Sunday, April 29, 2012

**Bad times have a scientific value.
These are occasions a good learner would not miss.**
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/28/12 -

4/27/12 -

No current tropical storms.

Tropics will be quiet this year - Predictions continue to come in about this year's hurricane season, and more forecasters are saying that 2012 will be an average year in terms of the number of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean.


Britain - Flood warnings issued as downpours continue. The Environment Agency is warning of floods, with downpours forecast for much of England and Wales over the weekend and next week. The Environment Agency has warned of possible localised flooding in the South West, South East and Midlands, East of England and Wales today. Between 40mm and 60mm of rain is forecast for east Wales. The Met Office issued a "be prepared" warning for Wales and much of south, central and eastern England.Many of the areas at risk of floods are currently in a state of drought following two unusually dry winters in a row. "It's also going to be very windy, with gusts of 50mph to 60mph in the Pennines, Wales and South West England, which could mean some trees and branches come down. Some exposed and coastal parts of those areas could even get up to 70mph." The weekend downpours come at the end of a wet week for England and Wales, in which 42mm (1.7in) of rain fell in the South East and 55mm (2.2in) in the South West, which has now had 166% of the average rainfall for April. Among those areas experiencing flooding were parts of York, where the River Ouse flooded footpaths following torrential rain on Thursday. "The Environment Agency is closely monitoring the forecast and rainfall particularly in Worcestershire, as the river levels are already higher than normal in the rivers Severn, Teme and Avon. The Environment Agency said all regions had now received above average rainfall for April, boosting river levels and providing relief for farmers, gardeners and wildlife in drought areas. But it also said that groundwater levels remained low and the rain was not yet making a difference to the drought conditions. Soil affected by prolonged dry weather increases the risk of flash floods because heavy rain quickly runs off hard, compacted ground.

Pilots battled extreme weather to land planes in Spain - Extreme conditions swayed planes and frightened passengers. Video footage captured planes landing at Bilbao's Loiu Airport in sweeping winds, which forced some pilots to abort the landing process.

Extremes in weather more likely, scientists say - Wet areas have become wetter and dry areas drier during the past 50 years due to global warming, a study of the saltiness of the world's oceans has shown. The intensification of rainfall and evaporation patterns, which is occurring at twice the rate predicted by climate change models, could increase the incidence and severity of extreme weather events in future. Reductions in the availability of fresh water posed more of a risk to human societies and natural ecosystems than a rise in temperature alone. "Changes to the global water cycle and the corresponding redistribution of rainfall will affect food availability, stability, access and utilisation." The fact that hotter air can hold more water underpinned predictions that recent warming of the globe's surface and lower atmosphere could have already strengthened the natural evaporation and precipitation cycle – increasing rainfall where it was higher than average and decreasing it where it was lower. Initial attempts to study this "rich get richer" effect, however, were hindered by a shortage of good rainfall records on land and a lack of long-term satellite measurements. So they studied the oceans. "The ocean matters to climate. It stores 97 per cent of the world's water and receives 80 per cent of all the surface rainfall." The team analysed about 1.7 million records of surface sea salinity collected worldwide between 1950 and 2000. They found regions near the equator and the poles, where greater rainfall keeps surface waters less salty than average, had become even fresher during the past half century. Saltier areas, such as in the centre of oceans where evaporation dominated, had become even saltier. The study has important implications for extreme weather. Warmer water moving faster from the surface into the atmosphere could fuel violent storms, and floods and droughts could become more intense.

Extreme weather hit U.S. midsection - Weather extremes continued across the midwest. Wednesday, RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES were set from northern Missouri to northwest Iowa. St. Joseph, MO set a record high at 96 F, Des Moines, IA warmed to 90 F, and Sioux City, IA set a new record of 89 F. In eastern and central Nebraska, Lincoln set a new record high of 92 F, and Grand Island, NE set a new record at 96 F. Severe storms traveled southeastward out of southeast IA, across northeast MO, and west central to southeast IL. The severe storms produced large hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Hail 1" up to 2" were reported in isolated cases from southeast of Keokuk,IA to east of Quincy,IL.

