Thursday, May 10, 2012

**A scientific truth does not triumph
by convincing its opponents
and making them see the light,
but rather because its opponents eventually die
and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Max Planck

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/9/12 -

No current tropical storms.

A hurricane before Memorial Day? - Monday night, the GFS simulated the development of a tropical storm over the southern Caribbean. It intensifies the storm to around hurricane status, carrying it northward to a position just east of Florida and then off the coast of North Carolina. Before getting alarmed, this simulation is more than two full weeks into the future, when the model has no skill. Sometimes we call this model fantasy-land. And for the record, the next run of the model early the next morning loses the storm (although some of the model ensemble members show it). So do we make anything of the simulation? The blog CrownWeather has a detailed look at this system and isn’t dismissing the idea of some very early season tropical development, stating there is some support for the idea from other models. Furthermore, CrownWeather notes there is a precedent for occasional tropical development in late May: The overall weather pattern that is forecast to set up for the second half of May is one that can lead to early season tropical development in either the western Caribbean or somewhere near the Bahamas. Many of the analog years for this upcoming hurricane season have had early season tropical development. These years include 1951, 1957 and 1976; in fact, 1951 and 1976 had tropical development in May with Category 3 Hurricane Able developing just off of the US Southeast Coast in Mid-May of 1951. Since 1870, there have been 32 off-season tropical storms (or hurricanes) in the Atlantic (or Gulf of Mexico), 18 of which occurred in May. "The pattern that may show up in the next one to two weeks is one we’d look for in late summer or early fall for tropical development. History has shown us it’s not too early. There are pieces to puzzle that suggest it’s not an unreasonable idea. But an operational run of tropical development at 300+ hours is just unreliable." If nothing else, what the models are showing is a sign hurricane season is just around the corner.

Brazil - While a swath of the Brazilian Amazon is under a state of emergency with one of the worst floods ever, the country’s northeastern region is suffering through its worst drought in the last 30 years. (photos)


SOLAR ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES - Huge sunspot AR1476 is crackling with M-class solar flares and appears to be on the verge of producing something even stronger. The sunspot's 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field harbors energy for X-class flares, the most powerful kind. Earth is entering the line of fire as the sunspot rotates across the face of the sun.
Solar radio bursts are caused by plasma instabilities that ripple through the sun's atmosphere in the aftermath of powerful flares. "The strongest burst so far occured around 1631 UT on May 9th... I am hearing more bursting, indicating powerful magnetic dynamism within active region 1476." With AR1476 poised for more eruptions, this 'radio activity' is likely to continue for days.
Sunspot AR1476 is so large, people are noticing it without the aide of a solar telescope. The behemoth appears at sunrise and sunset when the light of the low-hanging sun is occasionally dimmed to human visibility. Caution: Even when the sun is dimmed by clouds and haze, looking into the glare can damage your eyes. Looking through unfiltered optics is even worse.

A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of May 8th, stirring geomagnetic activity and auroras at high latitudes. A pair of CMEs en route to Earth could add to the effect of the solar wind stream, igniting even brighter auroras during the next 24-48 hours. NOAA forecasters estimated a 40% chance of geomagnetic storms on May 9th.


Reusable grocery bag fingered in norovirus outbreak - The role of fomites in norovirus outbreaks has been difficult to pin down, but Oregon health officials describe how a reusable grocery bag left in a bathroom where a patient was sick spread the virus to members of a girls' soccer team and their chaperones.