Friday, March 30, 2012

Seesawing weather patterns - Some people call what has been happening the last few years “weather weirding,” and March is turning out to be a fine example. Lurching from one weather extreme to another seems to have become routine across the Northern Hemisphere. Parts of the United States may be shivering now, but Scotland is setting heat records. Across Europe, people died by the hundreds during a severe cold wave in the first half of February, but a week later revelers in Paris were strolling down the Champs-Élysées in their shirt-sleeves. As a surreal heat wave was peaking across much of the U.S. last week, pools and beaches drew crowds, some farmers planted their crops six weeks early, and trees burst into bloom. Now, of course, a cold snap in Northern states has brought some of the lowest temperatures of the season, with damage to tree crops alone likely to be in the millions of dollars.
Does science have a clue what is going on? The short answer appears to be: not quite. The longer answer is that researchers are developing theories that, should they withstand critical scrutiny, may tie at least some of the erratic weather to global warming. Specifically, suspicion is focused these days on the drastic decline of sea ice in the Arctic, which is believed to be a direct consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases.
“The question really is not whether the loss of the sea ice can be affecting the atmospheric circulation on a large scale. The question is, how can it not be, and what are the mechanisms?” As the planet warms, many scientists say, more energy and water vapor are entering the atmosphere and driving weather systems. A strong body of evidence links global warming to an increase in heat waves, a rise in episodes of heavy rainfall and other precipitation, and more frequent coastal flooding. “A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events."
Some of the documented imbalances in the climate have certainly become remarkable. United States government scientists recently reported, for instance, that February was the 324th consecutive month in which global temperatures exceeded their long-term average for a given month; the last month with below-average temperatures was February 1985. In the United States, many more record highs are being set at weather stations than record lows, a bellwether indicator of a warming climate. So far this year, the United States has set 17 new daily highs for every new daily low. Last year, despite a chilly winter, the country set nearly three new highs for every low. But, while the link between heat waves and global warming may be clear, the evidence is much thinner regarding some types of weather extremes. Scientists studying tornadoes are plagued by poor statistics that could be hiding significant trends, but so far, they are not seeing any long-term increase in the most damaging twisters. And researchers studying specific events, like the Russian heat wave of 2010, have often come to conflicting conclusions about whether to blame climate change.
Scientists who dispute the importance of global warming have long ridiculed any attempt to link greenhouse gases to weather extremes. "The weather is very dynamic, especially at local scales, so that extreme events of one type or another will occur somewhere on the planet every year.” Yet mainstream scientists are determined to figure out which climate extremes are being influenced by human activity, and their attention is increasingly drawn to the Arctic sea ice. Because greenhouse gases are causing the Arctic to warm more rapidly than the rest of the planet, the sea ice cap has shrunk about 40 percent since the early 1980s. That means an area of the Arctic Ocean the size of Europe has become dark, open water in the summer instead of reflective ice, absorbing extra heat and then releasing it to the atmosphere in the fall and early winter. This is affecting the jet stream, the huge river of air that circles the Northern Hemisphere in a loopy, meandering fashion. Research suggests that the declining temperature contrast between the Arctic and the middle latitudes is causing kinks in the jet stream to move from west to east more slowly than before, and that those kinks have everything to do with the weather in a particular spot. “This means that whatever weather you have today — be it wet, hot, dry or snowy — is more likely to last longer than it used to. If conditions hang around long enough, the chances increase for an extreme heat wave, drought or cold spell to occur,” but the weather can change rapidly once the kink in the jet stream moves along.
Not everyone buys that explanation. An NOAA researcher who analyzes climate event, agrees with other scientists that global warming is a problem to be taken seriously. But he contends that some researchers are in too much of a rush to attribute specific weather events to human causes. He ran computer analyses that failed to confirm a widespread effect outside the Arctic from declining sea ice. “What’s happening in the Arctic is mostly staying in the Arctic." He suspects that future analyses will find the magnitude of this month’s heat wave to have resulted mostly from natural causes, but he conceded, “It’s been a stunning March.”

**One who looks for a friend without faults will have none.**
Hasidic Proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/29/12 -


Alaska's fickle Cleveland volcano upgraded again - On Wednesday, the volcano was again upgraded by the Alaska Volcano Observatory to alert level "Orange," meaning the volcano is showing "heightened or escalting unrest" and could potentially erupt at any time. It's become a regular song-and-dance. The alert level was raised again after scientists found another lava dome has formed in the crater in the last week.

Montserrat volcano active again - For the first time in two years, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory monitoring the Soufriere Hills volcano noted UNUSUAL activity, with increased seismicity, accompanied by ash fall.

Mexico - Thirty years ago this week, the seemingly dormant El Chichón in Chiapas, Mexico, erupted unexpectedly and spectacularly, wiping out nine villages and killing an estimated 1900 people. The volcano had been slumbering for nearly 600 years.

In the Pacific -
Tropical Storm 02w (Pakhar) was located approximately 275 nm east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

System 96W intensified overnight and became Tropical Storm Pakhar during the morning hours on March 29. It has intensified into a typhoon of minimal strength in the northwest Pacific and is aiming to hit the Vietnam coast soon. The landfall could take place during the course of the day, according to leading storm tracking models. Excessive rain and flooding could spread over a wide area along and north of Pakhar's direct path. Flooding rainfall to at least 12 inches, or 30 cm, will be possible near the storm's track. Damaging winds will be possible as well. Hainan, China's southernmost island province, is bracing for weekend gales brought by tropical storm Pakhar, the first to hit the country this year.
Pakhar is an UNUSUAL late-March tropical storm. Thursday, the center of Tropical Storm Pakhar was within about 350 miles, or 570 km, east of Ho Chi Minh City. At the time, highest sustained winds were reckoned to be at least 40 mph, or 65 km/h, with storm movement towards the west-northwest. Any widespread heavy falls of rain would be UNUSUAL, as March into April marks the latter part of the yearly dry season in southern Vietnam. For instance, normal monthly rainfall in March is less than 2 inches, or 50 mm. April is also normally a rather dry month along the coast, but can bring increasing rainfall inland. The western North Pacific Ocean tropical basin is the most prolific in terms of number of named storms each year. However, March and April are within the seasonal lull in tropical cyclones. On average, a named storm happens about once every three years in March. April storm frequency is about two-fold that of March. (satellite photo)


Australia - New South Wales' flood crisis was THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FOR A GENERATION and affected an area the size of Spain. "People should not be complacent about the dangers of Mother Nature, as we've seen many people trapped in floodwater needing rescue and sadly, in some cases, lives have been lost." The state's storm season ends tomorrow, but flooding will continue to affect parts of the state for days to come. About 70 per cent of NSW - an area the size of Spain - has been affected by flooding since January. About 20,000 people were evacuated from homes at the height of the crisis. Worst affected communities included Wagga Wagga, Forbes, Gundagai, Yenda, Urana, Barellan, Hay and Darlington Point.
Many of these communities are now recovering but floodwater will continue to move across NSW, with communities in the state's southwest and northwest most vulnerable. Evacuation orders remain in place at Maude in the southwest and Condobolin in the central west.


More than 600 firefighters battle wildfire in US - A wildfire in Colorado which has killed two people and left one missing was sparked by a controlled burn.


Club Chef LLC is recalling its 12 oz., 16 oz. and 5 lb. Salsa products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2011 Natural Disasters Cost Insurers $110 Billion - Natural catastrophes cost the insurance industry $110 billion last year after record flooding and earthquake losses.

**People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting.**
French Proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/28/12 -

New Zealand - Christchurch's 2011 earthquake was the third most expensive insured natural catastrophe in history.

