Sunday, March 6, 2011

In a fortnight Earth will experience the biggest moon it has seen in nearly two decades. One astronomer is predicting it may bring more worrying disruptions to the Earth’s climate patterns. On March 19th the moon will be at its CLOSEST POINT TO EARTH IN 18 YEARS, an event that is known as a “lunar perigee”, or the much more exciting “SuperMoon”, as one astrologer called it. On March 19, the moon will be just 356,577km away from Earth, an event that has internet theorists a-quiver with the possibility of extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanoes. Not all scientists are convinced, however.
Though throughout the last year the world may have seen birds falling from the sky and schools of dead fish washing up on the shore, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy says we shouldn’t be running to our bomb shelters just yet. “There will be no earthquakes or volcanoes, unless they are to happen anyway. (The Earth will experience) just a lower than usual low tide and a higher than usual high tide around the time of the event, but nothing to get excited about.” But try telling that to anyone who suffered through the New England hurricane in 1938, or the Hunter Valley floods of 1955. Both happened during lunar perigrees. Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and Hurricance Katrina in 2005 also coincided with distances that were close to SuperMoons.
But an astronomer says, “If you try hard enough you can chronologically associate almost any natural disaster/event to anything in the night sky ... comet, planet, sun. Remember in the past, planetary alignments were going to pull the sun apart. It didn't. Astrologers draw a very long bow most times. Normal king tides are about all I would expect out of this SuperMoon prediction.”
But a Planetary and Environmental Geoscientist at Adelaide University says the predictions of weather and earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters based on planetary configurations have not been successful, but there may be some correlation between near-equatorial large scale earthquakes and new and full moon situations. “This is because the Earth-tides (analogous to ocean tides) may be the final trigger that sets off the earthquake."

**Anything in history or nature
that can be described as changing steadily
can be seen as heading toward catastrophe.**
Susan Sontag

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/5/11 -

3/4/11 -

3/3/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - More aftershocks from Christchurch's big quake have again rattled the devastated city, the strongest measuring 4.8.
Bleak future for Christchurch as population flees - After the deadly earthquake left homes creaking and wiped out buildings and jobs, thousands of residents have turned their back on Christchurch, raising questions over the city's future. City officials estimate one-sixth of Christchurch's 390,000 population - some 65,000 people - have fled New Zealand's second city, terrified by incessant aftershocks or because their workplace has been affected. The key question is how many of those departures will prove to be permanent.
Estimates are that the tremor - that killed at least 166 people - destroyed one-third of the buildings in central Christchurch and left 10,000 people homeless. It could be months before parts of the city reopen, and though the government has underwritten all employees' wages for six weeks in a bid to protect jobs, prospects for the CBD's 52,000 workers are uncertain. "I know already that populations in other towns in the South Island have risen exponentially as people from here who have the ability to or have a holiday home or have a contact relocate. They need to make arrangements for their children's education, they need some sort of permanence." Hundreds of Canterbury University students are being shipped to Australia to finish their studies while thousands of schoolchildren have enrolled elsewhere, some as far away as Auckland, after some local schools warned they could be closed for a year.
The quake has left city businesses scrambling for office space in the suburbs, setting up in warehouses and homes. Some companies had moved their servers into bunkers after the earlier quake, meaning staff can log in from home while the city remains in lockdown, but others have lost everything. Meanwhile tens of thousands of residences are still without power or water, and a quarter of all homes will need some sort of repair work. About 10,000 will need to be demolished -- entire streets in some suburbs -- and the rush is on to find parks and other land for temporary housing before the punishing southern winter sets in. Cruise ships are even being considered to accommodate the residents of Lyttelton, epicentre of the violent quake. But many have been scarred by their experience and simply want out. "I'm sick of having earthquakes every day. In the centre right where we live we feel them a lot." Redundancies have begun in earnest, with at least one major supermarket chain joining scores of small businesses in refusing to reopen its doors, costing hundreds of jobs at two stores alone. The devastation in Christchurch, which accounts for some 15 percent of New Zealand's economy, has been estimated at NZ$16 billion ($12 billion), with officials warning it could send the country into recession.
But while the exodus is undeniable, experts believe it will only be temporary, with the city's location in Canterbury's rich farming heartland and proximity to the major port of Lyttelton still strong drawcards for business.

PHILIPPINES - Series of quakes trigger brownouts in Surigao. A series of earthquakes hit Mindanao from early afternoon of Thursday until the early hours of Friday with the strongest, an intensity 5.7 earthquake, rocking Surigao City shortly before midnight of Thursday causing power outages in some parts of the city and the towns of Cantilan and Carrascal in Surigao del Sur. The quake caused residents of Surigao City to run out of their homes and panic among farm animals. No casualty was reported immediately after the quakes. Another temblor of magnitude 3.9 occurred at 5:27 p.m. with its epicenter located at 54 kilometers northwest of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, with a depth of one kilometer. At 5:41 p.m. Thursday, a magnitude 4.1 quake occurred with epicenter located at 23 kilometers southeast of Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte, at a depth of 18 kilometers. A magnitude 5.6 quake occurred at 8:52 p.m. Thursday with its epicenter at 240 kilometers southeast of General Santos City at a depth of 60 kilometers. At 10:27 p.m. Thursday another earthquake was recorded at magnitude 3.3 with epicenter located at 12 kilometers northeast of Carrascal, Surigao Del Sur, at a depth of one kilometer.Several mild quakes were also recorded in the early hours of morning of Friday. The quake damaged power lines causing power outages in several areas covered by the Surigao Del Norte Electric Cooperative.


