Monday, August 15, 2011

**Hunger makes a thief of any man.**
Pearl S. Buck

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/14/11 -
None 5.0 or higher.

Pursuing the Grail of an Earthquake Predictor, but Facing Skeptics - A Silicon Valley company is assembling a sprawling network of electrical contraptions across California that its investors hope will prove many seismologists wrong and become a valuable public-safety tool that reliably predicts earthquakes. The project, called QuakeFinder, involves installing some 200 five-foot-tall sensors near fault lines to measure changes in underground magnetic fields and detect electrically charged particles in the air. The theory behind it is that changes in electromagnetic fields can foretell quakes. Each sensor costs about $50,000 to produce, and 70 have been installed in California.
The science behind QuakeFinder, however, is disputed. Most seismologists dismiss it as bogus and have long concluded that forecasting earthquakes is impossible. The U.S. Geological Survey, the main sponsor of most earthquake research, does not support quake-related studies of electromagnetic radiation because it has found them to be a scientific dead end. But QuakeFinder, by monitoring data from the sensors, believes they will be able to forecast a quake stronger than magnitude 5 up to two weeks before it strikes. Further analysis of the distinct electromagnetic patterns leading up to an earthquake could enable him to pinpoint the time within a day or two. The founder is a satellite engineer who says he has worked for 37 years developing ground-control systems and satellites for the Defense Department and private companies. He has dedicated the last decade to the QuakeFinder project. QuakeFinder devices detected electromagnetic pulses that resembled those produced by lightning in the two weeks before an earthquake struck at Alum Rock near San Jose in 2007, and charged air particles and infrared light were also detected. Similar observations by QuakeFinder preceded an earthquake in Peru last year. They attribute the electromagnetic pulses to electrical currents created when rocks are squeezed. Other experts who subscribe to QuakeFinder’s ideas speculate that the movement of water deep underground could cause electromagnetic anomalies.
Skeptics say electrical signals that look like lightning were probably created by, well, lightning, or perhaps one of the many other sources of electrical charges in the atmosphere. They also fault the instruments used by some electrical engineers who support QuakeFinder’s theories, and say U.S.G.S. monitors did not detect electromagnetic changes before a 2004 earthquake in Parkfield.


INDONESIA - Danger Level Raised as Two Volcanoes Stir to Life. Authorities raised the alert status of two volcanoes to the second-highest level over the weekend and told people to stay up to six kilometers away from the craters. The alert was raised on Sunday for Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi, just a day after being lifted for Mount Papandayan in Garut, West Java. “We decided to raise the alert level of Mount Soputan from ‘beware’ to ‘alert’ this afternoon following more frequent earthquakes and volcanic ash." Soputan, one of Sulawesi’s most active volcanoes, erupted in July, spewing ash up to 5,000 meters into the air and shutting down Sam Ratulangi Airport in the capital, Manado, for three hours. On Sunday, Soputan erupted at least twice and spewed volcanic ash 1,000 meters into the air. “It’s a big danger zone because the expulsion of volcanic ash has been quite powerful. We are afraid lava rocks could travel far, but fortunately there are no residential areas within an eight-kilometer radius of the crater.”
On Saturday, the level for Mount Papandayan was also raised to “alert,” and a two-kilometer exclusion zone was declared around the crater. “For now, we are not too worried about a major eruption. We are more concerned by the toxic gas.” Papandayan bears some similarity to Mount Dieng in Central Java, which in June spewed dangerous amount of potentially lethal carbon dioxide. Gas was coming from three craters - Walirang, Manuk and Balagadama. Mount Papandayan last erupted on Nov. 11, 2002. While there were no deaths, dozens of houses were destroyed.
There are now five Indonesian volcanoes at alert level: Soputan, Karangetang and Lokon in North Sulawesi, Mount Ibu in North Maluku and Papandayan.

