Friday, September 24, 2010

Solar Storms can Change Directions, Surprising Forecasters - Solar storms don't always travel in a straight line. But once they start heading in our direction, they can accelerate rapidly, gathering steam for a harder hit on Earth's magnetic field. "This really surprised us. Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can start out going one way - and then turn in a different direction." The result was so strange, at first they thought they'd done something wrong. After double- and triple-checking their work on dozens of eruptions, however, the team knew they were onto something. "Our 3D visualizations clearly show that solar storms can be deflected from high solar latitudes and end up hitting planets they might otherwise have missed."
One of the first things they noticed was how CMEs trying to go "up" — out of the plane of the solar system and away from the planets — are turned back down again. They had to "crack the books" and spend some time at the white board to fully understand the phenomenon. In the end, the explanation was simple: The sun's global magnetic field, which is shaped like a bar magnet, guides the wayward CMEs back toward the sun's equator. When the clouds reach low latitudes, they get caught up in the solar wind and head out toward the planets. Once a CME is embedded in the solar wind, it can experience significant acceleration. "Knowing when a CME will arrive is crucial for predicting the onset of geomagnetic storms." (diagrams)

**You’ve got a lot of choices.
If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore
and you’re not smiling on a regular basis,
try another choice.**
Steven D. Woodhull

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
9/23/10 -


Planchón-Peteroa Volcano emitted a dark gray plume of ash on September 21, continuing an eruption which began on September 6th and intensified on September 18th. Planchón-Peteroa is on the border between Chile and Argentina, and the majority of the ash is blowing southeast into Argentina. Argentine authorities warned residents in the community of Malargüe — 94 kilometers (58 miles) east — to be prepared in case the eruption strengthened further. Most of the surrounding high-altitude landscape is covered in snow. (satellite image)

-Tropical storm LISA was 1240 nmi S of Lajes, Azores.
-Tropical storm MATTHEW was 255 nmi SSW of Kingston, Jamaica

-Typhoon MALAKAS was 670 nmi S of Tokyo, Japan

A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast of Belize as Tropical Storm Matthew in the southwestern Caribbean quickly moves toward Central America. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Friday that Matthew has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). It was moving west at 17 mph (28 kph) and was about 275 miles (445 kilometers) east of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning also have been issued for parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. The governments of Nicaragua and Honduras issued the alerts for the stretch from Puerto Cabezas to Limon, Honduras, including offshore islands.

Tropical Storm Malakas has strengthened as it tracks north over the Pacific Ocean on course to brush past the east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu in two days. The forecast shows the typhoon churning toward the islands of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima before turning north- northeast, indicating it won’t make landfall on Japan’s main islands. The storm is estimated to make its closest approach about 390 kilometers (242 miles) off Hachijojima island, south of Tokyo, at around 9 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Malakas is expected to gain strength in the coming two days to maximum winds of 55 meters per second (123 miles per hour) from 40 meters per second, with a storm warning area extending about 440 kilometers. The storm’s intensity will probably weaken to an extra-tropical cyclone by 9 a.m. on Sept. 26. Malakas is the 13th storm of the northwest Pacific season.

Submarines - 'Use them to bust typhoons'. A Japanese engineering firm says it believes a fleet of 20 underwater submarines could draw the sting from a typhoon at sea by cooling the temperature of the ocean directly beneath it. The thousands affected across Asia by Typhoon Fanapi this week will likely have mixed reactions when they hear of the off-the-wall scheme designed to prevent further disasters by sucking the power from devastating storms before they can make landfall. Although the plan comes too late for Fanapi’s victims, if activated could change the way future typhoons are approached if there’s any merit at all in its somewhat James Bond approach to storm-busting.
It would do so by pumping cold water from 30 meters below the surface to sea level and depriving the storm of the water temperature needed to drive it onward, potentially towards land. The company says, rather specifically, that its fleet could cool 57,600 square meters of ocean by three degrees, thereby effectively downgrading any typhoon and making it a lot less threatening. While the underwater storm defense mechanism is still on the drawing board, the hydraulic pipe specialist is actively looking for help in developing a seagoing prototype.


