Monday, May 30, 2011

There will be no updates on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (5/31 - 6/2). I'll be back with updates on Friday!

GERMANY will shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022, and eight reactors shut down after Japan's nuclear disaster in March will not be reactivated, the government has announced. This will make Germany the first major industrial power to give up atomic power.

**They must have clean fingers who would blow another’s nose.**
Danish proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/29/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - The bomb-hit look of Christchurch's Central Business District ,more than three months after the killer quake struck, has come under fire from an international expert in disaster recovery. The town centre of New Zealand's second largest city remains blocked off from residents and little work appears under way to demolish and rebuild 900 badly-damaged buildings following the February 22 earthquake that left 181 people dead. The chief executive of San Francisco-based Architecture for Humanity, who helped with the rebuild of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, visited Christchurch over the weekend and was shocked to find no work was under way on Saturdays and Sundays. "Teams should be working seven days a week." He said the agency charged with rebuilding the city, CERA, should be taking on more workers to get the city built as fast as possible.
"It's almost like putting on a World Cup, right? You have a deadline and you hit it. People get bonuses if they make a deadline and they get fired if they don't. Think of this like putting on a huge event, but the event is the rebirth of the city." Demolition management have defended the slow pace, saying staff are working as much as they can, while CERA itself blamed hold-ups on the complicated nature of the project. The city's mayor has conceded the process is starting to drag. "We're certainly watching closely, and would be getting concerned if the momentum doesn't grow in the weeks ahead."
Meanwhile, workshops are underway to plan how the city of 350,000 residents may look in the future. The mayor has revealed that the CBD will remain in the same location and retain the same classic street grid pattern, but any other aspect of redesign and rebuild could be challenged. "There are no sacred cows."
About 40,000 ideas for the city's future have been put forward. (Architecture for Humanity is a volunteer non-profit organisation set up to promote architecture and design to seek solutions to global social and humanitarian crises.)

"Slow earthquakes" can abruptly reverse and travel back through previously ruptured areas of a fault. Researchers at the University of Washington who have been studying the seismic event called episodic tremor and slip, which can last for weeks as it moves slowly along a fault line, say the unexpected "reverse" tremor can move 20 to 40 times faster than the original rupture. "Regular tremor and slip goes through an area fairly slowly, breaking it. Then once it's broken and weakened an area of the fault, it can propagate back across that area much faster. Episodic tremor and slip, also called slow slip, was first documented in the Pacific Northwest a decade ago. Individual events have been observed in Washington and British Columbia on a regular basis every 12 to 15 months on average. Slow-slip events tend to start in the southern Puget Sound region and move gradually to the northwest, following the interface between the North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates. The events typically last three to four weeks and release as much energy as a magnitude 6.8 earthquake, though they are not felt and cause no damage since they happen so slowly.
"There's not a good understanding yet of why it's so slow, what keeps it from picking up speed and becoming a full earthquake." One reason may be because episodic tremor and slip occurs at a depth of 22 to 34 miles, where high temperatures make the tectonic plates more pliable and thus more slippery.


PHILIPPINES - A sudden change in water temperature of a lake surrounding Taal volcano in the Philippines has killed more than 700 metric tons of fish. 752 metric tons of milkfish and tilapia have been found floating in Taal Lake, Batangas province, south of Manila, Philippines, on 29 May. The volcano has been showing signs of heightened activity since April, when the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised its five-tiered alert level to two. (photos)

Activity Increases At Costa Rica's Poas Volcano - Activity at the Volcano Poas is increasing rapidly, while at the same time drying up the lagoon, say experts. On Wednesday they recorded 18 "phreatic eruptions" in a three hour period, when normal is 1 or 2 per day. The temperature of the crater is also increasing, which is causing the lagoon to dry up and possibly disappear. Experts warn that this could bring more acid rain and ash in the area around the volcano. However, the activity of Poas is not a danger to tourists and the national park will continue open.
A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion or ultravulcanian eruption, occurs when rising magma makes contact with ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma (anywhere from 600 to 1,170 °C (1,112 to 2,138 °F)) causes near-instantaneous evaporation to steam resulting in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. At Mount St. Helens, hundreds of steam explosions preceded a 1980 plinian eruption of the volcano. .A less intense geothermal event may result in a mud volcano. Phreatic eruptions typically include steam and rock fragments; the inclusion of lava is unusual.
Phreatic explosions can be accompanied by carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide gas emissions. The former can asphyxiate at sufficient concentration; the latter is a broad spectrum poison. A 1979 phreatic eruption on the island of Java killed 142 people, most of whom were overcome by poisonous gases. It is believed that the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, in Indonesia, which obliterated most of the volcanic island and created the loudest sound in recorded history, was a phreatic event. Kilauea, in Hawaii, has a long record of phreatic explosions; a 1924 phreatic eruption hurled rocks estimated at eight tons up to a distance of one kilometer. Additional examples are the 1963–65 eruption of Surtsey, the 1965 eruption of Taal Volcano, and the 1982 Mount Tarumae eruption. (photo & diagram)

ICELAND - Icebergs get covered in ash from Iceland volcano eruption. Ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano eruption has formed a sheet over icebergs in the glacier lagoon at the base of Vatnajokull, even though authorities said on Thursday that the eruption is producing mostly steam rather than ash. (photos)
The volcanic GLASS cloud: How tiny shards created by heat of Iceland eruption have 'rained' on Scotland. Scientists have released photographs of what they believe are volcanic glass particles from Iceland which fell on Scotland this week. The samples were taken from a car windscreen in Aberdeen and analysed. Scientists said it was ‘highly likely’ the glass particles, which are part of the ash constituents, came from the Grimsvotn volcano which started erupting on Saturday. The glass, formed by super-heating sand at the volcano, forms some strange shapes. Commercial glass is created by heating silica, or sand, to an extremely high temperature. Sand scorched by lava could do the same. The largest of the particles found is 0.03mm across, with the smallest measuring just 0.002mm wide.
The ash cloud left hundreds of passengers facing travel misery earlier this week when flights were cancelled as it drifted into Scottish airspace. Now however, the eruption has subsided and the volcano is producing mostly steam rather than ash. Geophysicists say the worst appears to be over and that the volcano is not likely to start spewing big amounts of ash again, although volcanoes are extremely unpredictable. The ash cloud from Grimsvotn -- Iceland's most active volcano - rose as high as 12 miles into the sky after the eruption but gradually fell before disappearing early on Wednesday morning.
Efforts were under way to assist the roughly 1,000 people who have been affected by the fallout from the volcano. ‘It's raining in the area now - since yesterday - and if you look at the fields they actually appear green because the rain is washing the ash away." Last year more than 10 million people were hit by a six-day European airspace shutdown when Eyjafjallajokull erupted, costing airlines more than £1billion. New procedures put the onus on airlines to make judgments on whether it is safe to fly through ash, in coordination with the forecasting authorities, particularly the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre at the British Met Office and civil aviation bodies. (photos)

INDONESIA - Five years on, Indonesia's mud volcano still erupting. "Lusi" the mud volcano is slowing down five years after it engulfed fields, homes and factories in a heavily populated part of Indonesia, but experts say the danger may last for decades.


Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan 'unready for typhoon' - Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant was not fully prepared for heavy rain and winds when typhoon Songda was headed towards the country, officials admit. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which runs the plant, said some reactor buildings were uncovered, prompting fears the storm could carry radioactive material into the air and sea. Songda was expected to hit mainland Japan early Monday. "We have made utmost efforts, but we have not completed covering the damaged reactor buildings. We apologise for the lack of significant measures against wind and rain."
Tepco has been pouring anti-scattering agents - such as synthetic resins - around the damaged buildings of reactors one and four. But some of the buildings still remain uncovered after they were damaged by hydrogen explosions soon after the quake and tsunami struck. The current safety measures "cannot be said to be appropriate". Typhoon Songda - with winds up to 216km/h (134mph) - had been moving north-east. It had been unclear late in the week whether Fukushima could be directly in the path of the typhoon.


RECORD HIGH EMPERATURES over Interior Alaska - It's Memorial Day weekend in Interior Alaska, so it must be time for another record-breaking heat wave. One year after Fairbanks set a record high temperature of 82 degrees on May 27, 2010

TEXAS - Friday afternoon brought San Angelo a RECORD-BREAKING 108-degree high. The previous record of 105 degrees, set in 1927, was broken just after 4 p.m. Temperatures are expected to drop slightly as Memorial Day nears, yet humidity will be on the rise. Saturday was forecast to have an estimated high of nearly 108 should break the former record of 105 degrees.


