Sunday, September 23, 2012

A fierce storm ripped across South America Wednesday - A storm packing 140-kilometre (87-mile) an hour winds tore across the heart of South America on Wednesday, killing five people in Paraguay and wreaking havoc in Argentina and Uruguay and Bolivia.
The Roque Alonso suburb of the Paraguayan capital Asuncion was devastated by the storm and widespread looting was reported in its aftermath. Four police cadets died and 15 were injured when the roof of their dormitory collapsed, and a 16-year-old boy died at a shopping centre when a water tank collapsed on him outside a pharmacy. "Roque Alonso has to be built all over again." Dozens of injured people flooded Asuncion hospitals and traffic was gridlocked in parts of the city. Nationwide, at least 5,000 homes were destroyed and more than 80 people injured in storm-related incidents. The storm also blew the roof off homes and barns in Neembucu, south of the capital and knocked out power in the town of Encarnacion for many hours.
The wind was less severe further south in Argentina and Uruguay, around 100 kilometres (62 mph) per hour, but strong gusts still ripped of roofs and toppled trees and power lines, plunging some regions into darkness. A woman and her daughter were killed when heavy rains swiftly washed out a road in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. And two people were killed in Uruguay when a suddenly rain-swollen creek swallowed their car. Ports also were locked down in Uruguay until early Thursday, and at least 462 people had to leave their homes. 140,000 customers lost power - more than 10 per cent of the country.
Spring cyclone paralyzes Uruguay's capital as residents are told to stay at home. An “extra-tropical” cyclone bashed from early Wednesday the River Plate with winds of over 150 kilometres forcing the Uruguayan government to close public buildings, suspend transport and recommend residents in the capital Montevideo and other locations along the coast to remain at home.
When the “southeast” wind and rain storm (which are quite normal this time of the year in the River Plate, but this INTENSITY WAS EXCEPTIONAL) was over in the early evening, authorities reported two people dead, tens injured including the President who was caught by a flying metal piece when helping neighbours next to his farm, and millions of dollars in losses. Windows in high rise buildings were broken spraying glass and other debris, hundreds of trees were toppled some of them crashed on homes and others fell on parked cars, including on an urban bus which called for the suspension of Montevideo’s transport system, while some highways and rapid traffic avenues were cut off because of flooding or the huge waves that rained across the city’s coastal promenade. Huge waves cover Montevideo’s rapid transit way next to the River Plate.
Ports and airports were closed for the following 24 hours but some yachts from the main marina in Montevideo were stranded on a nearby beach and a couple of them sunk. Fire brigades in the old part of Montevideo, which as a short peninsula is exposed to the full force of the wind, had to extend ropes in street corners and plazas to help people cross, when the evacuation of government buildings. A father and son drowned when they tried to cross a bridge and water dragged them with their vehicle, but most injuries were caused by flying or falling objects as happened with the President who only suffered a minor cut on the nose. “I was extremely lucky because it was part of a zinc metal sheet from a neighbour’s roof that was blown by a twister."
But not only the President was lucky: this is schools’ “spring week vacation” and most children were at home, the shopping malls and other public entertainments had already been closed because of the intensity of the wind and rainfall. The Fire Department and Police precincts received hundreds of calls requesting help or warning about toppled trees, flooded streets, fallen power lines and the collapse of other public services or the need to rescue people stranded. In mid-afternoon they sadi, "We are working at our maximum response capacity. Hopefully in a couple of hours the wind will begin to calm and the storm to abate”.
Wednesday morning the Uruguayan Meteorology Office announced a RED ALERT with ‘maximum risk” and recommended people to remain at home as winds reached 150 kilometres. Government House in a press conference insisted on people staying at home and adopting some minimum precautions like staying away from windows or taping glass panes. Meteorologists described the storm as an ‘extra-tropical’ cyclone, of extreme intensity and RARE, but not uncommon. In August 2005 the Uruguayan sea-line also suffered a similar low pressure front phenomenon but with wind spells of almost 200 kilometres in some places which flattened whole forests of trees.
“Whenever it has rained, at some point it has stopped” and the same is going to happen “with the wind blowing”. After the wind is over “we have to go out to collect the wood from the trees, rebuild the blown roofs and start again”. Nevertheless, the government hadn’t considered declaring a national emergency because of the damages, but “we still have to receive the information from the rest of the country and then we will have the full picture”. (photos)

No update on Monday this week.

