Monday, April 11, 2011

Japan failed to stop radioactive discharge into ocean. - Japanese nuclear power plant operator TEPCO expects to stop pumping radioactive water into the ocean on Monday, days later than planned, a step that would help ease international concern about the spread of radiation from a smashed nuclear plant. China and South Korea have criticised Japan's handling of the nuclear crisis, with Seoul calling it incompetent, reflecting growing international unease over the month-long atomic disaster and the spread of radiation. Japan is struggling to regain control of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was damaged by the magnitude 9 quake and 15 metre tsunami.
The nuclear plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has been pumping sea water into the reactors to cool the nuclear core, and then discharging the water, after it has become contaminated, back into the Pacific Ocean. TEPCO had planned to stop the discharge on Saturday, but work was interrupted by a powerful aftershock late on Thursday. The firm then pushed the target back to Sunday, a goal it failed to meet.
TEPCO was forced to start pumping sea water into the power plant after failing to restart the reactors' cooling systems after the quake. It has been pumping in nitrogen to cool the core, but OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE UNSURE OF WHAT TO DO NEXT. "We cannot say what the outlook is for the next stage. As soon as possible we would like to achieve stable cooling and set a course towards controlling radiation." It is also grappling with a major humanitarian and economic crisis and facing a damages bill as high as $300 billion -- the world's biggest for any natural disaster.
Unpopular prime minister Kan was already under pressure to step down before the disaster, but analysts say he is unlikely to be dumped during the nuclear crisis, which is set to drag on for months. Japanese who voted in local elections on Sunday were expected to shun Kan's ruling party, further weakening him and bolstering opponents who will try to force his resignation once the crisis ends. Results of the vote are expected today.

**We often refuse to accept an idea
merely because the tone of voice
in which it has been expressed
is unsympathetic to us.**
Friedrich Nietzsche

This morning -
plus a cluster of moderate quakes in Nevada

Yesterday -
4/10/11 -


Thousands defy Philippine volcano warnings -
Thousands of people living near Taal volcano on an island close to the Philippine capital defied official warnings to evacuate as fears of an eruption grew. Only 77 people living near the crater of Taal Volcano have left the island.

New eruption started at Italy's Etna Volcano - Etna has sprung back to life as April opens, with new eruptions from the Southeast Crater Cone. Friday and Saturday (April 8-9), the Italian volcano produced some ash and a 3-km lava flow, but then quieted. However, the seismicity under the volcano continued and late April 10, Etna starting producing small strombolian explosions from the Southeast Crater Cone. This is now the third eruption at Etna since the beginning of 2011. (photos)

No current tropical storms.

Experts forecast early, busy Atlantic hurricane season - There were 19 named storms during the 2010 hurricane season. Of that number, only one made actual landfall in the United States. That was Tropical Storm Bonnie that struck Southern Florida. Hurricane Alex made landfall June 30 in Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Meanwhile, London-based Tropical Storm Risk last week said that, based on current and projected climate indicators, there is a 55% chance that activity in the Atlantic basin will be one of busiest historically.


TEXAS - Firefighters on Sunday continued battling out-of-control wildfires scorching nearly 400 square miles across the state, including a West Texas blaze that narrowly missed a historic frontier Army cavalry fort.
Wildfires leave Fort Davis looking 'like the newsreels of Baghdad' - This small town at the base of some of the most beautiful mountains in Texas now looks as if it's surrounded by a giant, black lava flow. Once-golden rangeland is so black that Angus cattle are camouflaged.
Weekend wildfires, intensified by strong winds, had spread to more than 60,000 acres Sunday in Presidio and Jeff Davis counties, and they came within licking distance of the Jeff Davis County Courthouse, leveling a historical home just across the highway from it. Flames nearly reached the Hotel Limpia, built in 1912, and its famed courtyard garden, as well as other buildings along the main street of Fort Davis as the skies rained ash. An estimated 50 homes in the area have been destroyed and so many utility lines burned Saturday that the power went out in this town of 1,000 about 200 miles southeast of El Paso.
A glance in almost any direction from nearly mile-high Fort Davis showed billowing smoke. The grayish smoke shot so high into the sky it created its own weather system, with puffy white cumulus clouds forming at the top of the smoke towers and breaking away to float off into an otherwise perfect periwinkle blue sky. The ferocious fires raced across nearly 25 miles of drought-bleached high desert grasslands before hitting the Fort Davis area Saturday afternoon.
The fires in Fort Davis hop-scotched, leaving a checkerboard path of destruction much like when a tornado touches down. While one house burned to the ground, its next-door neighbor survived. Flames burned right up to houses in some locations and then moved on, sparing the residences.
The cemetery was spared, but across the highway, homes on Dolores Mountain were left with only chimneys standing. Some vehicles looked like metal skeletons on the ground, their tires burned away and gas tank lids blown open. Many Fort Davis residents used garden hoses, wet towels, shovels and anything else they could find to try to save their homes and animals. "The sun was blacked out. The smoke was so thick, you couldn't see the sun."
The Chihuahuan Desert fires are propelled by winds up to 35 mph or stronger. The wind was so fierce in the Davis Mountains that she couldn't stand up unassisted Saturday afternoon. "The weather conditions are in the fire's favor. They haven't had any measurable rains since September." The area averages about 12 inches of rain a year, but it is now so dry that the grama, side oats and bluestem grasses are nearly drained of their golden hues. Air tankers usually used to douse such massive fires could not be flown Sunday because of the wind gusts. Many utility poles, which are soaked in creosote, were flaming at their bases all over the Fort Davis area Sunday. Many appeared ready to topple and join the dozens that already had fallen to the fire.
Also in West Texas, firefighters had contained a 16,000-acre blaze in Midland County where as many as 40 homes and other buildings were destroyed. Across West Texas, firefighters from 25 states were battling more than a dozen blazes. No deaths or injuries had been reported Sunday night.

Severe weather with warm front for western New York to Louisiana - Another day of RECORD-BREAKING HEAT into the 90s was forecast for Nashville and much of Tennessee. This after Saturday's temperatures hit an all-time record high for the date of 91 degrees in Nashville. It also was the EARLIEST DATE ON RECORD that Nashville had hit the 90-degree mark. Severe weather including damaging winds, rain and hail cut through the Midwest and Plains on Sunday and was forecast to move eastward overnight.
The severe weather continued for a second day after a large tornado, part of a volatile storm system caused by a springtime warm weather front, left significant damage in Iowa. Iowa governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency after the storm that destroyed over half the town of Mapleton, but left no one seriously injured among its 1,200 residents. The atmospheric conditions could bring risks of loss of life over the next few days as the slow-moving system crawls across the eastern half of the United States until it reaches the Northeast on Monday night. The area from western New York and Ohio to Louisiana will be at the most risk for damaging weather. The peak U.S. tornado season lasts from March until early July, the period when warm, humid air often has to thrust upward against cool, dry air.
This weekend's storm was caused by a front of warm air surging northward across the country's midsection, bringing very warm temperatures with some areas posting possible record highs.
In the northern plains, the Red River on Sunday had started a gradual decline in the Fargo-Moorhead area of North Dakota after reaching a preliminary crest at the fourth-highest level on record with rain storms lighter than expected. "Fortunately, most of the precipitation is coming in as pretty light." The Red River rose rapidly last week and appeared ready to threaten the 40.84 foot record crest at Fargo of two years ago. However, the rise had slowed considerably by Saturday. Sunday the river had reached a preliminary crest in the Fargo-Moorhead area at 38.75 feet Saturday night with prolonged flooding expected.