Sunday, January 30, 2011

**If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?**
Abraham Lincoln

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/29/11 -

1/28/11 -


JAPAN - Shinmoedake volcano forms lava dome; danger of superheated gas rises. The Shinmoedake volcano has formed a lava dome within its main crater, researchers have discovered. Shinmoedake has been erupting since Jan. 19, raining volcanic ash and stones on nearby communities and prompting school closings and evacuations. A second explosion was observed at 12:47 p.m. on Jan. 28. Ash from the volcano has reached over 17 cities and towns within Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. The lava dome, a build-up of high-viscosity magma, was confirmed by aerial observations of the volcano. The dome is some tens of meters in diameter and parts of it are glowing red hot. A lake that had occupied the bottom of the crater before the eruption has vanished. At present it is unlikely the magma will overflow the crater, which measures 700-800 meters in diameter and a few hundred meters deep. However, "if the supply of magma continues to flow, it could leak out of the crater."
Furthermore, in the southwest corner of the crater, traces of a 500-600 meter long pyroclastic flow were also found. A pyroclastic flow is a phenomenon where volcanic ash and clumps of rock released in an eruption combine with hot gas and flow down the mountainside at high speed. There are different types of pyroclastic flow. In one type, rock fragments released in an eruption can be carried up by heat, forming a pillar of volcanic ash and gas called an eruption column that then falls over the surrounding area. In the second type -- often seen on Mt. Merapi in Indonesia -- a lava dome collapses and sends down a pyroclastic flow concentrated in a single direction, as occurred during an eruption of Unzendake volcano in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 3, 1991 leaving 43 people dead or missing.

Cyclone 11P was 1326 nmi S of Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.
Cyclone ANTHONY was 254 nmi ENE of Townsville, Australia.
Cyclone BIANCA was 268 nmi W of Perth, Australia.

Tropical storm Eleven is forecast to strike Australia as an intense tropical cyclone at about 03:00 GMT on 3 February.

Cyclone Anthony has re-formed and could hit Queensland's tropical coast by Monday, and there could be more bad news for the flood-weary state, with the weather bureau keeping an eye on a low off Vanuatu. Anthony intensified into a category one cyclone about 10am Friday. It was sitting about 1000km east of Cairns in the Coral Sea. It's expected to intensify over the weekend and forecasters have predicted it could cross the coast on Monday morning, possibly as a high Category 2. The effects of the cyclone will be felt from late Sunday, with heavy rain and windy conditions developing. Forecasters say it is too early to predict where the cyclone will cross.
Meanwhile, there's also a chance a tropical low hovering about 1500km northeast of Vanuatu could also turn into a cyclone and hit Queensland. "There is a moderate potential for it to turn into a tropical cyclone during the next 24 to 48 hours ... and move westwards over the Coral Sea area."

The Cyclone Bianca warning off the West Australian coast has been cancelled but storms and high tides are still forecast for the region.

Tropical cyclone Wilma has blown out of New Zealand after saturating much of the North Island and leaving a trail of destruction. Civil Defence is continuing to receive calls from people affected by the storm, which saw TWO MONTHS OF RAIN FALLING IN 12 HOURS and rivers bursting their banks in Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Waikato. More than 500 people remain stranded in the Coromandel settlements of Tapu and Temata, about 20km northwest of Thames, as slips have blocked all access to the area. In Northland, farms in the low-lying Hikurangi swamp area remain submerged after flood waters breached stopbanks along the Mangakahia River. The water could remain for several weeks until the river levels recede and the area can be pumped.
In the Waikato, river levels were expected to recede today or tomorrow after the HIGHEST FLOWS THERE SINCE 1998. "This one didn't pack as much of a punch as previous cyclones but there have been some pockets that have been quite severely effected.'' In the Auckland region there are still areas of significant flooding.
Ex-tropical cyclone Wilma is now well clear of the North Island as she quickly heads out into the Pacific Ocean towards the Chatham Islands.Wilma will now start a rapid deepening process that will help push a strong south westerly across the entire country and churn up large seas along the east coast. The storm, formerly Tropical Cyclone Wilma, still has a central air pressure of 978hPa and will start to deepen again as she clears New Zealand. Apart from the Chatham Islands the system no longer poses a threat to the country.
But strong winds in her wake are now pushing across the nation. Gale or near gale winds are affecting exposed parts of the Far North, Auckland, Taupo, East Cape, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatu.
In the South Island, between a high to the west and Wilma to the north east, near gale winds are also pushing into exposed parts of Canterbury, the West Coast and Southland.


AUSTRALIA - The storms raged through several towns, including Northam, York, Beverley, Wongan Hills, Goomalling, Cunderdin and Toodyay on Saturday, but were not related to weakening Cyclone Bianca hovering off the WA coast. Thousands of homes battered by severe storms in Western Australia's Wheatbelt region could be without power for days. Even as residents began assessing the damage, they were preparing for further storms on Sunday. Damage had mainly been to roofs and sheds with trees and power lines also torn down. "The storm literally arrived like an unexpected and uninvited guest." Due to the number of lines and poles that were brought down by lightning and strong winds, some homes in the Northam area may remain without power for several days.

More bad weather for Sri Lanka, experts warn. Weather experts in Sri Lanka warn of more heavy rains and possible flooding in the country's eastern and northern regions. Strong winds were being predicted for the end of February. "Weather experts warn of the possibility of extreme weather again," predicting that the flood-affected areas might suffer a second onslaught. Heavy rains and floods since November 2010 affected 24 of the island's 25 districts. About 1.2 million people were affected by the floods and more than 300,000 people were still displaced. The eastern and northern districts bore the brunt of the recent floods, with 94 percent of the affected population living in the three eastern districts of Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee. Flooding caused shortages of rice and several crops such as chilies and onions. The new warning may likely increase the possibility of food shortages.

Friday, January 28, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Two possible cyclones threaten to hit within days of each other. Cyclone Anthony could intensify from a category one to a category three storm and hit the Burdekin Coast, between Cardwell and Bowen, on Monday. Meanwhile, it's feared a tropical low about 1500km northeast of Vanuatu could build into a category four cyclone and hit north of Gladstone on Thursday. "In a worst-case scenario, Queensland could see two tropical cyclones cross the coast in a matter of three or four days."
It was grim news as the state was trying to recovering from heavy rains and damaging floods. "We're battening down the hatches once more, but we hope both these weather formations disappear out at sea somewhere. But on all current modelling, the bureau's best advice is that both of these cyclones will cross the Queensland coast next week, and we have to be ready for that possibility."
The second system was likely to be named Yasi by the Fijian government. It likely to bring substantial rainfall and possibly more flooding across the state. A cyclone watch issued on Friday for communities between Cairns and Bowen is likely to be upgraded to a warning on Saturday. Rains brought by Cyclone Tasha, a category one system that crossed the Queensland coast on Christmas Day last year, led to flooding in an area the size of France and Germany.

**To love what you do and feel that it matters -
could anything be more fun?**
Katherine Graham

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/17/11 -


COLUMBIA - Colombian authorities have raised the risk level of the Galeras volcano to orange alert, meaning an eruption is likely within days or weeks. The Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining declared the alert on Wednesday because of "fluctuating levels in the occurrence of seismicity". In particular, "the occurrence of earthquakes with screw-type characteristics, which are relevant because in Galeras they have been recorded in periods prior to eruptions."
The Civil Defense and Red Cross volunteers have prepared nine shelters with basic elements necessary for survival to accommodate the some 8,000 residents from the nearby municipalities. No residents have been evacuated yet. Galeras is the country's most active volcano. It erupted in January 2010, forcing the evacuation of the area's inhabitants. In 2009 the volcano erupted five times.

JAPAN - Volcano Erupts in Southern Japan, Smoke Seen 5,000 Feet Above the Crater. A Japanese volcano in the southern Kyushu region erupted Wednesday, leaving fields in nearby towns coated with ash and prompting limited voluntary evacuations overnight. Heavy clouds of smoke spewing from the Shinmoedake volcano on Mount Kirishima prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to raise the volcanic alert level to a 3, warning people to clear the area within a mile of the volcano.
The eruption did not pose a threat to nearby cities, and a major eruption was not imminent, as of now. "You can never say never with a volcano. But the lack of magma movement beneath the surface leads us to believe that this activity won't lead to a large-scale eruption." The volcano, one of 20 inside Mount Kirishima, began erupting around 7:30 Wednesday morning. By 3 p.m., heavy smoke could be seen billowing nearly 5,000 feet above the crater. Air space above the mountain remained open but the haze prompted airlines to cancel at least four domestic flights from the Miyazaki Prefecture today, while the buildup of ash on train tracks forced Japan Rail to cancel several train lines in the region. Roads were shut down because of poor visibility. School-bound children were advised to wear masks as a precaution. Farmers woke up to find their fields coated with debris. "People told us their windows were rattling and they heard roaring sounds coming from the mountain." While frequent activity has been reported at Kirishima, this is the largest eruption recorded there since 1959.

INDONESIA - The plans of Australian holidaymakers to one of their most popular tourist destinations are in disarray after flights to Bali were again cancelled due to a volcano. The ash was coming from Tengger Caldera, on the island of Java. Today's eruption follows those of Mount Bromo and Mount Merapi late last year. Those also caused flights to Bali to be cancelled.

