**When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry,
remember that you have a thousand
other reasons to smile.**
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.0 SICHUAN-GANSU BORDER REG, CHINA
5.0 KURIL ISLANDS
Yesterday, 10/3/13 -
5.6 TONGA REGION
5.3 KOMANDORSKIYE OSTROVA REGION
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
5.3 SIKKIM, INDIA
5.3 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
TROPICAL STORMS -
* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical Storm Karen is located about 360 mi. (580 km) S of the mouth of the Mississippi River, heading toward the central Gulf of Mexico. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Grand Isle, Louisiana to Destin, Florida. Hurricane conditions are possible within portions of the Hurricane Watch area on Saturday, with tropical storm conditions possible as soon as tonight. Strong southeasterly winds ahead of Karen were already pushing tides 1 - 1.5' above normal along the coast from Eastern Louisiana to Alabama on Thursday night.
* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Fitow is located approximately 289 nm south-southeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.
- Tropical depression 23w is located approximately 102 nm east-northeast of Saipan.
The models are split into two camps for Karen's track - Several have Karen making landfall over Central or Eastern Louisiana. These models keep Karen relatively weak, resulting in a path that follows the low-level winds more to the west, where there is more dry air and higher wind shear.
Others keep Karen stronger, and predict a landfall in the Western Florida Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center is splitting the difference between these two solutions.
Most of Karen's heavy thunderstorms will be displaced to the east by high wind shear when the storm makes landfall, and there will likely be relatively low rainfall totals of 1 - 3" to the immediate west of where the center. Much higher rainfall totals of 4 - 8" can be expected to the east.
Residents along the US Gulf Coast have been placed on alert as approaching tropical storm Karen threatens damaging winds, heavy rain and high tides. Oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have also started shutting production as Tropical Storm Karen sweeps in.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) was recalling some employees sent home by the US government shutdown. Karen is forecast to lash the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend. The storm is grinding slowly north-west and could be at or near hurricane strength by late Friday or early Saturday, forecasters said.
A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana, east to Indian Pass, Florida. "Now is the time for people to review their emergency plans in case conditions worsen," Mississippi's Governor said. In Louisiana, the Governor declared a state of emergency while his Florida counterpart also declared an emergency for 18 counties.
Gathering storm clouds were clearly visible over the Gulf of Mexico. Army engineers in Louisiana are closing a huge barrier intended to keep storm surges out of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal where levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 led to catastrophic flooding. In Alabama, safety workers raised double red flags along beaches warning of treacherous rip currents.
Off the coast, BHP Billiton said it was fully evacuating and shutting oil and gas production at its two platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko Petroleum Corp said it had done the same at one of its eight platforms. On Thursday afternoon Karen was about 400 miles (644km) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and had maximum sustained winds of 65mph (100km/h) with higher gusts. Heavy rain could also affect parts of Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in the next couple of days.
Karen will become a hurricane if its sustained winds reach 74mph (119 km/h). The storm, which formed in the south-eastern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, is the first to threaten the US coast during the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carried a message on its website saying: "Due to the Federal government shutdown, NOAA.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable." It referred visitors to the National Weather Service for vital information.
Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert was issued for System East of Marianas - The National Weather Service in Tiyan issued a Special Weather Statement for the Marianas after the Joint Typhoon Warning Center [JTWC] issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert for a system developing east of the Marianas [Tropical depression 23w].
As of Thursday morning, the JTWC fixed the center of circulation about 335 nautical miles north-east of Andersen Air Force Base. It was moving west-southwest at 3 knots on a track that could take it north of Saipan. No watches or warnings have been issued for any of the Mariana islands and the system poses no threat to Guam or Rota at this time, although showers are in the forecast through the weekend. Numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms are expected over the next several days as the disturbance passes over the Northern Marianas. Winds gusting to 35 miles per hour with rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches or more are possible over Tinian, Saipan and the Northern Marianas.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
Drought is THE WORST CENTRAL TEXAS HAS EVER EXPERIENCED - Austin water officials said that the drought is the worst Central Texas has experienced — worse already than the epic drought of the 1950s — and that as early as next spring the city may need to pursue options such as banning all but hand-held outdoor watering, higher drought rates and even curtailing the use of indoor water.
