Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FEMA has plans in place for the evacuation of the Tampa Bay area in the event of a controlled burn of surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico, or if wind or other conditions are expected to take toxic fumes through Tampa Bay. The hurricance season poses additional risks of a storm surge, which would push water and oil inland. A metrologist from Connecticut used the term “Oilcane” to describe the effects of hurricane winds on the oil in the Gulf from the BP’s gusher: “Should a major hurricane push the spill towards the gulf coast there will be nothing that can be done to stop it. No amount of planning or engineering will help. No number of visits to the gulf by the president or any other official will stop the inevitable. The storm surge will drive the water and the oil miles inland.” (map of ocean currents)

**He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/29/10 -

Hurricane ALEX was 223 nmi SE of Brownsville, Texas.

ALEX strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, threatening coastlines in Mexico and the US and disrupting oil cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. "Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 120km/h [75 mph], with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast prior to landfall," which was expected tonight near the US-Mexico border, separating Texas and Tamaulipas states. The Category One hurricane was tracking westward and not forecast to turn towards the massive BP oil spill along the US Gulf Coast, but its severe winds were churning up large waves that have brought a halt to clean up operations and threaten to push more of the huge slick onto the coastline.
Alex is THE FIRST JUNE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SINCE 1995. Oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated offshore workers and prepared for possible storm surges that may affect coastal refineries. "A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above ground level along the immediate coast to the north where the center makes landfall. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Isolated tornadoes are possible over portions of extreme southern Texas on Wednesday."
Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. oil refiner, has three South Texas plants that could be disrupted by the storm or inland flooding. The company has set aside emergency water, food and first-aid supplies for those refineries at a distribution center for its retail stores near its San Antonio headquarters. Valero's two Corpus Christi refineries are about 160 miles north of Brownsville. Another refinery in Three Rivers is about 70 miles northwest of Corpus Christi.
Alex is a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir- Simpson scale. A Category 2 storm has winds of at least 96 mph. It's expected to drop as much as 12 inches of rain in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas and some locations may receive as much as 20 inches of rain. The Gulf Coast is home to 43 percent of operable U.S. refining capacity. Gulf Coast refiners in August and September 2008 lost about 20 percent of production capacity due to hurricanes Ike and Gustav. "Refining units themselves are built to withstand heavy winds, but flooding can be a concern." After hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, "we moved a lot of our electrical equipment higher. A refinery can weather a storm but it won't be able to operate if it doesn't have electricity."
The storm's track keeps it away from a direct hit on the oil slick from a damaged BP Plc well. Still, Alex's circulation is so large it will raise tides along the Louisiana coast about two to three feet above normal. Large ocean swells were already heading toward the oil spill. Skimming and burning operations were stopped yesterday because of thunderstorms and rough seas. About 900 workers had been evacuated as of 11 a.m. yesterday in Houston and 630 remained offshore.
Hurricane warnings, earlier issued from Baffin Bay in Texas to La Cruz in Mexico, remained in effect. The storm is being blamed for at least 13 deaths in Central America. Residents and officials in Brownsville and McAllen, Texas, prepared for flooding and widespread power outages similar to those experienced when Hurricane Dolly struck the area. Dolly followed a path similar to Alex in July 2008 and caused about $1.05 billion in damage.


AUSTRALIA - Winter is well and truly here with Melbourne shivering through ITS COLDEST DAY IN A DECADE yesterday. And weather experts are warning the cold snap has just started. Tuesday's cool maximum of just 10.3C, reached at 4.15pm, was the coldest day of the year and the coldest in June since 2000. But it was those in Ballarat who suffered the worst with the maximum reaching just 5.1C while Scoresby hit 9.5C and Moorabin reached 10C.
Busselton experienced a RECORD-BREAKING STREAK OF COLD NIGHTS THOUGHOUT JUNE and the chilly weather looks set to continue. A “cold night” is when the temperature drops below five degrees and for five days in a row (June 9-13) Busselton did just that. They recorded 4.1, 2 (their second coldest June night ever), 2.3, 3.9 and 4.3 over the five-day period. “The previous record for consecutive cold nights in Busselton in June was three in 2006, while the record for all months is six days in July 2005." The coldest maximum temperature was a chilly 13.1 on June 15, which WAS A RECORD, and the average temperatures at night were particularly freezing. “Busselton’s mean temperature during the day was 17.8 which is only slightly below the average of 18.5, however the mean temperature at night was two degrees below the average of 8.9. This makes it Busselton’s second coldest June ever, after the 6.5 in 2006.”
But, cold doesn’t necessarily mean wet with the total rainfall for Busselton in June is less than half their monthly average of 171.2mm. Saturday’s downpour did provide a late boost and the 23.6mm that fell made it the wettest day of the month, however it still only lifted Busselton to a total of 83.8mm of rain in June.“This brings Busselton’s six-month total rainfall to 242mm, which is significantly behind the long-term average of 368.5."


The US Food and Drug Administration has reported some problems at a CSL Biotherapies facility in Australia that makes influenza vaccine for the US market, including a failure to fully investigate particles found in some vaccine vials. The FDA said further that CSL was still using a certain type of rubber stopper on multi-dose vials containing the preservative thimerosal, although the manufacturer had advised that the stoppers may react with thimerosal. Also, the company did not study possible interactions between the vaccine and the stoppers and vials used in 29 lots of Afluria and H1N1 vaccine that were marketed in the United States. The agency also asserted that the company failed to ensure that samples from vaccine lots were tested at least once a year for evidence of deterioration.
The company said the concerns raised by the FDA are not related to the higher-than-expected rate of fever and convulsions reported recently in young Australian children who received a seasonal flu vaccine made by CSL. The increased adverse events in vaccinated Australian children were first reported in late April. They prompted the company to stop distributing its pediatric flu vaccine and caused Australian authorities to advise providers to stop immunizing children 5 years old and younger, pending an investigation. So far, investigations by the company and Australian authorities have not yielded an explanation.

-The Procter & Gamble Company is voluntarily recalling its 4-Hour Decongestant Nasal Spray. The product was distributed nationwide in the United States.
-Lancaster Foods is recalling fresh Spinach with the Best Enjoyed By dates of 19 JUN 10 through 27 JUN 10 sold under the brand names Krisp-Pak, Lancaster Fresh, Giant, and America's Choice because they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The products were sold in the following states: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not much to report.

**Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/28/10 -


RUSSIA - The northernmost active volcano on Kamchatka Peninsula is spewing plumes of ash at a height of more than 6 kilometers. Mt. Shiveluch has been erupting for many days now with 80 underground temblors registered in the past 24 hours alone. Scientists say the volcano poses significant danger to villages in the area, just like the nearby Klyuchevskaya volcano. (photo)

Tropical storm ALEX was 91 nmi NW of Campeche, Mexico.
Tropical depression CELIA was 897 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Tropical depression DARBY was 165 nmi S of Acapulco, Mexico.


CHINA - 107 people buried in a landslide triggered by heavy rain in southwest China have a "slim" chance of survival as the country battles a string of weather-related disasters. State television showed rescuers searching through a huge mudslide and what appeared to be concrete rubble in the village of Dazhai in Guizhou province, and workers had still not found any signs of life. "One hundred and seven people from 37 families were trapped or buried. It's raining hard, making the rescue work difficult." Large swathes of eastern, central and southern China have been lashed by torrential rain for days. On Sunday, authorities said nearly 69 million people had been affected.


WISCONSIN - The harvest of cherries is expected to be THE EARLIEST IN AT LEAST 35 YEARS. "THE WHOLE THING'S BIZARRE," said the owner of an orchard in southern Door County, where Montmorency tart cherry trees began blossoming May 4, causing the season to fast-forward. "That's UNHEARD OF, and I'm kind of in denial because it means we have to get things going a lot earlier for picking." He has owned the orchard for 10 years and expects to have tart cherries for tourist pickers the week of July 5 - the earliest he's ever opened by about two weeks. Another grower, who started in the business 35 years ago, said they've never seen a crop this early, either. Though the tart cherry harvest will be early - and may finish by the first week of August - it won't produce anywhere near last year's bumper crop. Wisconsin's warm spring took a toll, as early blossoms made trees vulnerable to the frost that followed. A cold spell in May contributed to poor pollination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the state will produce 4.3 million pounds of tart cherries this year - about 60% less than last year's 10.7 million pounds. Last year's crop was one of the largest in 10 to 15 years.
The USDA estimate for this year may be a little low, as the crop looks better than it did two to three weeks ago, when surveys were collected from growers. Tart-cherry production is expected to be down 46% nationwide, to about 195 million pounds from last year's 355 million pounds. Michigan grows about 75% of the nation's crop. "They experienced a lot of the same weather factors we did, and that particular region is as bad or worse as ours," referring specifically to Traverse City, Michigan, where about half the nation's tart cherries are produced in a 40-mile area. Extreme weather virtually wiped out the Door County cherry crop two years ago, which made last year's bumper crop even more significant. The decrease in this year's crop shouldn't affect consumer prices much. Nearly all tart cherries are frozen, canned or dried, and a good share of last year's bumper crop is still in reserve. It also isn't unusual for a cherry crop to be smaller the year after a bumper harvest. "A lot of times, the trees take a little breather on their own."

