Sunday, June 2, 2013

It was a terrifying evening of tornado chaos and extreme atmospheric violence in the Oklahoma City area on Friday. Three tornadoes touched down near the city, killing nine, injuring at least 71, and causing widespread destruction. Huge hail up to baseball-sized battered portions the the metro area, accompanied by torrential flooding rains, widespread damaging straight-line winds, and lightning that flashed nearly continuously.
The strongest tornado, which touched down west of Oklahoma City in El Reno, has been preliminarily rated an EF-3 with 136 - 165 mph winds. The tornado warning for the storm was issued 19 minutes before it touched down. Two other EF-3 tornadoes touched down near St. Louis, Missouri, and NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged 20 preliminary tornado reports on Friday.
Tinker Air Force Base on the east side of Oklahoma City reported sustained winds of 68 mph, gusting to 88 mph, at 8:09 pm CDT. The Oklahoma City airport had sustained winds of 53 mph, gusting to 71 mph at 7:26 pm. These winds were generated by the massive and powerful downdrafts from the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the El Reno tornado.
At least five of the deaths in Friday's El Reno tornado occurred in vehicles attempting to flee. Thousands of cars were bumper-to-bumper on the roads as a dangerous tornado approached them. Had the El Reno tornado plowed directly down one of these car-choked interstates, the death toll could have easily exceeded 500.
There was one local TV station that urged residents without underground shelters to get in their cars and "get south" in advance of the tornado that was approaching Oklahoma City, since chasers were reporting that the El Reno tornado may have been so strong that only an underground shelter would have provided adequate protection. This terrible piece of advice likely contributed to the incredible traffic jams on I-35, I-40, I-44, and other local roads Friday night. Some roads became six-lane highways as everyone panicked and drove on the wrong side of the road.
Getting in a car and attempting to flee the tornado is the worst thing you can do in an urban area. You may not be able to see the tornado if it is dark or the tornado is wrapped in rain. You are likely to encounter hazardous winds, rain, and hail, run into unexpected traffic, or flooded or debris-blocked roads that will put you directly in the path of the tornado. It's better to abandon your vehicle and take shelter in a ditch, if you are caught in a car during a tornado.
Cars and tornadoes can prove a dangerous mix even for the world's most experienced storm chasers. Tornadoes by their nature are unpredictable, and can change course unexpectedly, or pop up suddenly. It's particularly dangerous when a tornado is wrapped in rain, making it hard to see, or if a chaser is operating in a heavily populated area, where roads may suddenly become congested. All four of these conditions occurred Friday during the El Reno tornado, and it is very fortunate that multiple chasers were not killed. "We thought we were clear until we saw the TRAINING OF TORNADIC SUPERCELLS on radar, ALL CONNECTED SOMEHOW. I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT."
Even without an underground shelter, most people indoors will be able to survive a dangerous EF-4 tornado. If you are located in a metro area and don't have an underground shelter, the best thing to do it to take shelter in an interior windowless room or hallway, with protective furniture over your body.
The 5.64" of rain that fell at the Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport on Friday was their 6th wettest day in city history, and brought the total rainfall for the month of May to 14.52", the WETTEST MAY IN OKLAHOMA CITY'S HISTORY. The North Canadian River in Oklahoma City rose sixteen feet in twelve hours, cresting at its 2nd highest flood on record Saturday morning. The heavy rains spread eastwards on Saturday, causing more flooding problems. Paducah, KY had its wettest June day and 3rd wettest day on record on June 1, with 5.73" of rain (all-time record: 7.49" on 9/5/1985.) Major flooding is occurring along a substantial stretch of the Mississippi River in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.
Thankfully, Friday was likely the peak day for this week's severe weather outbreak, as SPC was calling for only a "Slight Risk" of severe weather Saturday and Sunday.
UPDATE - The tornadoes have killed at least 14 people, as flooding hampered cleanup efforts in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office announced nine fatalities in the state and said five of the victims had not been identified, while the sheriffs' offices in towns east of Oklahoma City confirmed two other people had died. In Missouri, authorities said three people died from severe flooding in the wake of the storms. Streets turned into rivers, with stranded cars submerged in water as high as their door handles in some places. A massive sink hole off a major road developed due to the deluge, halting traffic.