A massive low-pressure system pelted southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin with torrential rainfall Thursday as high winds pummeled Lake Superior and the Twin Ports. Parts of southern Minnesota received more than 10 inches of rain, with flooding, road closures and evacuations reported. Flood watches were dropped for northern Minnesota as the big storm skirted farther south than some forecasters had expected. Meanwhile, strong winds pelted Lake Superior, with steady 30-knot winds and 10-12 foot waves. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated its emergency operations center Thursday afternoon in response to widespread flooding in southern Minnesota. Nearly 10 inches of rain had fallen in Martin and Faribault counties by noon Thursday with more rain in the forecast. Dodge, Waseca and Rice Counties have asked the state for 75,000 sandbags.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported multiple road closures in the Mankato and Rochester districts Thursday afternoon, including U.S. Highway 52, the main route from the Twin Cities to Rochester. In Windom, early Thursday, a basement collapsed from the flooding and severed a gas line, prompting the evacuation of about 30 families. “We are having considerable water issues, that is for sure." The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety reported that 300 natural gas meters in the city of Truman were shut off because of heavy flooding in the area. Approximately 80 homes in the city of Owatonna were reported underwater Thursday, and had natural gas and electricity shut off. In Zumbrota, about 25 miles south of Red Wing, high school students loaded sandbags Thursday morning to protect businesses and homes from the rising Zumbro River, which had reached major flood stage.The Zumbro River is a Mississippi River tributary. To the south, on another branch of the Zumbro, flooding had effectively closed the city of Pine Island. Nonresidents found in the city will be subject to arrest.
In Wisconsin, a state of emergency was declared and the National Guard ordered to Trempealeau County. Heavy rains there sparked mandatory evacuations for as many as 1,500 residents of Arcadia, a town of about 2,400 people 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis.
Hundreds of Minnesotans were besieged by water after a FREAKISH early autumn rain knocked residents out of homes, closed schools and businesses, flooded countless rural roads and overwhelmed municipal sewer systems from Truman in southwestern Minnesota to Zumbro Falls, 150 miles to the northeast.
Weather officials noted that the Minneapolis - St. Paul metro area will share in the impact next week, when stormwater flowing down the Minnesota River should reach the Twin Cities. It appears "very likely" that river crossings along the Minnesota from Jordan to Savage could be closed. Some bridges could be closed as soon as Saturday. River monitors on Thursday were projecting that the Minnesota would rise 15 feet by Tuesday, to a point close to its fifth-highest level on record. "The south metro is going to be a problem. This is EXTRAORDINARILY UNUSUAL for this time of year."
(photos & video)
BEFORE Thursday's rain storms, there was already a wet and worrisome flood outlook for Minnesota. Heavy rains this summer echo the last two years, when wet autumns set up serious spring flooding. Fall began Wednesday, bringing with it a wet and worrisome outlook for spring. Saturated ground and high rivers in the fall have set up serious spring flooding for the past two years, and this season isn't looking any different. "This'll be the third year in a row like this. It doesn't make any sense."
"What it's all going to do in the spring ... it's not very good." The Otter Tail River, which meets the Bois de Sioux at Breckenridge to form the Red River of the North, was carrying EIGHT TIMES its expected flow for the date on Monday. Across Minnesota, summer rain seemed to reach a crescendo in September, when it's usually slacking off. 10 inches had fallen at Swan Lake Resort so far this month. Even the fish seem confused; the resort owners can no longer tell people where on the lake they're biting. Areas just north of there have received nearly twice the normal rainfall since April 1, and some parts of western and southwestern Minnesota are approaching triple their normal rainfall for the past 30 days. Across Otter Tail County, high water has forced restrictions on a handful of county roads and some construction projects have been abandoned. At Redwood Falls, the Redwood River was within inches of flood stage Monday, not a serious situation but UNUSUAL at the beginning of autumn. At Fargo, N.D., the Red River's median historic flow for Sept. 20 is 200 cubic feet per second; Monday it was 2,740. The Minnesota River at Jordan and the Mississippi at Anoka were also both swollen several times beyond their normal size for this time of year.
Because farm crops have stopped using rainwater by now, precipitation this time of year either runs off into rivers or stays in the soil, where it freezes until spring. That means the spring snowmelt can't seep into the ground, but runs into streams and rivers. That's precisely what occurred in spring of 2009, when the Red at Fargo reached its record height. Also, below-normal temperatures so far in September across the state have slowed down the rate at which water might also evaporate.
Short-term, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is painting a mixed precipitation picture for Minnesota for October: above-normal precipitation in the northwest, but below-normal in the southeast.