**I don’t know the key to success,
but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.**
Bill Cosby

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
9/22/12 -

9/21/12 -

Vietnam - Quake-hit reservoir needs new checks. The Deputy Prime Minister has instructed that the Song Tranh 2 Hydro Power Plant, which was hit by an earthquake earlier this week, should not put its water reservoirs back into operation at this time despite assurances from professionals that it would be safe to do so.
Five tremors were reported to have hit the plant on Monday and Tuesday, causing panic among the local people and raising concern from experts. The decision not to re-open the reservoirs came after ameeting with scientists, experts and local authorities in Ha Noi. The final decision had been based on the unpredictability of the weather and geology should earthquakes strike again in the Bac Tra My District of the central province of Quang Nam, where the plant is located.
"This is the first ever case where a plant in the construction sector is facing a risk of natural disaster, so we need to consider the issue very carefully. Everything must be done to ensure the safety of the people and the plant." He urged relevant scientific agencies, ministries and sectors to hire foreign organisations and individuals to continue checking and evaluating the impact of the earthquakes on the plant, especially now that the flood season is ongoing. A final decision on the re-operation of the water reservoirs would only be made when an official and comprehensive evaluation was completed.
Reports delivered at the meeting said that the plant had been regularly checked by the Construction Ministry's State Authority for Construction Quality Inspection since 2007. Inspection work so far has confirmed that the plant was built correctly to the design and is safe from earthquakes that measured up to 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Louisiana - Thursday, Bayou Corne residents expressed fear of an explosion at a vulnerable oil and gas-related sinkhole in their community. Sinkhole area residents fear an explosion after 1,000s of quakeshave occurred and dangerously high levels of hydrocarbons filled the swampland area.
Since September 2010, there have been more than 3,700 oil industry accidents in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the non-government watchdog group, Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Thursday night, Bayou Corne and area residents gathered to share their fear of an explosion and gather information they say they are not getting from Unified Command, government officials representing seven government agencies involved in the disaster. The residents have been subjected to thousands of earthquakes and methane gas leaking in their community. The sinkhole is over half-full of hydrocarbons, possibly in the flammable range. There is no fire ban in the sinkhole area, as Assumption Parish officials have repeatedly advised.
The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has required any of the seven industry operators in the salt dome below the area to flare or vent gas if it is leaking from their operation. The Louisiana sinkhole disaster has resulted in a state emergency declaration and mandatory evacuation. The White House has remained silent about the Assumption Parish oil and gas sinkhole emergency situation. "This needs to be a federal issue."

Volcano Webcams

Indonesia - Mount Lokon coughs again. On Friday, the volcano erupted with smoke, ash in north Indonesia. The Vulcanology and Disaster Mitigation Agency head said on Friday that despite the eruption, local people did not need to evacuate but should remain cautious over the next few days. “The eruption could be heard 5 kilometers away." The volcano is one of five on high alert in Indonesia. Three active volcanoes are in North Sulawesi and another one in North Maluku.

In the East Pacific -
- Tropical storm Miriam was located about 610 mi [980 km] SSE of the southern tip of Baja California. May eventually be a threat to land.

In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Jelawat was located approximately 485 nm ESE of Manila, Philippines. Models are starting to suggest a recurve scenario in the East China Sea towards southern Japan.

Tropical Storm Miriam has formed over the eastern Pacific, but it remains well offshore and does not pose a threat to land.

