Friday, December 28, 2012

**People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.**
Albert Camus

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
12/27/12 -

Volcano Webcams

1500 farmers stay put as volcano erupts in Nicaragua - About 1500 farmers living on the slopes of the San Cristobal volcano have refused to leave, despite being ordered to evacuate as the volcano spews gas, sand and ash. "People have not evacuated because we do not want to go." The San Cristobal volcano is located near Chinandegga City, some 150 km (93 miles) north of the capital Managua. On Wednesday, Nicaragua started evacuating more than 300 families in a radius of three kilometers from San Cristobal Volcano, north Chinandega, because of its increased activity. Officials also declared an amber alert for five sq km ( two sq miles) around the volcano, which began spewing ash and gas on Tuesday.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression 27w (Wukong) was located approximately 330 nm east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Tropical storm Wukong has left at least four people dead in the Philippines, which is still recovering from a typhoon earlier this month that killed over a thousand people. Officials say three people were also missing as the storm cut through the central Philippines on Thursday, overflowing rivers, flooding towns, and making many roads impassable.
Three people died when a tree fell on their house in Eastern Samar province. Another was killed in a landslide in Iloilo province. More than 6,000 people fled to evacuation centers to escape the storm, which was expected to weaken as it moved over the western resort island of Palawan on Thursday.
Wukong was not as powerful as Typhoon Bopha, which hit the southern Philippines on December 4, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving hundreds more missing. The country is vulnerable to severe flooding caused by heavy rains and tsunamis. It is hit by about 20 major storms or typhoons each year.


U.S. - Storm blows through East; 135,000 in dark in Arkansas. A muted version of a winter storm that has killed more than a dozen people across the eastern half of the country plodded across the Northeast on Thursday, trapping airliners in snow or mud and frustrating travelers still trying to return home after Christmas.
The storm, which was blamed for at least 16 deaths farther south and west, brought plenty of wind, rain and snow to the Northeast when it blew in Wednesday night. Lights generally remained on and cars mostly stayed on the road, unlike many harder-hit places including Arkansas, where 200,000 homes and businesses lost power.
By afternoon, the precipitation had stopped in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts, though snow continued to fall in upstate New York and northern New England. Parts of snow-savvy New Hampshire expected as much as 18 inches. The Northeast's heaviest snowfall was in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and inland sections of several New England states. The storm was expected to head into Canada on Friday.
While the East Coast's largest cities — New York, Philadelphia and Boston — saw mostly high winds and cold rain, other areas experienced a messy mix of rain and snow that slowed commuters and those still heading home from holiday trips. Some inbound flights were delayed in Philadelphia and New York's LaGuardia Airport, but the weather wasn't leading to delays at other major East Coast airports.
Earlier, the storm system spawned tornadoes on Christmas along the Gulf Coast. Deaths from wind-toppled trees were reported in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most of the fatalities. Two people were killed in Kentucky crashes, a New York man was killed after his pickup truck skidded on an icy road in northwest Pennsylvania and an Ohio teenager died after losing control of her car and smashing into an oncoming snowplow.
In Arkansas, where two people died in a head-on collision, some of those who lost electricity could be without it for as long as a week because of snapped poles and wires after ice and 10 inches of snow coated power lines. By Thursday evening, power to thousands of customers had been restored, but more than 135,000 homes and businesses remained in the dark.
Farther east, the storm knocked out power to more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. In New Jersey, gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded along the coast, and the weather service issued a flood warning for some coastal areas. There were about 800 power outages in Vermont, but only a handful in neighboring New Hampshire. Schools on break and workers taking holiday vacations meant that many people could avoid messy commutes, but those who had to travel were urged to avoid it.


