Thursday, January 13, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Heavy rains blamed on the La Nina weather phenomenon that have brought death and destruction to Australia's northeast COULD STAY FOR MONTHS, weather forecasters warned Tuesday. After emerging from years of devastating drought and water restrictions in 2009, Queensland enjoyed its WETTEST SPRING ON RECORD last year, making catchments more likely to overflow when further heavy rains hit. The wet conditions, which began in earnest in December and have wiped out crops, flooded mining operations and claimed at least 20 lives, could continue until the end of March. "The national outlook for the January to March period favours wetter conditions in the eastern half of New South Wales, southeastern Queensland and western Western Australia," the bureau said in its latest forecast. The bureau said the rainfall was the result of cool conditions in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean associated with the current La Nina - a disruptive weather event associated with rains. "The southeast, roughly one-quarter of Queensland... has about a 60 to 75 percent likelihood of getting above the median three-month rainfall for January to March." The December to March period was traditionally the wettest of the year for Queensland, and much of the region had endured RECORD RAINFALLS in December. Experts said even if subsequent downpours were not extreme, they could cause major problems because catchments and rivers were already full to overflowing.
More extreme weather to hit Australia's east coast - A long range weather forecaster also warns there'll be more extreme weather events over the coming months. He monitors sunspots and solar flares to forecast the weather. He expects to see more damaging rainfall across the Eastern seaboard, and thinks five cyclones could develop off the coast of Queensland by the end of March. "About up to five cyclones. I'm predicting, I think there's one in January, I think there's a couple in February and two in March. You know, we haven't seen anything yet, especially if these cyclones get moving and just the ferocity of the rainfall, it's going to be quite intense and I wouldn't be surprised if these cyclones aren't quite savage as well."

**When the guy who made the first drawing board
got it wrong, what did he go back to?
Steven Wright

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/12/11 -


INDONESIA - Nearly 9,000 people have escaped floods of rainwater which mixed cold lava and mud emitted by the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano, which occurred in October. The number of evacuees has kept rising since rain poured down the slope of the volcano on Jan. 10. "Today, more than 1,500 people escaped the floods, putting the total evacuees since Jan. 10 to 8,830 people - the figure may rise." The evacuees had taken shelters to government office, buildings, schools, and mosques. The floods cause a river to overflow and damaged houses and other buildings. The flooding has killed one so far. Mount. Merapi started eruption in late October, killing 386 people and injuring 131 others. The eruption displaced hundreds and thousands of people, of whom over 11,000 of them remain living in shelters.

-Tropical cyclone VANIA was 1091 nmi NNW of Auckland, New Zealand.
-Tropical cyclone VINCE was 780 nmi W of Broome, Australia.

Vanuatu battered by Cyclone Vania - People in Vanuatu are being urged to stay inside their homes and avoid the ocean, as tropical Cyclone Vania whips up gale force winds in the Pacific. The cyclone has battered crops, cut lines of communication in some areas and caused minor damage to homes. It was sitting about 50km northwest of Tanna, in the south of the island group, this morning. Wind speeds peaked at 95km/h and people in the Tafea Province, in Vanuatu's south, were advised by the authorities to stay indoors today, avoid the ocean and listen for updates. Cyclone Vania was expected to move close to the Loyalty Islands - a province in New Caledonia - this afternoon. All businesses and schools in the region had been ordered to stay closed.

Tropical Cyclone Vince off Australia's north-west coast is highly unlikely to have any impact on the coast and the mineral-rich Pilbara region, the Bureau of Meteorology said. "We're not expecting it to have any impact on the coast or the Pilbara at all. It's 900 kilometres north of Exmouth heading south-east, but we're expecting after a day it will head west to south-west back into the ocean. It shouldn't affect the mainland." Cyclone Vince is a category one cyclone, the weakest rating on a scale of one to five.
There were early indications another cyclone may form off the Kimberley coast next week.


