Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Alaska Peninsula, another volcano awakens - Another Alaska volcano has grumbled to life. Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula awoke Monday morning, kicking off a "low-level eruption of lava," according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Pavlof, about 30 miles northeast of the community of King Cove, is a frequently-active volcano that last erupted in 2007.
Shortly after 11:30 Monday, the AVO posted the following update to its website on the status of Pavlof volcano: "Seismic activity at Pavlof Volcano increased this morning commensurate with the presence of an intense thermal anomaly at the summit observed in the latest satellite imagery. Similar patterns of seismicity and elevated surface temperatures have previously signaled the onset of eruptive activity at Pavlof. Although not yet visually confirmed, a low-level eruption of lava has likely begun from a summit vent. No ash clouds have been detected."
The AVO also elevated the alert level at the volcano to "orange," indicating heightened activity and possible further eruption. Unlike Mount Cleveland -- a remote volcano located on a small Aleutian island and the only other volcano exhibiting activity in the Last Frontier at the moment -- there is an extensive monitoring system set up at Pavlof due to its location and how often it's active. "There’s a full seismic network on Pavlof. It’s historically about the most active volcano in the Aleutian Arc ... it’s had around 40 or 41 eruptions. It doesn’t have large eruptions, but it erupts frequently." There is also satellite imagery and usually a webcam monitoring the peak, though that camera is currently offline.
Reports of possible eruptions at the volcano date back to 1762, when historical accounts suggested an eruption in the area, though that activity may also have come from Pavlof Sister, another eruptive peak very close by. The most recent eruption at Pavlof, in 2007, featured spitting lava and small ash clouds during a month-long stretch of heightened activity. "Nothing unusual was observed during the summer of 2007 and the seismicity was at background levels through Aug. 13. Abruptly on the morning of Aug. 14, the five-station seismic network on Pavlof began recording low-frequency earthquakes occurring at a rate of two to seven events every 10 minutes, a pattern that had preceded eruptions in 1996, 1986, 1983, and 1981."
Scientists expect this most recent activity to resemble the 2007 event. Pavlof does not have a large caldera where lava builds, but rather numerous vents around the peak where gases build up and lava escapes. In such "fountaining" events, "a bubble of lava rises to the surface and sort of 'pops' and spews out chunks and blobs of lava." This is also different from the often-active Cleveland volcano, which usually sees a slowly building lava dome, which can lead to further eruptions and bursts of ash from the caldera. Cleveland was upgraded again on May 4, when satellite imagery caught a small event at the peak.
Keep an eye on Pavlof, and Alaska's other volcanoes, at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

**As you get older three things happen.
The first is your memory goes.
And I can’t remember the other two.**
Norman Wisdom


