Friday, November 5, 2010

INDONESIA - The death toll from Indonesia's fiery volcano has nearly doubled to 79 after a blistering gas cloud ripped through the mountainside village of Bronggang. 35 bodies were brought in after the inferno. More than 65 others were injured, many of them critically. Men with ash-covered faces streamed down Mount Merapi on motorcycles followed by truckloads of women and crying children, following the massive eruption just late last night. It was not immediately clear why families living within Merapi's "danger zone" had not been evacuated.

**In science, if you can’t explain what you’re doing
to a non-scientist of reasonable intelligence,
then you probably don’t really know yourself.**
James Lovelock

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/4/10 -

SERBIA - Authorities say more than 4000 houses have been reported damaged in an earthquake this week in Serbia that killed two people.


Volcanic Eruptions Affect Rainfall Over Asian Monsoon Region - Some regions drier, others wetter. Scientists have long known that large volcanic explosions can affect the weather by spewing particles that block solar energy and cool the air. Some suspect that extended "volcanic winters" from gigantic eruptions helped kill off dinosaurs and Neanderthals. In the summer following Indonesia's 1815 Tambora eruption, frost wrecked crops as far away as New England, and the 1991 blowout of the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo lowered average global temperatures by 0.7 degrees F - enough to mask the effects of greenhouse gases for a year or so.
Now, scientists have discovered that eruptions also affect rainfall over the Asian monsoon region, where seasonal storms water crops for nearly half of Earth's population. Big eruptions tend to dry up much of Central Asia, but bring more rain to southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar - the opposite of what many climate models predict. "We might think of the solid Earth and the atmosphere as two different things, but everything in the system is interconnected. Volcanoes can be important players in climate over time." Large explosive eruptions send up sulfur compounds that turn into tiny sulfate particles high in the atmosphere, where they deflect solar radiation. The resulting cooling on Earth's surface can last for months or years.
Not all eruptions have that effect, however. For instance, the continuing eruption of Indonesia's Merapi this fall has killed dozens, but this latest episode is probably not big enough by itself to effect large-scale weather changes, scientists believe. As for rainfall, in the simplest models, lowered temperatures decrease evaporation of water from the surface to the air. Less water vapor translates to less rain. But matters are greatly complicated by atmospheric circulation patterns, cyclic changes in temperatures over the oceans, and the shapes of land masses. Until now, most climate models incorporating changes in the sun and the atmosphere have predicted that volcanic explosions would disrupt the monsoon by bringing less rain to southeast Asia - but the researchers found the opposite. (map & photos)

-Cyclone 05B was 631 nmi SW of Rangoon, Burma
-Cyclone ANGGREK was 1753 nmi SSW of Bangkok, Thailand
-Tropical storm TOMAS was 108 nmi SSE of Kingston, Jamaica

INDIA - Farmers in coastal Andhra and parts of Telangana are likely to have a bleak Diwali as the bumper crop that was ready for harvesting has been washed away in flash floods caused by incessant heavy rains during the past 48 hours. It was heart-wrenching in East Godavari and Krishna districts where paddy farmers, who were jubilant over the bumper crop in over 1.20 lakh hectares and had delayed harvesting by a day, helplessly witnessed heavy rains that started on Monday. In East Godavari, standing crop in 87,962 hectares and 55,000 ha in Krishna district was washed away overnight. The death toll due to incessant heavy rains in coastal Andhra rose to 36 by Thursday evening.

HAITI - Heavy rain started to fall in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince as powerful storm Tomas threatens thousands of vulnerable earthquake survivors. The battered nation appeared likely to avoid a direct hit, but forecasters expect heavy rain to last for days. The government has urged the 1.3 million people living in tented homes to find sturdier shelter, but most have stayed, saying they have nowhere to go. Forecasters say Tropical Storm Tomas is gaining strength and warn of the danger of flooding and mudslides. Health workers fear heavy rain will exacerbate Haiti's cholera epidemic.The atmosphere in the camps was "a mixture of fear and desperation - or resignation". "It is the third big problem people here have had to deal with this year."
Tomas is expected to make landfall in Haiti early today. On Thursday afternoon, the storm was churning across the Caribbean about 450km (280 miles) west-south-west of the capital Port-au-Prince, with maximum sustained winds of 85km/h (50mph). The NHC warned of hurricane conditions - winds of 119km/h (74mph) or greater - for Haiti, the south-eastern Bahamas, the Caicos Islands and the Cuban province of Guantanamo. It also issued a tropical storm warning for Jamaica and the Cuban provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguin. The storm is expected to dump as much as 38cm (15in) of rain over Haiti and the neighbouring Dominican Republic, with more heavy rain over Jamaica and Cuba. On Wednesday health officials said there had been a 40% jump in the number of new cholera cases and the death toll was 442, with 105 more deaths since Saturday.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC on Thursday declared alerts across the country due to the pouring rains caused by tropical storm Tomas. The red alert is for Barahona, Bahoruco, Pedernales, Independencia, San Juan de la Maguana and Elias Pina. Meantime, Azua, Dajabon, Montecristi, Santiago Rodriguez, La Vega, Espaillat, Hermanas Mirabal, Duarte, Mairia Trinidad Sanchez and San Cristobal are under yellow alert. Tomas will continue for at least three days, and there will be rains even after Tomas leaves the country. The rains have already caused Yaque del Sur River in the south to overflow.
Tomas is moving north-northwest at a speed of some 13 km per hour at a latitude of 15.8 degrees north and a longitude of 76.1 degrees west, at some 510 km southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, and 540 km west-southwest of Beata Island. Tomas has maximum sustained winds of 85 kph. According to forecasts, Tomas will move by the Winds Canal, between Haiti and Jamaica in the northeast direction. The storm will reach Haiti's western coasts this morning, with the possibility of becoming a hurricane of category one.


COSTA RICA - A landslide caused by heavy rain has killed at least 20 people in a suburb of the capital, San Jose. A number of people are still missing. A hillside gave way, sending tons of rock and earth onto the houses below. The Costa Rican government is considering declaring a national emergency. Rescuers were searching for survivors in the district, where poor people live in shanty dwellings alongside much more upmarket homes. The President requested help from neighbouring countries to reach remote areas of the country that have been flooded by the storm.
Tthe downpour was likely to continue into today. Hundreds of people in the capital and along the Pacific coast have been moved to temporary accommodation because of the flooding. The rains may have damaged several major coffee-growing areas in Costa Rica's highlands. The equivalent of THREE TIMES THE AVERAGE RAINFALL FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH OF NOVEMBER HAS BEEN RECORDED IN THREE DAYS since Tuesday in the Pacific area.

NIGERIA - The National Emergency Management Agency has confirmed that, as of October, about 500,000 were displaced due to the devastating floods in many parts of the country. “The country has witnessed the debilitating effects of flooding in states like Sokoto,Jigawa, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Lagos, Ogun, Cross River and Akwa Ibom. We are now victims of this fate wherever you go: North, South, East or West.” The floods were blamed on weather patterns in the country, and all over the world, which have resulted in adverse ecological imbalances. “Although flooding in communities along the Niger trough and coastal communities is not new to us, what is worrisome is the severity of these cases as we have witnessed, and the extreme weather conditions experienced globally due to climate change...We all must come together to right the wrongs we have all individually and collectively brought on our environment...The environment remains our most valued possession and legacy which we must all strive to protect. Let us all join hands in protecting our common interest." (photo)