Clintonville, Wisconsin residents shaken once again by booms - 3/27/12 - Dozens of booms rattled Clintonville again, reportedly louder and longer than before. Residents have been shaken by booms in the same part of the city where a small earthquake was recorded last week. Clintonville police say they received 65 calls Tuesday night between 10:35 and 11:40 from people reporting three or four loud booms. Some said it was a series of up to three booms, and some reported a stronger rumble than those felt last week. No damage was reported.

In the Pacific -
Tropical depression 02w was located approximately 340 nm east of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Tropical Storm Threat to Vietnam - A tropical storm could form over the South China Sea out of low pressure gathering east of southern Vietnam. Torrential rain and high winds could reach the south-central coast of Vietnam by Saturday, with a tropical storm forecast to strike Vietnam at about 00:00 GMT on 1 April.

Tropical storm could hit New Zealand next week - A tropical low forming 2000km north of New Zealand is set to track towards the North Island and could strengthen into a tropical cyclone before its predicted arrival in New Zealand.

[And now the other side of the story - ]
A United Nations report is being called an early warning that the world will face more deadly extreme weather events unless it tackles global warming. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released overnight states that global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heatwaves that nations should prepare for an UNPRECEDENTED onslaught of dangerous and costly weather disasters.
In the past, the IPCC, founded in 1988 by the UN, has focused on the slow inexorable rise of temperatures and oceans as part of global warming. The latest report is the first to look at the less common but far more noticeable extreme weather changes which recently have cost on average about $77 billion a year in damage.
"It's showing us, for the first time, that we can see the fingerprints of the human-driven warming in some of the extreme events that we've seen. This is an early warning sign that if we don't get this underlying warming trend under control there's going to be a lot more heatwaves, droughts and intense rainfall events."
A climate scientist at the Australian National University says Australia is one of the most vulnerable continents when it comes to extreme weather events. The IPCC report suggests that in Australia there will almost certainly be an increase in days over 35 or 40 degrees Celsius. Heatwaves are likely to become more frequent and last longer. Dry spells also are likely to last longer in southern Australia, and when it does rain there'll be more extreme precipitation. The strength of cyclones will probably increase and they may come further south, even if there are fewer of them. Earlier in March, the commission warned Australians not to fooled into thinking the world wasn't warming just because much of the country experienced a relatively wet and cool summer.
A commission report stated it was wrong to be blinded to the long-term trend by year-to-year variability and suggested recent heavy rainfall and flooding could have been caused by climate change. "The rather modest changes in average temperature and average rainfall that we've seen so far really manifest themselves in terms of things that matter for people in terms of these extreme events." Examples include killer heatwaves in central Europe in 2003 and southern Australia in 2009 "that led to more deaths in Melbourne than the Black Saturday bushfires". There was also "little doubt" that recent flooding in southeastern Australia was made worse by sea temperature warming and higher evaporation rates. The 594-page IPCC report blames the scale of recent and future disasters on a combination of man-made climate change, population shifts and poverty.

Recent years have seen an EXCEPTIONALLY large number of record-breaking and destructive heatwaves in many parts of the world and research suggests that many or even most of these would not have happened without global warming. Currently, nearly twice as many record hot days as record cold days are being observed both in the United States and Australia, the length of summer heatwaves in western Europe has almost doubled and the frequency of hot days has almost tripled over the period from 1880 to 2005. Extremely hot summers are now observed in about 10 percent of the global land area, compared with only about 0.1-0.2 percent for the period 1951 to 1980, a study says.
Scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear. "It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming." The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record.
Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the globe. They included severe floods and record hot summers in Europe; a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2005; the hottest Russian summer 500 years in 2010 and the worst flooding in Pakistan's history. Last year alone, the United States suffered 14 weather events which caused losses of over $1 billion each. The high amount of extremes is not normal, the study said. Even between March 13 and 19 this year, historical heat records were exceeded in more than 1,000 places in North America.
"Single weather extremes are often related to regional processes, like a blocking high pressure system or natural phenomena like El Nino. These are complex processes that we are investigating further. But now these processes unfold against the background of climatic warming. That can turn an extreme event into a record-breaking event." The link between storms and hurricanes and global warming is less conclusive but at least some of recent rainfall extremes can be attributed to human influences on the climate.

[This was missing from Monday's update where it should have been.]
Drought spreads to Brazil, crop yields hit - Drought has spread from Argentina and Paraguay to Brazil and is hitting soy yields at a time of growing concerns that regional growth may suffer as pressures mount on commodity prices.
Early-planted Argentine corn hit by Dec-Jan drought - Rains have relieved the Pampas after the December - January drought but early-planted corn was pummeled. Last week the exchange cut its estimate for Argentina's 2011/12 corn harvest to 20.8 million tonnes, from a previous 21.3 million tonnes, due to the drought. Argentina is the No. 2 global exporter of corn.


Influenza experts say global flu surveillance — especially in poultry and swine — is sorely lacking and needs a major overhaul to make it more sustained, timely, and representative. Experts make the case that current surveillance efforts are far too sparse, erratic, and crisis-driven and that they suffer from a geographic imbalance. "Imagine a global weather and climate forecasting system that collects data regularly in just a handful of countries, and takes measurements elsewhere only during extreme weather events. That is what today's global flu-surveillance system mostly looks like."
The gaps in flu surveillance are well known, but they are getting renewed attention following the creation in labs of H5N1 strains that can spread in mammals. Flu surveillance is important not only for detecting pandemic threats, but also for spotting outbreaks, monitoring viral evolution, understanding factors that enable viruses to spread, and maintaining the effectiveness of animal vaccines and diagnostics. To summarize the "dire state" of animal flu surveillance, the world had 21 billion poultry in 2010, but only about 1,000 flu sequences from 400 avian virus isolates were collected, and many countries that have billions of poultry contributed few or none of those sequences. The number of avian sequences deposited in the database generally rose between 2003 and 2010, but then sagged. Meanwhile, the number of pig sequences stayed fairly flat from 2003 to 2010 before surging last year.
An additional problem is that years can pass between the collection and sequencing of isolates. Reasons include lack of funding and the disinclination of many researchers to share their sequences before publishing their findings. Almost all sequences come from "a handful" of countries, led by the United States and China.
"From 2003 to 2011, most countries collected few or no sequences, and genetic surveillance of flu in pigs was and is almost non-existent." Flu experts say the situation could be rapidly improved by setting up, in the countries and regions at highest risk, a network of sentinel sites to collect viruses and sequence them quickly. But international leadership is needed, and no global body has overall responsibility for flu surveillance.
One way to improve flu surveillance is to move a share of the relevant expertise and technology from the developed world to the developing countries that are most threatened by H5N1 and other emerging diseases. "It would require a transfer of technology, prolonged exchange of scientists and a sustained commitment to investment and training locally — along with an equitable sharing of the benefits of the research." Today, 8 years after Vietnam's first human H5N1 case, too few H5N1-endemic countries have access to vaccines or intravenous antiviral drugs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Clintonville, Wisconsin mystery booms continue - Just when you thought it was safe to go back to bed in Clintonville, the city's “mystery booms” continued throughout the weekend. Peeved residents “sporadically called police over the weekend to complain of booms and window-rattling vibrations.” Scientists blamed a 1.5-magnitude earthquake for the shakin’, rattlin’, and rollin’ last week, though some residents weren’t convinced. Settling granite and the mythic “Pigeon River fault” are still being floated as theories as to why the small Wisconsin town has been so noisy. Clintonville’s mayor plans to commemorate the town’s moment in the sun with “I survived the 1.5” T-shirts.

**Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.**
Chinese Proverb

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
3/27/12 -

3/26/12 -

A strong 6.0 earthquake shook northern Japan on Tuesday, but no damage was reported and there was no risk of a tsunami. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a 6.4 preliminary magnitude. The agency said there may be a small change in sea levels. The epicenter was off the coast of Iwate and was about 10 kilometers below the sea surface. Iwate is in the region heavily damaged by last year's earthquake and tsunami.


Indonesia - The volcano Batu Tara in the Sunda Sea off the island of Flores in Indonesia had a larger than usual ash eruption Monday, which triggered an alert of the VAAC Darwin, who raised the aviation color code to "orange", as the drifting ash cloud is likely to be a hazard to local air traffic. Batu Tara is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and is characterized, similar to Stromboli volcano, by semi-permanent explosive summit activity.

No current tropical storms.


Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again according to a professor of physics at Princeton - What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. Monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere, compiled from NASA satellite data, can be found at the website www. The latest (February 2012) monthly global temperature anomaly for the lower atmosphere was minus 0.12 degrees Celsius, slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperatures began in 1979.
The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned. The burning of fossil fuels has been one reason for an increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere to around 395 ppm (or parts per million), up from preindustrial levels of about 280 ppm. CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels will be a net benefit because cultivated plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels, and because warming and other supposedly harmful effects of CO2 have been greatly exaggerated. Nations with affordable energy from fossil fuels are more prosperous and healthy than those without.
The direct warming due to doubling CO2 levels in the atmosphere can be calculated to cause a warming of about one degree Celsius. The IPCC computer models predict a much larger warming, three degrees Celsius or even more, because they assume changes in water vapor or clouds that supposedly amplify the direct warming from CO2. Many lines of observational evidence suggest that this "positive feedback" also has been greatly exaggerated. There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming — much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably — suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind.
Frustrated by the lack of computer-predicted warming over the past decade, some IPCC supporters have been claiming that "extreme weather" has become more common because of more CO2. But there is no hard evidence this is true. After an unusually cold winter in 2011 (December 2010-February 2011) the winter of 2012 was unusually warm in the continental United States. But the winter of 2012 was bitter in Europe, Asia and Alaska. Weather conditions similar to 2012 occurred in the winter of 1942, when the U.S. Midwest was unusually warm, and there was a Russian winter not unlike the one Russians just had. Large fluctuations from warm to cold winters have been the rule for the U.S., as one can see from records kept by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. For example, the winters of 1932 and 1934 were as warm as or warmer than the 2011-2012 one and the winter of 1936 was much colder.
Nightly television pictures of the tragic destruction from tornadoes over the past months might make one wonder if the frequency of tornadoes is increasing, perhaps due to the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But, "there is no evidence of any trend in the number of potent tornadoes (category F2 and up) over the past 50 years in the United States, even as global temperatures have risen markedly." Like winter temperatures, the numbers, severity and geographical locations of tornadoes fluctuate from year-to-year in ways that are correlated with the complicated fluid flow patterns of the oceans and atmosphere, the location of the jet stream, El Niño or La Niña conditions of the tropical Pacific Oceans, etc. .As long as the laws of nature exist, we will have tornadoes. But we can save many more lives by addressing the threat of tornadoes directly — for example, with improved and more widely dispersed weather radars, and with better means for warning the people of endangered areas — than by credulous support of schemes to reduce "carbon footprints," or by funding even more computer centers to predict global warming.
It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind's use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions. We need high-quality climate science because of the importance of climate to mankind. But we should also remember the description of how science works. "In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience; compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong."

Monday, March 26, 2012

No update on Tuesday this week.

2001-2010 was THE WARMEST DECADE ON RECORD - Climate change has accelerated in the past decade, "numerous weather and climate extremes affected almost every part of the globe with flooding, droughts, cyclones, heat waves and cold waves."

**A powerful idea communicates
some of its strength to him who challenges it.**
Marcel Proust

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/25/12 -

A major 7.0 quake hit central Chile on Sunday, rattling buildings and temporarily triggering a coastal evacuation on fears of a tsunami, but there was no serious damage. The quake struck about 250 kilometres southwest of Santiago. Its epicenter was located near the city of Talca, about 215km south-southwest of Santiago, at a depth of nearly 30 kilometres. Chilean authorities initially ordered people living in coastal areas between Concon and Lebu to evacuate after the quake, but later canceled the order.
Local authorities said one person was injured when they had a traffic accident during the earthquake in the Bio Bio region. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no widespread tsunami threat from the earthquake, but warned that earthquakes measuring more than 7.0 magnitude could cause local tsunamis and that local authorities should be prepared. The Maule coastal region in central Chile where the quake occurred has been periodically shaken by powerful aftershocks since an 8.8 magnitude quake February 27, 2010 that claimed more than 500 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage.

'Widely felt' earthquake rattles Hawaiian Islands - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 rattled a wide area of Hawaii on Saturday but caused no significant damage or injuries. The quake was "widely felt" throughout the islands.

No current tropical storms.


Louisiana - Storms cause flooding but end drought. After enduring wildfires and drought conditions last year, rainfall in March has put north Louisiana on the path toward one of the wettest on record for the month. This March is the 12th wettest on record so far.


Drought spreads to Brazil, crop yields hit - Drought has spread from Argentina and Paraguay to Brazil and is hitting soy yields at a time of growing concerns that regional growth may suffer as pressures mount on commodity prices.
Early-planted Argentine corn hit by Dec-Jan drought - Rains have relieved the Pampas after the December - January drought but early-planted corn was pummeled. Last week the exchange cut its estimate for Argentina's 2011/12 corn harvest to 20.8 million tonnes, from a previous 21.3 million tonnes, due to the drought. Argentina is the No. 2 global exporter of corn.

European Crops Hurt by Freeze Face Drought - European wheat and rapeseed crops are at risk of drought that may further hurt yields after freezing weather last month destroyed some fields, analysts and forecasters said. France, Spain, England and northern Italy got less rain than normal since the start of January. They will probably stay drier and warmer than usual in the next 30 days.
The 27-nation EU typically grows about 20 percent of the world’s soft wheat. A cold wave in February may have lopped 5 million metric tons off this year’s harvest, and a lack of rain might further harm EU output. “THE SITUATION IN EUROPE IS ALARMING." Rainfall in northern France, England and the north of Italy this year was 23 percent to 47 percent below the long-term average. In Spain and France’s Mediterranean region, amounts were 59 percent to 78 percent lower. An area of high atmospheric pressure is causing a so-called blocking effect that prevents Atlantic Ocean frontal systems from moving into Europe. “The rest of March will be dry, with high pressure more or less in control. In April and May, there will be some rain. Will it be significant enough to make up for the loss we’ve had? If spring doesn’t deliver, summer’s too late.”
Spain was “extremely dry” in the December-February period, with the LOWEST RAINFALL SINCE AT LEAST 1947. Average rain was 62 millimeters (2.4 inches), 30 percent of typical levels. Winter kill cut French output by about 2.5 million tons, Germany’s crop took a 2 million-ton hit, and frost destroyed 1 million tons of the grain in Poland. Farmers in Germany, the EU’s second-largest wheat grower after France, may have to plow under some winter crops after some areas suffered “extensive” frost damage, particularly for barley and early-planted winter wheat. Rapeseed may be more affected by the cold spell than wheat. “Rapeseed is more sensitive to colder temperatures than wheat." France and the U.K. may still avoid drought damage with timely rains. "If it rains in coming weeks, we could still have very good yields, but the risk is great.”
The lack of rain won’t necessarily mean lower EU grain production, as evidenced by last year’s February-May drought. EU wheat output rose 1.7 percent in 2011. “At the time, common talk suggested that our wheat crop would be down 25 percent to 33 percent. As we now know, somehow we managed to end up with a slightly larger crop than in 2010. So it’s very early days to be writing things off just yet.”
Portugal Seeks Accelerated EU Drought-Aid Payments - Portugal will ask the European Union to accelerate the payment of more than 100 million euros ($132 million) in aid to help alleviate the impact of drought in farms across the country.
Drought-hit Balkans struggle to keep lights on - THE WORST DROUGHT IN AT LEAST 40 YEARS in the Balkans has left countries that rely on hydro power struggling.
Drought risks killing off British wildlife - The drought gripping parts of England risks killing off numerous species of wildlife from dragonflies to water voles, the Environment Agency has warned. It was THE DRIEST 18 MONTHS ON RECORD for some parts of the country.
First desalination opens in mainland Britain as water bosses warn of drought - More than one million people will be supplied with water from Britain's first large-scale desalination plant this summer to help cope with what is expected to be a widespread drought. Drought conditions are producing smaller potatoes and lower yields.
Tough water restrictions have been issued for 20 million UK residents in light of worsening drought in England. The restrictions, including a "hosepipe ban" on a range of outdoor water usage, follow two years of unusually low rainfall left reservoirs, aquifers and rivers below normal levels.
Britain - Soaring fruit and vegetable prices are set to pile more misery on hard-pressed shoppers this summer as London's WORST DROUGHT SINCE 1976 spreads to much of the rest of the country. The warning comes ahead of the publication of a major “call for action”.

