Friday, December 2, 2011

U.S. SOUTHWEST - UNUSUAL WEATHER SYSTEM produces destructive winds. The gusts that pummeled the western San Gabriel Valley, including Pasadena and La Cañada-Flintridge, were produced by two separate weather systems that channeled cold air from the north into the L.A. area. The winds reached 97 mph at one mountain peak. More than 380,000 homes lost power. Thousands of trees snapped, blocking roads and damaging property. Scores of schools were closed, as was Griffith Park. And motorists battled gridlock caused by broken traffic signals and blowing debris. The storm, which produced SOME OF THE STRONGEST WIND GUSTS IN MORE THAN A DECADE, was caused by a HIGHLY UNUSUAL WEATHER SYSTEM that even had experts marveling at its power. While Santa Ana winds are common this time of year, this storm was anything but.
The winds were produced by two separate weather systems that channeled cold air from the north into the Los Angeles area. A clockwise high-pressure system was parked over Northern California and the Great Basin as a counter-clockwise low-pressure system hovered over Arizona. Like two massive gears spinning in opposite directions, the systems funneled the winds. "In some places we've seen gusts over hurricane force, which for the Southwest part of the country is not something that usually happens. This is a one-every-10-years kind of thing." Indeed, the blustery conditions extended across the Southwest, including Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. In some places, including Utah, wind gusts topped 100 mph.
Experts said one reason for the extensive damage was that the winds were remarkably choppy and unpredictable. In some places, winds suddenly shifted from 10 mph or 20 mph to more than 80 mph. The shift made trees as well as roofs and power lines vulnerable. "Everything lined up perfectly." Trees were no match for the winds, especially those with heavy canopies.Trees in urban Southern California neighborhoods don't have the strong root systems found in more natural environments. "L.A. trees don't have deep roots. The urban forest is artificial and is primarily watered by lawn sprinklers. So what keeps our urban forest alive is people watering their lawns, which are not natural, so you don't have deep root systems. So our trees are very vulnerable to Santa Ana events." "When you look at a tree above ground there's a ratio of 20 to 1 compared to below ground, so there's not that many roots holding our big trees in place.'
While damage was reported across the Southland, communities in the western San Gabriel Valley were particularly hard-hit, including Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Altadena and La Cañada-Flintridge. National Weather Service meteorologists said this, too, was UNUSUAL. Typically, the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County get the brunt of such windstorms. But these Santa Ana winds came more directly from the north rather than from the northeast. The air was colder than the traditional Santa Anas, causing the winds to sink to lower elevations. Another factor was the difference in the levels of pressure between the two weather systems. The winds are expected to stay through Friday, gradually losing their strength. But the region should not get comfortable just yet. "This is not going away any time soon,. This is local. This is not global warming or El Niño or La Niña or anything like that. These are Santa Anas and this is the time of the year they occur." (video and photos)

**The difference between a successful person and others is
not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge,
but rather a lack of will.**
Vince Lombardi

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/1/11 -

PHILIPPINES - Prelude to big bang? At least seven earthquakes, including three aftershocks of a magnitude-6 temblor, hit Pangasinan, Metro Manila, Zambales and Surigao in indanao on Wednesday. A magnitude-5.3 shook parts of Pangasinan province and was felt in Metro Manila at 8:26 a.m. It was tectonic in origin. “Its epicenter was in the West Philippine Sea but it was not powerful enough to cause damage." The United States Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude 6.
Meanwhile, three aftershocks rocked Luzon an hour after a magnitude-6 quake hit the area Wednesday morning. The first aftershock at magnitude-3.1 was at 8:41 a.m., with the epicenter at 94 km northwest of Palauig, Zambales. A second aftershock, magnitude 2.95, was recorded at 9:07 a.m., with the epicenter at 103 km northwest of Palauig. The third aftershock, magnitude 3.8, was recorded at 9:27 a.m., with the epicenter at 90 km southwest of Palauig. No damage or aftershock was expected from the three subsequent tremors.
In Mindanao, three quakes rocked the Surigao area in a span of 30 minutes early Wednesday. No damage or casualty was reported. The first quake, at magnitude 2.62, was recorded at 6:29 a.m., with the epicenter 20 km northeast of Burgos, Surigao del Norte. A second quake, recorded at 6:32 a.m., measured magnitude 4.54, with the epicenter 51 km northeast of Burgos. The third quake measured magnitude 3.6 and was recorded at 6:53 a.m. Its epicenter was 81 km northeast of Burgos.