**The human brain is a wonderful thing.
It starts working the moment you are born,
and never stops
until you stand up to speak in public.**
George Jessel


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/1/13 -

5/31/13 -

New Zealand - Quake-hit residents now face flood risk. In South New Brighton, worried residents are poring over Lidar charts - the aerial radar mapping of post-earthquake ground levels - to see where the water will get to if it over-runs their sunken stopbanks and spreads along their sunken roads.
In Sumner, Parklands and Avondale, even way up river in Fendalton, homeowners have been realising what it might mean: after the earthquakes, Christchurch has dropped by 20 to 30 centimetres in many places and, in others, by quite a lot more. Flooding was always Christchurch's major natural hazard - a more immediate threat than earthquakes. But after four big quakes and, faced with a metre of sea-level rise over the next century, many more properties have become vulnerable to tidal surges and overflowing rivers.
And the question is, are the authorities doing enough? Is Christchurch's recovery taking sufficient account of its increased flood risk or are people having houses repaired where they can expect to be swamped by brackish muddy waters within a few short years? It could be just a sign of the dark times, but there is widespread suspicion of a dodge and cover-up going on. Insurance companies are trying to fix houses as they stand, even where the ground has fallen inside an official flood management area. And no-one seems to be warning homeowners to consider the long-term consequences.
"There should be a managed retreat from the affected areas. But ultimately it's too expensive. For the Government, there's so much else happening that it's leaving it up to the individual households." Unless there are payouts that allow houses to be lifted and put on solid foundations, there is the real prospect of the council slapping on hazard notices at some later date, making people's homes uninsurable and unsellable. Fears are rising rapidly in the east. The flooding issue is being seen as the latest symptom of how the residential recovery is being "smoke and mirrored".
But are the authorities handling the recovery improperly? Are they captive to the wishes of the insurance industry, looking for the fastest exit from an overwhelming problem? Where does the truth lie in a very complicated situation? Complicating the recovery for Christchurch is that coincidentally, on the eve of the quakes, it brought in new planning restrictions in an attempt to deal with future sea rises. New Zealand has two options. Either it can wall its cities behind dykes or mount a "managed retreat". In other words, accept the sea will take people's land. And realistically, the first is not an option. As spelt out in the 2010 New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, the general plan is to rely on land use regulations that will steadily move Kiwi homeowners back from the sea over the next century.

Devastating Earthquake Predicted In Himalayas - A devastating earthquake is expected in Himalayan region stretching from Indian Administrated Kashmir to Northern Pakistani areas, a latest scientific research has revealed. “The projected strike length of the fault would be 120 km which consists of 80 km strike length of the mapped fault and 40 k length from the implied portion." The study anticipates a magnitude 7.6 quake happening on this fault line.
Unearthing records of 13 major historical earthquakes in the valley over the last millennium, the study indicates that Kashmir Valley is a locus of active deformation. “There are a few active faults in the Kashmir Basin and which are capable to host a magnitute 7.6 earthquake, big enough to shake the entire valley." An earthquake of similar magnitude struck Northern Pakistan and Kashmir regions in 2005 which killed at least 73,000 people.
The report says that the on-going collision deformation along the 2,000-km long Himalayan orogenic belt is distributed differently along the central and western portions of the belt. The study concludes the fault trace could be continuous over a distance of 210 km and might connect on the west with the Balakot Bagh fault. Balakot is the second most affected city by 2005 disaster in Northern Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
It concludes that Kashmir Basin fault is an independent thrust, a possible ramp on the Main Himalayan Thrust that has uplifting the south-western portion of the KB and drowning everything to the north-east of it. The study found a clear geomorphic evidence of active thrusting in the Kashmir basin and possibility of a fault stepping. It also forecasts that Balakot Bagh may continue on the east as the Riasi Thrust and the Kashmir Basin fault.
The seismologist believes that the investigations will further unravel the earthquake chronology of the region where earthquake research is extremely important for hazard mitigation. Strict building code must be imposed to promote earthquake resistant structures. In the past years other geologists have also presented similar scientific calculations about the arrival of a devastating earthquake in the Himalayas.

