Friday, January 18, 2013

Temperatures are expected to be about average for the next three months for most of the United States, scientists with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported Jan. 17. However, there's about a 33 percent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the Northeast and the Southwest, and an even greater chance that west Texas and New Mexico will be unusually balmy.
But don't put away your mittens just yet: The last week of January is expected to be much colder than usual for most of the Northeast, with temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.6 degrees Celsius) below average in the region, said a forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
Drought continues for just under 60 percent of the continental United States, and it's likely to persist through much of the central and southern Great Plains, even extending in some areas to the South and West, where below-average rainfall is forecast. The odds are tilted toward more rain than average for the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region, offering some relief.
The El Niño-La Niña climate cycle, or ENSO, is expected to remain neutral, meaning there will likely be no impacts from an El Niño or La Niña episode. There's also a greater than 30 percent chance for colder-than-average temperatures in a swath ranging from North Dakota west to Oregon and Washington, according to NOAA.
December was warmer and wetter than usual (the whole YEAR WAS THE WARMEST ON RECORD FOR THE UNITED STATES). Temperatures throughout the country were 3.4 degrees F (1.9 degrees C) above average. At the same time, the extent of Arctic sea ice was the second smallest on record for the month, causing problems for seals that depend on the ice, where they live and hunt for fish.
Next week is also likely to be cold for much of the East Coast, thanks to a mass of cold air that is moving across the country from the Southwest, where it caused RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES in the past week.

**To accomplish anything:
Keep going.**

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/17/13 -
None 5.0 or larger.

1/16/13 -

Canada - Quake-damaged Haida Gwaii hot springs slowly trickling back to life. Nature appears to be slowly turning on the taps again at some British Columbia hot springs damaged by an earthquake last fall.

New Zealand - Christchurch rattled by first notable quake in months. The tremor was the 11,000th to hit the area since the magnitude-7.1 shake that sparked the Canterbury earthquake sequence more than two years ago.
A magnitude-3.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch January 17 could be the 11,000th tremor since September 4, 2010. The quake hit at 12.55pm, 15 kilometers east of Christchurch at a depth of 6km. Over 163 people reported feeling the “moderate” shake on the GeoNet website.
11,000 quakes is a significant but expected number for the region to have experienced. “Anyone living there knows what it has been like. However, it is in the range of what we would have expected for a region which has had a large earthquake.” Many of those quakes would not have been felt.
“Many would have been so small they wouldn’t have been noticed. Also, I’m not sure what the minimum magnitude for a quake is that is mapped on that website, but that [11,000] figure would be in the range, I suspect.” They do not expect the number of quakes mapped to go up greatly. “According to the aftershock sequence, the aftershocks will now be further apart and so the number will go up slowly over. There won’t be a huge or sudden increase.”

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 16
Volcano activity of January 15

Italian Eruption Scares Islanders - Italy's Stromboli volcano north of Sicily produced spectacular lava flows and plumes of ash that soared high above the island that shares its name. The volcano has been in a nearly continuous state of eruption since 1934, but the latest activity was so intense that it frightened even long-term residents of Stromboli. The Mayor had to assure the island's 500 inhabitants that they were not at risk.
Vulcanologists said that the small explosions causing concern were due to large bubbles of the lava that were popping as they rose through the volcanic conduit beneath the island. Such activity is actually called “strombolian” — a term derived from that particular volcano’s activity. The latest explosions had been occurring at intervals of only about 30 minutes, sparking concerns.

