Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - items posted during the day.

**In a chronically leaking boat,
energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive
than energy devoted to patching leaks.**
Warren Buffett **

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/3/13 -

Japan - No damage reported after strong quake shakes Tokyo area. the earthquake shook the Tokyo area and eastern Japan early Wednesday, though no injuries or damage was immediately reported.

Canada - A magnitude 6.0 quake struck off Canada's Vancouver Island on Tuesday, but there were no reports of damage and no tsunami warnings were issued following the event.


* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Toraji is located approximately nm south of Iwakuni, Japan. The final advisory has been issued on this system.


+ Hurricane season a bit of a mystery - The first three months of the Atlantic hurricane season have passed without a tropical cyclone reaching hurricane strength, the first time that has happened in more than a decade. But the absence of powerful storms says little about the rest of the season, experts say, and the next three months could still pack a punch.
It is relatively unusual to make it through June, July and August without a hurricane forming. That has only happened five times since the 1960s, when satellites began providing accurate storm counts. The last time it took so long for the first hurricane to form was 2002, when Hurricane Gustav was announced on Sept. 11. Yet 2002 was hardly a slow year in the tropics. There were 12 named storms, which is average.
It has been an odd year for tropical weather, confounding some meteorologists. Storm trackers have been busy, despite the lack of hurricanes. There have been six named tropical systems so far. That mark usually is not reached until Sept. 8. But none of the storms have produced sustained winds of up to 74 mph, the minimum threshold to qualify as a hurricane.
Dry air and strong upper-level winds have hampered storm development, but the lack of hurricanes is surprising. Winds have died down recently. The waters in the Atlantic Ocean are warm. There is more dry air than normal, but that shouldn't be a major limiting factor at this point. “We're scratching our heads on this one. IT DOESN'T MAKE MUCH SENSE. Conditions seem like they should be favorable.”
A research scientist with Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, is sticking by his prediction of an above-average hurricane season. His latest outlook called for 18 named storms, including eight hurricanes. The dry, stable air over the Atlantic is beginning to give way to a more unstable environment that is conducive for hurricane development. “I expect to see a marked increase in Atlantic hurricane activity coming up in the next week or so."
The peak of the hurricane season is a two-month period from mid-August through mid-October. The absolute peak — the date when a storm is most likely to be in motion — is Sept. 10. Florida has been on a streak of its own, having gone an UNPRECEDENTED run since 2005 without a hurricane striking the state.
There are still six weeks left in the peak season. “Climatology says we should be expecting some bad storms later in September and October." Still, so far so good. “Let's celebrate an easy start to the season. But we're never out of the woods. You always have to be prepared for that one bad storm.”
Meteorologists predicted an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic, but Monday marked the halfway point of the season and not one hurricane has brewed yet. In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a “very active” hurricane season and said they expected between seven and 11 hurricanes. In August, the NOAA lowered the numbers to between six and nine possible hurricanes, but anticipated that three to five of those could become major hurricanes — storms in which winds are above 111 mph.
“Our confidence for an above-normal season is still high because the predicted atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are favorable for storm development have materialized.” However, Monday was the midpoint of the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and the Atlantic has yet to see a hurricane.
Records tracking hurricanes date back to 1851 and since then, “there have been 20 other years where the first hurricane of the season has formed on or after Sept. 3." Regardless of the rarity of making it to Labor Day without a hurricane, “to write off the season would be a huge mistake,” because “we just entered the peak of the season.” “And remember, Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29.”
A new study suggests that global warming reduced the possibility of the atmospheric currents that caused two storms to converge into Sandy and steered it into the New York region. "Sandy was an EXTREMELY UNUSUAL STORM in several respects and pretty FREAKY. And some of those things that make it more freaky may happen less in the future." Still, because of rising sea levels, a typical storm from the south could cause even more damage than Sandy did. “There's nothing to get complacent about coming out of this research." “We don’t want anyone letting their guard down ... We will have a hurricane, we’ll probably have a number of them." So it probably isn't safe for those on the East Coast to drink their bottled water and eat their canned goods yet.


