Wednesday, September 7, 2011

There has NEVER BEEN A TEXAS SUMMER HOTTER THAN THIS ONE. The summer of 2011 now HOLDS EVERY MAJOR HEAT RECORD FOR THE CITY OF AUSTIN, including most 100° days (67 so far), hottest month in recorded history (August, breaking the previous record by a remarkable 2.1°), hottest summer (by 1.1°), and hottest day in history (112°F, tied with Sep, 5, 2000.) The situation is similar across the rest of the state.
Seventeen major cities in Texas recorded their hottest summer on record in 2011. Most of these stations had records extending back more than 100 years, and several of the records were smashed by an amazing 3.4°F - at Lubbock and at Wichita Falls. Neighboring states also experienced unprecedented heat, with Oklahoma recording America's hottest month by any state in recorded history during July, and Shreveport, Louisiana breaking its record for hottest month by 3°F in August. " I do not believe I have ever seen a site with a long period of record, like Shreveport, where records go back to 1874, break its warmest single month on record by an astonishing 3°. This is unheard of. Usually when a site breaks its single month temperature record, we are talking about tenths of a degree, rarely a whole degree, let alone 3 degrees! Hard to believe, frankly." Texas has also had its worst fire season on record, with over 3.5 million acres burned this year, and its driest 1-year period in recorded history.

**Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.**
T.S. Elliot

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/6/11 -

KOREA - A few weeks ago, a skyscraper had to be evacuated after an earthquake in Seoul. For ten minutes the building made wide metronomic swings. The strange thing was, there had been NO earthquake registered in the area. It was a mysteriously super-local event. After a two-week investigation, the epicenter was narrowed down to the building’s twelfth floor gym where the side kicking, upper-cutting, and fist-jabbing of seventeen middle-aged Korean women boxercising to Snap’s 1990s hit “I’ve got the Power” seemed somehow to have hit the building’s resonant frequency, sending the whole structure into convulsions.

The powerful earthquake that jolted western Indonesia early Tuesday, killed three people, damaged buildings and sent panicked residents fleeing from homes, hotels and even a hospital. The quake hit the same region devastated in December 2004, causing great panic and considerable damages in North Sumatra. Fortunately, the epicentre of the 6.7 quake on the Richter scale was on land and did not trigger a tsunami.

Indonesia's Mount Lokon erupts four times - Lokon erupted four times on Tuesday after increasing its volcanic activity during the past week. Mount Lokon is located on the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi. The first eruption took place at 7:21 a.m. local time and the fourth 2:20 p.m., producing thick white and gray smoke. This means water and gases are still being burned in the crater. As of 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday, only one volcanic tremor was recorded on Tuesday, compared to Monday's two deep volcanic tremors as well as four distant tectonic quakes. The amplitude of the latest tremors ranged between 0.5 millimeters and 10 millimeters. Despite their amplitude declining compared to previous ones, magma was still being pushed upwards.
Officials at the Volcanic and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center have kept the volcano's alert status to level III, even though the geological activity has began decreasing. Mount Lokon has shown constant volcanic activity since June, prompting authorities to raise its status to Alert on June 27 and Watch on July 10. A series of eruptions in mid-July forced at least 5,269 locals from the villages of Kinilow, Kelurahan Kinilow I and Kakaskasen 1 to evacuate the area. While most residents returned to their homes later that month, some 222 people remain at temporary refugee camps because their homes are in Mound Lokon's red zone - 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from its crater. After July's activity, Mount Lokon's alert level was lowered from Watch to Alert, and has remained at this level since.
On August 17, Mount Lokon began to spew volcanic ash which fell as far away as the Kinilow I village and the Tinoor areas in North Tomohon sub district, which is a short distance from Lokon's crater. And on August 28, it erupted as many as 12 times. Monitoring staff recorded 65 deep volcanic earthquakes and 93 shallow earthquakes that day. Next to Mount Lokon is its volcanic twin, Mount Empung, just 2.2 kilometers (1.3 miles) away.

Seismic activity increases at Iceland volcano
- A surge of small earthquakes has been reported around Iceland's Katla volcano, but scientists said Tuesday there is no immediate concern that the increased seismic activity will trigger a dangerous eruption.

In the Atlantic -
-Category 2 Hurricane Katia was located about 325 mi or 520 km SSW of Bermuda. Expected to pass between Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States over the next day or two. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Bermuda.

-Tropical depression 14 was located about 995 mi or 1600 km WSW of the Cape Verde Islands. Expected to become a tropical storm today.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical depression 16w (Noru) was located approximately 425 nm east of Misawa air base, Japan. An unusually strong and poleward high pressure system that is part of a blocking pattern over the western North Pacific is driving TD 16w into the Sea of Okhotsk. This is the final warning on this system by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Hurricane Katia not expected to make US landfall - The forecast offers some relief to the US after a host of states were battered by storms Irene and Lee. However, gusty winds and large waves may affect Bermuda. Katia is more 335 miles (540km) offshore, but swells and rip currents could reach the east coast of the US. The storm is expected to remain off the eastern coast of the US, turning north-north-east towards the cooler waters of the north Atlantic towards the end of the week. Hurricane Katia is not expected to strengthen today and may begin weakening by Thursday.
Massive rain and flooding followed both Irene - which hit North Carolina as a hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm as it headed north - and Lee, which has soaked southern states in recent days. US President Barack Obama declared "major disasters" in the states of North Carolina and New York. Katia is the 13th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is only at its halfway point.