U.S. -
Minnesota - Drought, high temps have fire crews on alert. Drought, lack of snow, record high temps, wind and a whole lot of dried out ground cover, which firefighters call fuel, are making conditions ripe for wildfires. "The fuel is extremely dry bone dry." Combined with drought conditions across most of the state, the record warm weather has land managers scrambling to make early preparations for what could be a severe fire season.
Storm doesn't ease Arizona drought - The moisture was a welcome coda to an otherwise drier-than-average winter, but it won't do much to ease drought conditions that have deepened over the state in recent months. “We're calling it a drop in the bucket at this point in the season."
Historic Texas drought $2.4 billion worse than expected - The impact of Texas' WORST DROUGHT IN HISTORY just got worse, with new estimates putting the agricultural toll at $7.6 billion for 2011 - $2.4 billion above the original loss estimate, which already was a record. "It's hard to imagine the damage it's caused across the state. IT'S NOTHING ANYBODY ALIVE HAS SEEN BEFORE."
Texas - Though most of Travis County and the Hill Country remain in moderate to severe drought, recent rainfall has lifted extreme and exceptional drought conditions across Central Texas. The economic impact of a historic drought that has parched Texas and other parts of the Southwest will be felt for years, with ripple effects spreading nationwide as agriculture damage adds to increases in food prices.
Is the drought over for Houston, Texas? - There was little hope for change as just about all the weather experts were predicting the drought to continue for some time. Well we now know they were wrong, as rain totals for this year are blowing last year's out of the water.

Stubborn drought expected to tax Mexico for years - A severe drought in Mexico that has cost farmers more than a billion dollars in crop losses alone and set back the national cattle herd for years, is just a foretaste of the drier future ahead.
Mexican Drought Fuels Despair - Part of the reason for the Mexican drought was a rather quiet tropical season this past fall. Only three tropical systems made their way inland from the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Arlene, Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Nate.

Niger - millions of dollars are needed urgently to stop a hunger crisis in Niger turning into a catastrophe. Some 1.9 million people are at severe risk and that number could rise to 3.5 million next month. More than six million of the population of 17 million need immediate help. "All signs point to an impending catastrophe" and "the world cannot allow this to happen.
Oxfam blamed a lethal mix of drought, erratic rains, high food prices, entrenched poverty and regional conflict that has brought tens of thousands of refugees to Niger. “Young children are at greatest risk of acute malnutrition, which can lead to developmental delays, stunt growth and make them more vulnerable to infections and disease. Failure to act now will have devastating consequences for a whole generation of children in West Africa.” .Instability in neighbouring countries has added to the strain on Niger as refgugees pour into the country from neighbouring Mali, putting additional strain on families already facing food shortages.
“People are arriving exhausted, hungry and in need of the very basics but Niger is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees. Poor villages have been overwhelmed with people, some expanding seven-fold in just a few months, with refugees forced to live in overcrowded homes and makeshift shacks. The extra strain is pushing families to the brink of survival."

Australia likely to be a land of increasingly severe droughts and floods - Australia has long been a land of droughts and flooding rains, and the past two years have been a good example of that well-known climatic pattern.

Plants remember and adapt to drought - Plants subjected to a previous period of drought learn to deal with the stress thanks to their memories of the previous experience, University of Nebraska-Lincoln research has found. The findings could lead to development of crops better able to withstand warmer condtions and drought.

GMO drought-tolerant corn over-promises - Utilizing biotech "drought-tolerant"ccorn to boost global food production would be a less-effective tactic than planting conventional corn and improving agronomic practices, a veteran plant scientist said.

Monsanto tests drought-tolerant corn - Seed giant Monsanto Co. plans large-scale tests this year of the first government-approved biotech crop developed to deal with drought. The new corn is being introduced as much of the US remains abnormally dry.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wisconsin sonic booms: Is a 1.5-magnitude tremor the whole story? The US Geological Survey suggests a small quake under Clintonville and the associated micro-tremors, could be the source of the mysterious sonic booms. Not everyone buys that.
The US Geological Survey reported Thursday that a 1.5-magnitude earthquake jiggled the area in northeast Wisconsin at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, which the agency said would be enough to set off the sounds described as underground fireworks or thunder by many of the city’s 4,500 residents. Despite its low magnitude, it is not uncommon that earthquakes of its size are heard in addition to being felt, the USGS says. All earthquakes generate seismic energy that can move through the earth’s surface at thousands of miles per hour, creating a loud boom. The earthquake is responsible for a single boom that lasted one or two seconds, making it likely that the series of booms heard over several days in Clintonville were caused by a series of smaller earthquakes than the one recorded. “We can assume that there were others that were smaller than this one." While the noises have subsided since they were first reported early Monday morning, many have continued each night through Thursday. Dozens of residents have complained that the sounds have triggered cracks in their walls and floors and are responsible for rattling dishes. Public meetings were held Wednesday and Thursday to relay information to residents and take down their stories.
The Clintonville city administrator said the earthquake explanation is not conclusive because “in other places in the United States, a 1.5 earthquake would not be felt.” On the other hand, one possibility that makes Clintonville an exception is that “the type of rock that Wisconsin has transmits seismic energy very well.”
A geologist at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay agrees that it is “certainly possible” that the underground noises are related to an earthquake, but says an earthquake of its magnitude would only produce noise “equivalent to 10 pounds of high explosives.” And because the sounds would take place at such a significant depth, it is likely they “would be muffled. The fact that the people are hearing bangs and sharp noises at such high frequency suggests [the sounds] are really close to the surface." One possibility he is proposing is that a dry winter is causing the earth’s underground water table to dry up, causing granite rocks to settle into the gaps, creating the loud noise. On Thursday the city hired an engineering firm in Waukesha to study the earth’s surface at different points of the city. An online map hosted on the city’s website traces the locations of the emergency calls dating back to Monday. There are plans to plot the phone calls to create a map that may determine patterns in where and when the sounds took place.
While it is uncommon for Wisconsin to get earthquakes, it is not unprecedented. The most powerful earthquake to hit the state was in 1947 when a 4.0-magnitude tremor affected over 3,000 square miles in the southwest region of the state.