Malaysia - Heavy rain causes overflowing at Penang International Airport. An unexpectedly high volume of rainfall is said to be the cause behind water overflowing into several areas of the Penang International Airport on Sunday. 52.5mm of rainfall was recorded on that day, which was three times the normal volume.
“The rainwater started overflowing after heavy rain between 7pm and 8pm. The usual rainfall volume is between 10mm and 15mm. “The high amount of rainfall on Sunday was UNPRECEDENTED. Even the villages situated around the airport, which have never experienced any flooding before, were flooded." The airport’s drainage system was working. However, water outflow was slow, because of flooding at the airport’s surrounding area.
The airport’s drain gutter capacity was originally created to cater to the water flow according to the state’s past rainfall records. “We think that there must be some negligence in the design and capacity of the drain gutter,” he added. When renovations were being carried out at the airport in 2011, a heavy downpour resulted in leakage at the airport and a part of the ceiling collapsed in 2012.


Yosemite blaze 80% under control - The huge forest fire that broke out over two weeks ago in California has stopped spreading. Rain and cooler weather is coming to firefighters' aid.
The improved weather conditions mean that for the first time since the fire erupted on August 17 it did not grow overnight, signalling an important turning point in the battle against one of the largest fires in California history. According to the US Forest Service, the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Forest should be fully contained by September 20.
Almost 100,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed by the blaze, which has caused an estimated $US66 million of damage. The fire has claimed 111 structures, 11 of them homes. About 4500 structures are threatened. Some 5000 personnel and 20 helicopters are involved in the effort to stop the flames spreading.

Australia has WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD - Australians have experienced the hottest 12 months on record, with a host of historical highs toppled. The average temperature was 22.9C from September 2012 to August this year - 1.11C above the 1961-1990 average.
The uncharacteristic warmth has been felt across the entire continent with no regions registering below-average temperatures. The month of January 2013 has been set down in the history books as a particularly sweaty one. January 7 has now taken top position as the hottest summer day on record. "The warmth has extended to the oceans around Australia with widespread record warmth."
The warmth is set to continue throughout spring. "The bureau's seasonal outlook for spring indicates both maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to be above average over much of Australia."


Cooler temperature, rain make for odd Oklahoma summer - Labor Day brings what many consider the official end of the summer season, one that has been "REALLY ODD," according to a state climatologist because of cooler temperatures and more rain than usual in many areas of the state.
The weather is also considered by some experts to, indirectly, have resulted in more snakebites thus far in 2013. "Compared to the last couple of years it's been EXTREMELY UNUSUAL. It's really odd." High temperatures topped out in the mid-80s during early July, instead of near or above 100 degrees, and consistent rainfall that normally ends in June continued through mid-August, easing drought conditions in all but far southwestern Oklahoma and the Panhandle. "That rain in mid-July to mid-August really saved us from a disaster. If we hadn't gotten that rainfall we'd be in a flash drought situation" a condition in which intense drought develops quickly, much like a flash flood.
The milder weather has resulted in more people being bitten by snakes. The cooler weather leads to more insects, which brings out more frogs that eat the insects, and in turn there are more snakes, which enjoy dining on frogs, and the weather has also brought more people outdoors. There were 142 snakebites reported between January and the first week of August. Last year, 126 snake bites were reported during the same time period, and there were 122 bites in 2011.
Through Labor Day, Oklahoma City has recorded less than 10 days of temperatures 100 degrees or above, compared to more than four dozen in 2011 when state and national heat records were broken across the state, and about two dozen in 2012. Central Oklahoma on average has about 15 days of 100 degree or hotter days annually. The outlook for the next few weeks is for below normal rainfall for all but the Panhandle region.
"The rainfall since Aug. 17 or Aug. 18 has pretty much shut off in Oklahoma. It's not really a cause for concern. I keep reminding people that this is August and this is summer in Oklahoma, but you know fall is right around the corner." The jet stream typically begins dipping farther south later in September, bringing the potential for rain.