Chance of cyclone in Gulf of Mexico at 40% - Another disturbance in Mexico's Bay of Campeche may become a tropical cyclone. The broad area of low pressure located over the southern Gulf of Mexico has a medium 40 pct chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours and some gradual development of this system is possible over the next couple of days.

Tar Balls Wash Ashore in Alabama after Tropical Storm Lee - Just to the west of Little Lagoon Pass, tar balls the size of tennis balls started washing ashore. They were on the beach, in the surf and not a surprise to anyone. "We've been aware of tar mats just off shore in the surf zone. You would assume during a heavy surf event like we just had with Tropical Storm Lee that we're going to have the agitation and the stuff down there is probably going to break up and come ashore. The size of these things are what really kind of strikes you and then when you break them open, that gooiness, you don't even have to put it up to your nose and you can already smell the petroleum. They've been in the water. They are little bit darker color than anything that's been laying on the beach for any amount of time. There are a few portions of the beach impacted with some tarballing. Most of it is limited to moderate and this one right here seems to be the heaviest concentration."
No clean up was going on. Equipment had been moved away from the beach during the storm but it is on it's way back. The Gulf Shores Mayor says he glad to see the tar balls washing because he says he knows there is oil out there between the first and second sand bar and there's no other way to get it. At least this way it can be cleaned up. "It's disappointing because, it's not over."


Two dead in massive Texas bushfires - The massive bushfire that destroyed at least 600 homes in central Texas has killed two people. There were no details about the victims, including when or how they died. The fire was the largest of dozens burning throughout the drought-stricken state. It started on Sunday near the town of Bastrop, about 40km south of Austin, and quickly spread, fanned in part by winds from Tropical Storm Lee, which dumped its rain on Gulf Coast states further east. Firefighters hadn't begun to contain the fire, which forced the evacuation of hundreds of others. The state emergency management chief said it was the most destructive fire of the year in Texas, and the number of homes destroyed would likely go up after the hardest-hit areas were assessed.
Texas officials say more than 1000 homes had been destroyed and more than 40,000 hectares had burned in wildfires over the past week. A fast-moving blaze in the East Texas town of Gladewater on Sunday killed a 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter, trapping them in their burning home. That fire was eventually extinguished. Some residents said they were surprised by how quickly the blaze engulfed their neighbourhoods. "We were watching TV and my brother-in-law said to come and see this. All I saw was a fireball and some smoke. All of a sudden: Boom! We looked up and left." Photos


SOLAR FLARES - Just as many Americans got back to work after the long Labor Day weekend, the sun jolted to life as well, unleashing a massive solar flare just one day after another sun storm sent a stream of particles racing toward Earth. The X-class solar flare — the most powerful type of sun storm— erupted at 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT) on Tuesday (Sept. 6) and hit its peak strength eight minutes later. The Tuesday event registered as an X2.1-class solar flare, while Monday's storm topped out at a still-powerful M5. Strong solar flares are classified according to a three-tiered system: X-class flares are the most powerful, M-class are of medium strength and C-class are the weakest.
Researchers are still taking the measure of the big Tuesday sun storm. It may also have produced a coronal mass ejection (CME) aimed at Earth, researchers said, but as of Tuesday evening it was too early to tell.
CMEs are massive clouds of solar plasma that can streak through space at up to 3 million mph (5 million kph). CMEs that hit Earth can wreak havoc on our planet, causing disruptions in GPS signals, radio communications and power grids. Monday's event, which took place at 9:50 p.m. EDT (0150 GMT on Tuesday), did spawn a CME. It was a relatively slow one, traveling at less than 720,000 mph (1.2 million kph). And even if this cloud of charged particles hits Earth in a few days' time, it likely won't cause much damage. "This CME is not expected to cause significant geomagnetic storm activity, and further analysis is currently underway to better refine the CME timing and magnitude." Monday's M5 solar flare erupted from the middle of the sun's disk as seen from Earth's perspective. The explosion caused a slight increase in solar energetic protons about 26,000 miles (41,840 kilometers) above the Earth's surface.
The powerful storms unleashed on Monday and Tuesday aren't isolated incidents. Solar activity has been ramping up over the last few months as the sun has roused itself from an extended quiescent phase in its 11-year activity cycle. Just last month, for example, the sun let loose with an X6.9 solar flare, which was the most powerful solar storm since December 2006. That storm, which erupted Aug. 9, also generated a CME, but it was not aimed at Earth. Another powerful event, an X2.2-class flare, occurred on Feb. 15 of this year. Tuesday's X2.1 was the third most powerful flare of 2011. Scientists expect activity in the current cycle — known as Solar Cycle 24 — to peak around 2013.