Thursday, August 9, 2012

California - One of several earthquakes that struck the Yorba Linda area Wednesday is being blamed for a natural gas explosion at an Ontario home nearly 30 miles away from the quake's epicenter.

**Nice guys sometimes finish last...
but people don't want to see the mean guy's trophy.**
Bill Cosby

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/8/12 -
5.9 FIJI

California - Los Angeles rattled by two 4.5 quakes within 10 hours. A magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck near the Southern California town of Yorba Linda for the second time in just over 10 hours on Wednesday, rattling the Los Angeles area, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported. "They're definitely a related sequence."

Volcano Webcams

Second New Zealand volcano 'burps' after eruption - A second volcano in New Zealand threatened to rumble to life on Wednesday, a day after a long-dormant mountain erupted. GNS Science reported no fresh convulsions at the Mount Tongariro volcano, which sent a plume of ash 20,000 feet (6,100 metres) into the atmosphere, showering the North Island and disrupting domestic air travel. But a monitoring camera showed the volcanic White Island, just off the coast of North Island, had experienced a small eruption that was probably unrelated to Tongariro. "The crater-rim camera appears to be splattered with mud/ash this morning, so it seems there has been some kind of burp."
Around the remote Tongariro volcano -- which officials say could erupt again without warning at any time -- residents cleaned up the ash that spewed early Tuesday. Heavy rain washed away much of the fine silt, causing streams to run grey, but residents said the powdery substance seeped into homes even when doors and windows were sealed. Air travel, which was disrupted across much of the North Island because of the risk posed by volcanic ash, returned to normal, as the remnants of the cloud washed out to sea overnight.
In Wellington, more than 250 kilometres (155 miles) from the volcano, a smell of sulphur from gases expelled by the volcano hung in the air for most of the morning. "It was like sewage, really unpleasant. It was so strong I thought Tongariro must have gone off again." There were no injuries from the eruption, which officials said hurled boulders up to two kilometres from the volcano crater, destroying a hut used by hikers which, by chance, was unoccupied at the time. Images released by GNS Science showed vents in the side of the ash-covered mountain still steaming and a stream valley choked with rocks and soil disturbed by the eruption.
Until this week, the volcano had been inactive since 1897 and scientists said they had no warning it was about to blow. Amid fears the mountain is entering a new and dangerous phase of volcanic activity, officials closed hiking tracks in the national park that surrounds the peak until further notice. However, the nearby Ruapehu ski fields were still operating, with winter sports enthusiasts unfazed by the eruption. New Zealand lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", where the Earth's tectonic plates collide, making it a hotspot for earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the country's deadliest disasters occurred in 1953, when debris from an eruption at Mount Ruapehu, also in central North Island, downed a rail bridge, leading to a train derailment that claimed 151 lives. Mount Tarawera, in the same area, erupted in 1886, with a death toll estimated at 120-150 people. White Island is New Zealand's most active volcano and in 1914 there was a landslide there caused by volcanic activity which killed 11 men at a sulpur mine.
Ash video

In the Atlantic -
- Tropical storm Ernesto was located about about 15 mi. [25 km] N of Ciudad del Carmen Mexico. Ernesto has finally moved into the southern Bay of Campeche; reconnaissance aircraft finds storm getting stronger. The government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Gulf Coast of Mexico from Veracruz eastward to Chilitepec. Weakening is expected after the center moves over land by tonight.

In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category 1 hurricane Gilma was located about 725 mi. [1170 km] SW of the southern tip of Baja California. A weakening trend is expected to begin late today.

In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical depression 13w (Kirogi) was located approximately 745 nm east-southeast of Misawa, Japan. (downgraded from tropical storm)

Video of Typhoon Haiku hitting China


Philippines - A fresh deluge forced more evacuations along fast-rising rivers in the Philippine capital, as the city and surrounding areas struggled to deal with widespread flooding triggered by NEARLY TWO WEEKS OF RELENTLESS RAINS. Even though the weather was gradually improving Thursday morning, the number of displaced was still rising, to nearly 300,000 in some 500 evacuation centres. Rescuers on rubber boats floated down flooded streets to reach thousands of residents marooned in submerged houses along the hardest-hit Marikina River.
A fresh downpour pounded Manila on Wednesday night, feeding the already-saturated watersheds that flow into the network of rivers crisscrossing the coastal city of 12 million people. The flooding, the worst since 2009, has rattled the nerves of thousands of people who had to be evacuated for the second time in as many days after returning home following a brief respite from rains Wednesday. "They are hard-headed. Now that the waters are high again, they got scared and they are calling us to be rescued."
Government forecasters said the weather would continue to improve throughout Thursday. At least 23 people have died since Sunday, including nine in a landslide in a hillside slum in Quezon City and several others who drowned in outlying provinces. The national disaster-response agency said nearly 2 million people were affected by the floods, which submerged half of Manila at one point.
Flood video