E.coli-infected cucumber scare spreads beyond Germany. The outbreak has prompted farmers to destroy other vegetables too. Authorities in the Czech Republic and Austria have taken some Spanish-grown cucumbers off store shelves over fears they are contaminated with E.coli. The move came after illness in Germany caused by infected cucumbers led to at least 10 deaths. The cucumbers, believed to have been imported from Spain and contaminated with E.coli, left people ill with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Hundreds of people are said to have fallen sick. Officials in the Czech Republic said affected cucumbers may also have been exported to Hungary and Luxembourg.
Austria's Agency for Health and Food Safety said some tomatoes and aubergines had also been included in the ban.
Meanwhile a European Union spokesman said two greenhouses in Spain identified as sources had ceased their activities. They were now being investigated to see whether the contamination occurred there or elsewhere. The aggressive form of E.coli is known to cause kidney failure and affect the central nervous system. Most of the cases have been in the area around Hamburg. The HUS outbreak is "ONE OF THE LARGEST WORLDWIDE and THE LARGEST EVER REPORTED IN GERMANY. While HUS cases are usually observed in children under five years of age, in this outbreak 87% are adults, with a clear predominance of women (68%)." HUS cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, and linked to German travel. A scientist warned that the spread of infection was not over, and secondary infections could be passed from person to person.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just the quakes today - Indonesia is starting to shake again.
A bigger update tomorrow, then I've got some things to take care of, so there will be no updates on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (5/31 - 6/2). Severe weather due here again too - tonight, Monday and Wednesday, so hopefully I'll be back on Friday!

**I'm against picketing,
but I don't know how to show it.**
Mitch Hedberg

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/28/11 -

5/27/11 -

PENNSYLVANIA - Big boom was an earthquake after all. For everyone wondering what the loud explosion was in Northeast Philadelphia late Friday, we finally have an answer. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed Saturday an earthquake with a magnitude of 1.7 rocked the Far Northeast near the Franklin Mills Mall. The quake was 2.6 miles below the Earth's surface. There were no injuries and no damage reported. The quake occurred at 9:33 p.m. and the resulting noise caused a flurry of calls to Philadelphia's 911 center, and 50 calls alone to the 8th Police District.
"As I was sitting in my car I felt the ground move." A resident of Philadelphia described the noise as a "big bang and a shock." Within minutes, police, firefighters, Philadelphia Gas Works and PECO crews converged on the intersection and there was a sea of fire trucks and police cruisers. Hundreds of people were mingling in the streets talking about the noise and what it could have been. Police initially believed a gas leak may have occurred, but they said several helicopters with thermal imaging equipment ruled out that possibility. There were no electrical outages reported and no reports of any transformers exploding.
Earthquakes in this part of the country are "infrequent" and tend to happen with more regularity closer to the New York State border and in the Adirondack Mountains. "It was a very small earthquake with no damage, but earthquakes with a magnitude of less than 2.0 are RARE. There is no identified fault in the area where it occurred, but it may have been caused by normal stress in a slip of an unidentified fault."
Another loud noise was heard early Saturday on Whiting Road in Philadelphia, but that has not been confirmed as an earthquake and may have been an aftershock.

Other recent quakes in the area -
May 29th -
1.9 23 km (15 mi)SSE of Mcguire AFB,New Jersey
1.3 6 km ( 4 mi) N of New York,NY
27th -
1.7 3 km ( 2 mi) E of Nth Philadel,Pennsylvania
1.2 39 km (24 mi) NW of Saranac Lk,NY
1.4 27 km (17 mi) ENE of Ogdensburg,NY
26th -
2.8 49 km (31 mi) NNW of Dansville,NY
25th -
1.5 32 km (20 mi) NW of Massena,NY
1.3 20 km (13 mi) NNW of Laconia,NH
2.3 23 km (14 mi) S of Ripon, Quebec
23rd -
2.0 44 km (27 mi) WNW of Glens Falls,NY
1.5 9 km ( 6 mi) WSW of Valleyfield, Quebec

Friday, May 27, 2011

Extreme Weather Will Upset Global Food Output During Next Decade, UN Says. Global food output may be hurt as climate change brings more extreme weather over the next decade, with China likely set for harsher droughts and North America getting heavier rain, said the World Meteorological Organization. “Extreme events will become more intense in the future, especially the heat waves and extreme precipitations. That, combined with less rainfall in some regions like the Mediterranean region and China, will affect crop production and agriculture.”
The more extreme weather - including in the U.S., the world’s largest agricultural exporter - may disrupt harvests, possibly cutting production of grains, livestock and cooking oils and boosting prices. Global food costs reached a record in February, stoking inflation and pushing millions into poverty. “We foresee with high confidence in climate projections that intense precipitation in some parts of the world will be more intense, and drought will be more intense." Extreme heat waves “will also be more intense and more frequent.”
The chief executive officer at one of the world’s three biggest suppliers of rice forecast in February that FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS FACE "MASSIVE DISRUPTIONS" from climate change. The drought in China may cut early-season rice output if there’s no adequate rain over the next two weeks. “If the drought doesn’t end in two weeks, the impact on the region’s rice will no doubt be significant." In the U.S., floods along the Mississippi River and its tributaries have affected almost 3.6 million acres of cropland, causing the most damage in Arkansas. Floods in Canada’s Frenchman River Basin may be THE LARGEST SINCE 1952, and the waters slowed the nation’s sowing of wheat.
“Climate change, high-and-volatile food and energy prices, population and income growth” will put intense pressure on land and water and challenge global food security AS NEVER BEFORE. Corn traded at $7.4625 per bushel at 7:29 p.m. in Singapore today, more than double the price a year ago. Food costs are at “dangerous levels” after pushing 44 million people into poverty since June. That adds to the more than 900 million people around the world who go hungry each day. Agricultural research is needed to adapt farming to climate change. “The improvement of plants is absolutely important given the challenges we are facing, particularly the threat posed by climate change."

**May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.**
George Carlin

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/26/11 -
47 moderate quakes in Turkey
26 moderate quakes in Greece
12 moderate quakes in Puerto Rico

Italian scientists arrested over deadly 2009 L'Aquila quake - Seven scientists and other experts have been indicted on manslaughter charges for allegedly failing to warn residents sufficiently before an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009. Defence lawyers condemned the charges, saying it was impossible to predict earthquakes. Seismologists have long concurred, saying no big earthquake has been foretold.
The judge reportedly said the defendants ''gave inexact, incomplete and contradictory information'' about whether smaller tremors felt in L'Aquila in the six months before the April quake should have constituted grounds for a warning. Prosecutors focused on a memo issued after a meeting of the commission in March 2009, called because of mounting concerns about seismic activity. The memo - issued a week before the big quake - said experts had concluded a big quake was ''improbable'' but could not be excluded. Commission members later stressed to the media that six months of low-magnitude quakes was not unusual in the highly seismic region and did not mean a big one was coming. A commission member had responded to a question about whether residents should just relax with a glass of wine. ''Absolutely, absolutely." Such a reassuring opinion ''persuaded the victims to stay at home'', the indictment reportedly said.
The 6.3-magnitude quake killed 308 people in and around the mediaeval town, which was largely reduced to rubble. Thousands of survivors lived in tent camps or temporary housing for months. Defence lawyers contend that since earthquakes cannot be predicted, accusations that the commission should have sounded an alarm make no sense. Although earthquakes cannot be predicted, after Japan's recent devastating quake experts said an early warning system in place there to detect the Earth's rumblings before they could be felt helped save countless lives. But as recently as this month Italy's national geophysics institute insisted earthquakes could not be predicted in a bid to dispel a widely reported prediction of a huge quake that was due to strike Rome on May 11.

Japan Should Stop Building Skyscrapers After Quake - Japan's
third-richest person said the government should consider setting a standard height for new buildings at about 100 meters (328 feet), a level for base-isolation systems, that shift and reduce the energy of quakes, to work best.


Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano is producing mostly steam rather than ash and should calm down within a few days, encouraging hopes there will be no further disruption to flights in northern Europe.


Songda reaches super typhoon strength, sets its sights on Taiwan and Okinawa. Having only given the Philippines a glancing blow of rain, Super Typhoon Songda strengthened into a Category 5 tropical cyclone. The powerful storm is forecast to now harass Taiwan and then set its sights on Okinawa, Japan. Songda is now packing winds of over 161mph. Known as Chedeng in the Philippines, the storm was 275 miles east-northeast of Manila and moving to the northwest at 9mph.
While staying well offshore of the Philippines, Songda dumped more than 4 inches of rain on the northeastern coast of Luzon. Anticipating flooding and mudslides the government had ordered the evacuation of 50,000 people from the Albay province. As the path of the storm became clearer, The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration dropped some of the warnings it had issued previously.
The current forecast calls for the storm to gradually make a turn toward the north where the ‘cone of uncertainty’ puts it within striking distance of Taiwan. The Central Weather Bureau has issued a Typhoon Warning and is closely monitoring the storm. Within the next 36 hours the storm is forecast to turn toward the northeast and toward the Japanese island of Okinawa. If the forecast holds true, the eye of the storm would hit the island at 1200UTC on Saturday. The somewhat good news is that the storm is expected to weaken as it makes it moves into cooler waters to the north. The JTWC estimates wind speeds of 110mph when it reaches Okinawa, a high Category 2 storm.
For Japan the biggest concern is the possibility that the storm cause problems on the main island of Honshu. Recovery efforts are still struggling following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and wind and rain would certainly hamper progress. (satellite photo)


MISSOURI - 232 people are still missing four days after a tornado tore through the southwest city of Joplin, and they've only managed to identify one of the 125 bodies found in the storm's wake.
Some of the missing from Sunday's disaster in Joplin may be among the unidentified remains being stored in a hastily constructed mass morgue. Officials have pleaded with anxious family members for patience while they undertake a lengthy identification process involving DNA testing and fingerprinting. "The 232, we can't presume that all of those are deceased." Some may simply have failed to contact anxious friends and family. There may also still be people trapped in the rubble who have not been officially reported missing. Asked why families were not being allowed into the morgue to visually identify their loved ones - "it is not 100 per cent accurate, and 100 per cent accurate is our goal."
In what is one of the worst tornado seasons on record after a series of twisters killed hundreds in southern US states last month, Sunday's was the deadliest single tornado to strike America in six decades. The monster funnel cloud tore apart everything it touched along a path six kilometres long and more than a kilometre wide.
Crews continue to search through the tangled piles of debris in hope of finding survivors, but hopes were fading after rescuers found no one in the rubble Wednesday - dead or alive. Anguished families have kept up a desperate hunt for their missing loved ones. But poor and patchy communications plus the complete devastation of some areas have hampered the search. Officials said they hoped that by publishing the list of 232 names they could locate the missing and ease the frayed nerves of their families. The heartbreaking pleas for help and information have been replayed constantly on the local radio and on social networking sites.
Some whole families were listed as missing, along with at least 15 people from area nursing homes. More than 8000 structures were damaged or destroyed when the twister packing winds over 320 kilometres an hour came roaring through Joplin with just a 24-minute warning.


