Scientists say that the storm could still have adverse effects as it passes - "The magnetic field in the solar wind is not facing in the direction of danger. But it could change, into the early evening." Although space weather scientists have seen no more significant activity since the solar flares that launched the current storm, scientists around the globe are still keeping an a close watch on the Sun. "The part of the Sun where this came from is still active. It's a 27-day cycle and we're right in the middle of it, so it is coming straight at us and will be for a few days yet. We could see more material. " But regardless of its eventual extent, this episode of solar activity is a preview of what is to come in the broader, 11-year solar cycle.
"The event is the largest for several years, but it is not in the most severe class. We may expect more storms of this kind and perhaps much more severe ones in the next year or so as we approach solar maximum. Such events act as a wake-up call as to how our modern western lifestyles are utterly dependent on space technology and national power grid infrastructure."
LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.9 SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA
5.4 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES
5.1 WESTERN IRAN
5.4 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Explosion detected at Alaska's Cleveland volcano - Mount Cleveland, located about 45 miles from the community of Nikolski, is isolated on an uninhabited island and -- despite the volcano's regular eruption pattern -- has no real-time monitoring equipment. Cloud cover prevented visual observation or satellite imagery of the eruption. Officials said this was similar to eruptions in December, when small ash clouds dissipated quickly and didn't affect air traffic.
4.1 earthquake comes as scientists watch Alaska's Iliamna volcano - On Wednesday, the Alaska Volcano Observatory issued an alert that they were closely monitoring Iliamna Volcano, 130 miles from Anchorage on the lower west side of Cook Inlet, following a period of increased seismic activity. That was before a moderate earthquake struck the upper Cook Inlet region in the wee hours of Thursday morning that many residents of Alaska's largest city may have woken up to. It was located less than 40 miles from Kenai, Soldotna, and Anchorage. "Over the past three months, there have been several episodes of increased earthquake activity at Iliamna Volcano. One of these episodes is currently ongoing, and is characterized by numerous small earthquakes. This increase in earthquake activity may be related to movement of magma at depth, and additional observations including an airborne gas sampling and observation flight are being planned."
Despite the warning, the alert level for the volcano remained at "Green," meaning that no eruptive activity or potential for imminent eruption was evident. Iliamna has no record of eruptions, though it has gone through similar periods of increased seismicity in the past. The AVO notes that an incident in 1996-97 was similar, though it didn't result in an eruption. That earthquake was a fairly comfortable distance from Iliamna volcano - about 100 miles - but was the second earthquake in the past few days that set Southcentral Alaskans on edge. A magnitude 3.6 temblor took place Monday under Prince William Sound and a mere 16 miles from the ski resort town of Girdwood.
It's been an active couple of months for Alaska volcanoes: Cleveland rumbled back to life on Jan. 31, continuing an ongoing flirtation with eruption continuing from last year. Another Aleutian volcano, Kanaga, briefly came alive in mid-February before being downgraded in the early part of March.
TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Indian Ocean -
-Tropical cyclone 14s (Irina) was located approximately 455 nm east-southeast of Maputo, Mozambique.
-Tropical cyclone 16s (Koji) was located approximately 1065 nm east-southeast of Diego Garcia.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Australia - NSW floods: Worse to come, warns minister. The damage bill from NSW's flood crisis is heading "way north'' of $500 million and April is set to heap even worse misery on the sodden state. Communities remain on tenterhooks as a fresh wave of rain threatens homes and property in NSW's southwest, central west and suburban Sydney. "Sadly we're in a La Nina and the weather forecasters are telling me that April will be the worst that we've faced yet."
The State Emergency Service (SES) issued evacuation warnings for people in Richmond Lowlands, Pitt Town and Gronos Point at 6.30am (AEDT). Several caravan parks on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, between Windsor and Sackville, were also put on high alert. "We are asking those people to start preparing themselves now for possible evacuations throughout the day." Communities in southwest Sydney were also on high alert.
More than 1000 people remain in evacuation centres at Griffith, in southwest NSW, with the Murrumbidgee River due to peak again today. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of major flooding in Narrandera, southeast of Griffith, and the neighbouring communities of Darlington Point, Carathool and Hay. Flooding was also expected in Forbes and Bega today, with hundreds of residents in both communities already evacuated.
Residents in parts of Sydney's northwest have been told to prepare for evacuation as the Hawkesbury River floods. Parts of Australia are seeing some of THE WORST FLOODING IN 160 YEARS. Dozens of residents in New South Wales had to be rescued when they became stranded in their cars. Shops are short of supplies as locals buy up food and other essentials.
