Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mini-break went a little longer than planned, so there was no update on Friday the 3rd.

**A wonderful fact to reflect upon,
that every human creature is constituted to be
a profound secret and mystery to every other.**
Charles Dickens

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
12/4/10 -

12/3/10 -

12/2/10 -

12/1/10 -

NEW YORK - A magnitude-3.9 earthquake rattled the New York City region Tuesday (Nov. 30), rocking into the history books as THE BIGGEST QUAKE TO HIT THE AREA IN 18 YEARS. The earthquake occurred at about 10:45 a.m. EST in the Atlantic Ocean some 82 miles (131 kilometers) south-southeast of Westhampton, New York. Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region. Tuesday's quake caused no damage and didn't hurt anyone.
The region extending from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake. On Dec 19, 1737, a magnitude-5.2 earthquake struck the greater New York City area, and on Aug. 10, 1884, another 5.2 earthquake occurred in the same area, reportedly felt from Virginia to Maine. More recently, in 2001, two earthquakes hit Manhattan – a magnitude-2.4 in January and a magnitude-2.6 quake in October.


ECUADOR - The authorities have begun evacuating people from the slopes of the Tungurahua volcano after it started spewing ash. Fast-moving currents of extremely hot gas and rock could be seen flowing from the volcano's crater. Tungurahua, some 135km (85 miles) southeast of the capital, Quito, has been in an active state since 1999. But experts say there has been a rapid increase in its seismic activity since Saturday morning. The number of explosions has increased and the ash cloud has reached 2km (1.2 miles) in height. People living on the slopes reported the ground and buildings shaking, and a rumbling sound coming from the volcano. Hot gases and rocks started flowing down the western side of the mountain at mid-morning and ash has been raining down on the villages of Pondoa and Patate. The authorities have put the region immediately around the volcano under red alert and the security forces are preventing people from entering the area. The tourist town of Banos is one of those being evacuated. In 1999, its 15,000 inhabitants were forced to evacuate when the Tungurahua had its last major eruption. Residents were not able to return to their homes for a year.

INDONESIA - As much as 43% of the 6.410 hectares of forests in the National Park surrounding Merapi has been destroyed by the recent series of eruption. The loss is estimated to be Rp 5.5 trillion. The damage has spread over 2.818 hectares of forest. Forest land is spread across several regencies in Central Java and Yogyakarta. “The forest around Yogya (Sleman) has been the worst affected." Vegetation in the national park, dominated by pine trees, have been destroyed by clouds of heat and volcanic ash. “This does not include the 10 hectares of research forest, which was also destroyed." The recovery will not be easy. It will take at least 40 to 50 years to restore the forest to its previous condition. The National Park authority have also asked the local communities to safeguard animals native to Mount Merapi. If such animals are found, people have been asked to report them to the relevant authorities.

RUSSIA - The Shiveluch volcano in the north of Kamchatka has spewed ash to an altitude of 5.5 kilometres. Streams of lava are flowing down its slopes. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences’ geophysical service for Kamchatka, the volcano is posing danger to overflying planes. Shiveluch is one of the biggest volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It “woke up” in December 2006 and has since remained active.

No current tropical cyclones.

No tropical cyclones came near the Hawaiian Islands this year FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1979, because of La Nina conditions, or cooler-than-normal temperatures of ocean surfaces near the equator. In a typical year the Central Pacific region, which includes Hawaii, has four to five cyclones, including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. "Last year we had a very active season, and this year it's been really super, superquiet." While tropical cyclones peak in September and October, they can occur at any time and could still occur in December -- though the likelihood decreases in the winter months. Although this year has been extremely quiet, next year could have an above-normal number of tropical cyclones, as the years following a quiet cyclone season usually have a normal or above-normal number of cyclones. In the past five years, the Central Pacific region has had 15 tropical cyclones, including eight hurricanes, four tropical storms and six tropical depressions.
La Nina conditions began prevailing in May. The Weather Services' Climate Prediction Center in Washington, D.C., expects La Nina conditions to prevail through spring. With La Nina the forecast is that Hawaii will have wetter than normal conditions this winter, even though November has been drier than normal in a number of places. Last month's rainfall was 25 percent of normal rainfall at Honolulu Airport, 35 percent at Lihue, 60 percent at Kahului and 67 percent at Hilo.