Study boosts evidence that flu raises heart-attack risk.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Research finds UNUSUAL 'two-faced' rupture caused the Japanese destruction. - The catastrophe that struck Japan in March was triggered by a SEQUENCE OF UNUSUAL GEOLOGIC EVENTS, according to new research. The fault that generated the Tohoku-Oki earthquake did not fracture in the usual way. Instead, it ruptured in a "flip-flop" fashion - first breaking westward, then eastward. The first motion violently shook Japan, with magnitude-9 shocks. The second motion - generating magnitude-6.5 aftershocks - deformed the seafloor with such force that a huge tsunami was triggered.
Damage from the March 11 earthquake was extensive in part simply because it was so large. But the two-faced rupture made the devastation greater than it might have been otherwise. "Now that this has been observed in the Tohoku-Oki earthquake, what we need to figure out is whether similar earthquakes - and large tsunamis - could happen in other subduction zones around the world."
The earthquake occurred in a known subduction zone, where one great tectonic plate is being forced down under another tectonic plate and into the Earth's interior along an active fault. But no one predicted its ferocity. The earthquake was THE LARGEST QUAKE EVER RECORDED IN JAPAN, and tied for fourth largest in the world since 1900. The 30-foot tsunami washed over sea walls and swept inland for miles. The deeper part of the quake's fault plane, which sloped downward to the west, was bound by dense, hard rock on each side. This rock transmitted the seismic waves very efficiently, maximizing the shaking.
The shallower part of the fault surface, which sloped upward to the east and surfaced at the Japan Trench - where the overlying plate is warped downward by the motion of the descending plate - had massive slip.
This punched the ocean water upward with great ferocity. To make matters worse, the rupture occurred in deep ocean, so a large volume of water was displaced. "It exploded into tremendously large slip. It displaced the seafloor dramatically. This amplification of slip near the surface was predicted in computer simulations of earthquake rupture, but this is the first time we have clearly seen it occur in a real earthquake."

**Heaven and hell is right now ....
You make it heaven or you make it hell by your actions.**
George Harrison

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/25/11 -
29 aftershocks in Turkey ranging from 2.4 to 3.6

Japan Earthquake Appears to Increase Quake Risk Elsewhere in the Country - Japan's recent magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which triggered a devastating tsunami, relieved stress along part of the quake fault but also has contributed to the build up of stress in other areas, putting some of the country AT RISK FOR YEARS of sizeable aftershocks and perhaps new main shocks. After studying data from Japan's extensive seismic network, researchers have identified several areas at risk from the quake, Japan's largest ever, which already has triggered a large number of aftershocks.
Data from the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake on March 11 has brought scientists a small but perceptible step closer to a better assessment of future seismic risk in specific regions. "Research over the past two decades has shown that earthquakes interact in ways never before imagined. A major shock does relieve stress - and thus the likelihood of a second major tremor - but only in some areas. The probability of a succeeding earthquake adjacent to the section of the fault that ruptured or on a nearby but different fault can jump" significantly.
The Tohoku earthquake, centered off northern Honshu Island, provided an "unprecedented" opportunity to utilize Japan's "superb monitoring networks" to gather data on the quake. The Tohoku quake, the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded, was "the best-recorded [large quake] the world has ever known." This made the quake a "special" one in terms of scientific investigation. "We felt we might be able to find something we didn't see before" in previous quakes.
The magnitude 9 quake appears to have influenced large portions of Honshu Island. At particular risk are the Tokyo area, Mount Fuji and central Honshu including Nagano. The Kantu fragment, which is close to Tokyo, also experienced an increase in stress. Previous government estimates have put Tokyo at a 70 percent risk for a magnitude 7 earthquake over the next 30 years. The new data from the Tohoku quake increase those odds to "more than 70 percent. That is really high."
"There remains a lot of real estate in Japan - shore and off - that could host large, late aftershocks of the Tohoku quake. In addition to the megathrust surface to the north or south of the March 11 rupture, we calculate that several fault systems closer to Tokyo have been brought closer to failure, and some of these have lit up in small earthquakes since March 11. So, in our judgment, Central Japan, and Tokyo in particular, is headed for a long vigil that will not end anytime soon." Aftershocks, as well as new mainshocks, could continue for "weeks, months, years." The magnitude of future quakes is proportional to the length of the fault involved.
Researchers report "a broad and UNPRECEDENTED increase in seismicity rate for microearthquakes over a broad (360 by 120 mile) area across inland Japan, parts of the Japan Sea and the Izu islands, following the 9.0 Tohoku mainshock. The crust on the land was turned on…far away from a fault." Most of these are relatively small quakes - magnitude 2 to 4 - "but a lot of them. This is surprising; WE'VE NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE. Such small events may have happened following major quakes in other places but may have been missed due to poor seismic networks. The 9.0 Tohoku quake caught many people including scientists by surprise. It had been thought that a large quake in this area would go up to about 8.2, not 9.0." That estimate was significantly influenced by historical data. "The Tohoku quake reminded us that considering only the historical earthquakes is inadequate, even in a country of relatively long written records like Japan and China. Historical records, and especially the instrumental records, are indeed too short to provide a full picture of the potential of large earthquakes in a region. Thus we must encourage many more studies to find geological evidence (for example, through analyzing sediment cores extracted on land and undersea) that might provide clues of large earthquake and tsunami events that occurred hundreds to thousands of years ago. We must recognize that because our knowledge is incomplete, our estimation of seismic hazard is likely to be underestimated in many cases. Thus we must prepare for POTENTIAL HAZARD THAT MIGHT BE WORSE THAN WE ALREADY KNOW." The finding that a quake such as this one can increase stresses elsewhere "means that new quakes could occur in the region. We must factor in this new information on stresses into earthquake preparedness."

HAITI - Haiti's prime minister-designate says the international commission overseeing post-earthquake rebuilding is faulty and must be replaced.
The Haiti Earthquake occurred in a complex, active seismic region. - The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that triggered disastrous destruction and huge death tolls in Haiti occurred in a highly complex tangle of tectonic faults.


Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano eruption is said to be in its final stages with airlines beginning to get back to normal schedules. A meteorologist at the Icelandic met office said there were indications that the eruption was ceasing.


Typhoon 'Chedeng' will gain more strength.. - Typhoon Chedeng (international name: Songda) will become stronger as it nears the Philippines, U.S. military weather forecasters warned on Wednesday.
The typhoon is already packing maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers near the center and gustiness of up to 185 kph, according to weather bureau PAGASA, in its 11 p.m. tropical cyclone update. Chedeng has intensified over the past 12 hours in the highly favorable environment of the Philippine Sea. The typhoon will only weaken after skirting the Philippines's eastern section and upon reaching the waters north of Okinawa, Japan.
While PAGASA predicts Chedeng to make landfall over the Aurora-Isabela area on Friday afternoon, the JWTC believes that the typhoon will miss Luzon and stay at sea. PAGASA said that based on their data, Chedeng is estimated to have rainfall of between 32-64 millimeters per hour. Compared to tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, Chedeng is "stronger" since the rainfall brought by Ondoy - averaging 56 mm/h - was due to the storm and an intertropical convergence zone, while Chedeng's rainfall is solely due to the typhoon. The storm is moving northwest at 15 kph and is expected to be 190 km east of Baler, Aurora province on Thursday night.
"Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under signals #2 and #1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone." The typhoon is also expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over Visayas and Mindanao.