They've always accused of being obsessed with the weather in the UK - but this year they've had a good excuse. In 2012, they've swung from droughts to floods, hot to cold. The impact has been felt far and wide, not least by the UK's burgeoning wine industry.
The culprit for much of the extreme weather that the UK has seen this year is the jet stream. Usually, this river of air in the upper atmosphere flows in a fairly straight line from the east coast of America, east across the Atlantic. It fluctuates a little all the time, but this year, it underwent large variations and then got locked in these UNUSUAL PATTERNS.
"When the jet stream moves up to the north, and then travels back down to the UK, it brings with it cold air, blizzards, very severe and unpleasant weather from that perspective. On the other hand, when the jet stream moves south, then we get these periods of intense flooding, which we have seen through the second part of this year."
"The question of how it will change is still a very active research problem, and we don't have clear-cut answers yet. But I think there is quite a big possibility that what we will see is the jet stream undergoing quite dramatic and erratic excursions." And the UK's geographical position under the jet stream means that they could see the worst of this.
"I think it is a bit unwise, and possibly even a bit dangerous, to think that the climate of the UK will just gradually warm and we'll transition to a more balmy southern European climate. If the ideas about a more fluctuating jet stream are correct, then in fact what we will be seeing is a climate with many more extremes: both extremes of wetness and flooding on the one hand, and extremes and dryness and possibly even coldness on the other."
The exact course that the UK's climate will take is still uncertain, and scientists say they need more powerful computers and better climate models to improve how they predict their future weather. Despite this, the Environment Agency is starting to prepare for a change in their weather patterns. Flooding is a particular concern, and the agency has been working to put more early flood warnings and flood defences in place.
"If you think back to the major flooding in the summer of 2007, not only were there a large number of properties affected by the flooding, there were also some key bits of infrastructure - electricity substations and water treatment plants, which were serious threatened. We've been trying to make sure over the period since then that our infrastructure is better protected." Other industries, such as agriculture, also need to start planning ahead.
Scientists at Kew are looking at a variety of crops from around the world that could potentially survive a more changeable climate in the UK. "If you look at other parts of the world where you have droughts, for example, there are a lot of your mints, thymes, rosemarys that actually do quite well under warmer and drier conditions....With the UK, I think one of the things we really need to do is to go back and look at some of our old varieties of crops. To go back, look for some traits associated with possible drought tolerance, or other extremes of conditions, and that can be your barleys, your oats, your peas."
But finding a plant that can cope with every kind of weather won't be easy. "It would be difficult to come up with an ideal plant that is able to tolerate drought and then tolerate very, very heavy rain and flooding. Out there in nature there is likely to be some kind of solution - the trick is to be able to identify it."


SOLAR CYCLE UPDATE - 2013 is only days away, and according to most forecasters, Solar Max should be approaching as well. But is it? Declining sunspot counts and anemic solar activity suggest an interesting possibility: Perhaps Solar Max has already passed. So far, Solar Cycle 24 is underperforming even compared to the NOAA led Solar Cycle Prediction Panel's low expectations. There is still a strong chance that Cycle 24 will rebound and peak in 2013 as expected. It might even be a double-peaked cycle like the cycle before it. As 2013 nears only one thing is certain: WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. (graph)


Measles vaccine failures, typhoid vaccine shortage -
Canadian outbreak showed measles vulnerability even with vaccination. Despite very high measles immunization coverage in Quebec, the province was the site in 2011 of the largest measles outbreak in North America in the past decade. A study of the outbreak found an unexpected vulnerability to illness even in recipients of a two-dose vaccination regimen. Confirmed cases in the outbreak numbered 725, with 678 of them resulting from one super-spreading importation. Overall, adolescents aged 12 to 17 years made up 56% of the cases in Quebec. Among patients in this age-group, 22% had received two doses of vaccine; illness was milder and was associated with a significantly lower risk of hospitalization in these patients compared with unvaccinated patients and those who had received just one dose. The Quebec epidemic "provides an opportunity for jurisdictions with a stated goal of measles elimination to reflect both on the very tight levels of population immunity required and how tenuous these levels may be."

UK faces typhoid vaccine shortage - International travelers in the United Kingdom are facing shortages of typhoid vaccine related to an October recall of a product made by Sanofi Pasteur. The immunization is typically given to travelers free by the National Health Service, but many doctor's offices and some private travel medicine clinics have run out of doses. Stocks of Typhim Vi are still running low and the shortage many last through early 2013. The shortage has been exacerbated by a decision by GlaxoSmithKline, another typhoid vaccine maker, to focus on other vaccines for childhood immunization programs. So far there is no indication that the shortage is affecting patients from the United States. In October the CDC posted an announcement about the Sanofi recall on its travelers' health page noting that the six recalled vaccine lots may have lower antigen content than intended, though the company wasn't recommending that people who had received vaccine from the recalled lots be revaccinated.