HAWAII - Kilauea Volcano has been a relatively peaceful spectacle on Hawaii Island, allowing tourists and scientists to get close to the geological show with minimal danger. But Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists believe Kilauea may be giving everyone the wrong impression. During a deadly eruption in 1790, searing hot ash and gas suddenly exploded out of the volcano, killing many. It is likely that the blast took 80 lives simultaneously, although it is possible that several hundred died. That death toll makes Kilauea THE DEADLIEST KNOWN VOLCANO IN THE U.S.
Which begs the question: Could such a deadly eruption happen again? Yes, but the conditions have to be right.
A deadly hurricane force “surge” is largely driven by steam, and models suggest that the Kilauea summit caldera would have to deepen to the water table below. Such an explosive event would likely spread some ash around the island, but the greatest danger would be to the subdivisions immediately surrounding the national park.
Particularly at risk of deadly surge are the Volcano Golf Course subdivision, Volcano Village, or even Mauna Loa Estates. But how long would such a caldera deepening take before it would begin to trigger explosive eruptions? Would there be time to evacuate?Scientists believe it would take days to weeks of collapsing for the lava to reach the water table, but once it did, it would be time to evacuate. There is no reason to think that any major explosive activity is on the near horizon. Such caldera collapses happen every few hundred to 1,000 years.

No current tropical cyclones.


AUSTRALIA - First it was locusts, then floods, now millions of crickets have invaded northern Victoria, shutting shops (to fumigate in a bid to control the masses of crickets) and devouring newspapers. The summer’s RECORD-BREAKING WET WEATHER has prompted an insect invasion with a plague of crickets sweeping into towns such as Mildura, Yarrawonga and Wodonga. Grasshoppers and spiders are also in abundance while mosquitoes are posing a health risk as cases of Ross River virus increase more than five-fold. The invasion has forced the closure of shops. The early months of summer had been particularly good for mosquitoes, dragonflies and locusts and now it is the crickets turn. ‘‘We’ve had lots of rain and that promotes plant growth so there’s lot of food around for crickets but it’s been a good year for a lot of different insects and spiders. ‘We’ve had 10 years of drought, which is not good for insects so everyone’s really taking advantage of the conditions this year.’’ It was THE FIRST TIME a plague of mottled field crickets had hit Victoria with the chirpy critters widespread across the state, including in Melbourne.
The crickets eat plants but not agricultural crops and pose more of a threat to retailers than farmers. ‘‘Crickets are certainly in their millions in some areas of Victoria. ‘Shopkeepers are often having to sweep out large piles of crickets in the morning because most crickets are attracted to lights at night so in shopping strips where there are lots of lights the crickets are attracted and a lot of them will die overnight and leave large piles of bodies in the morning.’’ The insect-boom has in turn led to an increase in spiders, which are feasting on the dead. The crickets live for about two weeks but as the weather cools their life-span will shorten and most will die out. 7000 copies of the newspaper were destroyed on Sunday night when crickets poured into the printing press attracted by the bright lights. ‘‘The paper still came out, we basically printed about double what we normally print and about half of them were ruined and it took quite a bit of effort to get the paper out." The insect invasion had been making front-page news as crickets make themselves at home in motel rooms, block shop fronts and set off store security sensors. ‘‘It’s pretty awful. We’ve dealt with quite a lot in recent times - locusts and floods and this is just another thing."
Rural Queensland on flash flood alert - Rural towns across Queensland are on flood alert following heavy downpours which have cut roads and isolated communities. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued flash flooding and severe weather warnings for Channel Country, the Peninsula, north tropical coast and the Herbert and Lower Burdekin. A weak tropical low is set to dump more heavy rain on Sunday. The low was off the coast of Cape Melville, on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. "It's likely to continue moving west. We do expect the rainfall to increase markedly in the latter part of Sunday and on Monday."
The bureau was closely monitoring the weak low on the off chance it crossed over into water on the Gulf and developed into a cyclone. The bureau says a strong southeast wind change moving northwards over the east coast is likely to bring heavy rainfall to the tropical coast between Cooktown and Bowen . Since 9am Saturday Murray Flats recorded 104mm rain and Kowanyama had 82mm. A flood warning is current for the Nicholson and Lower Norman Rivers.
Asecond low was also producing soggy conditions and flooding in western Queensland. "It produced excessively heavy rainfall over parts of the Channel Country overnight. The highest reading we have is ... 313mm at Bedourie. THAT'S A RECORD for Bedourie." The bureau warns major flood levels are expected at Bedourie today. All roads were closed in the Diamantina Shire which covers the towns of Birdsville and Bedourie. "The water is really slow moving and (Bedourie) is protected by a levee bank (while Birdsville is on higher ground). Every road in the shire is cut, all the main access roads are dirt. Normal rain usually closes them off."
It could be a long wait for residents in the area. "I expect the roads to be closed for two to four weeks." There were enough supplies in the shire to last that long. "They got trucks in before this came. They'll have enough food for probably the next month and then after that we can fly more in if we need to. They're quite well versed at that, it's not an unusual occurrence."

LOUISIANA - One dead, dozens hurt as US tornado hits. Severe weather and tornadoes have hit southern Louisiana overnight, leaving one young mother dead, several people injured and dozens of homes and businesses destroyed.


NEW MEXICO - Winter Storm Caused At Least $3 Million In Damage. The RECORD-BREAKING LOW TEMPERATURES brought by the storm left tens of thousands of homes and businesses throughout New Mexico without electricity, water or gas for days. "The temperatures were extreme."