U.S. - Forecasters urge residents to take cover as storms rip through region. Tornado warnings issued for wide swath of Tennessee, including Memphis and Nashville. Forecasters warned thousands to take cover as severe storms pummeled parts of Arkansas and Tennessee early today, while communities in neighboring states picked up the pieces after tornadoes cut a path of destruction a day earlier. A line of strong thunderstorms stretches from northern Indiana all the way to Mississippi.
At least 16 people have died in the latest round of storms that struck Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Ten people were killed in Oklahoma, four in Arkansas and two in Kansas.
The National Weather Service warned residents from Memphis to Nashville to take shelter and, in some cases, evacuate, after spotters reported a possible tornado moving toward eastern Tennessee communities. Huge swathes of the region face a "particularly dangerous situation," including destructive tornadoes, golf-ball sized hail and wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour.
The most severe damage appeared to be in central Oklahoma's Canadian County, which includes a sliver of Oklahoma City. At least seven people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. Search and rescue teams worked into the night Wednesday, searching for a 3-year-old who disappeared during the storms in Canadian County. He was with his pregnant mother and his siblings in their home when the storm hit. The family had taken refuge in a bathtub when the storm barreled through, killing a 15-month-old and injuring the mother and a 5-year-old. The mother was listed in stable condition. "They did get the heartbeat of the baby yesterday, so the baby's stable." The father was out of town Tuesday when the storms struck. He has since returned and is searching for the 3-year-old. "Last I heard, they're searching a 16-mile stretch." It's been a historic tornado season in the U.S. More than 500 people have been killed. That makes 2011 the deadliest season since 1953, when 519 people were killed in twisters.
Oklahoma's Governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday in 68 Oklahoma counties hit by the tornadoes and other severe weather. Only nine counties in the state were not included in the declaration. Twisters also brewed in Dallas and several northern Texas counties. In Dallas, a man died Wednesday after being electrocuted by power line that appear to have been downed during the storm. The storms also disrupted air traffic, forcing the cancellation of more than 140 flights at Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport because of hailstorms that moved through early Wednesday. About 10,000 were stranded at the airport overnight.

Montana Floods Kill One, Leave One Missing - More Extreme Weather to Come. Montana is the latest to get extreme floods and they are now moving on towards neighboring states such as Wyoming and Utah. “Flooding that besieged rural Montana communities claimed at least one life and left another person missing as authorities in at least two more Western states braced for high water and heavy rain in the coming days." Montana's governor declared a statewide emergency Monday as broad areas of the state’s southeastern counties remained underwater. A number of rural communities in eastern Montana, including those on the Crow Reservation, were hardest hit. The water has destroyed infrastructure, covered major roads, and inundated town centers. More rain could be coming in the next week, adding to the flooding. Utah is now getting heavy rains and, of course, melting snow. Wyoming is also expecting high water and flooding in coming days due to recent storms.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ICELAND - During the first 24 hours, the current Grímsvötn eruption let out more ash in one day than Eyjafjallajökull did in forty days. Scientists say that the Grímsvötn is without doubt THE MOST POWERFUL ERUPTION SINCE HEKLA ERUPTED IN 1947. The eruption has now lost considerable strength and the material coming from the crater is only a small fraction of what came out during the first day. At two o’clock on Tuesday the smoke suddenly reached 8 kilometers. Tuesday night it was 2-3 kilometers high. Even though the eruption is quite small at the moment it is too soon to predict its end. “Experience would say three to four days, but it is very hard to say if we are talking about days or a few weeks.” New ash coming out will not be a problem. “However, the ash that is already up in the sky will be blowing from one place to another for the next few days." It is disrupting air travel in Iceland and Europe.

**We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients.
But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces,
and this is what annoys me.**
Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/24/11 -
Large cluster of moderate quakes in central Italy.


Iceland volcano ash closes airspace in northern Germany - The disruption to travellers is not expected to reach that caused by last year's volcanic eruption. Germany is closing its northern airspace today because of ash from the erupting volcano in Iceland. Bremen airport was closing at 0300 GMT and Hamburg at 0400 GMT. The airspace over Berlin and Hanover could also be affected. Air traffic in Norway and Denmark has been disrupted but flights were expected to resume across the UK after some airspace in the north was closed. Services in and out of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England had been badly hit, with about 500 flights cancelled across Europe. Europe's air traffic controller Eurocontrol said there was a strong possibility the ash cloud would travel over parts of Denmark, Norway and Sweden but the impact on flights would probably be limited.
There has been no outright criticism of the decision from German airlines, but there is unease in the industry that Germany's rules regarding flying through volcanic ash are different from the rest of Europe. France's civil aviation authority has said it expects very little disruption to air traffic and was not expecting to close any of the country's airspace. Britain's weather service said the concentration of volcanic ash in UK airspace would decrease significantly over the course of today. But the Met Office said that if Grimsvotn volcano continued to erupt at "current variables", much of the country could be affected by ash on Friday, with flights being potentially disrupted. The volcano began erupting last Saturday, sending clouds of ash high into the air.
Experts say the eruption is on a different scale to that of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano last year, when millions of travellers were stranded amid concerns about the damage volcanic ash could cause to aircraft engines. The ash particles from Grimsvotn are larger than those from Eyjafjallajokull, and so fall to the ground more quickly. A forecaster at Iceland's meteorological service said Grimsvotn was producing less ash on Tuesday and the plume had decreased in height to about 5,000m (16,400ft). (forecasted ash path map)
The ash spewing from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano has done more than disrupt air travel. For those living nearby, it has shut out the daylight and smothered buildings and vehicles in dust. The scene is surreal. Under normal circumstances, it's bright more than 20 hours a day at this time of year. The ash is a horrible substance - a grey, brownish dust that gets everywhere. It ruins the zippers on your clothes, and destroys camera equipment.
It's like a scene from one of those futuristic end-of-the-world films. No one dares set a foot outside without a mask and goggles for eye protection. The wind blows from all directions. Schools are closed, and rescue teams have to assist the staff of the health clinic to get to and from work. The cars still work, but you have to change all the filters frequently - and avoid turning the air conditioning on. It's physically impossible to stay outside more than a couple of minutes at the time. It's hard to breath. You cry constantly as the eyes try to fight the ash. The ash seeps in despite towels blocking doors and windows. The strange thing is that people aren't leaving. They're stubborn, the residents of this region. "This is going to be over soon and we're going to get through this together just like the generations before us. Let's just hope Katla doesn't go off next year." (photos)



Storm kills 7 in Kansas, Oklahoma - Violent thunderstorms roaring across middle America have killed another seven people in two states, with several tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma and high winds pounding rural Kansas. A series of tornadoes that rolled through the Oklahoma City area Tuesday killed at least five people. At least 60 people were also injured around the state, including three critically injured children. In Kansas, police say two people died when high winds threw a tree into their van about 6pm local time today near the small town of St John, about 160 kilometres west of Wichita. The high-powered storms arrived as forecast Tuesday, just two days after a massive tornado tore through the southwest Missouri town of Joplin and killed at least 122 people.
MISSOURI - Time running out for tornado survivors. Rescuers combed through overturned cars and flattened buildings hunting for survivors in Joplin after the town was struck by ONE OF THE STRONGEST US TORNADOES EVER RECORDED. A massive mile-wide funnel-cloud, with winds of up to 320km an hour, tore through the town with devastating force late on Sunday, leaving 122 people dead and hundreds more missing. "We are still in search and rescue mode, and will be for the foreseeable future," almost two full days since the disaster flattened much of this town of some 50,000 people.
Officials said the tornado ranks as the eighth deadliest in American history, and THE DEADLIEST SINGLE TWISTER TO STRIKE THE US SINCE MODERN RECORDS BEGAN IN 1950 - rising above the toll in a tornado in Flint, Michigan in 1953 that left 116 people dead. More than 8000 structures in this town bordering the heartland states of Kansas and Oklahoma were damaged or destroyed when the twister came roaring through with just a 24-minute warning. Sunday's massive twister cut a swathe of destruction 6.4km long and a kilometre wide. Forecasters warned more potent storms could be on the way. Some news reports said as many as 1500 people were still unaccounted for, although there was hope that some might have found their way to homes of friends and relatives outside the immediate area. 17 people were reported to have been pulled alive Monday from under the debris and rubble following the tornado, but only two emerged alive Tuesday. Desperate residents meanwhile phoned local radio stations seeking information about missing loved ones.
Tornadoes hit neighbouring Oklahoma Tuesday, with television footage showing multiple massive twisters touching down in rural areas near the state capital Oklahoma City. "This is a very dangerous time right now... several ... huge tornadoes on the ground".
Weather experts said it’s UNUSUAL for deadly tornadoes to develop a few weeks apart in the United States. But what made the two storm systems that barreled through a Missouri city and the South within the last month so RARE is that the tornadoes took direct aim at populated areas. The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday killed more than 100 people and marked the nation’s deadliest single tornado in almost six decades.
The series of twisters that swept through the South late last month killed more than 300 people. Both disasters leveled entire communities. Such a pair of weather events is “unusual but not unknown. Sometimes you get a weather pattern in which the ingredients for a tornado are there over a wide area and persist for a long time. That’s what we’re having this year.” And the threat is continuing, more storms are predicted over the next few days.
Other than the death toll, there was nothing too unusual about the Joplin storm. The conditions were right and thunderstorms were forecast. Urban sprawl into the countryside has increased the odds that tornadoes will affect more people. Forecasters can’t tell very far in advance where the path of destruction is going to be. A lot of tornadoes hit open spaces, so “when you move to major population centers, the death toll can climb.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota: A dire need for homes - Hundreds of north Minneapolis residents uprooted by Sunday's deadly tornado, most of them renters with little or no insurance, scrambled to find temporary quarters Tuesday as relief workers expanded cleanup efforts and officials declared a state of emergency for hard-hit areas. Braving long lines that sometimes strained already frayed nerves, more than 1,200 people picked up clothing vouchers, housing resources, financial help and counseling at an improvised service center for storm victims at the Minneapolis Convention Center. There was still no official estimate of the number of people displaced by the storm, but some 5,000 to 6,000 people lived in housing with major damage, based on inspection checks.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, about 7,000 homes and businesses were still without power, mostly in the areas hardest hit by Sunday's storm. Xcel Energy, reporting about 200 snapped utility poles, said that more than 400 workers were hoping to restore all power by Thursday. Far more people showed up than expected for services at the Convention Center, making for some confusion and tense exchanges and extending the event an hour longer than planned. "They were exhausted and very frustrated for a reason. These are trying times for them."
The National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the Minneapolis tornado that killed two people, injured 48 and caused at least $166 million in damage was a relatively weak one. It rated the twister an EF1, at the low end of the scale, with winds between 100 and 110 miles per hour. The tornado that killed 122 people in Joplin on Sunday was an EF5, packing winds of more than 200 mph. "All tornadoes can do devastating damage. Even the weak ones."

