Thursday, September 5, 2013

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**Sleep, riches, and health
to be truly enjoyed must be interrupted.**
Johann Paul Friedrich Richter

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/4/13 -

+ Japan’s Sakurajima volcano rocked by another large explosion - damages cars. A moderately large vulcanian explosion occurred morning, producing significant fallout of lapilli and small bombs in several kilometers distance. Cars parked at the Arimura Lava observatory observation point to the south of the volcano were damaged and windshields broken, at a distance of about 4 km. There are no reports of injuries to people.
The ash plume from the eruption rose to approx. 12,000 ft (3.6 km) elevation, i.e. about 2.5 km height. Yesterday's explosion is not even among the largest that have occurred in the past months, but the volcano clearly continues to be in a state of elevated activity when seen on a long-term average.
The volcano might be heading for a larger eruption comparable to that of 1914: “The magma level deep within the volcano is back to about 90% of what it was before the 1914 eruption. So we do have to worry about a big eruption in the long term.”

+ Peru - Ubinas Volcano. On the evening of Sept. 1, the Ubinas Volcano in Moquegua registered two small eruptions. A third eruption occurred the following day, and now the volcano has erupted twice more, bringing the total to five eruptions in less than 48 hours.
A number of news outlets have reported that the volcano’s sudden burst of activity has caused alarm in the area, which has been intensified by the appearance of a column of volcanic gases and ash that has reached a height of two kilometers. Now scientists have begun an investigation at the site to determine the exact cause of the eruptions. “We have two hypotheses right now, and in the coming days, through evaluations that we’re doing, we’ll find out what’s really going on with Ubinas.” The explosions are probably being caused by one of two things: either the eruptions are phreatic, caused by precipitation buildup causing pressure inside the volcano, or they are caused by an “eruptive process generated by rising magma.”
The column of ash has deposited residue up to 10 kilometers away from Ubinas. However, the ash column does not pose a danger to people or livestock at this time, as the wind is blowing it towards a mostly uninhabited area. The volcano last erupted in 2006, and showed some activity in 2010.

Karangetang volcano (Siau Island, Indonesia) - Incandescent lava at summit, alert raised. A new eruption could be underway at the volcano. VSI raised the alert to 3 on a scale of 1-4, following the observation of incandescent lava at the summit and glowing rockfalls on the eastern side into the Batuawang ravine on Wednesday. Strong degassing generates a plume rising up to 500 m. Satellite images show a hotspot at the summit as well.
These observations suggest that new magma has been arriving at the summit where mild strombolian activity is taking place. If this activity increases, the occurrence of dangerous pyroclastic flows is a likely scenario, similar to what happened at Fuego volcano in Guatemala a few days ago.


In the Atlantic Ocean -
Tropical storm Gabrielle was located about 130 mi. (210 km) S of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominican Republic. Interests in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands should monitor the progress of this system. The depression is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches over portions of Puerto Rico...the U.S.Virgin Islands...and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic with isolated maximum amounts of up to 10 inches possible in areas of mountainous terrain. These heavier amounts could result in dangerous flash floods and mudslides over mountainous terrain.

Tropical Storm Gabrielle is not expected to hit US mainland. Gabrielle’s projected path will include Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic today. The center of the system will pass just west of Puerto Rico early and then just east of the Dominican Republic late today. She should be near Turks and Caicos on Friday.
+ While still a tropical wave over the Northeast Caribbean (Invest 97L; now Tropical storm Gabrielle) was slowly growing more organized as it moved west-northwest at 10 mph towards Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Winds gusts of 36 mph were recorded Wednesday morning and heavy thunderstorms dumped over an inch of rain in many locations in the Virgin Islands and Northern Puerto Rico as of 11 am AST Wednesday. Puerto Rico doesn't need the rain, as they have had ONE OF THEIR WETTEST YEARS ON RECORD; San Juan is nearly two feet (23.49") above average in rainfall for the year.
There will be a strong trough of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast this weekend, and the models predicted that this trough will be strong enough to turn 97L to the north and northeast by Sunday, keeping 97L well offshore from the U.S. East Coast, but with a possible threat to Bermuda next week. In their 8 am EDT Wednesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC had boosted the 5-day odds of formation of 97L to 60%, and 2-day odds to 40%.
The major danger from this slow-moving storm will be heavy rains. Three to six inches of rain are predicted to fall over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands by Thursday morning, with 3-day rainfall totals of 5 - 10 inches expected along the south and southeast shores of Puerto Rico. Similar rainfall amounts will fall in the eastern Dominican Republic, and heavy rains of 3 - 6 inches are also likely to affect the Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands later in the week. Since 97L is relatively small, Haiti may see lower rainfall amounts of 2 - 4 inches.

