Monday, December 13, 2010

**“Let mystery have its place in you;
do not be always turning up your whole soil with
the ploughshare of self-examination,
but leave a little fallow corner in your heart
ready for any seed the winds may bring.**
Henri Frederic Amiel

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/12/10 -

12/11/10 -

12/10/10 -

Is Yellowstone losing steam? - A U.S. Geological Survey scientist plans to study trees in Yellowstone National Park to determine whether geysers are losing steam. Some of the trees near Mammoth Hot Springs date back to the 1500s. Determining the amount of carbon dioxide trapped in the trees by taking core samples might tell scientists whether the amount of carbon dioxide being released in the area has fluctuated over time, and whether those fluctuations are associated with earthquakes. It's possible earthquake swarms in the park might be caused by high-pressure carbon dioxide rather than the intrusion of magma.

NEW ZEALAND - The aftershocks from Canterbury's earthquake are finally starting to subside but fresh damage is still coming to light. There has been a massive surge in the number of computers rendered useless by vibration damage.
When the September earthquake struck Canterbury early in the morning most of the regions computers were turned off and the subsequent power failure protected those that were not, but that was not the case during the thousands of aftershocks that followed. If a computer is running during an aftershock it can hit the area where all the data is stored - the hard drive, which can scratch it and lead to loss of information. "The computer won't start is obviously one of the key problems. It's running slow or it's freezing up on them." Private insurance or the EQC will cover the damage for most but they cannot replace the memories so experts are advising people to arrange back up.

Tropical depression 19W was 276 nmi E of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.


Storms Bring Flood Threat To Washington and Oregon Rivers - RECORD RAINFALL in the Pacific Northwest triggered mudslides on Sunday as it swelled rivers and placed small towns in Washington and areas of Portland under flood threat. Forecasters said storms were expected to dump up to 6 inches of rain in a day, and flooding was expected to be widespread.
"We're looking at the wettest storm system we've had for in almost two years." Mudslides forced the suspension of Amtrak service between Portland and Seattle until Monday. Slides blocked at least one street in Seattle and closed State Route 11, the scenic Chuckanut Drive, south of Bellingham. The National Weather Service expects the Chehalis, Snohomish, Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers in Washington state to reach flood stage.
In southwest Washington, the Chehalis River near Grand Mound was expected to reach major flood levels Sunday afternoon and was forecast to crest at about 18 feet on Monday morning. The Snohomish River was expected to follow a similar path, cresting at major flood stage around 19 feet on Monday near Snohomish and Monroe. The Snoqualmie River was expected to crest Sunday in Carnation. Officials were also closely watching the Skagit River in Skagit County. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport set a RAINFALL RECORD for the date of 1.42 inches, breaking the old mark for Dec. 11 of 1.32 inches set in 1955. Quillayute on the Pacific Coast also had a record for the date, 2.17 inches. The old record was 1.64 inches, set in 2002.
The storm system was described as a "plume of very moist, warm Pacific air." Its relative warmth brought rain, not snow into the Cascades, causing large runoff from the mountains, feeding and overwhelming rivers and creeks on the lowlands. Coastal Oregon rivers and tributaries of the Willamette River could rise out of
their banks, but said the flood threat wasn't as severe as in Washington.

Fierce winds and heavy rain and snow have lashed eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries for a second successive day. The storms have sunk a ship off the Israeli coast, closed ports and disrupted shipping in the Suez Canal. Flights have also been delayed to and from many airports in the region. The storms have ended a long drought in Lebanon, Syria and Israel and come just a week after more than 40 people died in a forest fire.
Shipping has been delayed through the Suez Canal and most Egyptian ports, both on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean - including the country's largest at Alexandria - have closed, with winds reaching speeds of up to 60km/h (37mph). The fishing industry and shipping have been badly disrupted across the region At least three people died when a factory collapsed in Alexandria, although officials denied earlier reports that it was in part related to the heavy rain.
Waves of up to 10m (33ft) battered coasts, damaging fishing boats in Lebanon. In Syria, snow blanketed the streets of the capital, Damascus, and closed roads. In the Egyptian capital Cairo, there are strong, cold winds in the city and the murky yellow sky of a sand storm. The storms, which caused temperatures to plunge to below freezing in some places, have ended weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather across the region. Last week a devastating forest fire, fanned by drought and hot weather, killed more than 40 people near Israel's northern port city of Haifa. Thousands of hectares of forest were destroyed there and in Lebanon by fires.

