Wednesday, November 28, 2012

River of storms headed for Northern California - It's shaping up as California's equivalent of a hurricane: A series of warm, wet storms arriving today that will be UNLIKE ANYTHING THE STATE HAS SEEN IN YEARS.
By Sunday, weather experts say Sacramento could see 4 to 8 inches of rain, and the mountains of the Northern Sierra Nevada and Shasta regions could be deluged with 12 to 18 inches of rainfall. If this comes to pass, Sacramento could receive more rain in a few days than it gets in an average January, typically the wettest month of the year.
The culprit is a weather phenomenon called an "atmospheric river," which channels tropical moisture all the way across the Pacific Ocean like a fire hose. Sometimes called a "pineapple express," these storms are viewed by weather experts as California's equivalent of a hurricane. Forecasters have "high confidence" in the timing and intensity of the storms. There is less certainty about where the fire hose will focus its wrath. Forecasts on Tuesday targeted Mount Shasta and the Northern Sierra, but that could change.
"It is kind of like when you turn your hose on in the front lawn without staking the end down. It kinda hops around a little bit. It could come a little bit further south. But there is a lot of moisture out there, and it's coming our way." The first storm arrives today and lasts through Thursday. It is expected to be relatively mild.
The second hits Friday and will be the real soaker, lasting through Sunday with drenching rain and strong winds. A third, even wetter storm, may follow later on Sunday. Sacramento could see sustained winds of 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph. The Sierra Nevada foothills could see gusts up to 55 mph.
These are warm storms and snow levels will be high – 7,000 feet and up. That means many Sierra highway passes could stay free of snow. But it also means more terrain will be exposed to rainfall runoff.
Atmospheric rivers form very differently from hurricanes, but the rainfall intensity can cause damage on the same scale. "There is potential for one of the longer-lived atmospheric river events that we've seen in the last 10 years or so. These are the types of events that are responsible for the biggest flood damages on the West Coast. To me, that's the analogue to the hurricane problem."
Forecasters say the second storm will plant its bull's-eye on Shasta, Tehama, Butte and Plumas counties, with lesser rainfall amounts farther south. This is worrisome, because these counties experienced large forest fires over the summer that now create a significant erosion and mudslide risk.
Of particular concern is the Battle Creek watershed in Shasta and Tehama counties, where the Ponderosa fire burned more than 27,000 acres in August. Battle Creek is the focus of a $128 million salmon restoration project, still under way, funded by state and federal agencies. Heavy erosion in the watershed could damage habitat vital to the project's success. "We are very concerned about that. We're going to get hammered, it looks like."
None of the Sacramento Valley's major rivers is expected to see flooding problems. The Sacramento River is predicted to spill into the Sutter Bypass on Saturday – a normal event in stormy weather. The Yolo Bypass downstream, between Sacramento and Davis, is not expected to flood.
On the other hand, many local creeks may experience flooding, and residents are advised to be ready. Sacramento County officials urged people who live near creeks in flood-prone areas to have sandbags on hand in case creeks overflow their banks.
Neighborhood flooding is also likely to become a significant problem because the region's urban tree canopy is in the thick of leaf-fall season. This means streets and storm drains are at high risk of clogging. Sacramento city and county officials urged people to clean leaves and other debris from around storm drains in their neighborhoods, and to monitor those drains during the unfolding storms. High winds and soaked ground raise the potential for downed trees and power outages. Residents should be ready with flashlights, extra batteries, food and water, a battery-powered radio and an alternate means of charging cellphones. They should also secure outdoor furniture and other objects to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles.

**The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.
The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.**
Winston Churchill

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
Continuing large cluster of moderate quakes in DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE

Yesterday -
11/27/12 -
5.2 ALAMAGAN REG, N. MARIANA ISLANDS Continuing large cluster of moderate quakes in DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE

Officials checking Kentucky dam after earthquake - Officials in eastern Kentucky are conducting tests on a dam to see if a recent 4.3 magnitude earthquake centered near Blackey enlarged the flow of a small stream at the bottom of the structure.

Low-Levels of Earthquake Actvity in the Week of November 21-27 - The week of 21-27 November was relatively quiet, with just 27quakes of magnitude 5 or greater, following a fortnight of significant seismic activity. This week's quakes were concentrated in the western Pacific and south of Sumatra.

No tropical storms.

In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Bopha was located approximately 160 nm south-southeast of Chuuk, Micronesia.