Surprise torrential downpours drenched Seoul, Korea on Tuesday with THE HIGHEST AMOUNT OF RAINFALL THE CAPITAL HAD SEEN SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1908. The Gangseo region in southwestern Seoul and Gangnam area in the southern part saw 293 mm of rainfall, while 18 out of 25 districts received more than 200 mm of rain. Seven districts in the city, including Dobong and Nowon, received a lower amount but were still pelted with between 95.5 mm to 194 mm of rain.
But the Korea Meteorological Administration failed to predict the extreme weather, forecasting between 20 mm and 60 mm of rain until 11 a.m. on Tuesday only two to three hours before the skies opened. Not until 2 p.m. when the Gangseo district had already seen 100 mm of rain per hour and Jongno was being drenched with 70 mm of rain that the KMA issued a weather advisory forecasting more than 200 mm precipitation. The main reason was a clash between two different air masses near Seoul. "A cold and dry high pressure front from Mongolia and other northern regions and a warm and moist high pressure front from the northern Pacific formed a narrow band centering on Seoul. As a result, a huge rain cloud formed in Seoul and neighboring regions." The culprit was typhoon Malakas. Typically during this time of the year, the north Pacific high pressure front is pushed south by a cold high pressure front from the north, but the typhoon, which was located near the equator, prevented the north Pacific high pressure front from traveling south and caused it to clash with a high pressure front from the north, resulting in the heavy rains.
The downpours overloaded Seoul's drainage systems. The Gwanghwamun intersection in central Seoul was flooded, as were thousands of homes at lower elevations. "The main drainage pipes and pump stations in Seoul are designed to handle 75 mm of rain an hour, which happens once every 10 years, and were therefore unable to handle the record amount of rainfall in the metropolitan area." Experts say Seoul officials must take another look at the city's drainage systems since heavy rains have become frequent due to the effects of climate change.
11,919 people were left homeless.
This summer was ONE OF THE WETTEST EVER in Korea, with Seoul seeing the most frequent rain in its history and the third highest amount of precipitation in its history. "Seoul had 32 days with over 0.1 mm of rain from the beginning of August to the second week of September, the most since such data began to be compiled in 1908." Seoul wasn't the only wet region this summer. The nation had 44.2 days of rain from June through August, 7.4 days more than the average of 36.8. August alone had 18.7 days of rain, the most since 1973, for a total of 374.5 mm of precipitation, more than the 304.2 mm recorded in the rainy season which lasted for about four weeks from late June this year. The UNUSUAL amount of rain was due to low atmospheric pressures and typhoons in August.
Meanwhile, Korea saw an average 464.4 hours of daily sunlight this summer, a mere 87 percent of the average of 533.8 hours. For the first eight months of this year, the nation recorded an average of 1,290.4 hours of daily sunlight, the third lowest after 1,195.8 in 2003 and 1,263.1 in 1998.


MINNESOTA - Monday's 80-degree high temperature in the Twin Cities was a brief step into the FREAK section of the weather records.
• The HIGH temperature for the day occurred at 11:37 p.m. - just before midnight - culminating a rapid evening warmup on the next-to-last day of summer. It was 27 degrees warmer than the low for the day, recorded at 10 a.m.
• It was the first 80-degree reading in the entire month of September. It may turn out to be the only one.
• It was the third-latest 80+ temperature on record.
• The warmup fell off quickly. By 3 a.m. the temperature had dropped 13 degrees to 67 as heavy thunderstorms moved across the metro area.

The surfaces of the oceans went through a short period of rapid temperature change 40 years ago, scientists have found - but the cause is known. Top layers of Northern Hemisphere water cooled by about 0.3C; the south saw roughly the same degree of warming. Air pollution cannot be responsible for the changes, as has been suggested for mid-century cooling.
Researchers do not suggest a cause. It is not clear what could link all the oceans.
However, events called Great Salinity Anomalies have been recorded in the last few decades in the North Atlantic Ocean - including one around 1970. The 1970s global temperature record shows a period where the Earth's surface cooled in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere saw warming. It has been suggested that this difference could be accounted for by greater production of aerosols - tiny dust and soot particles - in the north, where the vast majority of the world's industry is found. But the suddenness of the changes seen in the new research suggests that the explanation could lie elsewhere, as aerosols would be expected to take effect more gradually. "We can't rule them out - they could be of absolutely fundamental importance - the point is the abruptness in the observed difference time series is hard to reconcile with what you'd expect aerosol loadings to do."
The causes of the Great Salinity Anomalies (GSAs) are not clear; and they may not all have the same cause, or progress in the same pattern. In the 1970s event, fresh water appears to have entered the North Atlantic and lowered the salinity of water in the region. In large enough quantities, this freshening can slow the Atlantic portion of the global pattern of currents known as the thermohaline circulation - in popular parlance, "turning off the Gulf Stream", as in the movie The Day After Tomorrow. The temperature shifts found may have been fairly fast, taking place over just five years, but they were glacial compared to the speed of Hollywood imagination, which had New York ice-bound within a day. If the 1970s GSA were the root cause of these rapid changes, there has to be another step in the chain that explains how the effects penetrated to other oceans, because the northern Pacfiic also cooled. In addition, later GSAs do not appear to have co-incided with global changes in ocean heat distribution.
"It's certainly not the first time that people have noticed decadal variability in the sea surface temperatures, but I think the abruptness of the changes has been under-appreciated. That's because there's often smoothing done on the data; you may draw out the signal of decadal variability that way, but by smoothing you lose information about more rapid, short-term changes." One of the scientists who first identified a major ocean temperature cycle on decadal scales - the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation - remains uncovinced about the value of the new research. "You have a slight cooling in one hemisphere and a slight warming in the other, and you subtract one from the other and find something - but are we going to do this for every bump and jump on the datasets? I'm not sure it tells us a lot."