Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A RECORD-BREAKING MID-LATITUDE CYCLONE pushed its way through the Midwest Tuesday, quickly becoming the STRONGEST NON-TROPICAL STORM SYSTEM IN RECORDED U.S. HISTORY. This “landicane” has rapidly deepened to a central pressure of 955mb, causing blizzard conditions in North Dakota, hurricane force winds across the Great Lakes, and tornado watches from western New York all the way to Mississippi. So far, 18 tornadoes have been reported, along with more than 200 reports of high winds.
Now heading for Greater New York, the primary threat for them from this storm will be a chance of thunderstorms Wednesday morning, accompanied by straight-line winds up to 50 mph. This is the same storm system that has been keeping their temperatures well above normal for the first part of the week. While they may get a stray wind gust briefly Wednesday morning, the center of this storm will remain hundreds of miles away in Canada. So even though the storm remains at RECORD LEVELS OF INTENSITY, the “pressure gradient” force will remain weak over Greater New York.
The storm has already beat out other infamous extratropical cyclones in intensity, including the “Edumund Fitzgerald” storm of 1975, the “Storm of the Century” of 1993,” and the “Perfect Storm” of 1991. The satellite images coming in from this current storm system so far look like something straight out of “The Day After Tomorrow”. Quite literally, THE ENTIRE CONTINENT'S ATMOSPHERE EAST OF THE ROCKIES IS ENVELOPED IN THIS STORM'S CIRCULATION right now.

**Today is the day for decisive action!
Or is it?**

This morning -

Yesterday -
10/26/10 -


INDONESIA -The death toll from the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Merapi rose to 25, including an elder known as the volcano's spiritual gatekeeper. The traditional gatekeeper was found dead in his burnt house about 4km (2.5 miles) from the peak. Yesterday's eruption of Mount Merapi forced thousands to flee down its slopes and spewed burning ash and smoke high into the air on the island of Java.
There are fears of fresh eruptions. Experts said that the ash levels had subsided a little, but that their readings suggested there would be more volcanic activity soon. Pressure building up under a "lava dome" inside the volcano threatens further devastation. "This the largest hazard at Merapi. It builds up as a sticky lava, where it builds up into a dome. At some point either there's an explosion from below that causes it to collapse, or a simple addition of lava causes it to collapse. And this sends large, hot blocks of solidified lava down the slopes." This "pyroclastic flow" is highly dangerous both in its heat and the poison of the gases.
Thousands fled their homes on Tuesday as ash spewed out of the volcano, turning the landscape white. But many people refused to leave, and rescuers fear the death toll may rise. One rescuer feared up to 50 could have been killed. Although 10,000 people had been evacuated, many had stayed behind. "Several houses and cattle have been burned by the hot cloud from the mountain. All the houses are blanketed in ash, completely white. The leaves have been burned off the trees." Experts hope the volcano, some 500km (310 miles) south-east of Jakarta on Indonesia's most heavily populated island, Java, will release steam slowly rather than erupt in a big blast. Authorities are continuing to move away thousands of local villagers living near the volcano, but it is proving to be difficult. Many villagers ignored warnings because they were reluctant to leave homes and farms nattended. Many victims at a local hospital had severe burns.
On Monday, officials monitoring the volcano had raised the alert for Mt Merapi to the highest possible level. It erupted just before dusk on Tuesday. Since then, more than 600 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded around the mountain. "We heard three explosions around 1800 (1100 GMT) spewing volcanic material as high as 1.5km (one mile) and sending heat clouds down the slopes." This eruption was more powerful than the volcano's last blast, in 2006, which killed two people. In 1930 another powerful eruption wiped out 13 villages, killing more than 1,000 people. (photos & map)


INDONESIA - Rescue teams are battling to reach hundreds of people believed to be missing a day after a tsunami struck small islands off the coast of Sumatra. The tsunami was caused by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake late on Monday. Waves reached 3m (10ft) high and the water swept inland as far as 600m on South Pagai. A 3m-high wave crashed into the Mentawai islands, leaving more than 100 people dead and 500 missing. Rescuers continue to be hampered by bad weather and aftershocks from the quake that caused the tsunami. Rough seas were making it difficult to ship aid to the Mentawai islands from Padang, the nearest major port on Sumatra. Forecasters say the bad weather is likely to continue in the coming days. About 4,000 households had been displaced by the tsunami, and many people fled to higher ground. Most buildings in the South Pagai coastal village of Betu Monga have been destroyed. "Of the 200 people living in that village, only 40 have been found - 160 are still missing, mostly women and children. We have people reporting to the security post here that they could not hold on to their children, that they were swept away. A lot of people are crying."
More than 1,000 people were killed by an earthquake off Sumatra in September 2009. In December 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Aceh triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed a quarter of a million people in 13 countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. (map & photos)

-Cyclone 01S was 836 nmi ESE of Diego Garcia

-Typhoon CHABA was 453 nmi SE of Taipei, Taiwan

-Tropical depression RICHARD was 147 nmi WNW of Campeche, Mexico

Typhoon Chaba is forecast to strike Japan as a tropical storm at about 18:00 GMT on 30 October.