**The spirit of man is more important
than mere physical strength,
and the spiritual fiber of a nation
is more important than its wealth.**
Dwight D. Eisenhower

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/24/12 -

3/23/12 -

Australia's BIGGEST EARTHQUAKE IN 15 YEARS rattles Outback - The earthquake struck the outback community of Ernabella, in the far north of the state of South Australia. People living near the epicentre have reported being shaken, but otherwise escaping unscathed.

7.4 Mexico quake belatedly claims 2 lives - Two people caught in this week's big earthquake died Thursday, the first deaths reported from the temblor that damaged hundreds of homes in southern Mexico and caused panic far off in the national capital. In the Cuajinicuilapa municipality in Guerrero state, one of the victims died from injuries caused by a wall falling on him and the other died of complications from a heart attack suffered during the quake. (video)


Montserrat - Increase in Seismic Activity at Montserrat Volcano Forces Zone Closure. New ash eruptions have occurred at Soufriere Hills volcano. The activity is probably caused by rising magma under the volcano. The ash emissions began at around 8 am local time on 23 March, following 2 volcanic earthquake swarms on 22 and 23 March.
The vents of the new activity are on the floor of the 11 February 2010 collapse scar, immediately south of the old English’s crater wall and to the west of the long-lived hottest fumarole previously identified. Fumarolic activity on the volcano increased markedly and a new steam fumarole was discovered on the NW side of the dome immediately behind Gages Mountain. The ash venting was pulsating and produced ash clouds reaching approx. 6000 feet above sea level (3000 feet above the volcano). At its peak, black jets of ash were seen rising a few hundred meters above the floor of the collapse scar. This type of activity is probably "phreatic" in origin, caused when superheated rock meets groundwater, which evaporates explosively and fragments rock into ash.
The volcano-tectonic earthquakes are related to fracturing rocks underneath, probably as a result of increases in pressure. It is likely that these pressure increases and the resulting earthquakes, along with the rising temperature driving the phreatic activity, are related to uprising magma below the volcano. Similar types of activity have occurred at Soufriere Hills Volcano up to several months prior to restarts in magma extrusion, for example in 2005 and 2008.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website has gotten an upgrade, and now users can check out 14 webcams keeping tabs on Kilauea 24 hours a day. Until recently, the HVO website had shown only six Webcams.

Alaska - The alert at Mount Cleveland, an active stratovolcano located in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, has been downgraded due to lack of activity in the past 10 days, following a period of increased activity that included numerous small, explosive eruptions.


Japanese tsunami boat found off Canada - Adrift since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last March, a Japanese fishing boat was found Friday drifting off western Canada - more than 5,633km from where it went missing. The 46-metre vessel was about 222km off British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands. Japanese officials said the boat was lost from Hokkaido after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. It's owner is also listed as missing, but is not believed to have been on board. The boat - the first piece of large tsunami debris to reach North America - would have reached the coast in about 50 days, but will be removed before then.

No current tropical storms.

Philippines - Flash floods and landslides threaten Bicol and Southern Luzon today, even as a potential cyclone – a low-pressure area – continues to approach the Philippines and may enter the country's territory in two to three days.

Australia experienced its second wettest year on record in 2011, helped by Cyclone Yasi, the strongest storm to hit landfall anywhere in the world.

Warmer planet means more severe storms - A few degrees warmer doesn't sound like much, but if you have ever watched a tropical storm move over water that is just 2C warmer, you know it can make the difference between a slightly damaging category 1 storm and a catastrophic category 5.


Rate of extreme weather events increasing, Bulgarian meteorologist says - Past winter held Bulgaria in a prolonged icy and snowy grip. Arguably FOR THE PAST 60 YEARS, THERE HAD NOT BEEN A WINTER LIKE THIS ONE with heavy snowfalls and prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures. It was not a question of record-low temperatures having been set but the fact that the country had gone for such long periods in winter without cycles of warming and cooling. In recent years, the rate of extreme weather events have been increasing, such as very high temperatures in summer, and the current UNUSUALLY WARM weather for this time of March.
In most parts of Bulgaria, recent days have seen maximum temperatures of about 20 degrees Celsius and in some places, RECORD-HIGH TEMPERATURES for the time of year have been set. At the end of March, minimum temperatures would fall to about zero, and there could even be light snow in some parts of the country, but this would winter’s "last gasp." But currently, the warmer temperatures should not be interpreted to mean that summer has begun.


MIDNIGHT ROCKET PLUMES - On Tuesday, March 27th, between midnight and 3 am EDT, NASA plans a rapid-fire launch of five sounding rockets from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rockets will deliver a chemical tracer to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, forming milky white plumes that reveal high-speed winds at the edge of space. The display should be visible to the naked eye from coastal areas between South Carolina and New Jersey.

INCREDIBLE SUNSPOT AR1429 - Big sunspot AR1429, the source of so many strong flares and geomagnetic storms earlier this month, is still erupting. The active region produced a significant coronal mass ejection on March 24th at 00:39 UT. Because of the sunspot's location on the farside of the sun, this particular CME will not hit Earth. None of the inner planets will be affected.
Since March began, sunspot AR1429 has propelled CMEs into every corner of the solar system, stirring up stormy space weather around every planet and spacecraft. If the sunspot remains active for another week or so, it will turn back toward Earth for a new round of geoeffective eruptions.

Friday, March 23, 2012

SOLAR STORM HEATED UP EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE - A flurry of solar activity in early March dumped enough heat in Earth's upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years. The heat has since dissipated, but there's more to come as the solar cycle intensifies. This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005. It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO) are two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface. “Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats. When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.” That’s what happened on March 8th when a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field. (On the “Richter Scale of Solar Flares,” X-class flares are the most powerful kind.) Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit. The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and significant1 upper atmospheric heating all around the globe. “The thermosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. It began to glow intensely at infrared wavelengths as the thermostat effect kicked in.”
For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy. Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space. “Unfortunately, there’s no practical way to harness this kind of energy. It’s so diffuse and out of reach high above Earth’s surface. Plus, the majority of it has been sent back into space by the action of CO2 and NO.” During the heating impulse, the thermosphere puffed up like a marshmallow held over a campfire, temporarily increasing the drag on low-orbiting satellites. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, extra drag helps clear space junk out of Earth orbit. On the other hand, it decreases the lifetime of useful satellites by bringing them closer to the day of re-entry. The storm is over now, but scientists expect more to come. “We’re just emerging from a deep solar minimum. The solar cycle is gaining strength with a maximum expected in 2013.” “This is a new frontier in the sun-Earth connection, and the data we’re collecting are unprecedented.”

**Our passion is our strength.**
Billie Joe Armstrong

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/22/12 -

The 7.4 Mexico quake damaged more than 30,000 homes - Near the epicenter of the quake, 800 houses were damaged beyond repair. Many people expect to remain homeless for the forseeable future.


