Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Meteorological bomb' or climate change? - Sandy wiped out homes along the New Jersey shore, submerged parts of New York City, and dumped snow as far south as the Carolinas. At least 50 people were reported killed in the United States, on top of 69 in the Caribbean, while millions of people were left without power. The huge storm barreled down on the United States, wreaking havoc with punishing winds, record flooding, heavy snowfall and massive blackouts. Is the main culprit climate change or a freak set of coincidences?
Some scientists say that the key to Sandy's impact may be an EXTREMELY RARE clash of weather systems, rather than the warmer temperatures that scientists have identified in other hurricanes and storms. So is Sandy a result of global warming? The jury is still out.
Sandy began as a late-season hurricane coming up from the Caribbean in what many experts believe were conditions fuelled by unusually warm water temperatures for this time of year. It then joined forces with a large Arctic weather system, which increased its size and transformed it into a winter storm with far more power than would otherwise have been expected. The third unusual element was a high pressure system off Canada's east coast that blocked Sandy's escape route. While hurricanes usually turn eastward, the system forced Sandy to make a very sharp left turn and slam into the New Jersey coast. "Many, many hurricanes have threatened the east coast of the United States over many, many years. Virtually all of them move up the coast and eventually turn to the right and head out to sea."
It's unusual for hurricanes to strike at this time of year. "It's a hybrid storm, which combines some features of tropical hurricanes with some features of winter storms, that operate on quite different mechanisms." There is a clear link between climate change and general trends toward more intense tropical hurricanes, but in the case of Sandy more long-term study is required to determine whether climate change played a major role.
Other scientists say climate change likely aggravated whatever unique circumstances produced Sandy. Those include the global warming that has caused ocean temperatures and sea levels to rise, contributing to more destructive flooding and other damage. "Sea level rise makes storm surges worse and will continue to do so in the future." World sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres (8 inches) in the past 100 years, a trend blamed on melting ice and expanding water in the oceans caused by rising temperatures. "Every centimetre adds to damage."
A senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said the jury was still out. "There are clearly changes in the environment that all of these storms are occurring in." As for Sandy, however, a lot of the weather conditions that lined up were due to a "crap shoot." A hybrid storm can be an explosive storm, "what we might call a meteorological bomb," without the influence of climate change.
Scientists also note that world temperatures in September rivalled 2005, the year hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, as the warmest in modern records. And a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month said that chances of Atlantic hurricanes were higher in warmer years stretching back to 1923. Warmer temperatures also mean that the atmosphere can hold more moisture, bringing more rain in many areas. A UN report this year predicted that a higher proportion of the world's rain would fall in downpours during the 21st century, making floods more likely.
A record thaw of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in September also might have helped build up high pressure in the North Atlantic that drove Sandy westward. "I would be very cautious. But there is reason to suspect that there could be a connection between the record sea ice loss this summer and the path of this storm." Recent research indicates that greenhouse gases have raised the chances of some events, such as the Texas heatwave of 2011 or a European heatwave in 2003 that killed perhaps 70,000 people. Scientists said it was too early to know if there was a link for Sandy.
All debate aside, US states still reeling from Sandy say they need to take a lesson from the increased threat of monster storms. New York's Governor said he has no doubt there are more extreme weather events. "That's not a political statement; it's a factual statement." New Yorkers will have to deal with "a new reality" when it comes to weather patterns. (photos)

**”Life is a shipwreck
but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.**

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
10/31/12 -
None 5.0 or larger.

Japan Spending Reconstruction Funds on Unrelated Projects - A recent audit conducted for the Japanese government has found that about a quarter of the funds meant for reconstruction following last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami has been spent on unrelated causes.

Another earthquake rattles British Columbia coast - The 6.3 tremor came as questions are being raised about the B.C. government's response to the weekend earthquake off the northwest coast, after officials took more than half an hour to issue a tsunami warning.
BC earthquake causing concern in Washington - At the Seismology Lab at the University of Washington, there is concern that the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred on the British Columbia coast over the weekend could affect Washington. “Earthquakes trigger more earthquakes."
Earthquake and superstorm Sandy may alter British Columbia insurance rates - Natural disasters like Saturday's earthquake and superstorm Sandy may have major implications for B.C. homeowners, driving up insurance premiums and deductibles even in regions thousands of kilometres from seismic shifts and cyclonic storms.