Tropical storm Gert was located about 170 mi / 275 km SSE of Bermuda. Gert is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches on Bermuda. Large swells generated by Gert were expected to begin to affect Bermuda late Sunday night or early today. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.


NEW YORK - Heavy, RECORD-BREAKING tropical rain is set to continue across Greater New York today. Heavy rain drenched the area over the weekend. The storm system responsible for this mess has a central pressure as strong as Tropical Storm Gert, currently striking Bermuda. The only difference is that this storm is dozens of times larger, and much more frightening seen from space. The combination of the strength of this storm and its interaction with abnormally warm waters over the Gulf Stream has setup a conveyor belt of tropical moisture streaming directly towards the tri-state.
Just how UNUSUAL was Sunday’s rain? At Belvedere Castle in Central Park (where the city’s official weather records are kept), 4.87″ of rain fell by 7pm. That’s enough to make Sunday THE RAINIEST SINGLE AUGUST DAY SINCE 1869 in New York City. At JFK Airport and points east (especially Nassau County), much more rain fell. Officially, Sunday was THE RAINIEST DAY EVER RECORDED AT JFK (7.72″ as of 7pm, beating June 30, 1984 by more than an inch and a half), with rain falling at nearly three inches per hour at one point. Unofficially, storm spotters recorded an amazing 10.20″ in Lido Beach on Long Island.


Devastating Texas drought shows no signs of letting up as East Coast lines up for ANOTHER heatwave at the end of the month. The East Coast is shaping up to experience another heat wave late this month as states including Texas continue to suffer a devastating drought, analysts warned. As ONE OF THE MOST SEVERE HOT, DRY PERIODS IN DECADES continues to ravage the state, more than 78 per cent of Texas is in exceptional drought, and 94 per cent is in exceptional drought or worse. Scattered rain in the Dallas area prevented the region from hitting 100 degrees for the first time in forty days, two days shy of the record but experts say it was not nearly enough to provide relief the region needed. Heat advisories remained in effect in the south central part of the state, where heat indexes were expected to reach as high as 109 degrees.
July was THE HOTTEST MONTH EVER RECORDED IN TEXAS and the 12 months ending July 31 were the driest since records started being kept in 1895. The state has entered a 'vicious cycle' where the heat and drought feed on each other. 'Without any moisture in the ground to evaporate, the thunderstorms can't form. It's the same thing that causes the high temperatures. Usually when we see record heat, we're seeing record or near-record dryness.' While brown lawns and empty swimming pools are common in cities under severe water-use restrictions, agriculture and ranching have been devastated. 'It will clearly, in my opinion, be the largest agriculture loss we have ever experienced,' estimating farmers and ranchers stand to lose $8 billion, double the losses from droughts in 2006 and 2009. And THE WORST MAY NOT HAVE EVEN ARRIVED for Texas. 'Climatic models show there is another La Nina system, which is blamed for this drought, coming our way this fall. That is not a good thing.'
It comes as experts at Earth Risk technologies say they have developed software that can predict extreme weather events up to four weeks in advance - and say the east of the country is in for a sweltering end to the month. The chief science officer of EarthRisk which works with the University of California San Diego in developing the software, said: 'We are seeing HeatRisk signals in the late August time frame for the Eastern U.S.' But he was reluctant to put his reputation behind the predictions, despite an 80 per cent success so far. He claims his system is just a tool to help meteorologists with their forecasts. 'EarthRisk is not in the business of forecasting so I would certainly never say a heat wave is coming. That said, there is no question that some patterns are lining up that signal a higher probability for heat in the late August time frame.' However established meteorologists have poured scorn on their predictions, saying such long range weather forecasting is not possible. 'Weather becomes very hard to model because of chaos. If a butterfly flapping its wings can start a hurricane on the other side of the world, then theoretically, one would need to track these butterflies to accurately foresee the future. Modeling the atmosphere is a very complex process. We just don’t have enough observations to see that butterfly.' (photos)