PAKISTAN - Gooey" New Mud Volcano Erupts From Arabian Sea. There's a new island in the azure waters off Pakistan, but you might want to hold off on vacation planning: The tiny dot is a mud volcano that will likely disappear before it sees 1,001 Arabian nights. Pakistani fishers reported the new mud volcano in the Arabian Sea in late November, and NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite snapped a picture of it on January 11. The volcano was not in a satellite picture of the same region taken last February.
Mud volcano "islands" have appeared in the Arabian Sea before, and most have washed away within a few months. In fact, the January picture shows tan sediments steaming from the new mud volcano, suggesting it is eroding and will soon vanish. Mud volcanoes, which can appear on land or underwater, form when underground layers of silt or clay become pressurized either by tectonic activity or by a buildup of hydrocarbon gases.
Pakistan's mud volcanoes are driven by plate tectonics: The Arabian plate is subducting - or diving under - the Eurasian landmass, churning up sediments that form Pakistan's coastal plains and an offshore slope.
Underneath the plains, subduction is also melting rock into magma, which infuses the groundwater with heat and volcanic gases. The resulting acidic brew dissolves the rocks above into a slurry of mud and hydrocarbons, which then seeps through faults in slow eruptions.
Most mud volcanoes stand only a few inches to several feet high, but the land-based ones on Pakistan's plains can rise up to 330 feet (100 meters). Some of these peaks have been known to spew gas plumes that spontaneously combust, sending tongues of fire high into the sky. At about two miles (three kilometers) offshore, the new mud volcano is probably poking up from water that's about 98 to 197 feet (30 to 60 meters) deep. Its surface mud is relatively cool but "is likely water-saturated, so stays gooey to souplike depending on the amount of saturation." It's RARE for such mud volcanoes to breach the water's surface. They aren't aware of any that have lasted long enough to support island living, although it's possible the mud contains some bacteria that thrive above the waves.

Cyclone BIANCA was 628 nmi NNW of Perth, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 450 nmi NNW of Auckland, New Zealand.


People across the US northeast wearily shovelled their footpaths and dug out their cars after getting clobbered by the latest in a seemingly never-ending string of snowstorms. At least six deaths were blamed on the storm, including those of a Baltimore taxi driver whose cab caught fire after getting stuck in the snow, and people hit by snowplows in Delaware, Maryland and New York. In the Washington area, up to 17 centimetres of snow renewed memories of last year's "snowpocalypse" and created chaos when it hit the nation's capital at the height of the evening rush hour on Wednesday, forcing commuters into treacherous, eight-hour drives home. Even the President got caught in traffic. "I've lived in New York 70 years, and this year is the worst I remember. It's the continuity of it. It just keeps coming. Every week there's something new to be worried about. It's almost become comical."
Many schools closed for a second day yesterday. Airports ground to a halt, and nearly a half-million people lost power at some point. The forecast had called for up to 30cm snow but the storm brought far more than that. New York got 48cm, Philadelphia 43cm. Boston got about 30cm, as expected. New York City typically gets 53cm of snow a winter. The latest storm makes this JANUARY THE SNOWIEST SINCE THE CITY STARTED KEEPING RECORDS, breaking the mark of 69cm set in 1925. The New York area has been hit with snow eight times since mid-December. The airport serving Hartford, Connecticut got a foot of snow, bringing the total for the month so far to 139cm and BREAKING THE ALL-TIME MONTHLY RECORD of 115cm, set in December 1945.
In Massachusetts, travel was made trickier by high winds. Gusts of 74km/h were reported in Hyannis, 72km/h in Rockport and 79km/h on Nantucket early on Thursday. In Lynn, Massachusetts, heavy snow collapsed a garage roof and briefly trapped two men.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

SOUTH AFRICA flood death toll rises as government declares 33 disaster zones. Warnings of humanitarian crises after flooding claims more than 100 lives and threatens rest of southern Africa. Flooding in South Africa has forced at least 8,400 from their homes and prompted the government to declare 33 disaster areas. With UNUSUALLY heavy rainfall forecast UNTIL MARCH, ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA IS ON ALERT for potentially disastrous flooding.
The costs of damage to the infrastructure in the seven of South Africa's nine provinces affected is estimated at 160bn rand (£14bn). The Johannesburg area and northern and eastern provinces have experienced SOME OF THEIR GREATEST RAINFALL IN 20 YEARS. Flimsy houses in townships, where drainage systems are sometimes poor, are particularly vulnerable to the deluge. 20,000 people, or about 5,000 families, have been affected in provinces that are running out of money for flood relief. The government is in a race against time to avert a humanitarian crisis and the health department was on alert for a possible cholera outbreak. Farms have also been saturated and the country is Africa's biggest food producer, but farmers will not receive government compensation. Heavy rains have disrupted freight rail operations, affecting South Africa's coal and maize exports.
The UN warned last week that flooding poses a threat in most southern African countries. Some of the biggest rivers in the region, the Zambezi and the Okavango, have risen to DOUBLE their normal levels. "We fear flash floods. It's rather common in the region and this time we are seeing heavier rainfall than in previous years. Five countries are on alert for flooding - Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia - and South Africa will now declare a disaster. All neighbouring countries including Madagascar are on alert ... We COULD HAVE AN EXTREMELY MAJOR DISASTER if prevention measures are not stepped up over the next six weeks."
Mozambique has been hit hard, with at least 10 people killed and more than 13,000 people seeing their homes lost or damaged owing to high waters. There are fears of a repeat of the country's devastating floods in 2000 that left 800 people dead. Meteorologists believe the floods are caused by a natural weather cycle known as La Niña and the Southern Oscillation mechanism, which has been linked to recent flooding in Australia and the Philippines.

**I am not interested in power for power's sake,
but I'm interested in power that is moral,
that is right and that is good.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/26/11 -


JAPAN - A spectacular volcanic eruption is currently underway. The mountain Kirishima is firing red-hot magma and volcanic bombs into the air. Mount Kirishima, a volcano on the southern island of Kyushu, began erupting on Jan. 26. A giant ash cloud poured from the volcano, prompting the Tokyo VAAC to issue an ash warning for places above 25,000 feet (7.6 kilometers). Volcanic material shot from the crater, triggering pyroclastic flows.
Kirishima ejected volcanic bombs — lava fragments that are rounded as they fly through the air — more than a mile (2 kilometers) high from its vent. Images of the eruption show plumes of glowing material shooting a few hundred feet in the air. A volcanic vent is a gap in the Earth's crust through which lava and volcanic gases can escape. Kirishima technically refers to a larger group of volcanic vents on the island. These vents are quite active but mostly have small explosive eruptions. The latest eruption may be THE LARGEST SINCE 1959.

MEXICO - A series of explosive eruptions has rained ash and rock over the Colima Volcano, Mexico's most dangerous and active volcano. Colima Volcano, Mexico’s most active, has been erupting since 1998. The eruption began with several months of earthquakes beneath the volcano, followed by explosions and rockfalls at the summit lava dome as it began to grow. Dome growth was accompanied months later by a series of lava flows which cascaded down the southwestern flank of the mountain, stretching up to 3,100 meters (10,000 feet) from the summit. Since then dome growth has continued, with a few periods of actively flowing lava. As of March 2010, the dome was growing about 2,000 cubic meters (70,000) cubic feet a day, leading to frequent small rockfalls and occasional ash plumes. In January 2011, local newspapers reported “dust plumes” rising over Colima, likely pulverized lava stirred up by landslides at the summit dome.
To the north of Colima’s summit is the rim of a 4 kilometer (2 mile)-wide caldera, formed about 4,300 years ago in a massive flank collapse: similar to the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens. Modern Colima Volcano rises near the center of this caldera. Recent lava flows (erupted since 1961), cover the upper slopes of the volcano. Older lava flows (erupted in the 1800s and earlier) are covered in green vegetation. (image)


U.S. - The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood watch for the eastern Massachusetts coast for the early morning's high tide cycle. A rapidly intensifying nor’easter will pass southeast of Nantucket late Wednesday into early Thursday. Strong northeast winds will cause seas to rapidly build Wednesday night. This will likely yield a 2 to 2.5 foot storm surge during the early Thursday morning high tide.
This will result in minor to pockets of low end moderate coastal flooding during the early Thursday morning high tide cycle across the eastern Massachusetts coast. In addition, there is also the potential for some beach erosion. A coastal flood watch means that the potential exists for moderate or major coastal flooding.
Moderate coastal flooding produces widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads and/or basements due to the height of storm tide and/or wave action. Numerous road closures are needed. Lives may be at risk for people who put themselves in harms way. Isolated structural damage may be observed.
Major coastal flooding is considered severe enough to cause at least scattered structural damage along with widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads and/or basements. Some vulnerable homes will be severely damaged or destroyed. Numerous roads are impassable...some with washouts severe enough to be life- threatening if one attempted to cross on foot or by vehicle. Some neighborhoods will be isolated. Evacuation of some neighborhoods may be necessary.