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/13/13 -
None 5.0 or higher

Earthquakes in Iran spark fears across the region - Earthquakes have been rocking Iran — sending a wave of fear across the region.
An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale on Sunday jolted southern Iran close to the Strait of Hormuz around 2.45pm UAE time. The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology recorded the quake, saying that it was an aftershock of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Iran’s southern Hormozgan province early on Saturday. The epicentre of the earthquake was located some 20km deep inside the earth, some 207km to the northeast of Ras Al Khaimah. Tremors were, however, not felt anywhere in the UAE.
Continuous earthquakes in seismically active Iran have been a source of concern for people in neighbouring countries, including the UAE. In just one month, hundreds of minor to moderate intensity quakes have rocked Iran, some of them even jolting parts of the UAE. The biggest quake in 50 years hit Iran last month with a magnitude of 7.8. It came a week after another struck near the Iranian port city of Bushehr that houses Iran’s controversial nuclear power plant. There was, however, no damage reported to the plant.
The phenomenon gave way to rumours in the UAE saying that a severe earthquake would hit the region. It was swiftly denied by the NCMS and the US Geological Survey. People are still worried — despite the fact scientists have repeatedly said that nobody can predict when and where an earthquake will hit.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity on Sunday - Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The activity continued to increase over the past days and CENAPRED raised the alert level to Yellow Phase 3 in the morning. The volcano has been producing frequent sequences of continuous steam and ash emissions as well as discrete vulcanian-type explosions that throw glowing bombs to several hundred meters distance from the crater and create ash plumes up to about 2 km high. A phase of strong volcanic tremor occurred Sunday and a large SO2 plume visible on NOAA satellite data accompanies increased lava output rate.
Tungurahua (Ecuador): Seismic and surface activity remain moderate with ash emissions and intermittent strong strombolian to vulcanian explosions which sometimes are accompanied by ground vibration and strong shock waves that rattle windows and doors in nearby areas. An explosion on Friday produced an ash plume rising up to 30,000 ft (9 km) elevation. Ash falls have been occurring in areas of Santa Fe de Galán, Mocha, Sabañag, Tisaleo and Quero.
Sabancaya (Peru): Possible eruptions have started at the volcano. Pilots reported several volcanic ash plumes from the volcano in the past days although VAAC Buenos Aires could not identify ash on satellite imagery.
Copahue (Chile/Argentina): SERNAGEOMIN has recently raised the alert back to yellow after new small explosions occurred at the volcano and incandescence was observed at the summit crater. A small but persistent steam-and-ash plume has been rising about 350 m from the volcano. Interestingly, little change in the seismic activity has been noticed with the incandescence and explosions, so it is not clear whether this new activity is caused by fresh magma rising towards the surface.


In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone Mahasen was located approximately 562 nm south-southwest of Kolkata, India.


Another twist to the weather - U.S. tornadoes are few, and far between. Add tornadoes — or rather, the lack of them — to the latest round of weather phenomena. Iowa is on the verge of setting a record for most consecutive days without a EF1 tornado, according to the National Weather Service. Nebraska is about 20 days from doing the same.
Nationwide, a RECORD RECENTLY SET FOR THE FEWEST EF1 TORNADOES IN A 12-MONTH PERIOD. An EF1 tornado has wind speeds of at least 86 mph. The reason for so few tornadoes? The weather pattern that established historic drought across the region last year also suffocated tornado development.
This year, we have opposite conditions but the same result. The weather pattern that has allowed spring to be so cool and wet has robbed the atmosphere of the instability needed to spawn tornadoes. Extreme weather has led to a number of records lately, including 2012 as NEBRASKA'S HOTTEST, DRIEST YEAR. This May is SETTING RECORDS FOR SNOWFALL.
The last time Iowa had a confirmed tornado was May 24, 2012. If no tornadoes occur through Wednesday, the state will surpass the record of 355 days set at the end of April 1956. “To have gone this long without one is PRETTY EXTRAORDINARY.”
Preliminary numbers for May 2012 through April 2013 indicate that 197 tornadoes rated EF1 or stronger occurred in the United States. Lesser tornadoes weren't factored into this analysis because they cause little damage and may even have gone unnoticed in the past, so the historical record is considered suspect. Also notable: The tornado drought is occurring two years after the worst year for total tornadoes. From May 2010 through June 2011, more than 1,000 EF1 or stronger tornadoes occurred.
The Nebraska record for consecutive days without a tornado is 371, ending May 3, 2003. As of today, Nebraska has gone 354 days since its last EF1 or stronger tornado. Nebraska has had a handful of EF0 tornadoes — those with winds up to 85 mph — in the past year. As is typically the case, they caused no noticeable damage.
Tornado droughts make weather experts nervous. They worry that the public will become complacent. “We're looking at a lull now, but the switch could go on at anytime. That's something people need to know.” Tornado season in Nebraska and Iowa typically kicks into gear in May and peaks in June. The ingredient that has been missing this spring has been a flow of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Pent up for now, Gulf air eventually will cut loose and flow north. When that happens, the potential for tornadoes will rise. Annual tornado numbers are deceptive, because tornadoes occur in swarms. High-number years typically get those numbers from intense tornado outbreaks. May 22, 2004, is an example. About 60 tornadoes occurred across the region that day, including one that obliterated Hallam, Nebraska. “We need to be prepared and on our toes.”