AUSTRALIA - Large parts of New South Wales are preparing for more floods as another four areas join the list of natural disaster zones, in the state's MOST EXPANSIVE FLOODING IN 30 YEARS. The central west town of Forbes remains on high alert, with the Lachlan River expected to peak at 10.4 metres tonight. An evacuation warning is in place for seven streets, with residents told to be prepared to leave. About 5000 people remain isolated statewide and are likely to remain so for up to three weeks. "These are mostly rural communities that are prepared for floods and we probably won't hear from a lot of them until the floods recede."
Dry weather gave many parts of the state some respite today, but more flooding is expected over the coming weeks. In the state's north, the towns of Wee Waa and Coonamble remain isolated, although flood waters are receding. Major flooding is expected at Warren late this afternoon, with the Macquarie River due to peak at 9.7 metres. As clean-up efforts continued across the state, the areas of Goulburn, Mulwaree, Cowra, Coolamon and Tamworth were added to a list of natural disaster zones. These areas have reported significant damage from flooding and heavy rainfall to public infrastructure, including roads, drainage, causeways, sewerage and wastewater treatment works, buildings and dams. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned the flooding could continue for some weeks as the floodwaters move downstream. Areas around the Darling River, including Bourke and Louth, are at risk of flooding in January.


A powerful winter storm in the US roared across the upper Midwest with high winds and mounds of snow closing roads in several states and cancelling more than 1000 flights in Chicago.
At least one weather-related death was reported as the storm system moved east. It dumped nearly 60cm of snow in parts of Minnesota and caused the Metrodome's inflatable, Teflon roof to collapse.
A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois, and northern Michigan. Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings. The winter weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel. In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 80km/h, temperatures ranging from -11C to -7C, wind chills well below -18C were expected along with up to 20cm of snow. Major highways in several states were closed due to poor driving conditions and accidents.
In Minnesota, snow plough drivers struggled with drifts as high as 1.5 metres and also were hampered by a large number of stalled cars as they worked to open up closed stretches of highways. In Iowa, Interstate 29 from the state line to Sioux Falls, South Dakota remained closed. Although roads were open in Wisconsin, state officials urged drivers to stay home because blowing snow severely limited visibility. The storm had already dropped up to 46cm of snow in parts of northern and central Wisconsin, and light snow continued on Sunday.
The Minneapolis and Saint Paul metro region was hit hard with a RECORD-BREAKING amount of snow on Saturday. The cities just south and east of the metro area received 18 inches to 21.5 inches of snow. The snow caused hundreds of cars in the metro area to spin out and become stuck in the snow along several serious crashes with injuries. Driving was near impossible without a four wheel drive truck and even with a 4x4 truck, it was extremely difficult and dangerous to try and navigate the roadways. Heavy snow and high winds caused the Minneapolis - St. Paul International airport to shut down for a few hours until one of the four runways was able to be opened up for limited use operations.
This major winter storm system stranded everyone. The New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings football game which was scheduled for Sunday, had to be rescheduled for Monday night due to the fact that the New York Giants football team could not fly into Minneapolis due to the blizzard. After the blizzard, extreme cold temperature's and dangerous wind chills are moving into the region. (In the video there are several clips of people stuck in the snow after losing control of their vehicles, snow plows trying to clear the roads and footage from Minneapolis International Airport of the heavy snow and travelers reading the signs showing all the flights that were canceled.)


Flu activity in southeastern US states, a region that recently reported increases, declined last week, falling back below seasonal baseline levels. Such rises and falls aren't unusual, and flu activity typically peaks in January or late. Activity is low across the rest of the nation, with Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia reporting regional activity. Other flu indicators also pointed to low activity. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza stayed about the same as the previous week, at 10.8%. Doctor's visits for flu-like illnesses were below the national baseline, and deaths from flu and pneumonia were below the epidemic threshold. Most of the flu viruses circulating are the influenza A (H3N2) and B strains. Tests show that all three circulating strains match well with those included in the seasonal flu vaccine, including pandemic 2009 H1N1.