Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chinese dragon dances into 2012, Indian astrologers warn of earthquakes - As the unpredictable but volatile year of the rabbit hopped into the sunset, the water dragon enters 2012 in what astrologers predict to be a “smooth” but potential year for natural disasters. Steeped in Chinese mythology, the dragon would dominate 2012 beginning Feb 4, and arrive with a ‘mixed bag’, said Indian experts in Chinese astrology which is touted as the world’s oldest horoscope system, besides the Indian Vedic astrology.
“The Year of the Dragon is usually associated with new good beginnings and good fortune." The mightiest of creatures represents a powerful sign in the 12-zodiac 12-year-cycle in Chinese astrology. Since it is related to water, experts warn of water-related troubles. “The dragon, once settled, will cool its fiery nature, though 2012 might see some major disasters. Illnesses and epidemics would be much more rampant than in the previous years. It will be a better year than 2011, many of the problems of last year will also be seen this year, but many changes will be happening later this year, like in the financial market. But since it’s heavily related to water, we can see some water-related natural calamities like tsunami, earthquakes and even water-borne diseases." On January 23 in 1556 (also a dragon year), a massive earthquake struck Central China, killing over 800,000 people.

**The strength and power of despotism
consists wholly in the fear of resistance.**
Thomas Paine

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/24/12 -


California's Death Valley volcano could come back to life - Geologists have discovered that Death Valley's Ubehebe Crater, formed by a volcanic explosion, was created much more recently than thought — and that it could go off again any time. The half-mile-wide, 600-foot deep crater, was formed when a rising plume of magma hit a pocket of underground water, creating an explosion. But until now, the date was unknown. The most common estimate was about 6,000 years, based partly on Native American artifacts found under debris.
Now, though, a team has used isotopes in rocks blown out of the crater to show that it formed just 800 years ago, around the year 1200. That means it probably still has some strength left in it - and, the scientists believe, there's probably still enough groundwater and magma around for another reaction. Ubehebe is the largest of a dozen craters, clustered over about three square kilometers of Death Valley National Park, but had been poorly studied until now. When it exploded, nothing within two miles would have survived. "It would be fun to witness — but I'd want to be 10 miles away." The eruption dates revealed by the isotopes clustered from 2,100 to 800 years ago. The team beleives this indicates a series of smaller explosions, culminating in the big one that created the main crater around 1200.
As a result, magma is probably still lurking somewhere below - and other researchers have spotted what look like magma bodies under other parts of Death Valley. "Additional small bodies may exist in the region, even if they are sufficiently small not to show up geophysically." The dates indicate an eruption frequency of about every thousand years or less, which puts the current day within the realm of possibility. "There is no basis for thinking that Ubehebe is done." Any eruption would almost certainly be preceded by warning signs such as shallow earthquakes and opening of steam vents, giving several years' warning, so park officials aren't worried. "We've typically viewed Ubehebe as a static feature, but of course we're aware it could come back. This certainly adds another dimension to what we tell the public. Right now, we're not planning to issue an orange alert or anything like that."

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 08s (Funso) was located approximately 400 nm northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.

Powerful, dangerous Tropical Cyclone Funso has continued to lash central Mozambique with flooding rain and damaging winds. The region is staggering from last week's swipe by Tropical Storms Dando, a Category One storm.

Cyclone-hit Indians will take "years" to rebuild livelihoods - It could take "years" for hundreds of thousands of people in southeastern India to rebuild their livelihoods after a devastating cyclone wiped out their entire plantations of cash crops last month.


PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Dozens reported dead in PNG landslide. Up to 60 people are feared killed in a massive landslide which hit villages near the ExxonMobil-led LNG project in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands. The landslide struck at 7am (AEDT) yesterday near the Nogoli base for the liquefied natural gas plant site, northwest of Port Moresby. ExxonMobil says all its staff have been accounted for. There are settlements close to the otherwise remote site near Mendi, in the centre of the country, and there are fears lives have been lost. "At this time it is hard to say. Most likely lives have been lost, we cannot tell how many. There were villages - settlements - where the landslide covered." Media reports of deaths are between 40 and 60. "The land is covered and quite extensively. Those little hamlets ... they may not have escaped."
PNG media are reporting 40 bodies have been recovered and another 20 people are still missing, with the damage spreading for two kilometres, leaving roads to nearby villages cut off. One local MP said the landslide completely covered two villages while people slept. "There are people buried underneath and a number of them are, from what I have heard, children." ExxonMobil said the company is in close contact with authorities to help deal with the landslide, which is not expected to hinder the project's completion in 2014. The $16 billion LNG project is due to begin production in 2014 and will see PNG's natural gas sold across Asia for the next 30 years - a plan projected to double PNG's gross domestic product.