USGS reports small earthquake near Wisconsin city where mysterious booming noises occurred. A minor earthquake occurred this week near the eastern Wisconsin city where researchers have been investigating a series of unexplained booming sounds over four days, federal geologists said Thursday. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 1.5-magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday just after midnight in Clintonville, a town of about 4,600 people about 40 miles west of Green Bay.
Loud booming noises have been known to accompany earthquakes. It’s possible the mysterious sounds that town officials have been investigating are linked to the quake. Earthquakes can generate seismic energy that moves through rock at thousands of miles per hour, producing a sonic boom when the waves come to the surface. “To be honest, I’m skeptical that there’d be a sound report associated with such a small earthquake, but it’s possible." Those reservations didn’t stop the Clintonville City Administrator from declaring “the mystery is solved” at a news conference Thursday evening. USGS representatives described the event as a swarm of several small earthquakes in a very short time. “In other places in the United States, a 1.5 earthquake would not be felt. But the type of rock Wisconsin has transmits seismic energy very well.”
The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquakes with magnitude of 2.0 or less aren’t commonly felt by people and are generally recorded only on local seismographs. The Tuesday earthquake was discovered after people reported feeling something, and geologists pored through their data to determine that an earthquake did indeed strike. Local residents have reported late-night disturbances since Sunday, including a shaking ground and loud booms that sound like thunder or fireworks. One Clintonville resident said she doubted an earthquake caused the noises. She said the booms she experienced were in a series over the course of several hours and not continuous as she might have expected if they were caused by an earthquake. Still, she said, “It’s a little scary knowing Clintonville could even have earthquakes.”
A geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay said a 1.5 magnitude earthquake produces the energy equivalent of 100 pounds of explosives and could produce loud sounds. But he was reluctant to describe Tuesday’s event as an earthquake, saying the term is generally used to refer to widespread stress in the earth’s crust. What happened in Wisconsin could be near the surface, perhaps caused by groundwater movement or thermal expansion of underground pipes. Still, he said it was possible that the event could produce a series of sounds over time. “If you’ve got something causing a little bit of shifting underground, it may take a while for whatever is causing it to play itself out." The U.S. Geological Survey scientist said Tuesday’s event was confirmed as an earthquake because it registered on six different seismometers, including some as far as central Iowa.


Six Earthquakes Reported In San Salvador Volcano - The National Service of Territorial Studies reported Wednesday the occurrence of six earthquakes in the San Salvador volcano, the mountain that dominates the landscape of the capital.

Ryanair has lost the latest round of its legal battle, as it tries to avoid paying for taking care of its passengers during flight delays caused by ash from Iceland"s Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in April, 2010. Airlines were forced to cancel more than 100,000 flights on concern glass-like particles spewed into the atmosphere might clog aircraft engines. Passengers were stranded, and even the Navy was called in to rescue those stuck overseas. Ryanair has lost the latest round in its legal battle to avoid paying for hotels, meals and drinks for passengers disrupted by the delayed flights. Ryanair argues that the volcanic eruption was so extraordinary that normal rules should not apply. Judges at the European Court of Justice have been advised by their advocate general that the law does not make such a distinction.

No current tropical storms.


U.S. - Soaring into the 80s, warm weather breaks thousands of records. In a typical March, you may be teased with one, maybe two nice days before being hit with the cold reality of winter. But in the eastern part of the country, March 2012 HAS BROKEN THOUSANDS OF DAILY HIGH RECORDS.


India swine flu outbreak kills 12 - Twelve people have died of swine flu in India since the beginning of March. Half of the deaths have been reported from the western state of Maharashtra. Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have also reported deaths. Nearly 130 others have been infected with the virus, and many of them admitted to hospitals. The cause of the sudden outbreak is not clear. The virus killed more than 450 Indians when it first emerged in 2009. More than 13,000 people were infected with the virus during that outbreak. The virus is thought to have killed more than 1,200 people around the world.
"The health ministry is monitoring the situation and there is no cause for worry. The states where cases had been reported have been advised to step up surveillance to control the further spread of the virus. "The rise in new cases could be a "short spurt". "Last year globally, swine flu was at an ebb. While short spurts are being recorded in other countries this year, it could well be a short spell where the virus will surge and then die down." The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April 2009 and has since spread to many countries.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mexico: How quake-prone is the region? - Mexico earthquake history shows that the same faults that caused Tuesday's Mexico earthquake can produce even bigger events, like one that struck in 1985. The quake was centered some 31 miles north-northeast of the city of Ometepec, in a mountainous region dotted with villages. The rupture occurred at a depth of about 12 miles. Given the size of the quake, the population density, the types of buildings in the area, and factors affecting the intensity of shaking, analysts at the center said the quake had the potential to cause up to $100 million in damage and lead to as many as 100 fatalities.
So far, however, no deaths or injuries have been reported. But damage estimates are trickling out from the area. Officials in the town of Igualapa said that more than 800 homes have collapsed. In Ometepec, roughly half of the homes were heavily damaged. Shaking from the quake, initially estimated at magnitude 7.9, also was felt in Mexico City, some 200 miles away, sending residents into the streets. The quake was felt as far away as Guatemala City. Seismologists have traced the quake to a release of strain associated with a subduction zone that runs up the west coast of Central America and Mexico and stops short of the southern tip of Baja California. Here, the oceanic crust of the Cocos plate is sliding northeastward under the more buoyant rock of the North American plate – at a pace of some 60 millimeters a year. The action of the two plates, along with a tiny plate known as the Rivera plate at the northern end of the subduction zone, is responsible for a chain of volcanoes that have formed across the country mainly along a west-to-east line that runs near Mexico City to within about 70 miles of the country's Gulf coast. In 1985, a segment of the Cocos-North American subduction zone ruptured off of Acapulco, triggering a magnitude 8.1 quake that flattened apartment buildings in Mexico City, killing some 4,000 people.

**The man who is swimming against the stream
knows the strength of it.**
Woodrow Wilson

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/21/12 -


Wisconsin - 3/18/12, 3/19/12, 3/20/12 - After 3 nights, sleepless Wisconsin town longs for relief from mysterious loud booming noises. Sleepless families in a small Wisconsin town longed for quiet Wednesday after mysterious booming noises over the past few nights roused them from bed and sent residents into the street — sometimes still in pajamas. The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks or someone slamming a heavy door. At first, many people were amused or merely curious. But after three restless nights, aggravation is mounting. And some folks are considering leaving town until investigators determine the source of the racket. City officials are trying to record the mysterious booming sounds, but their attempts have so far come up empty. “My husband thought it was cool, but I don’t think so. This is not a joke. don’t know what it is, but I just want it to stop.”
The booming in Clintonville continued Monday and Tuesday nights and into Wednesday morning. There have been no reports of injury, despite some residents saying they could feel the ground roll beneath their feet. City officials say they have investigated every possible human cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives and inspected a dam next to city hall. They even tested methane levels at the landfill in case the gas was spontaneously exploding. “People in the area are certainly frustrated." The city is also investigating geological causes. Officials plan to bring in vibration-detection devices to try to determine the epicenter of any underground activity. Authorities set up audio and video equipment overnight but didn’t capture any evidence of shaking or booming despite at least one loud noise about 5 a.m. Wednesday.
About 300 people attended a public meeting Wednesday night in a local high school auditorium to get an update on the situation. One woman said the disturbance has left cracks in her basement walls and floor, and that they’re getting worse. She said her insurance company won’t pay for the damage until she knows what caused it.
A local scientist said nothing has surfaced that suggests townspeople should be afraid. But some people are worrying that a sinkhole might open up and swallow homes. That can happen in areas where the ground is rich with limestone and other rocks that can be dissolved by water, but the rock below Clintonville is mainly solid granite that’s largely impermeable. Water and granite could hold the key to the mystery. Granite has small cracks that water can fill, but if the underground water table falls especially low, water can seep out, leaving gaps that cause the rocks to settle and generate loud noises. “Maybe the very dry winter caused more water to be removed from the water table, either through pumping or natural flow."
A seismic station near Clintonville, a town of about 4,600 people about 40 miles west of Green Bay, has recorded UNUSUAL GROUND SHAKING since Sunday night. Scientists say such activity can be caused by mining and heavy truck traffic, but since there are no mines or major construction in the area, the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey will take a closer look at the data. “Everything people think it is has been ruled out. They just don’t have answers. At this point all I want is for it to stop.” (video)
Residents of the city 40 miles west of Green Bay reported hearing booms that sounded like distant thunder made their homes vibrate about 1:45 am, then again at 5:30 am and 7:15 am on Sunday.
The series of powerful booms rocked Clintonville for more than nine hours Monday morning and evening, rattling windows and residents' nerves.
The Clintonville booms intensified overnight - The unexplained booms, rattling, and shaking was felt for a second night in a row in Clintonville. Loud booms shook the city early Tuesday morning, and were reportedly more widespread. Clintonville police, shortly before 3 am Tuesday, said that it appears the area where the booms are being felt is getting bigger. Police also said the booms are intensifying. And that people's houses continue to shake.