Wind conditions deterring Atlantic storms from threatening Florida. Florida, which hasn’t had a hurricane make landfall since 2005, just might escape this season without one coming ashore, a commercial weather site suggested this week. A pattern that developed over the central and eastern United States during early September will continue to act as a buffer against major tropical systems through the end of the month, and perhaps through the season.
Westerly winds in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere over the central and eastern parts of the country and nearby waters are bringing in streams of dry air that “are generally too disruptive for tropical storms or hurricanes to form in nearby coastal waters and tend to cause tropical systems coming from afar to avoid the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S.,” senior meteorologist said Thursday. Tropical Storm Nadine, its winds down at 60 mph Friday, was the latest example. On Friday, it was about 3,400 miles northeast of South Florida, had been declared “subtropical,” and was expected to die in the far Atlantic.
AccuWeather stressed there’s still a chance for a tropical system either to move close to the coast or form near land. And late September and October are notorious for “backdoor” storms, such as Wilma in 2005, which tracked from the west and moved across the peninsula, hitting Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. It was the last hurricane to have struck Florida. And as South Florida learned last month, a storm’s center can come nowhere near a place while its fringes still do plenty of damage. Isaac was only a tropical storm, and its center was some 200 miles from South Florida, but its outer bands dropped as much as 18 inches across Palm Beach County, causing historic flooding.
The National Hurricane Center also warns there are no givens when it comes to tropical cyclones. “We’re at the peak of the hurricane season. We still have more than two months to go. We don’t want anyone letting their guard down.” This season has produced 14 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and one becoming a major storm, with top sustained winds of at least 115 mph. But North America really dealt only with Isaac, and it was only a Category 1 storm when it hit Louisiana in late August.
And Saturday’s date was the historical “median date” for South Florida; half of the hurricane landfalls are on either side. Also, of South Florida’s hurricane strikes reported since 1851, the most, 19, were in October, followed by 15 in September and 11 in August. (map)

Philippines - Public storm warning signals were hoisted over six provinces on Saturday as Tropical Storm “Lawin” (international name: Jelawat) intensified slightly as it moved slowly over the Philippine Sea. The weather bureau advised residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning Signal Nos. 1 and 2 against possible flash floods and landslides. “Likewise, those living in coastal areas under public storm warning Signal No. 2 were alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by the tropical storm."
Lawin is expected to bring heavy to intense rains, from 10 to 25 mm per hour, within its 600 km diameter. The Philippine Coast Guard advised fishing boats and other small seacraft not to venture out into the eastern seaboard of southern Luzon, the Visayas or Mindanao due to the big waves caused by strong to gale winds. In Tacloban City, more than 400 passengers were stranded in the ports of Allen town in Northern Samar and in San Ricardo town, Southern Leyte, after vessels were barred from sailing due to the storm.


Wildfire smoke over the Atlantic Ocean - In September, smoke from wildfires in the western United States blew eastward over the Atlantic Ocean.


Several meteors photographed in the United Kingdom - 9/22/12 - People from across the UK have reported seeing bright objects in the night sky. Coastguards in Northern Ireland took calls from people who saw the objects from Coleraine on the north coast, to Strangford Lough in the south east. The lights were seen as far north as Caithness in Scotland as well as in Wales and Norfolk in East Anglia.
Experts said the sightings could be satellite debris, burning up on entry to the atmosphere. The lights have also been reported in the Midlands, parts of north-east England and in Glasgow and Edinburgh. One person who watched the objects pass through the sky, said it appeared to be something "pretty large breaking up in the atmosphere. I've seen shooting stars and meteor showers before, but this was much larger and much more colourful." (photos)


Cheese-related Listeria outbreak reaches 15 cases. The number of cases in a multistate Listeria outbreak tied to imported ricotta salata cheese has grown to 15 with the addition of one case in Washington state. All 15 patients were hospitalized, and three died. Cases have occurred in 12 states and Washington, DC, with illness onset dates ranging from Mar 12 to Aug 30. The cheese distributor, Forever Cheese Inc. of Long Island City, N.Y., recalled one lot of Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese on Sep 10 and later expanded the recall to all lots. The distributor has stopped importing cheese from the Italian maker, Fattorie Chiarappa SRL.