Bopha - The tropical storm north of Papua New Guinea is expected to strengthen to a typhoon late Thursday. Tropical Storm Bopha will continue to move west-northwest, but no land impact is expected through Friday. Tropical storm warnings are in effect in Micronesia as NASA and other satellite imagery indicates that Tropical Storm Bopha continues to intensify.
A lot of power exists in the strengthening tropical storm. An AIRS image captured the eastern half of the tropical storm and showed a large area of very cold, very high cloud tops, where temperatures colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) have the potential for dropping heavy rainfall. On Nov. 27, the National Weather Service in Tiyan, Guam noted that "Residents of Satawal in Yap State should closely monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Bopha, as a tropical storm watch could be required Wednesday, Nov. 28." A tropical storm warning remained in effect for Nukuoro in Pohnpei State and Lukunor in Chuuk State. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Losap, the Chuuk Lagoon Islands and Puluwat in Chuuk State.
At 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST/1 a.m. CHST local time) the center of Tropical Storm Bopha was located only 55 miles north-northeast of Nukuoro. Bopha was also about105 miles southeast of Lukunor and 225 miles southeast of Losap. Bopha was nearly stationary but the National Weather Service expects Bopha to start moving westward. Bopha's maximum sustained winds have increased to 50 mph and Tropical Storm Bopha is expected to continue intensifying. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, making the storm almost 100 miles in diameter.


Wild storm hits Western Australia - A brutal storm has left more than 50,000 homes in Perth and regional Western Australia without power, as emergency services scrambled to cope with widespread damage to schools, heritage buildings and homes across the state.
Dozens of fallen power lines left tens of thousands in the dark, at least two schools were badly damaged, while Perth's new $20 million boutique luxury hotel had its roof ripped off and a chimney demolished by the vicious gusts of wind that blasted the coast. The Terrace Hotel was opened only at the beginning of November, after an extensive and expensive renovation designed to attract A-list celebrity visitors. Police and emergency services were forced to close St George's Terrace around the refurbished building after a nearby pedestrian walkway was showered with rubble from the hotel's roof. Police and emergency services cordoned off the area for several hours, as glass and brick continued to fall on the street below.
Around the city damage was widespread with numerous roads closed due to fallen trees and other debris. The northern suburbs of Wanneroo, Stirling and the Perth CBD were worst hit, with the Avon Vale Primary School in Northam receiving significant structural damage and immediately saying it would be shut on Thursday. Samson Primary School, in the city's south, had damage to the roof of an undercover area, while Perth's Beatty Park Aquatic Centre, which was recently refurbished, was also damaged.
Power lines were brought down by falling trees in several suburbs, with police closing roads in Bayswater after several lines were felled by one tree. Western Power was responding to almost 500 hazards. A post on social media showed a Virgin flight apparently abandoning an attempted landing at Perth Airport as winds continued to gust.
School leavers' celebrations at Rottnest Island and Dunsborough were dampened by the unseasonal weather. Thousands of schoolies celebrating on Rottnest Island were battered by winds of up to 117km/h. Ferry companies are keeping a watch on conditions before deciding whether services would run on schedule on Thursday. At the Dunsborough Lakes campsite, 40 tents were destroyed, leaving hundreds of youngsters without anywhere to sleep, as clothes and belongings were blown into a nearby creek.
Boats in Bunbury, Mosman Park and Bull Creek were sheared from moorings by the strong winds. Surf Lifesaving WA closed all metropolitan and South West beaches because of dangerous conditions. The cold front crossed the coast at Cape Naturaliste at 2.30pm WST, with forecasters warning of wind gusts up to 125km/h into the evening. In regional areas, Dwellingup recorded wind speeds of 89km/h winds and Esperance 94km/h. The Bureau of Meteorology advised severe thunderstorms were likely to produce damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla, South Interior and South East Coastal districts.


Feds Shut Down Organic Peanut Processing Plant - The FDA shut down a large organic peanut processing plant in New Mexico, citing health concerns.
According to the FDA, the plant had sloppy health practices which resulted in eleven batches over a twelve year time span testing positive for salmonella. A recent outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney, which reportedly sickened 41 people across 20 states was linked to the peanut butter processed at the Sunland facility.
"This was the FDA's first use of its registration suspension authority, under the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new authority enables the agency to take this action when food manufactured, processed, packed, received, or held by a facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met."
One wonders, however, at the selectivity of the FDA in its choices of targets. For example, the pharmaceutical company Baxter last year recalled 300,000 Preflucel influenza vaccines due to what it says is an excessive number of adverse events. This was not the first problem with Baxter, however. "Baxter International Inc. in Austria 'unintentionally contaminated samples with the bird flu virus that were used in laboratories in 3 neighbouring countries, raising concern about the potential spread of the deadly disease'. Austria, Germany, Slowenia and the Czech Republic - these are the countries in which labs were hit with dangerous viruses. Not by bioterrorist commandos, but by Baxter. In other words: One of the major global pharmaceutical players seems to have lost control over a virus which is considered by many virologists to be one of the components leading some day to a new pandemic."
Baxter is not the only pharmaceutical company which has come under scrutiny. Concerns have emerged about the safety of AIDS vaccines developed by Aventis Pasteur as well as by the flagship for Big Pharma, Bayer. And on November 21, the FDA granted approval for yet another Baxter vaccine.