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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.
Yesterday, 1/27/14 -
5.4 CHUQUISACA, BOLIVIA
5.3 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.1 SOUTHEAST OF EASTER ISLAND
Italy's Mount Etna erupts again - Europe's most active volcano erupted over the weekend. Mount Etna sent lava streaming down its sides and smoke rising from the crater. (video at link)
TROPICAL STORMS -
Current tropical storms - maps and details.
No current tropical storms.
More Tropical Trouble for the Philippines This Week - While many across the southern and central Philippines are still recovering from rounds of heavy rainfall this month, another tropical disturbance arrive later this week. Rains from former Tropical Storm Lingling, combined with the local monsoon, resulted in torrential rainfall, totaling more than 1220 mm (48 inches) in some parts of eastern Mindanao.
This event affected more than one million people, killing at least 64 people with more still missing. Even though rainfall has been much lighter across the region over the past several days, more than 100,000 people are still displaced from their homes. As people attempt to return to their homes and rebuild as necessary, another threat looms on the horizon.
A large area of showers and thunderstorms, currently just south of Guam, will track westward this week and reach the Philippines by Friday or Saturday. The heaviest rainfall is expected to occur over the areas that are still recovering from the recent flooding. New rainfall of 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) is expected with local amounts over 300 mm (12 inches). This amount of rainfall across the southern and central Philippines can quickly lead to widespread flooding, while hindering recovery efforts across the region.
Unlike the last tropical feature to impact the region, this one is expected to continue on a westward track which will generally the heaviest rainfall to a 24-hour time period, instead of occurring for several days in a row.
Australia - King tide and cyclone coinciding has MacKay region on high alert. A tropical low was situated in the northern Coral Sea, approximately 870 kilometres east-northeast of Cairns, and moving southwest at around 10 kilometres per hour. They have issued a severe weather warning for people in the Northern Tropical Coast and Tablelands, Herbert and Lower Burdekin and parts of the Central Coast and Whitsundays Forecast Districts.
The tropical low is expected to move in a general westwards direction over the next couple of days and may develop further as it approaches the Queensland east coast. Heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, and damaging winds, with peak gusts in excess of 90km/h, are expected to develop about coastal and adjacent inland areas between Port Douglas and the area north of Mackay during Wednesday afternoon. 24 hour rainfall totals in excess of 200mm are possible.
Water levels on the high tide are also likely to exceed the highest tide of the year about coastal areas between Port Douglas and the areas north of Mackay over the next couple of days. Locations which may be affected include Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Bowen, Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas and Mareeba. Queenslanders need to be aware that this system is now likely to develop into a cyclone and cross the coast, probably on Thursday or Friday.
If this tropical low develops into a cyclone it will be named Tropical Cyclone Dylan and will be the first in the Coral Sea this wet season. The Coral Sea typically has five cyclones each year, however only or two of them make landfall. The possibility of a cyclone coinciding with king tides has the region on high alert. King tides are expected later this week, with the largest on Friday expected to peak at 4.29m in Shute Harbour at about 11am. King tides occurred twice every year and this week's would be the summer tide.
Whether or not the cyclone forms, the Whitsundays can expect wet and windy conditions for the rest of the week, with Proserpine already experiencing about 100mm of rainfall since Sunday.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
Alaska - Road traffic to Valdez was cut off from the rest of the state after a series of avalanches over the weekend blocked the only road into the coastal community. The highway to the town of about 4,000 was blocked after an avalanche in the Keystone Canyon on Friday, followed by another on Saturday.
30 miles of the Richardson Highway remain closed for the foreseeable future, in part because a lake had formed below the avalanche that must now recede. Some sections of the highway also remain unstable and unsafe. Crews were working on the northern end of the avalanche area, but even when the waters recede, clearing the highway would not be a routine snow-plowing job. "We will be restricted because there is only so much equipment you can get up there at one time. There is limited space for everything, but once water recedes, we'll be working on both ends, north and south."
Valdez, one of Alaska's main seaports, lies in a remote area of the Chugach Mountains. Officials have set up shelters and urged some residents to leave their homes as a precaution. "There is plenty of gasoline and heating fuel oil in town to serve local needs during an extended road closure. Should fuel run short at any time, it will be barged in as needed." The town's 4,000 residents depend on barges for most delivered goods, rather than the highway. Schools in the town remain open, as do airport and port facilities.
The avalanches have not disrupted crude oil throughput because the pipeline is buried beneath the avalanche area. They have also had no effect on the tanker loading terminal or deliveries. "The original TAPS (trans-Alaska pipeline system) design engineers took the terrain and conditions into account. There are valves in the area that we are monitoring, but they are not compromised by avalanche or flooding. We are flying into the area regularly for surveillance and accessing surveillance info from the City of Valdez as well."