AUSTRALIA's east coast could be hit by a pre-Christmas cyclone, with its effects stretching as far south as northern NSW. The east coast will be battered by strong winds and rain within weeks if surface water temperatures remained at 27C. "We'll have to wait until we see the whites of the cyclone eye but with the WARMER-THAN-AVERAGE SURFACE WATER and moist tropical air I think there is a very good chance we'll get a cyclone before Christmas." The Bureau of Meteorology and SES this week issued warnings about predicted heavy rainfall and increased storm activity across the state. With RECORD NOVEMBER RAINFALL figures in the southwest, central and northern NSW towns would be next to cop heavy downpours caused by the La Nina weather phenomenon. "Bathurst and towns in the northeast will likely be flooded during the summer months." Dam capacities across the state have risen to levels not seen since the 2008 weather event when Sydney's catchment areas peaked at 65 per cent. "We expect all of the dam levels to continue to increase." Across all 14 of the regional dams, the capacity has increased from 27 per cent to 70 per cent since December 2009. There is 14 million ML stored, compared with five million ML wo-years-ago. Farmers downstream of the Burrendong Dam had to move stock and equipment after the dam reached 115 per cent capacity. New South Wales has had its WETTEST START TO SUMMER IN 60 YEARS - and the WETTEST SPRING ON RECORD, 245.7 millilitres of rain. The average is 124 millilitres.


COLUMBIA - The toll from WEEKS of heavy rains and mudslides across Colombia has risen to 174 people dead and over 1.5 million homeless. Another 225 people have been injured and 19 are missing. A total of 1821 homes have been damaged or destroyed. "We've NEVER HAD THIS MANY PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THE RAINY SEASON." The rains were hitting 95% of the country. Some regions, including southwestern Valle del Cauca department, saw more than 12 hours of non-stop rain. More than a dozen mudslides blocked roads from Valle's capital Cali to the Pacific port town of Buenaventura, stranding hundreds of trucks and passenger vehicles. In Roldanillo, another town in Valle, 200 families were evacuated after the Cauca River overflowed and destroyed thousands of hectares of crops. A major canal ruptured in the northern department of Atlantico, flooding six villages and leaving at least 20,000 people homeless. In the central-western Andean department of Tolima, authorities opened the gates of the Prado dam and declared a red alert for some 10 villages affected by the flooding. The storms were being blamed on ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES from La Nina, a phenomenon in which cooler-than-normal water circulates in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.


