Friday, August 5, 2011

UPDATE - GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS - A major geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a CME on August 5th around 1800 UT. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras after nightfall. The best hours for aurora sightings are usually around local midnight. Reports of Northern Lights are coming in from many European countries including Germany, Denmark, Scotland and the Netherlands. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say that the CME impact may have strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field, directly exposing satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. The arriving CME left the sun on August 4th, propelled by an M9.3-category eruption in the magnetic canopy of sunspot 1261.
NIGHT-TIME SOLAR RADIO BURST: The M9-class solar flare of August 4th produced a burst of shortwave static so powerful that receivers on Earth picked it up after sunset. "A RadioJove observer in Florida recorded the burst when the sun was 38 degrees below the horizon."
"To my knowledge, receptions like this are VERY RARE." Indeed they are. This event brings to mind the iconic night-time solar radio burst of March 8, 1958. Five radio telescopes at the University of Florida picked up emissions from the sun while observing the planet Jupiter in tthe middle of the night. On the other side of the world, radio astronomers in daylit Australia confirmed that a powerful solar radio burst had taken place at that exact time. They considered the possibility that solar radio waves might have been reflected by the Moon or carried to the night side of Earth by ionospheric ducting. In tthe end, they could not conclusively explain what happened and night-time solar radio bursts remain a puzzle.
Tsunami in space - Effects of solar flares arriving on Earth. The impact of the series of eruptions on the Sun began arriving at Earth Friday and could affect some communications for a day or so.
Operators of electrical grids in the United States are working to avoid outages, but the country's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says some satellite communications and Global Positioning Systems could face problems.
Three solar flares erupted on the sun starting on Tuesday, and the strongest electromagnetic shocks were being felt Friday by the ACE spacecraft, a satellite that measures radiation bursts a few minutes before they strike Earth.
The sun is going from a quiet period into a busier cycle for solar flares, and an increase in the number of such blasts is expected over the next three to five years. Solar flares send out bursts of electromagnetic energy that strike the Earth's magnetic field. The most common impacts for the average person are the glowing auroras around the north and south poles, and those could be visible this weekend. The magnetic blasts which have been likened to a tsunami in space, can also affect electronic communications and electrical systems. A 1989 solar flare knocked out the electrical systems in Quebec, Canada, but the current solar storm is not expected to be that powerful. On a scale of one to five, it is probably a two or three. But more significant solar storms are expected in the next few years. The most powerful known solar storm occurred in 1859. There were not as many vulnerable electrical items then, but it did knock out telegraph services, even burning down some telegraph stations. Other serious solar blasts occurred in 1921 and 1940, and one on Halloween in 2003.

STRONG SOLAR ACTIVITY: For the third day in a row, active sunspot 1261 has unleashed a significant M-class solar flare. The latest blast at 0357 UT on August 4th registered M9.3 on the Richter Scale of Flares, almost crossing the threshold into X-territory (X-flares are the most powerful kind). The number of energetic protons around Earth has jumped nearly 100-fold as a result of this event. The eruption propelled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth.
Moving at an estimated speed of 1950 km/s, this CME is expected to sweep up an earlier CME already en route. Analysts at the GSFC Space Weather Lab say the combined cloud should reach Earth on August 5th at 10:00 UT plus or minus 7 hours: "THE IMPACT ON EARTH IS LIKELY TO BE MAJOR." The estimated maximum geomagnetic activity index level Kp is 7 (Kp ranges from 0 - 9).
The first of three CMEs produced by the recent spate of flare activity reached Earth during the late hours of August 4th. The impact was weak and is not expected to produce strong geomagnetic storms. The other two CMEs are still on the way and, as described above, they may have merged into a single cloud that could produce significant storming when they reach Earth today. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

**Hunger changes the world -
when eating can't be a habit, then neither can seeing.**
Maxine Hong Kingston

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/4/11 -


ALASKA - Eruption warning raised for Alaskan volcano. A lava dome atop the massive Cleveland Volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Islands has gotten larger in the past week, and officials keeping an eye on the restive mountain have raised eruption threat levels. The lava dome, a viscous mass of lava belched up from inside the mountain but too thick to flow down its sides, widened by 33 feet over five days, to 164 feet across.
On the fifth day, Aug. 2, the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the volcano alert level to "watch" and aviation color code to orange, the second-highest levels in each four-level scale. "Lava flows onto the flanks of the volcano may develop but would not be hazardous to aviation." The volcano, on the uninhabited island of Chuginadak, has erupted more than 20 times since 1828. The last eruption occurred over the course of a week in late July. The mountain is part of the infamous Ring of Fire, a string of volcanoes strewn around the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean that produces some of the world's most dramatic and dangerous eruptions.
The Cleveland Volcano could put on quite a show in coming days. "Short-lived explosions could produce an ash cloud that exceeds 20,000 feet above sea level. These events can occur without warning and may go undetected in satellite imagery for hours."

- Tropical Storm 12w (Merbok) was located approximately 700 nm northwest of Wake Island.

-Typhoon 11w (Muifa) was located approximately 70 nm south of Kadena air base, Japan.

- Hurricane Eugene was located about 825 m/1330 km WSW of the southern tip of Baja California.

Tropical storm Emily drenches Haiti - Haitians heaved a sigh of relief as a storm brought some flooding to the south but was felled by the mountains, sparing quake refugees living in tent cities from more misery. By Thursday, Tropical Storm Emily had been downgraded to a trough of low pressure by the US National Hurricane Center, although it warned the island of Hispaniola was still being soaked by heavy rains.
The capital Port-au-Prince appeared to have escaped the brunt of the winds and rain, but officials said 300 families had been flooded in the north and heavy rains were battering the southern towns of Jacmel and Cayes.
In its latest advisory at 7am, the NHC said only "remnants" of Emily were left as the storm had degenerated after hurtling against the mountains. It cancelled all storm warnings and watches for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, and advised it was discontinuing any further notices.
But in northern Haiti, buildings used to treat cholera victims were flooded. Haiti is still recovering from the devastating 2010 quake that killed an estimated 225,000 people. Some 300,000 people are still homeless, living in makeshift camps. The country has also been battling an outbreak of cholera, which has killed 5,506 people and infected 363,117, and there were fears that flooding and sodden conditions could aid the spread of the water-borne disease. About 30 tent cities had been identified as being particularly at risk, and authorities had established an evacuation plan but it was not put into effect. There were still fears the wet conditions could bring tragedy, as the hillsides around the island are mostly bare, having been long since stripped of trees in the hunt for fuel and building materials. "Landslides are of course a threat, but even simply heavy rain has the potential to worsen the volatile sanitation conditions in camps." Authorities had cancelled all domestic flights and shut down government buildings, urging Haitians not to leave their homes if possible. Even though Emily had weakened, it could still dump 15-30 centimetres of rain with isolated amounts of up to 51 centimetres possible over Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic, more than 5000 people threatened by floods had been evacuated.
In the Pacific Ocean, meanwhile, Hurricane Eugene weakened to a category two storm far off Mexico's western coast, and was expected to weaken even further possibly becoming a tropical storm by today.


-Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is recalling a limited number of 3.5- and 7-pound bags of its Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food from a single production run and shipped to customers in 12 states in December 2010. This is being done because some bags of the product have been found to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-H-E-B is encouraging customers to check their refrigerators for 8 oz, 16 oz, 24 oz and 32 oz sizes of H-E-B Brand cottage cheese, dips, yogurt and sour cream sold between June 18 and July 27. The products, sold at H-E-B, Central Market, Mi Tienda and Joe V’s, are being recalled as a precaution due to the possible presence of foreign material.