Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hungary floods - Villagers evacuated as precaution. Dozens of settlements are facing RECORD FLOOD WATERS in Hungary. The authorities have been evacuating people from a village in western Hungary as a precaution against flooding along the River Danube. About 2,000 people were moved from Gyorujfalu late on Friday. Frantic flood defence work is taking place in the area. Some small towns and villages have been cut off and river levels are expected to peak in Budapest on Monday.
Widespread flooding in central Europe has inundated swathes of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, killing at least 15 people. In Hungary, the emergency services and volunteers are working to prevent the devastation seen last week further upstream in Germany. Along more than 700km (470 miles) of the river, thousands of people, including many volunteers and even convicts from the prisons, are reinforcing earth and sandbag barriers.
Late on Friday, villagers were evacuated from Gyorujfalu, near the city of Gyor, because a dyke weakened after a landslide. "The dyke is so far stable but water pressure is so high that we decided to evacuate Gyorujfalu due to safety considerations." Dozens of settlements along the Danube are facing record flood waters but so far the defences are holding.
There is a sense of siege in the capital Budapest, where river levels are expected to be at their highest early on Monday. Forecasters say levels could rise up to 8.85m (29ft) - about 25cm (10in) higher than the Danube's previous record high in 2006. In a worst-case scenario up to 55,000 people may need to be evacuated. However, they are confident that only the lowest-lying areas would be exposed to the river's expanded flow. (map)

**At every party there are two kinds of people:
those who want to go home and those who don’t.
The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.**
Ann Landers


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Yellowstone sees rare dual eruption of Morning and Fountain geysers - On Wednesday, a group of dedicated geyser enthusiasts headed to the Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park to await a possible eruption of Morning Geyser near the Fountain Paint Pots. The hours of waiting paid off not only in an eruption of Morning Geyser, but also a rare simultaneous eruption from Fountain Geyser. This became the 9th known dual eruption of these two closely connected geysers in the history of Yellowstone.
Morning erupted for a full 33 minutes before quieting down and allowing Fountain Geyser to finish another hour of the eruption. The total eruption of Fountain Geyser lasted 93 minutes. A couple of the bursts from Morning reached 150-200 feet as estimated by knowledgeable geyser gazers. Morning Geyser reactivated in 2012 to the delight of many after an 18-year dormancy.
Morning Geyser received its name because it usually erupts in the morning hours, when the wind is calm. But it can erupt at any time of the day when there is little wind. Morning Geyser is one of a handful of geysers known to be affected by the wind as it cools the surface just enough to prevent an eruption. In Morning Geyser’s case, that energy transfers over to its neighbor, Morning’s Thief Geyser. (photos)

Could A Volcano Power America? - An ambitious experiment is underway to harness the heat of a volcano in central Oregon. The process is green, efficient... and causes earthquakes.
In October, at the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon, a team of scientists and engineers began pumping 11 million gallons of water underground, right near the caldera of the famed Newberry Volcano. The Northwest weather was a cool 50 degrees most days, about the same temperature as the water the engineers drove, up to 375 gallons a minute, 10,000 feet into the ground. There, deep in the earth’s crust, the temperature reaches more than 600 degrees. That’s what the engineers were pumping for: If everything goes according to plan, a company called AltaRock Energy will suck the super-heated water from underground and use it to spin turbines and juice the area with renewable power.
Over the next two months, the engineers would keep pumping the water, as the weather started to turn cold. The water pushed against fractures deep in the earth at 2,400 pounds per square inch, more pressure than an alligator's bite, expanding natural cracks in the rock until a network of watery tunnels formed below ground. Not long after starting, the team picked up the first earthquake, then, over the course of their experiment, picked up 219 more.
With EGS, you create your own hydrothermal reservoirs by pouring water into the hot rock deep underground to create new fractures or deepen existing ones. The result: a man-made, underground boiling pot that can be harnessed for green energy. If replicated — and AltaRock believes it can be replicated pretty much anywhere — the process could generate up to 10 percent of American energy.
But the technology isn’t cheap. Newberry is expected to cost an estimated $44 million, whereas traditional geothermal projects typically cost between $5 and $20 million. Perhaps more worrisome in the long run are the unknown environmental impacts. EGS is relatively new and untested. And from where the residents of nearby Bend, Oregon are sitting, “more than 200 earthquakes” is a phrase that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
In December 2006, earthquakes started near an enhanced geothermal project in Basel, Switzerland. They tried to shut down the operation, but it was too late. Earthquakes rocked the area for a year, doing almost $9 million worth of damage. In a report on seismic impact that AltaRock was required to file for The Geysers project, the company failed to mention that the Basel program was shut down because of the earthquake it caused. AltaRock claimed it was uncertain that the project had caused the quake, even though Swiss government seismologists and officials on the Basel project agreed that it did. Nor did AltaRock mention the thousands of smaller earthquakes induced by the Basel project that continued for months after it shut down. (longer article at link)