Monday, June 28, 2010

BP, Shell evacuate Gulf of Mexico crews - BP and Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico, are evacuating crews from some offshore platforms in the region as a safety precaution because of Tropical Storm Alex. BP removed non-essential workers from its oil-production platforms in the western part of the Gulf. BP’s response to the record U.S. oil spill, located in northern and eastern parts of the Gulf, is unaffected by the evacuations. Shell evacuated 430 people. Alex is forecast to regain strength after moving back out over water. Mexico’s state oil company closed the Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas export terminals and the Isla del Carmen and Campeche ports.

**Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/27/10 -

ETHIOPIA - Scientists have seen amazing changes in Afar in the past five years, where the continent is cracking open, quite literally underneath their feet. In 2005, a 60km long stretch of the earth opened up to a width of eight metres over a period of just ten days. Hot, molten rock from deep within the Earth is trickling to the surface and creating the split. Underground eruptions are still continuing and, ultimately, the horn of Africa will fall away and a new ocean will form.
Parts of the region are below sea level and the ocean is only cut off by about a 20-metre block of land in Eritrea. "Eventually this will drift apart. The sea will flood in and will start to create this new ocean. It will pull apart, sink down deeper and deeper and eventually... parts of southern Ethiopia, Somalia will drift off, create a new island, and we'll have a smaller Africa and a very big island that floats out into the Indian Ocean." (photo)

Tropical storm ALEX was 50 nmi WSW of Campeche, Mexico .
Tropical storm CELIA was 914 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Tropical storm DARBY was 216 nmi SW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Tropical storm Alex returns to kill 10 - Alex is again a tropical storm as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico and may become a hurricane. The first major storm of the Atlantic season was entering the Gulf of Mexico today after unleashing landslides and floods that killed at least 10 people in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Overnight, Alex, which had been downgraded earlier to a tropical depression, strengthened and regained its tropical storm status. "Additional strengthening is forecast - and Alex could become a hurricane within the next 48 hours."
Although it was not due to directly hit the massive BP oil spill off the southern US state of Louisiana, the storm could still generate waves that would hamper clean-up and containment efforts. Forecasters said the storm was expected to dump a total of 10-20cm of rain over the Yucatan Peninsula, southern Mexico and Guatemala by this afternoon. Up to 38cm of rain were possible in mountainous areas and forecasters warned of "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tropical storm Alex, the first of the Atlantic season, has made landfall in Belize, dumping heavy rain on the affected area. The storm is causing concern for efforts to clean up the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The storm is likely to miss the spill area if it stays on its current track, but it but could generate waves that would impact clean-up efforts. At 3am GMT, the eye of the storm, which packed sustained winds of 95km/h, was located just 30km northwest of Belize City. Alex was forecast to move across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula today and enter the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is expected to weaken as it moves over Yucatan, but "strengthening is forecast on Sunday night as Alex moves over the Southern Gulf of Mexico." The storm will dump heavy rain over the Yucatan peninsula, with rain accumulations of 10-25cm, though isolated amounts of up to 38cm are possible over mountainous areas. "These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides." A tropical storm warning was in effect for the coast of Belize and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. But a tropical storm watch for the coast of Honduras has been discontinued.
In Nicaragua, authorities alerted air and maritime traffic and localities in the north, central and western regions of the country to possible heavy rains and strong winds associated with the storm. The NHC's five-day forecast has the storm heading over the Gulf of Mexico in the direction of the US-Mexico border, but with a possibility of deviating along a broad area that would graze the site of the huge oil slick unleashed by the April 20 explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig. A forecaster at the NHC however downplayed a direct hit on the oil cleanup area. In Mexico, authorities declared the Yucatan Peninsula in a state of preventive alert "for the potential of intense to torrential rain" as Alex approached.
The tropical storm could threaten BP clean-up for 14 days, says Coast Guard. BP has been warned that the first major hurricane of the season could halt clean-up operations at the Deepwater spill site for at least 2 weeks. The two-week disruption would include time before and after the bad weather to prepare – and they estimated that plans would need to be enacted five days before the arrival of gale-force winds. Ships in the area, including the vessels that are drilling relief wells to permanently halt the flow of oil, would have to completely evacuate the area. This would leave the oil flowing into the Gulf "unattended" after the "top hat" system was disconnected.

**Those who would be constant in happiness or wisdom
must often change.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/26/10 -
6/25/10 -

Study paints grim New Madrid quake scenario - The New Madrid seismic zone is capable of producing a massive earthquake that could devastate parts of the central United States, according to a study publicly released this week. A 7.7-magnitude temblor could leave 3,500 people dead and more than 80,000 injured. About 7.2 million people wouldn't be able to live in their homes, at least not within a few days after the initial quake. The study also concluded that nearly 715,000 buildings would be damaged and 2.6 million households would be without electricity. In all, the study said the immediate economic impact would be $300 million. The study also concluded that authorities, utilities and others in eight central and southeastern states that would most likely be affected are, in many cases, ill-prepared for the aftermath. Providing shelter for the homeless, repairing and retrofitting bridges, and more would be difficult with a transportation network that would likely be heavily damaged.
FEMA is working toward holding a national-level disaster drill next year that simulates a big New Madrid quake. The study focuses on Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee, where the New Madrid seismic zone lies deep underground, as well as Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana and Alabama. The study predicts extensive damage in both St. Louis and Memphis, Tennessee, the two largest cities near the fault zone. The fault zone has a long history of big earthquakes, including four in 1811 and 1812 estimated to have been magnitude 7.0 or greater. The region was sparsely populated but the quake caused landslides and waves on the Mississippi that swamped boats; it also opened deep fissures in the ground. The shaking was felt as far away as New England.

CALIFORNIA - the powerful quake that struck Baja California in April moved Calexico, a city on the US-Mexico border, 31 inches to the south. Calexico moved as much as 2 1/2 feet (80 cm) south and down into the ground due to the magnitude-7.2 earthquake on April 4. The temblor was centered 32 miles (52 km) south-southeast of Calexico and was THE STRONGEST QUAKE TO STRIKE THE REGOIN IN NEARLY 120 YEARS. Two people were killed and hundreds more were injured.
It's not the first time a town has moved. The massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile earlier this year moved the city of ConcepciĆ³n at least 10 feet (3 meters) to the west. That quake was the fifth most powerful temblor in recorded history. In the 6.9-magnitude 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred along the San Andreas Fault in southern California, the Pacific plate moved 6.2 feet (about 2 m) to the northwest and 4.3 feet (1.3 m) upward over the North American plate.