Extreme weather threat across Australia - Heavy flooding in the eastern states, tropical activity in the north and a heatwave in the west. This week has turned into one of extreme weather across the Australian continent. There is a growing flood threat across eastern Australia this week, while in Western Australia, Perth is experiencing heatwave conditions for at least another week. In the north of Western Australia, coastal communities will be on alert due to the potential for a tropical cyclone to form.
Widespread rainfall of 50-150mm has caused major flooding in parts of NSW and minor flooding in south-east Queensland. Bellingen in NSW has had a bucket-full, with 167mm in the 24 hours to 9am today, while Upper Darkwood to the west gained 178mm. Dorrigo was inundated with as much as 100mm in just one hour and 209mm during the past 24 hours, their heaviest rain since May 2009. These very high rain totals have led to major flooding on the Bellinger River at Thora, with river levels continuing to rise this morning. In Queensland, Bribie Island received some of the heaviest falls with a daily total of 130mm to 9am today. Hotham Creek to the north of Coomera was drenched with 125mm in the 24-hour period. The scattered persistent rain led to minor flooding on the Paynter River at Diddlibah, inland of Maroochydore. Several severe weather alerts and storm warnings have been issued for NSW and Queensland due to flash flooding. The recent rainfall has saturated the land along the coast and nearby inland and so the bulk of the water has nowhere to go but along the surface. The outlook is for the wet weather to continue for the eastern seaboard over the next several days, particularly along the coast and adjacent ranges.
"Some towns will see even higher rain totals in the 300-400mm range over the next six days, bringing a significant threat of both flash flooding and river flooding. We have a stationary high pressure system in place over the Tasman Sea, which is going to send a persistent flow of moisture-laden air into both Queensland and New South Wales. The entire lower portion of the atmosphere is going to become saturated during the first half of this week, setting the scene for torrential rainfall when a deepening low pressure trough forms along the eastern seaboard."
For the west coast of Western Australia, weather conditions will be in stark contrast, with extended heatwave conditions. Heatwaves can have the greatest toll on human life of any weather phenomena, with the very young and elderly at greatest risk. "Using the most widely accepted heatwave definition of at least five days in a row with maximum temperatures of five or more degrees above average, Perth is certainly going to qualify. Perth's average maximum temperature in January is 30.9 degrees and the forecast is for temperatures near 40 degrees between Tuesday and Sunday. Perth is forecast to face the highest consecutive number of days of high temperatures since 1965.
While Perth is sweltering through an extended run of heat, communities along the north-west coastline of Western Australia will be monitoring the formation of a tropical low over the Indian Ocean. "A monsoonal low over the Indian Ocean is expected to intensify into a tropical cyclone by mid to late week (likely to be named Iggy), with the potential for a coastal impact towards the weekend. There is still uncertainty around the future movement and strength of this system, although the Pilbara coastline would be the area singled out for being most at risk."
Mass evacuations are underway on NSW's north coast, with rivers overflowing from days of heavy rain inundating homes and isolating communities. Almost 2000 people were ordered out of caravan parks and homes along the Tweed River, south of Tweed Heads, after the swollen waterway burst its banks. Residents at eight caravan parks were told to head to an evacuation centre at Kingscliff at 1.30pm (AEDT), followed by the evacuation of 400 people from homes at nearby Fingal Head. "The Bureau of Meteorology advises me that the rain will continue at this intensity for the next 24 to 48 hours. Then there might be a small reprieve on Friday, but back again with a vengeance on the weekend, possibly through to Tuesday."
Flood warnings were issued for EVERY MAJOR RIVER SYSTEM between Taree and the Queensland border - a 500km stretch taking in dozens of towns. Parts of Bellingen remain cut off after the Bellinger River burst its banks on Tuesday. About 500 people remained isolated in Darkwood, upstream of Bellingen, with the SES now carrying out supply runs. Emergency services were concerned about the safety of motorists and holidaymakers on Australia Day, particularly at trouble spots on the Pacific Highway.

Quakes Not the Only Concern California Locals Face, Says Seismologist - While most of the country braces for the big quake to hit California, there is another natural danger that has not only already impacted the state and Loma Linda twice, it's become a growing in risk due to climate change. The public should be equally prepared for the ARkStorm, which describes a scenario of intense rain that leads to catastrophic flooding. The storm could be similar to the one experienced in California in 1862, and four larger such events in the past 100 years.
"The ARkStorm scenario is a complete picture of what that storm would do to the social and economic systems of California. We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes.” The storm could cause landslides, debris flows, coastal inundation and flooding, USGS officials said. The result could be infrastructure damage and pollution. The scenario is plausible. In fact a smaller version hit Loma Linda in December of 2010. Several days of pounding rain brought down mud and debris from the south facing hills, overwhelming San Timoteo Creek which breached its banks flooding homes and damaging businesses. The damage to city property alone cost more than $1 million. In 1969, the city was devastated by a similar ARkStorm-like storm. That flood in 1969 covered about two-thirds of the town. The ARkStorm Scenario explores the resulting impacts to the social structure and can be used to understand how California’s “other” Big One can be more expensive than a large San Andreas earthquake.