Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Close Earth asteroid encounter in November and scientists preparing to test altering the path of a different asteroid. It's time to get ready for another interplanetary object encounter as NASA has confirmed that a very dark, nearly round asteroid will pass between Earth and the moon later this year. Dubbed as 2005 YU55, the almost round asteroid is 400 meters in size. Although it has been classified as a "potentially hazardous object," NASA says it poses no threat of an Earth collision over the next 100 years.
According to NASA scientists, it will pass Earth within 0.85 lunar distances on Nov. 8. "This will be THE CLOSEST APPROACH TO DATE BY AN OBJECT THIS LARGE THAT WE KNOW ABOUT IN ADVANCE, and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances." On Nov. 8 and 9, the object will reach a visual brightness of 11th magnitude and should be easily visible to observers in both hemispheres. 2005 YU55 has a rotation period of approximately 20 hours. It will approach Earth from the sunward direction.
Meanwhile, scientists are also working on another mission to counteract a potential asteroid collision. They will be trying to change the course of 99942 Apophis asteroid headed for Earth. The 1,600-foot-wide asteroid poses a minimal one-in-250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036. Under the mission, named Don Quijote, the European Space Agency will fire an "impactor" satellite into a "test" asteroid in 2015 to see whether the object's path can be altered.

**I saw few die of hunger; of eating too much, a hundred thousand.**
Benjamin Franklin

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/16/11 -

-Tropical Storm Fernanda was located about 1400 mi /.2250 km ESE of South Point, Hawaii and was moving slowly westward. Fernanda could become a hurricane by Thursday.

-Tropical Depression Seven-E was located about 145 mi / 230 km SSW of Acapulco, Mexico. The center of the depression is expected to remain well offshore the coast of southern Mexico. The depression was forecast to become a tropical storm Tuesday night or today and it could become a hurricane on Thursday.

Hurricane season heads toward peak - Mid-August marks the point where tropical cyclone activity starts to increase significantly in the Atlantic Basin and almost on cue a large and vigorous tropical wave entering the Caribbean Monday has some potential to develop and impact the Cayman Islands later this week.
The westward-moving tropical wave, which was re-designated Invest 93L by the National Hurricane Center in Miami Monday morning after it was dropped over the weekend, was given a low 20 per cent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone through Wednesday. “There are no signs of a surface circulation and pressures are not falling significantly with this disturbance. However, environmental conditions are expected to be marginally favourable for some development of this system during the next few days.” Even if the wave were not to develop, it was still likely to bring about two inches of rain to Grand Cayman when it passes the area on Friday.
The hurricane season is moving into what is commonly known as the Cape Verde season, the time when there are increasing numbers of tropical waves coming off the coast of western Africa near the Cape Verde Islands. In addition, this is the part of the season where environmental conditions are better for the formation of tropical cyclones. “The sea temperatures increase.” Sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean are ALREADY ABOVE NORMAL. In addition, this is the time of the year when cyclone-inhibiting wind shear decreases at the same time and the current neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation was likely to keep the wind shear low for the next couple of months.
With Tropical Storm Gert forming over the weekend, there have already been seven named storms in the Atlantic Basin this year. On average historically, the seventh named storm doesn’t occur until 16 September, a month away. This year’s season has been active with regard to named storms, but most have been rather weak and short-lived so far and there have been no hurricanes yet. On average, the first hurricane of the season occurs on 10 August. The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued its updated seasonal forecast on 4 August, increasing its pre-season forecast to 14 to 19 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from 1 June through 30 November. 87% of Category 1 and 2 hurricanes and 96% of major hurricanes of Category 3 or above occur in August through September. The accepted peak day of the hurricane season is 10 September. Cayman remains more at risk than other locations late in the hurricane season because many of the late-season tropical cyclones originate in the western Caribbean.