CANADA - As the cleanup continues after a magnitude 5.0 earthquake hit the western Quebec town of Gracefield, Quebec on Wednesday, June 23, an area farmer is wondering what to do after the quake caused a landslide and opened a 50-foot wide chasm of rubble that stretches 1,000 feet across his land. The property, which is being flooded by water from a now backed-up creek, is ruined. His barn slid 150 feet and is now crooked. He's waiting for geologists to advise him on what to do next. More than 20 aftershocks have hit in the past two days following the earthquake. A state of emergency on the town was lifted, but some buildings remain off limits, as well as a bridge. In Val-Des-Bois, boulders lay on the side of the road and a major area bridge crumbled under the quake's waves.(photos)

Tropical storm ALEX was 117 nmi NNW of Puerto Cortes, Honduras.
Tropical storm CELIA was 839 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Tropical storm DARBY was 267 nmi SW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Recent volcanic eruptions and tropical-storm rains in late May killed more than 200 residents of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. It started May 27, when seismic activity suddenly increased around Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, and streams of molten lava gushed out of the cone. Arenal is one of a dozen active volcanoes that dot Central America’s mountainous backbone. Another volcano soon kicked into high gear - this time 400 miles northwest of Costa Rica.
Pacaya, in southern Guatemala, erupted dramatically before dawn May 28, blasting a 1,000-foot fountain of molten lava straight up into the dark sky. The caldera began spewing blizzards of smoking boulders, and streams of lava flowed a mile down the southwest flank of the volcano. Officials began evacuating residents and tourists within 60 miles of Pacaya, affecting an estimated 3,000 people. A television news reporter was killed by ejected lava while working on Pacaya and two children were killed by falling volcanic debris in a nearby village. There were an initial 114 injuries in the first 24 hours of Pacaya’s eruption. Throughout the day, plumes of gray ash jetted 1,000 feet straight up before catching the wind. Within a wide fallout zone, several inches of volcanic sand soon filled stream beds and blanketed roadways, forcing Guatemalan officials to close most airport runways for several days. Hundreds of tourists were stranded by impassable roads and closed air routes.
But Mother Nature wasn’t finished. Tropical Storm Agatha - the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season - had been developing off the Gulf of Fonseca. On May 29 and 30, it made landfall on the coastal slopes of southern Guatemala, where the Pacaya evacuation was still under way. A RECORD 60 INCHES OF RAIN fell during the first two-day period, as Guatemala declared a state of emergency. Already clogged with volcanic ash, many culverts and dams overflowed, highways were cut and 14 bridges collapsed, including a train bridge. Landslides buried several villages. The nation’s capital, Guatemala City, was temporarily cut off as floodwaters damaged a major highway bridge. At least 179 deaths in Guatemala were directly related to Tropical Storm Agatha. More than 42,000 homes were destroyed, and 155,000 people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been evacuated due to the back-to-back natural disasters. NOAA satellite charts show the low-pressure remnants of Agatha crossed eastward over Guatemala — an UNUSUAL CIRCULATION — and petered out off the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
This month, Pacaya began a new eruption phase, and airlines have not resumed flights in or out of Guatemala. Officials told Pacaya evacuees to remain in shelters for 15 days.


NIGER - Eating leaves and lizards to survive. Aid organisations are warning that millions of people are facing starvation from drought and crop failure in the West African country of Niger, and some people are turning to desperate measures to survive. The rains failed last year and the staple diet of millet is running out. Cattle are finding it hard to survive
There was famine in 1984, and again in 2005. Now it is about to happen once more.


Campbell Soup Co. is recalling 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs with meatballs after a cooker malfunctioned at one of the company's plants in Texas and left the meat undercooked. The company is recalling certain lots of the product manufactured since December 2008 "out of an abundance of caution" because officials don't know exactly when the cooker at the Paris, Texas, plant malfunctioned. Officials believe it happened recently but aren't sure.

Kellogg Co. is voluntarily recalling about 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks cereals because an unusual smell and flavor from the packages' liners could make people ill, the company said Friday. Consumers reported the cereal smelled or tasted waxy or like metal or soap, some described it as tasting stale. Kellogg is trying to identify the substance on the liners that's causing the problem and is offering consumers refunds in the meantime. The products were distributed throughout the U.S. and began arriving in stores in late March. Only products with the letters "KN" following the use-by date are included in the recall. Products in Canada are not affected.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tropical Storm "Alex" may form by Saturday - The National Hurricane Center has been watching a tropical disturbance move westward across the Caribbean Sea for several days. It is now centered southwest of Jamaica in the western Caribbean. Now, upper level winds are becoming more conducive to development, say forecasters. Surface pressures have begun falling, which is another telltale sign of increasing organization. It is drifting to the W or WNW about 10mph. Most computer projections bring it across the Yucatan this weekend, and possibly toward the lower Texas coast by early next week. As to what strength it will be, it's simply unknown at this point. The NHC says the chances are 60% of a depression or storm forming within the next 2 days. The system must have a warm core, closed surface circulation, and sustained winds of at least 35knots (39mph) to become a named storm.

**The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come.
When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin.
When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come.
Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/24/10 -


RUSSIA - The Shiveluch volcano on the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula has erupted, producing an ash plume of 6.5 kilometers. Nearby towns are outside the so-called danger zone. The alert status at Shiveluch was declared “orange”, which means that eruption is in progress and the volcano’s activity may pose a threat to the aircraft. At the same time, seismologists have reported weak ash bursts from the neighboring Klyuchevskaya Sopka Volcano. [This link seemed suspect, I'd recommend not using it; this is the entire article.]

Hurricane CELIA was 678 nmi SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Hurricane DARBY was 218 nmi S of Acapulco, Mexico.

Hurricane Darby has formed in the Pacific off Mexico's southwest coast, while Hurricane Celia has strengthened into a powerful Category 5 storm farther out at sea. Neither posed an immediate threat to land. Darby, a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph (150 km/h), was located about 410km south of Acapulco on Thursday night. It was expected to strengthen over the next two days as it heads west-northwest, well away from land. The hurricane center projected the storm could take a sudden eastward turn early next week, putting it on a path toward Mexico's southern Pacific coast. That prediction is tentative and depends on a tropical wave of pressure forming in the western Caribbean. Otherwise, Darby could continue on its northwestern path out to sea.
Meanwhile, Celia became a Category 5 hurricane - the strongest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale, used to measure wind speed - as it headed west across the open Pacific. Its maximum sustained winds increased to 260km/h. It was located about 1260km south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
Celia is TIED FOR THE STRONGEST EASTERN PACIFIC HURRICANE ON RECORD IN JUNE, with Ava in 1973. There is a large uncertainty on what happens to the hurricane in the extended range, as the ridge over the eastern Pacific is replaced by a trough near the west coast of the U.S.


Weather extremes have been dominating the news all month.The pattern continues - a persistent upper atmospheric wind pattern (20,000 to 40,000 feet above the surface of the Earth) has kept the jet stream locked in place across the northern and central Plains states into the northeast. As typically happens, cool air lies poleward of the jet and sultry heat and humidity Equatorward. In between, one finds all of the "action." And action it has been. Parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota have received the brunt of the severe weather this month, but Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana have not been spared. And severe weather has even struck parts of the northeast.
But, it is the central U.S. that has been pummeled. From a series of days with early morning mesoscale convective systems, to afternoon severe thunderstorm outbreaks, tornadoes, high winds, hail and excessive, flooding rainfall has pounded the region. In fact, many rivers across the Midwest remain at or near flood stage. Early Wednesday morning (June 23), the picture hadn’t changed much. Severe weather watches covered much of the upper Mississippi River valley region, with flooding and/or flash flooding in progress or expected from South Dakota southward to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Parts of Iowa and Wisconsin were under simultaneous tornado watches and flash flood warnings.
To the south of all this, excessive heat and humidity were the rule. Heat advisories were posted from southeast Kansas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois and western Tennessee. Even coastal North and South Carolina were looking for excessive heat and humidity. In the southwest, high heat and humidity, but windier conditions than average, have made fighting the Schultz fire quite difficult. Still only 20 percent contained as of late Tuesday afternoon, the fire has scarred more than 14,000 acres north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Extreme weather is affecting the Hawaiian Islands, as well. Stronger than average easterly trade winds are causing a high fire danger risk to downwind, western locales throughout the island chain. The winds have also led to small craft advisories for all coastal waters. These conditions are expected to continue for the next several days. (maps)

CONNECTICUT - Severe storm shatters largest city in Connecticut. A severe storm packing ferocious winds tore through Bridgeport Thursday, toppling trees and power lines and collapsing several buildings as a powerful line of storms swept across parts of the Northeast. Remarkably, no serious injuries were reported. Hundreds of bricks shook loose from buildings, trees split in half and crushed cars, and a billboard hung precariously several stories up over Main Street. Nine buildings were partially or fully collapsed, including three on East Main Street that were brought to their foundations. Rescuers searched the rubble to ensure no one had been inside. There were unconfirmed sightings of a tornado. The Connecticut storm was part of a system that destroyed a historic town hall and other buildings in Edgerton, Ohio, the night before, and brought torrential rains and high winds to the Philadelphia area on Thursday afternoon. The storm contributed to the collapse of a church and a banquet hall in Philadelphia with no injuries reported.