INDIA - One person was injured while hundreds of families rendered homeless in cyclones over the last few days in the Garo hills region of Meghalaya. Around 253 families were affected, most of whose houses were totally damaged, in a cyclone yesterday. Ration is being supplied to the affected people by the administration while further requirement would be reassessed and action taken accordingly. Severe damage was done to the power transmission network. On May 20, a cyclone in Dalu Block hit 99 families. One person seriously injured was admitted in hospital. Some of the dwellings of the families were totally damaged, but they have taken shelter in their relatives houses.


Central China's WORST DROUGHT IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS is drying reservoirs, stalling rice planting, and threatens crippling power shortages as hydroelectric plants lie idle.
Rainfall levels from January to April in the drainage basin of the Yangtze, China's longest and most economically important river, have been 40 per cent lower than average levels of the past 50 years. The national flood and drought control authority has ordered the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest ydroelectric project which lies on the river, to increase its discharge of water by 10 to 20 per cent for the next two weeks.
The measure is aimed at sending badly needed water to the Yangtze's middle and lower reaches for drinking and irrigation. Water-marks in more than 1,300 reservoirs in Hubei province, where the dam is located, have dropped below allowable discharge levels for irrigation. In some areas, RAINFALL IS UP TO 80% LOWER THAN USUAL while the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang along with Shanghai municipality are mired in their worst droughts since 1954.
"Without adequate water, we lost the spring planting season for rice." Many other farmers in Hubei have lost their existing crops or given up on planting summer rice, fearing the emergency water supplies will be inadequate to sustain their fields, with more hot and dry weather forecast.
China - and the Yangtze river region in particular - is prone to the alternating threats of crippling drought followed by devastating flooding. Just last summer, sustained torrential rainfall across the Yangtze basin and beyond caused widespread flooding and even some concern over whether the giant Three Gorges Dam would be able to contain the deluge. More than 3,000 people were reported killed in the flooding and related landslides.
Nearly every year, some part of China suffers its worst drought in decades, and meteorological officials have said previously the extreme weather is possibly due to climate change. 10 of its provincial-level power grids are suffering severe shortages due to the drought's impact on hydroelectric generation, including Shanghai and the heavily populated southwestern Chongqing region. China could face a summer electricity shortage of 30 gigawatts - the most severe power shortfall since 2004.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[As the following two articles show, the truth about disaster risks is hard to find - The worry about low snowpack in the Rocky Mountains in the first article seems to be quite misplaced, if the second article about record snowpack in the Rocky Mountains is to be believed. Is the media just hyping everything??]

TEXAS - Drought record: El Paso hits 110 days without rain. The Greater El Paso area today will hit a RECORD-BREAKING 110 consecutive days without a trace of rain. The old record was 109 days in 2002. Effects from this year's drought are already being felt as farmers prepare for lower crop yields next year. The problem lies in a lack of precipitation that eventually streams through the Rio Grande and into the Elephant Butte Reservoir.
El Paso County farmers welcome water that flows down from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and northern New Mexico. Most of that water comes from melting snowpack. In the past couple of years, the Rockies' snowpack has been very poor, resulting in low lake levels farther south. At the moment, Elephant Butte Lake, which can hold up to 2.5 million acre-feet of water, is only 16 to 17 percent full.
When water levels are low, farmers turn to using wells and aquifers filled from unused water from previous years for help. At the moment, farmers are receiving full allocations from reserves that are 4 acre-feet of water per acre of land. An acre-foot of water can supply the household needs of two four-person families for one year. But if water doesn't trickle down from the Rocky Mountains soon, farmers are told to expect cutbacks of 3.5 acre-feet per acre this year.Today's conditions are reminiscent of the drought of the 1950s. During that time, area farmers struggled to grow crops and maintain their lifestyle for a decade. "It was one of the longest droughts we had had. Without any snowfall in the canals that flowed from the Rio Grande, everyone in the Lower Valley, Juárez Valley and Upper Valley suffered." To get through those harsh years, local farmers drilled wells and ran piping underground from one well to the next. Yet to repair a well or buy a new one can cost more than $6,000. Another downside to this solution: Water from the underground reservoirs is saltier. Too much salt in the water can kill the plants, cutting off the farmers' source of income. To offset this, farmers may have to add sulfuric acid to the irrigation water -- a dangerous practice. Too much sulfuric acid can ultimately burn and damage crops. Another option involves consolidating one crop for another. But if farmers consolidate their crops, then costs may go up at grocery stores.
One crop that some farmers may consolidate is alfalfa. If there is less alfalfa, then less hay will go to dairies. When there's less hay for feed, the price of hay is driven up and the cost of milk jumps. The domino effect continues at dairy farms which may, in turn, keep fewer cattle and thereby produce less dairy and meat products -- driving up demand and prices for consumers. "We just pray it snows in Colorado, and we need that snow to rush down. If it simply melts, then it can just get soaked into the ground."

Record Snowpacks Could Threaten Western States - For all the attention on epic flooding in the Mississippi Valley, a quiet threat has been growing in the West where winter snows have piled up on mountain ranges throughout the region. Thanks to a blizzard-filled winter and an UNUSUALLY COLD AND WET spring, more than 90 measuring sites from Montana to New Mexico and California to Colorado have RECORD SNOWPACK TOTALS ON THE GROUND for late May, according to a federal report released last week. Those giant and spectacularly beautiful snowpacks will now melt under the hotter, sunnier skies of June — mildly if weather conditions are just right, wildly and perhaps catastrophically if they are not. Fear of a sudden thaw, releasing millions of gallons of water through river channels and narrow canyons, has disaster experts on edge. “All we can do is watch and wait. This could be a year to remember."
No matter what happens, the snows of 2011, especially their persistence into late spring, have already made the record books. But the West has also changed significantly since 1983, when super-snows last produced widespread flooding. From the foothills west of Denver to the scenic, narrow canyons of northern Utah, flood plains that were once wide-open spaces have been built up. Many communities have improved their defenses, for example, by fortifying riverbanks to keep streams in place, but those antiflood bulwarks have for the most part not been tested by nature’s worst hits. And in sharp contrast to the floods on the Mississippi River — one mighty waterway, going where it will — the Western story is fragmented, with anxiety dispersed across dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of large and small waterways that could surge individually, collectively or not at all.
In California, the state’s aging levee system has long been a source of concern, with fears of large-scale failures that could leave Sacramento, the state capital, vulnerable to a Hurricane Katrina-scale flood. The anxieties are amplified this year by the deep snows in the Sierra Nevada, where some ski spots around Lake Tahoe saw more than 60 feet this season. At Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River in Utah, federal managers have begun spilling water downstream in preparation for the rising waters; the reservoir has 700,000 acre-feet of available space, but will have an expected inflow of 1.4 million acre-feet more through July, federal officials said. In the Wasatch Mountains outside Salt Lake City, where Alta Ski Resort still has about 200 inches of snow. Three more feet of snow piled on just last week. In sparsely populated Wyoming, emergency officials are worried about tiny communities that in many cases are far from help if rivers surge; almost every county is in a potential snow-melt flood zone, and relatively few residents have flood insurance. In Routt County, Colorado, the terrain itself has changed, with thousands of acres of dead lodgepole pine trees on high mountain slopes. The trees were killed by an infestation of beetles in recent years and no longer hold the soil as they once did, raising erosion concerns. Hydrologists, meanwhile, are cheering what they say will be a huge increase in water reservoir storage for tens of millions of people across the West. Lake Mead and Lake Powell, two huge dammed reservoirs on the Colorado River battered in recent years by drought, are projected to get 1.5 trillion gallons of new water between them from the mammoth melt.
Late spring is a volatile time in the mountains, when freezing temperatures can turn overnight to heat waves and thunderstorms. And every day that the snows do not go gently down the stream raises the possibility of melting into late June and even July, when sudden mountain downpours can set off flash floods, dangerous even without a freight of snow behind them. Floods kill more Americans than lightning, tornados or hurricanes in an average year, according to federal figures. And flash floods, usually associated with summer downpours, like the one that killed more than 140 people in Big Thompson Canyon in Colorado in 1976, can come as if from nowhere. “It just takes one really sunny hot spell to get things running. And that’s where our concern lies.”