'Tremendous rescues' in Delaware in face of tropical storm - Patrols blamed low-pressure systems largely associated with Tropical Storm Emily for these rescues. In Ocean City, the beach patrol made a total of 381 water rescues related to high surf or rip currents between Aug. 4 and 8. Lifeguards at the region's resorts cheered the significant drop in water rescues as surf swells as high as 4 feet in some places ebbed to a 2-foot seasonal norm. "At the beginning of last week, there were zero rescues." On Aug. 4, 63 rescues, and on Aug. 5, 163. Emily, the fifth tropical storm since the Atlantic hurricane season began, weakened to 35-mph winds late Aug. 4. The 10,000-foot range on the island of Dominican Republic and Haiti gets credit for slapping down winds that powered Emily's churn through the Caribbean and kicked up surf along the Delmarva coastline.
The calm after the storm could be short-lived. Last week, federal officials raised the chance of a stormier-than-normal hurricane season to 85 percent -- a 20 percent increase since a prediction of 65 percent was issued in May. That means that over the next three months, 14 to 19 storms or full-blown hurricanes could form, up from an original estimate of 12 to 18. "This is a dangerous time. August is probably the time of year when hurricanes are more aggressive and create more problems for coastal shorelines. There'll be more days like (those) for sure, and leading into September and October. It's the nature of the beast."


MALAYSIA - Extreme weather conditions in Klang Valley. The thunderstorms during this 2011 south-west monsoon season have been EXTRAORDINARILY SEVERE over the Klang Valley.

Extreme weather on the rise in Sweden - Heavy rains and extreme weather is becoming more common in Sweden, according to a study by forecasters at the Swedish meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI. “We are still missing some data, but the trend us unmistakeable, extreme weather is becoming more common in Sweden." Recent downpours and heavy rains over western Sweden is but one example of a trend showing more extreme weather. "For the Götaland region we see a definite rise. It is that part of the country where it is increasing the most." The torrential rain that struck western Sweden on Monday and has left many households flooded is just the most recent example of a change in the weather. The rains have put a huge strain on emergency services in the area. Many roads have been blocked, local radio was hit by the weather and a large number of house owners saw their cellars flooded.
“This is a reflection of how climate change may affect us in the future." The regional climate scenarios show how the average temperatures in the region will rise by five or six degrees by 2100. The period will also see a lot more precipitation, a rise of about 20 percent, and an increase in heavy downpours, according to the report.
And meteorologists say that the low-pressure area, which is causing the current downpour, was moving in over Sweden Tuesday, not losing in force as it travels. "There is still a lot of power in this low pressure area. Generally they die out as they travel, but that does not seem to be the case with this. It will keep going." SMHI has issued a class one warning for many areas of Sweden over Tuesday.


RECORD-BREAKING SNOWSTORM in New Zealand. - A polar blast closed roads and cut power to thousands of homes The freezing weather sweeping up New Zealand has brought snow to winterless Northland, BROKE THEIR RECORD FOR COLDEST TEMPERATURE and caused chaos around the country. Residents had been unable to leave their houses in Christchurch and Wellington Monday as the roads were too unsafe to drive on, and public transport has been severely hit. Travellers have been stranded at airports as some flights were cancelled, particularly in Christchurch and Queenstown where the airports were closed for part of the day. Mail will not be delivered for a second day in some parts of the country, and the entire lower North Island will miss the post. The snow was accompanied by wind gusts of 111kmh at 8am.
“While more snow is likely, the end is in sight. It’s still a few days away though.” Snow showers in Canterbury and Marlborough were expected to spread north to reach the central North Island tonight, with snow falling to about 400 metres. More wild weather has already reached Wellington with snow reported in city suburbs. A further 15 to 30cm snow was expected in near the capital. Severe wind chill to coastal areas between Canterbury, Wellington and the Wairarapa was also forecast. The heaviest snow was expected in Canterbury, with 15-30cm at lower levels and 30-60cm above 300m.
It’s been a cold few days for many in parts of the country as the winter storm set icy records in Auckland and Wellington where SNOW FELL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEARLY HALF A CENTURY. Sunday was the coldest day in Auckland since records began in 1961. The temperature at the airport reached 8.1 degrees Celsius – compared with the previous lowest high of 8.7C, on July 4, 1996. While at the Wellington Airport the temperature got to 6.8C making it the second coldest day there since records began in 1959, the first being 6.5C on June 21, 1976. NIWA also confirmed A LARGE NUMBER OF RECORD LOW AUGUST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURES Sunday, particularly in North Island locations. At Tauranga’s airport, the mercury fell to 8.9C – its lowest since 1941. Temperatures dropped to 3.5C in Martinborough – the lowest in August since 1986 and in Waiouru the mercury fell to -1.0C, the lowest since 1972. In Palmerston North temperatures fell to 6.2C – the lowest August temperature since 1940, and in Hamilton, the mercury dropped to 6.8C, the second coldest day in August since 1940. Gisborne also recorded its second lowest temperature since 1940 at 8.2C.