CHINA - Thousands at risk from dyke breach as China flood toll rises. Weather forecasters warned Wednesday of a fresh onslaught of downpours across southern China, which has already been battered by rain-triggered floods and landslides. The relentless downpours since June 13 and resulting floods and landslides have left 199 people dead and another 123 missing. The rain, which has hit 10 provinces or regions, has caused nearly 42 billion yuan (six billion dollars) in estimated economic losses.
Authorities in Jiangxi province have had to evacuate nearly one million people after a dyke breach on the Fuhe river flooded huge swathes of countryside and surrounding towns. Rain-drenched workers and diggers piled earth onto riverbanks to try to prevent more flooding. The central government has allocated 253 million yuan (37.2 million dollars) for rescue and relief efforts, while thousands of soldiers have been dispatched to hard hit areas to help in rescue and evacuation work. Relief workers were seen throwing ropes to stranded flood victims clinging to submerged trees amid raging torrents and pulling them to safety. The torrential rains and flooding have led to the collapse of 195,000 homes and damages to 568,000 others throughout the 10 provinces and regions, while 1.6 million hectares (3.9 million acres) of crop land have also been damaged. Alternating floods and droughts have plagued China's people for millennia. Large flood-hit areas of southern and southwestern China, particularly Guizhou, Guangxi and Chongqing, had only just recently emerged from a crippling drought that in some regions was the worst in a century.


This Saturday morning, June 26th, there's going to be a lunar eclipse - and for many residents of the USA, it's going to be a big one. The eclipse will occur as the Moon is setting, causing the "Moon Illusion" to magnify the event to truly beautiful proportions.
A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole could reach Earth as early as June 26th.


India reports mutation linked to different symptoms - Health officials in India are reporting a "slight" mutation in the pandemic H1N1 virus that is leading to more sore throat and backache and fewer high fevers. One health officer said the antiviral oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and vaccination are still "very effective" against the virus. "There is a small change in the virus. But this is not surprising. We expect it to change further."

Chinese surveillance finds swine-avian flu reassortment - Surveillance in Chinese pigs from 2006 to 2009 found novel reassortment between swine and avian flu viruses. Among 3,546 samples taken from pork-producing provinces, researchers found 29 strains of influenza A (19 H1N1, 1 H1N2, 9 H3N2). Genetic analysis showed that all H1N2 and H3N2 strains were double- or triple-reassortant viruses, which contain avian H5N1 fragments. The authors say the findings "raise concern about generation of novel viruses in pigs, which could have pandemic potential."

Rapid test often negative in severe illness - Thai researchers examining 20 confirmed and 3 suspected H1N1 patients found that those with the most severe illness were least likely to have a positive rapid diagnostic test. They could not explain the finding by differences in time to access medical care, performance of RDT, or antiviral therapy. They say their finding confirms CDC guidance, which recommends empiric treatment even when RDT is negative and recommends collecting lower respiratory tract specimens for PCR testing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A 5.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the Ontario-Quebec border yesterday was felt more than 300 miles away in Massachusetts, forcing emergency officials to evacuate buildings and startling office workers and apartment dwellers. The earthquake, which struck about 36 miles northeast of Ottawa, did not cause any property damage or injuries in New England or Canada, but police officers and firefighters in several area towns said they received numerous 911 calls describing shaking floors and trembling office cubicles. The earthquake hit at 1:41 p.m., about 9.8 miles below the surface. It was the second time in recent weeks that the Boston area was affected by UNUSUAL events in Canada. Last month, the city’s skyline was obscured by smoke coming from 50 forest fires in Quebec.
The last time the Boston area was affected by an earthquake of this size was in April 2002, when a 5.1 magnitude temblor struck the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Yesterday’s event may seem minor when compared with the earthquakes that have devastated other parts of the world, such as Haiti, but it is significant. “One of the things it does is serve as a reminder that we do have earthquakes in our part of the world. What it does mean is earthquake provisions, building codes, earthquake safety drills in school are things we should be thinking about in the Boston area and in New England and not saying, ‘oh that’s what happens in Los Angeles.’ The chances are high enough that we do need to take it seriously...A 5 in Boston would be significant. We do worry about a 5 in Boston. It’s not trivial.’’
New England sits in the middle of the North American plate, which would appear to make the area more stable than California, which is cleaved by the San Andreas fault. That fault separates the Pacific and North American plates, which slowly grind past each other. But the Northeast is still vulnerable to earthquakes, scientists say. One theory is that the North American plate, which is slowly moving away from Europe and Asia, is pushing against the Pacific plate. That movement could cause pressure against ancient fault lines in the North American plate, resulting in earthquakes. But scientists still do not know exactly what causes these quakes. “It remains a mystery."

**I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/23/10 -

Hurricane CELIA was 612 nmi SW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Tropical storm DARBY was 321 nmi SSE of Acapulco, Mexico.

Hurricane Celia has re-strengthened to a Category 2 storm in the Pacific. The storm's maximum sustained winds increased Wednesday to near 100 mph with some additional strengthening possible. Celia is located about 740 miles south of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula and is heading west - farther out to sea - at about 12 mph.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Darby is gaining strength in the Pacific south of Mexico. It's maximum sustained winds have increased to about 50 mph with additional strengthening forecast. Darby is located about 305 miles south of Salina Cruz, Mexico, and is moving west-northwest near 9 mph.


BP is burning sea turtles alive - A boat captain working to rescue sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico said he saw BP ships burning sea turtles and other wildlife alive. The boats were conducting controlled burns to get rid of the oil. "They drag a boom between two shrimp boats, and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire. Once the turtles are in there, they can’t get out." He said he had to cut short his three-week trip rescuing the turtles because BP quit allowing him access to rescue turtles before the burns. "They're pretty much keeping us from doing what we need to do out there." Most of the turtles he saw were Kemps Ridley turtles, a critically endangered species. Harming or killing one would bring stiff civil and criminal penalties and fines of up to $50,000 against BP.
Other reports corroborate the claims. A report in the Los Angeles Times described "burn fields" of 500 square miles in which 16 controlled burns will take place in one day. "When the weather is calm and the sea is placid, ships trailing fireproof booms corral the black oil, the coated seaweed and whatever may be caught in it, and torch it."


California says whooping cough is at epidemic levels - Five babies have died since January and the number of confirmed cases is four times higher than the same period last year. Health officials urge anyone in contact with infants to be inoculated.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Each day, another way to define worst-case for oil spill - An enduring feature of the gulf oil spill is that, even when you think you've heard the worst-case scenario, there's always another that's even more dire. The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The well is like something deranged, stronger than anyone anticipated. BP executives last month said they had a 60 to 70 percent chance of killing it with mud, but the well spit the mud out and kept blowing. The net effect is that nothing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.
The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated. Video from a robotic submersible, which is making the rounds online, shows something puffing from the seafloor. Some think it's oil. Or maybe - look again - it's just the silt blowing in response to the forward motion of the submersible. "We're going to have to evacuate the gulf states," said Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons and Co., an oil investment firm and, since the April 20 blowout, the unflagging source of end-of-the-world predictions. "Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people?...This story is 80 times worse than I thought."
The government's point man for the crisis said he's seen no sign of the additional leaks that have gotten so many bloggers in a lather. But his briefings offer plenty of fodder for the apocalyptic set. He repeatedly has acknowledged that there could be significant damage to the well down below the mud line. That's why, he said, the top kill effort last month was stopped: Officials feared that if they continued pumping heavy mud into the well, they would damage the casing and open new channels for hydrocarbons to leak into the rock formation. "I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself. We don't know if the well bore has been compromised or not." And by the way, the blowout preventer is leaning, he said. "The entire arrangement has kind of listed a little bit."
Even the most sober analysts are quick to say that this is such an unpredictable well that almost anything is possible. Additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf is pocked with natural seeps. Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps. "Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse." But a professor who is the chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas argues that the discussion has been hijacked by people who don't know what they're talking about. "There is a lot of fast talk, which has little relation sometimes to reality. And there is jumping to conclusions by the people who have no right to jump to any conclusions because they don't know."
Much of the worst-case-scenario talk has centered on the flow rate of the well. What BP considered the worst-case scenario in early May is in late June the bitter reality - call it the new normal - of the gulf blowout. (photos)

**He who will not economize will have to agonize.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/22/10 -

Tropical depression 05E was 275 nmi SW of Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Hurricane CELIA was 520 nmi WSW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Hurricane Celia is set to become a major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific soon, yet will likely never come close to threatening land. Celia's sustained winds ramped up to near 105 at times on Tuesday, good enough for Category Two status on the Saffif-Simpson scale. The storm continues on a WNW track that will move Celia away from Western Mexico and steer well south of the Baja Peninsula. Most computer models factor in continued short-term strengthening for Celia as the storm encounters warm sea surface temperatures and limited upper level wind shear. Celia will likely max out at Category Three with winds in the 115-125 mph range before drifting into gradually cooler waters and increasing westerly wind shear by Saturday that will began a slow, steady weakening phase for the storm.
As Celia winds down, its very likely we'll see another tropical storm/hurricane soon just to the southeast of Celia, with an organized area of disturbed weather showing some low level circulation now also moving away from Western Mexico. (satellite photo)


