Thursday, December 30, 2010

Australia is getting some of the worst of it - record heat, record rain and a cyclone.

**When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.**
Cree Prophecy

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/29/10 -

MONTANA - 12/25/10 - A rumbling sound followed by an earth-shattering boom and flash of light over Troy caused concerned locals to dial 911 at 8:07 on Christmas night. As of Monday, there had been no confirmed explanation for the phenomenon that shook houses in all ends of Troy proper and was heard three miles south of town.
“There have been a lot of different theories, but no one theory seems to fit the bill. Sounds like whatever it was was right over the top of Troy.” A meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Missoula said it is possible Troy witnessed its own personal Christmas meteor. “Meteors definitely generate a lot of light and heat. If they are low enough in the atmosphere you can definitely hear those bangs.”
Two people in a home witnessed the light that accompanied the blast. One person described seeing a flash through a curtained window as though from the lights of an emergency response vehicle outside the house. “The other person was looking out the big picture window when it happened. It looked like somebody set off a camera flash in the sky.”
Three people were outside their house about three miles south of town. They didn’t witness the light, but the noise was so startling that it caused their horses to take off. “They have guns and fireworks go off next to them and they don’t even snort, but this caused our horses to bolt through the electric fence.” Seconds before the blast, the three could hear a sizzling sound, and they had thought maybe a power box was going out. A police officer who was on duty at the time also heard something in the seconds leading up to the blast. “It sounded like something roaring through the valley, like a train approaching, but quicker and louder." One powerful blast echoed through the valley. From inside his home,a resident heard a rumbling boom like thunder. Others, including the Chief of Police, described the sound as three booms in rapid succession. “It sounded like someone took their fist and just went bang, bang, bang on the outside of my house." They immediately searched the area, looking for signs of a car accident, the remnants of a sparkler bomb or a blown-up electrical transformer. They found nothing. A jet flying overhead and breaking the sound barrier could explain the boom, but not the flash of light. It appeared too powerful to be a bomb or fireworks, officials agreed. “The more I think about it, it seemed like a lightning flash followed by a thunderclap. Of course, it was 25 degrees out and no clouds out that night that I saw.”

No current tropical cyclones.

AUSTRALIA - A tropical cyclone is expected to develop off Western Australia's northwest coast on New Year's Day. A tropical low over the Northern Territory was likely to move west then offshore and may develop into a cyclone tomorrow or New Year's Day off the Pilbara coast after moving quickly west southwest. Heavy rain could be expected in the north Kimberley over the next two days.
"We're not anticipating at this stage a severe tropical cyclone. But people need to be aware, particularly over the holiday time." Gales may develop along the Pilbara coast on Saturday as the system moves along the coast but it was unlikely to cause flooding in the Kimberley or Pilbara because of its steady movement.


AUSTRALIA - Consumers may face fruit and vegetable supply shortages due to the Queensland floods and heavy rain, but farmers say it's too early to predict how bad they will be. It's not necessarily "all doom and gloom", with supplies depending on "how the weather pans out". While floodwater may have destroyed some crops, others may just be affected by rain water and may recover after a few sunny days. But there will be transport problems, with a lot of roads cut off and other infrastructure issues affecting the supply of goods to retailers. "There are issues with dairy cattle being milked and trucks not being able to pick it up. The floods are still very much in action and the main thing now is to try and make sure people are safe." The fruit and vegetable crop situation will become clearer within the next week or so.
"There may not be the full range and supply (of products) which Australian customers are used to." Any price hikes would be in the hands of retailers, responding to supply and demand.
North-eastern Australia's WORST FLOODING IN DECADES is continuing to cause chaos across the region. About 1,000 people in Queensland have been evacuated, including the entire population of the town of Theodore. The floods have not yet peaked. The cost of the damage is expected to top AU$1bn (£650m), including massive losses of sunflower and cotton crops. Army Black Hawk helicopters evacuated the 300 residents of Theodore, where every building in the town apart from the police station has been flooded. "Certainly the water is still rising. The heights are at SUCH A NEW RECORD IT'S NOT KNOWN WHAT IT IS GOING TO DO." The town's river has risen more than 50cm (1.6ft) above its previous recorded high. Vast areas of farmland were under water.
In the city of Bundaberg, residents in some areas were being advised to leave their homes as the Burnett River rose to danger levels. The river was expected to reach 7.5m - about 0.3m more than the previous high water record of 1954. In the Central Highlands town of Emerald, flooding forced the closure of the main bridge, cutting the town off. Rockhampton more remote surrounding communities could be cut off by the weekend. The floods are also hitting businesses in Queensland, which is Australia's key coal-producing state. .”The floods would have a huge economic impact on agricultural areas. There will be many, many cattle drowned. It will be devastating, fences are down on properties as well as farming land. Cotton... and lots of other crops will be affected."
Inland towns such as Chinchilla and Dalby are all under water; the nearby town of Warra, and the towns of Alpha and Jericho, west of Emerald, have also been declared disaster zones, with hundreds of homes flooded or at risk. "Some communities are seeing floodwaters higher than they've seen in decades, and for some communities FLOODWATERS HAVE NEVER REACHED THESE LEVELS BEFORE [in] the time that we have been recording floods. For many communities we haven't even seen the peak of the floodwaters yet, that's a number of days away." The state capital, Brisbane, has recorded its WETTEST DECEMBER IN MORE THAN 150 YEARS. Cyclone Tasha, which hit Queensland on Saturday, also brought torrential rain to the state.
While the rain is now easing, water is continuing to flow from sodden land across central and southern Queensland into already swollen rivers. "Over the next 48 hours rain will be easing but the real impact in some communities won't be felt for a couple of days when floodwaters begin to recede. Once the rain finishes there will still be significant flooding impacts over the next few days." (map)
Entire town to be airlifted from floods - The entire Queensland town of Condamine is being evacuated by air amid the flood crisis. Helicopters have started moving all 100 residents to nearby Dalby after the Condamine River reached 14.25 metres. It's expected to peak at more than 15 metres. "What we flew over today is quite astounding - what's there and also what is coming."