Volcano Webcams

Significant eruption at Costa Rica's Poas Volcano over the weekend. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, those who live near the Poas Volcano heard a big roar. When the sun came up, park rangers realized that the volcano had experienced a large phreatic eruption. The crater ejected mud and ashes over 500 meters in the air. The wind carried the ashes all the way down to the main building in the park.
The Poas Volcano had not had this type of eruption since 2006. Though the volcano sees frequent activity, the eruptions are usually quite small, never leaving the crater’s lagoon. Experts say that the activity is normal, but that they will be paying special attention to the volcano during the next few days. The volcano will remain open to the public and will keep its regular schedule until the experts are certain of any potential risk to tourists.

Wind kicks up ash from eruption of remote Alaska volcano 100 years ago - A smog-like haze that hung over part of Alaska's Kodiak Island this week was courtesy of a volcanic eruption — 100 years ago. The National Weather Service said strong winds and a lack of snow Tuesday helped stir up ash from the 1912 eruption.

In the East Pacific -
- Tropical storm Rosa was located about 810 mi. [1305 km] SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Nilam was located approximately 35 nm south-southwest of Chennai, India. The final warning has been issued on this system. The system would be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

Cyclone Nilam has struck the southeastern coast of India, bringing with it severe flooding and winds almost as strong as superstorm Sandy. Nilam, which formed over the Bay of Bengal, looked to be headed straight for the Sri Lankan coast. Fortunately, Sri Lanka, which is still re-building after a decades-long war, avoided the worst of the storm. Having only closed the massive Menik Farm displacement camp one month ago, the last thing this Southern Asian country needed was another humanitarian disaster.
The force of the cyclone could be seen even before it hit Indian coastlines. Its powerful winds forced an oil tanker to run aground, leaving 22 crew members floating in a lifeboat. The storm then surged towards the Southeastern coast of India, placing the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu on high alert. More than 5,000 people were subsequently evacuated from their homes in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu. By early evening Nilam had struck the port of Mahabalipuram and was expected to spread along the coast through the night.
Cyclone Nilam comes only a year after Cyclone Thane, which last December killed 47 people in India. This massive storm, which hit Tamil Nadu destroying houses and crops, brought gale force winds of up to 135 kmph and tidal surges of nearly 1.5 metres, or about 5 feet. Although the cyclone currently bashing the coastal areas of southern India is not as strong as Thane, it still brings fears of human displacement and infrastructure damage. Extra precautions are being taken this time to ensure people’s safety. “Tamil Nadu has a long coastline and the state has witnessed many storms over the years. We have standard operating procedures already in force to tackle natural calamities and have also taken extra efforts this time.”
The Indian government issued a weather bulletin warning coastal areas in the South of the country to prepare themselves for strong winds through the night with extremely heavy rainfall possible in certain areas. A storm surge is expected in the low-lying areas of Chennai. The government is also warning of damage to power and communication lines and to standing crops. Coastal fishermen have been advised not to venture out to sea for the next 24 hours.
A leaking deepwater well off the Andhra Pradesh coast will not be immediately be able to be securely plugged because of cyclone Nilam. The G-1#9 well in the Bay of Bengal had been temporarily capped.

NASA sees Tropical Storm Rosa being born and powering up quickly - Tropical Storm Rosa formed well off the Pacific coast of Mexico on Tuesday morning with maximum sustained winds near 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour. There is no immediate threat to land. The seventeenth tropical depression of the eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season formed early on October 30 and quickly strengthened into Tropical Storm Rosa. It is expected to weaken today.