Volcano Webcams

Mayon volcano exhibiting abnormal behavior - Alert Level on Mayon Volcano in the northern Philippine province of Albay has been risen to Level 1 after exhibiting abnormal behavior. The level of the volcanic alarm was raised Friday afternoon after volcanologists noted mainly bluish steam emissions, a persistent, although weak, crater glow , and Phivolcs’ instruments had detected slight bulging or inflations in two areas of the volcano’s structure — one on the northwest side facing Barangay Buang in Tabaco City; and the other on the southwest section facing Barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo town.
The volcano’s slight deformation and crater glow might be an indication that magma activity was increasing beneath the volcano. However, that there were no indications of an imminent eruption as the other characteristics were not yet present, such as low and high frequency volcanic quakes, high sulphur dioxide emissions, lava fountaining, lava flows, magmatic activities, pyroclastic flows and steam and ash explosions. The raising of alert status directed local disaster councils, various village chiefs, the police and the military to enforce the “no human activity” restriction, including mountain climbing, farming, orchids gathering and ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours within the danger zone.
In its bulletin on Saturday morning, Phivolcs said that during its past 36-hour observation period, Mount Mayon continued to emit weak and short-lived bluish fumes with persistent crater glow of Intensity 1 (weak). The volcano had a steam-driven phreatic explosion on May 7 that sent a three-kilometer-high ash cloud, killing five mountaineers. Mount Mayon’s last recorded eruption was in December 2009 during which 8,637 families or 40,991 persons living in 30 villages at the foot of the volcanoe had to be evacuated. Phivolcs strongly reiterated that the six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone was off-limits to the public because of the constant danger of rockfalls, avalanches, ash puffs and sudden phreatic or steam-driven eruptions.

Chile to lower Copahue volcano red alert, Argentina extends evacuations - Chilean authorities were planning to lower the alert level in the upcoming hours, while authorities of the Southern province of Neuquén maintain the red alert expecting an “imminent eruption” of the Copahue volcano. Chilean Geological Mining Service' risk programme (Sernageomin), assured that the volcanic activity "has decreased in the previous days comparing to last week." They reported evacuation of 3,000 people, 700 of them on the Argentine side.
“Having said this, we suppose that the eruption risk has already passed...The situation is still unstable” which requires keeping track of the “volcano’s performance." Meanwhile, an Argentine Cabinet official said he respected the Chilean's "personal opinion" but explained their volcanologist has advised to keep the red alert" in Argentina's territory. "Lava is climbing up slowly" and the Copahue volcano "has the last word" in deciding to keep the red alert and continue with evacuations "at least till Sunday."


No current tropical storms.

Samoa economy begins to recover after cyclone - New economic figures show Samoa's economy is starting to recover from Cyclone Evan, almost six months after it tore through the island's capital Apia, causing death and destruction.


Extreme Weather Whips Areas of the Midwest and West United States - Flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas overnight Thursday, and a new string of severe storms marched across the nation's midsection Friday. Up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in Arkansas alone, as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma that caused structural damage to homes. The storm system brought heavy rain with it, making flash flooding a problem across the region.
In the Western U.S., firefighters fought two growing wildfires. A rapidly moving blaze some 25 miles west of Santa Fe, New Mexico, already has already scorched 1,000 acres and jumped a highway. Meanwhile, 500 firefighters in California tried to control a 1,400-acre wildfire in the Angeles National Forest, north of Los Angeles. It was only 15 percent contained.

Iowa's weather has been weird, downright extreme, recently - May began with snow, then brutally hot temperatures, and now drought-busting rains as Iowa experiences its WETTEST SPRING EVER. A week's worth of downpours threatens serious damage in Iowa City, with streets under water and residents evacuating some neighborhoods. Nearly five years from when a so-called "500-year flood" wreaked havoc on several parts of eastern Iowa, residents in Iowa City fear the days ahead will bring a repeat. While some homeowners packed up their belongings and headed for higher, drier ground, others fished in the Iowa River, which has spilled into their yards.

