Wednesday, June 26, 2013

U.S. - Flash flood and wildfire warnings were issued on Tuesday, as severe thunderstorms and torrential rainfall were again expected to hit the Midwest and Northeast. "Once again, thunderstorms are expected to fire in parts of the northern Plains to Lower Great Lakes...A separate area of severe weather is possible in the Northeast. Large hail and damaging winds will be the primary threats. In addition, rainfall could be heavy enough to cause flash flooding and river flooding in the Midwest and Lower Great Lakes."
In Chicago, there were at least 200,000 power outages on Monday as severe weather lashed the area. The storms forced the temporary closure of O’Hare International Airport. Fearing injury or worse at the city's Midway International Airport, officials cleared the ground and ordered people away from the windows. Felled trees also led to traffic chaos across the city.
In Belmont, New Hampshire, 23 scouts were hospitalized after being struck by lightning as they hid out from a storm. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin there was almost a foot of rain over the weekend. An area from the eastern Dakotas to northeast Iowa saw two to five inches of rain in the past week alone. The water-logged soil means additional rainfall is more prone to run off and cause rapid flooding of low-lying areas, officials warned.
Lightning strikes could also spark wildfires on the northern Plains, experts warned. Embattled firefighters across the country have already tackled a number of huge blazes this year in Colorado, California and New Mexico. The massive West Fork Fire in Colorado is expected to burn for months. But after more than a week the raging blaze in Doce, Arizona, was expected to be fully contained tomorrow. More than 500 personnel and three helicopters have battled to bring in it under control.

**A secret may sometimes best be kept
by keeping the secret of its being a secret.**
Henry Taylor


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

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6/25/13 -

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India - Undersea volcano near Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has begun a detailed study to analyze the possible threats of an underwater volcano near the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, about 70km south of Chennai.
Confirming the presence of an underwater volcano five weeks ago, the Geological Survey of India has also recommended an advanced study to figure out the status of the volcano, though initial investigations did not detect any significant geological signs. The National Institute of Oceanography , Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and GSI have recommended further analysis in view of an "inferred high density material intrusion of remnant magnetization based on magnetic and gravity anomalies" around the location of the volcano.
A US government agency studying active volcanoes and their eruptions during the last 10,000 years, says the undersea eruption of the volcano happened last on January 20, 1757, off Puducherry, resulting in the formation of a new island. However, GSI's offshore surveys did not find any existence of an island. Also, the seismic data and wells drilled by ONGC in the vicinity did not indicate any volcanic intrusions.
In last September, two activists of the Peoples Movement for Nuclear Radiation Safety, who published a book compiling the documentary evidences of the volcano, demanded that the AERB conducts an advanced study. The AERB study is in progress and the International Atomic Energy Agency insists countries should ensure safety and protection if they had built reactors without considering the effect of volcanoes in their vicinity. Besides two power plants in Kalpakkam, a fast breeder test reactor facility and a fuel reprocessing facility are in the vicinity. A 500MW prototype fast breeder is also being built at Kalpakkam.


In the Eastern Pacific -
Hurricane Cosme was located about 410 mi (660 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas Mexico.

Cosme Now A Hurricane - Moving away from land. The storm's projected path will now steer the system away from Mexico, while fierce winds and extremely rough surf threaten shipping interests in the region. The storm's maximum sustained winds early Tuesday were near 65 mph (100 kph).(maps & updates)


Australia - Illawarra homes on flood evacuation watch. Residents have been put on evacuation watch as extreme weather and flooding drenches the NSW south coast. The Bureau of Meteorology today issued a severe weather warning for the Illawarra region, advising of heavy rain and damaging surf in the area.
Wet conditions and thunderstorms may lead to flash flooding, with conditions expected to improve later in the day. Ten properties were on evacuation watch near Jerrara Dam at Kiama, while the SES also issued evacuation warnings to 40 homes in "low lying areas" of Goulburn. The warning was current for businesses and homes adjacent to the Wollondilly and Mulwaree rivers in Goulburn.
Five homes were inundated by flood water at Shoalhaven Heads on Tuesday, prompting the rescue of four people and seven animals. "They were all rescued successfully, which is good." The SES received about 150 requests overnight for help from residents in the Illawarra and on the south coast, mostly for leaking roofs and water inundation. The SES had not received requests for help from the Sydney metropolitan area.
The SES has issued a minor flood warning for the Nepean River at Penrith. The river is expected to peak about 4.5m around midnight. At North Richmond and Windsor, the Hawkesbury River is likely rise to about nine metres on Thursday evening, causing minor to moderate flooding. Warragamba Dam is also predicted to overflow between 10am and noon AEST.
"The NSW SES urges motorists to take extreme care as many creeks and streams may break their banks, with fast-flowing water across many causeways and low-lying roads. Motorists are advised not to attempt to cross causeways, as floodwaters may be deeper and faster flowing than you realise and can contain hidden snags and debris."


Tourists await rescue on Canadian ice floe - Twenty people are stranded on an ice floe in the Canadian Arctic, with the 50km long slab of ice breaking away from an island and floating several kilometres out to sea. The group, which includes foreign tourists, were stranded when the chunk of ice separated from Baffin Island sometime between Monday night and early Tuesday.
They aren't likely to be rescued until early Wednesday morning local time. The group includes local guides as well as Canadian and foreign tourists. They have a camp, shelter and supplies. 10 hunters who were also trapped managed to cross over onto land after the ice split and their end floated close to shore Tuesday afternoon. The floe the tourists are on remains afloat.


