Thursday, February 10, 2011

A RARE, giant breed of locusts has the potential to destroy crops in New South Wales, Australia OVERNIGHT. The spur-throated locusts is a mainly tropical species found in Queensland and the Northern Territory but warm and humid weather has drawn them into NSW. The Government has a plan of attack to help northwestern NSW farmers control THE LARGEST OUTBREAK IN 40 YEARS. "The much larger spur-throated locust is a ferocious eater and can completely destroy a crop overnight. Insecticides are now being made available to farmers to control densely-populated spur-throated locust nymphs on their properties." Rangers are also being deployed to help farmers identify the creatures, which have a spur or throat peg between their front legs.

**The difference between perseverance and obstinacy
is that one often comes from a strong will,
and the other from a strong won't.**
-- Henry Ward Beecher

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/9/11 -

Alaska's Next Big Earthquake? - According to geologists, the next big one could be as large or larger than the Good Friday quake in 1964. Worse yet, the earthquake could hit at any time. Where does the Port of Anchorage fall? Right in the danger zone. The Port of Anchorage is a piece of critical infrastructure that connects southcentral Alaska to food, supplies and fuel. But when the next big earthquake hits, officials say the port is headed for disaster.
In 1964, the Port of Anchorage was brand new and survived the massive quake with minor structural damage. However more than 40 years later, an earthquake in the Port of Anchorage would be quite a different story. "Over time, the silt builds up under the dock and upland of the dock. If the soils beneath that were to liquefy, all of that weight from that material would come through the facility. Even if the piles were perfect, they are not driven deep enough through that failure plane. It's likely to take the facility with it." But ground failure susceptibility isn't the only problem. It's estimated that of the 2,000 piles supporting the port, at least half are corroded and only about 20 percent of those have been repaired with metal sleeves. "We generally repair about 20 pilings a year and it would take us another 10 years to probably fix all of the ones that are suspect." In a large earthquake the sediment that has built up behind them would liquefy, pushing on the piles, causing them to collapse. There would be little left of the port to repair, which was news to officials at the Municipal Department of Emergency Preparedness. "I have been here two years, and I have never heard that before... ever." If the port fails, the secondary method of getting things in and out, air transportation, would be severely impacted. It supplies two-thirds of the fuel for the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and 100 percent of the fuel for Elmendorf Air Force Base.
The port isn't the only area of town that may have big problems when the next big earthquake hits. The city of Anchorage is built on unique soil: a sensitive layer of bootlegger clay. It's not all composed of bootlegger clay, but certain layers are slick and can lose strength in motion. This means in an earthquake the ground can give way which is exactly what happened in 1964. "I remember in the '64 quake watching the ground roll, and I was watching the birch trees, the tops hitting the ground even at six years old I remember thinking, that's weird."
Ground failure caused much of the Turnagain neighborhood to fall into Cook Inlet and caused gaping cracks in the streets downtown. Experts say the same thing could happen again in a similar quake.
The city was so concerned about the affects of another quake shortly after 1964 that city leaders wanted people to relocate out of the dangerous Turnagain and Bootlegger's Cove neighborhoods. Officials collected the property deeds but then something went wrong. "Somehow over the course of events, the deeds never got transferred and people ended up retaining ownership and as you know memories got faded and people said 'you know, I would like to build there again." But those neighborhoods aren't the only areas that could see problems in another quake. Since 1964, municipal code has changed 16 times to require more precautions be taken in the danger zones like downtown. It has worked well to make sure new buildings could withstand the next big one but not the older buildings.
Geologists say the next big earthquake could hit southcentral Alaska at any time and how Anchorage fares remains to be seen. One of the problems with ground failure is it's hard to create building codes to guard against it. Code officials are working on some possible solutions for 2012. On the meantime, municipal code officials have set up a special web page to make sure property owners know what kind of ground danger they are in. (map)

NORTH CAROLINA - 2/8/11 - Another "boom" felt downtown and in Leland. Folks downtown and across the river in Leland heard another mysterious "boom" in the afternoon around 3:30 p.m. At the radio station it felt and sounded like either someone had hit the building with a vehicle or like someone dropped something huge on the roof. No one knows for sure what causes the booms. Many believe it's a sonic boom created by a military jet from a nearby base. Others say it's something called the "Seneca Guns," a phenomenon caused by shifting plates out in the ocean.

Cyclone BINGIZA was 404 nmi NNW of Port Louis, Mauritius.


AUSTRALIA - Western and Southeast districts of ueensland received more heavy rain with storms yesterday. Baralaba in the Capricornia picked up a hefty 123mm in the 24 hours to 9am, this is their heaviest daily rain total in 8 years for any month. Rain rates were also up to 11mm in ten minutes at Longreach and 9mm in ten minutes at Roma.
The storms developed yesterday due to cold upper level air which increased the instability in the atmosphere. There was also a surface low pressure trough moving through southern QLD which was already causing patchy rain and the odd storm. The heavy rain is also largely attributable to the very high amounts of moisture in the atmosphere. This is a result of the passing of two ex-Tropical Cyclones, moist southeasterly winds and a prolonged increased flow of moisture from across the Pacific due to the La Nina Event that they are currently experiencing. Storm activity will contract further north into the tropics over the next few days thanks to a high pressure ridge strengthening in the east and stabilising the atmosphere.


High pressure pushed wacky weather over USA - Record, or near-record, snowfalls in Chicago, New York City and Tulsa. For much of the USA, the winter has been a seemingly endless series of intense cold snaps and colossal snowstorms during months of record-shattering weather. It may not sound too dramatic, but when we've had extreme winter weather in North America and Europe, the common denominator has been UNUSUALLY HIGH PRESSURE AT THE UPPER LEVELS OF THE ATMOSPHERE over the Arctic and Greenland. Such high atmospheric pressure has made temperatures warmer than average over Canada, Greenland and Alaska, but has opened the door to lower pressure, cold outbreaks and ferocious storms over the USA and Europe.
The high pressure over Greenland this winter was characteristic of the "negative phase" of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and its close cousin the Arctic Oscillation. Both oscillations refer to seesaw patterns in atmospheric pressure between the polar regions and the middle latitudes. In the oscillations' "negative phase," higher-than-normal pressure areas form over the polar regions and lower-than-normal pressure troughs form over the middle latitudes. These persistent "troughs" helped stir up storms over the middle latitudes.
La Niña - cooler-than-average water in the central Pacific Ocean - played a role this winter, but other climate patterns, such as the NAO and the persistently strong ridges and troughs overwhelmed the effects of La Niña in some areas. In a typical La Niña winter, much of the southern and central USA see a warmer- and drier-than-average winter while the West Coast and Northwest are colder than average. A strong El Niño can mean a stormy winter along the West Coast, a wet winter across the South and a warmer-than-average winter for parts of the North. "They (La Niña and El Niño) are not the be-all and end-all of everything."
How about global warming? Does this cold winter disprove it? Not really. As global temperatures rise, higher pressure is more likely at upper levels of the atmosphere, which is what happened this winter. Strong ridges aloft in recent months and years have been conducive to potent troughs of low pressure that help form intense storms.
"While major population centers such as London, Paris, Chicago and Atlanta were shivering, which got a lot of media attention, large expanses in and near the Arctic, including northeast Canada and Greenland, have been experiencing UNUSUALLY WARM conditions this winter." The loss of Arctic sea ice, which was at its LOWEST DECEMBER AND JANUARY LEVELS ON RECORD, could be changing atmospheric patterns.