This now ranks as one of the wettest and coolest springs in Minnesota history - For the 4th consecutive month Minnesota observers reported monthly mean temperatures that were cooler than normal. Most reports ranged from 1 to 3 degrees F cooler than normal for May. Combined with the temperature data for March and April, the overall spring temperatures (March-May) were the third coldest in state history, trailing only 1907, and 1950.
Most observers reported above normal precipitation for the month of May, ranging from 4 to 6 inches. In many southern counties monthly precipitation was well above normal, and in some areas record-setting. Those reporting a NEW RECORD WET MAY included: Austin (10.97"), Grand Meadow (14.39"), La Crescent (10.18"), Rochester (10.56"), Spring Valley (12.23"), and Theilman (10.55"). In addition, many observers reported precipitation on over 20 days during the month.
Combined with the precipitation for March and April, the overall spring season (March-May) was THE WETTEST IN HISTORY FOR SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA, saturating soils, and putting streams and rivers near bank full. The snow storm over the first few days of May established some records in southeastern Minnesota as well. Dodge Center reported a statewide daily RECORD SNOWFALL FOR MAY for May with 15.4 inches on the 2nd. Snow totals ranged from 9 inches (Albert Lea) to 17.3 inches (Ellendale) across many areas of southern Minnesota in ONE OF THE SNOWIEST MAYS IN STATE HISTORY.

Germany braces for more flooding - Water levels on German's Rhine, Danube and Neckar rivers are rising steadily, with many smaller streams also threatening to break their banks.


British Columbia, Canada, needs to produce more food while contending with rising seas, diminishing water resources and changing patterns of rain and drought, according to a new report by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The idea that climate change will expand agricultural opportunities for B.C. farmers is false, says the lead author of the report. "The scope, scale and pace of climate change are expected to exceed anything previously experienced. This affects everything on the farm including the viability of certain crops, reliability of water supply, and having to cope with new pests, diseases and more extreme weather events."
Recent events, such as the rise of cherry-destroying spotted wing drosophila in the Okanagan in 2009, the extreme wet weather that ruined most of Delta's root crops in 2010 and the 2012 drought in the Peace River region, are the kind of challenges predicted by climate change. Sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 1.2 metres in the Fraser Delta, raising the risk of flooding and salination on B.C.'s most productive farmland. Flood risk will be exacerbated by increasing extreme weather and rising cool season precipitation, the report warns.
The report notes that California produces most of the fruits and vegetables consumed in B.C., but farmers there are facing water shortages that are likely to worsen over time. The San Joaquin Valley — which produces about one eighth of the food supply in the United States — will receive only 20 per cent of its normal allocation of irrigation water in 2013. Summer drought is already becoming more frequent in B.C. and has severely damaged crops in the United States, Russia and Australia in recent years. "We need to increase food capacity in B.C. Uneven supply and input costs are going to affect food production and the price of food here."
Rice crop failures in Southeast Asia and wheat scarcity in Russia have resulted in export bans that caused price shocks all over the world. The report calls on governments to formulate more adaptive responses to changing conditions faced by the province's farmers, plan for greater food security and complete an in-depth risk assessment for commodities grown in B.C.


GEOMAGNETIC STORM, SUBSIDING - Interplanetary shock wave: source unknown. Earth's magnetic field was calming down on June 1st following nearly 15 hours of non-stop geomagnetic storming. The storminess was caused by the arrival of an interplanetary shock wave on May 31st (1618 UT). The source of the shock is unknown.
Current speculation focuses on a corotating interaction region (CIR) -- a shock-like transition zone between high- and low-speed solar wind streams. Whatever it was, the impact ignited some beautiful auroras. More storms could be in the offing tonight as the solar wind continues to blow faster than 600 km/s.
Last night, Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border into more than a dozen US states, turning the sky purple and green as far south as Colorado and Nebraska.
NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: On May 30-31, sky watchers across northern Europe witnessed a vivid display of noctilucent ("night-shining") clouds. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) form near the top of Earth's polar atmosphere when water vapor from the planet below mixes with meteor debris from space. They appear during summer because that is when the mesosphere is coldest and most humid.
This year, NLCs appeared early, more than a full month before the solstice, setting the stage for an unusually good NLC-watching season. High latitude sky watchers should be alert for NLCs in the evenings ahead. In recent years they have been sighted as far south as Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska.


Italy resident has MERS after trip to Jordan - Italy announced its first Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case, in a man who recently spent time in Jordan, site of the first known MERS illnesses.

China ends local emergency responses to H7N9 - Local emergency responses to H7N9 influenza outbreaks in China have all ended, as the World Health Organization (WHO) released an overview of what has been learned about the virus and the disease since it emerged 2 months ago.

Frozen berry mix sparks hepatitis A outbreak in 5 states - A hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to a berry mix sold in Costco stores.