Cyclone BIANCA was 204 nmi W of Port Hedland, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 707 nmi N of Auckland, New Zealand.

AUSTRALIA - Some communities remain on red alert as cyclone Bianca intensifies. Severe tropical cyclone Bianca continues moving westerly taking it slowly away from the Pilbara coast. Bianca has been kind to the North West following a westerly course overnight, slowly moving away from the Pilbara coast. Although the danger isn't over, the risk of a damaging impact from Bianca is decreasing. Winds are intensifying but the system is continuing to the west southwest. A RED ALERT remains for people in or near coastal communities between Mardie and Onslow including, Mardie, Onslow, mines and pastoral leases. (map)
Tropical Depression Anthony heading toward Australia. Anthony has now weakened to a tropical depression, but forecasters aren't counting Anthony out yet. Despite its weakened condition Anthony continues to move west toward Queensland, Australia and into a more favorable area for sustaining a tropical cyclone. The infrared imagery showed a well-defined low level circulation center, although dry air is now wrapping into Anthony's northern quadrant. Dry air saps the moisture that creates the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone. Generally, the storm's convection (rapidly rising air that creates those thunderstorms) is weak throughout the storm, and only isolated strong areas of convection appear in the southeastern quadrant. That may change in the next day or two, however, as Anthony moves into an area more conducive to maintaining a tropical cyclone. Vertical wind shear (winds that can weaken a tropical cyclone) has lessened and sea surface temperatures are warm enough to sustain and strengthen a tropical cyclone (between 28 and 30 Celsius/82 and 86 Fahrenheit). Computer forecast models have shown forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center that as the system tracks westward toward Australia, there is a fair chance that Anthony will regenerate or re-strengthen in the next 24-36 hours. Forecasters in Queensland, Australia will be watching Anthony very closely.


AUSTRALIA - Queenslanders have been warned not to drop their guard by thinking the worst of the weather is over. Queensland's wet season continues into April. "Being complacent could risk lives. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency can make all the difference and the best place to start is with a household emergency plan...All households should review and practise their plan three times a year, taking into account the changing needs of all members of the family."
AUSTRALIA - Almost half the 2.8 million hectare wheat crop has been downgraded to feed quality due to weather damage caused by rain and flooding. The ruined crops mean farmers across the state will earn at least $850 million less for the 2010 harvest. In some places harvesting has been stalled because paddocks are still too wet. A significant proportion of barley and oats had been downgraded, while pulse crops also suffered in the floods, which have affected large swathes of the state since December.
Despite the wet conditions, Industry and Investment NSW forecasted more than 600,000 hectares of summer crops have been sown, excluding rice. This is significantly higher than the estimated 240,000 hectares harvested last season. However, the wet and humid summer has also led to an increase in insects on summer crops, leading to significantly higher production costs for farmers.


AUSTRALIA - If you think Victoria's floodwaters have warded off the spectre of a bushfire season, think again, the Country Fire Authority has warned. Swan Hill residents remain on edge as floodwaters continue to creep slowly towards the Murray River town, while locals in surrounding communities face being isolated for weeks. Several brigades that received help during the Black Saturday bushfires from teams in northern and northwest parts of the state have now returned assistance to affected communities battling floodwaters. But firefighters will soon need to be rested as waters recede and significant fuel loads dry out. "We do have substantial grass fuel loads, particularly in the northern and western parts of the state. We need to start resting our people, making sure our trucks are fixed up, ready to go firefighting again.'' Fuel loads reaching widespread peak dryness before this month's heavy rainfall are now expected to produce green shoots.
But hot weather, particularly hot, dry winds, could see the green shoots dry off ``very quickly''. "We could go from a situation where we're doing floods today to one where we could feasibly be fighting quite aggressive grassfires in two to three weeks' time...We've got still another six to eight weeks of peak summer left."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Scientists and explorers will shortly set off on an expedition aiming to discover how Arctic sea ice melts. This year's Catlin Arctic Survey will focus on the thin layer of water immediately under the floating ice. Arctic ice is melting faster in summer than many computer models predict. Survey data could improve forecasts of the region's future, and also show how likely it is that the flow of warm water in the North Atlantic, known as the Gulf Stream, will switch off. This would bring colder weather to the UK and other parts of western Europe.
"The Arctic is one of best barometers of climate change, where we see big changes taking place today. This is not just about polar bears - it's about our lives in the UK and in North America." In early March, four explorers will set off on foot from the geographic North Pole, trekking across the ice and ending up 10 weeks later in Greenland. They will make regular stops to drill holes through the floating ice and lower a package of instruments into the water on the end of a piece of rope - instruments that measure the water's temperature, salinity and flow.
This data will allow scientists to calculate the rate at which the water is sinking. "The hypothesis has been that the layer stays there, trapped, acting to insulate the cold ice from the warm salty water below. On the other hand, the water might be taken away more quickly - and that might accelerate the rate of Arctic melting."
The findings could prove to be crucial in terms of projecting the future for Arctic sea ice. Both the area and volume of summer sea ice are steadily shrinking; and the last four summers have seen ice extent fall to sizes that a few years ago were being projected for the latter half of this century. If mixing in the crucial top ocean layer is happening more, that could help explain the trend and refine models. "Overall, if these changes... contribute to a lowering of the salt content of the North Atlantic, it could have a major impact on the entire planet - from significant temperature drops in Europe to intensified monsoons in Asia. It may also impact weather patterns throughout North America, including a dramatic increase in the frequency and intensity of severe storms, including hurricanes and tornadoes across the eastern US." Recent work suggests it would be a quick change - if it happens. Results from the season's work are expected to be ready for publication in science journals in the first half of next year. The £1m project is sponsored by the Catlin insurance group. (maps)

**Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence
but also internal violence of spirit.
You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
1/25/11 -


CALIFORNIA - A quick-thinking Australian watching a surf event in California has rescued an unconscious surfer after a "FREAK SET" OF GIANT WAVES struck, smashing boards and leaving several contestants in peril. The drama occurred at the notorious Mavericks, a famous break about 30 kilometres south of San Francisco that has claimed a number of lives over the years. Hospital officials say the surfer who nearly drowned after being pummelled and washed through rocks by one of the big waves is expected to recover. He was rescued by an Australian firefighter who was on a jet ski taking photographs on Saturday when the large group of waves known as a "freak set" caught surfers who were too close to shore.
The event featured average-sized waves by Mavericks standards, maybe 4.5- to 5.5-metre surf. The waves can get nine metres or higher at certain times of year. All of a sudden a rogue set of waves estimated at about 7.6 metres high appeared on the horizon. "You could see that first wave coming, all of the surfers started paddling toward it." A group of about five surfers did not make it over the encroaching wave before it broke. "I saw all the broken boards and people waving for help." If that wave alone were the only one, the surfers would have been able to get rescued quickly but 20 seconds later another large wave crashed on the surfers who had been hit by the first. After the whitewater calmed a bit, the firefighter said he drove his watercraft to a rocky area near where the waves break, and saw a body floating past the rocks."We dragged him up onto the beach and found a strong pulse. I was pretty surprised."

Cyclone ANTHONY was 773 nmi E of Townsville, Australia.
Cyclone BIANCA was 109 nmi NE of Port Hedland, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 874 nmi NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

Ex-tropical cyclone Anthony has started to move back towards the Queensland coast. The low is currently sitting about 1,000 off the coast near the Town of 1770, north of Bundaberg in south-east Queensland. The Bureau of Meteorology says it could reform into a cyclone tomorrow or Friday. But it is expected to be a weak category one or two.

Residents on West Australia's Pilbara coast have been urged to get ready to take shelter as tropical cyclone Bianca closes in. The Bureau of Meteorology said the category two cyclone is currently lingering about 285 kilometres south-west of Broome, moving in that direction at about 24 kilometres per hour. The bureau warns Bianca is expected to intensify later on Wednesday and into Thursday as it moves parallel to the Pilbara coast. "Destructive winds with gusts up to 160 kilometres per hour are possible between Port Hedland and Karratha later today and moving further west overnight." People in Port Hedland and Karratha are being warned about the potential for a dangerous storm tide. "Tides may rise significantly above the normal high tide mark with damaging waves and dangerous flooding."

Cyclone Wilma's eye catches attention of NASA satellites. Tropical cyclone Wilma was seen by the TRMM satellite shortly after attaining hurricane intensity on Jan. 24. NASA's Aqua satellite captured visible and infrared images of Cyclone Wilma in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean and her eye was clearly visible from space. AIRS Infrared imagery showed strong, very cold thunderstorm cloud tops around Wilma's center of circulation. The cloud tops were as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) indicating strong convection (rapidly rising air that creates the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone). AIRS instrument data also showed what appears to be a large "tail" from Wilma's center, stretching several hundred miles (kilometers) to the northeast of the storm's center. The system had mostly moderate rainfall, falling at rates between .78 to 1.57 inches (20 and 40 mm) per hour.
On January 25 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Tropical Cyclone Wilma had maximum sustained winds near 85 knots (97 mph/157 km/hr). It was located about 360 nautical miles southeast of Nadi, moving southwestward near 24 knots (27 mph/ 44 km/hr). A Tropical Cyclone Warning is in force for areas of Tonga and for areas of Fiji. On its projected path, Tropical Cyclone Wilma is expected to pass about 124 miles (200 km) south-southeast of Ono-i-lau by midnight local time tonight.
Wilma is forecast to continue moving southwest parallel to Fiji and New Caledonia as it makes its way toward New Zealand. On January 28 it is forecast to change course and head southeast bringing rains and gusty winds to northern New Zealand.


