Monday, May 2, 2011

**To err is human, to forgive divine.
Neither of which is the policy of the US Marine Corps.**
United States Marine Corps slogan

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/1/11 -

MINNESOTA! - Earthquake is talk of the town in Alexandria. At 2:20 Friday morning people were awakened by a 2.5 magnitude earthquake. "I remember I jumped. I mean I actually jumped. It sounded like a garbage truck, going rum, rum, rum."
"My whole house was moving. That's what I remember, the bed was moving." Many of the people who felt or heard the earthquake weren't even sure what it was until they compared notes in the morning. "And all of sudden it just registered. That was an earthquake." The earthquake was tiny by California standards, but on main street Minnesota - a whopper. "One person actually thought their furnace exploded. It's the talk at the coffee shops." There was no truth to the rumor of tsunamis on Lake Henry.
The quake's epicenter was pinpointed near the Alexandria airport. The earthquake is just the 19th recorded in Minnesota since 1850. The last was in 1994, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake in Granite Falls. The largest was a 5.0 earthquake in Morris in 1975. The most destructive was a shallow 4.3 magnitude earthquake in Staples in 1917 that cracked plaster, broke windows and toppled chimneys. Ancient fault zones are likely to blame for the occasional activity in West Central Minnesota. Based on history, Minnesotans can expect a small earthquake every five to ten years, "but we could also go 30 years."

NEVADA - Earthquake swarm resumes Friday at Arrowcreek area. Quakes continue at area west of Arrowcreek in southwest Reno; 12 on Friday. The new earthquakes Friday brings the total quakes in that area since Nov. 26 to about 43. This comes after a pause when there was no quake greater than magnitude 1 between 1:50 p.m. on Tuesday and 4:07 a.m. on Thursday. "It looks like it slowed down a little bit, but it's difficult to tell within a 24-hour period. These sequences last for a long time."
The swarm started Nov. 26 as part of normal movement of the chunks of the earth's crust. This swarm is in the area of the Mount Rose fault, but the recent quakes were not on that fault. The Mogul area underwent a more intense swarm of quakes in 2008, but those quakes were closer to the surface. These quakes near Arrowcreek are about 6.5 miles deep.The largest of the new quakes was a magnitude 2.4. By comparison, a quake of magnitude 2.5 is equivalent to 4.6 tons of TNT, or more than four times the size of a large mining blast.
Quake swarms are not unusual in Nevada, the nation's third most seismically active state. "They're pretty common. Generally, they're not around places that feel it or could have damage from a large earthquake." The seismological lab will continue to monitor the quakes, and if they increase in number or intensity, it will put more monitors in the area. Four of the new quakes happened between 5:16 a.m. and 5:22 a.m. Friday.

6.0 Earthquake rattled southern Panama on Saturday. "Everyone started screaming. We heard a lot of things breaking and computer keyboards smashing on the floor. This hotel has eight floors and it swayed like a palm tree." There were no immediate reports of damage or injury from the quake, which hit about 238 miles southwest of the capital of Panama City.

NEW ZEALAND - Earthquake in ranges out of ordinary. Saturday morning's significant earthquake might have provided something out of the ordinary for scientists to study. The magnitude-5.2 quake at 7.08am shook a large part of the central South Island, but was centred well away from where most aftershocks have been following the big quakes on September 4 last year and February 22. Many of the aftershocks in the past eight months have been near the ends of the Greendale Fault and along the length of the Port Hills Fault. There have also been aftershocks centred closer to Oxford, but Saturday's was beyond the town and over the other, northern, side of Mt Oxford.
The area from Porters Pass through to Lees Valley is very seismically active, with a "spaghetti junction" of faults running through the Canterbury foothills and across North Canterbury. Two thousand to three thousand years ago, a very large earthquake, possibly up to magnitude eight, had been generated by a fault in Lees Valley that left a visible eight-metre rupture. Saturday's quake in about the same area could well have been on a strand of the Porters Pass Fault or one linked with it.


WYOMING - Webcam catches tourists walking on Old Faithful. Warning signs in multiple languages and the risk of getting cooked like garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker didn't stop some 30 tourists from taking a way-too-close look at Yellowstone's famous Old Faithful Geyser. Fortunately, someone was keeping an eye on them — by webcam, hundreds of miles away in Wisconsin. Before the geyser's next eruption, the viewer called Yellowstone and a ranger herded them to safety. The ranger handed out $125 tickets to several people, including the tour group leader.
Yellowstone National Park officials on Friday used the incident to repeat yet again their message to all who visit: Getting too close to boiling-hot geysers, mud pots and thermal pools is very dangerous. Obey the warning signs. Keep to the boardwalks. Stay out of hot water — literally. "One would never want to be close to a geyser like that or, frankly, look down into the column as apparently some of these visitors did. A video posted on YouTube showed four members of the group strolling right up to the opening of Old Faithful, followed by the rest of the group within minutes. Some posed for photos within easy reach of the searing hot water that bubbles out Old Faithful for several minutes ahead of each eruption.
Every year, a small handful of Yellowstone's more than 3 million annual visitors illegally venture off the boardwalks that surround many of the park's thermal features. They gamble that the solid-looking ground isn't but a thin wafer of minerals above a boiling-hot pool. About one person a year gets burned. Others, like the ones involved in the latest close call, just get caught. This tour grou[ must have ignored several signs in several languages when they walked off the boardwalk and onto the gently sloping cone of Old Faithful.
Free handouts likewise warn of Yellowstone's myriad dangers — which also include charging bison and grumbly grizzly bears. Besides potentially punching their feet through the geyser basin crust, the tour group risked getting seared by Old Faithful's blasts of 204-degree (96-Celsius) water. The eruptions occur every hour or two, less predictable than the geyser's name suggests. "It's not something you can set your watch to."