Woman's death blamed on Indonesian smog - Smog from slash-and-burn agricultural fires in Indonesia has been blamed for killing an asthmatic woman in Malaysia, the first reported death attributed to the crisis.
She was from the southern town of Muar, which experienced intense air pollution at the weekend, died on Sunday. A medical report blamed the death on the polluted air. Singapore initially bore the brunt of southeast Asia's worst smog crisis for years with pollution reaching record levels last week. Favourable winds have since cleared the air over the city state but southern Malaysia remains choked by smoke.
Pollution spiked to hazardous levels in some parts of the country in recent days, with southern Malaysia seeing its worst air quality in 16 years last weekend. The smog has eased but continues to hang over some areas including the capital Kuala Lumpur. The pollution has forced the cancellation of sporting events in Malaysia.
Haze is an annual problem during drier summer months, when westerly monsoon winds blow smoke from forest fires and land-clearing on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which lies across the Malacca Strait. But this summer's recurrence has been the worst in years. Malaysia's environment minister travelled to Indonesia on Wednesday to meet his counterpart in the hopes of resolving the problem, which earlier sparked a testy exchange between Indonesia and Singapore. In 1997-1998, severe haze cost southeast Asia an estimated $US9 billion ($A9.7 billion) from disruptions to air travel and other business activities.

94 degrees in Alaska? Weather extremes tied to jet stream. - Lately, the jet stream isn’t playing by the rules. Scientists say that big river of air high above Earth that dictates much of the weather for the Northern Hemisphere has been unusually erratic the past few years.
They blame it for everything from snowstorms in May to the path of Superstorm Sandy. And last week, it was responsible for downpours that led to historic floods in Alberta, Canada, as well as record-breaking heat in parts of Alaska. The town of McGrath, Alaska, hit 94. Just a few weeks earlier, the same spot was 15 degrees. The current heat wave in the Northeast is also linked. ‘‘While it’s not unusual to have a heat wave in the east in June, it is part of the anomalous jet stream pattern that was responsible for the flooding in Alberta.’’
The jet stream usually rushes rapidly from west to east in a mostly straight direction. But lately it’s been wobbling and weaving like a drunken driver, wreaking havoc as it goes. The more the jet stream undulates north and south, the more changeable and extreme the weather. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that scientists are still trying to understand. Some say it’s related to global warming; others say it’s not.
In May, there was upside-down weather: Early California wildfires fueled by heat contrasted with more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. Seattle was the hottest spot in the nation one day, and Maine and Edmonton, Canada, were warmer than Miami and Phoenix. Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:
— The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor'easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.
— Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.
— One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.
And here is what federal weather officials call a ‘‘spring paradox’’: The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May. ‘‘I've been doing meteorology for 30 years and THE JET STREAM THE LAST THREE YEARS HAS DONE STUFF I'VE NEVER SEEN. ‘The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I'm not saying we know what it is.’’
‘‘It’s been just a crazy fall and winter and spring all along, following a very abnormal sea ice condition in the Arctic.’’ Last year set a record low for summer sea ice in the Arctic. ‘‘It’s possible what we’re seeing in this unusual weather is all connected.’’ Other scientists don’t make the sea ice and global warming connections. They see random weather or long-term cycles at work. And even more scientists are taking a wait-and-see approach.
The jet stream, or more precisely the polar jet stream, is the one that affects the Northern Hemisphere. It dips down from Alaska, across the United States or Canada, then across the Atlantic and over Europe and ‘‘has everything to do with the weather we experience." It all starts with the difference between cold temperatures in the Arctic and warmer temperatures in the mid-latitudes. The bigger the temperature difference, the stronger the jet stream, the faster it moves and the straighter it flows. But as the northern polar regions warm two to three times faster than the rest of the world, augmented by unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice and loss in snow cover, the temperature difference shrinks. Then the jet stream slows and undulates more.
The jet stream is about 14 percent slower in the fall now than in the 1990s. And when it slows, it moves north-south instead of east-west, bringing more unusual weather, creating blocking patterns and cutoff lows that are associated with weird weather. Recently the jet stream seems to create weather patterns that get stuck, making dry spells into droughts and hot days into heat waves.
Take the past two winters. They were as different as can be, but both had unusual jet stream activity. Normally, the jet stream plunges southwest from western Washington state, sloping across to Alabama. Then it curves slightly out to sea around the Outer Banks, a swoop that’s generally straight without dramatic bends. During the mostly snowless winter of 2011-12 and the record warm March 2012, the jet stream instead formed a giant upside-down U, curving dramatically in the opposite direction. That trapped warm air over much of the Eastern U.S.
A year later the jet stream was again unusual, this time with a sharp U-turn north. This trapped colder and snowier weather in places like Chicago and caused nor'easters in New England. But for true extremes, nothing beats tornadoes.
In 2011, the United States was hit over and over by killer twisters. From June 2010 to May 2011 the U.S. had a record number of substantial tornadoes, totaling 1,050. Then just a year later came a record tornado drought. From May 2012 to April 2013 there were only 217 tornadoes - 30 fewer than the old record. Both examples were related to unusual jet stream patterns.
Last fall, a dip in the jet stream over the United States and northward bulge of high pressure combined to pull Superstorm Sandy almost due west into New Jersey. That track is SO RARE AND NEARLY UNPRECEDENTED that computer models indicate it would happen only once every 714 years, according to a new study by NASA. ‘‘Everyone would agree that we are in a pattern of extremes. We don’t know how long it will stay in this pattern.’’