BRAZIL - The death toll looks set to rise with more heavy rain forecast for today and the authorities giving estimates of the missing ranging from several hundred to 1000. Raging floods in northeastern Brazil have killed at least 41 people. Firefighters described entire towns being wiped off the map. Dramatic television pictures showed survivors scrambling to rooftops to avoid being swept away, clinging desperately to lines of rope as rescuers in helicopters rushed to pluck them from the muddy floodwaters. "We are worried because bodies are starting to appear on the beaches and the rivers." Almost 100,000 people in the two states were left without a home or forced to evacuate, while some towns were completely cut off as powerful torrents collapsed bridges and swamped roads and railway lines. Rooftops and church bell towers were the only structures visible above massive brown expanses of floodwater that only looked set to rise in the coming days. In April, flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rain killed at least 229 people in the Rio de Janeiro area.


Drought UK 2010: River dries up in days as summer finally comes to the UK...and temperatures are set to soar. A few weeks ago, the River Greta was in full flow as Britain recovered from the long, cold and snowy winter. But today, the torrent has become a trickle - with children able to walk along the Greta's river bed. "The river has dried up very suddenly, it's amazing." The waterway, a tributary to the River Tees, rises in the Pennine Hills and flows over a bed of porous limestone. During dry spells, the Greta disappears below the ground, reducing the bed to a pile of stones. Last week United Utilities issued drought warnings across the North West after SIX OF THE DRIEST CONSECUTIVE MONTHS IN 70 YEARS. Millions of people could have hosepipe warnings within weeks unless the rains return.
North west England and Wales have had only sparse rainfall since December. Reservoirs, lakes and rivers across the North West are at their LOWEST FOR MID-JUNE SINCE THE 1960s. Thirlmere, in the Lake District, is only half full, while Haweswater is 30 per cent below capacity. Levels in Coniston and other lakes are dropping. The threat of a drought in the North West follows three exceptionally wet summers.
Last November, Cockermouth in Cumbria saw SOME OF THE WORST FLOODS IN A CENTURY. 'In North West England, without substantial rainfall, there is a risk of drought this summer that could impact on both the environment and water supplies." (photos)


Monsoon rains have increased pandemic H1N1 flu activity in India, with 13 deaths and 233 flu cases reported in the past week. Kerala has been hit the hardest, with 9 deaths last week and 14 the week before, but the situation is becoming "GRAVE" in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh states. "We are prepared to handle the threat with adequate doses of Tamiflu and vaccines available," a health ministry official said.

Latin American nations experience some flu - An update from the Pan American Health Organization reported widespread influenza activity in Jamaica, while Cuba, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, and Chile reported regional flu activity. Bolivia reported a trend of increased acute respiratory disease for the first time, while Colombia reported 2 consecutive weeks and Venezuela 3 consecutive weeks of increased acute respiratory disease. (pdf file)

Tuesday, June 22,2010

Some powerful earthquakes can set off other big quakes on faults many miles away, with just a tiny nudge, because the faults have become synchronized over millennia, a new study suggests. Scientists already knew that big earthquakes can trigger other big quakes by transferring stress along a single fault, but they did not know about the synchrony. Here's how it works: When a fault ruptures in a large earthquake, the movement releases stresses that may have built up over hundreds or thousands of years and transfers some of that released stress to nearby faults. In order for that tiny added stress to trigger a large earthquake on a nearby fault, that fault had to already be very near its breaking point. For the two faults to have been simultaneously near their breaking points requires them to be synchronized in their seismic cycles. "All of a sudden bang, bang, bang, a whole bunch of faults break at the same time." That changes how future quake risk will be assessed. Seismologists had assumed that when a fault ruptures, the risk for another big quake generally goes down. "When a large earthquake happens, it may no longer mean that the immediate future risk is lower, but higher."
The researchers analyzed earthquake patterns as far back as 15,000 years and identified strings of related earthquakes. Their work explains how closely spaced faults that rupture every few thousand years might align themselves to rupture almost simultaneously. Southern California's Mojave Desert, the mountains of central Nevada and the south of Iceland each may have synchronized, or "phase locked," faults in their respective immediate vicinities.This hypothesis of synchronized faults could make it easier to assess some earthquake hazards by showing that faults moving at similar speeds, and within roughly 31 miles (50 km) of each other, may break at similar times, while faults moving at greatly different speeds, and located relatively far apart, will not.

**By nature, men are nearly alike;
by practice, they get to be wide apart. **

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/21/10 -

PHILIPPINES - Be ready for big quake, military told. The Defense Secretary has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to come up with a comprehensive plan for massive rescue operations should a magnitude-7 and stronger earthquake hit Metro Manila. He wants to see a copy of the draft plan before he steps down from office on June 30. Soldiers must be prepared to attend to 140,000 people seeking medical attention in the event of a massive earthquake in Metro Manila. Citing scientific forecasts, he said at least 30,000 people would die while over two million would be rendered homeless if a major earthquake rocks the metropolis. “This has already happened in other places in the world. It’s very important that we truly prepare for this disaster." Haiti, Chile, and China have suffered through magnitude-7 and better earthquakes in the recent past. The death tolls and amount of damage to property has been staggering.


JAPAN - An explosive eruption at Mt. Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday afternoon was the 549th this year, A NEW ANNUAL RECORD. A second explosive eruption occurred later in the day, the 550th this year. Given that the volcano has erupted roughly twice as frequently since last year, the number of explosive eruptions could reach 1,000 this year.
The previous annual record of 548 explosive eruptions was recorded last year. The volcano released around 3 million tons of ash between January and April alone, more than the roughly 2.35 million tons released in the whole of last year. "While there is no ominous sign of a large-scale explosion, volcanic activity is expected to intensify. It is advised to watch out for large rocky ash falling in surrounding areas."

Tropical depression BLAS was 560 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Hurricane CELIA was 443 nmi SW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Celia has strengthened to a category 2 hurricane over the eastern Pacific Ocean. (satellite photo)

A tropical wave spawning a large area of thunderstorms in the eastern Caribbean Sea could develop into a tropical cyclone over the next couple of days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Monday. The NHC gave the system a medium 30 percent chance of developing, up from 20 percent earlier Monday. [today the chances are listed as 40%] "Although there is no evidence of a surface circulation ... this system is showing some signs of organization and environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development during the next couple of days."
The Center warned this system could produce locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds over portions of northern Venezuela, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti over the next day or so. Flooding would be especially damaging in Haiti, which is still trying to rebuild after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated it last January. Over the next several days, most weather models project the system will march west-northwest across the Caribbean Sea toward the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico before possibly reaching the oil- and natural gas-rich Gulf of Mexico where BP Plc is trying to clean up its massive oil spill.


BANGLADESH - Over 150,000 people were left marooned after weeks of heavy rain in northeastern Bangladesh. Five weeks of heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks and flood large areas of countryside and villages, as well as causing thousands of acres of crops to be ruined. The water level was still rising, causing major damage to crops and cutting off communication with many areas. Last week, at least 55 people were killed after the worst rains in decades triggered landslides and flash floods in the country's southeastern hill regions, with at least 12,000 people left homeless.

BRAZIL - Floods have engulfed two states in north-east Brazil, leaving about 1,000 people missing and forcing at least 100,000 to flee their homes. At least 38 people are known to have died so far in Alagoas and Pernambuco. The floods, brought on by nearly a week of rain, have washed away entire villages. Bodies are being washed up on beaches and riverbanks. More than 58,000 people were forced to leave their homes in Alagoas and more than 42,000 in Pernambuco. Aerial footage showed floodwater washing through the town. The town of Quebrangulo in Alagoas was reportedly 80% submerged, forcing thousands of residents to flee to higher ground. In Vitoria de Santo Antao, Pernambuco, a bridge was brought down. More than 1,000 miles of roads were washed away by the rains, hindering the delivery of aid to affected areas. In 2009, flooding killed at least 44 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the same region. (map & video)
CNN is reporting at least 42 people dead and more than 115,000 homeless or displaced. In Pernambuco state, 53 cities have declared a state of emergency. In Alagoas state, 22 cities have declared an emergency. More than 600 people have been reported missing in Alagoas. Emergency measures that have been taken include the construction of field hospitals. Pernambuco's Governor flew over the affected areas Monday and described the situation as "heart-breaking." "What we have seen since Friday is more than a horror film."