CALIFORNIA - Experts say the ground is so saturated now that the danger of flooding and debris flow will remain heightened through the rest of the rainy season. The WETTEST DECEMBER SINCE 1889 has left hillside areas across Southern California dangerously saturated, bringing a heightened risk of landslides and further flooding in the next few months. More than 14 inches of rain has fallen in some hillside areas in just the last two weeks. The saturation levels could intensify in January and February, when Southern California typically gets most of its rain for the year. Engineers are using helicopters to fly over some hillside areas hit by recent fires, looking for signs of fissures or earth movement.
"It gets to the point where the water that's falling is no longer even going into the ground - it's just skipping off the ground. A lot of residents are under the false impression that once the sun comes out, everything is fine. That's not the case. The soil beneath the surface can take months to completely dry out."
So far this winter, sections of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta threatened by mud cascading off the burned slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains have seen no major flooding, in large part because officials have managed to keep debris basins in the hills clear. But the major danger through the rest of the winter will be the ground itself giving way amid more rain. "With every storm that comes in, it increases the risk of potential mudslides and debris flows. The risk is there now, and it is going to remain there throughout the winter season."
In areas burned by recent fires, as little as a quarter-inch of rain can begin to cause slopes to slide. In areas with more vegetation, debris can begin to flow after about 10 inches of rain.
Geologists were sent into the mountains this week to determine how much mountain roads have been compromised. Although these roads can withstand big accumulations of snow, last week's warm front instead brought large amounts of rain, which undermined the roads. "We've had some storm damage in the last several years, but that was nothing compared to the damage we have now." In the Angeles National Forest, the saturated ground has increased the likelihood of falling rocks and toppling trees, especially in combination with the high winds forecast for the region during the next two days.
The latest rainstorm moved through the region Wednesday, dumping more than 0.8 inches in downtown Los Angeles, where more than 10 inches of rain has fallen so far this month. The rain gave way to gusty winds and dropping slow levels, which could cause problems in the Grapevine and other key mountain passes. Another storm is expected to hit Saturday night. A climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said there's ominous similarity between this early winter and that of 2004-05: Both brought eye-popping amounts of rain. In fact, December 2004 brought so much that it set a record for December rainfall for the 20th and 21st centuries - but this month's more than 10 inches of rain topped even that. During that memorable winter six years ago, the rains kept coming, fueled by an El Niño that pounded the region into the new year, provoking destructive debris flows, floods and landslides across the region. Downtown L.A. saw more than 37 inches of rain that year, well above its average of 15. But this year, the opposite of El Niño - a La Niña, or a cooling of waters in the central Pacific - could assert itself and bring drier conditions in January and February. "The bottom line is, something is imminent if the rains continue like this."


AUSTRALIA - Adelaide is set to have its HOTTEST NEW YEAR'S EVE IN MORE THAN A CENTURY amid potentially catastrophic fire danger. Revellers are likely to head for water with weather forecasters tipping a 43C (109.4F) scorcher - the warmest New Year's Eve since 1904's 44.2C.
Strong winds and sweltering temperatures in the 30s and 40s across the state could result in a catastrophic fire risk in some areas..Most people are likely to head for the coast. The emergency services warn that people should check their fire plans, remember that private use of fireworks is prohibited at all times and the reckless disposal of cigarettes could result in a fine of up to $5000.