U.S. - About 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow may fall on Manhattan, with a little less in Washington and Baltimore and as much as 10 inches across southern Massachusetts and into Boston’s suburbs. “In New York it should be getting underway by the evening commute."
Winter storm watches and more severe warnings stretch from the coast of Maine to Alabama as the system is expected to bring as much as 4 inches across parts of the U.S. South. The storm also caused the weather service to issue severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches across Florida into last night. A weather service accumulation map shows slightly more than 10 inches across Rhode Island, including Providence, and into Boston’s southern suburbs. Boston is shown receiving 9.9 inches. There have been eight major snow events in the U.S. so far in the winter of 2010-2011.
On Jan. 12, every state except Florida had snow cover. Hawaii’s highest mountains were covered with snow. The last four winters have seen above average snow cover in North America. Part of the reason for the increased severity in winter is due to the a difference in pressure at the highest latitudes called the Arctic Oscillation. When there is high pressure over the pole and low pressure at mid-latitudes, known as a negative phase of the oscillation, resulting in warmer air rushing north and colder air moving south. In the last two years, that pressure differential has meant temperatures 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal have been recorded at the North Pole and across Canada, while temperatures across the U.S. as whole have been 9 degrees below normal. Theories on the reason include below-normal levels of sea ice at the Pole, increased snow cover across Siberia and Arctic sea surface temperatures.


MALAYSIA has released about 6000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever. The field test is meant to pave the way for the official use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring with shorter lives, thus curtailing the population. Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, which killed 134 people in Malaysia last year. They released the non-biting sterile male lab mosquitoes in an uninhabited forest area in eastern Malaysia on December 21. The institute gave no indication of how the experiment has fared so far.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Upside down weather - Wind chill warning are in place across much of east and central Canada as Canadians brave some of the LOWEST WINTER TEMPERATURES IN DECADES. Yet some of MILDEST WEATHER is currently being seen in the NORTHERN ARCTIC regions. The city of Whitehorse in Yukon was enjoying a relatively balmy -1C on Monday. "We have had some very high temperatures. It's almost as if the weather was upside down."
Further south, in Ottawa, the temperature reached -28.6C, the LOWEST RECORDED SINCE 1970. Montreal fell to -22C. Americans are being warned that the cold front is heading their way next. Residents in the north-eastern states of Maine and Vermont have been warned to expect similar temperatures to those seen in Canada.
Over the last month, the high Arctic in Canada has been experiencing RECORD WARMTH - with the average temperatures over a 29-day period MORE THAN 21 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL.
A year ago, during the winter of 2009/10, Canada experienced its warmest and driest winter since records began. The anomaly was blamed on medium-strength El Niño, which tends to send warmer-than-average air over Canada. News organisations covered the break-up of ice in Iqaluit - the capital of normally icy Nunavut - which endangered the snowmobile race that the local people run on Frobisher Bay. This year, the snowmobile race couldn't run at all. There was no ice to break up, despite a very strong La Niña - the reverse of El Niño conditions - taking place in the Pacific, which should have sent cold air pouring across the top of North America.
Instead, it appears that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) has had a strong influence on the region's climate, with a strongly negative NAO blocking the jet stream that normally keeps cold air up in the far Arctic north, and the open water that remains has got the region caught in a positive feedback loop. Instead, that cold air has poured down over Europe and the United States, creating bitterly cold, snowy conditions that have dominated most media coverage of the weather this winter.
The temperatures in Canada have been far more extreme, though. In one location - Coral Harbour in Nunavut - a typical mid-January day's temperature will peak at -26C, and sink to -34C at night. On cold years, it'll sink lower than that. After New Year's Day 2011, lowest daily temperatures in Coral Harbour stayed above the average high mercury mark for 11 days straight. On 5 and 6 January, temperatures rose above 0C - SOMETHING THAT'S NEVER BEEN RECORDED DURING JANUARY, FEBRUARY OR MARCH. On 6 January, the lowest temperature recorded was just above -4C - 30 degrees above the average low temperature for that time of year.
The effects are being felt on the population. "It's impossible for many people in parts of the eastern Arctic to safely get on the ice to hunt much-needed food for their families - for THE SECOND WINTER IN A ROW. Never before have we seen weather impact a way of life in so many small and big ways."

**Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon.
which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
It is a sword that heals.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/24/11 -


RUSSIA - Erupting volcano Kizimen on Kamchatka Peninsula is spurting ashes to a height of more than four kilometers. "Presently Kizimen presents a danger to aircraft flying in the vicinity, the volcano has been assigned the code orange threat to aviation. The abrasive particles of volcanic ash can infiltrate aircraft mechanisms, causing a plane crash." Volcano Kizimen, dormant since 1929, became active in 2009.

Cyclone ANTHONY was 789 nmi E of Townsville, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 1294 nmi NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

Tropical Cyclone Anthony is expected to start tracking back towards the north Queensland coast late today but it does not pose an immediate threat to Australia. The category one system continued to move away from the coast last night and is currently more than 1,100 kilometres, east north-east of Mackay. It has been weakening in the last day but that could mean it is about to loop back towards land. "It's not unusual for them to change direction but it does make them difficult to track because the environment keeps changing. At this stage it's weak and it's having the affect of dragging relatively dry air right across the tropics." The system may intensify today. "Be aware that it's sitting out there - it is going to head in our direction. "I'd like to give it another 24 to 36 hours before we start making a call one way or another, but I suppoose it's just be aware that it's sitting out there. It is that time of the year and we should be on our toes."

Far flung islands warned of Cyclone Wilma - The Ministry of Works and Transport has advised the people of Ono I Lau and Vatoa, two of the most far-flung islands in the Fiji group, to take strong precautionary measures as Cyclone Wilma is expected to pass by them tonight. "For the outer islands in Ono we would like to advise at this stage to stay away from the island roads and to take heed of the weather bulletin. We’re working closely with the National Disaster Centre and of course they have been highlighting to us the issues that is confronting us particularly the direction the storm is to come from." If the hurricane maintains its current path, it will pass close to the two islands tonight, bringing heavy rain, strong winds, flooding and very rough seas.


PENNSYLVANIA - Monday, the official temperature at Wilkes Barre Airport of -8 BROKE ALL COLD WEATHER RECORDS BACK TO 1901 when the National Weather Service began keeping track. In certain areas of Pike and Wayne Counties temperatures plunged lower, posing a threat to area residents.

RECORD BREAKING SNOWFALL in much of Alberta, Canada has resulted in people taking some unorthodox methods of clearing snow from roof tops. One video shows a man taking a snow blower to his roof. In some spots the snow was nearly 4 feet deep. So far, one business in Spruce Grove (just west of Edmonton) has had its roof collapse during business hours . Fortunately no one was killed or injured in that incident. The sudden warming trend this week is expected to make matters even worse as the snow pack compresses. The record amount of snow fall this year is largely thought to be an effect of La Niña weather patterns.


EAST AFRICA - Poor rains in late 2010 brought much of East Africa into drought that led to crop failures and poor pasture. East Africa is about as far from the Central Pacific Ocean as a person can get without leaving the planet. And yet, as the Pacific chills, drought grips East Africa in classic La Niña style. Because of global teleconnections, La Niña has to power to affect the weather half a world away.A satellite image shows severe drought in Somalia, Kenya, and southern Ethiopia. A typical December in much of East Africa is rainy, the end of a 3-month rainy period before a dry stretch that usually lasts from January to March. In 2010, however, the rains were erratic and ended in early November. December was hot and dry. Two thirds of Somalia received less than 75 percent of normal rainfall. Without rain, the pastureland and cropland in the region produced poor crops and little grass for livestock, leading to food shortages and livestock deaths.
Poor or failed rainfall during the short rain growing season (October to December) is a classic La Niña signal. In late 2010, a strong La Niña cooled surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, while allowing warmer water to build in the eastern Pacific. The pool of warm water in the east intensifies rains in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Domino-style, this pattern also increases the intensity of westerly winds over the Indian Ocean, pulling moisture away from East Africa toward Indonesia and Australia. The result? Drought over most of East Africa and floods and lush vegetation in Australia and other parts of Southeast Asia.