Flu vaccine concerns after reports of fevers and convulsions in kids. - Drugs maker CSL is hopeful of calming concerns held by the world's most powerful drug regulator over a flu vaccine which caused fever and convulsions in children. The US Food and Drug Administration in June warned the Melbourne-based biotech it was not happy with CSL's investigation into why hundreds of Australian children under five had reactions to CSL's seasonal flu vaccine in 2010. The FDA threatened to withdraw CSL's license to distribute the vaccine in the US if it did not address concerns about manufacturing processes at its Parkville plant in Melbourne, where the vaccine was made.
When the FDA visited CSL's Parkville plant in March, it was worried about "significant deviations from current good manufacturing practice requirements". It also raised concerns about CSL's failure to thoroughly investigate why the vaccine, sold as Fluvax in Australia and Alfuria in the US, caused reactions in some young children. CSL withdrew the vaccine in June 2010 after hundreds of children aged under five began suffering fevers and febrile seizures. A survey found children aged under five who received Fluvax were 6.5 times more likely to have a fever than those given other flu vaccines. Fluvax is now licensed for children aged over five, but doctors are advised to use other flu vaccines for those between five and nine.
Scientific investigations by CSL found that the reactions in children were caused by "a surprise interaction" between new flu strains the World Health Organisation required to be included in the 2010 vaccine. However, it was still not yet known what caused the interaction between the different flu strains. Fluvax has been approved for use in Europe and the US, when their flu seasons begin later in 2011.

A link between obesity and 2009 H1N1 flu complications was one of the surprising findings during the pandemic, and now a Canadian research group has uncovered a similar connection between obesity and respiratory hospitalizations during seasonal flu months. During the pandemic the obesity link to complications led public health officials in North America and other countries to tweak vaccine priority planning, and the extension of the link to seasonal flu could help authorities design their policies to better protect this group.
Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from self-reported responses. Categories included class 1 (BMI 30.0 to 34.9), class 2 (35.0 to 39.9), and class 3 (40 or more). The number of respondents in class 2 and 3 categories were small, so the researchers combined the two groups. About 12% of the group had BMIs in the class 1 obesity category, and 5% were in the class 2 and 3 tiers. Researchers found that obesity was independently associated with an increased risk of respiratory hospitalization during flu seasons, a risk that was present even for severely obese patients with no underlying medical conditions. The risk for the most obese group with no chronic medical conditions was about the same as for normal-weight people who had one risk factor for flu complications, which indicates that severe obesity may be as important a predictor of flu complications as other previously identified underlying medical conditions. "This study offers a new perspective on the dangers of obesity and its relationship to severe influenza infection." During influenza seasons, obese people had increased odds for all hospitalizations except those due to external injury. "Importantly, [the researchers] did not find an association between obesity and risk of hospitalization due to respiratory illness during non-influenza seasons."