Sunday, September 26, 2010

'Take me to your leader' - The United Nations is set today to appoint a Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth's first contact for any aliens that may come visiting. The head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference. She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

**See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.**
Pope John XXIII

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/25/10 -
9/24/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Cantabrians remain on edge with tremors continuing to rattle the city. A 3.5 aftershock was felt just after midday Saturday, which followed two earlier tremors just after 10am, one registering at 3.5 and the other 3.9. A recent period of relatively little quake activity had given some a false sense of security and the latest jolts came as a shock. The latest aftershocks follow four shakes in a period of 40 minutes Friday night, recorded at magnitudes of between 3.2 and 4.1.The aftershock sequence is continuing but the frequency will drop off in time. Around 290 aftershocks of more than 3.5 have been recorded since the big one three weeks ago.


Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, is showing signs that it is likely going to erupt sometime soon. The volcano has already had an eruptive episode at the end of last year and the beginning of 2010, and just like before those eruptions, the volcano is experiencing high levels of seismicity. This has prompted local officials to raise the alert status near Piton and restrict access to the volcano. There has also been significant deformation noted on the volcanic edifice, suggesting that magma is rising up into the volcano. "A seismic crisis occurred at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano, Reunion on the evening of 23rd September. Several tens of earthquakes were located at the base of the summit area, in Dolomieu crater. The seismic crisis was associated with significant inflation (3 cm) of the volcano, especially near the summit. The data indicates that magma has moved towards the surface and an eruption is imminent." Eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise are quite common - and can be quite the spectacle as well. They are commonly lava flows from fissure vents on the large shield edifice with some fire fountains as well - typical behavior for a Hawaiian-style eruption. The volcano is located in the southeast of the island. Most of the main population centres, including the capital, Saint-Denis, are clustered on the other half of the island.

-Tropical storm LISA was 872 nmi S of Lajes, Azores
-Tropical depression MATTHEW was 146 nmi N of Guatemala City, Guatemala

Tropical Storm Matthew - At least 14 people have been killed by flooding and landslides from heavy rain across the Caribbean basin, as Tropical Storm Matthew lashed water-logged Central America overnight. Central America alone is in the midst of ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE RAINY SEASONS IN THE PAST 60 YEARS. Flooding and landslides have killed more than 300 people, left tens of thousands homeless and caused billions of dollars in damage in recent months.
Matthew made landfall in northern Nicaragua on Friday, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. The storm then dumped heavy rain as it marched across northern Honduras, but weakened overland and overnight broke up into a tropical depression over Belize. "Additional weakening is anticipated and Matthew is forecast to dissipate over Central America in the next day or two."
Yet the storm's torrential rainfall - up to 38cm in isolated areas - will remain a serious threat to Central America even after Matthew sheds its storm status. The rainfall could produce "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" across the region, including southern Mexico, which has already suffered from historic rainfall and flooding this year. The storm had drenched Nicaragua and Honduras earlier, but there were no initial reports of casualties, though 15 people were reported missing after boarding a sailboat off the coast of Honduras.
Tropical Storm Matthew struck Central America further south than expected on Friday. Matthew could produce 15 to 25cm of rainfall over portions of Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala, with isolated amounts of 38cm possible.
In Venezuela, the President called on his country to remain on alert after seven members of a family were killed in flooding in a Caracas slum triggered by heavy rain late on Friday. Another person was swept away by a swollen river in the northeastern state of Sucre. More rains are expected today.

Tropical Storm Lisa was upgraded to a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph) on Friday but remains far from land. Already weakened back to a tropical storm, it is in the Atlantic Ocean about 385 miles (615 km) northwest of the Cape Verde islands and is moving north.


HAITI - Five Haitian refugees have been killed as a storm overtook the impoverished country still recovering from the January earthquake. The rainstorm passed over the capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday, tearing down houses and power lines. The dead had been in homeless camps which were inundated by rain and devastated by wind. The storm, which passed quickly over the capital, caused panic and terror among the estimated 1.3 million Port-au-Prince residents still homeless eight months after the earthquake. The wind blew away tarps, tent poles and tin roofs, opening family shacks to the elements.

PAKISTAN - Severe flooding is continuing in parts of Pakistan's southern Sindh province. Many families are still marooned on small islands with their livestock. More than 20 million people have been affected by the floods triggered by heavy monsoons which began in July. About 1.9 million houses have been destroyed or damaged. As many people return to their villages, there are concerns over whether they can be supplied with enough food and aid before winter begins. There is also "increased concern" over the spread of malaria, with more than 163,000 suspected cases being reported in the past three weeks. In the Jamshoro and Dadu districts of Sindh, vast areas are still submerged. Aerial surveys show the monsoon floodwaters have created a large number of small islands, on which people are trapped with their livestock. Floodwaters further south in Thatta district are taking longer than expected to recede.

NIGERIA, NIGER - About two million people in northern Nigeria have been displaced after authorities opened the floodgates on two dams. The dams are in Kano state, but about 5,000 villages in neighbouring Jigawa state have been affected. It is not yet clear whether residents received a warning or if anyone was injured or went missing in the flooding. Nigeria's meteorological agency had previously forecast low rainfall in the north, warning that more than 12 million people could face food shortages as a result. The floodgates are normally opened every year during the rainy season. In a normal year, the water released from the dams flows into fields, irrigating crops of corn, rice and vegetables during the brief growing season. Several states in northern Nigeria have been hit by floods this year.
In neighbouring Niger, millions are facing food shortages after a prolonged drought caused crops to fail. That was followed by severe flooding last month. Millions are now facing food shortages.