Friday, January 28, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Two possible cyclones threaten to hit within days of each other. Cyclone Anthony could intensify from a category one to a category three storm and hit the Burdekin Coast, between Cardwell and Bowen, on Monday. Meanwhile, it's feared a tropical low about 1500km northeast of Vanuatu could build into a category four cyclone and hit north of Gladstone on Thursday. "In a worst-case scenario, Queensland could see two tropical cyclones cross the coast in a matter of three or four days."
It was grim news as the state was trying to recovering from heavy rains and damaging floods. "We're battening down the hatches once more, but we hope both these weather formations disappear out at sea somewhere. But on all current modelling, the bureau's best advice is that both of these cyclones will cross the Queensland coast next week, and we have to be ready for that possibility."
The second system was likely to be named Yasi by the Fijian government. It likely to bring substantial rainfall and possibly more flooding across the state. A cyclone watch issued on Friday for communities between Cairns and Bowen is likely to be upgraded to a warning on Saturday. Rains brought by Cyclone Tasha, a category one system that crossed the Queensland coast on Christmas Day last year, led to flooding in an area the size of France and Germany.

**To love what you do and feel that it matters -
could anything be more fun?**
Katherine Graham

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/17/11 -


COLUMBIA - Colombian authorities have raised the risk level of the Galeras volcano to orange alert, meaning an eruption is likely within days or weeks. The Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining declared the alert on Wednesday because of "fluctuating levels in the occurrence of seismicity". In particular, "the occurrence of earthquakes with screw-type characteristics, which are relevant because in Galeras they have been recorded in periods prior to eruptions."
The Civil Defense and Red Cross volunteers have prepared nine shelters with basic elements necessary for survival to accommodate the some 8,000 residents from the nearby municipalities. No residents have been evacuated yet. Galeras is the country's most active volcano. It erupted in January 2010, forcing the evacuation of the area's inhabitants. In 2009 the volcano erupted five times.

JAPAN - Volcano Erupts in Southern Japan, Smoke Seen 5,000 Feet Above the Crater. A Japanese volcano in the southern Kyushu region erupted Wednesday, leaving fields in nearby towns coated with ash and prompting limited voluntary evacuations overnight. Heavy clouds of smoke spewing from the Shinmoedake volcano on Mount Kirishima prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to raise the volcanic alert level to a 3, warning people to clear the area within a mile of the volcano.
The eruption did not pose a threat to nearby cities, and a major eruption was not imminent, as of now. "You can never say never with a volcano. But the lack of magma movement beneath the surface leads us to believe that this activity won't lead to a large-scale eruption." The volcano, one of 20 inside Mount Kirishima, began erupting around 7:30 Wednesday morning. By 3 p.m., heavy smoke could be seen billowing nearly 5,000 feet above the crater. Air space above the mountain remained open but the haze prompted airlines to cancel at least four domestic flights from the Miyazaki Prefecture today, while the buildup of ash on train tracks forced Japan Rail to cancel several train lines in the region. Roads were shut down because of poor visibility. School-bound children were advised to wear masks as a precaution. Farmers woke up to find their fields coated with debris. "People told us their windows were rattling and they heard roaring sounds coming from the mountain." While frequent activity has been reported at Kirishima, this is the largest eruption recorded there since 1959.

INDONESIA - The plans of Australian holidaymakers to one of their most popular tourist destinations are in disarray after flights to Bali were again cancelled due to a volcano. The ash was coming from Tengger Caldera, on the island of Java. Today's eruption follows those of Mount Bromo and Mount Merapi late last year. Those also caused flights to Bali to be cancelled.

PAKISTAN - Gooey" New Mud Volcano Erupts From Arabian Sea. There's a new island in the azure waters off Pakistan, but you might want to hold off on vacation planning: The tiny dot is a mud volcano that will likely disappear before it sees 1,001 Arabian nights. Pakistani fishers reported the new mud volcano in the Arabian Sea in late November, and NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite snapped a picture of it on January 11. The volcano was not in a satellite picture of the same region taken last February.
Mud volcano "islands" have appeared in the Arabian Sea before, and most have washed away within a few months. In fact, the January picture shows tan sediments steaming from the new mud volcano, suggesting it is eroding and will soon vanish. Mud volcanoes, which can appear on land or underwater, form when underground layers of silt or clay become pressurized either by tectonic activity or by a buildup of hydrocarbon gases.
Pakistan's mud volcanoes are driven by plate tectonics: The Arabian plate is subducting - or diving under - the Eurasian landmass, churning up sediments that form Pakistan's coastal plains and an offshore slope.
Underneath the plains, subduction is also melting rock into magma, which infuses the groundwater with heat and volcanic gases. The resulting acidic brew dissolves the rocks above into a slurry of mud and hydrocarbons, which then seeps through faults in slow eruptions.
Most mud volcanoes stand only a few inches to several feet high, but the land-based ones on Pakistan's plains can rise up to 330 feet (100 meters). Some of these peaks have been known to spew gas plumes that spontaneously combust, sending tongues of fire high into the sky. At about two miles (three kilometers) offshore, the new mud volcano is probably poking up from water that's about 98 to 197 feet (30 to 60 meters) deep. Its surface mud is relatively cool but "is likely water-saturated, so stays gooey to souplike depending on the amount of saturation." It's RARE for such mud volcanoes to breach the water's surface. They aren't aware of any that have lasted long enough to support island living, although it's possible the mud contains some bacteria that thrive above the waves.

Cyclone BIANCA was 628 nmi NNW of Perth, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 450 nmi NNW of Auckland, New Zealand.


People across the US northeast wearily shovelled their footpaths and dug out their cars after getting clobbered by the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of snowstorms. At least six deaths were blamed on the storm, including those of a Baltimore taxi driver whose cab caught fire after getting stuck in the snow, and people hit by snowplows in Delaware, Maryland and New York. In the Washington area, up to 17 centimetres of snow renewed memories of last year's "snowpocalypse" and created chaos when it hit the nation's capital at the height of the evening rush hour on Wednesday, forcing commuters into treacherous, eight-hour drives home. Even the President got caught in traffic. "I've lived in New York 70 years, and this year is the worst I remember. It's the continuity of it. It just keeps coming. Every week there's something new to be worried about. It's almost become comical."
Many schools closed for a second day yesterday. Airports ground to a halt, and nearly a half-million people lost power at some point. The forecast had called for up to 30cm snow but the storm brought far more than that. New York got 48cm, Philadelphia 43cm. Boston got about 30cm, as expected. New York City typically gets 53cm of snow a winter. The latest storm makes this JANUARY THE SNOWIEST SINCE THE CITY STARTED KEEPING RECORDS, breaking the mark of 69cm set in 1925. The New York area has been hit with snow eight times since mid-December. The airport serving Hartford, Connecticut got a foot of snow, bringing the total for the month so far to 139cm and BREAKING THE ALL-TIME MONTHLY RECORD of 115cm, set in December 1945.
In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier by high winds. Gusts of 74km/h were reported in Hyannis, 72km/h in Rockport and 79km/h on Nantucket early on Thursday. In Lynn, Massachusetts, heavy snow collapsed a garage roof and briefly trapped two men.