Thursday, September 16, 2010

The US is set to require oil companies to plug 3,500 non-producing Gulf of Mexico oil wells in an effort to prevent future leaks. The interior department will also require companies to dismantle 650 unused oil and gas platforms. Some installations have sat idle for decades without inspection for leaks. The order comes five months after the explosion at a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

**The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself.**
Alfred Lord Tennyson

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/15/190 -

CALIFORNIA - The explosion outside San Francisco prompts fears that seismically active areas and natural gas pipelines are a deadly combination. The massive fire roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno on Sept. 9. The fire apparently resulted from a GAS LEAK CAUSED BY MINI-EARTHQUAKES common in Northern California. Is it wise to depend on natural gas near the San Andreas Fault, or in other earthquake zones?


COSTA RICA - The Turrialba and Poás volcanoes put on a simultaneous show early Tuesday morning when, in almost concerted action, both spewed out smoke during an eruption. According to experts, the eruptions are no cause for alarm, as they are normal for an active volcano. The presence of smoke from the cone of the volcanoes is mainly due to clear morning skies and no wind, making the normal emanation from the volcanoes unusual. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica sent a team of experts to evaluate the condition, ruling out any presence of ash or lava in the eruption.
(photo & webacam link)

-Tropical storm FANAPI was 415 nmi ESE of Taipei, Taiwan.

-Category 4 Hurricane IGOR was 462 nmi NNE of Bridgetown, Barbados.
-Category 3 Hurricane JULIA was 1654 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados.
-Tropical storm KARL was 28 nmi SSW of Campeche, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Karl is forecast for strengthen to a hurricane after crossing the Yucatan peninsula and entering the Gulf of Mexico. Karl came ashore yesterday near Chetumal on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and will soon move back over water, allowing it to regain strength. Karl was 60 kilometers (35 miles) south-southwest of Campeche, Mexico, and moving west-northwest at 24 kilometers per hour. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were blowing at 65 kph.
Karl went ashore south of the peninsula’s most popular resorts. The state of Quintana Roo, which includes the beach resort of Cancun, declared a red alert for the four municipalities of Tulum, Jose M. Morelos, Felipe Carrillo and Othon. Guatemala’s national disaster agency issued an alert to warn residents to prepare for possible heavy rains from Karl. Tropical Storm Agatha killed 165 people in Guatemala in May and heavy rains earlier this month left 45 dead.

On Bermuda, the island’s Emergency Measures Organization urged residents to begin hurricane preparations by securing their properties and stocking up on supplies as Hurricane Igor approached. “Residents are advised to take the warnings seriously as the Island has not experienced such an intense storm since Hurricane Fabian hit Bermuda in 2003." Hurricane Fabian caused about $300 million of damage when it came ashore in Sept. 2003 with winds of 120 mph. Igor, with maximum winds of 135 mph, was 980 miles southeast of Bermuda and may pass near the island on Sept. 19. Swells from the storm “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas and U.S. East Coast."

East of Igor, Hurricane Julia remained a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph, down from a Category 4 storm with winds of 135 mph earlier. It was THE FIRST TIME TWO CATEGORY 4 STORMS HAD BEEN IN THE ATLANTIC AT THE SAME TIME SINCE SEPTEMBER 16, 1926. Julia also became THE FOURTH STORM OF THAT STRENGTH IN 20 DAYS, SETTING A RECORD. Julia isn’t expected to strike land.
There have been 11 named storms this season, two more than all of last year and the average for a typical season, which runs from June to November. The hurricane center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, earlier predicted that 14 to 20 named storms with winds of at least 39 miles per hour will form this year. It also predicted between four and six major hurricanes would form and the low end of that forecast has been reached.

FANAPI - Meteorologists said Thursday the new tropical storm off the coast of Taiwan might develop into a typhoon, but that it would not become clear until two days later if it will hit Taiwan. Tropical Storm Fanapi, the 11th to form in the Pacific this year, was centered 700 km east of Eluanbi on the southernmost tip of Taiwan at 8 a.m., moving north-northeast at 6 kph and packing maximum sustained winds of 90 kph. The storm was not affecting Taiwan, but CWB forecasters said that if a high pressure system over the Pacific gains strength in the coming days, it could push Fanapi toward the northwest, in which case it could affect Taiwan. They added that a sea warning could be announced on Friday or Saturday.

