emission of fumarolic gases and lots of thermal springs. However, scientists believe that the eruption of mount Elbrus won’t happen soon, because the dormant volcano doesn’t show signs of immediate eruption. The mountain will “sleep” for several tens of years, researchers say.

No current tropical cyclones.

A tropical wave is being tracked in the open Atlantic, some 750 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, or about 2300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Thunderstorm activity has waned with this system, though it will be monitored for signs of development since another potent wave that has emerged off the coast of Africa could begin to interact with it. Merging or organization of separate tropical systems is common, especially in the formative stages. A consolidation of the energy and moisture of these two systems will support slow development as early as the beginning of next week. Most computer model guidance indicate a west-northwestward movement over the weekend and into next week. As the system, or systems, gain latitude with time, the ability to develop into a tropical cyclone will increase. Right now, the activity is at too far south a latitude for significant development. As well, other thunderstorms in the Intertropical Convergence Zone are competing for energy.
Next week, they'll probably be at least one tropical cyclone on the map, and as it stands right now, the feature in the eastern Atlantic has the best chance to become a depression with time. There is another wave in the central Caribbean off the northern coast of South America, though conditions are not looking favorable for development there.
As we move into the month of August, wind conditions that have been generally hostile to development are expected to become more favorable. In addition, dry air that has infiltrated the Atlantic is expected to abate. Several reliable long-range computer models indicate an overall lowering of surface atmospheric pressures in the Caribbean, Gulf and western Atlantic through the first two weeks of August. This does not guarantee tropical development, but does tell us that the computer models are "sniffing out" the more favorable environment to come.


PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN - One million people remain affected by monsoon flooding in north-west Pakistan, as fears grow that flooding could spread south. Some 800 people are believed to have died in THE WORST MONSOON FLOODS IN LIVING MEMORY. Officials say 19,000 people in the worst-hit areas have been rescued by 30,000 troops. But there are now concerns that if forecast heavy rain arrives it will push the flood south to Sindh province. Currently Peshawar, the largest city in the north-western region, with a 3m-strong population, is cut off. Officials estimate that water levels in the southern province of Sindh could reach "exceptionally high flood" in four or five days as water draining down from the north-west is compounded by more rain. A new system of monsoon weather was due from Sunday. A "major deluge" would pass through Sukkur, in Sindh, from Tuesday to Thursday, it was reported. As well as hundreds of deaths in Pakistan, at least 60 people have died across the border in Afghanistan, where floods affected four provinces.
What was once the traditional trunk highway running south is now a massive lake. It's clogged up with traders and families who've been stranded on the road for days. They are trying, hoping against hope, that they can still move south, but a lot of them are turning back. The road simply isn't passable. So many Pakistanis here say they haven't had any help from the government or relief agencies. The Pakistani army and rescue services say they're trying to reach people, but the scale of this disaster is such they simple don't have the resources.
The districts of Swat and Shangla have been inaccessible with people left homeless and helpless after several rivers burst their banks, washing away villages, roads and bridges. Some 45 bridges were washed away in Swat alone.
At least half a million people remain marooned on islands of high ground, while others have taken refuge in mosques and schools. 312mm (12in) of rain had fallen over 36 hours in the north-west - the LARGEST AMOUNT FOR DECADES. Swathes of farmland have been inundated, and some power supplies have been cut after people were electrocuted by the water-borne current. Many of those hit hardest by the flooding are the rural poor who live in flood-prone areas because they cannot afford safer land.
In Afghanistan, the national army said it had rescued 5,000 people over the past three days, using helicopters, vehicles and bulldozers. The provinces of Laghman, Nangarhar, Kunar and Logar have all been hit by the bad weather. There were plans to deliver food and medicine on Monday but the mountainous terrain was hindering the effort. "We lost all of our food... our bridges have been destroyed. We want the government to come and help. What will people eat for the rest of the year? Where is the government? When are they going to help us?" (photos)

SOUTH DAKOTA - A hailstone that fell in central South Dakota has SET U.S. RECORDS, even though it likely shrunk after plummeting to a field. The stone found by a ranch hand near the town of Vivian the night of July 23 measured 8 inches in diameter and weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces. The previous record for diameter was 7 inches for a hailstone found in Aurora, Neb., in 2003. The previous record for weight was 1.67 pounds for a stone in Coffeyville, Kan., in 1970. The Aurora hailstone still holds the record for circumference, at 18.75 inches. The Vivian hailstone measured 18.62 inches.
NOAA's National Climate Extremes Committee weighed and measured the South Dakota stone. The finder said earlier that the ice chunk lost about 3 inches because he was without electricity for several hours after the storm and could not keep it cold. "I'm just glad nobody got hurt and hope the town will recover soon." (photo)


RUSSIA - Almost 240,000 people have been mobilised across Russia to tackle wildfires that have killed at least 30 people. But with temperatures forecast to hit 40C (104F) in some areas, the ministry has warned more fires are likely. Several villages and swathes of forest have been destroyed, but officials say they are now on top of the situation. Firefighters are currently battling blazes in 14 of Russia's 83 regions, and many thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes. Russia has extinguished 387 of 787 new wildfires over the past 24 hours. Internet users across the country had been complaining bitterly on forums that the firefighting effort had concentrated on Moscow at the expense of other regions. It is estimated that a fifth of Russia's wheat crop has now died due to the lack of rain in what is thought to be the country's worst drought for more than a century. Temperatures reached a record 39C (102F) in the capital on Thursday, with health experts warning of pollution levels 10 times higher than normal safety limits due to the thick pall of smoke from nearby wildfires. Hundreds of people have drowned over the past two months in an attempt to cool off in the record heat, with 170 such deaths recorded in Moscow alone.

CALIFORNIA - A wildfire that scorched almost 14,000 acres in Northern Los Angeles County continued to threaten thousands of homes Saturday, although fire officials said they appeared to be gaining the upper hand in the days-long battle. The Crown fire, which has raced across the western Palmdale and Leona Valley areas, was estimated to be 82% contained Saturday afternoon, after destroying four dwellings and five outbuildings. However, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said that the situation remained "very fluid" and that weather conditions would impact the battle enormously. Scorching temperatures, steep terrain dotted with hotspots and the prospect of high winds were expected to remain challenges, they said. "When you get a fire this size that produces an enormous amount of heat, you can't anticipate what might happen." Mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted, but about 2300 residences, 60 commercial buildings and more than 100 outbuildings were still considered to be threatened by wildfires on Saturday.


Loch Ness Monster spotted off British coast - Cynics may dismiss it as just a piece of driftwood or a trick of the light. But a photograph showing what appears to be a long-necked sea creature has got marine experts scratching their heads. The 'animal' was snapped stalking a shoal of fish just 30 yards off the British coast. The fish were apparently so terrified they beached themselves just seconds later.
The creature was spotted off the Devon coast at Saltern Cove, Paignton, by locals who reported a sighting of what they thought was a turtle. But pictures taken by one of the baffled witnesses on July 27 reveal the neck of the greenish-brown beast with the reptile-like head is far too long for it to be a turtle. 'She spotted it following a shoal of fish which beached themselves in Saltern Cove. The creature remained in the sea, then went out again and followed the shoal - this indicates it's not a turtle as they only eat jellyfish. We would love to know if other people have seen anything like this in the same area and can help clear up the mystery." (photos)