AUSTRALIA - Victoria is bracing itself for wild weather and flash flooding that could be the state's WORST FLOODS FOR DECADES. Another 100mm of rain is expected around several rivers tonight and tomorrow, which will affect the towns of Charlton, Natimuk, Stoney Creek and Glenorchy. The rainfall will swell the Loddon, Avoca and Wimmera rivers, which have been hit by floods this year and heavy rains in recent days.
Authorities are also monitoring the Campaspe River in the north.
The conditions are linked to the La Nina weather pattern that has also contributed to the deadly floods that has left a trail of destruction in Queensland. "Our concern this afternoon is that for these communities, particularly on the Loddon, Avoca and Wimmera Rivers, that if we do see the higher end rainfall totals we will see those rivers going to a higher level than was seen back in September, which was major flooding. This will see communities put at risk again of properties being inundated by floodwater." A new rain band will develop in the north-west and move across the state. "From now until tomorrow, we are expecting 50-100mm of rain in the west with isolated totals of 150mm possible in the Grampians and Pyrenees." The rain band is expected to hit Melbourne after midnight with up to 30mm of rain to fall in the city.
Heavy rains across the state yesterday caused the evacuations of 12 homes in the Wimmera town of Natimuk, flash flooding and landslides in several areas, including the Great Ocean Rd which was closed by police, and the uprooting of parts of a major pipeline. Rain picked up in northern districts, with regional town Kyneton hit by flash flooding. The rainfall is expected to work its way across Victoria as tropical rains push down from the Northern Territory. "And it's going to be even more humid."
While the RECORD RAINFALLl experienced by many parts of Victoria yesterday was "nothing on the scale of what is happening in Queensland", the flooding was no less dangerous. Yesterday Jeparit was one of the hardest hit areas, recording 161mm in the 24 hours to 9am, the HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN THE REGION IN 113 YEARS. Rainbow recorded 130mm, the heaviest seen since records began 74 years ago, and Horsham and Longerenong received 100mm each. A 40km stretch of the Great Ocean Rd, between Lorne and Skenes Creek, has been closed since yesterday morning after heavy rains caused rockfalls and landslides.
Queensland has rebuilding task of 'post-war proportions' - The task of rebuilding communities in Queensland submerged by floodwaters would reach that of "post-war proportions", the state's premier warned today, as the Brisbane river continued to surge through the city, and the death toll rose to 15, with at least 70 still missing. "Queensland is reeling this morning from the worst natural disaster in our history and possibly in the history of our nation. We've seen three-quarters of our state having experienced the devastation of raging floodwaters and we now face a reconstruction task of postwar proportions."
Grave fears remained for the areas of the Lockyear valley and Toowoomba where many are still missing. Authorities continue to search for bodies in Grantham and Withcott, two small towns in the Lockyer Valley that were among the communities hit by a devastating flash flood earlier in the week. The state was mired in anxiety overnight, with forecasters predicting the Brisbane river would reach a peak of 5.5m at 5am local time, however, in the end the water level was at a depth of 4.46m, slightly lower than predicted, and below the 5.45m reached in the 1974 flood. However, despite the measurements, 11,900 homes and 2,500 businesses which had been completely inundated with water, and another 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses at least partially covered. Almost 115,000 homes remained without electricity because of the dangers of electrocution and more than 4,000 people spent the night in evacuation centres.
As the muddy floodwaters surged through the city, residents spoke of the polluted smells rising up from the dank waters, as sewage began spilling into the river. Boats torn from their moorings were sent speedily down the raging torrent, which also took with it a 300 tonne pedestrian boardwalk that moved rapidly downstream before two tug boats were able to steer it away from bridges. An entire waterfront cafe was lost to the water. With roads cut off, power down, and rail lines closed, those who wanted to travel or help neighbours moved through the waters in kayaks, or small rowboats. Masses of vegetables, fruit and sugarcane crops have been lost, and prices across Australia are due to rise sharply as a consequence. West of Brisbane, in Toowoomba, where the flood swept away cars and boats, that number was likely to rise as search and rescue teams accessed more devastated areas. "We've got to brace ourselves for more bad news."

TASMANIA - Heavy rains forced the closure of roads in eastern Tasmania, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting flash flooding across the state. The town of St Helens was worst hit, with police closing the Tasman Highway and warning motorists to completely avoid the area. Houses in the town, as well as in nearby Four Mile Creek and Scamander were suffering minor flooding. Roads were also likely to be affected in the state's northwest. The Bureau of Meteorology said Scamander had recorded 278mm (11 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 11am (AEDT) today. Heavy rain is expected to continue across the state today and tomorrow. Further localised flash flooding is very likely. "Strong and gusty northeasterly winds may cause localised damage about parts of the north and the southeast."

BRAZIL - UPDATE - At least 270 dead in floods, landslides. Floods and landslides devastated several mountain towns near Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, killing at least 257 people as torrents of water and mud swept through the region, burying many families as they slept. The heavy rains also killed 13 people in Sao Paulo state on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll in Brazil's south to at least 270.
Hillsides and river banks in the picturesque Serrana region north of Rio buckled under the equivalent of a month's rainfall in 24 hours, destroying houses and killing many people early Wednesday. Television images showed many houses buried in mud as desperate residents and rescue workers searched for survivors. "There was no way of telling which house would fall. Rich and poor -- everything was destroyed." At least 130 people were killed in Teresopolis, about 62 miles (100 km) north of Rio. At least 20 people were killed in the city of Petropolis, and 107 in the town of Nova Friburgo. The number of victims was expected to rise as rescuers find more bodies and reach more remote areas. About 50 people were believed missing just in Teresopolis. "Rescue teams are still arriving in the areas that have been worst affected." About 1,000 people had been left homeless. "It's the biggest catastrophe in the history of the town."
Thousands of people in the region were isolated by the floodwaters and cut off from power and telephone contact. The downpour caused at least one river to burst its banks, submerging cars and destroying houses in Teresopolis. "We just don't know what to do in the face of something so horrible." In Nova Friburgo, three firemen were missing after being buried by a mudslide while they tried to rescue victims. Buses and trucks were shown stranded on streets with floodwaters reaching up to their windows. Many poorer Brazilians are especially vulnerable to landslides because they live in unsafe, illegal housing, often built precariously on hillsides. Major landslides in April in the Rio killed about 180 people in slum communities.


Antimatter - A NASA spacecraft designed to measure high-energy events in the deep cosmos has found them instead right here on Earth. Ordinary thunderstorms, it turns out, produce potent bursts of antimatter hundreds of times a day.

A solar wind stream is heading for Earth, due to arrive on Jan. 14-15. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of geomagnetic activity in response to the impact of the stream. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for weekend auroras.


-SURTEX FOODS CO. of Los Angeles is recalling Oaxaca string Cheese La Original because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus.
-Sprouters Northwest, Inc. of Kent, WA, is recalling all of its clover and clover mix products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.