U.S. - A powerful low pressure was stirring up the entire midwest Tuesday BREAKING RECORDS as it stormed in. The ALL-TIME LOWEST PRESSURE RECORD WAS BROKEN IN BOTH MINNESOTA AND WISCONSIN Tuesday morning. The low pressure system was still strengthening and the record could potentially have been even lower by later in the day. The record keeps dropping as the low strengthens. The record was first brokenTuesday morning in Aitkin at 28.42" and then in the afternoon the record was broken again in Grand Rapids as the pressure dropped to 28.28", and then the record was in Big Fork at 28.21". The low is still strengthening and pushing northeast.
In Wisconsin Tuesday morning at 11:35 a.m. the measurement was 28.38" or 961.06 mb. The previous record was 28.45" or 963.43 mb at Green Bay on April 3, 1982.
This low pressure area will produce a variety of weather from a possible severe weather outbreak with a tornado potential in Indiana, Ohio and southern Michigan in the warm sector of the storm to blizzard conditions across North Dakota in the cold sector of the storm. The rest of the Midwest, including Minnesota, is under High Wind Warnings and will see very strong winds that at times could gust higher than 50 mph. Winds intensified late Tuesday afternoon. Today the storm will lift northeast of Lake Superior into Canada and weather conditions will slowly improve in most areas by Wednesday evening although travel may be difficult in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota because of wet snow with some accumulations greater than 5 inches possible especially around the Bismarck area. The storm could also cause dangerous waves on the Great Lakes with damaging waves on the shorelines of western Michigan. Winds will be from the west-southwest on Lake Superior so damaging waves are not expected on Minnesota's North Shore. The combination of wind, rain and thunderstorms may cause significant delays at some of the larger airports such as Minneapolis/St.Paul, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

New Acoustic Early Warning System For Landslide Prediction - A new type of sound sensor system has been developed to predict the likelihood of a landslide. Thought to be the first system of its kind in the world, it works by measuring and analysing the acoustic behaviour of soil to establish when a landslide is imminent so preventative action can be taken. Noise created by movement under the surface builds to a crescendo as the slope becomes unstable.


Solar Shield -- Protecting the North American Power Grid. Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet's topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. If such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers.
A new NASA project called "Solar Shield" could help keep the lights on. "Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid. We believe we can zero in on specific transformers and predict which of them are going to be hit hardest by a space weather event." When a coronal mass ejection (a billion-ton solar storm cloud) hits Earth's magnetic field, the impact causes the field to shake and quiver. These magnetic vibrations induce currents almost everywhere, from Earth's upper atmosphere to the ground beneath our feet. Powerful GICs can overload circuits, trip breakers, and in extreme cases melt the windings of heavy-duty transformers. This actually happened in Quebec on March 13, 1989, when a geomagnetic storm much less severe than the Carrington Event knocked out power across the entire province for more than nine hours. The storm damaged transformers in Quebec, New Jersey, and Great Britain, and caused more than 200 power anomalies across the USA from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Northwest. A similar series of "Halloween storms" in October 2003 triggered a regional blackout in southern Sweden and may have damaged transformers in South Africa.
Since the beginning of the Space Age the total length of high-voltage power lines crisscrossing North America has increased nearly 10 fold. This has turned power grids into giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents. With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit — a recipe for trouble. A large-scale blackout could last a long time, mainly due to transformer damage. "These multi-ton apparatus cannot be repaired in the field, and if damaged in this manner they need to be replaced with new units which have lead times of 12 months or more."
During extreme storms, engineers could safeguard the most endangered transformers by disconnecting them from the grid. That itself could cause a blackout, but only temporarily. Transformers protected in this way would be available again for normal operations when the storm is over. The innovation of Solar Shield is its ability to deliver transformer-level predictions. "Solar Shield springs into action when we see a coronal mass ejection (CME) billowing away from the sun. Images from SOHO and NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft show us the cloud from as many as three points of view, allowing us to make a 3D model of the CME, and predict when it will arrive." While the CME is crossing the sun-Earth divide, a trip that typically takes 24 to 48 hours, the Solar Shield team prepares to calculate ground currents. The crucial moment comes about 30 minutes before impact when the cloud sweeps past ACE, a spacecraft stationed 1.5 million km upstream from Earth. "We quickly feed the data into CCMC computers. Our models predict fields and currents in Earth's upper atmosphere and propagate these currents down to the ground." With less than 30 minutes to go, Solar Shield can issue an alert to utilities with detailed information about GICs. Solar Shield is experimental and has never been field-tested during a severe geomagnetic storm. A small number of utility companies have installed current monitors at key locations in the power grid to help the team check their predictions. So far, though, the sun has been mostly quiet with only a few relatively mild storms during the past year. The team needs more data. The next solar maximum is expected around 2013, so it's only a matter of time.