25,000 Evacuated in Ecuador Due to Tungurahua Volcano - Ecuadorian authorities have issued an Orange alert for populations near the Tungurahua volcano, which is violently awakening from four months of inactivity. The Tungurahua volcano in Ecuado's eastern Andes, is located about 135 kilometers (84 miles) south of the capital Quito; it has been active since 1999 but its thermal activity has steadily augmented since the weekend, with magma boulders being spewed some 950 ft. into the air and nearby towns getting covered in ashes. Authorities have setup emergency refugees for citizens that live close to the Tungurahua. “Since the current eruptive process began very abruptly and has generated since its inception several pyroclastic flows that have hit the top of the volcano’s flanks, and since there is no evidence in the monitoring system indicating the time of generation, the movement, direction and extent of these flows, it is necessary that people do not stay in areas considered high risk, especially in the valleys and ravines that descend the volcano.”

ICELAND - Hundreds of metres under one of Iceland's largest glaciers there are signs of an imminent volcanic eruption that could be one of the most powerful the country has seen in almost a century. Mighty Katla, with its 10km (6.2 mile) crater, has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland's east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. "There has been a great deal of seismic activity. There have been more than 500 tremors in and around the caldera of Katla just in the last month, which suggests the motion of magma. And that certainly suggests an eruption may be imminent."
Scientists in Iceland have been closely monitoring the area since 9 July, when there appears to have been some sort of disturbance that may have been a small eruption. Even that caused significant flooding, washing away a bridge across the country's main highway and blocking the only link to other parts of the island for several days.
"The July 9 event seems to mark the beginning of a new period of unrest for Katla, the fourth we know in the last half century. The possibility that it may include a larger eruption cannot be excluded. Katla is a very active and versatile volcano. It has a long history of large eruptions, some of which have caused considerable damage." The last major eruption occurred in 1918 and caused such a large glacier meltdown that icebergs were swept by the resulting floods into the ocean. The volume of water produced in a 1755 eruption equalled that of the world's largest rivers combined. Katla usually erupts every 40 to 80 years, which means the next significant event is long overdue.
The 500 or so tremors in and around the caldera of Katla just in the last month suggest "an eruption may be imminent." Katla is part of a volcanic system that includes the Laki craters. In 1783 the chain erupted continuously for eight months generating so much ash, hydrogen fluoride and sulphur dioxide that it killed one in five Icelanders and half of the country's livestock. "And it actually changed the Earth's climate. Folks talk about a nuclear winter - this eruption generated enough sulphuric acid droplets that it made the atmosphere reflective, cooled the planet for an entire year or more and caused widespread famine in many places around the globe. One certainly hopes that Katla's eruption will not be anything like that!" The trouble is scientists do not know what to expect.
Compare the last two eruptions in Iceland - Eyjafjallajokull in 2010 and Grimsvotn in 2011. "Eyjafjallajokull, which brought air traffic to a halt across Europe, was a relatively small eruption, but the unusual chemistry of the magma, the long duration and the weather pattern during the eruption made it very disruptive. The Grimsvotn eruption of 2011 was much larger in terms of volume of erupted material. It only lasted a week and the ash in the atmosphere fell out relatively quickly. So it hardly had any noticeable effect except for the farmers in south-east Iceland who are still fighting the consequences."
Iceland is unique because it straddles two tectonic plates and is the only place in the world where the mid-Atlantic rift is visible above the surface of the ocean. "It means you actually see the crust of the earth ripping apart. You have an immense amount of volcanic activity and seismic activity. It's also at a relatively high altitude so Iceland is host to among other things, the world's third largest icecap." The icecaps have begun to thin and retreat dramatically over the last few decades, contributing to the rise in sea levels that no eruption of Katla, however big, is likely to match.

No current tropical storms.


TENNESSEE - A newlywed was killed and at least 17 people injured Thursday in a 50-vehicle pileup in Tennessee that was blamed on heavy fog and a wet road. Two school buses were involved in the multi-car accident, which occurred just before 7am. Nine of the injured were taken to a local hospital, while another eight had non-critical injuries.


AUSTRALIA - Fire crews are still battling an unpredictable and out of control blaze in Western Australia's south-west as authorities warn homes and lives are in danger. An emergency warning was issued yesterday and remains in place today for people within a 5km radius from the junction of Milyeannup Coast Road and Woodarburrup Rd in the Shire of Nannup. Two farm sheds have been destroyed in the bushfire, and one house and ancillary structures have also received minor damage. Flames up to five metres high are burning in tea-tree and paperbark wetlands. Boggy conditions are limiting access to the area.
More than 38,800 hectares have been burnt so far. Residents have been told that if the way is clear, they should leave immediately for a safer place. If residents are not at home, it is too dangerous to return now. A "watch and act" alert also remains in place for west of Lake Quitjup, as well as Black Point and White Point roads. A fire has entered private property and Gingilup Swamps Nature Reserve west of D'Entrecasteaux National Park in the Shire of Nannup. A watch and act alert also remains near Molloy Island and East Augusta in the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River. There is a possible threat to lives and homes in these areas and residents have been warned to leave or get ready to actively defend their properties.