“This is not your father’s drought, this is not even your grandfather’s drought. This is, in my opinion, the worst drought we’ve faced in Central Texas, ever.” Even with recent rains, lakes Buchanan and Travis, the source of the city’s water, rose only from 31 percent full to 33 percent full. In November they will drop below 31 percent and surpass the final marker to declare this the drought of record, according to forecasts from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages the lakes and sells the water to Austin.
For the last two years, Austin has received rainfall amounts close to average. But that rain has not replenished the lakes as much as it used to, due to a combination of parched ground soaking it up and rain simply falling in the wrong places. The water utility laid out two forecasts, assuming some sort of game-changing conservation measures are not implemented. Under the first, the water utility assumes the record-low inflows into the lakes that happened during 2011 continue. If they do, the lakes go dry in two to three years.
That scenario is unlikely. Under the other scenario, which assumes inflows more in line with the last few years, the lakes approach empty in five to six years. What’s needed, is a series of intense rains. In the meantime, the water utility will be beefing up its public-outreach efforts. The city should eventually be willing to pursue nearly any measure, because “there’s no option we will find acceptable where the lakes drop to zero.”
'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -
Florida - UNUSUAL rain totals match those set in the 1800s, making for both good news and bad. This year’s September greenery is actually green for THE FIRST TIME IN AT LEAST 35 YEARS. Every other year, by the end of September, the grass is brown, burned up by sweltering summer heat, the flowers are wilted (if they aren’t already dead) and the leaves on most bushes and small trees used for landscaping — like hibiscus and banana and fan palms — are yellowed and limp. It was that way just last year.
The rains have been different this year, coming in steady patterns instead of daily afternoon blinding thunderstorms that lasted at the most about 30 minutes and were followed by enough sweltering heat to completely dry the pavement in less than an hour. What was different this year in South County? And was it particular to South County or was it happening all over the State?
“We tied the record set for rainfall in the 1800s for three consecutive months. It was 10-inches or more. If we had done it in September also, we’d have broken the record, but the measurements are taken at Tampa International Airport and they didn’t get as much rain as we did here, only 7.37 inches (as of Sept. 27).” This was also the first year in many the Gulf did not produce a tropical storm of significance and no hurricane. This was UNEXPECTED, because the cycles of “active hurricane seasons” and “low hurricane activity” come in 30-year periods, and the current active period does not end until 2025.
“We’re still in an active seasonal cycle that started in the mid 1990s, yet except for Tropical Storm Debbie in June 2012 and Hurricane Isaac in August 2012, we didn’t have anything of note since the 2004-2005 storms that were so intense, like Katrina.” We have just come out of a long period of drought conditions as well, caused by the large amount of dust floating in the air coming off the Sahara region of Africa, which absorbs the moisture in the air and makes for drought conditions.
Another reason there was no heavy storm this year is that there was a high amount of vertical wind shear. “That’s a change of wind speed and direction with increasing altitude. It literally knocks the top off a storm and it falls like a Jenga tower. It pushes the system over and won’t allow it to develop.”
This summer was also not as hot as normal. The highest readings in June hit 95; 94 in July and 94 again in August. We also had a more consistent type of rain. “A little here, a little there, no afternoon thunderstorms that hit hard and produced run off."
The greenery this year is so dark and lush because rainwater is filled with minerals and nutrients. But so much rain has also done two damaging things: a fungus is developing in places, causing people to use more pesticides, and some plants are yellowing, and people mistakenly think they are wilting from lack of water and water them again when they are really drowning. “They need to understand the plants they have.” Usually a lot of rain makes grass yellowish but this year’s rainwater seemed to be rich in nitrogen and potassium. “That makes for lush green.”
Some of the fruit trees are very different this year. “We have a passion fruit vine and a guava tree that in the past had a couple of pieces of fruit on them but this year I’ve pulled off more than 40 pieces of fruit and it’s loaded again. Something is definitely different.”
Weather station personnel say that since we only have about 200 years of written records, it is hard to tell about cycles, and that makes weather very difficult to predict. “Some things are caused by specific events, but others are just cyclical.”