**Don't quote me on this....**
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.3 DRAKE PASSAGE [below South America]
Yesterday, 2/26/14 -
6.1 FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
Indonesia - Mount Marapi in Indonesia's West Sumatra province erupted Wednesday, shooting ash to the sky and incurring a downpour of ash and volcanic sand up to 10 km to the south of the crater. Powerful bursts of ash, sand and gravel erupted from the volcano located in Tanah Datar and Agam districts at 4.15 p.m. Jakarta time.
However, the height of the column could not be determined visually as visibility was impaired by haze enveloping West Sumatra due to forest fire in the neighbouring province of Riau. The authorities have closed the area within a three-km danger zone from the crater as the volcano is on third-highest alert level. So far, the authorities have not recommended any evacuation.
Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra and Mount Kelud in East Java, two most active volcanoes in the country, erupted earlier this month, claiming 24 lives and displacing over 160,000 people. Mount Marapi is among 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Mount Kelud - Although the government has not decreased the alert status of Mount Kelud in East Java, many public facilities resumed operations, including Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, which reopened last Wednesday after being closed for five days due to thick layers of ash from the volcano’s eruption.
Small amounts of volcanic ash could still be seen on both sides of the runway last Wednesday evening. The eruption forced the closure of seven airports across Java. The Yogyakarta branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association reported that volcanic ash from last Thursday night’s eruption of had caused thousands of tourists to cancel their visits to Yogyakarta. “The financial losses that hotels in Yogyakarta are suffering from the situation could exceed Rp 2 billion per day." The figure was calculated based both on cancellations of tourists’ visits and physical damage caused by the thick layers of volcanic ash.
Although many public facilities have reopened and people have resumed their daily activities, everyone — especially evacuees — is reminded to remain cautious about the potential dangers of the mountain, especially the threat of lahar, or “cold lava” flow. Lahar could take the form of up to 105 million cubic meters of volcanic materials, carried by water, flowing down from the mountain. Therefore, they called on evacuees from the areas of Kediri, Malang and Blitar to remain in shelters until further notice. Many evacuees, however, have reportedly returned home.
TROPICAL STORMS -
Current tropical storms - maps and details.
No current tropical storms.
Tropical Pacific Heating Up - The tropics are heating up across the Pacific Basin with three areas of concern being monitored. One of these areas could yield the year's first typhoon in the western Pacific.
Most of the Pacific has been void of organized tropical systems so far this month, but that will change as February gives way to March. Tropical development will occur in the near future southeast of Guam, while a tropical cyclone is expected to soon take shape near Fiji. This weekend through early next week, yet another tropical cyclone may form south of the Solomon Islands.
A tropical low spinning southeast of Guam is expected to soon officially develop into a tropical depression. AccuWeather.com meteorologists anticipate the low to crawl westward or west-northwestward through Saturday before targeting Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands early next week. After officially becoming a tropical depression, all the ingredients are in place for the low to continue strengthening into a tropical storm. It is not out of the question that the low becomes a minimal typhoon, the first of 2014 for the western Pacific and with strength equal to that of a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin.
"Guam will receive 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) of rain through early next week with the potential for more." That amount of rain is sure to trigger flash flooding and mudslides in the higher elevations. "The danger of coastal flooding along the eastern beaches will also increase through the weekend ahead of the low's arrival as persistent northeasterly winds howl and drive the ocean's water onshore." The severity of the damaging winds across the islands early next week will depend on the exact peak strength of the low.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center is also keeping a close eye on another tropical low spinning immediately to the east of Fiji. A tropical cyclone with its strength equal to that of a tropical storm is expected to take shape gradually as the low spins near Fiji through Friday (local time) then crawls southeastward this weekend. Gusty winds and rough surf will become more of an issue as the low strengthens. The threat of flooding rain and damaging winds will then shift to Tonga this weekend as the low tracks southeastward.
Future Area of Concern South of Solomon Islands - This weekend is also when another tropical cyclone may begin forming south of the Solomon Islands. Latest indications point toward this future tropical cyclone dropping southward through the Coral Sea next week and possibly becoming stronger than the low currently near Fiji. AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be closely monitoring this area for potential impacts on eastern Australia later next week or the following weekend.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
U. S. - A frigid blast of Arctic air will bring SOME OF THE COLDEST LATE FEBRUARY TEMPERATURES SEEN IN DECADES to the eastern 2/3 of the U.S. this week, with temperatures 15 - 30° below normal commonplace. The cold air isn't going anywhere fast, and will stick around through early next week.
The cold blast is due to an EXTREME JET STREAM PATTERN we have seen before this winter - a sharp ridge of high pressure over California, and a large trough of low pressure over Eastern North America. This upper air pattern was described by the National Weather Service in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday as one that OCCURS LESS THAN ONCE EVERY 30 YEARS in late February.
The intense cold was already affecting the Upper Midwest Wednesday morning. Worst winter weather of the day goes to Central Minnesota at Alexandria, where a temperature of -8°F combined with winds of 14 mph to make a wind chill of -28°. The winds were expected to increase to 25 - 30 mph Wednesday afternoon with higher gusts, creating blizzard conditions.
In Chicago, the intense cold is expected to put the December - February average temperature for this winter below 19°, making the winter of 2013 - 2014 the 3rd coldest winter in the Windy City's history. Only the winters of 1978 - 1979 and 1903 - 1904 were colder.
Unlike previous versions of this extreme jet stream pattern, though, the ridge over the Western U.S. will not be very persistent. The ridge of high pressure over California, which brought numerous record high temperatures for the date on Tuesday, will get broken down by a weak low pressure system on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday and Saturday, a more intense storm system will smash through the ridge, bringing moderate to heavy rain to much of drought-parched California. This storm will then track eastwards, potentially bringing a major snowstorm and destructive ice storm on Monday to Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S.
SPACE WEATHER -
X-FLARE! Long-lived sunspot AR1967 returned to the Earthside of the sun on Feb. 25th and promptly erupted, producing an X4.9-class solar flare. This is the strongest flare of the year so far and one of the strongest of the current solar cycle.
Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the CME suggest an expansion velocity near 2000 km/s or 4.4 million mph. If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe. However, because its trajectory is so far off the sun-Earth line, the CME will deliver a no more than a glancing blow. NOAA forecasters expect a weak impact today.
The long-lived sunspot is now beginning its third trip across the Earthside of the sun. This region was an active producer of flares during its previous transits, and it looks like the third time will be no different. By tradition, sunspots are renumbered each time they return, so AR1967 has been given a new name, AR1990.
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