Georgia - 3/10/12 - Loud booms go unsolved. Boom noises were reported in Ashland County on Saturday night, but authorities were unable to identify the source. Residents from Jeromesville to Savannah reported hearing loud sounds around 7 p.m. "Apparently some residents, mostly around Savannah, heard what they described as loud bangs, cannon fire and in some cases, explosions. We sent a couple of guys up to that area to check it out and nobody saw anything at all. There were no crashes, no fires, no reports of anyone being hurt. We even checked the fracking site where they were doing the drilling, and it was all quiet over there, too."

North Carolina - 2/28/12 - Big booms and shaking were felt along the North Carolina coast Tuesday that have some people worried. Now, folks are booming with big bang theories on what they say causes the mysterious rocking and rolling along the coast. Phone calls have poured in from across the Cape Fear reporting a loud boom strong enough to shake homes and scare pets. "Anything that can shake the houses, not just one or two houses, but a whole neighborhood and it can be heard from Southport to Bolivia and Sunset Harbor, it has to be something big."
Folks across the Cape Fear say the mysterious booms are back and this time they seem stronger than ever. People say they had different experiences depending on where they were at the time. "It's kind of freaky to me because I heard it but I didn't see anything." "I didn't hear the booms but I felt shaking twice." Everyone said this was not the first time they have experienced the unknown sound and shaking. Some folks even say they hear the booms every week. One thing is for sure, people say they want answers. Seismologist say nothing registered on the Richter Scale Tuesday in the area and the military says it was not responsible for the sounds or shaking.
Although scientists and authorities can't seem to pinpoint where the noise is coming from, residents have their own theories. "I know that there's an explanation and it has to be military." "The ocean, something with the ocean." "I think they're earthquakes, tremors." Some people said they were very concerned with the booms now that we're nearing the end of the Mayan calendar which some people believe marks the end of the world. They say the confusion surrounding the booms only builds up their theory that we're nearing the end of days.

The Case of the Unexplained California Sonic Boom in 2009 - It was around 9:15 p.m. on a Tuesday evening in March of 2009, when suddenly the residents in Orange County, California experienced a strange sort of rumbling that rattled the windows and shook doors. What made the rumbling particularly odd was the fact that witnesses reported their homes didn’t shake at all – only the doors and windows of their homes shook. In one specific account, one woman reported how she watched the bedroom doorknob rattling as though someone was trying to open the door – yet no one did. It spooked her greatly, because she was home alone with her 1 year old daughter. That witness said that she didn’t hear or feel anything – only her doorknob rattled as though from an invisible hand. Another witness said that the “whole house rumbled”, but in particular that it shook the front door of the house. Her dogs could sense the rumbling effect before it happened.
The effect was even picked up by seismic sensors, and staff at the USGS quickly recognized that whatever had caused the strange shaking effect up and down the coast of Orange County was definitely not an Earthquake. FOIA documents released by the U.S. Geological Survey revealed a fascinating email stream among scientists at the USGS, as they were analyzing the effects that took place not only at 9:15 P.M. on a Tuesday, but also later again at 9:15 A.M. the following day. The first the USGS heard about the event was from the media. 'Got a few calls last night from the media about ‘earthquakes’ felt in Orange County. We did not see any earthquakes, but we do see a prominent sonic boom at about 9:19 to 9:22 pm (depending on the exact location) last night in the area.” From this email, a conversation started regarding the analysis of the sonic boom, including where it made landfall and what direction it followed over land.
Reports from residents numbered in the hundreds. The seismologists were able to use the seismic data to track the path of the sonic boom. In the email stream, “it” – as they all were starting to call the craft – had reached land around Dana Point from the South-Southwest, and traveled Northeast over Anaheim and then Citrus – headed straight for Angeles National Forest, and of course Edwards Air Force Base far beyond.
Other people in the email stream commented about the fact that most of them didn’t feel any rumblings at all – like everyone would have in an earthquake – further solidifying the conclusion that the witnesses along the proposed flight path had felt a sonic boom. "It sounds like it would be helpful to put a note on the CISN page when sonic booms are felt across the region?” It was an innocent suggestion – one that was clearly offered with the public safety and interest in mind. However, other seismologists at the USGS had been down the same road before. It didn’t take long for the truth to come out regarding how the U.S. military attempts to stifle such information from reaching the public. The USGS had been chastised before for informing the public about detected sonic booms. “Sonic booms do register on seismic nets and can be evaluated back to a ground track, but this is not done routinely, so far as I know. Indeed, one of our Pasadena scientists some years back got chastised by military folks for publishing such a result. As if Aviation Leak didn’t get there ahead of us…” The USGS quickly jumped into theories of experimental aircraft out of Groom Lake, but also proposed the idea that meteors are also known to cause sonic booms as they enter the atmosphere. “Given Aviation Leak summaries of ‘donuts on a rope’ high-altitude trails left by something producing a very deep rumble rather than a boom … there is certainly a strong possibility of correlation with Groom Lake. This aircraft has been seen [the SR-71 Blackbird/Habu] in several locations in the southwest in the last decade and may be associated with call sign “Dark Star” overheard in Texas and the (probably planted) project name Aurora. Note that another source of sonics is large meteors, generally bollides (meteors that break up). I got a very good sample of that at the one and only shot I ever witnessed, in the hills above Calaveras Res many ages ago. Brilliant flash and persistant, scintilating trail several minutes before shot time and large boom a few seconds before shot time…”
Regardless what actually caused the massive sonic boom throughout Orange County, the USGS email stream unearthed by an FOIA request did reveal that at least seismologists at the USGS have a very unique perspective when it comes to tracking the affects of test flights with supersonic aircraft by the military, incoming meteors, or whatever else could potentially travel so quickly through the skies that it could cause such a mysterious sonic boom.

No current tropical storms.

Philippines - Potential cyclone approaches Palawan. A potential cyclone — a low-pressure area — moved towards Palawan before noon Wednesday, even as state weather forecasters warned of floods and landslides over the Bicol Region.


Massive flooding continues in parts of New Zealand where entire farms have been wiped out. Homeowners are doing their best trying to hold back the flood waters. The extend of the damage won't be known until the waters fully subside.

Lightning safety - Lightning can strike when skies are sunny, as far as ten miles away from rainfall and, in some extreme cases, from as far as 25 miles away.