Haiti storm death toll rises - Haiti's death toll from Hurricane Sandy has risen, taking the Caribbean total to 71.
New York devastation mapped - Before and after photos.
Aerial video shows Sandy devastation
Global markets quake under Hurricane Sandy - World shares and commodities fell Tuesday, as the huge hurricane compounded a recent run of downbeat corporate reports, which have cast a shadow over the economic growth outlook. All U.S. stock markets were shut in the first weather-related closure for 27 years. Offices of the World Bank Group were shut Moday, “as a precaution and in keeping with U.S. Federal Government operations, due to Hurricane Sandy.”
Businesses and banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc., told employees to work from home as some lower Manhattan offices would be closed. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommended that U.S. bond trading should end. U.S. stock index futures, which traded as usual, were down around 0.3 to 0.6 percent in line with falls seen across major European markets.
Safety fears over the monster storm caused airline disruption as far afield as Hong Kong and France. The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol, said 300 of the usual 500-odd flights between Europe and the US had been cancelled. Flights from Asia, India and Japan were also affected. Subway services, buses and commuter trains were also shut down in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
Extreme weather a 'new reality' - The Governor said that as New York rebuilds “we have to find ways to build this city back stronger and better than ever before to make sure that if there is still another situation like this, another weather pattern like this,we're more prepared." Whoever doesn't see extreme weather pattern is 'denying reality'. "Going forward, I think we do have to anticipate these extreme types of weather patterns." The governor has now dealt with two major hurricanes since taking office in 2011.


Sandy's wild winds whipped up 'remarkable,' RECORD-BREAKING WAVES on Lake Michigan. - Extreme weather Monday whipped up winds that created huge waves on the Great Lakes, forced ships to seek shelter, threw travel schedules throughout Michigan and the Midwest off track and cut power to thousands. Fierce winds from superstorm Sandy churned Lake Michigan's waters Tuesday, Oct. 30, to-record breaking heights.
The peak waves hit 21.7 feet, as recorded by the South Mid-Lake Buoy between Michigan and Wisconsin, the second-highest ever recorded by the buoy. That fell far short of predictions waves up to 35 feet could lash the Illinois-Indiana rim. Still, a little more than a foot more and it would have broken the all-time record of 22.9 feet recorded on Sept. 30, 2011. Despite not attaining the record for highest wave, forecasters said the roiled lake managed to break the RECORD FOR LONGEST SUSTAINED WAVES OF 18-FEET OR MORE.
Between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 30, the South Buoy recorded wave heights at that level, registering 10 CONSECUTIVE HOURS. The highest sustained wind at the buoy occurred during that period, coming in at 56 mph at 9:50 a.m.. That bests the previous sustained record from Nov. 10 to Nov. 11, 1998, when seven consecutive hours of waves 18 feet or greater occurred.
Three more hours of 18-foot waves were recorded elsewhere during the day, bringing the hourly total to 13. "Prior to Oct. 30, there had only been 15 hourly observations with waves heights of 18 feet or higher on record, which really speaks to how remarkable the waves were with this storm." To be sure, it is possible larger waves have occurred on the lake that were not recorded by the South Mid-Lake Buoy. "The buoy is only deployed seasonally, typically from early spring through late fall. It is certainly possible that larger waves could have occurred on Lake Michigan during the winter, when the buoy was not deployed, so these values represent the highest values on record."


The snow side of Superstorm Sandy on the mountains. October 29th will be pinned on the calendar as a pivotal moment in weather. The incredible events surrounding Hurricane Sandy, including devastation along the most populated coastline in the US also had a cold side. For the second year in a row, a mega early season snowstorm brought incredible accumulations to interior sections of Mid Atlantic.
At Seven Springs in western Pennsylvania, last year they had an unusual season. The October 29th, 2011 storm dropped 9 inches on the slopes. This was followed by one of the warmest winters since opening. Superstorm Sandy brought 14 inches of heavy wet snow to Seven Springs. Blizzard Warnings were issued for the highest elevations along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains for this storm. Blizzard conditions are officially when heavy snow is accompanied by winds over 35 mph for three consecutive hours. Essentially white out conditions. This storm brought mountain tops gusts over 70 mph, lightning, thunder, and lasted for more than a day.
Sandy starts to wind down in Appalachia - Though several more inches of snow may fall in the region, the storm is finally beginning to taper off.


A second compounding pharmacy recalled all of its products on Tuesday in the wake of Food and Drug Administration investigations surrounding a multistate fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated injectable steroids.