CHILE - Chaitén volcano in Northern Patagonia, Chile came to life on May 2, 2008 for the first time in 9,000 years in a major eruption. Since that time, the eruption has never stopped. The town of Chaitén at the base of the volcano was evacuated at the start of the eruption with no loss of life, but heavy winter rains ten days later flooded the area with mud and ash and destroyed 90% of the town.
The choices for the residents of Chaitén town were few: take the government's resettlement money and relocate permanently elsewhere, start building "New Chaiten" from the ground up once the government decided on a safe location for the new town, or remain in their ruined town despite the danger - which is exactly what a handful of holdouts have done now for the past three years, carrying on as best they can while doing without basic city services such as electricity and running water. Flowers bloom in abandoned gardens. Horses left behind when their owners relocated wander the streets, eating the grassy medians. Following the election of a new government last year, political pressure from holdout residents in Chaitén persuaded officials to re-establish electric power and water to the north part of town -- a big step up for residents after more than two years of doing without.
The Interior Minister explained that while the government will respect the wishes of those who decide to stay in the area, no public funds will be allocated "to a city that we feel should not be located where it is." A Research Hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey recently spent 3 weeks in Chaitén studying the volcano. "The hazard from possible future flooding or from a possible pyroclastic flow reaching the town still exists. My impression is that the hazards of remaining in that town are not clearly understood by all residents."

No current tropical storms.

No trends apparent in occurrence of Pacific cyclones as season finishes. The official cyclone season has come to an end and as met service forecasters make comparisons with past seasons one scientist says there are no trends.


CANADA - Fierce winds blamed for injuries across Ottawa last Thursday [while the U.S. was getting tornadoes]. Strong gusts snapped trees, knocked out power for thousands. Ferocious winds expected to reach up to 100 km/h were blamed for several injuries reported in Ottawa on Thursday, as the wicked weather toppled trees in the capital region, knocked out power to thousands of homes and caused traffic mayhem. Emergency responders were dealing with several calls for people hurt by the conditions, including two separate incidents in which elderly women were blown to the ground, causing severe head injuries. Both were in serious condition in hospital.
A wind warning issued by Environment Canada was in effect for many parts of Ottawa, Gatineau and the Ottawa Valley. Winds were gusting near 95 km/h in the afternoon — a speed classified as TROPICAL STORM FORCE. "Not a description we're used to hearing in Ottawa." The winds were so strong that they tore off chunks from the roofs of some buildings. Traffic was interrupted everywhere due to malfunctioning traffic signals swaying in the wind. Drivers proceeded carefully to manoeuvre around uprooted trees, recycling bins and election campaign posters tossed about the streets. The winds began to diminish later in the afternoon and by 5 p.m., they were down to around 48 km/h.


Lab Salmonella strain sickens 73 people in 35 states - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health partners in several states are investigating a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to lab exposure that has so far sickened 73 people in 35 states. The illnesses involve a commercially available Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium strain used in laboratories, and health officials believe students or lab employees may have carried the bacteria to their homes on contaminated lab coats, pens, notebooks, or other items. Several of the patients are children who live in households with a person who studies or works in a microbiology lab.
Illness onset dates for patients with available information range from Aug 20, 2010, to March 8, 2011. Ages range from less than 1 year to 91 years, with a median age of 24. 14% of the patients were hospitalized, and one death has been reported. The number of new cases involving the outbreak strain has dropped over the past several months. Some of the sick patients were students or employees in the labs, many of whom reported working with Salmonella.
Investigation activities are ongoing, and groups are surveying lab directors, managers, and faculty to identify areas where biosafety and training can be improved to avoid similar future infections. The outbreak strain was indistinguishable from the Salmonella Typhimurium strain used in lab settings. The strain, commonly used as a control in testing, isn't known to be unusually pathogenic. Infections from the lab strain have been seen before, though AN OUTBREAK SPANNING SEVERAL STATES IS UNUSUAL. It's unclear if the outbreak signifies an emerging threat or if increased use of multistate foodborne illness conference calls has led to a more uniform evaluation of exposure to the pathogen.