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.