The world needs fundamental changes to the global food system to feed the expanding population, according to a British government report on how to feed the planet until 2050. Governments must take action to change dietary habits, cut waste, reduce subsidies and embrace genetically modified food, said the Global Food and Farming Futures report. The study said that with the global population forecast to reach nine billion in 40 years' time, radical changes were needed to a system already struggling to feed the existing population. "With the global population set to rise and food prices likely to increase, it is crucial that a wide range of complementary actions from policy makers, farmers and businesses are taken now. Urgent change is required throughout the food system to bring sustainability centre stage and end hunger. It is also vital for other areas, such as climate change mitigation, conflict, and economic growth."
The report found that the threat of hunger could increase, saying that current efforts were already stalling and food prices could rise substantially over the next 40 years. As hunger spread, the threat of migration and conflict would increase, while wider economic growth would also be affected. THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM IS ALREADY LIVING BEYOND ITS MEANS, consuming resources faster than they can be replenished. Substantial changes to water and energy use and addressing climate change are needed to bring about sustainability.
The world's food system is failing on two counts. "Firstly, it is unsustainable, with resources being used faster than they can be naturally replenished. Secondly, a billion people are going hungry with another billion people suffering from 'hidden hunger', whilst a billion people are over-consuming." The report said that new technologies such as genetic modification, cloned livestock and nanotechnology "should not be excluded a priori on ethical or moral grounds" and have the potential to be "very valuable for the poorest people in low-income countries". Investment in technology research is "essential" given the magnitude of the food security challenges ahead. New strategies would "benefit the poorest the most, simply by improving access to knowledge and technology, creating better access to markets and investing in infrastructure".

Monday, January 24, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Residents of a string of towns in the north-west of Australia's Victoria state were evacuating their homes Monday as flood defenses failed in the face of waters flowing towards the continent's largest river. Around 60 towns across AN AREA LARGER THAN DENMARK to the north-west of the state capital, Melbourne, have been hit by floods as heavy rain from recent weeks makes its way across broad floodplains to the Murray River. Earthworks holding back river waters were collapsing in some areas, bringing fast-flowing inundations of towns in the farming region. "The levees are failing. Water is entering the area now. The area will be inundated in the next 12 hours," Victoria's State Emergency Service said in a flood bulletin issued to residents of Murrabit West early Monday. The town is trapped between the Murray and one of its minor tributaries.
Evacuees were being diverted towards flood relief centers in towns near Swan Hill, a city of around 10,000 on the Murray's south bank where floodwaters from the Murray and its tributary the Loddon are expected to mingle and peak around Thursday or Friday. Towns in the Loddon Valley including Kerang, with nearly 4,000 residents, were isolated by the rising floodwaters.
Flooding that hit Australia's north-eastern state of Queensland over the past month has affected 28,000 properties and costs could run to 20 billion Australian dollars (US$19.8 billion). The flood disaster is now moving across southeast Victoria state, where driving rains have forced swollen rivers over their banks. The State Emergency Service has warned that a vast inland sea about 55 miles (90 kilometers) long northwest of the Victorian capital of Melbourne will continue coursing inland for the next week until it spills into the Murray River.
The State Emergency Service said Monday that 76 towns in Victoria have been affected by flooding, with 1,770 properties suffering some water damage. Another five to 10 towns are still in the floodwaters' northern path across flat wheat-growing country.

**It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me,
but it can keep him from lynching me,
and I think that's pretty important.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/23/11 -

Cyclone ANTHONY was 581 nmi E of Townsville, Australia.
Cyclone WILMA was 1573 nmi NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

AUSTRALIA - The wild summer weather, caused by the La Nina phenomenon, was showing no sign of abating, with a cyclone and a tropical low expected to bring more severe conditions. Warnings of strong winds and high seas follow the death of a man at Stanwell Park, south of Sydney, on Friday after a sandbank collapsed and a rip dragged him out to sea. With just over a month left of summer, the Bureau of Meteorology has signalled more wet weather and cyclones are on the way, following record-breaking floods in Queensland and on the east coast. The season has also seen snow on Mount Wellington in Hobart, a heatwave in Perth and hot conditions in Adelaide.
Yesterday, the bureau issued a high seas weather warning for areas off the northeast coast of Queensland as tropical cyclone Anthony lurked in the area. The cyclone was responsible for heavy rainfall on the north Queensland coast at the weekend, and this led to minor flooding of three rivers. The cyclone poses no immediate threat to the Queensland coast and was moving in an easterly direction fairly rapidly at 35km/h.
There is a possibility the cyclone could turn around and head back west tomorrow or Wednesday. More tropical cyclones are expected in March, their peak season.
While the rains have temporarily eased over southern Queensland, further flooding is expected in towns in western Queensland. The weather bureau is warning of high flood levels in the southeast Queensland town of St George until at least the end of this week, while flood levels further downstream at Dirranbandi and Hebel will remain high well into next month. Floodwaters at St George have dropped slowly over the past fortnight since a peak of 13.2m two weeks ago, but have returned with a peak yesterday of 12.5m.
In the Northern Territory, there was a severe weather warning in place last night as a tropical low approached just off the Kimberley coast. People in the western Darwin-Daly district area were warned to expect damaging winds, heavy rain, ABNORMALLY high tides and large waves.

Tropical Cyclone Wilma passes, no major damage to American Samoa - Little damage was caused by the storm even though the eye of the cyclone hovered over American Samoa for about an hour. Officials started alerting residents of Cyclone Wilma days before it hit. It appears the message was heard with no reports of injuries or major damage. Most of the damage from tropical cyclone wilma affected the eastern side of American Samoa.
"The cyclone came northeast so mostly on the eastern side of the island that was got hit strong." The National Weather Service says winds reached up to 60 miles per hour with higher gusts. There are reports of mudslides and power outages, but overall, the damage from the storm were minor, unlike what happened in September 2009, when an earthquake generated a powerful tsunami, killing several hundred people. The American Samoa Government was criticized for not having a warning siren system. This time, officials made sure to get the word out early about Wilma. Homeland Security officials were ready in case evacuations were ordered. "When we got there people were still in their homes.The shore, I mean the waves, were a little bit high and it really came ashore and it almost got to the houses." As a precaution, officials opened 10 shelters. "Few villages on the east side and few villages on the west that were badly damaged." They expect American Samoa to get more effects of the storm in the coming days. "We are anticipating winds from the northwest and those are usually typical strong gusty winds, I'm sure the clean-up will begin as soon as the west winds get through." Forecasters say Wilma could weaken significantly as it approaches New Zealand.


AUSTRALIA - Authorities ordered evacuations after levees failed about 30km from Kerang, and Swan Hill braced for the worst from a virtual inland sea that stretches 40km across and 90km in length.
As neighbouring communities are evacuated into Swan Hill's fortress against the rising tide which stretches up to 90km, Swan Hill revealed that vital sand bags had been stolen. “We’ve got selfish people out there, who are diminishing the efforts of … most people who have pulled together for the good of everybody. If we win on the front line, we protect everybody (but) if the resources aren’t there, then we’re going to lose. They’ve actually taken sand bags off the levy. We’ve placed piles of sand in strategic locations so we can bolster defences and whole piles of sand have disappeared. As a community leader, I’m absolutely disgusted that someone could do that.”
Swan Hill's 10,000 residents face an anxious wait as a vast inland sea, estimated at more than 3000 sq km in size, approaches the city, while Queensland continues to clean up after their devastating floods. The wait for the expected 4.8m peak later this week was the worst aspect. "There is a level of anxiety. People have seen the images of the Queensland floods on television, but we face a different situation. This is a slow moving mass of water... It's a slow inland sea moving to the Murray River."
Meanwhile the search for victims of the inland tsunami in Queensland's Lockyer Valley continues, with the grisly discovery of a child's remains and another body over the weekend bringing the official toll to 20. As families anxiously wait for news of their missing loved ones, residents and volunteers are continuing the clean-up in devastated towns. Aout 26,000 homes in Brisbane had been damaged by recent flooding and 3000 in Ipswich.
Crops of fruit and vegetables were also decimated by the torrential rain, meaning consumers are likely to be hit with higher prices at the checkout. Big supermarkets are contemplating the mass import of fruit and vegetables to keep prices down instead of supporting Australian producers and selling water-damaged crops. Supermarkets were urged to stock the "ugly but beautiful" food. "Now is the time to be supporting our Australian farmers. Just because there might be some blemishes on the outside of the fruit, doesn't mean it won't taste as good as it normally does." The news comes as Westpac says they could force mortgage customers to buy flood insurance in the wake of the crisis that has engulfed the eastern states and destroyed thousands of Queensland homes. The recovery taskforce continue to work around the clock, cleaning and repairing the worst hit areas.

BRAZIL - Officials in Brazil say more than 800 people are now known to have died in floods and landslides in the south-east of the country this month. More than 400 people are still missing after torrential rain caused whole hillsides to collapse. The Brazilian government has said it will set up an early warning system to alert communities of impending danger. The flooding is considered the WORST NATURAL DISASTER BRAZIL HAS EVER EXPERIENCED.
The worst affected town has 324 dead. The number of missing has been declining as forensic experts identify more bodies, but rescue workers fear the full extent of the disaster is not yet known, with some remote communities still only reachable by helicopter. Funeral workers said some dogs were guarding their owners' graves for days. Volunteers in Rio de Janeiro held an adoption fair in the hope of re-homing some of the 5,000 animals left without owners as a result of the disaster. Emergency workers say their priority is to make sure no new deaths occur. They are warning of the risks of contaminated water.