**Analysing humour is like dissecting a frog -
few people are interested, and the frog dies.**
EB White

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/23/11 -
43 quakes in Turkey ranging from 2.4 to 3.6

Steep rise seen in false earthquake warnings in Japan - The Meteorological Agency said it issued 73 quake warnings in the two months following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake — four times the amount issued since the system debuted in October 2007 — but 64 percent of them were false alarms triggered by aftershocks. The agency sends warnings when it detects P-waves traveling faster than the S-waves that humans can sense as tremors.
When a quake is expected to register lower 5 or higher on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, for example, warnings are sent to areas where the intensity is anticipated to be 4 or above. But 47 of the 73 warnings were issued to areas where the seismic intensity registered 2 or lower, making them false alarms. Before March 11, only 29 percent of all quake warnings were deemed false.
The reason for the false alarms is the agency's seismograph, which interprets a situation in which several quakes are occurring almost simultaneously as one big temblor — a factor that wasn't taken into consideration when the system was initially developed. Before March 11, if the distance between two seismographs that detected P-waves at the same time was within 350 km, the quakes were considered to be one, but the agency shortened the distance to 150 km after the Tohoku catastrophe. Still, inappropriate warnings have been issued since mid-April when aftershocks were felt in Fukushima Prefecture. In hopes of improving the system, the agency has earmarked $100 million for repairs and $240 million for 40 additional seismographs in the fiscal 2011 budget. However, no drastic solution is in sight and the warnings should still be taken seriously. "At the moment, there may be some false alarms, but if the warning is issued, it is almost certain an earthquake struck. So protect yourself for the first minute or two."

TURKEY - Quake rendersed 2000 homes uninhabitable. Last week's 5.9-magnitude earthquake has rendered more than 2000 homes uninhabitable, forcing nearly 7000 people to live in tents in a western town. The quake killed three people on May 19. Turkish authorities have been struggling to enforce stricter building codes since two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey in 1999. Most of the deaths were blamed on shoddy construction. Some residents of the tent city have complained of inadequate sanitary facilities and shortage of drinking water. (photo)


Ash turns day into night in Iceland - Ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland is predicted to spread south, reaching parts of northern Europe within the next two days. In Iceland, ash from the Grimsvotn volcano has closed the main airport. Iceland's Foreign Minister said that the current eruption was not a major cause of concern for his country. (video)


Tropical storm Songda looms over the Philippines - The cyclone is growing stronger and could be become a destructive typhoon. The Philippine weather bureau issued a warning as tropical storm Songda threatens to batter the country on Tuesday. Songda was centered 1,070 kilometers (664.9 miles) east of Mindanao, with estimated sustained winds of 85 kph (52.8 mph) and gusts of up to 100 kph (62.1 mph). The storm will likely batter eastern Visayas or Cagayan Province on Tuesday, but may also affect Northeast and Central Luzon. The approaching storm was not connected with the rains that fell on parts of Metro Manila on Sunday afternoon, which were caused by localized thunderstorm clouds.


Trees down and power cuts as 100mph winds hit Scotland - Winds of up to 100mph have been causing travel disruption on Scotland's road, rail and ferry networks. Almost 30,000 homes across the country were without power as the severe weather brought down trees and electricity lines. Winds resulted in the death of one man when a tree fell and crushed his car.
Network Rail, which looks after the system's cabling and tracks, said the disruption would continue into Tuesday. The power company said hundreds of engineers were out working in "very difficult" conditions.
Extra staff have been drafted in from England to help restore supply to customers. Road users have faced delays and diversions across the country. In the Highlands, the A82 was particularly affected, with fallen branches and trees at various points. Winds of up to 80mph (129km/h) had been forecast for Monday.
The Met Office said winds should have eased by late evening.
High winds have also been causing disruption across Northern Ireland, where about 20,000 homes have been left without electricty. A gust of 100mph (161km/h) was recorded earlier at Glen Ogle in Stirlingshire. (video)

U.S. -
PENNSYLVANIA - Buildings collapse, people missing in storm. A number of buildings collapsed around the village of Richfield in central Pennsylvania today after a storm hit the area, with fears people were missing among the rubble. A tornado warning was issued for the area by the National Weather Service prior to the thunderstorm, but it was not confirmed if a tornado had caused the damage.

MISSOURI - Tornado toll at 116 as more storms expected. US midwest states are braced for more storms after a tornado in Missouri killed 116 people, putting it ON COURSE TO BE THE DEADLIEST SINGLE TWISTER TO STRIKE THE US IN MODERN HISTORY. Forecasters warned more potent storms were on the way in the area around Joplin, Missouri where the massive twister struck Sunday leading to 116 deaths, matching the deadliest tornado in modern US records. The last single twister to wreak such loss of life occurred on June 8, 1953 when 116 people were killed in Flint, Michigan.
"We are currently forecasting a major severe weather outbreak for Tuesday over the central United States with strong tornadoes likely over Oklahoma, Kansas, extreme northern Texas, southwest Missouri." Officials warned the death toll in Missouri was sure to rise after the massive twister cut a swath of destruction 6.4 kilometres long and more than a kilometre wide. "There are going to be some things out there that are going to be hard to see and stomach. We remain positive and optimistic that there are lives out there to be saved. We're going to go through every foot of this town and make sure that every person is accounted for." Some 1150 wounded people were treated in area hospitals after the twister. Flames and smoke from broken gas lines shot up through the wreckage as block after block of homes and businesses were reduced to rubble and cars were tossed so violently into the air that they turned into crumpled heaps of metal. Heavy rain, lightening and strong winds hampered relief efforts while hundreds of exhausted rescue workers carefully picked their way through the rubble with the help of sniffer dogs.
Disaster struck Sunday when, with just 24 minutes warning, the monster twister packing winds of up to 320km/h tore through the centre of town. More than 2000 buildings - or about a third of the city of 50,000 near the border with Kansas and Oklahoma - were damaged or destroyed. One man who was able to take shelter in a storm cellar was overwhelmed by what he saw when he emerged. "I've lived in this neighbourhood my entire life, and I didn't know where I was. Everything was unrecognisable, completely unrecognisable. It's like Armageddon." Caring for the injured was made more difficult because the main hospital, Saint John's Regional Medical Center, had to be evacuated after suffering a direct hit - the tornado ripped off its roof and smashed all its windows. A tangled medical helicopter lay in the rubble of crushed cars, broken glass and medical records strewn outside the hospital. The Governor declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to help out after ONE OF THE WORST DISASTERS IN THE STATE'S HISTORY.
It was the deadliest of 73 tornadoes reported to the National Weather Service in nine central states on Sunday and Monday and comes less than a month after a horrific tornado outbreak left 361 in April across several US states.

MONTANA - Flooding isolates Montana town as more rain forecast; 84-year-old woman killed after falling into ditch. More rain is on tap this week for Montana communities besieged with flooding that has isolated a town near the Wyoming border, claimed at least one life and left another person missing. The Governor declared a statewide emergency as broad areas of southeastern Montana remained underwater. Rural communities in southeastern Montana, including the Crow Reservation, were hardest hit.
In Yellowstone County, authorities were searching for a man reported missing after a roadway apparently washed out from underneath a backhoe he was operating near Pryor Creek. "We've got 21 jurisdictions — county, tribal and city — experiencing some type of flooding across the state. Citizens need to be aware and never drive a road that has water moving over it." Flooding and other problems also were reported in Cascade, Fergus and Judith Basin counties in the central part of the state and Valley and Custer counties to the east.
A 50-mile stretch of Interstate 90 remained closed Monday, leaving about 2,000 residents of Lodge Grass — part of the Crow Reservation — and surrounding areas largely cut off from the outside. The mountains outside Lodge Grass received 8.4 inches of rain over a four-day period ending Sunday. Other parts of the state received from almost 2 inches to more than 6 inches of rain. After a shelter at a church in Billings filled, authorities opened another shelter in a residence hall at Montana State University-Billings. As many as 240 people from the towns of Hardin and Crow Agency were expected to arrive at the university beginning Monday.
Several weather systems that could bring more rain were expected to pass through Montana over the next week. With the ground already saturated, any significant rainfall was likely to produce more flooding.
"We're stuck in this broken-record weather pattern. Everybody's concern now is to buy some time to let this water drain out of there and get things back to normal before the rain returns." A flood warning was in effect for eastern and southern Yellowstone county through Tuesday night. Flood watches were issued for 13 southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming counties.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On a personal note, I'm starting to get very nervous - for the second time in a month, a tornado has passed right over my neighborhood; this time it touched down about a mile from my house, and continued on the ground for 5 1/2 miles. 6-8 blocks wide, it devastated North Minneapolis.
Two days of threatening skies turned furious over the Twin Cities on Sunday, unleashing at least three tornado touchdowns in the metro area, killing one person in Minneapolis, injuring at least 30 others, knocking out power to thousands and leading to a curfew and school closings in north Minneapolis.
The massive, slow-moving storm also caused major damage in other metro communities, most significantly St. Louis Park and Fridley.
In the hardest-hit area, Minneapolis' Jordan neighborhood, downed trees, snapped power lines and pieces of roofs littered streets and yards. The smell of natural gas led police to call people out of some homes. Roads were blocked and residents scrambled to find loved ones; close to 200 or so people displaced by the storm made their way to an emergency shelter. A three-day 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew was imposed to help emergency workers move around and to prevent looting of damaged homes and businesses. "We don't want any looting. There's property strewn all over. There are wires down. There's not much lighting. It's for people's safety and for the safety of people's property."
Lack of electricity forced the emergency command center to be moved twice. Xcel officials indicated that most power should be restored by midnight Monday but that some customers may not get it back until Tuesday or later because of significant structural damage to that area's electricity system. One man was killed when his car was hit by a tree.
Sunday's tornado was the first to strike within the city of Minneapolis since a minor twister in south Minneapolis on Aug. 19, 2009. [Prior to that a tornado hadn't struck within the city since 1981.] Sunday's damage appeared consistent with tornadoes rated EF2, which carry winds of 111 to 135 miles per hour. Only 10.7 percent of U.S. tornadoes are rated EF2, and only about 4 percent are stronger. The havoc started about 2 p.m. in St. Louis Park, where a suspected tornado tore up a condominium complex, forcing residents from the 35-building property.
In Fridley, the storm tipped over two Burlington Northern rail cars, sheared in half a stand of mature trees and left extensive pockets of damaged homes and businesses. The storm struck with quick fury. Parts of the metro area were covered by five tornado warnings Sunday. Sirens blared as heavy clouds swarmed across the skies for the second day in a row. A National Weather Service meteorologist said an increase in "wind shear" -- the movement of winds in contrasting directions -- along with increased moisture and warmth in the atmosphere Sunday triggered the tornadoes.

