Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RECORD WARM SEAS - The four major Atlantic hurricanes that spun toward the Caribbean in the past month were fueled by RECORD WARM SEAS and FORMED IN AN UNPRECEDENTED 20 DAYS. With 10 weeks left in the hurricane season, more may be coming. The storms that were born off west Africa gathered strength by absorbing the ocean's heat and swelled into Category 4-level hurricanes on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale. While none hit land at full speed, each packed winds of at least 131 miles an hour, stronger than Hurricane Katrina's Category 3 winds when it devastated New Orleans at the end of August in 2005. While the six-month season is past its statistical peak, forecasters and insurers said warmer seas can lengthen the danger period to property. "The hotter the water, the higher the octane level, and there is going to be far more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes." The season may be busy for another month. "All the ingredients" were in place for major hurricanes to form this year. "The nightmare scenario for industry losses is a Miami hit, closely followed by a New York hurricane. Gulf oil is a huge issue for the insurance industry. There's a feeling that if something big happens, there's going to be some hard times." The Weather Research Center in Houston has created a model that shows a storm with the strength of Katrina or Rita would damage or destroy about 10 percent of all the oil platforms it passed over.
The National Hurricane Center predicts 2010 will have as many as 20 storms of at least 39 mile-an-hour winds, meaning they'll be named, compared with 11 in a typical year. Lisa's formation Tuesday brought this year's tally to 12. The Miami center has identified five major hurricanes in 2010 compared with two in an average season when waters are cooler.
The season runs June through November, peaking around Sept. 10. After that, major storms can and do still form. In 2005, Hurricane Rita's winds peaked at 178 miles per hour on Sept. 22. The Atlantic has had RECORD TEMPERATURES SINCE MARCH and by the end of August a swath of the ocean was 3 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The records date to 1854.

**Good for the body is the work of the body,
and good for the soul is the work of the soul,
and good for either is the work of the other.**
Henry David Thoreau

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/21/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Almost 75 whales have stranded themselves on a beach at the top of New Zealand's North Island, the second mass beaching in the region in as many months. [Does this signal another large quake in New Zealand could hit within two weeks? See the second article below.] The Department of Conservation were alerted to the stranding at 11.30am (9.30am AEST) today after a local spotted the pilot whales on the sand at Spirits Bay, about 90 kilometres north of Kaitaia, in Northland. Staff counted 74 whales spread across two kilometres of the beach, 49 were alive, 25 had already died and another 50 were swimming just off-shore.
Volunteers from Far North Whale Rescue, DoC officers and members of the local Maori community were preparing to stay overnight at the beach and will battle a strong swell and high winds in an effort to refloat the animals tomorrow. "We need as many volunteers as possible, as it will be at least until tomorrow before we can look at refloating them, which means caring for them over the next two days." In August, a pod of 58 pilot whales stranded themselves at a remote beach at the top of NZ's North Island. Upon discovery, 43 were already dead. A further six died during the rescue attempt, with nine successfully refloated. In 2007, 101 pilot whales were stranded on the same beach.

Whale deaths linked to earthquakes? - An academic's prediction of natural disaster, following whale deaths at New Zealand on August 20, has apparently come true. Over the years, Dr Arunachalam Kumar had espoused the theory that unexplained whale deaths are linked to natural disasters. After whale deaths of the New Zealand coast, he had received an e-mail query regarding the possible outcome of this event. He had said the incident was prelude to the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia within seven days and an earthquake would follow within two weeks. On August 29, Mt Sinabung, a long dormant volcano in Sumatra erupted suddenly. On September 4, Christchurch, New Zealand, was rocked by one of the most powerful earthquakes in its history. In early December 2004, the doctor is said to have predicted the coming of the titanic Asian tsunami a full three weeks before it struck.
A different perspective on the strandings - Data spanning 1920–2002, involving a total of 639 stranding events from southeast Australia, were found to demonstrate a clear 11–13 year periodicity in the number of events through time. These data positively correlated with the regional persistence of both zonal (westerly) and meridional (southerly) winds, reflecting general long-term and large-scale shifts in sea-level pressure gradients. Periods of persistent zonal and meridional winds result in colder and presumably nutrient-rich waters being driven closer to southern Australia, resulting in increased biological activity in the water column during the spring months. These observations suggest that large-scale climatic events provide a powerful influence on the propensity for whales to strand in this region. These patterns provide a powerful framework for testing hypotheses regarding environmental links to strandings and provide managers with a potential predictive tool to prepare for years of peak stranding activity.