Valdez was recently named by Weather.com as the snowiest city in the nation, with an average annual snowfall of 326 inches. (video at link)
Extreme Weather Causes Snow Rollers Throughout The Midwest - Snow rollers are being spotted in open fields throughout the Midwest. The unique snowballs and rolls are RARE as they require a specific combination of conditions to form. Extreme cold and high winds throughout the region have provided the perfect environment for the rare formations.
The naturally occurring snow balls form where ice or ice-encrusted snow exists in a uniform layer over the ground. The surface layer serves as a platform where the balls are formed and can easily travel. The second layer, which rests on top of the ice, must be wet snow that is fluffy and loosely packed. This condition can be difficult to meet as wet snow is often quite dense.
In addition to the snow and ice, snow rollers require strong winds to form and propel the snowballs. As the wind scoops under the snow and pushes it along, the snow is shaped into unique formations. Some of the more common shapes are balls, donuts, and long formations that resemble jelly rolls.
The unique formations often vary in size, depending on the amount of snow and how far they roll. The smallest are the size of a dime, but the largest can grow up to several feet wide. The average size is usually closer to 12 inches. Although the formations appear similar to snowballs, they are not tightly packed. While they are interesting to look at or photograph, they usually cannot be picked up or held. The rolled snowballs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, the most interesting and beautiful rollers have several distinct and visible layers. As the inner layers are the most fragile, the balls often have a hollow center. Therefore, the rolls with all layers intact are even more difficult to find.
The lines trailing behind the rolling snow can be interesting, as well. The trails are often similar to those left by rocks sliding through the desert in Death Valley. (photos at link)
January may be THE COLDEST START OF THE YEAR SINCE 1982. Most of the Midwest are suffering through the coldest January since the 1980s.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
California Drought Could Impact World Food Prices - Southern California, where many fruits and vegetables for the country are grown, is experiencing a recording-breaking drought. The current drought in California, which started three years ago, is believed to be THE DRIEST PERIOD IN THE STATE'S HISTORY.
Drought continues in Kansas - The U.S. Drought Monitor map for Kansas shows that 95% if the state is dry with around 47% in a moderate drought and 34% in a severe drought.
Australia - Drought challenge to Yass farmers. Drought is threatening to take hold in the Yass region, with farmers already finding feed scarce because of late frosts last year.
HEALTH THREATS -
Hong Kong begins culling 20,000 chickens - after the H7N9 bird flu virus was found in poultry imported from mainland China.
FDA did not act after deeming animal feed antibiotics ‘high risk’ to humans - Based on the US Food and Drug Administration’s own safety analyses, 30 antibiotic feed additives formerly approved for “nontherapeutic use” on food animals would not meet current agency health standards if submitted for approval today, a new report shows.
Nontherapeutic use of antibiotics means they are not used to treat diseases, but are rather used for growth promotion in animals or to counteract disease amid crowded or unsanitary conditions for livestock and poultry in industrial farming. The FDA documents show that 18 of the 30 additives were found to be “high risk” for “exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the food supply.” The other 12 were not supported with enough evidence from the drugs’ manufacturers for the FDA to definitively determine their safety. In fact, 26 of the products did not even meet the FDA’s own safety standards from 1973.
Further, the FDA has not revoked any of the antibiotic additive approvals or required any drug manufacturer to resubmit a product for a new safety assessment following the agency’s reviews, though two were voluntarily withdrawn by their makers. It is difficult to determine how widespread the use of these antibiotic additives has been, given that the FDA does not offer sales data on specific products. However, at least nine of the 30 additives are being marketed today and all of the products - outside of the two already withdrawn - remain FDA-approved despite the agency’s own damning reviews. “This risk was recognized by FDA in 1977 when it proposed to withdraw approvals for animal feed additives containing penicillin and most tetracyclines.” Yet the use of the two antibiotics continues because the FDA never followed through with its own assessment.
Last December, the FDA announced a plan to phase out some antibiotics that promote weight gain. That proposal was criticized because the agency planned on making them “voluntary” – not mandatory. A microbiologist said the FDA’s inaction in regard to the additives’ continued use is “a breach of their responsibility and the public trust.”
In response to the report, the FDA issued a statement saying that “based on its review of this and other information, the Agency chose to employ a strategy that would more broadly address the concerns about the production use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals.” The FDA “is confident that its current strategy to protect the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials, including penicillins and tetracyclines, is the most efficient and effective way to change the use of these products in animal agriculture.”
Pesticide linked to Alzheimer's - DDT, once widely used, may increase the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.
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