DID YOU SEE THAT FIREBALL? is seeking reports of a possible fireball or other bright lights in the sky over North America on Jan. 18th around 4 am EST. The area of particular interest extends from Lake Michigan to southern parts of Ontario and upper New York state. Did you see anything? Submit your reports to

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Australia braces for more floods - A giant inland sea of floodwater, 55 miles (90km) long, will spread across the Australian state of Victoria over the next 10 days, officials say. The Victoria State Emergency Service has issued evacuation warnings for communities east of the city of Kerang, which remains cut off. In all, more than 70 communities have been affected. In the city of Swan Hill, people have been building makeshift levees to hold back the Murray River, which is expected to carry the bulk of the floodwaters as they run off over the next 10 days. These are THE WORST FLOODS IN NORTHERN PARTS OF VICTORIA SINCE RECORDS BEGAN 130 years ago.
The floods WILL RANK AS ONE OF THE MOST COSTLY NATURAL DISASTERS IN THE COUNTRY'S HISTORY. More than 30 people have been killed since flooding began last month. In Queensland, nine people are still missing after floods tore through the cities of Toowomba and Grantham.
The impact of the floods was worse than a series of natural disasters in the 1970s and wildfires in 2009 in which 173 people died. Further north, in Queensland, residents of the state capital, Brisbane, have again been putting out sandbags as high tides threaten to inflict more misery on low-lying suburbs. The city is still clearing up after floodwaters two weeks ago reached a peak of 4.46m (14.6ft). The search for the bodies of flood victims is continuing. The Australian navy has been trying to clear the Brisbane River of tonnes of debris including cars, parts of buildings and boats. The floods are expected to pose a threat for another week. Economists estimate that the flooding in Queensland and Victoria will cost at least 3bn Australian dollars (£1.8bn) in lost coal exports and agricultural production. Reconstruction could cost an additional 20bn Australian dollars.

**It is not enough to say we must not wage war.
It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/22/11 -

1/21/11 -

MONTANA - Quake might have caused hole on expert ski run near Helena. An expert run at the Great Divide Ski Area near Helena just got a little bit harder, and the resort's owner thinks a weekend earthquake that happened nearby is to blame. He thinks the magnitude 3.7 earthquake that shook the area early Sunday might have collapsed an old mining tunnel called a stope. He says the quake was three miles away from the resort and a fault line runs through a nearby ridge.
A ski patroller coming down one of the slopes Monday morning discovered the opening, which stretches about 10 feet across the fall line and 30 to 40 feet downhill. The hole, which is part of the maze of old underground mines, is between 80 and 100 feet deep. Thousands of stopes litter the Montana landscape, and this one could have been opened by the quake. It's not uncommon for holes to pop up because of the mining history in the area. Officials with the Department of Environmental Quality will probably fill in the opening this spring. In the meantime, the area has been cordoned off.


ICELAND - South Iceland inhabitants fear Katla eruption. Inhabitants of the Vestur-Landeyjar district in south Iceland have sent letters to the constituency’s MPs, the Ministry for Internal Affairs, the Icelandic Road Administration and the Civil Defense Department, calling for a secure evacuation route from possible disastrous flooding caused by an eruption in the sub-glacial volcano Katla.
Katla lies underneath the Mýrdalsjökull icecap. The only evacuation route from the farms in the area lies along a stretch that would lead towards the potential tidal wave which would likely be created in the case of an eruption. A solution to the potential problem is pressing and that it has been on the municipality’s agenda for a long time.
“When [Eyjafjallajökull] erupted last year people realized the seriousness of the matter. A flood caused by Katla would be many times larger than the one we experienced back then." In spite of there being no signs of an upcoming eruption in Katla, people suspect it is only a matter of time before the volcano bursts.

Cyclone ANTHONY was 189 nmi ENE of Cairns, Australia.

Cyclone WILMA was 1697 nmi NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

CYCLONES - Tropical Cyclone Wilma formed last night east of Samoa and long range computer models show the remnants of the cyclone are likely to pass northern New Zealand towards the end of this coming working week. Wilma was one of two new cyclones that formed over the weekend in the south-west Pacific as the La Nina enhanced cyclone season gets fully underway.
To the north east of Australia category one cyclone "Anthony" has formed. The cyclone will be of huge concern for Queenslanders despite the initial tracking showing the tropical storm moving away from the coastline and heading out into the Coral Sea. Once Anthony moves into the central Coral Sea it could well deepen further with future computer models showing the cyclone doing a u-turn on Wednesday and taking aim on the Queensland coast as a stronger system by the end of the week.
Wilma may end up reaching New Zealand, although it's certainly still early days. Wilma will tomorrow (Monday) cross American Samoa as a category 1 or 2 cyclone. The long range maps have been picking for several days now that a cyclone would form north east of New Zealand and then track south west towards the upper North Island by Friday or Saturday. Weather data used by currently predicts a 60% chance of rain for Auckland this Saturday, which is high considering how far out the system still is, however forecasters stress it's still too early to know if Wilma will have any serious impact on NZ.
Wilma is currently category 1 status with sustained winds at 65km/h but the Fiji Meteorological Service says the sustained winds will rise closer to 100km/h by midnight tonight. The cyclone will pass directly over Pago Pago, American Samoa, Monday morning.


AUSTRALIA - The storm season has made a terrifying and costly mark already, but Mother Nature has struck again with a front on Wednesday afternoon felling trees, unroofing buildings and pummelling some areas with massive hail. In the Nambucca Valley the storm lasted a mere 15 minutes but left a slew of damage to businesses, homes and bushland. Emergency workers were flat out removing huge gum trees which were ripped from their roots and torn to shreds. The UNPRECEDENTED event was described as a ‘mini cyclone’. “I was down the road when horrendous rain and hail rolled in. A tree flew across and snapped in front of me.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Earth could be getting a second sun, at least temporarily. A Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland says that Betelgeuse, one of the night sky's brightest stars, is losing mass, indicating it is collapsing. It could run out of fuel and go super-nova at any time. When that happens, for at least a few weeks, we'd see a second sun. There may also be no night during that time frame.
The Star Wars-esque scenario could happen by 2012... or it could take longer. The explosion could also cause a neutron star or result in the formation of a black hole 1300 light years from Earth. But if the star does go super-nova, Earth will be showered only with harmless particles. "They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever." This "star stuff" makes up the universe. "It literally makes things like gold, silver - all the heavy elements - even things like uranium....a star like Betelgeuse is instantly forming for us all sorts of heavy elements and atoms that our own Earth and our own bodies have from long past supernovas."
Astronomers have recently determined that Betelgeuse is shrinking - in a big way. In the last 15 years it has lost 15% of its diameter. In the past the size of the star has usually ranged between the diameters of the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but now it unexplainably has shrunk to the size of the orbit of Venus. Although its size is now smaller, its brightness, oddly enough, did not diminish in the process. In addition, an unusual, large red spot has recently appeared on the star’s surface.
All this could be a precursor to it going supernova, when it finally runs out of thermonuclear fuel and ends its 8.5-million-year-old life in a massive explosion. This star would thus become the most luminous object in our sky, much more so than our full Moon. It could even rate as the brightest supernova in history. If Betelgeuse indeed turns into a supernova, it would be visible even during the day and would remain in the night sky for months or even years before fading away - the right shoulder of Orion vanished forever.
Another possible scenario exists: Betelgeuse may have already gone supernova, but we just don’t know it yet because its light has not reached us. Scientists have not precisely determined how far the star is from us, although the commonly accepted distance is 430 light-years - then the supernova could have happened in the year 1372 AD. New measurements taken last year, however, increased the distance to 640 light-years - and the supernova could actually havw happened in 1582 AD.
Suppose we say that the light from the supernova will reach us sometime during 2012. The date just three years in the future is, of course, the much-debated end of the current cycle of the Mayan Calendar. It is significant that Betelgeuse achieves midnight culmination (or highest point in the sky when the star crosses the observer’s meridian) each December 21st, the winter solstice - the exact date of the calendar’s conclusion. Perhaps the end of the Mayan calendar will be accompanied not by huge solar flares as some have claimed or by an asteroid or comet strike, or even by a major pole shift. We may instead be seeing a massive supernova explosion of the red star Betelgeuse.
If this supernova comes to pass, it probably will not cause any direct physical destruction, due to the great distance between Betelgeuse and the Earth. It may, however, trigger a subtler albeit more profound change - altering both our DNA structure and the vital essence of our etheric bodies. An earlier supernova may provide the guide for what is to come. The light from the explosion of a blue supergiant named Supernova 1987A left its surface 168,000 years ago and finally reached Earth on February 23rd, 1987. By May of that year it had reached a maximum magnitude of 3, becoming the brightest supernova since the invention of the telescope. This stellar salvo blasted us with neutrinos (chargeless, massless “ghost particles”) and bombarded us as well with ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays. We routinely receive such output from the electromagnetic spectrum, of course, but not usually to this degree. Are we talking about a monumental evolutionary leap forward or a colossal fall into an apocalyptic scenario of world devastation? The spectrum of 2012 predictions includes these two extremes and everything in between. (Much more on possible interpretations at the link.)

**Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/20/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - There have been 4,500 aftershocks since a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Christchurch on September 4 last year. A series of aftershocks have been felt in the New Zealand city of Christchurch recently, but there are no reports of significant damage. Thursday, the first and most severe aftershock was 5.1-magnitude at a depth of 10 kilometres. Eight other aftershocks of lower magnitude followed. GNS Science says residents should prepare for aftershocks of this intensity every four to six weeks for up to a year.