Hawaii - The orange glow atop Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea was a little stronger January 15 than it has been in recent weeks. The volcano’s lava lake lapped over the inner ledge of its vent, REACHING A NEW HIGH and bring molten rock closer than ever to the floor of Halema’uma’u crater. The level was about 80 feet (25 meters) below the crater floor, THE HIGHEST LEVEL REACHED since the summit vent blasted open in March 2008.
The lava lake last surged on Oct. 23, 2012, when the high mark was measured at 100 feet (31 m) below the crater floor. Since fresh lava appeared atop Kilauea in 2008, the lake level has varied from near the crater to out of sight, more than 650 feet (200 m) beneath the crater floor.
The USGS also reports that activity is up at Pu’u ‘O’o crater, 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the summit in the volcano’s East Rift Zone. The crater was awash with lava flows in recent days, and lava overflowed from its northeast lava lake and north spatter cone. At the coast, oozing flows continues to slowly drop into the ocean.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption at Kilauea’s East Rift Zone. The volcano’s longest continuous rift zone eruption since the 15th century, the massive upwelling has created more than 500 acres of new land.

In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Emang was located approximately 490 nm south-southeast of Diego Garcia. The final warnning has been issued on this system. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

Australia -
Southeast Queensland to experience hot Saturday while a low with a moderate chance of developing into a cyclone may form in the Gulf of Carpentaria today as the monsoon trough strengthens. Weather Bureau forecasters warn of rain and winds of more than 80km/hr and seas to 3m in gulf waters.
North Queensland residents warned to be cyclone ready - North Queensland authorities are warning residents not to be complacent about preparing for severe weather, despite the late start to the wet season. The weather bureau says a low pressure system in the Coral Sea could develop into a cyclone next week on Monday or Tuesday. It is unlikely to cross the coast.


United Kingdom - Snow - Schools and transport hit by disruption. A blanket of snow was expected to cover the UK today, with up to 30cm falling on higher ground.
Hundreds of schools have been closed and transport disrupted as a band of heavy snow affects most of the UK. Cardiff, Bristol and Southampton airports are closed and part of the M4 is shut in Wales. Train companies have put revised timetables in place. A RARE RED ALERT Met Office warning for snow is in place for parts of Wales, meaning severe disruption is likely. There is an amber warning for Northern Ireland and most of England, with snow also due in parts of Scotland.
The Met Office's red warning for snow, which is UNUSUAL and means all non-essential travel should be avoided, applies to the southeastern side of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains until 21:00 GMT on Friday. Red warning areas could see up to 30cm of snow and blizzards. Amber severe weather warnings, which mean be prepared for disruption and only travel if necessary, are also in place until at least 21:00 GMT across large parts of central, western and southern England and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland. Roads across many parts of Wales are described as hazardous and the M4 has been closed in both directions near Bridgend. The Rhigos, Bwlch and Maerdy mountain roads closed at 22:00 GMT on Thursday. London is braced for disruption during the morning rush hour, with contingency Tube service plans in place. British Airways offered those travelling on Friday and over the weekend the chance to change their flights free of charge to a later date.
First Capital Connect ran empty "ghost trains" through the night to keep the tracks as clear of snow as possible on the Great Northern route out of Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn and in south London. National Rail Enquiries reported some Eurostar journeys had been cancelled between London and Brussels. A number of A-roads are already closed in both directions due to ice and snow. Blizzards and strong winds are set to make driving conditions difficult on the roads, and motorists are being warned that heavy snow will arrive in many areas before the morning rush-hour. Driving has been described as "tricky" on the M5 in Somerset, with reports of one lane being impassable in some places.
It was likely to stay very cold over the weekend, with snow likely to be confined to Scotland, north-eastern England and Northern Ireland on Saturday. The Highways Agency has put road ploughs and snow blowers on stand-by to clear major routes.