Pakistan - Extreme weather conditions, 9 killed by avalanches in Chitral and Yasin. 4 females and a child died when an avalanche hit at Khot Wah area of Garamchishma during the dead of night while people were sleeping. Local volunteers, Chitral scouts and Chitral police have reached on the spot and started rescue activities. The main road of Garamchishma, Mastuj and upper chitral are closed due to snowfall and sliding and avalanches.
Recently extreme weather has engulfed the northern part of Pakistan. Earlier 4 people of one family were hit by an Avalanche in Qorqolty valley of Yasin in the Ghizar District. “The Avalanche was triggered by the heavy rain and it originated from the mountains of Matoi along Dadang Chhar. It has destroyed properties along the way and has crossed the Qorqolti River." The area is hit by avalanche almost every year. This year the residents were not lucky enough to get away from the calamity. Several avalanches have hit several parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral area and the weather continues to worsen.


Minnesota's Twin Cities to test mass delivery of emergency meds by mail - Mail carriers will deliver empty pill bottles to about 35,000 homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul on May 6, in the area's first test of a program to quickly provide antibiotics to the populace in the event of an anthrax attack or similar emergency. The carriers will make the Sunday deliveries to four zip codes, two in St. Paul, one in Minneapolis, and one in Minneapolis suburbs. "People will get an empty bottle, similar to what would be used in the real thing. There'll be an information sheet explaining what it's all about, that it's just a test to see how well it works. It'll have links and phone numbers for more information." The test is "Operation Medicine Delivery". "The purpose is to see how fast postal teams can deliver medicine to homes in an emergency. The May 6 event is only a test! We have no reason to believe a real emergency will happen that day — or that one is imminent."
The Twin Cities area is one of at least five large cities around the country that are working on federally funded programs to use the USPS to respond to a bioterrorist attack. Others are Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Louisville, Tennessee. The initiative has been in the works for several years, having been spurred primarily by the anthrax letter attacks of 2001. In the May 6 exercise, mail carriers, accompanied by law enforcement officers, will deliver the simulated medication packages only to residences, not to post office boxes or businesses. Those who receive the packages won't need to do anything, other than recycle the empty bottle.
Boston, Seattle, and Philadelphia have run limited exercises to test the concept in a preliminary way, but the Twin Cities drill differs in that it will involve a fully developed team of volunteers who have been trained and would be prepared to deliver medications in a real emergency. "This is the first metro area in the country to recruit a full complement of postal volunteers for this program, and set up a fully developed postal delivery system." More than 300 postal workers have been recruited and trained for the Twin Cities program. In a real emergency, health agencies would not attempt to use home delivery to get medications to all 3.2 million Twin Cities residents. Most people would get their supply by going to a special "medication center." Several centers would be set up, with locations listed on the MDH Web site. "Postal delivery might be used in some densely populated parts of town, to take pressure off the medication centers." The medicines will be free of charge.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A strong, 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit central and southern Mexico Tuesday, damaging some 800 homes near the epicenter, collapsing 60 others and swaying tall buildings and spreading fear and panic hundreds of miles away in the capital, Mexico City. ONE OF THE STRONGEST QUAKES TO SHAKE MEXICO SINCE 1985 when a deadly temblor killed thousands in Mexico City. Tuesday’s quake hit hardest in the border area of southern Oaxaca and Guerrero states. Hours after the shaking, there were still no reports of death or serious injury, even after a less powerful, 5.1-magnitude aftershock was felt in the capital and there were several other aftershocks near the epicenter in a mountainous rural region.
In Mexico City, frightened workers and residents poured into the streets of the capital. Telephone service was down in the city, and throughout the area where the quake was felt and some neighborhoods were without power. A pedestrian bridge collapsed on an empty transit bus. About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train, but were later released, unharmed.

**There are two ways of exerting one's strength:
one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.**
Booker T. Washington

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/20/12 -


Tungurahua Volcano (Ecuador) - A new eruption and ash fall. Another series of explosions has occurred early Tuesday at Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador. The eruption was reported to be very noisy and caused minor ash fall in nearby villages, but no damage. From 23:39 (local time) on March 19, a rapid increase of tremor was detected and observers reported roaring noises from the volcano in up to 14 km distance. About an hour after the onset of tremor reports of ash fall came from El Manzano and Choglontús.
At 00h22, there was an loud explosion whose cannon-shot like shock wave was heard in Choglontús, El Manzano and Puntzán. Incandescent lava bombs could be seen ejected from the summit crater and landing up to approx. 200 m distance on the upper slope. From the 01h08 (local time) tremor decreased and also the noises from the volcano. Cloud cover prevented detailed observations this morning. According to a first analysis, only the south-west sector received ash fall. In the Choglontús area, ash continued to fall until 07:00 (local time) and was measured to have accumulated 383 grams per square meter, corresponding to less than 1 mm of ash.

No current tropical storms.


India - An avalanche triggered by recent rains has killed at least one man in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, while strong winds ripped trees from their roots and damaged thousands of homes. Rescuers were searching for two other men missing since the avalanche struck yesterday near the remote mountain town of Gurez. It is on India's side of the militarised ceasefire line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir thanks to heavy snowfall and frequent rain.
Meanwhile, low atmospheric pressure over the region yesterday caused UNUSUALLY strong winds, gusting up to 44 kilometres per hour through the main city of Srinagar. One man died after a tree branch ripped away by the wind fell onto him, and at least 17 others were injured in weather-related incidents as the wind shattered windows, pulled rooftops off homes and uprooted trees. Nearly 7000 homes and 2000 other buildings were damaged in Srinagar and elsewhere. Schools were closed overnight as debris was being cleared, and downed power lines disrupted electricity supplies.

New Zealand - Thousands are without power as strong winds continue to batter large areas of the North Island. Gale-hit Taupo residents told to 'stay indoors'. The storm, which has flooded parts of Northland with up to TWO MONTHS OF RAIN IN TWO DAYS, has now tracked further south and has brought winds of up to 100km/h in Taupo and 113km/h in Taranaki. In the worst hit region of Taranaki, which is still recovering from a hammering two weeks ago, about 2500 people were without power. Significant damage has been caused to the electricity network in Taranaki. "Powerco is advising people who are currently without power to prepare to be off overnight." Dangerous winds and road closures are hampering Powerco's efforts to restore power. A news reporter said the "sheer violence of the winds" earlier in the day through some parts of Taranaki was "absolutely astonishing". Trees were ripped from the ground, roofs torn from houses and vehicles rolled over.
Strong winds forced New Plymouth Airport to close for the morning, with gusts recorded at twice the safe speed for aircraft. Taupo also took a battering, suffering power cuts, flying debris and falling trees. Continuing high winds mean trees and branches are still falling so it is too dangerous for contractors to begin clearing the debris. Some parts of Northland have recorded up to 300 mm of rain since Sunday afternoon, but the main rain band is now fragmenting. Kaeo was hit the worst by the heavy rain with residents having to flee to higher ground while cattle were left stranded. Civil Defence opened evacuation centres for those who had been displaced. Rivers have now passed their peaks but levels are expected to fluctuate throughout the day. Crews were out on the roads early this morning checking for damage, slips, fallen trees, flooding and washouts.


ELECTRON STORM - The number of energetic electrons in Earth's outer radiation belt is significantly elevated. According to analysts, the enhancement is caused by the aftermath of recent geomagnetic storms mixed with a high-speed solar wind stream. "Spacecraft at GEO, MEO and other orbits passing through or in the vicinity of the Earth's outer radiation belt can be impacted."


New strain of whooping cough emerging - Australian scientists have attributed a sharp rise in whooping cough cases to a new strain of the respiratory disease which could be becoming resistant to the current vaccine.

El Ranchero Del Su of South River, New Jersey is recalling El Ranchero Queso Fresco 14 oz. (Fresh Cheese), Los Corrales Queso Fresco en Hoja De Platano 14 oz. (Fresh Cheese In Banana Leaf), El Ranchero Queso Oaxaca 14 oz. and 10 lb. (String Cheese) because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.