No ordinary downpour - wild weather swamped Sydney and the south coast in THE WETTEST WEEK IN NEW SOUTH WALES' HISTORY. "It is VERY RARE to have such persistent, RECORD-BREAKING RAINFALL over such large areas of NSW and Victoria."
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE -
Canada - Wednesday's high was a RECORD-BREAKING 11.7 C.
Portland, Maine, hits RECORD-BREAKING 60 degrees - The calendar still says winter, but Maine is experiencing spring-like weather. The temperature climbed to 60 degrees Thursday afternoon in Portland. The previous high for the date was 56, set two years ago.
The UNUSUAL Weather is Creating Angst Among Maine Maple Syrup Producers - The RECORD-BREAKING temperatures and the possibility of more warm weather over the next two weeks is not a welcome prospect.
From Texas to India to the Horn of Africa, Concern about Weather, Water and Crops - Hardly a week goes by without new reasons to be concerned about the impact of changing precipitation patterns and mounting water stress on food production.
This past week, officials in Texas cut off irrigation water to rice farmers downstream of reservoirs depleted by the worst one-year drought in Texas history. Even with recent rains, lakes Buchanan and Travis remain at 42 percent of capacity. Farmers, who pay the least for water, will be denied their liquid lifeline in order to prevent curtailments to urban and industrial water users. It was the FIRST TIME IN ITS 78-YEAR HISTORY that the Austin-based Lower Colorado River Authority had cut off water to farmers.
On February 29, United Nations officials announced that the crucial March through May rainy season in the Horn of Africa would likely fall short again this year. The warning comes on the heels of last year’s drought, the worst in sixty years, and the devastating famine it triggered. Scientists analyzed data on rainfall, temperature, ocean currents and the strength of the La Niña before making their forecas. “This is not good news for farmers in areas which have been affected by agricultural drought in recent years. We must plan for the probability that rainfall will be erratic and there will be long dry spells which will impact on crop production and food security.” The forecast comes just weeks after the United Nations downgraded Somalia’s food crisis from a famine to a “humanitarian emergency.” Across the Horn of Africa, some 9.5 million people still require emergency assistance.
And then from India comes perhaps the most worrisome news of the week. Researchers there have found that India’s monsoonal rainfall, upon which much of the nation’s agriculture depends, is becoming less frequent and more intense. Scientists found that global climate change can cause departures from the historic monsoonal norm, which, on balance would lead to lower yields of rice, maize, cotton, soybeans, and other kharif (monsoonal) crops. During the rabi (dry) season, higher temperatures could cut yields of wheat, potatoes, and vegetables. The agriculture commissioner for Maharashtra, an important crop-producing state, says that farmers in his state already are seeing yield impacts that he attributes to climatic change.
Still another report from the last week casts a pall over California’s upcoming harvest. State officials found that the water content of California’s mountain snowpack is only 30 percent of normal historic levels for this point in the season. Officials estimate they will deliver only 50 percent of the water requested from the State Water Project, a system of reservoirs and canals that distributes water to 25 million Californians and nearly one million acres of irrigated farmland. “Absolutely, we should be concerned."
These reports are snapshots of weather and climate-related warnings and in no way present a picture of the world’s food situation. But they are the kinds of warnings that now seem to routinely overlay already troubling global water trends – from widespread groundwater depletion to dried up rivers and lakes. What’s emerging is an interconnected web of risks, with the threads of water stress, food insecurity and rising population and consumption now magnified by extreme weather and climatic change.
The portrayal of water security in the U.S. intelligence community’s 2012 worldwide threat assessment clearly warns that “over the next 10 years, water problems will contribute to instability in states important to US interests.” It also underscores groundwater depletion as a risk to both national and global food markets.
But it fails to spotlight the potential for social and political instability stemming from the interplay of extreme weather, water shortage and food prices – even though we got a sneak preview of this destabilization in 2007-08 and again in 2011. The food riots that erupted in Haiti, Senegal, Mauritania and a half dozen other countries as grain prices climbed in 2007-08 are a harbinger of what is to come. Extreme weather in 2010 – including the off-the-charts heat wave in Russia that slashed the country’s wheat harvest by 40 percent, the epic flood in Pakistan, widespread drought in China, and the massive flooding following the decade of drought in Australia – caused an even higher spike in food prices in early 2011. Some analysts have linked the skyrocketing food prices with the violent protests that unleashed the Arab Spring. Climatic change and its impacts on the global water cycle guarantee that we’ll increasingly find ourselves outside the bounds of normal. The implications for food security, social cohesion and political stability are of the utmost concern both to our national security and our humanitarian impulse. It’s time to connect the dots – and to prepare, as best we can, for the new scenarios unfolding before our eyes.