New phrases are popping up in our weather lexicon to describe weather-on-steroids: polar amplification, a "lazy jet", heat spikes, 3-sigma flash floods, and now, "flash droughts". That's how the sudden onset of drought is being described from Minnesota to Missouri.
We went from a late planting season to heavy June rains (crops put down shallow roots) to UNUSUAL chill mid-summer, to precious little rain in August. Instant drought. In one week Minnesota went from 10 percent to 55 percent drought. "I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE.".
Why? Data is still inconclusive, but I suspect it has something to do with rapid warming at high latitudes and record melting of Arctic ice in 2012. August rain came in one 2 inch, two-day deluge on the 5th & 6th. Since then we've seen nearly a month of little or no rain, yet with soaking storms tracking over northern Minnesota. Which makes one wonder: is our pattern of extra-wet late springs & extra-dry late summers a fluke - or a trend? I guess we'll find out. Stay tuned.
Flash Drought: New Term Coined To Describe Summer's Strange Weather - the moisture (and temperature) whiplash we've experienced this summer: too much moisture early in the planting season, far too little by August, with huge swings in temperature accompanying these meteorological flip-flops. "The region’s mood swing from cool, soggy spring to parched yet sweltering late summer has coined a new weather term: flash drought. The label reflects how quickly conditions have deteriorated in the region under the withering combination of weeks without rain coupled with extreme heat at a crucial time for maturing crops. This quick-onset drought also comes in a year in which crops that otherwise might have endured the dry spell already were delayed by, ironically, too much rain that pushed planting in some fields until mid- to late June. “IT'S BEEN A YEAR THAT'S NOT BEEN LIKE ANY IN RECENT MEMORY.”

Return of U. S. Mid-Continent Drought - After four months of heavy rain and flooding, it would be hard to imagine a drought in the central United States. It seemed that 2013 would be an exception to the dry summer pattern that has set in since 2010 in the North American mid-continent. Yet the rain all but stopped after the summer solstice, and more than half of the mid-continent region has seen drought conditions since then.
Half of the contiguous United States is in moderate to severe drought at the latest report. Drought conditions extend from Texas to California in addition to the mid-continent, and on the drought map, almost the entire area west of Chicago and the Mississippi River is affected. There are many places where it didn’t rain in August.
The corn crop should come out fine in fields that were planted on time. Corn doesn’t depend on steady rain in late summer, though it may not grow much after a few weeks without rain. Unfortunately, many fields were planted late because of the spring mud, and those fields depend on the return of rain in September. Recent experience says that’s likely enough, but as a farmer, you hate to count on it.
It looks like this year’s U.S. corn crop will be similar to last year’s. There won’t be a shortage, but high prices for corn will keep prices for meat and milk — that’s where most of the corn crop goes — high into next year. Corn ethanol factories won’t have much corn to work with, and those that closed because of high corn prices last year won’t be able to reopen this season. This takes away about 1 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply and translates to prices elevated by roughly 10¢ per gallon nationally for the next year.
The mid-continent summer “drought” pattern may be a permanent effect of a warmer Arctic region. That’s a prediction of some global climate models, as there is no longer a source for the cold air masses that trigger most mid-latitude mid-continent summer storms. The same models predict more flooding events in mid-continent, with a diminished jet stream. Aside from arriving years earlier than expected, the summer weather pattern shift in the North American mid-continent is generally consistent with what was predicted.

Red cedar trees rebounded in response to the Clean Air Act - Tree rings of old eastern red cedars show improved tree growth and physiology since the Clean Air Act's implementation in the 1980s.


'Brain window' implant devised - A "window to the brain" implant which would allow doctors to see through the skull and possibly treat patients has been devised by US researchers. It uses a see-through version of the same material used for hip implants.
It could allow lasers to be fired into the brain to treat neurological disorders. The researchers say emerging laser-treatments in stroke and cancer care and brain imaging require access to the brain. However, they are limited as a part of the skull needs to be removed and replaced each time a treatment is performed.
Instead the team of scientists have devised the transparent implant that would replace a small section of the skull. They have converted a material - yttria-stabilized zirconia that is used in some ceramic hip implants and dental crowns - to make it transparent. They argue the material would be safe to implant, but would also provide a window onto the brain.
"This is a case of a science fiction sounding idea becoming science fact, with strong potential for positive impact on patients. This is a crucial first step towards an innovative new concept that would provide a clinically-viable means for optically accessing the brain, on-demand, over large areas, and on a chronically-recurring basis."
"Access to the brain for minimally invasive surgery would be a major step forward. This research appears to provide a very encouraging step in this direction."