Florida - Drought creating severely dry conditions statewide. The drought now plaguing Florida has been growing since July 2010. The entire state of Florida was classified as suffering from drought conditions, as of last week. The rain that fell over the weekend did little to help. What's needed is more — a lot more. "A tropical storm without the wind that gives us a nice 10 inches of rain around the state would do wonders." Some parts of the state have fallen so far below their normal average rainfall that the deficit has hit 30 inches. Normally Florida's dry season runs from October to May. But without any heavy rainfall from tropical storms last year, the dry season started earlier, and even the winter rainfall was below average, thanks to the phenomenon known as La Niña, which is driven by colder than usual Pacific Ocean temperatures. In the 16 counties covered by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud, this has been the 11th driest winter since records started being kept in 1915. As a result of all that dry weather, "you can hardly find a swamp around the state that's wet, and a lot of the lakes have gone dry." Some counties have already banned all burning. No relief is likely in the next month. But La Niña has weakened, and once June begins — bringing with it the traditional start of Florida's hurricane season — the rains are likely to return.

Philippines - RECORD-BREAKING: Metro Manila at 36.4 degrees Celsius Thursday around 3 pm. The highest nationwide temperature was actually Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija at 37.2.


Cowpox infection in US lab worker called a first - A US laboratory worker contracted a painful, slow-healing cowpox virus infection on the job in 2010, marking the first such case reported in the United States, though the virus, a relative of smallpox, is known in Europe and Russia. The infected researcher had not worked with cowpox virus, but samples of the virus were stored in a freezer in the lab, and evidence of cowpox virus was found in three samples from lab surfaces. The lesion, on the worker's hand, took close to 3 months to heal, and the diagnosis took even longer. Cowpox infections are usually self-limiting, but they can be severe or fatal in people who have dermatitis, eczema, or immunocompromising conditions. In Europe and Russia, cowpox infections are often associated with contact with sick domestic cats, rats, or zoo animals. Cases have been reported in veterinarians and animal handlers, but neither human no animal infections have been reported previously in the United States. A painful, ulcerated lesion appeared on the worker's finger around Jul 10, and by Jul 13 he or she had swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, body aches, and headaches. Most of those symptoms subsided after 5 days, but the local pain persisted and spread to other fingers. The patient saw several physicians, including a dermatologist and a hand surgeon, over a period of several weeks. He or she reported that the lesion healed by about Oct 1, but residual pain and stiffness persisted weeks longer. The worker didn't think cowpox virus was being used in the lab and hence didn't tell the physicians it was stored there. An official at the patient's lab said the cowpox virus stocks there had been stored in a freezer for 5 years, with no known use or movement. Some of the vials of cowpox viruses were stored in boxes with other poxvirus species. The patient had had no contact with animals other than pets before the infection, and none of the worker's contacts or pets had similar symptoms. About the time the patient's infection began, some mice that the patient handled exhibited lesions, and it was eventually learned that they had been injected with a viral line contaminated with coxpox virus. Also, workers in the lab reported they didn't always wear gloves when handling live virus and cell cultures. Because other poxvirus samples were contaminated with cowpox virus in the lab, the authors became concerned that the patient's infection might involve a novel recombinant virus. They ran additional tests to rule that out. Sequencing of the virus's hemagglutinin gene revealed the Brighton strain of cowpox, which is commonly used in labs. The investigation points up "the drawbacks of clinical reliance on patient recall about potential exposures, occupational or otherwise." Unexplained, potentially lab-acquired infections in lab workers should be promptly reported to institutional and occupational health officials and to public health agencies.

Second Salmonella strain cited in growing tuna-linked outbreak - A second strain of Salmonella has been identified in a 21-state outbreak with a contaminated tuna product as the likely cause, and the total number of cases has jumped to 200. The CDC has merged what were previously separate investigations. The states with Salmonella Nchanga cases are Georgia (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1). All those states also have had Salmonella Bareilly cases in the outbreak. Overall, of 153 patients with available information, 28 have been hospitalized, but none have died. The latest illness onset date is Apr 12. The tuna product was distributed by Moon Marine Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., which has recalled it. Nakaochi Scrape is used in sushi, sashimi, and similar products sold in restaurants and stores. The CDC said Salmonella Nchanga is EXTREMELY RARE in the United States.

Pacific reef sharks have declined by more than 90 percent, new study says. Pacific reef shark populations have plummeted by 90 percent or more over the past several decades near populated islands, and much of this decline stems from human fishing pressure.


-Diamond Pet Foods is expanding a voluntary recall to include one production run and four production codes of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food. One bag of the product has tested positive for Salmonella.
-Alfa Sprouts Inc. of Honeoye Falls, NY is recalling approx. 100 lbs of Springwater Sprouts brand Organic Alfalfa Sprouts and bulk 3# Clover Sprouts because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.