PHILIPPINES - Rampaging waters, spawned by heavy rains in surrounding hinterlands, has forced about 20,000 residents to evacuate to higher grounds on Sunday afternoon, the third mass evacuation in two months due to flooding. Evacuees came from 10 barangays crisscrossed by the Simuay River and its tributaries. Sultan Kudarat and Sultan Mastura lost some P20 million in infrastructure and properties. There was no rain in these two towns during the weekend but heavy downpour occurred in Northern Maguindanao.

MINNESOTA - State recovering after dozens of tornado touchdowns - "UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER". Three people died when as many as 40 twisters struck last week, leaving untold damage in their wake. Across an UNPRECEDENTED SWATH of storm-damaged Minnesota — from the far northwest reaches to the Iowa border — thousands of people on Friday began picking up the shattered pieces left behind by THE WORST ONE-DAY TALLY OF TORNADOES IN STATE HISTORY, eclipsing the record of 27 set in 1992. Up to 40 tornadoes struck last Thursday, injuring dozens, leaving countless homeless and wreaking an untold amount of damage. It was THE WORST ONE-DAY DEATH TOLL FROM TORNADOES SINCE 1998.
A climatologist called the geographic spread, number of tornadoes and number of deaths "a VERY UNUSUAL EVENT." It was A YEAR'S WORTH OF TORNADOES on one of Minnesota's MOST UNUSUAL nights of stormy weather. The tornadoes that ripped through the state Thursday night exceeded the number that strike the state in an average year. While officials caution that averaging tornado destruction from year to year is not a good way to spot trends, THE STORMS ARE HISTORIC IN QUANTITY AND SCOPE. The state usually doesn't see that many funnel clouds hit such a broad geographic area in a single day. "In the modern era, the number of tornadoes, the geographic spread and, certainly, the number of fatalities... all mean that this was a very unusual event." On average, Minnesota has fewer than 26 confirmed tornadoes a year. Since 1950, on average fewer than two people a year are killed by tornadoes in Minnesota. Thursday's powerful systems were fueled by strong southerly winds that brought very humid air into the state. That air interacted with higher altitude winds from the west, driven by the jet stream.


ARIZONA - The Schultz Fire has burned an estimated 8,800 acres of forest north of Flagstaff, Arizona, as of today, and it remains totally out of control. Evacuations are in effect in the vicinity, but no structures have yet been lost. (satellite photo)


New studies show low household transmission of H1N1 - Two new reports in the medical literature today suggest that secondary transmission of the pandemic H1N1 virus in households is low, which seems to confirm earlier reports that the virus is less contagious than past pandemic viruses and some seasonal flu viruses.

Indian state reopens H1N1 isolation wards - Citing the reemergence of pandemic flu and other viral diseases with the rainy season, Hyderabad, India health officials announced they would reopen H1N1 isolation wards in all 28 hospitals in the state. The government urged people to seek medical attention for persistent or severe flu symptoms.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Global warming may be normal at this point in glacial cycle - German and Russian scientists say that it is normal for an interglacial period like the one just ending to finish with one or more brief - in geological terms - spells of warming before the glaciers return. In the Earth's history thus far there have been eras where the glaciers covered much of Europe, lasting about 100,000 years. These are separated by warmer interglacial periods lasting around 10,000 years. We are currently at the end of an interglacial era called the Holocene. The last interglacial period - the Eemian - which ended around 115,000 years ago, ended with "significant climate fluctuations" before the rule of the glaciers returned.
The scientists believe that the end of the Eemian interglacial epoch saw "possibly at least two" warming events. "The observed instability with the proven occurrence of short warming events during the transition from the last interglacial to the last glacial epoch could be, when viewed carefully, a general, naturally occurring characteristic of such transition phases." The Eemian ice-free period wound up with sudden - in these terms - warming spells and serious changes in vegetation. Then the glaciers surged south, at their high tide 21,000 years ago reaching as far as Berlin. This Weichselian Glacial era ended around 15,000 years ago with the ice caps confined to the polar regions.
Our Holocene era reached its "highest point so far around 6000 years ago" and we might now expect to see sudden warmings and changes as at the end of the Eemian - followed by a slow descent into another freezing glacial era. "Detailed studies of these phenomena are important for understanding the current controversial discussed climate trend so that we can assess the human contribution to climate change with more certainty."

**Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. **

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/20/10 -

INDONESIA - At least 17 people died in the powerful earthquake that struck Indonesia's Papua province last week. The 7.1-magnitude quake rattled the northern coast of Papua on Wednesday and left nine villages on Yapen island in ruins. "Rescuers located a public van with 13 passengers inside. It fell into a ravine when the quake struck," raising the total death toll to 17. The quake left more than 4600 people homeless and destroyed over 2500 houses. The rescue effort was being hampered by the remoteness of the island, which is 3300km east of Jakarta.


PHILIPPINES - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned tourists who have canceled their trips to restive Taal Volcano in Batangas and proceeded instead to Mayon Volcano as the Taal volcano is still dangerous with threatening rockfalls and sudden small explosions. The Phivolcs has been constantly monitoring the slight increase in the number of earthquakes recorded around the edifice, aside from the brighter crater glow, compared to previous months. “Rockfalls kill and aside from that, there is still possibility that sudden explosions could occur, that is why we cannot lower the alert status from level 1 to zero because the volcano is still under abnormal condition." Recurring rockfall events have been recorded in the past days as the crater glow also turned more visible. Rockfall-triggered tremors of at least five times a day were recorded since early this week, a dangerous condition for climbers who were confirmed to be trekking the volcano's upper slopes. The Phivolcs’ warning came at least five months after Mayon's alert level was lowered to 1 in January, after a month-long restiveness in December that forced over 10, 000 families to take refuge in safe ground.

Tropical depression BLAS was 560 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Hurricane CELIA was 334 nmi SSW of Acapulco, Mexico.

The first hurricane of the 2010 Pacific season, Celia, has formed hundreds of miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. Packing winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour), Celia was centered about 265 miles south of Acapulco and moving slowly westward at seven miles per hour. The Category One storm was expected to continue its path and show some strengthening over the next 48 hours. However, Celia was located so far off land that it posed no threat and no coastal warnings were issued.
The other major storm to strike the Pacific so far this season was Tropical Storm Agatha, which slammed into Guatemala in May, unleashing heavy rains and floods that left some 275 people dead or missing across Central America.


Antarctic glacier melt maybe 'not due to climate change' - British and international researchers, having probed an Antarctic glacier which is thought to be a major cause of rising sea levels worldwide, report that increased polar ice melting may not be driven by climate change. It appears from the Autosub's under-ice surveys that the PIG's ice flow formerly ground its way out to sea across the top of a previously unknown rocky underwater ridge, which tended to hold it back. Many years ago, however, before the area was surveyed in much detail, the glacier's floating outflow sheet separated from the ridge top which it had been grinding away at for millennia and so picked up speed. This also allowed relatively warm sea water to get up under the sheet and so increase melting and ease of movement. “The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge." Once the grounding line began its downslope migration from the ridge crest prior to the 1970’s, a period of rapid change was inevitable, and since that time oceanic variability may have had relatively little influence on the rate of retreat. Or in other words the glacier would have shown the same acceleration and thinning it has shown since the 1990s with or without climate change, perhaps accounting for its very rapid melting and the local contrast with the general picture of increased Antarctic sea ice.
The PIG has flowed more and more rapidly into the Amundsen Sea since scientists have begun monitoring it, adding fresh water to the world's oceans. Like certain other regions the glacier is bucking the overall south-polar trend which has actually seen hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new sea ice accumulate around Antarctica in recent decades. "Estimates of Antarctica’s recent contributions to sea level rise have changed from near-zero to significant and increasing. Increased melting of continental ice also appears to be the primary cause of persistent ocean freshening and other impacts."