**Homer is dead, Dante is dead,
Shakespeare is dead,
and I'm not feeling too well myself.**
Artemus Ward

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/22/11 -
17 quakes in Puerto Rico ranging from 2.5 to 3.9
25 aftershocks in Turkey ranging from 2.7 to 3.4

Japanese superquake moved ocean floor 79 feet sideways and 10 feet up - and new data shows REGION IS UNDER MORE STRAIN. The ocean floor shifted sideways by 79 feet in the Japanese earthquake in March - much further than scientists originally predicted. Under the seabed, the movement may have been even greater - perhaps 160 to 200 feet. And researchers are warning that immense amounts of seismic stress remain stored in the area, putting it at risk of further devastating earthquakes. The jearthquake hot spot is much more complex and potentially dangerous than scientists had ever anticipated.
In another study sure to raise alarm in Japan, scientists from the California Institute of Technology have reconstructed how the Tohuku-Oki earthquake unfolded using GPS data recorded at more than 1,200 sites. Their data showed that - contrary to previous opinion - the area had built up massive amounts of strain prior to the earthquake. Earlier, there had been general agreement among researchers that the 'Miyagi segment' of the fault line was not under the stress of other segments along the Japan plate boundary, where large earthquakes occur at a regular basis. But this assumption was deeply flawed. This raises questions about other sections of the fault line that had previously been considered low risk - including areas further south, closer to Tokyo. This 'Ibaraki segment' of the plate boundary has been thought to behave in similar fashion to that of the Miyagi segment, and it may likewise hold large amounts of seismic stress. In recorded history, this southern area has experienced only one set of quakes larger than magnitude 8 - which means the region could be ripe for its own rupture. The quake may also have destablised nearby areas of fault line, making them even more vulnerable to a catastrophic rupture.


Hundreds evacuated from Nicaraguan volcano area - Nicaraguan authorities have evacuated hundreds of people from the foothills of a volcano because of heightened seismic activity. 600 workers have been moved from a factory near the Telica volcano in western Nicaragua. Women and children who live nearby have also been evacuated. Tremors of up to 3.3-magnitude have shaken the volcano. It has been spewing gas, ash, vapor and water since April.

ICELAND - Ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland could begin to drift across the UK towards the end of the week, forecasters have said. Aviation officials said there was no effect on UK airspace at present, but they were "monitoring the situation closely". The Grimsvotn volcano is experiencing ITS LARGEST ERUPTION IN 100 YEARS. It comes a year after ash from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption reached Europe, closing much of its airspace. "This is a very different situation to last April. The weather is much more changeable and there's a lot more uncertainty. There's no risk of the ash moving across the UK in the next day or so. But there is a possibility that we'll see some volcanic ash towards the end of the week."
Icelandic air traffic control has created a no-fly zone around the volcano, closed Keflavik airport, the country's main hub, and cancelled all domestic flights. "There's no effect on UK airspace at present. We're just waiting to see which way the ash plume moves." "We are not speculating at all at this stage, we are just watching the situation closely. It's changing all the time." The Grimsvotn volcano, which lies beneath the ice of the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, began erupting on Saturday. "It is not likely to be anything on the scale that was produced last year when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted. That was an unusual volcano, an unusual ash size distribution and unusual weather pattern, which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe." The ash particles from this eruption are said to be larger than last year, and as a result fall to the ground more quickly.


Tropical Storm Chedeng (international codename Songda) entered Philippine territory before dawn Monday, even as authorities declared themselves ready to deal with its effects. Models showed Chedeng may get near the Bicol Region Wednesday and make its way toward northeastern Luzon. They expect Chedeng to continue gathering strength and be a major threat in the next 24 hours. PAGASA's 5 a.m. advisory said that as of 4 a.m., Chedeng was 880 km east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, packing maximum sustained winds of 95 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 120 kph. It was moving west-northwest at 13 kph and is expected to be 620 km east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. By Wednesday morning, it is expected to be 390 km east northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar or 510 km east southeast of Virac, Catanduanes. But it is still possible for Chedeng to change direction and affect other parts of the country, as it is still far from any land mass for now and it is moving slowly. They can expect heavy rains because it will enhance the southwest monsoon.
Just recently, Tropical Storm Bebeng left at least 35 dead and P1.370 billion in damage to property when it pummeled parts of Central and Southern Luzon, Metro Manila, the Bicol Region, and Central and Eastern Visayas.


U.S. -Tornado kills dozens, leaves 'total devastation' in Missouri town. In Joplin, at least 30 people are reportedly killed and damage is widespread. Officials fear the death toll could climb much higher. A series of turbulent storms swept through the Midwest on Sunday and a powerful tornado slammed into Joplin, ripping the top off a hospital, shearing parts of the roof off a high school and turning major retail stores into heaps of rubble and twisted metal. A coroner's official reported at least 30 people dead in Joplin, but the tornado's rampage through the middle of the southwestern Missouri town of 50,000 left officials concerned that the number could be much higher. "It's total devastation." The National Guard and emergency rescue teams are in a race to find survivors. Search-and-rescue efforts were expected to continue throughout the uneasy night.
Phone service in and out of the city was largely cut off. "Cars were crumpled up like tin cans, businesses were leveled, one of the Wal-Marts is gone, a Lowe's is damaged, and there are still people trapped inside. We've had tornadoes, but this is one of the worst ever here. The swath that cut through town was huge."
There were reports of "a number" of tornados across Missouri. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, a tornado tore through the northern end of the city Sunday afternoon, killing one person and injuring at least 30 others. The same turbulent weather spawned a tornado in Reading, Kansas, Saturday night that killed one person and destroyed about 20 homes as parts of the town were pelted with hail the size of golf balls. Violent thunderstorms, including lighting, hail and powerful winds, were threats throughout the evening Sunday across at least six Midwestern states as a cold front moved in to confront a moisture-rich, low-level air mass.
The outbreak of tornadoes that ravaged the southern US last month was THE LARGEST IN US RECORDED HISTORY. The three-day period from 25-28 April saw 362 tornadoes strike, including some 312 in a single 24-hour period. The previous record was 148 in two days in April 1974. The tornadoes and the storm system that spawned them killed at least 350 people in Alabama and six other states. It was the deadliest outbreak since 1936. The review by US meteorologists came as the southern US states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana and Kentucky continued the huge task of digging out from the destruction.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a university town that was the worst-hit single location, officials estimated debris removal alone would cost $70m (£42m) to $100m (£60m). The storm tore down century-old trees, flattened farm buildings and downed power lines, leaving as many as one million people without electricity in Alabama alone. The most destructive tornado struck Tuscaloosa, killing at least 65 people between there and the city of Birmingham. That was the deadliest single tornado since 1955, when a twister in Kansas killed 80.

MALAYSIA - 16 killed in landslide at orphanage. A landslide caused by heavy rains hit an orphanage in Malaysia, and authorities are investigating the rural town for fear another disaster could hit the slip-prone region. 10 were hospitalised in the tragedy at Hulu Langat town just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur. The boys were attending a drum rehearsal held in a tent when an avalanche of rocks, sand and mud came crashing down on Saturday after days of heavy rain. Teams from the Public Works Department and geologists from a university institute are surveying hillside developments in the town, where clusters of traditional ethnic Malay-style houses line the country road next to a river. The orphanage was situated near a hill that had been sliced off and left without any support system such as a retaining wall.
"If people were aware of the signs of a landslide, they will know that this slope is unstable, and it's only a matter of time that this slope will fail. For this particular slope, we know for sure that the cutting of the slope was the cause. There are many, many houses built close to the slope. The community, villagers, they seldom put any support system so all this cutting the hill at the bottom of the slope has some risk of slope failure." An official from the Public Works Department could not say what remedies would be taken if any more buildings are deemed unsafe. The orphanage is believed to have been built a decade ago without official approval.
Malaysia has suffered a series of landslide disasters over past decades. In one of the worst incidents, a huge mudslide brought on by heavy rain led to the collapse of a 12-storey residential building in suburban Kuala Lumpur in December 1993, killing 48 people.