Dozens of people died in North Korea in floods and landslides caused by the typhoon which hit the country earlier this month. It is the first casualty toll from Typhoon Kompasu given by the Korean Central News Agency. Nearly 9,000 buildings were destroyed and roads, railways and power lines were badly damaged. Typhoon Kompasu hit the Korean peninsula on 2 September. "Several dozen people have died throughout the country due to torrential rain, strong winds and landslide." More than 30,000 hectares of farmland were ruined. Some 65km (40 miles) of railway tracks were also washed away.


Since September 4, continuous heavy rains have fallen in Guatemala, exacerbating heavy damage caused by Tropical Storm Agatha which hit the region on May 29, causing 174 deaths and an estimated US $975 million of damage.
The rains have been reported as HIGHER THAN THE LAST 40 YEARS' AVERAGE and are expected to continue into October. They have caused rivers to overflow, resulting in floods and landslides. Roads and bridges have been buried or collapsed and communications with some communities have been lost.
On 6 September, National Coordination for the Reduction of Disaster estimated 43,043 people were at risk from the rains, of which 11,495 have been evacuated. So far, 48 people have lost their lives, 16 have disappeared, and 14,291 have moved to shelters.


Hundreds evacuated near California fire - a state of emergency has been delcared as hundreds of residents in small mountain communities are under evacuation orders because of a forest fire in the southern Sierra Nevada. The fire has grown to more than 2500 hectares. The fire erupted on Sunday in the Lower Kern River Canyon and burned up and out of the canyon in a portion of Sequoia National Forest southwest of Lake Isabella about 175 kilometres north of downtown LA. Recreational sites and river outfitter camps were evacuated at the outset but calls for residential evacuations didn't begin until late on Tuesday as part of the fire became more active. Driven by wind and topography, the fire was burning in grass, brush and trees. Fire officials said areas of timber were torching in groups and there was a high rate of spread and spotting. Authorities have said the fire was human-caused but have not determined whether it was an accident or intentional.

Ice floating on the Arctic Ocean melted UNUSUALLY quickly this year, but did not shrink down to the record minimum area seen in 2007. That is the preliminary finding of US scientists who say the summer minimum seems to have passed and the ice has entered its winter growth phase. 2010's summer Arctic ice minimum is the third smallest in the satellite era. Researchers say projections of summer ice disappearing entirely within the next few years increasingly look wrong.
At its smallest extent, on 10 September, 4.76 million sq km (1.84 million sq miles) of Arctic Ocean was covered with ice - more than in 2007 and 2008, but less than in every other year since 1979. "It was a short melt season - the period from the maximum to the minimum was shorter than we've had - but the ice was so thin that even so it melted away quickly." The last 12 months have been unusually warm globally - according to Nasa, the WARMEST IN THE 130-YEAR RECORD This is partly down to El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which have the effect of raising temperatures globally. With those conditions changing into a cooler La Nina phase, Nasa says 2010 is "likely, but not certain" to be the warmest calendar year in its record.
This year, the relative absence of ice around Alaska has brought tens of thousands of Pacific walruses up onto land recently. The 2010 NSIDC figures tally with the idea of a gradual decline in summer Arctic ice cover. But computer models projecting a disappearance very soon - 2013 was a date cited by one research group just a few years ago - seem to have been too extreme. "The chances of a really early melt are increasingly unlikely as the years go by, and you'd need a couple of extreme years like 2007 in a row to reach that now. But the 2040/2050 figure that's been quoted a lot - that's still on track. It could end up being wrong, of course, but the data we have don't disprove it." NSIDC will release a full analysis of the 2010 data next month.


Injury claims over 2009 H1N1 vaccine increase - The number of people who intend to submit claims that they were harmed by the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine has grown to 275 in recent months, up from 106 in mid-March, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Reports have generally indicated that the monovalent 2009 H1N1 vaccine is just as safe as seasonal flu vaccines. But people who believe they were harmed by the vaccine can file claims. The 275 letters regarding H1N1 vaccine-related injuries so far are roughly comparable with the numbers of claims filed in the VICP in recent years for problems related to all vaccines, excluding autism claims. For example, in fiscal year 2010 there have been 387 non-autism injury claimst. The numbers for the past few fiscal years included: 288 claims in 2009, 163 in 2008, 238 in 2007, and 155 in 2006. 505 VICP injury claims have been filed over seasonal flu vaccine since the program began in 1989, including 29 involving deaths. So far, 170 of those have resulted in compensation and 45 have been dismissed.