Another space rock strikes Earth - Another meteorite struck a home in Connecticut. Superstition rose in Connecticut this week as yet another meteor was discovered in a Connecticut town beginning with the letter “W.” “That’s just crazy. It’s just unbelievable,”a Waterbury resident said as his home was the most recent to have been impacted by the falling space rocks. His wife found the asteroid in their front gutter when he noticed it leaking, and she called Yale University, which is currently examining the asteroid.
The high density, dark crust and high magnetism confirm that it is a meteorite. Scientists at Yale believe that this meteorite is related to a similar meteorite discovery just 19 days prior in nearby town Wolcott. “The first impression is that you would think that the two are connected. The Waterbury one was not an ‘observed fall,’ so we really don’t know exactly when it fell. We do know that it fell very recently, however.” The Waterbury asteroid is small enough to hold in your hand and weighs about 1.6 pounds.
Oddly, all except one reported meteor strike in Connecticut have occurred in towns beginning with the letter “W.” Weston and Wethersfield are the two other towns to have seen asteroids in the past. However, it is apparently just a coincidence. “The Earth is hit by 15,000 tons of extraterrestrial material a year.” Due to Connecticut’s dense population there is a larger chance for discovery there.
The Weston meteorite fell in 1807. During that time, rocks were not supposed to fall from the sky, and people were both confused and terrified. The meteorite illuminated the landscape, with reports of viewing from as far away as Virginia, and it split as it entered the atmosphere, resulting in scattered pieces across the Connecticut landscape.


New tool for retail delis to target Listeria contamination - Federal food regulators unveiled an extensive study of how Listeria monocytogenes behaves in a retail delicatessen that they hope merchants, food producers, and even consumers will use as a 'virtual deli' to better understand contamination and prevention steps.

[Next three items are all at this link] RECORD WEST NILE DEATHS IN 2012 in the U.S. US states confirmed 5,674 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) disease last year, the highest since 2003, and 286 West Nile deaths, THE MOST EVER. Of the cases reported in the contiguous 48 states, 2,873 (51%) were classified as the more serious neuroinvasive form, which includes manifestations such as meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid paralysis.
Texas accounted for a third (1,868) of all WNV cases, and 62% of cases were concentrated in seven states: California, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. "Last summer's outbreak likely resulted from many factors, including higher-than-normal temperatures that influenced mosquito and bird abundance, the replication of the virus in its host mosquitoes, and interactions of birds and mosquitoes in hard-hit areas." The best way to prevent WNV disease is to avoid mosquito bites.

Somalia's first wild poliovirus case since 2007 triggers alert - A report of Somalia's first wild poliovirus (WPV) case since 2007 has triggered a surveillance alert and mass vaccination plans. The preliminary report of a WPV came from the Banadir region, where the virus was found in specimens collected Apr 21 from a 32-month-old girl who had acute flaccid paralysis and in specimens from three of her contacts. Because large parts of central and southern Somalia have not run vaccination drives since 2009, "the confirmation of WPV circulation would constitute a serious national and international risk to public health." A surveillance alert has been announced for all of Somalia and neighboring areas of northern Kenya and eastern Ethiopia. Also, plans call for an oral polio vaccine drive targeting all children under age 5 in the Banadir region, starting May 14.

Billions still without access to proper sanitation - Although 1.9 billion more people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, about 2.5 billion people, or A THIRD OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION, will remain without such access in 2015. "There is an urgent need to ensure all the necessary pieces are in place — political commitment, funding, leadership — so the world can accelerate progress and reach the Millennium Development Goal sanitation target."
64% of the world's population had access to improved sanitation facilities. And of the 2.5 billion who lack access to improved sanitation, 761 million use public or shared sanitation facilities and 693 million use facilities that do not meet minimum hygiene standards. On the upside, the 2015 goal for drinking-water access was surpassed in 2010, but about 768 million people are still without improved sources for drinking water.