ITALY - Plans are being made to drill 3962-meters into an active volcano [Campi Flegrei] in Italy to predict when it will erupt. Recent seismic activity at Campi Flegrei has created concern the 13-kilometer wide volcanic formation, or "caldera," could explode, endangering the city of Naples. Campi Flegrei is located under the city’s western outskirts and the Bay of Naples. It last erupted in 1538 and is made up of 24 craters and volcanic fissures.
The drilling operation will measure rock temperature and seismic activity at different depths to work out how stable, or unstable, the volcano is. Scientists working on the project will be dealing with molten rock between 500-600 Celsius. "Calderas are the only volcanoes that can cause truly catastrophic eruptions with global consequences, yet they are still poorly understood." Potential dangers have been raised, though, that the drilling could trigger an eruption or an earthquake, endangering 1.5 million people in and near Naples. A similar project in Iceland had to be stopped when magma was unexpectedly found during the operation.
Also endangering Naples, Europe's largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy "at any time", a prominent vulcanologist has warned. The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has "fragile walls" that could collapse. "It could even happen tomorrow. Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions. All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time." The event would result in "a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily."
The undersea Marsili, 3000m tall and located some 150km south-west of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history. It is 70km long and 30km wide, and its crater is some 450m below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea. "A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic metres of material capable of generating a very powerful wave. While the indications that have been collected are precise, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but hard to evaluate."

-Tropical depression GEORGETTE was 21 nmi NNE of La Paz, Mexico

-Hurricane IGOR was 463 nmi ENE of Halifax, Nova Scotia [apparently going to stall as a hurricane near the Arctic Circle]
-Tropical storm LISA was 1662 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados

-Tropical storm MALAKAS was 384 nmi NNW of Agana, Guam

Tropical Storm Malakas strengthened as it churned over the Pacific Ocean toward the Japanese islands of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. The official forecast shows the storm tracking north near Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima before turning north-northeast, indicating it won’t make landfall on Japan’s main islands. The storm’s eye is forecast to remain about 500 kilometers (310 miles) off Japan’s coast, with Tokyo and surrounding prefectures within range of the path’s forecast margin of error on Sept. 25.
Malakas is expected to become a typhoon tomorrow and may have sustained winds of 157 kilometers per hour by Sept. 25. That would make it a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, capable of “extensive damage."

Typhoon Fanapi, the 12th storm of the season, swept across Taiwan on Sept. 19, downing electric lines, forcing evacuations and closing airports. Two people were killed and 107 were hurt. Fanapi then brought THE HEAVIEST RAINS IN A CENTURY to China’s southern province of Guangdong. A dam built to hold tin-mining waste collapsed in Guangdong after about 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain from Typhoon Fanapi triggered mud and rock slides. Flooding and landslides from Fanapi killed 13 people in southern China and left at least 33 missing. Thousands of people have died this year in China as torrential rain and floods inundated the country in July and August.

A new tropical storm has hit the Baja California peninsula on Mexico's northern Pacific coast, bringing torrential rains and pounding waves. Tropical Storm Georgette made landfall near the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of the peninsula.
It struck days after Hurricane Karl swept across south-eastern Mexico, flooding large areas and killing at least 15 people. Parts of the country are enduring their worst rainy season on record.
Heavy downpours have continued to drench southern and central Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Karl, causing floods and landslides. On Monday night a hillside collapsed on a bus near the town of Villa Guerrero, 60km (35 miles) south-west of Mexico City, killing at least seven people. Rescuers have been digging through the mud in search of others who are missing. In the eastern state of Veracruz, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Karl, around 40,000 people were still living in emergency shelters on Tuesday. "Nearly half the state is under water." The southern states of Oaxaca and Tabasco have also suffered severe floods.


RECORD malaria outbreak - INDIA has drafted in health workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders] to help tackle what they said on Friday was a record number of malaria cases in the country's financial capital, Mumbai. It was responding to a request from the local health ministry 'to reinforce the supply of treatment", including for the most deadly form of the disease, which has struck 10 to 15 per cent of victims. The first six months of this year saw more than 14,700 cases of malaria - nearly as many as for the whole of 2009 - while a sharp rise in patients since the start of the monsoon rains in July has left hospitals struggling to cope.