South Africa - RARE snowfall. People slowly came outside despite the cold wind on Tuesday across South Africa to experience a rare snowfall that fell on much of the country. The snow began Tuesday morning, part of an extreme cold snap now biting into a nation still in its winter months. By mid-afternoon, officials recorded snowfall across most of South Africa. Snow remains so UNNUSUAL that forecasters typically aren’t prepared to provide details about snowfall in the nation.
The snow closed some roads and at least one high-altitude pass. The snowfall also closed several border posts in the country. As the snow fell, workers at offices in Johannesburg rushed outside. The snow grew heavier in the afternoon in Johannesburg, covering rooftops and slicking roads. Snowflakes are a rare commodity in Johannesburg, even during winter. South African Weather Service records show it has snowed in Johannesburg on only 22 other days in the last 103 years. The last snow fell there in June 2007. In Pretoria, the country’s capital, flurries filled the sky during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was the first snowfall there since 1968. The cold weather is expected to last a few days.
Snow video


Meteor Smoke Makes Strange Clouds - Anyone who's ever seen a noctilucent cloud or “NLC” would agree: They look alien. The electric-blue ripples and pale tendrils of NLCs reaching across the night sky resemble something from another world. Researchers say that's not far off. A key ingredient for the mysterious clouds comes from outer space. "We've detected bits of 'meteor smoke' imbedded in noctilucent clouds. This discovery supports the theory that meteor dust is the nucleating agent around which NLCs form."
Noctilucent clouds are a mystery dating back to the late 19th century. Northern sky watchers first noticed them in 1885 about two years after the eruption of Krakatoa. Ash from the Indonesian volcano caused such splendid sunsets that evening sky watching became a worldwide past time. Eventually Krakatoa’s ash settled and the sunsets faded, but strangely the noctilucent clouds didn’t go away. They’re still present today, stronger than ever. Researchers aren’t sure what role Krakatoa’s ash played in those early sightings. One thing is clear, however: The dust behind the clouds we see now is space dust. "Aabout 3% of each ice crystal in a noctilucent cloud is meteoritic."
The inner solar system is littered with meteoroids of all shapes and sizes -- from asteroid-sized chunks of rock to microscopic specks of dust. Every day Earth scoops up tons of the material, mostly the small stuff. When meteoroids hit our atmosphere and burn up, they leave behind a haze of tiny particles suspended 70 km to 100 km above Earth's surface. It's no coincidence that NLCs form 83 km high, squarely inside the meteor smoke zone. Specks of meteor smoke act as gathering points where water molecules can assemble themselves into ice crystals. The process is called "nucleation."
Nucleation happens all the time in the lower atmosphere. In ordinary clouds, airborne specks of dust and even living microbes can serve as nucleation sites. Tiny ice crystals, drops of water, and snowflakes grow around these particles, falling to Earth if and when they become heavy enough. Nucleating agents are especially important in the ethereal realm of NLCs. The clouds form at the edge of space where the air pressure is little more than vacuum. The odds of two water molecules meeting is slim, and of sticking together slimmer still.
Meteor smoke helps beat the odds. Ice crystals can grow around meteoritic dust to sizes ranging from 20 to 70 nanometers. For comparison, cirrus clouds in the lower atmosphere where water is abundant contain crystals 10 to 100 times larger. The small size of the ice crystals explains the clouds' blue color. Small particles tend to scatter short wavelengths of light (blue) more strongly than long wavelengths (red). So when a beam of sunlight hits an NLC, blue is the color that gets scattered down to Earth.
Meteor smoke explains much about NLCs, but a key mystery remains: Why are the clouds brightening and spreading? In the 19th century, NLCs were confined to high latitudes — places like Canada and Scandinavia. In recent times, however, they have been spotted as far south as Colorado, Utah and Nebraska. One of the greenhouse gases that has become more abundant in Earth's atmosphere since the 19th century is methane. It comes from landfills, natural gas and petroleum systems, agricultural activities, and coal mining. It turns out that methane boosts NLCs. Methane, a greenhouse gas, boosts the abundance of water at the top of Earth's atmosphere. This water freezes around "meteor smoke" to form icy noctilucent clouds. If this idea is correct, noctilucent clouds are a sort of "canary in a coal mine" for one of the most important greenhouse gases. "Noctilucent clouds might look alien, but they're telling us something very important about our own planet." (video)


Variant H3N2 cases surge in Indiana, Ohio - The count of swine-origin variant H3N2 influenza (H3N2v) cases in Indiana soared to 113 Wednesday, a jump of about 100, while Ohio reported a total of 30 cases, double the previous number. But the states said they have not found any person-to-person transmission of the virus.