EUROPE'S early cold snap claimed more lives ysterday, while a wildcat strike by Spanish air traffic controllers added to the travel chaos caused by snow, ice, and in some countries flooding.
Freezing weather killed another nine people in Poland over a 24-hour period, bringing the death toll there to 46 since the beginning of November. Temperatures there dropped as low as minus nine degrees Celsius overnight.
In the neighbouring Czech Republic, it was minus 20 Celsius overnight, disrupting rail traffic as the ice seized up signals at several junctions. French police blamed icy driving conditions for three deaths in the east of the country after a car slid off the road and into a canal near Plobsheim late on Friday. Weather forecasters warned of black ice in northern France that would make driving particularly dangerous. Officials in the French Alps meanwhile warned of the risk of avalanches today in ski stations already open because of the early snow.
Civil aviation officials asked airlines flying out of Charles de Gaulle, Paris' main airport, to cut back their flights by 20 per cent during daylight to ease the pressure caused by the snow and ice there. In Spain, the disruption to air traffic came mainly from a wildcat strike by air traffic controllers, which ran from Friday to Saturday evening, hitting an estimated 300,000 passengers over a long holiday weekend.
Britain's Transport Secretary relaxed the maximum-hours restrictions for truck drivers to keep the country's vital supplies moving. "This will help us with deliveries of fuel, it will help supermarket chains with their deliveries to their stores and it will help with deliveries of salt around the country." The wintry weather has disrupted road, rail and air travel in Britain over the past few days. In many parts of England and Wales however, the snows were melting away. Ski resorts in Scotland warned of the risk of avalanches, but the thaw there was also helping rail traffic, badly disrupted by the recent snow, to slowly get back on track. In Switzerland, Geneva's University Hospital cancelled non-urgent operations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to cope with a massive flow of broken bones caused by people slipping and falling in icy conditions. Operating theatres were working overtime through the weekend. In Carinthia, southern Austria, about 800 homes were still without electricity on Saturday and traffic was hit badly as trees were sent crashing onto roads by the weight of heavy snowfalls.
Germany was enduring sub-zero temperatures, with more snow forecast on Sunday.
Further east, officials evacuated thousand of people in Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia from their homes as days of heavy rain caused flooding. The situation was particularly serious along the river Drina, part of which runs along the border between Bosnia and Serbia. Bosnia declared a state of emergency in the eastern cities of Bijeljina, Visegrad and Zvornik. Albanian soldiers have since Wednesday been working to rescue people in the northern regions of Lezha and Shkodra cut off by the flooding, in what the authorities there have declared a natural catastrophe. In Albania alone, 9000 have had to be evacuated over the past week and thousands of hectares of farmland have been flooded.
Just as the hurricane season draws to a close, the European windstorm season, which usually lasts around four months, starts up. Unlike hurricanes, "no one quite knows what to expect." Scientists just aren't able to make forecasts of the frequency or the intensity of the storms. All they know is that they will occur. "That's because all the phenomena which are found to modulate the rate of arrival of winter storms in Europe have typical timescales of only one to two weeks, compared to the months and years' worth of climatic factors that influence hurricane formation in the US. The linear autocorrelation in the signal decays quickly and is no longer significant after three weeks. I reckon that is the current limit of any 'seasonal' or 'extended range' forecast."
The storms, or more properly "extratropical cyclones (ETC's), are severe. The most damaging in the last five years have been Kyrill in 2007, Klaus in 2009 and Xynthia, earlier this year. "Between them they cost the insurance market around €6 billion {$7.83 billion]."
Research on uncommon European winter storm tracks points to a lower total number of storms in the future but indicates intense storms increasingly moving over the North and Baltic Seas towards Eastern Europe, following a similar path to windstorm Kyrill. Existing catastrophe models only partially capture the climatological variability of European windstorms. The "next generation of catastrophe models must address these challenges as model developers expand coverage into new European territories, responding to higher insurance market penetration in Central and Eastern Europe." Impact Forecasting is working with the University of Cologne to create a pan-European windstorm model that allows detailed analysis of the impact of extreme windstorms on re/insurers' European portfolios. Risk management Solutions is readying an updated version of its Europe Windstorm Model, using more claims and meteorological data than before.
There is speculation that global warming/climate change may be influencing the storm patterns. But, the "scientific jury is out over whether European windstorms' intensity or frequency is increasing due to climate change, partly because there is an intrinsic difficulty in defining what an extratropical cyclone actually is. That's because ETCs display a huge variability in shape and size, as opposed to tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), which exhibit a clear-cut general structure." There is agreement across scientific studies about a general decrease in the number of all ETCs in the northern hemisphere. On the other hand, several studies suggest a regional increase in extreme cyclones in the north east Atlantic, adjacent to Central Europe. But, the large variety of methods and criteria used to track extratropical cyclones makes it difficult to compare different studies and any clear picture of European winter storm is still clouded by uncertainty.


ISRAEL and foreign firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze that's ripping through the north of the country. So far, 41 people are dead and more than 17,000 have been evacuated from their homes. The Prime Minister has upped efforts to recruit international help to fight THE BIGGEST INFERNO IN ISRAEL'S HISTORY. Fire chiefs say they're still some way off from containing the blaze with high winds making conditions difficult.


Health forecasters see a normal flu season - Nearly two years after pandemic flu terrified, however briefly, a lot of Americans, and nearly one year after all flu virtually disappeared, public-health officials said Friday that the early signs were pointing toward the return of a normal flu season.

-Frontier Natural Products Co-op, is recalling two products manufactured with non-organic nutmeg that were sold under the Frontier brand and under the Whole Foods Market brand that contain nutmeg supplied by Mincing Overseas Spice Company. The nutmeg has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Whole Foods Market announces that one of its suppliers, Bravo Farms of Traver, California, has issued a voluntary recall due to evidence of Listeria and E. coli contamination at their plant. Bravo's products at Whole Foods Market stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington are part of this recall. Bravo Farms is expanding its recall to include all Bravo Farms cheese. Bravo Farms had previously issued a recall on its Dutch Style Gouda, and now out of concern for any further contamination decided to further expand the recall to include all of their cheeses.
-Artisan Confections Company is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of its Dagoba Organic Chocolate new moon Rich Dark Chocolate 74% cacao squares because they may contain Salmonella.
-Del Bueno of Grandview, WA is recalling all size packages of Queso Fresco Fresh Cheese, Queso Panela Fresh Cheese, Requeson Mexican Style Ricotta Cheese, and Queso Enchilado Dry Cheese because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., is recalling one product lot of TYLENOL(R) 8 Hour caplets 50 count bottles to the retail level. McNeil is taking this action following a small number of complaints of a musty or moldy odor.