Earthquake acoustics could warn of impending massive tsunami - Scientists have identified key acoustic characteristics of the 2011 Japan earthquake that indicated it would cause a large tsunami, and suggest that the technique could be applied worldwide to create an early warning system for tsunamis.


In the Atlantic -
Post-Tropical Cyclone Andrea was located approximately 75 mi (120 km) E of Portland, Maine. Heavy rains and winds shifting away from New England. On the forecast track, the center of the Post-tropical cyclone will move across Atlantic Canada today and strong gusty winds are possible. The last advisory has been issued on this system. Andrea is expected to be absorbed by another low pressure system east of Newfoundland late today.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Yagi was located about 487 nm south-southeastward of Kadena Air Base, Japan. Appears headed for Honshu, Japan.

Remnants of tropical storm Andrea drench the Maritimes - What's left of tropical storm Andrea is soaking the Maritime provinces, leaving thousands of power customers without electricity. The Canadian Hurricane Centre said the storm is responsible for dumping at least 60 millimetres of rain on many areas.


Sri Lanka - At least five people have been killed and dozens are missing as strong monsoon rains and wind lash Sri Lanka, damaging buildings on the tropical island. Five people were confirmed dead, four at sea and one on land, while dozens of fishermen were missing. "The navy and the airforce have mounted a search for dozens of fishermen who have been reported missing in unusually rough seas."
Rains and strong winds forced authorities to open the sluice gates of four major hydroelectricity reservoirs in central Sri Lanka to prevent damage to dams. Ground troops were also deployed to help in relief and rescue operations. Fallen trees blocked many roads, including the main highway to the Bandaranaike International Airport, just north of the capital.
The bad weather was forecast to continue over the weekend with the South Western monsoon packing winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour and dumping heavy rain. Seven people were killed in Sri Lanka last month when a tropical cyclone brushed the island's eastern coast. Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours frequently cause deaths and property damage.

NASA satellite video showcases deadly Tornado Alley severe weather outbreak - Severe weather season had been relatively quiet during the first four months of 2013 but with the arrival of May Mother Nature unleashed her full fury.

Expect 'upside down' weather pattern across Canada before summer weather kicks in for July. A top forecaster says Canadians will likely have to get through topsy turvy weather in June before settling into fairly typical summer conditions across much of the country.
The Weather Network forecast suggests British Columbia, Alberta and from eastern Quebec to Atlantic Canada can expect the next three months to bring above normal temperatures just like last year. But the area from Saskatchewan to southern Ontario shouldn’t rule out more cool days than in 2012. The weather pattern should be somewhat erratic for the rest of this month and perhaps into early July with cooler weather slipping into parts of southern Canada while the North gets some warmth.
The forecast calls for “active weather zones” in central Alberta through southern Manitoba, while southern Ontario and Quebec could also see severe storms and tornadoes. The weather should be more consistent starting next month, but until then Canadians should monitor the forecasts for any surprise bouts of extreme weather before they take off on outdoor trips.
“The one hiccup is that especially to start the summer…we could see this ‘upside-down’ weather pattern at times where even the far south of Canada could see some cool conditions.” Tuesday’s forecast called for warmer temperatures in Nunavut than some southern areas. “July’s going to be a very busy month for storms, but June’s the one where you really have to watch because people aren’t as conditioned to severe weather. It’s a big heads-up especially for people in the Prairies that are just starting to get into severe weather season to really keep an eye to the sky and the forecast over the next few weeks.”


NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS BEHAVING STRANGELY - Noctilucent clouds have surprised researchers by appearing early this year. The unexpected apparition of electric-blue clouds before the middle of May hints at a change in the "teleconnections" of Earth's atmosphere.
Every summer, something strange and wonderful happens high above the north pole. Ice crystals begin to cling to the smoky remains of meteors, forming electric-blue clouds with tendrils that ripple hypnotically against the sunset sky. This year, NLCs are getting an early start. NASA's AIM spacecraft, which is orbiting Earth on a mission to study noctilucent clouds, started seeing them on May 13th.
"The 2013 season is REMARKABLE because it started in the northern hemisphere a week earlier than any other season that AIM has observed. This is quite possibly earlier than ever before." The early start is EXTRA-PUZZLING because of the solar cycle. Researchers have long known that NLCs tend to peak during solar minimum and bottom-out during solar maximum — a fairly strong anti-correlation. "If anything, we would have expected a later start this year because the solar cycle is near its maximum. So much for expectations."
For sky watchers, this means it's time to pay attention to the sunset sky, where NLCs are most often seen. An early start could herald brighter clouds and wider visibility than ever before. Noctilucent clouds were first noticed in the mid-19th century after the eruption of super-volcano Krakatoa. Volcanic ash spread through the atmosphere, painting vivid sunsets that mesmerized observers all around the world. At first people thought they must be some side-effect of the volcano, but long after Krakatoa's ash settled the noctilucent clouds remained. "They've been with us ever since. Not only that, they are spreading."
When AIM was launched in 2007, the underlying cause of NLCs was still unknown. Researchers knew they formed 83 km above Earth's surface where the atmosphere meets the vacuum of space -- but that's about all. AIM quickly filled in the gaps. "It turns out that meteoroids play an important role in the formation of NLCs. Specks of debris from disintegrating meteors act as nucleating points where water molecules can gather and crystallize." NLCs appear during summer because that is when water molecules are wafted up from the lower atmosphere to mix with the "meteor smoke." That is also the time when the upper atmosphere is ironically coldest.
Back in the 19th century, NLCs were confined to high latitudes. You had to go to Alaska or Scandinavia to see them. In recent years, however, they have been sighted as far south as Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. Some researchers believe that the spread of NLCs is a sign of climate change.
The early start of the 2013 season appears to be caused by a change in atmospheric “teleconnections". "Half-a-world away from where the northern NLCs are forming, strong winds in the southern stratosphere are altering global circulation patterns. This year more water vapor is being pushed into the high atmosphere where NLCs form, and the air there is getting colder. All of this has come as an interesting surprise for us. When we launched AIM, our interest was in the clouds themselves. But now NLCs are teaching us about connections between different layers of the atmosphere that operate over great distances. Our ability to study these connections will surely lead to new understanding about how our atmosphere works." (video & diagram)

Newly discovered Asteroid 2013 LR6, 12 meters in size, passed by Earth at only 0.3 Lunar Distances away on Saturday.


WHO raises its MERS-CoV count to 55 cases, 31 deaths - The World Health Organization updated its global count of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases to 55, including 31 fatalities, by including a previously reported Saudi case as the country reported a new one.

Though no new novel H7N9 avian flu cases have been reported since the end of May, response and preparedness activities are under way, with the World Health Organization (WHO) updating its risk assessment and US officials issuing and tweaking guidance documents.