Australia -
Sydney bakes in HOTTEST DAY ON RECORD as bushfires rage. The Australian city of Sydney is experiencing its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching nearly 46C. A temperature of 45.8C was recorded at Observatory Hill in the city at 14:55 local time (01:55 GMT). Some areas in the wider Sydney region were even hotter, with the town of Penrith, to the west, registering a temperature of 46.5C (116 F).
Firefighters are still battling dozens of wildfires sparked by the intense heat in New South Wales and Victoria. The small town of Licola in eastern Victoria is reported to have been cut off by a 44,500-hectare fire, as its sole access road is blocked. Officials said dozens of people had been evacuated but 10 locals were still there.
A sheep farmer said he and two employees had found themselves trapped on their farm and were "in grave danger". He said they were taking steps to protect their house and farm equipment, but that he was concerned for his livestock, and that the situation could worsen. "I am very worried. But I am hopeful that one of those helicopters will come and get us but I think the smoke might beat them."
Fire crews have been tackling huge fires across Victoria and New South Wales Australia faces wildfires each year as temperatures climb. In February 2009, on what has come to be known as Black Saturday, 173 people were killed in fires in the state of Victoria.
The previous recorded high in Sydney was in January 1939, when the thermometer topped 45.3C at Observatory Hill. The Bureau of Meteorology said that Friday's record-setting temperatures "were not limited to Sydney, with records being set along the coast from Bega (44.6 °C) to Williamtown (44.8 °C). The highest temperature recorded in the Greater Sydney Area was 46.5 °C at Penrith, where observations started in 1995."
Officials in Sydney have warned people to be ready for the heat, take care, avoid strenuous activity and stay out of the sun. The heat has damaged wiring to urban railway lines, bringing delays to much of the network - CityRail have warned passengers to carry water with them. The emergency services has received dozens of calls from people seeking help for heat-related health issues, including dizziness, fainting and vomiting.
The heatwave across Australia in recent weeks has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has had to add a new shade to its colour-coded temperature chart, so the scale now reaches above 50C (122 F). However, meteorologists have forecast a dramatic change in weather overnight in Sydney, with thunder storms expected to bring a rapid drop in temperatures.
Out of control bushfires are threatening communities in Victoria's east. (photo gallery)
At least five houses destroyed in Victoria's east as residents flee bushfire. The massive bushfire burning in eastern Victoria will continue to burn for a couple of weeks.
Victoria's Licola still cut off by fire - The bushfire threat facing the east Victoria community of Licola has been upgraded again and the small town remains cut off.
Reignited New South Wales blaze threatens homes - A fire started by a torched car in NSW's Hunter Valley has reignited and is threatening homes.
The alert status for a bushfire in south NSW has been upgraded by the RFS, who warn it could be about to break containment lines and threaten homes.


FDA approves first flu vaccine grown in insect cells - The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first influenza vaccine produced with the help of an insect virus and recombinant DNA technology, an approach the agency says may make it possible to start production faster in the event of a flu pandemic.

CDC says no worrisome flu patterns in kids, vaccine readily available. Despite the early start to the flu season and widespread activity in most states, no unusual disease patterns have emerged among children, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

Australia - Two Australians have died and a pregnant woman has miscarried following a listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced in Victoria. A recall has been widened of soft cheese manufactured by the Jindi Cheese company after the state's health department said 18 cases of listeria infection had now been linked to the products.
Seven new listeria cases were discovered this week, prompting health department officials to visit the Jindivick factory in Victoria's Gippsland region on Wednesday. The company voluntarily introduced stricter product testing and quality control measures at the factory from January 7, but is voluntarily recalling all batches of cheese manufactured up to and including January 6. It follows an earlier recall of brie and camembert cheeses on December 19 after the first cases were identified.
It was not surprising the new cases emerged this week because listeria has a 70-day incubation period. It is possible more cases could be identified. The factory was closed from December 19 to 30 and any new risk from production until January 6 was considered minimal. "I am satisfied that in combination with the intervention put in place by the first recall and the subsequent recall ...there is no further risk to the public. I have confidence that we have safe production now from Jindi."
The cheese products were being recalled from a large number of retail outlets across Australia. Listeria can come from a number of sources but soft cheeses provide ideal conditions for the bacteria to grow. Vulnerable people including the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients, should not eat soft cheeses. Listeria symptoms are often mild but can become severe in vulnerable patients. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains.


- Homestead Creamery Artisan Cheese Removed from Store Shelves