Over the weekend, the sun produced two massive eruptions. The action began on June 19th when old sunspot 1081 exploded on the far side of the sun. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory witnessed huge plumes of twisting debris rising up over the sun's northwestern limb. We know the source of this farside blast because NASA's STEREO-Ahead spacecraft is stationed over the sun's western limb, and it had a direct view of the blast site.
On June 20th, magnetic fields running along the sun's eastern limb became unstable and the resulting blast was ONE OF THE BIGGEST BLASTS IN RECENT YEARS. It was so big, it exceeded the field of view of SDO's high-res cameras. SDO mission scientists are processing the data now. (videos)
A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole should reach Earth on or about June 25th.

-Portland Shellfish Company, Inc. is recalling the following brands of cooked, ready to eat fresh or frozen lobster meat: Portland Shellfish Co. Inc brand, Claw island, Craig's All Natural, Meat Without Feet, and Inland Ocean cooked, fresh or frozen lobster claw and knuckle meat as recent tests show the product has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-Caldwell Fresh Foods, of Maywood, CA, is voluntarily recalling all alfalfa sprouts manufactured under the Caldwell Fresh Foods, Nature's Choice, and California Exotics brands, because the alfalfa sprouts may be contaminated with Salmonella.
-MiDAS Foods International of Oak Park, MI is recalling Instant Beef Soup dry mix and Instant Beef Stroganoff sauce mix because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-MY-A & CO. of Cheverly, MD is recalling its 3.5oz jars of Ground Black Pepper Double Golden Fish because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
-The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger California Seasoning Blend Garlic Powder and Kroger Special Seasoning Blend Lemon Pepper sold in its retail stores because the Company has been made aware by a supplier that an ingredient in the product may have been contaminated with Salmonella.
-Del Bueno of Grandview, WA is recalling all size packages of Queso Fresco Fresh Cheese because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-Whole Foods Market announced the recall of its Whole Catch Yellow fin Tuna Steaks (frozen) with a best by date of Dec 5th, 2010 because of possible elevated levels of histamine that may result in symptoms that generally appear within minutes to an hour after eating the affected fish.
-Watkins Inc. of Winona, MN, is recalling Crab Snack & Dip Seasoning food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc., of Pacoima, CA, announces a voluntary recall of Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Chicken Dry Dog Food with the "Best By" date of June 17, 2011, in 5-lb. and 28-lb. bags because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Response Products, Broken Bow, NE is voluntarily recalling Cetyl M for Dogs due to a possible Salmonella contamination from the hydrolyzed vegetable protein component.
-The Procter & Gamble Company is voluntarily recalling specific lots of its Iams canned cat food in North America as a precautionary measure. Diagnostic testing indicated that the product may contain insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), which is essential for cats.
-US Oftalmi, of Hallandale, Florida, is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of all Over-the-Counter Eye Drops and Nasal Drops.
-Blacksmith Brands, Inc. is voluntarily recalling all lots of four children's products in the PediaCare line.
-McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., is recalling five product lots as an addition to the list of products included in the company's January 15th, 2010 product recall. The additional lots involved are four product lots of BENADRYL(R) ALLERGY ULTRATAB[TM] TABLETS, 100 count, sold in the U.S.; and one product lot of EXTRA STRENGTH TYLENOL(R) Rapid Release Gels, 50 count sold in the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The star Eta Carinae, once one of the brightest in the southern sky, has long been shrouded in mystery. After a huge outburst of gas that occurred more than 150 years ago, it has largely been hidden by a dense cloud of dust - a strong indicator of sporadic eruptions. Now, Eta Car, which sits in our part of the Milky Way some 2,300 parsecs (7,500 light years) from the Sun, is puzzling researchers and theorists all over again. A US-based team has recorded a steep, inexplicable drop in its stellar wind - the outflow of gas from the star. "The collapse in the emission lines seemed ALMOST TOO RAPID AND DRASTIC TO BELIEVE. Eta Car is more than a variable star, IT'S JUST NUTS.”
The root of Eta Car's oddness lies in the supernova-like eruption event that began in the late 1830s and lasted for some 20 years. Lines in the emission spectrum of Eta Carinae have collapsed to only a third of their original strength in a decade. Huge stars like Eta Car can erupt for reasons that are about 95% "mysterious". One theory is that once these massive stars near the end of their short lives - after some 2 million to 3 million years - perturbations in their cores may set off sporadic 'supernova impostor' eruptions. Supernova impostors are only one-hundredth the brightness of normal supernovae, but the eruptions can last for decades. And unlike normal supernovae, these impostors survive their eruptions. Eta Car, which is five million times more luminous than the Sun, was the first such impostor detected, although about a dozen are known to astronomers today.
During its mid-nineteenth-century eruption, Eta Car lost about ten times the mass of the Sun. Although this loss was equivalent to only 10% of its mass, the star's outer 50% was ejected. As a result, the star has still not returned to thermal and rotational equilibrium. Since 1858, it has been observed only as a massive gaseous outflow, losing the equivalent of one Jupiter-mass in gas per year. "We still can't see the star itself, but only an opaque dense wind outflow surrounded by muck - really bright ejecta." If Eta Car's current trend of decreasing winds continues, in a decade it will have very nearly emerged from its cocoon of dense gaseous outflow. That would return it to the state observed by Halley some 300 years ago, when it was seen as a hot, blue star. This would finally enable contemporary observations of the radius and surface temperature of Eta Car, which is estimated to have the mass of well over 100 Suns.

**What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/19/10 -
6/18/10 -


KOREA - Volcanic Eruption Possible on Mount Baekdu - Baekdu Mountain is the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula famous for its spectacular caldera filled with a heavenly lake. But as tranquil as it may seem the volcano is not dormant but active, having a high possibility of erupting within the next couple of years.Tracing back, Mount Baekdu has erupted about ten times on a regular basis since the early 1100s spewing roughly once every one hundred years. With the last eruption having occurred in 1903 geologists warn that the time for the next eruption is drawing near. In 1990 China created a volcanic observatory on Mount Baekdu as seismic activities around the mountain became more frequent. And this year's 6.9 magnitude earthquake near Mount Baekdu has increased fears among Chinese and Korean experts as it could have hit magma below the central part of the mountain, which could trigger an eruption. Experts also point to the rising level of the mountain's topography and recent emission of volcanic gas from the caldera as other critical evidence. If Mount Baekdu erupts the damage will be much more severe than that caused by the Icelandic eruptions in April, as Mount Baekdu encompasses 20 tonnes of water in its volcanic crater. Geologists are currently holding numerous meetings and seminars calling on the Korean government to come up with comprehensive measures to deal with the possible natural disaster.

Tropical storm BLAS was 364 nmi SW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Tropical storm CELIA was 246 nmi SSW of Salina Cruz, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Celia gained strength Saturday night over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern Mexico. Forecasters said it was headed farther out to sea. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that large ocean swells from the storm would produce dangerous surf conditions along portions of Mexico's Pacific coast for days to come. Celia was centered about 340 miles (550 kilometers) south-southeast of Acapulco. Maximum sustained winds were 65 mph (100 kilometers per hour), putting the storm on the cusp of becoming a hurricane.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Blas was weakening as it swirled about 420 miles (670 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. Its winds were at about 60 mph (95 kilometers per hour).


CHINA - 1.4 million evacuated as floods kill 90. More than a million people living along rivers in China's south have been evacuated with water rising to dangerous levels as torrential rains left at least 90 dead and more rain is forecast..


Vast amounts of methane in Gulf spill pose threat - Vast amounts of natural gas contained in crude escaping from the blown Gulf of Mexico oil well could pose a serious threat to marine life by creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives. The danger presented by the methane has been largely overlooked, with early efforts to monitor the oil spill focusing on the more toxic components of oil. But scientists are increasingly worried about the gas that can suffocate sea creatures in high concentrations. At least 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas - and possibly almost twice that amount - have leaked since April 20. "This is THE MOST VIGOROUS METHANE ERUPTION IN MODERN HUMAN HISTORY." Scientists estimate that methane makes up between 40 percent and 70 percent of what is spilling into the Gulf.
The high-pressure seafloor leak is spewing like a fire hose, causing oil and gas to dissolve into tiny droplets that are less likely to rise to the surface. Adding to the effect, more than a million gallons of chemical dispersants have been pumped into the gusher by BP — a bid to stop oil from reaching the coast that comes at the expense of the Gulf's deeper waters. "This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know. It's a complex problem."
In early June, a research team found methane concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than normal, and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent or more. The scientists found that some parts of the plume had oxygen concentrations just shy of the level that tips ocean waters into the category of "dead zone" — a region uninhabitable to fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine creatures. Shallow waters are normally more susceptible to oxygen depletion. Because it is being found in such deep waters, researchers do not know what is causing the depletion and what the impact could be in the long- or short-term. One called her findings "THE MOST BIZARRE LOOKING OXYGEN PROFILES I HAVE EVER SEEN ANYWHERE."