No current tropical cyclones.

AUSTRALIA - A new cyclone is expected to form in the Gulf this weekend amid warnings Queensland's floods may not be over.
A tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria may develop into a cyclone on Saturday. It will remain slow moving, likely moving towards the southwest. It could see the flood focus turn to the north and far west of the state because Gulf cyclones often bring heavy rain to the lower Gulf and NT border regions, causing flooding through the length of western Queensland and into northern SA and Lake Eyre.
A second low in the Coral Sea may also deepen, but is expected to move away from the coast. With two and half months of a La Nina wet season still to come, there was a serious risk of further flooding, particularly in Queensland. ``The worst case scenario would be a tropical low or cyclone moving south from the Gulf or Coral Sea which could bring flood levels to Queensland similar to what we've seen over the past month." Although rain-inducing La Nina weather conditions are expected to last right into autumn, the National Climate Centre has dropped the odds of the region exceeding its average rainfall in the southeast to 50 per cent. The revised estimate is down from last October's forecast of a 75 per cent chance of exceeding median summer rainfall - its STRONGEST WET WEATHER PREDICTION IN A DECADE. In north Queensland, the odds of better than average rainfall are up to 75 per cent. The RECORD LA NINA had been exceeded only by the La Nina of 1917-18, with the flood-producing 1975-76 La Nina ranked third. Rainfall should return to normal about mid year.

Are variations in temperatures triggering a complete new monsoon calendar for India? This is something that climatologists are looking at while monitoring the different aspects of changing weather patterns. The frequency of storms is related to the changes in a couple of atmospheric parameters over the north Indian Ocean during the global warming period. Using a series of multiple data sets including the tracks of storms over the North Indian Ocean for the period 1951-2007, the scientists found that the frequency of storms and severe storms do not show a dramatic rise in spite of a substantial increase in the sea-surface temperature in the Bay of Bengal from 1951-2007 compared to that in 1901-1951.
“This prompted us to conclude that the frequency of storms is related to the changes in a couple of atmospheric parameters over the north Indian Ocean during the global warming period. The relationship between the sea surface temperature over the Bay of Bengal and the maximum wind speed of the cyclonic systems is complex and there is no preferred range for the formation of cyclonic or severe cyclonic storms over the north Indian Ocean."
The present study assumes significance owing to the large contribution of rainfall over India from storms that form over the north of the Indian Ocean during the summer and the winter monsoons. Tropical cyclones are among the most destructive natural disasters in the world. About 7 percent of the global tropical cyclones form in the north Indian Ocean. Further, more number of cyclones form in the Bay of Bengal (about three to four times higher) than in the Arabian Sea. In the north Indian Ocean, there are two important seasons for their formation, namely, Pre-monsoon (March-May) and Post-monsoon (October-December).
“An important concern about the consequences of the global warming scenario is its impact on the frequency, the intensity and the duration of tropical cyclones. Theoretical and modelling studies indicate that tropical cyclone winds would increase with increasing ocean temperature." Though direct observational evidence of this relationship over the tropical Oceans is lacking, it has been brought out in the recent study over the Atlantic Ocean that higher sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over this region increase the intensity of Atlantic tropical cyclones.


When hundreds of dead birds were found Monday in Yankton, South Dakota, many residents were puzzled, thinking it was the latest in a string of similar mysterious mass animal deaths around the world. But this is one instance of the many where a clear cause has been identified, as the U.S. government claims responsibility for killing the more than 200 starlings.
It was initially believed that cold weather may have caused the bird deaths, but then Yankton police received a call from the USDA, attesting that they had poisoned the birds at a feedlot 10 miles away. Apparently, some 5,000 of the birds were defecating in the feed meal, posing a threat to the animals and farm workers, when the USDA decided killing them would be the best action to take. A bait laced with the poison DRC-1339 was used, though officials were surprised the birds made it so far before dying. They assure that the poisoned dead birds do not pose a risk to nearby animals or humans.
While the mystery of dead birds falling from the sky in South Dakota was quickly solved, similar mass animal deaths around the world remain enigmatic. 200 dead cows were recently found on a farm in Wisconsin, with a disease or pneumonia suspected as the culprit. Prior to that, mass bird deaths ranging from dozens to thousands were reported in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, California, Italy and Sweden. Mass fish death had been report in Arkansas, Maryland, Chicago, New Zealand and Brazil, and 40,000 crabs washed ashore beaches in England.
Officials don't believe any of the incidents are related, and suspect a wide range of causes to be responsible, from cold weather and fireworks to semi-truck collisions and overeating, though they admit in many instances a clear cause may never be identified. Mass animal deaths are not a rare occurrence. (video and links to articles about the mass deaths)


A report from Hong Kong says that the use of blood plasma donated by recovered H1N1 influenza patients reduced the death rate in severely ill H1N1 patients. The authors recruited 93 critically ill H1N1 patients, of whom 20 agreed to receive the plasma treatment while the rest served as controls. The death rate in those who received the plasma was 20%, versus about 55% in those who didn't receive it. The treatment also reduced the patients' viral load and inflammatory cytokine response.
Plasma from recovered patients has been used to treat a number of infectious diseases, as it contains antibodies that latch onto pathogens, enabling the plasma recipient's immune system to identify and fight them. The use of this approach to treat severe flu cases has been discussed for years but not widely attempted.
The approach has also been used with apparent success in a few H5N1 avian flu patients.
Two US experts on blood transfusion who commented on the Hong Kong report said the idea of using plasma treatment in flu patients is promising, but it faces a number of practical and regulatory barriers, and much more research is needed. "I think it's promising, but it's not ready for prime time. I don't want anyone to think that if they get a bad flu, their doctor is going to get this stuff. The operational and regulatory hurdles are very substantial."
In a flu pandemic, it's far from clear whether blood banks would be able to harvest large amounts of suitable plasma quickly enough to be useful. It takes 4 to 6 weeks after an infection for antibody titers to reach robust levels, which would delay the availability of suitable plasma. Also, blood centers would probably be unable to gather suitable plasma from more than a few hundred donors in a month. If a pandemic unfolded fairly quickly, "by the time we could start collections, much of the mayhem might be over."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Flood-affected areas of southeast Queensland are in the firing line for the third day in a row with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. "Very heavy rainfall and flash flooding are likely." Severe thunderstorms kept emergency services busy overnight and hampered the reconnection of power to flood-weary southeast Queenslanders. Severe storms rolled across the Lockyer Valley from 7pm (AEST) on Wednesday, then moved east to Brisbane, bringing damaging winds and lightning to the region and hail to Oakey. At the height of the storm 30,000 properties lost power and crews had to be redirected from flood restoration duties.

**Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world
that we must love our enemies - or else?
The chain reaction of evil -
hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -
must be broken, or else we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/19/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - More earthquakes have hit Christchurch with residents woken by a 5.1 magnitude tremor. The earthquake hit at 4.03am (AEDT) and was centred 10km south-west of Christchurch at a depth of 10km. It was followed by a 3.4 quake at 6.02am (AEDT) at the same location and depth and four minutes later a 4.0 tremor hit 20km west of Christchurch at a depth of 15km. Only one person has reported substantial damage at Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch.


INDONESIA - Merapi volcano mud threatens temples. Three Hindu temple sites that date back to the eighth and tenth century are vulnerable to Mount Merapi’s cold volcanic mud flow in Magelang, Central Java. Located near Pabelan and Tlising rivers, which are the paths for the cold volcanic mud flow, the three temple sites are Lumbung, Asu and Pendhem. These were built during the glorious Hindu era known as the ancient Mataram kingdom in 869 AD. The Lumbung Temple is only 1 meter from Pabelan river, and the river has already eroded the 20-meter-high cliff near the temple. Meanwhile, Asu and Pendhem temples are about 200 meters from both Pabelan and Tlising rivers. Several parts of the temples have been scattered around the sites due to the ground’s movement during the cold volcanic mud flow. Access to the three temples has also been destroyed by the volcanic mud flow. The local administration is being asked to secure the sites before the volcanic mud flow destroys them totally.

Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells - Some places saw the ground rise by ten inches. Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report. The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions - each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption - three times in the past 2.1 million years. Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25- by 37-mile (40- by 60-kilometer) swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago.
Since then, about 30 smaller eruptions - including one as recent as 70,000 years ago - have filled the caldera with lava and ash, producing the relatively flat landscape we see today. But beginning in 2004, scientists saw the ground above the caldera rise upward at rates as high as 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) a year. The rate slowed between 2007 and 2010 to a centimeter a year or less. Still, since the start of the swelling, ground levels over the volcano have been raised by as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in places. "It's an EXTRAORDINARY uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high."
Scientists think a swelling magma reservoir four to six miles (seven to ten kilometers) below the surface is driving the uplift. Fortunately, the surge doesn't seem to herald an imminent catastrophe. "At the beginning we were concerned it could be leading up to an eruption. But once we saw [the magma] was at a depth of ten kilometers, we weren't so concerned. If it had been at depths of two or three kilometers [one or two miles], we'd have been a lot more concerned." At the Yellowstone supervolcano, it appears the ground has risen and fallen for thousands of years without an eruption. Based on geologic evidence, Yellowstone has probably seen a continuous cycle of inflation and deflation over the past 15,000 years, and the cycle will likely continue. Surveys show, for example, that the caldera rose some 7 inches (18 centimeters) between 1976 and 1984 before dropping back about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) over the next decade. "There has to be magma in the crust, or we wouldn't have all the hydrothermal activity that we have. There is so much heat coming out of Yellowstone right now that if it wasn't being reheated by magma, the whole system would have gone stone cold since the time of the last eruption 70,000 years ago." Overall, "the story of Yellowstone deformation has gotten more complex as we've had better and better technologies to study it." (video)


AUSTRALIA - Residents in low-lying parts of Brisbane, or near a creek, have been warned to prepare for a king tide on Friday that could cause more flooding. "As a result there could be some localised flooding as the Brisbane River continues to recede after last week's flood...The river and creek heights are expected to be similar to what occurred on the winter king tide in July and tidal flooding on the 21st of December last year." Expected shower and storm activity could exacerbate the situation.

No current tropical cyclones.


AUSTRALIA - People in the south-eastern Australian town of Kerang have been told to leave their homes, as rising river levels threatened another community in the WORST FLOOD CRISIS IN DECADES. More than 1,000 Kerang residents have moved to a nearby evacuation centre, as the Loddon River continues to swell. The alert comes a day after a boy drowned in another area of Victoria. The evacuation warning was issued by the State Emergency Service after water from the Loddon River began to seep through a levee, raising fears that Kerang could be inundated. Officials warned that the town could be isolated for five days, and advised residents to pack ample supplies.
Spreading waters were surging across the north and east of state, and more than 3,500 people have evacuated their homes. At least 58 towns across Victoria have now been hit by floods and 22 relief centres are in operation. Power cuts are in force as electricity stations have been submerged. Floodwaters split the Victorian town of Horsham in two on Tuesday, as the body of a young boy was found in another flood-hit town, Shepparton.
The flooding in Victoria follows weeks of massive flooding in Queensland, which has swamped two-thirds of the state, crippling its lucrative mining industry. A heavy storm pounded Queensland's state capital Brisbane and the nearby town of Ipswich, and impeded recovery efforts there. More than 7,000 lightning strikes were recorded, while falling trees damaged homes and created new fears in an area already badly hit by floods. Residents there have been warned that more heavy rain is to come. In Queensland, floods have killed more than 30 people since the tropical storms began in November. The floods are said to be Australia's MOST EXPENSIVE NATURAL DISASTER.
Dimboola was a town on edge overnight, with damage detected at its weir. Authorities issued an evacuation warning for the western Victorian town, downstream from Horsham on the Wimmera River, just before 5am. 24 homes are now at risk of being inundated, with another 29 under threat if the weir breaks. A further 75 homes are likely to have water on their property. Despite warnings from the SES the Dimboola Weir could fail, most residents have chosen to stay.
An evacuation warning was also given for Kow Swamp, northwest of Echuca, at 4.30am. A levee bank in the town has been compromised and residents should relocate to a relief centre at Cohuna. Residents in both Kow Swamp and Dimboola have been warned they could face days on their own if they choose to ignore evacuation warnings. Meanwhile, Kerang became an inland island overnight as the last remaining road out of town was cut off by the swollen Loddon River. Residents now face days up to three days of isolation before the waters are expected to recede. About 1000 evacuees have been warned that it still isn't safe to go home. An electricity station about 1km from central Kerang remains under threat, and an estimated 20,000 people would be left without power if it becomes inundated. There is also extensive flooding in the nearby Bullock Creek, Bendigo Creek and Pyramid Creek systems.
The damage bill from Victoria's flood crisis will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, the new head of Victoria's Floods Appeal said. The exact figure - including lost crops - would take months to tally. Victoria's RECORD FLOOD woes will continue into next week, as more communities in the north and northwest remain on high alert. The small communities of Jeparit, Dimboola, Brim and Beulah in the state's northwest are now expected to be threatened in coming days. At Warracknabeal, 340km northwest of Melbourne, a 6km-long levee bank built mostly by residents and 55,000 sandbags may have saved the town from a ONCE-IN-200-YEAR FLOOD. When the Yarriambiack Creek reached its peak at 10.45am (AEDT) yesterday, the water was close to the top of the bank and homes would have been flooded if not for the levee. The water is expected to remain high until lunchtime today and will continue to put pressure on the temporary levee banks, leaving 177 homes under threat. "The levee's leaking ... and they're patching as it goes. We have enough resources now to fix those when we can. We've got to make sure the temporary levee holds." The floods, which have hit more than 1730 properties, were far from over with waters expected to keep travelling north in the next 10 days.
In the north and the northwest regions, "this is WITHOUT DOUBT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FLOOD IN VICTORIA SINCE RECORDS BEGAN, SOMETHING IN THE ORDER OF 130 YEARS AGO. This flooding is likely to continue into next week in many of our communities."
One Gold Coast developer's possible solution to Queensland's flooding problem is mini-suburbs on stilts. Communities on concrete pylons - roads, houses and all - could be the way of the future, and the State Government will consider houses on stilts as way to stop homes going under in a flood. The Gold Coast could be home to one of the first ''suburbs on stilts'' after a court cleared the way for a Merrimac development late last year. Councillors originally knocked back the proposal fearing it would be a osiquito-infested shanty town but the decision was overturned.
The development will have 13 duplexes and 112 units built on a concrete slab 4m above a flood plain. The homes will be two to three levels, with a mix of two and three bedrooms and car parks all above the ground.
They will have stair access to landscaped areas underneath the concrete slab, which will be mulched with river rock. ''If we ever get a flood ... debris, dead animals and other sludge is going to build up under the slab. You'll get a decaying smell. The body corporate will be responsible for maintaining the area underneath.'' TStilts are not a new development in Queensland architecture, with the traditional Queenslander home raised above ground level to cool the building and protect against termites and flooding. Stilt homes can also be found in other parts of the globe prone to flooding, particularly Asia.
The city has a different approach of building up developments on landfill so the houses, roads and infrastructure were above the level of a one-in-100 year flood. The State Government's Commission of Inquiry announced on Monday will look into development on flood-prone land and whether threatened areas should be rezoned entirely or houses built on stilts. ''Some of them are going to be very tough decisions but we owe it to future generations to bite the bullet and make the right one."

BRAZIL - At least 207 people are still missing after Brazil's worst landslides in decades, authorities said on Wednesday, as the death toll from the disaster in a scenic mountain region reached 741. The final death toll could be close to 1,000. Local officials in the worst-affected towns of Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo said the number of missing was at least 300. Many of them are believed buried under the avalanches of mud and debris from flash floods that destroyed hundreds of homes. "There are families that were so decimated that there is no one left to confirm who's missing."
Hundreds of people are believed to still be in areas at risk of fresh mudslides. Some of them are cut off from help by smashed roads and bridges, while others refuse to leave for fear their houses will be raided by looters. The floods and mudslides hit with such force that the geography of the region has changed profoundly. "Streams turned into wide, deep rivers. There is a huge geographical change; it's as if towns were completely reshaped. People in these mountainside areas aren't as secure as they used to think."

PHILIPPINES - Summer is supposed to be the dry season in the country. Not this year. It’s going to be a wet summer that will have typhoons due to the La Niña phenomenon that has been spawning rains in the Philippines since December. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said large parts of the country would get above-normal rainfall in the summer months of March, April and May. Weather models and advisories from various national meteorological centers forecast La Niña to last until May, with the peak occurring in February.
The months from March to May are considered the height of summer in the country, when millions troop to the beaches. These months are usually the driest months, with typhoons making an appearance only in mid-May.
PAGASA expects one typhoon in March, two in April and another two in May. June, the start of the rainy season, is expected to have two to three typhoons. La Niña arrived in the Philippines last October. The phenomenon, the opposite of El Niño, occurs when the surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean gets colder. The last time the Philippines experienced a severe La Niña was in 1998, after a harsh El Niño year. The Philippines received “above-normal” rainfall in the summer months of 1998, Hilario said, noting that this scenario is expected to be repeated in 2011. The country suffered El Niño from 2009 to April 2010. Since December, the Philippines, particularly the eastern seaboard, has been getting an EXTRAORDINARY amount of rains. PAGASA also noted that more provinces were experiencing large amounts of rainfall this year compared with 1998. Forecast maps showed that even western parts of the Philippines, which should be dry this year, were receiving above-normal rainfall. Catarman town in Northern Samar province received the biggest volume of rainfall from Jan. 1 to Jan. 17, at 1,214.3 mm. (The normal rainfall in the town is 444.2 mm.) This was followed by Borongan town in Samar province, which got 1,214.3 mm of rainfall during the first 17 days of January, significantly higher than the previous January figure of 597.5 mm. In Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province, the PAGASA station posted a rainfall of 148.6 mm, way above the city’s normal level of 29.5 mm. Western Visayas has also reported nonstop rains in the past week. In the past, the region received minimal rainfall during this month.