A strong tropical wave is predicted to emerge from the coast of Africa on Saturday, and the GFS model develops this wave into a tropical depression near the Cape Verdes Islands by Monday. The storm is expected to track to the northwest into a region of ocean where very few tropical cyclones ever make the long crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to threaten North America.


Japan - Video. Two tornadoes hit Japan in 3 days.


Flash Drought Hits Missouri - A flash drought – a drought on steroids – hit north central Missouri in the last 10 days of August. August was THE DRIEST AUGUST SINCE 1984 across northern Missouri.“Despite late summer heat, August will average cooler than normal by a couple of degrees across the state."
Much of northern Missouri was dry all month, with only a trace of precipitation at some north central and northeastern sites. What makes a flash drought is not just lack of rainfall, but high temperatures, cloudless days, low humidity and high evapotranspiration rates. There is significant crop stress.
“The north central region went downhill quickly in the last 10 days of August. The drought of 2012 was quite different from the summer of 2013.” In 2012, the rain turned off in May. That lack of rain was joined by the warmest spring and the 11th-hottest summer on record. “In the 2012 growing season, we saw unusual numbers of cloudless days. Lack of rain and high heat brought low humidity, which increased evapotranspiration. Plants soon sucked water out of the soil.”
There’s more to the disparity story. “Areas in southern Missouri had record floods. Pulaski County, in the Fort Leonard Wood area, recorded 17 inches of rain.” Just 150 miles to the north there were only traces of rain. “In two hours, we can drive from areas reporting their wettest or their driest Augusts on record."
Most crops in the flash drought area were in fair to good condition, despite lack of rain, until the last 10 days of August. Lower temperatures and cloudy days made the difference from June to mid-August. Evapotranspiration remained low. Some soil moisture remained from the wet spring. Then sunny days and high temperatures raised evaporation and soil moisture ran out. “July through mid-August remained pleasant. Daytime highs hit the 70s and 80s. It was our coolest summer since 2009. ”
The flash drought extends into much of Iowa and Illinois. That’s another difference from 2012. “Last year the drought covered much of the central United States. And it lasted longer.” 2013: “It’s the year of disparity.”

Flash drought hits Wisconsin - Drought-stress flips leaves, aborts seeds and pods. A “flash drought” has developed across portions of western and north central Wisconsin. Abnormally dry conditions in southern Wisconsin and elsewhere over the past two months have ruined some state farmers' expectations of a bountiful crop harvest.


USDA took shortcuts in poultry inspection plan - The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) cut corners in evaluating pilot projects that were used in developing a proposal to streamline the agency's food safety inspection systems in poultry processing plants, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Under the proposal, unveiled in 2012, USDA inspectors would spend less time visually inspecting poultry carcasses and more time focusing on other safety variables, with the aim of saving money and improving food safety. But the plan, which would allow faster production line speeds, has drawn objections from many health, labor, and consumer groups.
The plan, called the HACCP Based Inspection Models Project, would largely transfer the work of inspecting carcasses from USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service workers to industry employees. When the proposal was announced, the agency estimated it would prevent up to 5,200 illnesses annually and reduce poultry production costs by at least $256 million per year. The meat industry supports the approach.
The USDA launched three pilot projects in 1998 at slaughter facilities for young chickens, turkeys, and hogs, the GAO report explains. Under the projects, company workers sort carcasses before USDA inspections. The GAO said the USDA "has not thoroughly evaluated the performance of each of the pilot projects over time even though the agency stated it would do so when it announced the pilot projects."
The pilot projects don't require training of plant personnel for sorting carcasses, and faster line speeds raise concerns about both food safety and worker safety. The report also asserts that the USDA did not disclose certain limitations in the information it used in its cost-benefit analysis supporting the proposal to change the poultry inspection approach. One is that the department gathered no cost information from turkey plants involved in the project. The GAO is recommending that the USDA "collect and analyze information to determine if a new young hog pilot project is meeting its purpose" and that it clearly disclose the deficiencies in the information it relied on for the proposal to modernize poultry inspections.