Super Storm on Saturn - The RARE storm started in December 2010 and has been wreaking havoc for months, shooting plumes of gas high into the planet's atmosphere. The storm has had a major effect on the atmosphere - creating meandering jet streams and forming giant vortices - and disrupting Saturn's seasonal weather patterns. [Climate change - Sound familiar? ]
The growth of the giant early-spring storm in Saturn's northern hemisphere is so powerful that it stretches around the entire planet. "A storm like this is rare. This is only the sixth one to be recorded since 1876, and the last was way back in 1990." Cassini's radio and plasma wave science instrument first detected the large disturbance in December 2010. As it rapidly expanded, the storm's core developed into a giant, powerful thunderstorm, producing a 3,000-mile-wide (5,000-kilometer-wide) dark vortex possibly similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot.
"Our new observations show that the storm had a major effect on the atmosphere, transporting energy and material over great distances." The violence of the storm - THE STRONGEST DISTURBANCES EVER DETECTED IN SATURN'S STRATOSPHERE - took researchers by surprise. What started as an ordinary disturbance deep in Saturn's atmosphere punched through the planet's serene cloud cover to roil the high layer known as the stratosphere. The storm is very violent, dredging up deep material in volumes several times larger than previous storms. (photos)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quick update today - there's been a line of severe thunderstorms making their way across the area - the power has been cutting off and on, so I'm out of here! Bigger update on Monday.

Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano erupting - Iceland's most active volcano has started erupting, scientists said Saturday - just over a year after another eruption on the North Atlantic island shut down European air traffic for days. Iceland's Meteorological Office confirmed that an eruption had begun at the Grimsvotn volcano, accompanied by a series of small earthquakes. Smoke could be seen rising from the volcano, which lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland.
A no fly zone has been designated for 120 nautical miles (220 kilometers) in all directions from the eruption. Isavia, the company that operates and develops all airport facilities and air navigation services in Iceland, described this as standard procedure around eruptions. Grimsvotn last erupted in 2004. Scientists have been expecting a new eruption and have said previously that this volcano's eruption will likely be small and should not lead to the air travel chaos caused in April 2010 by ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. History shows that previous eruptions in Grimsvotn have not had much influence on flight traffic - unlike the massive disruption caused last year. Whether widespread disruption occurs again will depend on how long the eruption lasts, how high the ash plume rises and which way the wind blows.
In November, melted glacial ice began pouring from Grimsvotn, signaling a possible eruption. That was a false alarm but scientists have been monitoring the volcano closely ever since.The volcano also erupted in 1998, 1996 and 1993. The eruptions have lasted between a day and several weeks.

**I might be in the basement.
I'll go upstairs and check.**
M. C. Escher

A number of quakes yesterday, but as expected, the monster world-ending one didn't happen.
Tons of small aftershocks in Turkey still continuing since Thursday's 5.8 there.

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/21/11 -

5/20/11 -

Friday, May 20, 2011

The release of radon gases three days PRIOR to the May 11 Japan earthquake triggered changes in the atmosphere over Japan. It's early but this may be a warning signal to predict future quakes, says not-yet-published research by California scientists. The atmosphere above the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake in Japan underwent UNUSUAL CHANGES in the days leading up to the disaster, according to preliminary data.
The theory, which could move us forward in predicting quakes, is called "Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling mechanism." Right before an earthquake, the stressed fault releases more gases, especially the colorless, odorless radon gas. Once in the upper-atmosphere ionosphere, the radon gas strips air molecules of their electrons, splitting them into negatively charged particles (the free electrons) and positively charged particles. These charged particles, called ions, attract condensed water in a process that releases heat. And scientists can detect this heat in the form of infrared radiation.
Using satellite data, researchers looked at what the atmosphere was doing in the days before the Japanese quake. They found that the concentration of electrons in the ionosphere increased in the days before the earthquake, as did infrared radiation. March 8, three days before the quake, was the most anomalous day. The researchers have crunched data for more than 100 quakes in Asia and Taiwan, and have found similar correlations for earthquakes with magnitudes bigger than 5.5 and depths less than 31 miles (50 kilometers). The team is now working to involve researchers in Japan and worldwide, as ambitious atmosphere monitoring will take international effort. Nonetheless, the success of earthquake forecasting is far from guaranteed. No one has ever predicted an earthquake from atmospheric data, and plenty of supposed earthquake precursors, from weird animal behavior to groundwater flowing the wrong way, have proven hit-or-miss.
To iron out the usefulness of the atmospheric approach, you'd need to look at lots of earthquakes over time to make sure the phenomena is statistically linked with fault ruptures. You'd also want to know how often these atmospheric anomalies show up without an associated quake. Earthquake scientists have been "burned enough times in the past" and so have learned not to get excited about every potential prediction method. But plans are underway to put together a workshop between earth scientists and atmospheric scientists this summer to discuss the research on the ionosphere changes. "

**It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye...
then it becomes a scavenger hunt.**

This morning -
Piles of moderate Turkey aftershocks.

Yesterday -
5/19/11 -

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake has rocked western Turkey, shattering windows, damaging old buildings in one town and killing two people. The quake in Kutahya province occurred at 11.15pm (6.15am AEST today) and was centred in the town of Simav. One person died in Simav after jumping out of a window in panic. An elderly woman also died of an heart attack in another town. There were no reports of serious damage.
About two-dozen people have been injured, mostly suffering from injuries from broken glass or jumping off balconies. The quake was followed by about 50 aftershocks, the strongest - with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 - shook Kutahya. They warned of more aftershocks in the coming days. Most of the town of Simav was without electricity and telephone lines were down. At least one empty building collapsed in Simav and some other old buildings were also slightly damaged.
The quake was felt as far as the Aegean city of Izmir, the northwestern city of Bursa, Istanbul and the city of Edirne, close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders. Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by fault lines. In March 2010, a 6.0-magnitude quake knocked down houses in five villages in eastern Turkey, killing 51 people. In 2003, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed 177 people in the south-eastern city of Bingol, including 84 children whose school dormitory collapsed. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck north-western Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.

Scientists underestimated the seismic complexity of Japan's earthquake-prone area, and thus failed to predict the size and impact of the recent megaquake that hit the country, new research suggests. Of three related studies, one also warns that the recent quake could have altered the underground stresses in a way that HEIGHTENS THE RISK of another big quake occurring 200 kilometers east of Tokyo. The 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki quake was the fourth-most-powerful temblor ever recorded, and the largest to strike Japan since modern recordkeeping began 130 years ago.


Nicaraguan volcano spews out ash cloud - Telica volcano, in western Nicaragua, spewed a huge cloud of gas and ash reaching almost one mile into the air. Volcanic ash was scattered over nearby houses and farming communities close to the volcano. The volcano, which is one of the most active in the country, also generated a series of small earthquakes last week. (video)

No current tropical storms.


U.S. - Vermont's RECORD-BREAKING WET SPRING record-breaking wet spring has left farmers in the lurch, delaying the planting of vegetables and feed crops for cows, making an already short season even shorter.


Another late-season storm heads for California - Another winter-like storm was bearing down on California with up to 2 feet of snow expected in the southern Sierra Nevada, and more rain and cold forecast for Southern California through Wednesday. Heavy snow and strong winds were expected to begin Tuesday night in the mountains from Yosemite to southern Tulare County. The first storm swept down from the Gulf of Alaska on Monday, and scattered showers continued into Tuesday morning in Southern California. Numerous fender-bender accidents were reported. The storm brought light rain Monday with winter-like temperatures. RECORD LOWS in the 40s were recorded at Camarillo, UCLA, Long Beach Airport and Lancaster. Sandberg in the Antelope Valley had a record low of 32. Big Bear's record low was 25.
RAINFALL RECORDS WERE ALSO BROKEN in several areas. Los Angeles International Airport saw 0.23 inch of rain, breaking a record of 0.12 inch set in 1949. Long Beach Airport received 0.25 inch of rain, breaking a record of trace rainfall set in 2004. In Ventura County, Camarillo had 0.19 inch of rain. The previous record was 0.12 inch set in 1994. Together, the late-season storms could bring up to an inch of rain. The region usually gets only a quarter-inch for the entire month of May.


Solar storms may wreak havoc on Earth in 2013. - The intensity of solar storms is expected to peak in 2013 and may devastate critical infrastructure like satellite communications, navigation systems and electrical transmission equipment, a top scientist has warned. The assistant secretary of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said countries should prepare for "potentially devastating effects" from solar storms which are caused by massive explosions on the sun. "It is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet". She is not the only expert to issue a warning about the threat posed by solar storms. In February, astronomers warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to such an event than at any time in history - and that the planet should PREPARE FOR A GLOBAL HURRICANE KATRINA-STYLE DISASTER.
A massive solar eruption, they said, would send waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging satellite systems used for synchronising computers, airline navigation and phone networks. If the storm is powerful enough it could even crash stock markets and cause power cuts that last weeks or months. The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger because the sun is entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle. The world got a taster of the sun's explosive power in February when the strongest solar eruption in five years sent a torrent of charged plasma hurtling towards the world at 580 miles per second. The storm created spectacular aurorae and disrupted radio communications.
Space storms are not new. The first major solar flare was recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859. Other solar geomagnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. According to NASA, one huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the mid-western state of Illinois. Another similar flare in 1989 'provoked geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission' and caused blackouts across the Canadian province of Quebec.