Global activity remains stable - Global H1N1 activity remains mostly unchanged. Pandemic flu transmission remains low worldwide, with limited circulation in parts of Central America (Costa Rica), the Caribbean (Cuba), and South and Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, and, to a much lesser extent, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan). Recently re-emerged seasonal H3N2 continues to circulate in East Africa, with type B in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

Average age at H1N1-related death in US was 40 - The average age of those in the United States who died of pandemic flu last spring and fall was 40, with the median age, or midpoint, at 43. In the fall, the average age of those who died was 41, and the median age was 45.

Friday, June 18, 2010

“THING COULD REALLY EXPLODE”; “Billion potential barrels of oil” under BP’s ruptured well. CNN’s first mention of concerns about the structural integrity of BP’s blown-out well occurred on June 16 with Wolf Blitzer, during an interview with a member of the government’s Flow Rate Technical Group.
"One expert said to me — and I don’t know if this is overblown or not — that they’re still really concerned about the structural base of this whole operation, if the rocks get moved, this thing could really explode and they’re sitting, what, on — on a billion potential barrels of oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Is that a real concern or is that just out of the question, unrealistic?"
"Well, I’ve heard concerns about the structural integrity of the well. In particularly, with the “top kill” — the attempted “top kill,” lots of cement and drilling mud was pumped into the well. And it didn’t come shooting back out of the well and yet it didn’t stop things. So there is some conjecture that the — the casing of the well is — is faulty at some point."
BP’s ruptured well could flow for 25 to 30 years at a rate of 120,000 barrels a day. 120,000 barrels/day for * 365 days/year, for 25 years = 1.095 billion barrels
Senator confirms reports that wellbore is pierced; oil seeping from seabed in multiple places.
Oil Expert: BP must ‘keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side’.
Bush Energy Adviser: Relief well will fail, 46 billion gallons could flow into Gulf. "It hasn’t gotten out, but we now know a whole lot of better information from the scientists who are totally, totally disputing what BP’s story has been.
The best reports all have come from the Thomas Jefferson, which is America’s largest research vessel, which got directed on June 6… [to] get to where this enormous fire was coming that was miles away from the riser. What the Thomas Jefferson found in a week was the most specific info we know, that basically 1,100 meters below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is a 400-(300 to 400) meter lake of very heavy oil that has spread so fast that it’s POTENTIALLY COVERING 40% OF THE GULF OF MEXICO...They are almost certain, because of the lack of being able to detect where the well bore was, because they couldn’t get within 3 miles of it, there was too much fire, there was no metal there, so - the casing is gone. So with no casing, its an open hole. And the only way we’ll ever put it out is detonating something that will fuse the rock right above the oil column into glass. And the only way that anyone’s ever done that is the four times the Soviets did that in the 70’s with a very small bore nuclear device. So I think that’s now our only option...The relief well won't work without casing - without casing, the mud just comes spewing back up. …We either are content with saying, we’ll just put 120,000 barrels in the Gulf for the next 25-30 years or we have to detonate it. … I think the government — we will find — is going to take all of their [BP's] cash.
Oil Expert: Only way to shut well off is to “let it complete which might take 30 years” or “a nuclear device”; Hurricane will “paint the Gulf Coast black”. "We have an open hole that’s spewing I would guess somewhere between 100,000 – 150,000 barrels a day of oil which is why you now have over A HUNDRED MILE OIL LAKE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GULF OF MEXICO THAT'S APPARENTLY 400-500 FEET DEEP. We have an open hole with no casing in it and the only way we’ll shut it off is either let it complete which might take 30 years which could maybe not only poison the Gulf of Mexico but maybe the Atlantic Ocean or to put a nuclear device down the hole…When the hurricanes arrive, the hurricane actually blows this oil on shore it will basically paint the Gulf Coast black and it will shut down the refineries, the power plants and it will be America’s worst catastrophe nightmare.
“For every one bird” found dead “99 were carried out to sea by currents” - BP knows… a boom can only deflect oil under the calmest of sea conditions, not barricade it — so they have stepped up their already aggressive effort to control what the public sees. …BP is… raking up carcasses of oiled seabirds. “The heads separate from the bodies,” one upset resident told me. “There’s no way those birds are going to be autopsied.”…
The body count of affected wildlife is crucial to prove the harm caused by the spill, and also serves as an invaluable tool to evaluate damages to public property – the dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sea birds, fish, and more, that are owned by the American public. Disappeared body counts means disappeared damages – and disappeared liability for BP. BP should not be collecting carcasses. The job should be given to NOAA, a federal agency, and volunteers, as was done during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. NOAA should also be conducting carcass drift studies. Only one percent of the dead sea birds made landfall in the Gulf of Alaska, for example. That means for every one bird that was found, another 99 were carried out to sea by currents. Further, NOAA should be conducting aerial surveys to look for carcasses in the offshore rips where the currents converge. That’s where the carcasses will pile up – a fact we learned during the Exxon Valdez spill.
Firms “suspending investments in Florida banks” because of oil spill.

**Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/17/10 -

INDONESIA - Nine villages and almost 2,000 homes destroyed in Papua quake. Seven churches, a power station and an elementary school are also razed. The region is very poor with limited communications. The exact number of victims is still unknown. The tremor, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, hit Biak Island, north of Papua Province. Despite its mineral riches (oil, gas, lumber and gold), Papua is one of Indonesia’s poorest provinces. It is underequipped in terms of basic infrastructures like roads, bridges and hospitals. All this has complicated the rescue effort. Road travel and communications are difficult. Yesterday’s huge tremor was also felt in Central Sulawesi where earlier a man was reported killed in a previous moderate quake that hit the area.

CALIFORNIA - Earthquake activity remains at elevated level amid more aftershocks, USGS says. The California-Mexico border continued to be rattled by what the U.S. Geological Survey called an elevated level of earthquake activity as hundreds of aftershocks to the 5.7 temblor on Monday were recorded. The quake on Monday was itself an aftershock of the 7.2 magnitude Easter Sunday quake that hit the Mexicali area. Experts have said the 7.2 temblor has caused thousands of aftershocks, increasing overall seismic activity in the Southern California-Baja California region. There were dozens of aftershocks overnight, but fewer were greater than 3.0 magnitude when compared to Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday morning, a 4.1-magnitude quake on the border was reported; it probably was an aftershock of the April quake.


INDONESIA - Mud Eruption Reported in East Nusa Tenggara - An inter-regional road in a Kupang, the seat of East Nusa Tenggara province was nearly flooded by accumulation of a mud eruption which authorities said started about a month ago in a village in Sulamu Subdistrict. The mud almost covers the road connecting Sulamu Subdistrict and West Fatuleu Subdistrict and several other subdistricts in Amfoang. Despite the low intensity and size of the eruption, the eruption is disrupting inter-region transportation. Local residents have tried to keep the main road accessible by funneling the mud from the road to the nearby forest by making small trenches.

RUSSIA's northern-most active volcano was churning out ash to a height of 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) in the country's Far East on Thursday. The Shiveluch volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula last erupted in December 2006 and has been active ever since with the volcano spewing out gas and ash up to 8,000 meters (26,000 feet). The local seismological service reported registering dozens of tremors within the area in the past 24 hours. The volcanic activity over the past two-three years has significantly altered the contour of the volcano with the crater increasing in size by 50% and the slopes becoming far steeper than previously. Although the current eruption poses no immediate threat to nearby settlements, the ensuing ash fallouts could be hazardous to health and the environment. The clouds of volcanic ash could also pose threat to air traffic.

PHILIPPINES - The Provincial Government of Batangas said Thursday it was prepared to declare a state of calamity as Taal Volcano continued to show signs of restiveness. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded at least 15 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24-hour observation period. It said the Alas-as (a new eruption site), Pira-piraso and Calauit leveling lines remained inflated. The volcano island is still off-limits to the public since Phivolcs raised the alert level from 1 to 2. Alert level 2 means the volcano is undergoing magmatic intrusion, which could eventually lead to an eruption.

Tropical depression 02E was 99 nmi SE of Acapulco, Mexico.
Tropical storm BLAS was 244 nmi SSW of Manzanillo, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Blas formed on Thursday in the Pacific off southwestern Mexico, but was expected to move away from the coast.