Friday, March 16, 2012

U.S. RECORD-BREAKING WARM WEATHER advances beginning of growing season - Recent ABNORMALLY WARM weather has resulted in a very early start to the growing season across the Great Lakes Region and much of the central and eastern USA. The prolonged warm spell is the result of a very persistent jet stream configuration across North America that generally prevented cold, arctic-origin air masses from moving out of their high-latitude source regions southward into the central and eastern USA. This left the area under the influence of relatively mild Pacific-origin air masses. The current jet stream pattern, with deep troughing across the western USA and ridging across the east has accentuated the pattern. The result is record-breaking warmth brought northward from the Gulf States on southerly winds.
Characterizing the current warm spell as HIGHLY UNUSUAL IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT, both due to the magnitude of the warmth and due to its length. Recent temperatures have been running in the range of 20 to 30°F or more above normal. The warm weather has caused an earlier peak time for cherry blossoms as Washington, D.C. hit a RECORD-BREAKING 82 degrees on a late winter's day Thursday. (map depicting forecast conditions across North America early next week)

**The strength of a man's virtue should not be measured
by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts.**
Blaise Pascal

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/15/12 -

Two Powerful Aftershocks Highlight Ongoing Reassessment of Japan Quake Risks - On Wednesday, a 6.8 magnitude quake hit Japan's northern Hokkaido Island. It was followed hours later by a 6.1 magnitude tremor in the Chiba Prefecture, which is directly south of Tokyo and some 600 miles from the location of the earlier quake. Both are described as aftershocks from the March 11, 2011 Tohoku quake.

Washington, D.C. - The Washington Monument, which is slated for repairs after it was damaged in an earthquake last year, appears to be sinking more than expected. The Monument may have sunk by two millimeters, possibly as a result of August's 5.8 magnitude earthquake. The findings are extremely preliminary.


Alaska - Cleveland Volcano Explodes For Third Time. Cleveland Volcano has exploded for the third time in just over a week. The latest eruption of the Aleutian volcano Tuesday afternoon was relatively small.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 17s (Lua) was located approximately 375 nm northwest of Port Hedland, Australia.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Lua to Hit Australia Coast tomorrow - Lua has intensified to a powerful Category Three storm and is expected to lash the Pilbara coast with destructive winds in excess of 200km/h when it hits land tomorrow. Communities on the Pilbara and Kimberley coasts are on alert as the cyclone Lua, which currently has 185km/h gales at its centre, intensifies and moves towards land. Heavy rain and destructive winds are expected to hit the region and surrounding areas by late Friday or early Saturday. Lua was upgraded from a category 2 to a category 3 system early today. It is expected to cross the east Pilbara coast late Saturday morning or early afternoon. "Gales are currently being experienced in offshore Pilbara waters and are expected to develop in coastal areas between Whim Creek and Bidyadanga late Friday night. Very destructive winds with wind gusts in excess of 200km/h are likely to develop in coastal areas near the centre of the cyclone during Saturday...Tides are likely to rise significantly above the normal high tide mark with damaging waves and very dangerous flooding."
Remote Pardoo and Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is in the path of the cyclone. There are fears the park will be damaged again, three years after it received a battering from Cyclone Laurence in 2009. "There's all new trees, everything's beautiful and green, and to see that destroyed again would be heartbreaking. We've prepared ourselves and we've got new buildings, which is the top rating you can get, but it's all the work that's gone into it to rebuild." The iron-ore export port of Port Hedland is being evacuated and residents in the cyclone's expected path have been urged to prepare their properties for dangerous weather and organise their emergency kits. Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Services Authority has warned there may be significant flooding in the north Kimberley region and minor flooding in the east Kimberley area today. (map)


U.S. - A tornado touched down in southern Michigan Thursday, and there were reports of significant property damage, with the tornado damaging or demolishing more than 100 homes, downing trees and power lines, sparking fires and flooding neighborhood roads. Local news station footage showed flattened homes but there were no immediate reports of injuries. There was a lot of damage reported just outside the village of Dexter. March and April typically produce the most tornados in the US but this season has already been especially active. Two massive weather systems beginning late last month have spawned a spate of tornados that have ripped through the South and Midwest, flattening towns and killing dozens of people.

Australia - More NSW residents told to evacuate as waters rise. The Murrumbidgee River is expected to flood yet another Riverina town over the weekend with about 1000 people preparing to flee the deluge.


Colorado - More RECORD-BREAKING WARMTH ahead for Denver. Colorado's warm spell has a solid chance to leave its mark on the record book three times this week. The National Weather Service is predicting a high of 76 degrees today, which would eclipse the record high of 74 degrees for March.